The level of outrage has once again exceeded all expectations, taking to the streets en masse, and showing the gap that exists between those who are angry and political institutions. From the 19 May (15M) to the 19 June (19J), forces have come together and unity has been created, not just the local areas (protest camps and neighborhood groups), but broader segments of society who identify with our fierce condemnation of the political class and the financial and banking system which are responsible for this crisis. The slogan "we are not commodities in the hands of politicians and bankers" summarizes both demands.
The indignad@s (indignants) have unambiguously pointed the finger at those who have buckeld under the pressure of the "markets" and who in demanding that others tighten their belts, have not done so themselves. "We want to see politicians earning pitiful salaries of 1,000 euros a month" was one of the enthusiastically applauded slogans at the rally. This democracy has proved increasingly empty of content for a public prepared to take control over their own lives. One vote every four years is not enough for those who argue that politics must involve the daily exercise of their rights, from day to day and from the bottom up.
The attempt by the authorties to contain the movement, following the action at the Catalan Parliament on 15J, has not been able to cope with the collective social outrage that surpasses even that of the men and women who were in the protest camps. Anyone who believes that the movement is merely a passing phase of youthful activists was wrong. So are those who consider it to be simply a problem of public order. The usual suspects have turned into a multitude. Two years and nine months of crisis weighed heavily. The current movement expresses a deep social malaise that has finally emerged into the open and, as usual, without warning and in new ways. We are not part of a cyclical or passing phenomenon, but instead privy to the first stirrings of a new cycle of political activity, of which 15M and the protest camps acted as a springboard.
Over the last month we have regained confidence in collective action. It has gone from skepticism and resignation to "yes we can". The riots in the Arab world, mass demonstrations in Greece and "will not pay for your crisis" of the Icelandic people have weighed heavily on the collective imagination and have given impetus to a restoring of confidence in the "we", the colective political subject. The "globalization of resistance" of that anti-globalization movement, dating back more than ten years, has been revived again in a very different scenario, marked by the crisis.
After a day of 15J, where the movement was engaged in a battle for legitimacy, 19J was presented as a test for the movement to show its strength in the face of the attacks it has received. It needed to translate into action in the street the popular support that it has awakened. And that is exactly what it has achieved. The 19J has shown the expansion of the movement, its ability to mobilise en masse and its explosive expansion in a very short time. Its growth since the 15M is not only quantitative but also qualitative in terms of the diversification of its social base and its generational composition.
Now what? The challenges of moving to strengthen its roots involve strenthening the grassroots, establishing local assemblies and strengthening stable organisational mechanisms. The movement also needs to try to develop links with the working class, sectors in struggle and militant trade unionists, and to keep up the pressure on the main trade unions, who are puzzled by a change in the social and political landscape that they had not anticipated. It is necessary to achieve concrete victories. The prevention of several evictions, although they may be small and very defensive gains, point the way and bring new energy. More generally, the movement faces the challenge of combining its general character, its critique of the current global economic model and the political class, with the strengthening of concrete struggles against the cuts and policies that seek to transfer the cost of the crisis on to those who can least afford it.
The 19J has marked a turning point that ends the first phase which started with the 15M, and prepares the next phase of a movement that has only just begun.
Josep María Antentas is a member of the editorial board of the magazine Viento Sur, and a professor of sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Esther Vivas is a member of the Centre for Studies on Social Movements (CEMS) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. She is author of the book in Spanish “Stand Up against external debt” and co-coordinator of the books also in Spanish “Supermarkets, No Thanks” and “Where is Fair Trade headed?”. She is also a member of the editorial board of Viento Sur.
Hundreds of thousands of Greek “Outraged” walk out to wage war against their neoliberal persecutors
Two weeks after it started the Greek movement of ‘outraged’ people has the main squares in all cities overflowing with crowds that shout their anger, and makes the Papandreou government and its local and international supporters tremble. It is now more than just a protest movement or even a massive mobilization against austerity measures. It has turned into a genuine popular uprising that is sweeping over the country. An uprising that makes it know at large its refusal to pay for ‘their crisis’ or ‘their debt’ while vomiting the two big neoliberal parties, if not the whole political world in complete disarray.
How many were there on Syntagma square (Constitution square) in the centre of Athens, just in front of the Parliament building on Sunday 5 June 2011? Difficult to say since one of the characteristic features of such popular gatherings is that there is no key event (speech or concert) and that people come and go. But according to people in charge of the Athens underground, who know how to assess the numbers of passengers, there were at least 250,000 people converging on Syntagma on that memorable night! Actually several hundreds of thousands of people if we add the ‘historic’ gatherings that took place on the main squares of other Greek cities (see map).
At this juncture we should however raise the question: how can such a mass movement that is shaking the Greek government (in which the EU has a particular interest) not be mentioned at all in Western medias? For these first twelve days there was virtually not a word, not an image of those unprecedented crowds shouting their anger against the IMF, the European Commission, the ‘Troika’ (IMF, European Commission, and European Central Bank), and against Frau Merkel and the international neoliberal leaders. Nothing. Except occasionally a few lines about ‘hundreds of demonstrators’ in the streets of Athens, after a call by the Greek trade unions. This testifies to a strange predilection for scrawny demos of TU bureaucrats while a few hundred yards further huge crowds were demonstrating late into the night for days and weeks on end.
This is indeed a new form of censorship. A well-organized political censorship motivated by the fear this Greek movement might contaminate the rest of Europe! Confronted as we are with this new weapon used by the Holy Alliance of modern times, we have to respond together both to expose this scandal and to find ways of circumventing such prohibition to inform public opinions, through developing communication among social movements throughout Europe and at once creating and reinforcing our own alternative media…
Going back to the Greek ‘Outraged’, or Aganaktismeni, we have to note that the movement is getting more and more rooted among lower classes against a Greek society that has been shaped by 25 years of an absolute domination of a cynic, nationalist, racist and individualist neoliberal ideology that turned everything into commodities. This is why the resulting image is often contradictory, mixing as it does the best and the worst among ideas and actions! For instance when the same person displays a Greek nationalism verging on racism while waving a Tunisian (or Spanish, Egyptian, Portuguese, Irish, Argentinian) flag to show his internationalist solidarity with those peoples.
Should we therefore conclude that those demonstrators are schizophrenic? Of course not. As there are no miracles, or politically ‘pure’ social uprisings, the movement is becoming gradually more radical while still branded by those 25 years of moral and social disaster. But mind: all its ‘shortcomings’ are subsume into its main feature, namely its radical rejection of the Memorandum, of the Troika, the public debt, the government, austerity, corruption, a fictional parliamentary democracy, the European Commission, in short of the whole system!
It is surely not by chance if for the past two weeks demonstrators shout such phrases as ‘We owe nothing, we sell nothing, we pay nothing’, ‘We do not sell or sell ourselves’, ‘Let them all go, Memorandum, Troika, government and debt’ or ‘We’ll stay until they go’. Such catchwords do unite all demonstrators as indeed all that is related to their refusal to pay for the public debt.  This is why the campaign for an audit Commission of the public debt is a great success throughout the country. Its stall in the middle of Syntagma square is constantly besieged by a crowd of people eager to sign the call or to offer their services as voluntary helpers… 
While they were first completely disorganized the Syntagma Aganaktismeni have gradually developed an organization that culminates in the popular Assembly held every night at 9 and drawing several hundreds speakers in front of an attentive audience of thousands. Debates are often of really great quality (for instance on the public debt), actually much better than anything that can be seen on the major television channels. This in spite of the surrounding noise (we stand in the middle of a city with 4 million inhabitants), dozens of thousands of people constantly moving, and particularly the very diverse composition of those huge audiences in the midst of a permanent encampment that looks at times like some Tower of Babel.
All the qualities of direct democracy as experimented day after day on Syntagma should not blind us to its weaknesses, its ambiguities or indeed its defects as its initial allergy to anything that might remind of a political party or a trade union or an established collectivity. While it has to be acknowledged that such rejection is a dominant feature among the Aganaktismeni, who tend to reject the political world as a whole, we should note the dramatic development of the Popular Assembly, both in Athens and in Thessaloniki, that shifted from a rejection of trade unions to the invitation that they should come and demonstrate with them on Syntagma.
Obviously, as days went by, the political landscape on Syntagma square clarified, with the popular right and far right located in the higher section, in front of Parliament, and the anarchist and radical left on the square itself, with control on the popular assembly and the permanent encampment. Of course, though the radical left is dominant and tinges with deep red all events and demonstrations on Syntagma, this does not mean that the various components of the right, from populist, to nationalist, to racist and even neonazi, do not further attempt to highjack this massive popular movement. They will endure and it will very much depend on the ability of the movement’s avant-garde to root it properly in neighbourhoods, workplaces and schools while defining clear goals that throw bridges between huge immediate needs and a vindictive outrage against the system.
While fairly different from the similar movement in Spain through its dimensions, its social composition, its radical nature and its political heterogeneity, the movement on Syntagma shares with Tahrir square in Cairo and Puerta del Sol in Madrid the same hatred against the economic and political elite that has grabbed and emptied of any significance bourgeois parliamentary democracy in times of arrogant and inhuman neoliberalism. The movement is stirred by the same non violent democratic and participative urge that is to be found in all popular uprisings in the early 21st century.
Our conclusion can only be provisional: whatever is to come (and the consequences may be cataclysmic), the current Greek movement will have marked a turning point in the history of the country. From now on everything is possible and nothing will ever be the same again.
Athens, 8th of June 2011
* Translated by Christine Pagnoulle (CADTM).
Yorgos Mitralias is founding member of the Greek Committee Against the Debt, which is affiliated to the international network of CADTM (www.cadtm.org ). See the web site of the Greek Committee : http://www.contra-xreos.gr/
Eric Toussaint (CADTM)
From 1980 to 2004 joining the European Union was quite popular among large sections of the populations in concerned countries. Portuguese, Greek and Spanish citizens regarded their countries’ participation in the European integration both as a guarantee of democratic stability (indeed all three of them were emerging from a period of dictatorship) and as a real opportunity to improve living conditions (there were significant transfers from richer countries in the EU towards the new members from the Mediterranean region during the first years of their adhesion). Their joining the euro zone during the 2000s was also well received since it went together with increased consumption levels, albeit financed on credit. Something similar occurred among countries of the former Eastern bloc: there too, people saw joining the EU as a guarantee of democratic stability, a perspective of transfers, the possibility to move around within the Union, perhaps even of finding a better paid job in the West, and access to credit to finance consumption. However, very soon, the transferred amounts were drastically reduced and some productive sectors, particularly farming, were badly affected by competition with much more industrialized and competitive West European agrobusiness.
The years 2008-2010 marked a turning point in the perception European peoples have of the EU. Many became quite critical, which was largely a result of the European Commission accumulating neoliberal measures while claiming to promote the notorious ‘free and undistorted competition’, to which were added from 2009-2010 the crisis of the euro and the deep impact of the economic crisis.
Core and Periphery within the EU
The hierarchical relationship at global level with a ‘Core’ consisting of the US, the EU andJapan (the Triad) and a Periphery consisting of so-called ‘developing’ countries is reproduced within the 27 member states of the EU. The Core consists here of the most powerful countries among which Germany and France, but also the UK, Italy and the former Benelux (the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). The Periphery is subjected to decisions made by this hegemonic Core and mainly consists of countries lying to the south and east of the EU, not forgetting Ireland to the West. At the more limited level of the euro zone (16 countries), the same distinction resulted in the acronym PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain), that has prompted outragously racist puns.
The EU’s refusal to develop genuinely common policies to help new members reduce their economic drawbacks compared with the Core is largely responsible for structural discrepancies that work against the process of European integration.
Over the last ten years Germany (as well as the Netherlands and Austria) has developed a neo-mercantilist policy: it has increased its exports particularly within the EU and the euro zone by reducing workers’ wages. In September 2010 in Germany 7.3 million wage earners only had a small part-time job paid 400 (four hundred) euros a month. So its competitiveness has clearly increased compared with its partners, particularly countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, but also Romania, Bulgaria or Hungary (which do not belong to the euro zone). Those other countries had to face a growing trade deficit towards Germany and other countries of the Core. Their current balance-of-payment deficits reflect surpluses in countries of the Core, especially Germany. Such financial deficits, which can be either private or public, have to be compensated for by external contributions: foreign investments or debts, i.e. loans. The current balance deficit can be traced for the most part to private deficits, a majority of which were financed by loans from banks of the Core, for investments were relatively limited (except in the case of Spain) or were neutralized by significant capital outflow in the guise of TNCs taking their profits home. In some Eastern European countries (Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) such profit repatriation (capital outflow) have been definitely more significant than investments (capital inflow).
It can thus be argued that the debts to be paid by countries of the Periphery are essentially due to the behaviour of the private sector within the EU. Unable to compete with the Core, companies of the private sectors have contracted debts with banks of the Core but also with internal agents as the economy of these countries is increasingly controled by the financial sector since they joined the euro zone. Consumption boomed in those countries and in some of them (Spain, Ireland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria) a real estate bubble finally burst.
Higher and higher interest rates paid by countries of the Periphery for new loans contracted since the crisis started will further drain capital from the Periphery to the Core (to the private financial institutions that buy debt securities issued by countries of the Periphery orgovernments of the Core that are involved in ‘aid plans’ by lending money at 5.2% interest rate in the case of Greece). Germany, France and Austria, for instance, borrow at 2% and lend at 5.2%. This is a highly profitable move. Financial markets demand double or triple interest rates compared with 2007-2008 and the borrowed amounts are impressive. The money lent by countries of the Core to Greece, Ireland or Portugal is paid back to private banks in countries of the Core, and interest rates with these banks are 10% or more. There is indeed a drain on resources from the Periphery to the Core.
On the other hand, given the productivity edge of Germany and of other countries of the Periphery, financial drain also occurs through trade exchanges according the mechanism of unequal exchange Marx describes in Das Kapital: Capitals invested in foreign trade can yield a higher rate of profit, because, in the first place, there is competition with commodities produced in other countries with inferior production facilities, so that the more advanced country sells its goods above their value even though cheaper than the competing countries. [. . . ] The same may obtain in relation to the country, to which commodities are exported and to that from which commodities are imported; namely, the latter may offer more materialised labour in kind than it receives, and yet thereby receive commodities cheaper than it could produce them.
Democratic foundation of another European Union based on solidarity
Several provisions in the treaties that preside over the EU, the euro zone and the ECB have to be cancelled. For instance, we must do away with articles 63 and 125 of the Lisbon Treaty that prohibit any move of capitals as well as any aid to a state in difficult circumstances. We should also do away with the Stability and Growth Pact. And replace the current treaties with new ones in the context of a genuinely democratic constituent process so as to achieve a pact of solidarity among peoples that is mindful of both employment and the environment.
We must thoroughly revise the monetary policy as well as the status and practice of the ECB. The inability of the political power to force the ECB to create money is a heavy handicap. When it set the ECB above governments and thus above the peoples, the EU made a disastrous choice: it subjected man to money instead of the other way round.
A Europe based on solidarity and cooperation must allow us to turn away from competition, which draws all standards down. The neoliberal logic has resulted in the crisis and proved a failure. It pushed social indicators down: less social protection, fewer jobs, less public services. The minority that benefited from the crisis did so by tramping on the rights of others. Those who are guilty are rewarded while victims have to pay! We must change this untenable logic, on which all founding texts of the EU are based, with the Stability and Growth Pact in the lead. More than ever, we must strive toward another Europe, based on cooperation among states and solidarity among peoples.
This new democratized Europe must strive to establish non negotiable principles. It must uphold and improve social and fiscal justice, make choices that will raise the standard of living of its inhabitants, engage in arms reduction and a radical decrease in military spending (including withdrawing European troops from Afghanistan and leaving NATO), choose sustainable energies so as to avoid nuclear power, and refuse genetically modified organisms (GMO). Furthermore, Europe must resolutely put an end to its "besieged fortress" policy regarding candidates for immigration, so that it can become a partner trusted for its fairness and true solidarity towards the peoples of the South.
Translated by Christine Pagnoulle.
 Éric Toussaint, doctor in political sciences (universities of Liège and Paris VIII), president of CADTM Belgium, member of the President’s Commission for a full audit of Ecuador’s debt (CAIC), member of ATTAC France’s scientific council, author or co-author of several booksDebt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers (Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010, with Damien Millet), Your Money or Your Life!: The Tyranny of Global Finance(Haymarket Press, Chicago, 2005), The World Bank: A Critical Primer (Pluto Press, London, 2007). Most recent book (June 2011): La Dette ou la Vie, Aden-CADTM, 2011 (collection of essays edited by Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint, not yet published in English).
 Salazar’s and Caetano’s regimes in Portugal (1933-1974), Franco’s dictatorship in Spain (1939-1975), military junta in Greece (1967-1974).
 Belonging to the EU was definitely less popular in rich countries of the north of Europe (UK, Scandinavian countries).
 In 1999 the euro zone included eleven countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. They were joined by Greece in 2001, Slovenia in 2007, Cyprus and Malta in 2008, Slovakia in 2009, and Estonia in 2011.
 Frédéric Lemaître in Le Monde, 17 May 2011
 Ozlem Onaran, “Fiscal Crisis in Europe or a Crisis of Distribution?”, Department of Economics, SOAS
Discussion Paper n°18, 2010.
 Karl Marx, Vol. III, Part III, Chapter V, Foreign Trade