Sunday, February 12, 2012

Greek Left's veterans Theodorakis and Glezos head up new resistance movement

Nicolas Mottas
February 10, 2012

While crisis-hit Greece faces a new round of neoliberal austerity madness, two legendary personalities call for civil disobedience.

While the negotiations between the Greek government, IMF and the EU over debt swap with private creditors continue, new anti-austerity resistance movements are being born. This time the initiative belongs to prominent personalities of the Greek left who yesterday declared the creation of the 'United Popular Democratic Resistance' -- E.LA.DA. in Greek, an acronym which literally means "Greece". The idea belongs to two legendary figures of the country's modern history: the internationally renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis and Manolis Glezos, a Second World War resistance hero. Speaking to an audience at Athens's Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, they both declared that the establishment of a nationwide resistance movement against the economic austerity and policies consstitutes a "national need", as long as Greece is passing through a "national tragedy".

Theodorakis mentioned that today the Greeks live under "a status-quo of (economic) violence", adding that the only answer to the blackmail of the financial elites is "resistance and solidarity".

"We shall unite our hearts and thoughts" the 86 years-old composer said, adding humorously that he and Glezos are "kids who never give up".

From his side, Manolis Glezos -- the man who, in 1941, along with the late Apostolos Santas climbed on the Acropolis and tore down the Nazi flag -- noted that the newly formed 'United Popular Democratic Resistance' is not a political party aiming to participate in elections but an effort to "unite the Greeks". Furthermore, he added that the movement is open to "everyone who wants to participate", without any "patronization from political parties" .

Apart from Theodorakis and Glezos, the leading panel of speakers included Giorgos Kasimatis, an emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Athens. During his speech, Kasimatis argued that the new movement aims at "creating new political powers against the economic oppression" and referred to what Greece should do regarding the crisis: "When people are impoverished the government is obliged to refuse paying the debt." Professor Kasimatis said, adding that "when the loan agreements are (constitutionally) illegal and the debt is outrageously big, then part of the debt can be rejected as odious and illegal" .

This is not the first time Mikis Theodorakis has come at the forefront of anti-austerity, anti-neoliberal movements. A year ago, the famous composer established an independent socio-political organisation called "Spitha' (Spark) thus initiating his struggle against IMF and the Greek government. But this time his reunion with Glezos -- also a historical member of the Greek left -- constitutes the first serious attempt to create a broad united front against the catastrophic neoliberal policies applied in Greece. It should be noted that, despite the non-party character of the new movement, both Theodorakis and Glezos have significant influence in broad parts of the Greek public, primarily within the Left, while they remain respected figures by the majority of the population. After all, their background is rich in pro-democratic struggles against Nazi forces in the 1940s but also during the years of the military Junta in the 1970s.

According to the Greek daily "Avgi', the founding event of the ‘United Resistance' was attended by members of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) as well as by prominent artists and academics. It is expected that the new movement will attract the interest of the major parties which oppose the current coalition government, but nobody can predict the success or failure of the initiative.

What can be said with certainty is that such actions by people like Theodorakis and Glezos give hope to a nation which struggles to maintain its dignity under especially difficult circumstances. While the leadership of the country succumbs to the pressure of the IMF, the EU and the Capitalist financial elites, the need for unity, anti-austerity movements is greater than ever. Towards this direction, the decision of the two octogenarian prominent Greeks certainly constitutes a positive message.

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