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The ulama and the rights of women

The ulama and the rights of women

If woman is just an appendage and a ward of men, then she cannot be held accountable for her sins as a fully realized human being and thus not subject to divine judgment

In my textual encounters, and now sadly Youtube encounters, with the Ulama and their explanations of women’s rights in Islam, I have noticed some interesting interpretive practices that, in my view, tend to privilege a phallocentric view of the Muslim sacred.

Almost all of these “scholars” believe that the message of the Qur’an is hidden behind the words, and if, somehow, one knew enough Arabic, one could, so to speak, interpret the mind of God. In this process of interpretation, one is led to believe that the scholar is just disinterestedly extracting the hidden meaning in an objective encounter with the text. Sadly, these practices go counter to Islam’s own traditions of hermeneutics of the text and the postlinguisitc turn aspects of textual interpretation. What this objective retrieval of meaning assumes, then, is that, somehow, in this encounter with the text, the reader can leave his own subjectivity—and its attendant biases—behind and find out the true hidden meaning of the sacred text.

Those of us involved in the workings of literary theory are painfully aware that all acts of reading are highly contaminated and never really unmotivated. A text comes into being at the moment a reader reads it: interpretation, therefore, is an agential act, an act that involves the act of reading and interpretation by a reading subject.

This reading subject—or the subject of reading—also, we are told, brings his own “biases and prejudices” to the act of reading. The meaning thus construed is a combination of what is offered in a text and how that is filtered through the reader’s own preexisting attitudes toward the act of interpretation. That is why, Stanley Fish, a leading Reader response critic in the US, can explain the range of differences in interpretations of same text by different readers. According to Fish, the variety of interpretation occurs because the readers belong to a certain “interpretive community” and bring to the act of reading the practices privileged and normalized by their particular interpretative community.

So, when our Ulama read and interpret the gender roles in the Qur’an, a part of their interpretation comes from the words on the page but a large part of it also resides in their own preexisting biases as male gendered subjects in a Muslim society.

Almost all the major Ulama in Pakistan go to Surah Al-Nisa to expound their theories of inherent gender inequality as inscribed by the Qur’an. The most cited ayah is verse 34, a fragment of which is often cited: Arrijaal-o Qawwameea Alan-nisa. I will explain my point with specific reference to one particular interpretation of it by late Doctor Israr Ahmed, who, by the way, prided himself on his mastery of Arabic and often derided his opponents for their lack of understanding of the subtleties of Arabic language.

Doctor Israr translates this thusly: “Men are rulers over women” or as he would say it in his flawless Urdu, mard aurat per hakim hain. Now, those of us who are familiar with Arabic know that this is a gross reduction of the polysemy of the word Qawwaam. And it is this reduction that is crucial here, for it is made possible by what the interpreter hopes to privilege in the act of interpreting the text: a certain specific, hierarchical meaning of gendered roles in the Muslim society. This interpretation is crucial to Doctor Israr’s argument, for only then can he posit that women cannot be rulers, and not even members of parliament. I am not sure if he later revised his position, but I am just using his interpretation as one specific type of male-centric interpretation.

Now, even the official copy of the Qur’an produced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [the so-called Wahabis] gives a more fluid translation of the verse and the noun that Doctor Israr translates as “Haakim-Rulers.” The official English translation of the verse in the Saudi-produced translation is as follows:

“Men are the protectors

And maintainers of women . . .”

Furthermore, the translators of the Saudi version also provide a footnote to this particular sign/word in the ayah: “Qawwaam: one who stands firm in another’s business, protects his interests, and looks after his affairs. . .” (219).

Incidentally, the copy of the Qur’an that I am citing from was given to me as the “officially accepted” translation by the local leader of Doctor Israr’s organization in Quetta in 1994. So, while Doc. Israr himself was explaining the word Qawwaam as rulers, the official translation being provided by his organization was giving us a completely different reading of the term. Now, we all know that interpretation is always practiced within its prehistory along with other past and present translations of the scared. In fact, an important role of a scholar is to position his or herself within the larger debates on a certain topic. But, sadly, we are not so lucky in this regard when it comes to our Ulama. Most of our Ulama offer their interpretations of the sacred as original and originary, as if no work had been done before them. When Doctor Israr offers his interpretations of the sacred, it is with this sadly misplaced hubris: one is led to believe that the text had laid dormant for fourteen hundred years, until someone such as Doctor Israr came along and opened it up for us and decided its meaning by eliminating all insipient and obvious polysemous traces of the text.

There is however, a different interpretation of this particular Surah and the specific ayah very close to our time and space: namely in the work of Maulana Mumtaz Ali, who in 1898 published a book called Haqooq Al Niswan, The Rights of Women [Those interested in further exploration of this book can download it at http://archive.org].

In this book, Maulana Mumtaz Ali provides a line-by-line refutation of all metaphysical and logical claims about women’s inequality. He also accomplishes this by privileging a more nuanced and apt reading of the word Qawwaam. I provide a brief citation below in my translation:

The most convincing Qur’anic proof of that they offer [in favor of male superiority] is ayah 34 from Surah Alnisa. They translate it thusly: “Men are rulers over women.” . . . Qawwaam is a ‘saturated’ signifier: the person who is too busy in arranging and organizing the affairs of a business [karobaar] is considered Qawwaam. . . As men have to earn to provide for women, they are therefore in the role of Qawwameen. (17)

This, of course, is a very rough translation and does not provide the whole range of discussion that Maulana Ali mobilizes to make a case for women’s equality. Also important to note is that his interpretations has huge socio-political consequences. By opening a rhetorical space for women to enter the public sphere, Mumtaz Ali is able to foster and support the women’s education movement as a result of which the Muslim women of India enter the public sphere, access education, and eventually become active members of the Indian society.

In opposition to this, Doctor Israr’s interpretation is an attempt at reinscribing the figure of the woman back into the private sphere. In fact, in another of his lectures he insists that he is not opposed to women performing productive labor as long as “they are provided work in the privacy of their homes.”[1] This of course is a perfect recipe for the exploitation of women at the hands of international capital, which, by the way, relies quite heavily on these forms of privatized feminine labor.

Thus, while one scholar's interpretation creates a liberatory space for women and enables us to create a more equal and just society, another scholar wants us to accept the preexisting gender inequalities as natural and divinely sanctioned. In both these cases the meaning of the text is not simply drawn from the text but is rather construed through the “prejudices” and “expectations” that the reader/ scholar brings to the sacred text.

So, in a nutshell, what I am suggesting is that we as readers of sacred texts should read them with a deeper and more expansive knowledge of prior interpretations and we should also understand that all acts of interpretation have the politics of the reader/scholar pre-inscribed in the act of reading itself.

That women are neither ontologically inferior nor tools within the male instrumental logic is an obvious statement of fact to me. And not because I live in the west and have lost touch with my roots (whatever that means), but because the whole system of Islamic justice will fall apart if women did not posses an equal ontological status to men. For is she is less than man and was created for his pleasure then the rules of justice cannot apply to her similarly as they apply to men. The rules of justice presuppose a uniform level of agency: that is why we do not punish those who are physically forced into crime through fear of violence. So, if woman is incapable of deeper thought, or total agency, then all her actions and crimes must be treated as those of someone not in control of her senses, or as someone lacking basic intelligence of a fully realized human being: this would render all acts by women as harmless and beyond the reach of law under rules of incompetency.

Also, in that other world, if woman is just an appendage and a ward of men, then she cannot be held accountable for her sins as a fully realized human being and thus not subject to divine judgment. It is only when the Muslim scholars accept female personhood as equal to man that they can justify and stabilize the Islamic system of corporeal and spiritual law, or else the entire edifice of Shariah is built on a shaky and unsound foundation.

End Notes:

[1] I am citing these quotes from memory. Readers can find Dr. Israr’s writings on this website dedicated to his life and work: http://www.drisrarahmed.com/.

Author of Constructing Pakistan (Oxford UP, 2010) Masood Ashraf Raja is an Assistant Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of North Texas, United States and the editor of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies. His critical essays have been published in journals including South Asian Review, Digest of Middle East Studies, Caribbean Studies, Muslim Public Affairs Journal, and Mosaic. He is currently working on his second book, entitled Secular Fundamentalism: Poetics of Incitement and the Muslim Sacred.

Public Meeting on 15 July

RADICAL-POSTER

21st Century Socialism and the Left in West Bengal

Students' Hall (opposite College Square)
15 July: 5 PM onwards


Speakers:

Sobhanlal Dutta Gupta
Ratan Khasnobis
Ushasie Chakraborty
Kunal Chattopadhyay

Appeal for Solidarity by Leftwing Environmental Activists

We have received the appeal, reproduced below, from Comrade Rohit Prajapati, a member of Radical Socialist in Gujarat, and a veteran trade unionist and environmental activist. For further details on Prajapati and his co-signatory, Swati Desai, both members of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, an environmentalist activist group of Gujarat, see Class Struggle and Environmental Activism, by Kunal Chattopadhyay.

We will publish further material on the campaign by Prajapati and others, as well as on the offenive of the ruling class. The attack on PSS is evidence that when environmental activism is transformed from a bourgeois issue like shifting slums out of big cities in the name of urban beautification, or petty bourgeois issues where the individual is asked to take responsibility for cleaning up the environment fouled by the ruling class, to a class struggle issue, rulers become vicious. We call for all India and  international solidarity with PSS and the comrades under attack.


Radical Socialist

  • A defamation case, worth of Rs. 25 Crores have been filed against ‘The Times of India’ and Rohit Prajapati by Vapi Industries Association (VIA) and United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) and Avik Pharmaceutical Ltd.
  • We are determined to fight these legal and other battles which we may have to face in the coming days and for that we need your full support – through legal aid, political campaign, and perhaps financial contribution if we appeal for it.
Dear All
Vapi Industries Association (VIA), United Phosphorus Limited (UPL), and Avik Pharmaceutical Ltd. have filed a defamation case, worth of Rs. 25 Crores against ‘The Times of India’ and Rohit Prajapati in the Vapi Court, District Valsad, Gujarat with reference to ‘News Item’ appeared in ‘The Times of India’ on 5thJune 2010 [Vapi: caught in a toxic chokehold, The Times of India, 4th June 2010 http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-06-05/pollution/28278983_1_cpcb-comprehensive-environmental-pollution-index-gpcb]. 

The VIA states in their case “It is submitted that Shri Jairam had in fact visited Vapi, Gujarat.  He had not only praised Vapi but said that other industrial estates should learn from Vapi. He declared Vapi pollution free.  The same was reported in Times of India dated 8th July; 2010. […] The statements made in the said defamatory article is not only baseless but also malicious and made with malafide intentions. […] The statement made “VIA and CETP has failed to regulate its members”, is false. Recently officers of CPCB had visited CETP Vapi and have found that there is remarkable improvement in the COD and BOD in CETP plant. […] The Plaintiffs say and submit that the Defendant have made defamatory imputations and innuendos against VIA and others which in the eyes of right thinking people, particularly the industrial community and the general public of Vapi. […] By the letter dated 1st Dec, 2010 one Sajid Malik of Ventura Securities Ltd. inter-alia stated that there are serious allegations against the plaintiff in the edition dated 7thJune, 2010 titled “Vapi Caught in Toxic Chokehold” the also said that such article can harm the industrial Development of Vapi. It has not only defamed VIA and industries of Vapi but has also reduced its image. […] By his email dated 21st April, 2011 Shri Ajit Premnath, Chief operating officer of U.P.L., Europe addressed to Nirmala Lobo of Uniphos company stated that he had offered 50 M.T. of cyper Methrin Technical to his customer in Europe and he lost the order as his competitors produced a copy of article published in Times of India about Vapi.”

Further they stated in their case “The Plaintiffs further submit that this Hon'ble Court be pleased to order and decree the Defendants to forthwith carry an article/clarification on the front page of the Times of India circulating in all over India clarifying that the Plaintiffs are not responsible for any pollution. […] For the purpose of court fees and jurisdiction the plaintiff values it's claim in the suit at Rs. 25 crores and has paid the maximum court fee of Rs. 75,000/- accordingly. […] The Plaintiffs say and submit that in the facts and circumstances mentioned hereinabove it is absolutely necessary and in the interest of justice that the Defendants and/or the agents and servants be restrained by an order of perpetual injunction of this Hon’ble Court from publishing and/or issuing and/or inserting any articles and/or making libelous and/or defamatory statements and/or indulging in the defamatory campaign against the Plaintiffs of any of the plaintiff which may or which is likely to directly or indirectly injure the reputation and goodwill of the similar kind though disguised in another form […] That the defendants be jointly and/or severally ordered and decreed to pay to the plaintiff No. 1 a sum of Rs. 15 crores and to plaintiff No. 2 Rs. 8 crores and to plaintiff No. 3 Rs. 2 crores with interest thereon at the rate of eighteen percent per annum from the date of filing of the suit till payment and/or realization.”

It is an open secret that most of the ‘Common Effluent Treatment Plants’ of Gujarat are not able to meet the ‘State Pollution Control Board’ norms since long and all most all the news paper have reported about this not once but number of times in detail.

As many of you are aware, attempts to force industry to adhere to environmental norms, and attempts to create norms, have been viewed with deep hatred by industry and government alike. 

The first hearing of the case is on 20th July 2011. 

Probably this is the beginning of the “action” and many more such legal and “other action” may come in coming days from others also. 

We are determined to fight these legal and other battles which we may have to face in the coming days and for that we need your full support – through legal aid, political campaign, and perhaps financial contribution if we appeal for it. 

Rohit Prajapati          Swati Desai
Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti

Public Meeting

RADICAL POSTER.jpg

PSM women hit, told to drink toilet bowl water, change clothes in front of men

PSM women hit, told to drink toilet bowl water, change clothes in front of men

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=14919:psm-women-hit-told-to-drink-toilet-bowl-water-change-clothes-in-front-of-men&Itemid=2

Parti Sosialis Malaysia, picked on by the authorities and accused of 'rekindling' Communism, has made startling revelations. 14 of its women members detained in a recent crackdown have been "kicked on the legs", "pushed and spat on", told to drink water from the toilet bowl and forced to change clothes in front of male officers.

The women were part of a group of 30 PSM members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, who were arrested at the Sungai Dua toll plaza in Penang. They had been travelling in a bus and were part of a roadshow and leafleting campaign for the July 9 Bersih Rally for free and fair elections.

Since then the group has been controversially remanded for 7 days, separated and sent to three police lockups at Kepala Batas, Penang and Sungai Dua.

Too little, too late

Amid huge public outcry, the federal government has allowed the High Court to hear on Wednesday an application for the revision of the remand order. But it may be too little and too late.

Outraged colleagues and family members of the detainees initially denied visitation rights have decided to blow the whistle on the alleged misconduct of the Malaysian police, who have from Day One been accused of bullying the motley group of mostly lower-income ethnic Indians.

PSM central committee member V Selvam was reported as telling Malaysiakini that one woman detainee had been “pushed and spat on”, while another, G Pakialetchumy, was “kicked on the legs”. Detainee P Jody, who asked for drinking water, was even told to drink from the toilet bowl.

"When a detainee asked for drinking water to take pills for diabetes, she was given syrup water. When the women were told to change into lock-up clothes, male officers were in front of them,” Selvam said.

"That is why we became suspicious when the police denied the families their visitation rights yesterday although they were told on Monday that they would be allowed in."

PSM has lodged a police report in Kepala Batas on the various complaints received.

Najib must explain and apologise

Meanwhile, Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael and two others have been taken to the Penang Hospital for suspected dehydration and diabetes.

"We took Dr Jeyakumar along to the hospital at about 2pm and brought him back to the state police contingent headquarters an hour later," Star reported Penang police chief Ayub Yaakob as saying on Tuesday.

"We wanted to ensure that the medicine was suitable for Dr Jeyakumar's consumption. At the same time, we also sought the doctors' advice on his health condition

But the police efforts to calm the relatives of the PSM members failed to convince many Malaysians, who are demanding the immediate release of the detainees and a full explanation and apology from Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government.

Even now, the police are tryining to brazen out from the situation of their own creation. On Sunday, Penang deputy police chief Abdul Rahim Jaafar announced that the group were "waging war" against the King.

"They were carrrying items inciting the people to hate the government. This is serious and can threaten national security. "They include flyers and t-shirts with Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin and Suriani Abdullah - all connected to MCP - written on them," Abdul Rahim said.

Charade continues

On Tuesday, in Kuala Lumpur, CID director Bakri Zinin continued the charade.

He said police were looking at several angles in their investigation into PSM. The case is being investigated under Section 122 of the Penal Code which relates to the collecting of men, arms or ammunition with the intention of waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Ruler or Yang Dipertua Negri.

"They had made much preparation, such as distributing leaflets and wearing T-shirts propagating the ideology with the aim of inciting the people to hate the government," Bernama reported Bakri as saying.

The PSM is a grassroots party built on a socialist platform and focuses on the marginalized and helpless members of the Malaysian community. Like most opposition parties, PSM is not wealthy and Michael is its only elected representative.

 

Radical socialist statement on the Arrest of Manoj Mahato

Radical socialist statement on the Arrest of Manoj Mahato

 

Manoj Mahato, the former president of the Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities, has been arrested. A few months back, this would have resulted in immediate noises from west Bengal’s fiery opposition leader, who would have rushed to Lalgarh and proclaimed that against the police and the “harmaads” she stood by him and all oppressed adivasis.

The times, however, have changed. It is that former opposition leader who is now the Chief Minister, as well as Home Minister, of West Bengal. And the knives are out again, against adivasi struggle against exploitation and for dignity. If we had a past Chief Minister who did not know the difference between language and script, and referred to Alchiki as a language, we now have a Chief Minister, who thinks that along with Sidhu and Kanhu, another martyr of the Santal Rebellion was Dahar, not realising that Dahar meant originally a cart track, here simply meaning road or street. This is not a light comment. This is a measure of how adivasis are treated in West Bengal, as in the rest of India. It is against not just economic exploitation, but equally, the marginalisation of their history, culture, and lives.

The PCPA was originally created after police atrocities in the final years of the Left Front government. The attitude of the government had been simple – to treat the PCPA as a forntal outfit of the CPI(Maoists). Two vital comments need to be made. The first, and most crucial, id that such efforts are always made against all peoples’ struggles. Using the label of some “anti-state” organisation is a good way of seeking to justify state violence on them. Secondly, it is true that there were and are Maoists involved in the area and some of them could be influencing parts of the PCPA. But the way the PCPA was created, the nature of its original demands, all show that not any imposed discourse from above, but an indigenous initiative fuelled by anger had created it. So whether it has Maoists or not, it is a voice of a section of the people. To arrest its leaders repeatedly, the way the state has moved, shows that the state’s claims about democratism extends only to permitting people to periodically vote and decide which set of MPs and MLAs will misgovern them. That Ms. Mamata Banerjee’s government has moved so swiftly against the PCPA, and that the sycophantic media has instantly raised a hue and cry about maoist regroupment, shows that silencing the alternative voices by force are the aims of the new regime as they were of the old.

 

We demand unconditional release of Manor Mahato, Chhatradhar Mahato, and all others detained for political activities.

We demand the repeal of the UAPA, and the non-application of the UAPA or other emergency draconian laws against agitating people anywhere.

We reject equating Maoist violence with state violence. We do not accept Maoist politics and believe that it actually disempowers the working class since it lays stress, not on working class self emancipation but on anyhow fighting with guns by a substitutionist force. But we believe that for the state Maoism is a bogey that it uses to crush all popular opposition.

To those leftists who had supported the TMC in the election of 2011, our question is, will they stand up unequivocally for Manoj Mahato, or will they choose to keep silent by arguing that against the CPI(M), the TMC regime is the “lesser evil:, thereby condoning the crimes of the new regime as an earlier generation of soft lefts had done with the crimes of the CPI(M)?

 

5 July 2011

THE GREEK TRAGEDY BY A SELF-PROCLAIMED "SOCIALIST" GOVT

THE GREEK TRAGEDY BY A SELF-PROCLAIMED "SOCIALIST" GOVT

 

BY JAMES PETRAS

“George Papandreou is not bought, he is rented. He sells public enterprises to the multinationals. He reduces wages, pensions and employment at the behest of the IMF. He turns over the public treasury to the European banks. He supports NATO’s war against Libya. He directs the Greek Coast Guard to enforce Netanyahu’s blockade of Gaza.”
According to a demonstrator in Syndigma Square, Athens, July 3, 2011

*Introduction*

A self-proclaimed “Socialist” Government in Greece is imposing by ballots and clubs the most far reaching reversals of wages, pensions, jobs, educational, health and tax programs in the history of Western Europe.

The Pan Hellenic Socialist Party (PASOK) has totally abdicated any pretense of being a sovereign government, handing over present and future macro and micro policymaking to the European Central Bankers, the IMF and the power within the European Union/Germany, France). The so-called “austerity”
program includes the pillage and auctioning of all the strategic lucrative public enterprises and large scale public land covering all historic and recreation sites. Never has any regime, socialist or not, so blatantly and
brutally reverted an independent country to the most unadulterated form of colonial rule.

*The Parliamentary Road to Colonial Pillage*

Greece’s Great Leap Backward has taken place under the leadership of a “socialist” Prime Minister (George Papandreou) backed by the vast majority (97%) of “socialist” Parliamentarians and the entire “Socialist” Cabinet, with less than 4% defections.

While the parliament debates and votes to debase the country’s sovereignty and degrade the people, hundreds of thousands demonstrate in the streets and plazas. The elected leaders and legislators of PASOK totally ignore the protests, heeding only the directives from the Prime Minister and his
appointed party bosses. Parliamentary politics is clearly totally insulated from the people it is supposed to represent.

What kind of government is capable of such a vehement repudiation of the popular will? What kinds of legislators are capable of systematically driving down living standards for the past three years and for the next ten years?

*PASOK always was a party of patronage* – not a party of programmatic change. PASOK, from its first electoral victory in 1981, offered public sector jobs, credit, loans and favors to its electoral constituency. At the beginning in the early 1980’s, the addition of new public functionaries was ostensibly to implement the socio-economic reforms, which the right-wing public bureaucrats were sabotaging. But as the momentum for ‘reform’ petered out, job appointments continued to multiply, as part of a process of building a large scale electoral party machine.

Thousands of under-employed university graduates with organizational skills crowded the Party offices and over time secured a permanent place in the bloated public bureaucracy. They contributed to securing votes for the PASOK candidates, following the practices of the right wing New Democratic Party. The public sector became the major employment office for several reasons:
Most ‘public employees’ held ‘multiple jobs’, some as many as four and five,including self-employment and jobs in the informal economy. Secondly, the so-called private sector in Greece never developed a capacity to grow, invest, innovate, apply technology, compete and create new markets. Most leading Greek businesspeople depended on political links to the Party of Government to secure loans for projects that never materialized, credits
that they used to import capital goods from the European Union and loans to
import consumer products.

*Entry into the European Union (EU) provided PASOK and the Right with huge
transfers of capital and loans ostensibly to “modernize” the economy and
make it competitive.* In exchange Greece lowered its tariff barriers and EU
goods flooded the local market. EU funds financed PASOK’s patronage machine; private business borrowed EU funds and passed payment onto the state, with complicit politicians. Professionals and the middle class secured easy credit to buy pricey imports. The regime economists and politicians “cooked the books”, showing positive growth and hiding liabilities. Everything was mortgaged. The European banks collected interest; Western European manufacturers exported consumer goods. According to the experts, Greece was “integrated” into the European Union … unfortunately on the basis of becoming as dissimilar as any country could be from its dominant partners.

PASOK was built around an elite and mass constituency that never paid taxes but extracted and depended on state handouts. Billionaire ship owners avoided taxes as they operated under foreign flags (Panama) but agreed to hire Greek ship captains and contribute to Party coffers. Professionals, lawyers, doctors and architects, barely declared any income, receiving under-the-table cash payments as undeclared income far exceeding any salaries. Business leaders, real estate speculators, bankers and importers all paid off Party leaders in order to secure tax abatements while securing EU loans, which they recycled into tourist properties and overseas accounts.


What passed as the Party and business elite were in fact an organized network of kleptocrats: They plundered the treasury and left it to wage and salaried workers to pay the bills, since the latter suffered obligatory payroll tax deductions. Greece is the worse country in the world to be a wage worker – as it’s the only sector that’s taxed and exploited.

Greece is a country of self-employed small business people and independent small farmers, some of whom lease land from urban professionals, small tourist hotel owners and restaurateurs: The overwhelming majority of them pay only a small fraction of their taxes while demanding full public
services. They are part of the ‘patronage’ apparatus of PASOK, mostly the recipients of unregulated credit and loans, which were used to increasing personal incomes rather than productivity.

EU loans financed the modernization of Greek living standards, increasing the importation of German appliances and automobiles, as well as Danish and French feta cheese (cheap imports substituted for local products). In other words, Europe captured Greek markets increasing its trade deficit while the
bureaucracy became the employer of last resort. These EU practices and relations allowed PASOK to retain a solid patronage base of business kleptocrats, small business tax evaders and new layers of state
functionaries.

*The EU bought Greece’s increasing politico-military subservience: Greece supported the Afghan, Iraq, Libyan and Pakistan wars. Especially under George Papandreou, PASOK’s subservience to Israel and its US Zionist backers exceeded all previous regimes*

*The Bills Come Due . . .** *

Greek public and private kleptocrats falsified the national accounts turning mounting deficits into positive surpluses, till the system imploded. The EU banks presented the bill and demanded payments. The Greek state and capitalist class, under PASOK, immediately proclaimed a program of ‘austerity’ and ‘tax reforms’. In fact, it only would enforce the former, since it did not want to undermine its tax-evader elite and social base.

*Massive cutbacks in wages, pensions and jobs were imposed and enforced.*PASOK legislators toed the line, since their inflated salaries, pensions, perks and payoffs depended on submission to the Prime Minster, who, in turn, was dependent on the imperial bankers and bourgeois kleptocrats. PASOK’s existence as a Party depends on the flow of EU loans, bailouts and sell-outs to sustain its clients. The PASOK regime is the great example of an authoritarian party: Groveling at the feet of the EU bankers and leaders while ripping at the throat of millions of impoverished Greek pensioners, wage and salary workers. PASOK’s tax-evader and patronage base is barely affected by the fiscal reforms: Tax revenues have actually decreased because of the deepening recession and non-enforcement.

As the PASOK regime deepens and extends the savaging of incomes and as mass resistance multiplies, young unemployed people (55%) have become more desperate and confrontational toward a government, which is ever more repressive and prone to violence.

Totally committed to extracting marrow from the bare bones of workers remuneration, PASOK literally agreed to allow the EU/IMF to oversee, price and sell the entire public patrimony. In other words the debt payment has become the lever for transferring sovereignty to the imperial countries and for maximizing the extraction of wealth from labor. What remain of the “Greek State” are the police and military assigned to forcibly impose the new imperial order on the exploited and impoverished majority.

In the midst of this catastrophic turn of events, of pillage and poverty, the PASOK legislators hold the line: They still count on the mass base of 25% of self-employed professionals, bankers, consultants and tax-evaders to continue to back the regime because they are barely affected by the sell out.

The bailout will allow for the PASOK legislators to collect their lucrative pensions if they are voted out and the self-employed and professionals will continue to cash in on non-taxed tourist rents and revenues from property even as their local clientele is impoverished. PASOK, Papandreou and his coterie have demonstrated that electoral politics is compatible with the most abject surrender of sovereignty, with sustained and savage repression of the majority of the working population and with a deep, long-term
reduction of living standards. The Greek experience once again demonstrates that, faced with the demise of the capitalist system, the differences between conservatives, and social democrats vanish. Democratic freedoms exist only as long as the majority submits to the rule of imperialist powers and their local kleptocrat capitalist collaborators.

No doubt new elections will take place, even as living standards plunge, the debt payments increase and the country is stripped of all of its assets. Probably PASOK will be voted out of office. Their conservative adversaries will simply follow their example as police enforcers and debt collectors.

For the vast majority of Greeks there is no future and no solution in the existing system of street protest and parliamentary politics. The latter ignores the former. This impasse raises the question of what kinds of extra parliamentary action are necessary and possible to end the rule by de-factor imperial rulers and kleptocratic collaborators.

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