It is Friday night, and I am waiting for a friend at Brixton. We sometimes meet at the Ritzy, a local cinema and other events venue, and then decide where to go. As I am reaching the place, I come across a small group of people piqueting outside. An old man hands out a leaflet to me and informs me that this is about supporting the workers at Ritzy to be given a living wage (as opposed to the minimum wage). Of course, now I remember. There has been a dispute between the owner and the employees for quite some time.
The old man does not work at Ritzy, but is a member of their union. I show some compassion and I apologise that I have to enter the building to wait for my friend. I also foolishly perhaps say that I am not going to buy a ticket of any sort, but perhaps have the first drink for the night. “There are many pubs around that you could go to”, he says, “you don’t have to pay Ritzy for your drink!”. Ok, then, I will just enter and only wait for my friend to arrive.
On my way in, I encounter a very long queue, an immediate sign that the venue definitely earns enough to support a living wage for their staff. I kind of struggle to reach to the ground floor bar, which is much busier than usual. “Black Panther Party starting at 9.30” says on the board. What is that supposed to mean? There is an increased black presence, not unusual for Brixton, but still not quite what I expected at the Ritzy. They are dressed well, for the party I reckon, and some of them seem to be part of the organising team, dressed in eccentric outfits.
In the meantime, I have been in and out of the venue, and then my friend arrives. We have a brief chat about having the drink elsewhere, but we decide to compromise our solidarity to the protest outside and see what this party is all about, postponing looking for an alternative place for later.
The piqueting has certainly given a ‘way of seeing’ for the night, and the living wage for the workers at the Ritzy is what comes up for discussion, after we found a place to sit. We agree that the venue is ridiculous if they have the ability to pay more and they do not do it. After absorbing a bit more of the atmosphere, what gradually becomes strikingly apparent is how the context of the night is a great mockery to what has been happening outside the venue and…some time after the Second World War!
Black Panther(s) Party. It is spelled without an “s” on the announcement board, but obviously if this refers to the political group of Sixties America, then it should be in plural. Anyhow, this is what sparks some heated…sips of beer. The people around us are here for a black panther-themed party. They all look well-dressed, which most of the times means that they earn a comparable living. They are of a mix of ethnicities, black and white, and possibly a few EU like us. The bartenders are also both white and black, the ones earning the minimum instead of the living wage.
And we start to see a bigger frame for our picture. The white and Hispanic piqueters outside trying to stop more-than-living-wage customers to enter the venue and stay in front of a bar, behind of which are minimum wage earners. Between the piqueters and the workers, there is a Black Panther party on for the night, which is not for them, but for the ones in the middle. Historically though, the least association the middle class group of the night that could have to a movement like the Black Panthers, could be Martin Luther King’s (soft) side of the civil rights movement.
This is more or less what passed our minds and what we talked about for half an hour or so. It does not matter so much whether our speculations are true, but more that there is a certain symbolism in the space and time we are in, which is quite profound. It is created by words, by the quality of clothes, by the colours of the skin, not by what is really happening and what these people are thinking. Not even by what the party was actually about, as it turned out the day after.
Apparently, there is a film with the title “Black Panther” just released. And this is when it made sense that some people near the starting time of the party were dressed as comic characters, who must have been immitating the ones appearing in the film. From what I read very briefly, the film is about black empowerement, and its title may be referring to the actual Black Panthers, but certainly the party was dedicated to the film and not the political movement. This coincidence kind of reduces the mocking in relation to the piqueting and the living wage, as people (customers) were there for a comic-based film and its party, the title of which was not taken from the political movement.
Nevertheless, the great irony of the night was the intersectionalistic craziness of what seemed to be happening. Privileged black and white people partying over a theme which reads as politically radical, in the presence of black and white low earners, who would have preferred not to party, but to close the place (which actually happened the day after) until they get what they want. The “black panthers” present, whether white or black, were actually indirectly obstructing a protest of rights, just like some white people were doing to the real Black Panthers in the 60s.
I went to this vegan restaurant. I knew that I would have to compromise and try something healthy for me and ethical for the animal kingdom, made mainly with grains and vegetables.
I spent a bit more time than usual looking at the menu. At the end of the menu, I noticed something quite surprising. There was a dish called “lamb freegan — £15”. And I thought to myself, well this makes things easy, if it is true, as I had been having a hard time to understand the rest of the menu.
But how is it possible to have lamb in a vegan place? It must be some kind of joke played on the meat-eaters. They may be suggesting that meat-eaters should at least improve something about themselves, and for example consume only meat destined to be thrown away. Not 100% of vegan morality, but certainly environmentally friendly. Interesting! But do I want to eat almost expired meat? Let me ask the waiter for more details. Besides, the vegan options would be just fine.
– I would like to have the “lamb freegan” please. What is it exactly?
– Of course. It is a lamb which has been in our backyard and surrounding streets feeding itself on free stuff.
– Ah, that’s cool! So, the lamb is the freegan here, not me! Haha!
I was kind of startled. So, what is their idea? They offer lamb, which itself as a being has been conscious, more than the customer requesting to have it as a dish. It does not consume acres of land, but survives on the remnants of consumerism. They do not actually put customers’ health at risk offering ‘freegan’ products. The lamb itself chooses what can be consumed from the free stuff.
That is still a non-vegan option, though. They will still allow me to eat meat from a killed animal in their premises. Except if they had been waiting for its natural death, until it is run over by a car, or commit suicide! And then keep it in store for customers like me. “Just to let you know though, that it usually takes quite long to prepare this dish”, the waiter continues. At this point, I stopped speculating what else they might mean, and decided to go for it. ‘How long will it take, then?’, I asked.
– It depends on you, sir.
– On me? Ah, no worries, I am ready to order. No doubts, sounds interesting anyway.
Μεγάλη απορία έχω από τότε που ο Μητσοτάκης πήρε τα πάνω του στις δημοσκοπήσεις. Κάποιοι λένε, φαίνεται αγαθός και είναι και μορφωμένος. Δε με κάλυπτει. Αγαθό και άφραγκο τι να σε κάνω; Ο κύριος λόγος πρέπει να είναι άλλος.
Πραγματικά τόσο γρήγορα να θεωρηθεί ο Τσίπρας δεύτερη επιλογή εν μέσω ΤΙΝΑ δε μπορώ να το εξηγήσω. Αφου η οικονομική κατάσταση είναι προδιαγεγραμμενη, γιατί να ψηφίσω Μητσοτάκη; Θα κάνει καλύτερες επενδύσεις; Μια χαρά δεν τις προχωράει ο Τσίπρας; Σίγουρα ένας αριστερός ξέρει λιγότερα από επενδύσεις θα πει κάποιος. Από την άλλη, σας φαίνεται το κλιμάκιο της ΝΔ ικανό να προσελκύσει επενδύσεις; Η’ μήπως προτιμάμε να φέρουμε έναν πιο αυθεντικό μνημονιάκια, έναν που δεν θα έφερνε ποτέ αντίλογο και δεν θα προκαλέσει περαιτέρω τιμωρία στη χώρα;
Έναν ακόμα λόγο αναφέρει ο Πιτσιρίκος. Κάποιοι ίσως νομίζουν ότι μπορούν να επωφεληθούν περισσότερο από τα οποιαδήποτε προνόμια και εξελίξεις, αν έχουν κάποιον μπάρμπα στη Κορώνη. Και αυτό είναι πιθανότερο να συμβεί αν συμφωνείς κομματικά με την κυβέρνηση και όχι αν απλά την ανέχεσαι. Είναι απλή θεωρία παιγνίων. Ο Τσίπρας δεν κατάφερε να κάνει κάτι για όλους. Το μόνο που μένει τώρα είναι το προσωπικό όφελος, το οποίο δεν συνάδει με το αντίστοιχο κοινό. Το ζήτημα τώρα δεν είναι πως μπορεί ο Έλληνας να έχει έναν αξιοπρεπή μισθό και κρατική πρόνοια. Το ζήτημα είναι πως μπορώ εγώ να είμαι από τους σχετικά κερδισμένους. Γιατί κερδισμένοι υπάρχουν ακόμα και σε τριτοκοσμικές καταστάσεις, και δεν είναι μόνο ο βασιλιάς και η αυλή του.
With only one sentence you get all your dirtiness inside out!
“Any politician who has managed to maintain an image of such innocence for so long is obviously a canny operator.” — The Telegraph on Jeremy Corbyn (UK Labour party)
So now it is a fact for the forefront of the society (mass media in this case) that if you are a politician or even more you want to be the prime minister, then you are a liar by default, perhaps since you were born. It is much different for this to be said by the ‘common people’. When it is said by the elite, it demonstrates sheer certainty that this is how the world should be. From this we can establish that it is not a matter of vote anymore to choose someone decent, as those that offer themselves as candidates are not and should not be. And therefore if someone is able to demonstrate persistent innocence, then he must be the canniest of all, so canny that he exceeds any expectation. Same happened with Varoufakis. In lack of diplomatic skills, of similar kind of what the Telegraph requires from a politician, his discussions in the Eurogroup were passing as incomprehensible and rude, as breaching the standards of communication between politicians.
After 6 months, the first ever radical left government in Europe is taken down, having consumed most of its time having its hands in front of its face in defence against ruthless Eurogroup punching. The first such government has basically achieved to expose how Europe thinks at the moment, and had no chance to do anything else. This incarnation of Syriza is now announced as defeated by its leader, Tsipras, who will lead the non-radical version if he wins the upcoming elections in September. Back to a modernised PASOK?
A selection of goodies with the the help of Varoufakis’ interpretation.
1. VAT rises
- Destroy the only Greek growth industry – TOURISM
- Price increases with lower wages
Reform of the pension system and public services.
- Reduce the lowest of the PENSIONS and establish LOW-PAID employment.
- Nevermind that in 2012, the troika messed with the pension system in an attempt to re-scale greek debt.
- Greek Statistics
Safeguarding of the full legal independence of Greek statistical service
- Complete control of the way Greece’s budget balance is computed, with a view to controlling fully the magnitude of austerity it imposes on the government.
4. These measures may prove too little.
Full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union.
- this includes accepting further austerity if their doomed to fail plan of austerity fails or else AUTOMATED AUSTERITY
5. CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM
The adoption of the Code of Civil Procedure, which is a major overhaul of procedures and arrangements for the civil justice system and can significantly accelerate the judicial process and reduce costs.
- ACCELERATE Foreclosures, Evictions and Liquidation of thousands of HOMES and BUSINESS who are not in a position to keep up with their mortgages/loans
The reform measures need to be seriously strengthened to take into account the strongly deteriorated economic and fiscal position of the country during the last year
- PAY for troika’s asphyxiation tactics causing the sharp economic deterioration of the past six months – the victim is being asked to take the blame by the on behalf of the villain
8. Europe decides which measures to take
The Greek government needs to formally commit to strengthening measures in a number of areas identified by the Institutions.
- Ambitious pension reforms = CUTS
- Policies to fully compensate for the fiscal impact of the Constitutional Court ruling on the 2012 pension reform = cancel the 2012 Court’s decision in favour of pensioners
9. PRIVATISE electricity
Privatise the electricity transmission network operator unless replacement measures can be found that have equivalent effect on competition, as agreed by the Institutions
- Sell the public owned assets to our friends. Friends like those that gave you loans and brought you here.
10. LABOUR law.
Undertake rigorous reviews and modernisation of collective bargaining, along the timetable and the approach agreed with the Institutions. On the basis of these reviews, labour market policies should be aligned with international and European best practices.
- NO collective bargaining is allowed
- BAN industrial action
- Collective dismissals up to the employer
- There should be no mechanisms that waged labour can use to improve their working conditions
Develop a significantly scaled up privatisation programme with improved governance, valuable Greek assets will be transferred to an independent fund that will monetize the assets through privatisations and other means
- East German-like Treuhand is envisaged to sell off all public property but without the equivalent large investments that W. Germany put into E. Germany in compensation for the Treuhand disaster.
- Public assets sold off at ridiculous prices
- Independent fund meaning run by the creditors
12. GREEK ADMIN
Modernise and significantly strengthen the Greek administration and to put in place a programme, under the auspices of the European Commission, for capacity-building and de-politicizing the Greek administration
- Turning Greece into a democracy-free zone modelled on Brussels, a form of technocratic government, which is politically toxic and macro-economically inept.
- Lower the wages
13. Lets be friends again
Fully normalize working methods with the Institutions, including the necessary work on the ground in Athens, to improve programme implementation and monitoring.
- You have been mean not to let us come to Athens and literally interfere with your work, while enjoying your sunshine, which damn we cannot privatise.
14. We legislate, you vote.
The government needs to consult and agree with the Institutions on all draft legislation in relevant areas with adequate time before submitting it for public consultation or to Parliament.
Backtrack on previous programme commitments.
- Oh and take back that legislation you have not asked us for since you started as a goverment.
15. In DEBT forever.
The possible programme financing needs of between EUR 82 and 86bn.
- You don’t need so much money to borrow, but in case you ask for debt-relief, then there you go you have enough now to be able to pay some of your debt and then dive into more debt. Until, then we keep robbing you, and in the end we don’t care. We will not be here anyway. Someone else will solve the problem.