Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greece and the Right to Revolution

Editor’s Note: This article and its proposals are a direct response to the recent video produced by former SYRIZA candidate for the A’ Section of Athens Ifikratis Amyras in the May 6 elections. In his video, the former candidate laid out his plan for Revolutionary War. 
The Right of Revolution is a concept that was once touched upon by John Locke, the Father of Classical Liberalism. In his 1689, Two Treatises of Government, Locke argues that any government that does not have the consent of the governed can, therefore, be legitimately overthrown. Today in Political theory, a government’s legitimacy to use state power is directly derived from the people over whom such political power is exercised. This principle is something which is also agreed upon in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” [1]. Therefore, an argument can be made that one’s obligation to obey any government simply depends on whether said government ought to be obeyed.

As such the case before the Greek people than is whether or not the government in Athens should still be obeyed. Does it still serve the interests of its citizens? Does it still maintain political legitimacy? If an argument can be found, that the government in Athens no longer serves the interests of its citizens it, therefore, becomes the right of the Greek people to overthrow the government and replace it with one that will. To determine if such a case exists, we must first put together a check list to evaluate the current government.  Such a hypothetical list should be made up of the following: 1st Police Power, in order words, the capacity of the state to maintain and enforce order within its territory; 2nd Moral legitimacy, in order words, the belief that government officials’ use their power in an appropriate manner.; 3rd, Legal legitimacy, in order words, the government’s actions are within the legality of the constitution, and ultimately does the government hold the consent of the governed.

Let us begin, with whether the government in Athens is able to maintain and enforce order within its territory.  If one takes a quick look over the past 2 years, and specifically the last few months the answer to this question is without a doubt no. The government in Athens is unable to maintain and enforce order within its territory. From the now famous Kandaris murder [4] to the rape of a 15 year old girl in front of her father in Arta [11], the lack of police power is everywhere. When gangs with Kalashnikovs can terrorize entire regions, [6]and illegal immigrants can set up unsanitary and illegal slaughter houses [9], and plunder the nation's electrical infrastructure [10], there is no way the government in Athens can legitimately claim to maintain and enforce order within its territory.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. As the economic crisis worsens, Greece has seen a steady rise in violent crime, thus resulting in an increase of private security companies [2] and ordinary citizens turning to extremist groups like Golden Dawn [3] rather than the police for protection. In Athens alone, homicides and robberies doubled between 2009 and 2010 [3], a fact that led to the Mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis to say “I’m losing my city” and “It’s starting to look like Beirut in the 1970s” [5]. Besides the state’s inability to protect its own citizens, it has even failed to protect its own borders from a growing illegal immigrate invasion [7] that has resulted in 90% of illegal border crossing into the EU occurring on the Greek-Turkish Border [8].

With this said, let us now take a look at the government in Athens moral legitimacy. Do its government officials and employees use their power in an appropriate manner? The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding no. When over 500 Politicians and State employees are under investigation for financial crimes, [12] and a former defense minister is found to have 850 million dollars in a Swiss bank account [13] while under investigation on corruption charges [14], it is impossible for the government in Athens to claim moral legitimacy. The fact is that the various scandals that have rocked Greek society over the past few years such as the Siemens scandal [15] have proven without a doubt “corruption pervades in every corner of life” [16].

The next two categories found on our hypothetical list, legal legitimacy and consent of the governed are in many ways intertwined. This is due to the fact, that the previous government that was legitimately elected was the Papandreou Government in 2009. Therefore, the following two questions before us; has the government’s actions been within the legality of the constitution, and does it hold the consent of the governed, must be grouped together. The answer to both these questions should at this point be no surprise to the reader.

At this moment, Greece lacks an elected government as the May 6th elections resulted in an inability to create one, thus forcing a caretaker government to take control until new elections could be organized for June 17th. This alone proves that those in power in Athens at the moment lack the consent of the governed, however, let us go back further. The previous government was that of technocrat Lucas Papademos, who was illegally and unconstitutionally appointed Prime Minister in 2011 [17]. This shows that the previous government also lacked the consent of the governed and legal legitimacy. However, let us not stop there. The last legitimately elected government that did hold the consent of the governed was the Papandreou Government. However, this government also lacked legal legitimacy the moment it signed the unconstitutional loan agreements [18] that ushered in the age of austerity under which Greeks now live.

It is, therefore, obvious that the Greek Government in Athens no longer holds any legitimacy. It has forfeited its right to govern over the Greek people due to its inability to safeguard its citizens and borders, to maintain moral and legal legitimacy, and furthermore maintain the basic necessities of life for its citizens such as medicine, water, and power. We can, therefore, come to the conclusion that, yes, Greece does, in fact, have the right to revolution. However, the revolution Greece must follow is not one based on Class War and outdated ideological rhetoric.  If the Greek people are to exercise their right to revolution, it should and must be a nonviolent, nonpartisan, revolution that will lead as an example for all mankind. Below is an initial roadmap for just such a revolution.

1st The Greek people must begin to organize themselves within Greek territory into self-sustaining communities; able to function without aid from the Central Government in Athens. These communities should be run by direct democracy via Peoples Assemblies that would operate parallel to local government.

2nd Greeks from within Greek territory, as well as throughout the Diaspora should utilize e-democracy to hold elections to establish a legitimate Government-in-Exile made up of local Assembly candidates and Diaspora Leaders.

3rd The Government-in-Exile should launch a campaign for international recognition, as well as organize ‘Occupy’ events throughout Greece in specific locations such as – Parliament, Government Ministry Buildings, Banks, and any buildings currently being occupied by TROIKA officials. 

4th The Government-in-Exile should establish an international commission to audit the Greek debt and create independent courts for the trial of individuals suspected of treason via corruption and tax evasion. 

5th The Government-in-Exile should call on Hacktivists, such as the infamous Anonymous, to focus their efforts on revealing the bank accounts of Greek politicians known to have plundered the wealth of Greece rather than organizing attacks to take down Athenian Governmental Web Sites that has no real effect on the crisis inside Greece.