standing up for workers on may day and every day

For months now, I have been reading and hearing about the workers' resistance in Greece with great interest. I haven't blogged about it, because I have nothing insightful to add - just my attention and admiration, my solidarity and my envy. But whenever I don't blog about something because I think everyone already knows all about it, and I have nothing interesting to say, Allan always encourages me to post, because, well, you never know.

In Greece, there have been a wave of general strikes, and massive and sustained protest against announced wage cuts, privatization, budget cuts to health, education, public jobs and pensions, along with tax increases that will force working people to pay for corporatist excess. It's classic shock doctrine as described by Naomi Klein, using debt bailouts as an excuse to force countries to accept extreme neoconservative (or neoliberal, as it is called outside of North America), anti-worker, corporatist economic measures.

It has been thrilling to see the Greek people stand up for themselves and for all working people. Canadians managed to take to the streets when Prime Minister Harper shut down Parliament, as long as the message was apolitical - "get back to work" - and nothing more was asked of them. When I see the kind of resistance mounted elsewhere, I am amazed and envious. The general strikes - which Greeks have staged several times over the years - are especially exciting to me. I'd work like mad to see such a thing here.

Although police have used tear gas, firebombs and the usual brickbats to keep the Greek protesters down, the people just keep coming. Yesterday was May Day, and while the western world read that the protests in Greece "turned violent," video shows that well-protected police are dishing out a rich variety of violence not available to protesters - while eyewitnesses describe peaceful protest is the norm by far. Little mention, too, of the violence done to people's lives, health, opportunities, and ability to provide for themselves and their families.

This May Day, there were demonstrations in Turkey for the first time since a massacre there in 1977. People turned out in great numbers throughout Asia, Europe, South America... pretty much everywhere in the world.

In Canada, demonstrations took place in Halifax, Montreal, Calgary, Toronto and elsewhere, many of them focusing on "foreign temporary workers," the hidden shame of the Canadian labour force. Even more impressive, hundreds of thousands of people marched in 70 US cities, denouncing the racist Arizona anti-immigration law.

I hope to learn more about the Greek resistance movement at Marxism 2010. I can only attend on Friday and possibly Saturday night because of work, but whatever I glean, I will share with you.

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