On Tuesday the Red and Black Umbrella hosted video collective Reel News with short films from their new DVD Our Present is Your Future, about different aspects of grassroots resistance and organising in Greece.
While the news is dominated with dread at Greece leaving the Eurozone it seems from this footage that many of the Greek people themselves want out. Fed up with rules from powers like the IMF they feel ordinary people are being punished for a crisis they did not cause and for a deficit that is not theirs.
The films showed workers occupying their workplaces and using them as a base to support the community and the wider movement. For example Alter TV in occupation since November 2011. For a period they broadcast Strike TV, with footage of action going on across the country. Many Alter TV workers said they had worked without pay for a year before going on strike and that it wasn’t necessarily lack of money that was the issue but who the money was going to.
The second film focused on local organisation. Neighbourhood Assemblies of people getting together to offer support to each other, in the way of food, shelter or clothing but also to provide things like education, such as the design tutor giving people free tuition in order to get unto university, tuition they could otherwise not afford.
Some of the most haunting images of the night were of the Syntagma Square anti-austerity protests. Beginning in May 2010, at one time the video says there was one-million people there. As people began to be removed by police, there were scenes hazy with gas and filled with screaming and violence. One doctor who came to lend his support and skills talks of police throwing asphyxiating gas inside a first aid area. “What kind of a situation is this?” he asks, exasperated.
After the first two films were shown discussion turned to whether organising similar to the Neighbourhood Assemblies could happen in Cardiff. A key point raised was the lack of wider involvement within Cardiff’s anti cuts movement. It was suggested that apart from the usual groups and individuals, and flurries of mobilisation from UK Uncut and Occupy Cardiff there has been no sustained growth in the breadth of people involved. One person said that in the UK most of the cuts are yet to bite,we are not yet in the same situation as Greece.
Cultural differences between Wales and Greece were also raised. Although both have a long history of workers’ struggle, Greece had a lot of these networks in place before the worst of the crisis hit, they just swelled in numbers massively when the real resistance started.
Unfortunately law revision called and I had to leave before the last film of the night which focused on the issues faced by immigrant communities.
Overall the message from Reel News’ interviewees was that they saw measures being imposed on Greece as an experiment in extreme austerity, one likely to be rolled out across the Europe depending on levels of resistance.