In an effort to stop Greece’s parliament from voting for further austerity measures today and tomorrow, the Greek people have effectively shut the entire country down, as part of the 48-hour general strike. As Time reports:
The strikes have shuttered government offices, public services, shops and even bakeries. Taxi drivers walked off the job, as did air-traffic controllers (though they shortened their work stoppage from 48 hours to 12).
Unfortunately, as has been common in past demonstrations in Greece, some protesters broke windows of storefronts and clashed with the police, throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at them.
Despite the many images of such violence, Theodora Oikonomides, a Athens resident who was at the enormous rally today at Syntagma Square told the Guardian that:
A group of between 20 and 40 people, really no more, then started throwing stones. I recognised some of them from previous events. They never seem to get arrested.
From footage of the clashes, her estimate seems to be far too small, but most reports have said that the group engaging in violence was a small minority of what was an otherwise peaceful strike and rally.
The Associated Press is now reporting that the vote this evening went in favor of the further austerity measures, but the bill will not be passed until its articles are voted on tomorrow.
As I watch the Greeks give everything they’ve got to stop this legislation from going through, I couldn’t help but wonder why protests in the US haven’t attempted a general strike, which is one of the most powerful nonviolent tactics.
While there were citywide general strikes during the Great Depression, like the 1934 general strike that shut down San Francisco for four days, a true nationwide general strike to my knowledge has never been either attempted or successful in this country.
Yes, the United States is a much larger country both geographically and numerically, which would make organizing such an action more challenging, but if Greece can pull it off, why can’t we?
If the Occupy Wall Street movement is eventually to put the kind of pressure on the government and corporate power to truly address the structural problems with our economic and political systems, a serious nationwide general strike that clearly demonstrates who actually makes this country tick may be called for.
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The idea of a general strike has been floating around OWS since the beginning. I remember on the first day a woman made quite a public stink about it. At the time, I thought it sounded ridiculous, and it was—not one labor union had yet put its support behind the movement. But now things are very different. Now that there is such strong support for the movement nationally, this idea is being considered pretty seriously. I heard talk about planning one for late November.
US is a more dangerous country than Greece. How many countries feel the right to assassinate their own citizens while in a foreign country and without a trial?
How many countries have obvious, idiot corporate stooges running for president like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. It’s as though corporate America wants us to know they can put ANY a**hole in the presidency they want. I think they’d like for to not take the gov’t seriously, because I can’t believe even THEY think we’re that stupid.
But if we can get the transit workers, police, firemen, etc. on board. we CAN stop the gov’t and REALLY get their attention, full stop.
While I’m have some heartburn with Al-Awlaki being killed without trial, I won’t shed a tear for him either. You have a citizen fitting the Constitutional definition of treason, but Crosby v. United States, 506 U.S. 255 (1993) precludes trial in absentia without a trial actually starting in his presence. In my opinion this is a hole in the legal system that needs addressed.
Your references to Bachmann and Perry are juvenile and laughably false.
Thank God the Americans are NOTHING like the Greeks.
After watching and listening to the Greeks protesting austerity and the OWS folks, I have no idea what fantasy land they live in.
Why? Most probably b/c you lack the experience, as well as the nerve it takes to stage a strike in downtown Athens *every* single day for the past *2-3 decades*. & this includes closing off whole, central *avenues* for hours at a time to protest, well, pretty much anything. & this anything includes, in turn, my favorite example: traffic *volunteers* who demonstrated, a couple of years ago, demanding that they be hired as paid staff by the state.
I lived in your country for a number of years some time ago &, though it became clear that it was not my cup of tea, I prefer many facets of american life over greek life. And I’m freaking greek, too!…