Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Bear with me, this post promises to be kind of long-ish.

So. Courage.

A single word, to pay homage to the fantastic people who live, breathe, laugh, weep, despair, struggle and fight against the doom that the powers-that-be would impose on them. A word, to honor Greece, this beautiful country I'm proud to call my second home.

The place where my soul can rest.

Courage, a word that qualifies both the people, and those they elected to lead them, in these dark times, when the thin veil of propriety and decency, when the pretense of respect and democracy is dropped. When the masks abruptly, finally fall to the ground and settle in the dust of a dying dream.

In silence.

The silence of media elite all over Europe, all over France, always so prompt to call itself the land of freedom, of human rights. France, which switched from voice of the people to the lackey of Germany, of a power cold as ice, ruthless and without the tiniest of qualms in the defense of very special interests that have nothing even remotely in common with the majority of the European peoples' interests or, for that matter, of the German population itself.

While we all watched, either too focused on being good little consumers or too drunk on crass propaganda, a democratic country, a democratically elected government was shoved into a corner and forced to humiliate itself, to accept unimaginably cruel terms that won't do a thing to help its situation but will only push it further down the abyss--while we all watched, Europe died before our eyes.

Or, at least, the idea, the dream of a Europe of the peoples, of a united Europe where prosperity is shared and diversity is cherished. A Europe where we all learn from the other, and where our differences enrich us all.

Instead, what we're witnessing is the rise of a power that has nothing but contempt for us all, even though some foolishly believe their situation to be different. We are seeing economic war being waged, harsh and brutal, harmful and as chaotic, as terrible as a war waged with tanks and planes and bombs and guns and soldiers. People suffer. People are terrified. People despair. People die. People take their lives to escape the complete absence of hope, the torment that their lives have become, while a single ideology is hammered down on everyone who would dare think differently--and lead their lives differently, in an enlightened society.

The hospitals find themselves lacking in medicines, in equipments, in doctors to treat everyone--the poorest, the most fragile find they can no longer afford medical treatment.

And yet, backed to the wall after 3 years of an implacable war, the people of Greece chose Syriza, and put Alexis Tsipras in power in January, 2015. As Yanis Varoufakis said, they chose “to stop going gently into the night and to rage against the dying of the light”.

Then, Alexis Tsipras, together with his government and the Syriza MPs in the Vouli, set out to wage this war we should have fought alongside them. While all our governments, despite empty, falsely compassionate words, abandoned them and watched while Germany and its minions in the East and in the North proceeded to destroy Greece, piece by piece.

All through a negotiation that was no negotiation at all, for there never was any true intention to reach an agreement with Greece, be it with Yanis Varoufakis, Alexis Tspiras--or with Euclid Tsakalotos, who paid a heavy price for stubbornly sticking to his conviction that Europe would be a place of principles, respect and honesty.

Month after month, the situation grew more desperate, the will of the "creditors" to crush the Syriza government--any hope born from the Left--became clear for all to see. The Greek people watched, powerless, the hardening stance of the European "partners", heard talk of Grexit, heard of Germany preparing to expel them from a union whose very core, whose cradle they were.

Some Gemran media went so far so sink below the most basic levels of decency to revel in pure racism, proclaiming that the Greeks of the present time weren't of the same blood of the Greeks of old, the blood diluted--polluted?--by centuries of invasions and migrations, and thus those same "Greeks of now" had nothing to do with those who were the cradle of Europe and democracy. Die Welt showed its true colors, reverting back to the darkest of days in German history.

And yet no pundit saw fit to say a thing about it. No great op/ed writer for the French dailies Le Monde or Liberation so much as took out their pen to even frown at this apalling bit of naked racism.

All the while, the noose tightened, strangling Greece more surely with each day of resistance, with every moment of denial and refusal of what amounted and still amounts to nonsense and utter failure in economic terms, in the view of all the prominent economic figures in the world.

And when its back was to the wall, the Syriza government did what all democratic government should: it went back to the people who had elected it, and asked for a mandate. Mediatic mayhem ensued, the pundits going mad with rage at this "folly"--how dared they ask the people? How dared they refuse to bend the knee before the powers-that-be?

After a week of the harshest, strongest propaganda and fearmongering mediatic campaign in Greece and all over Europe, the Greek people once again rose. Once again, they refused to stop going gently into the night and to rage against the dying of the light. Sunday, July 5th, 2015, was a day

I will remember all my life. I was there. I was here, in Greece. Cheering. Hoping.

And Yanis Varoufakis stepped down from his position of Finance Minister. Then he went silent for a week, waiting like we all did.

Then came the most shameful moment in Europe's history, the moment Europe began to die.

They put a gun--not to Alexis Tsipras' head--to the head of every single person of Greece.

And Alexis Tsipras yielded. For his people.

Die, or die.

I have read much in the last days. I have read the very enlightening pieces of Yanis Varoufakis, explaining how events unfolded, and what led him to resign.

Having sat in the negotiator seat myself, albeit in a much smaller context, I could only understand--rage--wish I could be there with them all when it happened. I could only understand the moment when you have to say "enough". When you have to say "stop"--the moment when you must say "I will not cross that line".

The moment when you are so exhausted, so empty, so full of despair, that you start to get up, and to tell them all to go to hell, and you prepare to break all discussion--this moment when you find yourself beyond even thinking.

And I also understand the moment when you sit down again, when you let yourself be conviced to come back to the "negotiation table". Because you are not alone. Because the lives of so many others hang in the balance, not just your own, or those of your group--and you believe, laybe naively, that if you stay, even though you'll betray yourself, at least you'll be able to alleviate the pain, maybe do something good, bring a bit of justice, make those who have the means bear the burden.

And my heart goes out to them both: to Yanis Varoufakis who chose to go, because he had to draw a line and remain true to himself, to Alexis Tsipras, who endured pain and humiliation and despair and stayed, for the people who elected him to represent and defend them.

To this day, I cannot say what I would have done in their stead. I do not know what the correct response would have been. I do not think there was a correct response--or, rather, I think that the correct response was both, and that each did well, did what he had to do, acting according to who he is.

And now, Alexis Tsipras is walking through a living hell, and Yanis Varoufakis watches from his bench of the vouli, and he has regained his freedom, as well as his voice. And I hope, against all hopes, that their paths will cross again. That they will meet again, and that there is justice in this world of ours. I hope that they will be reunited to do the work they both want to do: help their people, their country, give it back the pride and dignity, it deserved, give it back justice and its true place in our Europe.

Greece's days and weeks ahead are charcoal grey. And yet, I know that the Greek people will keep their courage. I know that they will rise if snap elections are called. I know that they will once more say "NO". "OXI".

The powers-that-be will call them mad and insane and immature.

Well, let them.

"OXI" is simply another word for "COURAGE".

As is said in one of the greatest movies around: "Never give up, never surrender!"

PS: must-read pieces by Yanis Varoufakis:

Monday, July 06, 2015

Greece : Homage to a brave people, and one who has become a symbol : Yanis Varoufakis

So, there we are: Oxi.

Let me repeat this, louder.


Yesterday, the Greek people rose against fear. Against lies. Against thinly veiled and also bare threats from shameless bullies—from powers-that-be who have long since stopped representing the ordinary citizens of Europe, who have long since shed their guise of people's representatives to wear the dark mantle of the lackeys of special interests, which would dictate the way we live our lives from the comfortable shelter of their velvet shadows.

Yesteray, the Greek people sent their lying media and their crass fearmongering packing—all these TV, radio stations, all these newspapers owed by the oligarchs, the very same people who have stashed their money abroad, have avoided paying taxes, and contributing to the Greek society.

Those very same oligarchs—yes, those whom the European powers-that-be claimed Greece had to bring to heel through a deep financial system reform—well, do you know what they campaigned for ?

You'd have thought they'd campaign for « no », since any agreement with the creditors would have brought about reforms which would have hurt them—according to the propaganda of the creditors and all the falsely naive media of Northern Europe. So, can you guess what the oligarchs-owed Greek media campaigned for?

Well, the oligarchs threw all their condiserable power and money toward the « nai », the « yes » vote, which would have sent the Greek government back to Brussels in shame, and would most likely have brought it down. Then, a government of technocrats, unelected, illegitimate, would have taken the reins of the country, to enact to the letter and the dotted « i » the demands of the creditors.

As if Greece were some colony of the 19th century, and Northern Europe its overlord.

To reach this goal, the Greek media spared no lie, no crass tactics. They announced chaos. They announced that people's deposits would be plundered by the government. They announced that hunger riots were just around the corners. They willed for the most abject fear to take hold of the Greek people.

And yet, the Greek people said, NO. OXI.

This proud, resounding OXI sent tremors through Europe. It gave Greece its dignity back. Its pride, stolen and trampled underfoot during five years while New Democratia and PASOK were in power, their heads bowed, at the back and call of the powers-that-be, no matter how wrong, how ugley the plundering of their own people they were ordered to carry out.

This fantastic OXI, it's the beginning of what will most likely be a long, protracted and hard battle. It's also a bright light of hope, and not only for Greece.

This OXI awakens hope from the ashes of austerity, for all the peoples of Europe. It saves democracy, which was standing on the edge of the abyss, about to fall under the relentless blows of an establishment which hides behind the facade of undemocratic European Institutions.

They shamelessly told the Greeks what they should vote. They threatened Greece with a brutal ousting from the eurozone and Europe itself if its people didn't bow down and vote to accept an endless austerity which would have bled the country dry, and turned it into a failed state. So sure of their victory and their power, so arrogant they were, that they went so far as to tell the truth : they wanted regime change in Greece, they wanted Syriza to fall and forever be banned from power, humiliated. They wanted an unlelected government to rise, led by technocrats—pliable, obedient. Yes, they went so far as to say it out loud : Jean-Claude Juncker, Martin Schultz, Sigmar Gabriel, Jeroen Dijssenbloem, and all that clique.

And they were denied.

In the cradle of democracy, people rose above fear, looked them right in the eye, and said no.

Ftani !

The Greek government spared no effort to reach towaard its citizens, to denounce the lies and set the truth back in the center of the equation. One man in particular made his voice heard. One man stood, and repeated the truth he's been telling the European elite time and again since January 25th.

Yanis Varoufakis.

The brazen, firebrand ex-Finance Minister of Greece is loathed by his so-called colleagues. He's hated by the European powers-that-be. Because he knows what he's talking about. Because he can pierce through the lies, and expose them for what they are. Because the truth he tells is crystal clear, unburied under multiple layers of diplomatic or technical jargon. Because his voice rings true and echoes far, because there is no pretense, no attempt at dissembling, because he has never denied himself, and because he has made no compromises appear before the powers-that-be under a guise that would please them—it would have been the first act of submission—the Greek people trust and love him. Because of all that, the European establishment detests the mere sight of him.

Because, in five months, he has been everywhere at once, relentlessly defending his country and appearing in the media, talking to his people, explaining, giving them the keys to understand what was going on—because he gave so much of himself, Yanis Varoufakis empowered the Greek people to make their own, enlightened choice when the time came.

So, I was extatic while watching the last evening unfold, when « no » piled upon « no », in all the regions of Greece, and a proud people reclaimed its destiny.

And tears filled my eyes when I read Yanis Varoufakis' tweet this morning, announcing "Minister no more".

His resignation is a brave, noble thing to do, and it does take away one of the most obvious excuses the creditors would have used to justify the impossibility of finding an agreement. I can read moves, I know the intricacies of a harsh negotiation quite well. So I understand. Truly, I do.

They are not many, the people in power who could make such a move, who could reliquish power at the height of their power, just as they reaped what is an immense victory.

I salute you, Yanis Varoufakis. Your bright fire has lit the path of dignity for your people—the way of self-respect and free choice, of democracy, and indeed freedom itself.

Here I type this blog post from a small hill overlooking the pure, deep blue waters of the Kalamata gulf, and the Taygetos mountain range beyond, half hidden in the Summer mists.

Yanis Varoufakis, may you remain close to your people, close to Greece, and keep on advising the Greek government against all the hardships, all the traps and all the low blows which will now come.

May you keep on lighting the way for all of us.

The Greek people need you. They will keep on needing you.

We need you, all of us in Europe.

Thank you, Yani.

Thank you.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beware those who've lost everything ! Hope lives in Greece !

It's hard to find the words through the emotion that overwhelms you when something wonderful happens.

Something you no longer dared hope for.

But it looks like tonight, hope is alive again. Hope is rising in Greece, the first stage before spreading all over Europe, maybe.

Syriza is poised to win today's elections, and its historical victory might even give it ab absolute majority in the Greek Parliament.

They have lost everything. We have abandoned them down our road. We have lorded it over them, we have given them lessons when we should have been beside them, next to them. Helping them. And while we mocked them and berated them, we sank into hopelessness, resignation and the dark mire world the powers-that-be wanted for us, so their privileges would be safe, so their riches would keep on growing, feeding on us, on the marrow of our bones.

And yet, the Greek people refused the open arms of hatred incarnate. They denied the horrible lure of Golden Dawn, and they cast their votes and their last shreds of hope and strength toward Syriza. Alexis Tsipras is the face of a renewal of state, of social justice, of the defense of the people against financiers, corporations and powers-that-be.

And tonight, in these darkening days in the heart of Winter, we are reminded that the sun will rise again. That there will be good days again, happy days. That it's up to us to deny all the naysayers, all the doomsayers. All those who demand that we bow our heads and serve them.

Beware those who have lost everything, those whom we've abandoned along the road. Dreamers who dream of a better world. They feel anger rising in their hearts. They will hold tomorrow's hands in their hands. In the hands of those who have lost everything. In their hands.

Souchon's and Voulzy's songs echoes inside my heart. And I feel a lump in my throat. I feel a sting in my eyes. And I can't help a stupid smile from coming to my face.

Thank you, Syriza. Than you, Alexis Tsipras. And most of all, thank you, people of Greece.

Thank you for this wonderful gift of hope. Thank you for lighting our path. We have always known what it is we should do. We had been duped into thinking it was impossible. We had been duped into believing that there was no dreaming, no hoping, no trusting any alternative. Tonight, we know that it was all a lie.

Tonight, we know that everything is possible. If only we decide to take that step. If we want it to be.

I bow before you, Greece. I bow before you, people of Greece, you who have gathered a strength and a courage the powers-that-be wanted you so much to have lost.

Tonight, hope has triumphed !

Thank you.

Η ελπίδα έρχεται. Η ελπίδα νίκησε !

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out of the thick mists darkening our lives, a glimmer of hope ?

There should be no question mark in this post's title, no. There should be an exclamation mark, an expression of joy instead of doubt, a hope nobody really expected anymore, but such are our doused European spirits, nowadays.

2014 saw many bad things happen. Wars, terrorism, evil incarnate as the cowards hiding behind the ISI label used false religious pretence to rape women and little girls, children, and to slaughter countless innocent people. Planes crashed, boats took fire and more people died. A terrible disease reared up its head where it was not expected, in a quasi sure sign that humankind is venturing beyond limits, borders it should not cross in the ancient primary forests of Africa.

In Belgium, a government was formed, that is blatantly anti-democratic regarding the French-speaking minority, all thanks to one French-speaking rightwing party, its leader all too preoccupied with the prospect of becoming Prime Minister to worry about betraying the people he's supposed to represent, endorsing ultra-right economical and social themes and actions that his party hadn't even laid out during the electoral campaign. Austerity is about to strike hard, in a country which had been preserved the folly imposed all around Europe by Germany – that is its rich pensioners, who care nothing about the misery, the pain, the shame and utter despair the return rates they demand for their pension funds create for hundreds of millions of people. The lackeys of a very small minority are now in power in Belgium, and they're more than anxious to cater to their masters. To make them richer, by making everyone else poorer, hiding behind the false justifications of phony economy gurus. In the face of the obvious failure of the austerity policies imposed by Germany and the likes of David Cameron, it's folly to start down the road that destroyed the social and economic balance of other countries, and yet, this is what the Belgian government is engaging in.

Still, Autumn saw huge demonstrations and strikes. A perfume of refusal, in the hearts of those who are being robbed of their rights, all so that the rich can get richer. But of course, it wasn't enough. So, while we're taking a break and wait for the new year to come, I can't help but wonder : what's next ? Will we roll over and take sheer injustice, ugly betrayal and madness with bowed heads ?

In Greece, the depression has destroyed countless lives. People lose their jobs, their abillity to access healthcare, their access to electricity, the ability to send their kids to school, their homes...their lives. Reduced to a state worse than that of a third world country, Greece seems condemned to endure ever more pointless austerity, as well as moral lessons from Germany, which should know better and shut its trap.

Wait, no : strike that. Correction : Greece SEEMED to be condemned.

In this passing of the year 2014, in the time when Light rises against the Dark and hope for the renewal of Spring flowers in hearths and hearts, something happened.

The inept, grotesque government formed by ND and PASOK fell, unable to gather enough votes to elect their presidential candidates – and when one knows how devious the Greek presidential election system is, designed to allow for betrayal and changes of hearts (however motivated) between the three election rounds, well, one realizes how much anger and refusal there must be, even among this fickle, poorly reliable body that is the Greek parliament.

What this incompetent government wanted to avoid, what its masters – Germany, the ECB, the IMF and the European Commission – wanted to avoid at all costs in a stunning display of authoritarian refusal of democracy, is going to happen.

There will be general elections in Greece, and they will take place on January 25th, 2015. In less than a month, democracy will at last regain its place.

And in these elections, it seems that SYRIZA, the one credible leftwing party left, might win, and at long last get to power. This is what Germany, the ECB, the IMF and the European Commission have dreaded for more than two years : the rise of a party that isn't full of cronies and lackeys solely focused on their own agenda, all indebted to the powers-that-be. SYRIZA is their nightmare.

SYRIZA is Greece's last, best chance. For the future. For hope.

Already, the powers-that-be muster their forces : the IMF has announced it will cut its funding to Greece. In yet another gross disregard for democracy, Germany is unsubtly warning the Greek people that if they do not vote « as they should », than it will cut the life line, and let Greece die – no matter that austerity hasn't helped, and won't ever help, that it destroys people and their society, that it fuels hatred and the horrors of parties like Golden Dawn, no matter that everyone knows that Greece's debt is unsustainable, and that all austerity does is pushing people deeper into poverty and despair, in the waiting arms of the neo-nazis.

There will be worse in the weeks leading to the elections : markets will plunge – the sacra-sanct, infallible markets. The so-called godlike invisible hand will warn the Greek people of the doom that awaits them, should they err in their vote, and fail to re-elect the failed, grotesque ND and PASOK. Greek banks will threaten default. Rating agencies will review their quotes. Fake economic gurus will foretell fire raining from the skies and the earth splitting beneath Greece's feet.

And yet, the Greek people will vote. And yet, they will have the power to say no. To try and win free. Oh, I have no doubt it will be hard, difficult. I have no doubt that the forces that will unite to bring Greece down to heel will be terrible.

But, tell me, what do the Greeks have to lose ? They have already lost everything.

This is their one chance to fight back, to regain their pride, trampled from underfoot by people who should know better, who should have the decency to say nothing. This is their one chance for hope. And yet, I know that a great many Greek people are so far gone, so tired of failed promises and lies, so weary of trying to hang on to hope, that they just want to shut their eyes and do nothing. Wait. Sleep. Be oblivious.

This is the reason for my question mark. Are the Greek people resilient enough to shrug off all the pain, the burdens, the misery and the despair hammered on their shoulders to look up, and dare hope ? Dare challenge the powers-that-be ?

Hope sometimes hides in the most unexpected places. Here is one : a song by Alain Souchon and Laurent Voulzy – The Clever Bird :

Oh, beware all those who are bereft of everything
Sings and sings a small, clever bird
Rising up to the sky, flying and diving
Above realms and republics

The clever bird watches and sees
The financiers cloaked in Mystery
Playing on their plasma screens, hey
With the money that so many people hope for
Masters and servants
From their sheltered offices

They don't hear the bird singing
They don't head the bird's song
Foretelling their danger

So, I join my hopes to those of all the people who wish for change, who have fought and will continue to fight for change. For a better, fairer world. This is not an impossible goal, an unattainable objective, no matter how so-called wise men and women berate you that it's kidlike delusions. I know this, at least. I hope the Greek people remember it. For if Greece rises to the challenge of the powers-that-be and dare place their trust in SYRIZA...

Everything will change.

Greece might well be the symbol, the flagship of change, the beginnings of a fire that only needs a spark to rise and bring warmth and light to our dying Europe in the coming year.

May it be so.

With all my heart, I wish you a happy new year, Greece. I wish you hope, and pride.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Greece : The Leisurely Rise of the Neonazis

[French versions of this post can be found on Paul Jorion's blog and on Rue89]

Kalamata, September 16th, 2012.

Some mysteries are better left alone. However, it happens that, in the quiet timelessness of Sunday mornings, puzzles are resolved even though you wish they wouldn’t be. A small provincial city, Kalamata is the biggest settlement of the Messinia Province, in the South-West of the Peloponnese. It’s a quiet town, which slumbers under the crushing rays of the summer sun despite the towering shadow of the Taygetos mountain range, its majestic neighbour. Kalamata is a place where nothing much ever happens, where Time seems to flow more slowly, the opposite of megalopolises like Athens or Thessaloniki, whence a few worrying images of surging poverty an violence reach us once in a while – you know, these brief reports deprived of the smallest ounce of contextualization, which the TV channels use to shower their news whenever the whim comes upon them, and the news is lacking in what they deem worthy of interest.

And yet, Kalamata isn’t without its own problems, all thanks to the crisis which has been hitting Greece for more than two years now: groups of beggars haunt each crossroads, more often than not they’re illegal immigrants from Asia or Africa, left adrift once they’ve managed to cross Europe’s entry gate. Or rather, I should say that Kalamata used to also have this kind of problem. During the course of the last winter, a strange miracle took place: nowadays, you can no longer find any beggar haunting the town’s crossroads, you can no longer find illegal immigrants selling bootleg CDs or junk stuff only found in the worst suburb’s bazaars. At first, you naively believe that the Greek state has at last decided to take care of the illegal immigration issue, and to care for all those poor people left at the tender mercies of the various mafias which are more than willing to give them a helping hand – for a modest fee, of course. And then, while browsing through one of the local newspapers, the truth comes out. It’s dark, this truth, as black as a night of the end of the 1930 years. No, the police didn’t intervene to gather the immigrants and allow the competent services to start deportation procedures. No, the Greek state hasn’t at last decided to shoulder its responsibilities.

It’s the result of Golden Dawn’s handiwork. Chrissi Avgi in the Greek language, is more militia than political party. Its ideology is clearly advertised, without the smallest qualm or attempt at hiding its nature: overtly racist, xenophobic, Golden Dawn proudly claims its ties with the Nazi ideology, flaunting around pictures of Adolf Hitler, whose death it qualifies as a terribly sad event, as well as a swastika-like emblem.

Yes, It’s Golden Dawn which cleaned up Kalamata’s crossroads, which organised the beatings and all the violence necessary to chase defenceless people away from the town – to erase them from the streets the way one would erase vermin from a garden. Golden Dawn’s militias took up what should be the duties of the police and the Greek state with impunity, and now they boast about their exploits in the local newspapers.

This isn’t the end of the story, unfortunately. During the course of the summer, watchful readers have read the reports of pogroms set up by Golden Dawn in the poorer suburbs of Athens. Reading a report is one thing. Hearing directly the tale of crimes encouraged – spawned by the Greek police – close to you is quite another.

“Once upon an evening in Kalamata”, in this small backwater town of the Peloponnese, a Greek woman spots a dark man entering her home’s garden. Frightened, she calls the police. The police’s response is swift, and crystal clear: no, no police officer will be sent to the woman’s home. However, she can call Golden Dawn, and its militia will come and take care of the matter. Ever so helpful, the policeman at the other end of the phone line gives the woman the phone number she can use to request the help of Golden Dawn’s local militia. Shocked, she hangs up, but refuses to follow that particular piece of advice. She waits for a while. Still worried, she ends up calling the police once more. Its reaction remains the same: she merely has to call Golden Dawn and her problem will be solved. No, the police won’t intervene: it claims it doesn’t have the means to do so. Again, the woman hangs up. Asking the neo-Nazis to come is out of the question for her.

Yet, just a few minutes later, Golden Dawn’ militia irrupt in the street. There isn’t anyone in the woman’s garden anymore. However, a few dozen steps away from her home stands a house inhabited by a Pakistani man. It takes a few more minutes for the uniform-wearing thugs to surround it.

And once they have, they set the house ablaze.

End of the story.

The year isn’t 1938. This isn’t Germany. The year is 2012, in Greece, a country renowned for its douceur de vivre and its inhabitants’ hospitality. Greece, a country ruined by corrupt management, and most of all because of the absurd demands of foreign governments and central bankers who have absolutely no idea, who do not realize what kind of monster they’re busy awakening and feeding ever more with each and every unjust and inefficient austerity measure they force upon a country they already have almost starved to death.

On the eve of the May 2012 elections, Golden Dawn’s neo-Nazis claimed 8% of the votes. In June, their electoral score had gone down a tiny notch to 7%, which still enabled them to send 21 representatives to the Greek parliament, the core of democratic institutions, which they target in speeches everyday, proud to announce without the slightest ambiguity in their words that they’ll take the struggle to the streets with their stormtroopers as soon as they’re ready to do so.

The last surveys give Golden Dawn more than 10% of the vote, ahead of PASOK itself. Each and every strike dealt at Greece, each and every unjust measure forced upon Greece from the outside in our name, we who are Europeans and had based our Europe on the oath of “Never Again”, each and every demand for more austerity which unwaveringly targets the same categories among the Greek population and tears from formerly middle-class citizens what little they have left sends them further into the black embrace of Golden Dawn. The mechanism is terribly simple, and already more than well known of anybody with just a bit of historical knowledge: destroy a country from the outside using means belonging to barely veiled economical colonialism, destroy its public services, health care, education and the rest, while leaving in place the corrupt administration and governments which are the root of the problem, and you lead it to a point where the democratic state starts unravelling. Everything starts crumbling down, democracy itself cracks, like rotten plaster. The police and army, ripe with people nostalgic of the sinister far-right dictatorship of the Colonels, where the neo-Nazis reach their highest electoral results, take advantage of the circumstances to simply let go a bit further, and to push a beleaguered population without the smallest prospect of a better future, in desperate search of security, in the arms of Golden Dawn.

Today, the Neo-nazis are the third political party in Greece, before the historical social-democrat party.

No, the year isn’t 1938. But we’re going back there. We’re rushing back there.


Friday, April 06, 2012

Resistance !

It's an old word, Resistance, one that had fallen out of fashion, replaced by compliance and resignation. It's a word whose nobility has been branded into generations of human beings who refused oppression, authoritarianism and dictatorship. From the battles on the plains of Gaul to the guerilla warfare led against the Nazi in France during World War II, its echoes had almost faded from our hearing range.


Resistance has been coming back into the groove these last few days. It's shouted and echoed by thousands of passionate voices. In Paris, at the Bastille, one hundred and twenty thousands voices lifted it up and sent it soaring up to the sky, challenging clouds and defeating a forecasted rain which never fell. The endless tides of people thronged the streets of Paris, answering the call of one man who managed the tour de force of uniting the true left of the political spectrum. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, for the Left Party, is one among the ten candidates for France's presidential elections, and he's also the one man who has breathed in a sense of hope into a gloomy and beleaguered society.

At the turn of the year, Mélenchon was the butt of the pundits's jokes. He was a clown, a bully – pundits hate those who refuse to pay them homage and submit to their little branding games as a rule – and a scarecrow who might not even reach the 5% of votes necessary to receive funds for his campaign. Mélenchon was just an oddity, way out there, and often equated with the far right's Le Pen, in what was, as the pundits well knew, the worst insult they could throw at him, not to mention a blatant lie.

But time passed. Mélenchon set out to meet the people in all the corners of France. He set out to reconquer all those women and all those men who had given up on politics, given up on voting. He set out to confront the far right head-on, refusing to abandon to Le Pen the workers and the poor, all categories of people which the traditional left had simply written off their agenda. And something happened. People started to come to his meetings, to hear him talk. To hear Mélenchon explain, explain and explain again what politics is, the tremendous power people have and should never relinquish. To hear Mélenchon teach again the use of the word: Resistance. He's an exceptional orator, is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, someone versed in literature, who can quote Victor Hugo and hundreds of other authors on the fly, in complete improvisation. He's also someone who never let anyone write his speeches – not even himself : he jots down the main ideas, and then he dives into the battle of eloquence. He fences with words, spurred by inspiration and conviction. And you know what ? The sincerity in the man reaches out to the people who come to see him. It embraces them and sparks hope in their hearts anew.

Days went by, then weeks. And more and more people came to listen to Jean-Luch Mélenchon. Among them, young people, old people, some who had turned their back on politics, others who never thought they'd be interested in it. The audiences grew and, at last, the pundits were forced to acknowledge that Mélenchon was a true contender for the presidency. And Mélenchon overtook Le Pen in the surveys, becoming the third man, and taking back from the far right people it had deceived and lured toward it. Of course, the pundits did what they do best : they acknowledged his score in the surveys while nurturing their contempt for the man and using all the weapons at their disposal to belittle the ideas he defends – and to belittle the people who come in great waves to listen to him, to rediscover that politics is noble, perhaps the noblest of domains, and rediscover that, yes, they have power.

Then came March, 18th, 2012. The anniversary of 1871's Commune de Paris, the one great hope of the poor one hundred and forty years ago, crushed with sabers and guns and cannons, and rivers of blood. On that Sunday, one hundred twenty thousand people came to the Bastille from all over France, so many that Jean-Luc Mélenchon had to shorten his speech on the fly by half, in order to allow the people massing in the square and all the adjacent streets to move on before they ended up crushed against barriers.

The pundits watched, speechless.

And then again, yesterday, seventy thousand people filledToulouse's gigantic main square and the streets all around it. And Resistance once again soared up to the sky, echoed by all those voices.

I do not know what will happened on the evening of April 22nd. I do not know if Jean-Luc Mélenchon will end up third in the race. I do not know if the unthinkable will happen, and send him to the second round run-off. But I do know one thing : Jean-Luc Mélenchon's passionate words and oratory talents have rekindled hope in a great many people's hearts, re-empowering them, giving them back a power they had thought stolen from them forever. His project of social justice, his refusal to bow down before the threats and scorn of the pundits and the power-that-be, his willingness to relinquish power to the people and to lift them up from the black pit of resignation and indifference, of the life of blind slavery to a system gone mad find an echo. An echo that grows. It places politics back at the center of the game, it gives politics back the nobility the right and the social-democrats have sold piece by piece for their own comfort over the years, until politics was no more than filthy rags people didn't want anything to do with.

Politics is the heart and soul of a democracy. Jean-Luc Mélenchon is reminding all of us of this fundamental truth. Power is in our hands. Nobody can take it form us, unless we allow them to. We can do something. We can change the world. We can turn the system upside down, if we gather. If we unite our forces. A revolution of citizens, peaceful, through the polls, this is the possibility he offers the French people.


And for that, for sparking hope and giving back politics its nobility, I for one am thankful.

I do not know what will happen on April 22nd. I can only hope, but even that is a gift.

Good journey, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, may it take you far, may it give you the leverage to force the socialists to lead a true leftwing policy if they end up in the Elysee.

Imagine, if the socialists win the preisdential, with Mélenchon's support, and if, one year from now, the socialists win the general elections in Germany with the support of Die Linke. Imagine, The Left Party and Die Linke having leverage on the socialists, enough to shape policies toward the left, more social justice. Imagine...

Resistance is trendy once again.

Good journey, and good luck.

And if you want to know more, as luck would have it the Guardian has a long paper about Mélenchon here : Jean-Luc Mélenchon: the poetry-loving pitbull galvanising the French elections.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

End-of-Year Musings

« What do you want ? »
« Who are you? »
« Do you have anything worth living for? »

The shadow in the mirror smiles as it asks its ritual questions. I smile also, being its faithful relfection. The order in the questions is wrong. You cannot say what you want unless you know who you are. And you cannot begin to pretend to know who you are if you don't have any idea why the hell you're living this strange life you were born to without asking for it in the first place.

Today is Christmas day for christians. For me, it's a focal point of beliefs and symbols. It's a day when the echoes of our multiple pasts reach out to embrace us, whether we realize it, or not. We have Christmas trees. We have gifts. We have fire in the hearth, we have the traditional « Bûche de Noël » - the Yule log. We celebrate the return of the light, of the sun rising from the heart of winter, the deep of night and darkness, without which it loses all meaning. Like life, which is meaningless without death, no matter how hard grief and loss are to bear for those who remain.

As always, the end of year period belongs to questions. It belongs to doubts and reflections and stubborn hopes, to indignation and the elusive promise of revolutions to come – pehraps even more so this time than ever before. So why not indulge this shadow in the mirror and its relentless questions and challenges ?

Why not, indeed ? But we'll do it my way.

« Do you have anything worth living for ? » the shadow asks from within its mirror. Well, the first answer to that should be obvious : I have this life, you dolt. And it's in me to make the most of it. To kindle it and make it burn high and bright, to fuel its flames with my heart and send it soaring high, until it touches the sky. And then there are all the other answers. All the people I love. All the places that resonate inside my heart. All the lives I touch, all the lives who touch mine. All the world. All the universe, boundless. « Big words, » the shadow snorts in the mirror. « Big, but rather empty. »

Really ?

I think not, dearest reflection. Reach out, touch all that surrounds you, if you dare. Let all that surrounds you touch you, if you dare. Break the shell. Shed the armor. Watch. Listen. Feel. The world, the people, they are so many onions stinging your eyes as you peel off the layers isolating you from it all. They make you cry. They make you angry. They make you smile. They make you proud. They make you sad. They enrage you. They disgust you. They enflame you. So many emotions. So many thoughts. So many things to say and feel and express. Too many to put into words : joy, revolt, grief, hope, despair, anger, fury, contempt, spite, happiness, pride, shame, hatred, love, sparks, fire, cold, ice, determination, stubbornness, fight, refusal, solidarity, indignation, revolution.... So you see, there are too many things, overflowing, spilling from this mind of mine, to put into words. The only way to express it all, is to encompass the whole chaotic mess with big words. Big, but not empty if you know how to read them.

So, next question, please. « Who are you ? »

Again, the answer seems obvious. I am who and what I am. I am a human being, full of flaws, torn between the dark and the light. Standing between dusk and dawn. Flickering gray, I am one funambulist among billions of others. I am a sum of contradictions. I also happen to be a woman, but don't be afraid, women are simple human beings like everyone else, regardless of religions' misogyny and bigotry. « Yeah, right, » the shadow in the mirror smirks. « That says nothing at all about who you are. Big words again, and avoidance of the real answer. » Is that so ? But who could give a definite answer to that question ? We are always building ourselves. We grow and change and become who we are and will be with each moment that passes, with each encounter we make, with each and every event we experience. Any definite answer would become false in the moment I'd write it. The present is a heartbeat, over and done, and then renewed, repeated again and again, different each time, everlasting and inexistent. « Sophistry, » the shadow in the mirror spits. « You gorge yourself with words and sentences that have no meaning. » Do I ? Or are you just miffed and frustrated because those words and sentences are just more questions which ask for answers nobody can give, ô dearest shadow in the mirror ? But then it's true I do love babbling, the more so when I write in English. And, yeah, that's also part of who I am, so there !

All right, last but not least, « What do you want ? »

In Babylon 5, the single best ever aired SF TV series, answering that question is damning yourself. Be careful what you wish for, it may come true, is the lesson B5 teaches in the most cruel and definite fashion...or is that the real message ? Lately I tend to see it as more of a warning : stop depending on others to make your wishes come true. Take your destiny in your own hands. Move your fucking ass, because if you wait for someone else to do it for you, you may not like the result – and then it's usually too late to take it back and do something else. But let's get back to what I want. The answer to that shouldn't be very hard to find. You only need to read the posts I've written on this blog along the years, but if that task sounds too daunting, I can probably summarize it for you here :

I want us to grow up.

I want us to stop bowing our heads before the dictates of the powers-that-be.

I want us to deserve the name of « human beings ».

I want justice to prevail for everyone. Social justice. Economic justice.

I want us to be free of religions, of bigotry and obscurantism, be it Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hinduist, Buddhist, Animist or other.

I want us to think for ourselves, and stop swallowing the garbage flung down our throats by the mass media.

I want people to involve themselves in unions, in politics.

I want people to do more than whine and then slump down in the sofa to watch sports or some other TV junk like reality shows.

I want us to stop allowing ourselves to be blinded, to be driven like plough horses during the course of our lives.

I want us to stop nodding our heads when frauds come on TV, on the radio or in the newspaper to tell us that « There Is No Alternative » or that « we've lived above our means until now, and so it follows that now we must take care of our debt ».

I want us to think outside the box.

I want us to stand up for ourselves and turn the tables on the powers-that-be, on the Ron Pauls and Rick Perrys and Newt Gingrich, on the Koch brothers and the Albert Freres and Vincent Bollorés, on the Etienne Davignons and Jean-Luc Dehaenes, the Goldman Sachs and JP Morgans and UBS. I want us to turn this oligarchy upside down, to depose those ploutocrats and their faithful dogs : Nicolas Sarkozy, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Lucas Papademos, Mario Monti, Mario Draghi, the IMF, the ECB and all the other zealots in the media everywhere.

I want us to do the revolution.

I want us to be happy, to be balanced and to live in peace.

I want to see, feel, touch and hear the beauty of this world we live in.

I want...so many things I could fill a thousand lifetimes with them, but that's all right. Like the weeds and the moss in my garden, I'll endure. I'll grow even though it rains. I'll keep standing up. I'll keep on fighting, no matter whether I stand a chance to reach the lofty goals I set for myself.

Because that's who I am.

Because that's what I want.

Because that's what makes this life worth living.

And that's it for grand philosophy moments from me...well, that's it for this time, anyway. As to the future, I make no promises ! =)