Greece: Alternatives to Neoliberal Capitalism – Introduction

Athens, Greece – Aggressive neoliberal policies have created a vicious cycle of austerity in Greece for the last seven years. Greeks today experience a lack of dignity, with pension and salary cuts, while they are often unable to gain access to employment, housing, education, health care, and more. As French philosopher Michel Foucault said, “The crisis is the reality of the disease becoming truth, as it were. And it is precisely then that the doctor must intervene.” Unicorn Riot is on the ground in Greece to learn more about how Greek people are responding to the crisis.

As thousands, if not millions of Greeks see it, the “disease“, as Foucault said, is rooted in capitalism and the fractional reserve monetary system enforced across most of the world, which has destroyed and displaced traditional community-oriented cultures. The doctor with the intervention is the resilience of the people, from Greece and abroad, creating new realities and new alternatives to the disastrous policies that have negatively affected masses of people.

Garbage fills Athenian streets as workers had been on strike (a deal may have been worked out on June 23)

As the financial crisis of 2008 went global, Greece was one of the countries hit the hardest. In 2010, Greece was forced into a joint mission with the troika, the EC/IMF/ECB (European Commission, International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank), that triggered a financial spiral into billions of euros of debt. The troika demanded policies which led to the privatization of ports and airports, reductions of pensions, an influx of foreign corporations, and attempts to sell off electricity and water services. (As a member of the EU’s currency union, Greece could not simply devalue its currency by issuing more drachmas to cover debts as it had in past decades.)

Anti-capitalist graffiti outside of an autonomous theater in Athens

The enormous amount of solidarity from the citizens in Greece and the international community, from Albanian to American and beyond, has shown how people working together can exact change and create a better existence while living inside the state but producing autonomous, self-organized infrastructures outside of the confines of the state.

There are currently over 1,000 assemblies in Athens that regularly meet to organize and discuss new ideas of collectivism and mutual aid that includes food sharing, legal aid, infrastructure support, refugee solidarity, free health care clinics, skill sharing, and a multitude of other ways to live during this tumultuous time.

View of Exarcheia Square in Athens from the rooftop of a self-organized social center

Unicorn Riot visited Greece to document some of these alternatives to the crisis that have arisen. Experimentation with alternative economies and community-driven parallel economies that won’t create class divides, both inside and outside the national currency system, are happening openly. People from across the world are coming to Greece to express their thoughts, share their ideas and experiences, and collaborate on building self-organized spaces and reconstructing the ideas of what is possible.

In the region of Attiki alone, where Athens is located, there are over forty social centers that are ‘squats’. These squats are unused state and/or private property occupied by members of the community to provide a space for free housing, food, health care, mutual aid, clothing, radical discussions, emotional and psychological support, and to help shelter many refugees from the western-led wars in Syria and Afghanistan.

Refugees take part in a “Hands off Squats” rally at the Ministry of Migration on June 23

This is an introduction to the multiple upcoming reports that Unicorn Riot will be presenting from Greece. To help our volunteer-operated, horizontally-organized, non-profit media collective please consider a tax-deductible donation:


Unicorn Riot's Special Reports From Greece [2017]:
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