Archive for the Greece Category

Human Rights Watch report documents attack on democratic rights in US and Europe [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Africa, Anti-Islam hysteria, Egypt, EU, European Union, Fascism, France, Greece, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Islamophobia, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, Police, Police brutality, Police State, Roma people, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on February 4, 2016 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Tom Hall
1 February 2016

Last week, US-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch warned of mounting attacks on democratic rights throughout Europe and North America, which governments have justified as a response to the migrant crisis.

The group’s annual report warned that the arrival of refugees fleeing war and repression in the Middle East is “driving many Western governments to roll back human rights protections,” adding, “these backward steps threaten the rights of all” sections of the population, not just refugees.

In the report’s lead essay, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth notes, “In Europe and the United States, a polarizing us-versus-them rhetoric has moved from the political fringe to the mainstream. Blatant Islamophobia and shameless demonizing of refugees have become the currency of an increasingly assertive politics of intolerance.”

“Public discourse,” Roth continues, “has been filled with voices of hatred and fear of Muslims, for whom the refugees [arriving in Europe] are surrogates.” This climate contributes to “the persistent discrimination, hopelessness, and despair that pervade neighborhoods on the outskirts of some European cities.”

2015 saw a dramatic rollback of democratic rights throughout Europe and America. In France, the Hollande government pushed through sweeping expansions of government surveillance and curtailing freedom of speech, seizing upon the attacks in Paris this November and the Charlie Hebdo attacks at the beginning of the year. In the United States, the military was deployed to Baltimore to crack down on peaceful protests against police brutality at the beginning of the year, while mass government spying continued unimpeded.

The report contains comprehensive summaries for more than 90 countries for the year of 2015. By far the largest single section, with 24 pages, is on the European Union, more than Saudi Arabia, whose absolute monarchy beheaded record numbers of people last year, including many political prisoners, and countries currently embroiled in civil wars such as Syria and Libya. The United States came in second place, with 17 pages…

…Previous agreements by European governments to resettle asylum seekers throughout the continent remain a dead letter as countries throughout Europe close off their borders to refugees. Only 159 asylum seekers have been relocated from Italy and Greece in spite of an agreement last year to resettle 160,000 asylum seekers from these countries.

Attacks on Muslims rose sharply last year, as far-right and neo-Nazi groups are emboldened by the discriminatory policies of European governments. Such attacks have grown by 46.7 percent in London in the first half of 2015. However, racist attacks are by no means limited solely to Muslims; reports of anti-Semitic attacks are also on the rise, and discriminatory evictions of Roma by governments throughout the EU continue. Widespread discrimination also exists in the Baltic countries against native Russian speakers.

As Roth notes, Europe is joined in its persecution of refugees by the United States. Last year 30 US governors tried to prevent Syrian refugees from entering their states, while current Republican front-runner Donald Trump floated the idea of banning Muslims from entering the country altogether. The United States, the report declares, also “continued the dramatic expansion of detention of migrant mothers and their children from Central America,” many fleeing violence in their home countries, over the course of last year. While not mentioned in the report, the Obama administration rang in the new year last month with a new round of targeted deportations of Central American children.

The report also notes with concern the continued drive to expand state repression and surveillance in the United States and Europe, justified in the main by the supposed threat of terrorism…

…In the United States, spy agency leaders seized upon the Paris attacks last year to renew their calls for a “back door” to online encryption, despite the fact that the Paris attackers did not encrypt their communications. Meanwhile, Guantanamo Bay’s detention center remains open despite years of empty promises by Obama to close it. And last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by Obama, “tightened existing restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo,” making the release or transfer of detainees even more difficult.

Many of the worst human rights violations elsewhere in the report were committed by allies of the United States or the European imperialist powers. In discussing the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, for example, in which civilian infrastructure has been deliberately targeted, the report argues that by virtue of providing “intelligence, logistical support and personnel” to the Saudis the United States would be “potentially jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces.” The report also cites continuing US aid to Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as well as the Obama administration’s waiving of provisions of the Child Soldier Prevention Act to continue supporting the militaries of several African countries.

World imperialism has justified countless criminal wars over the past quarter century under the fraudulent pretext of “humanitarian interventionism.” Now, a leading human rights group is compelled to admit that these same powers are responsible for major human rights violations within their own borders. This not only exposes imperialism’s professed concern for “human rights” as a fraud, it is also an indication of the growth of police-state forms of rule within these countries…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/01/hrw-f01.html

Spotlight: Protests, demonstrations staged across world on May Day [Xinhua]

Posted in Germany, Greece, Italy, May 1, Police, Police brutality, Police State, south Korea, Turkey, USA on May 5, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Kind of police-centric reports – ZS

BEIJING, May 3 (Xinhua) — Many cities around the world were swept by protests and demonstrations on Friday, which marked the International Workers’ Day.

Most events were peaceful protests for workers’ rights and anti-austerity demonstrations. But violent clashes between police and protesters erupted in some cities, where protesters were arrested and stores and cars were vandalized.

Here is a look at some of the May Day rallies across the world:

– Germany…

– United States…

– Greece…

– Italy…

– The Philippines…

– South Korea…

– Turkey…

Full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-05/03/c_134205470.htm

“The Greek Tragedy”: Post-WWII imperialist domination of Greece – The Anti-Empire Report #137 [Williamblum.org] [

Posted in Anti-communism, CIA, Fascism, Germany, Greece, NATO, Nazism, U.K., US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, World War II on March 24, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Feb. 23, 2015

American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”

The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).

In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.

George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

Andreas Papandreou was arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou later related the following:

I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup. 1

Another charming chapter in US-Greek relations occurred in 2001, when Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street Goliath Lowlife, secretly helped Greece keep billions of dollars of debt off their balance sheet through the use of complex financial instruments like credit default swaps. This allowed Greece to meet the baseline requirements to enter the Eurozone in the first place. But it also helped create a debt bubble that would later explode and bring about the current economic crisis that’s drowning the entire continent. Goldman Sachs, however, using its insider knowledge of its Greek client, protected itself from this debt bubble by betting against Greek bonds, expecting that they would eventually fail… 2

Excerpted; full article (with footnotes) link: http://williamblum.org/aer/read/137

US torture report exposes European powers’ involvement in CIA crimes [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Albania, Austria, Belgium, CIA, Croatia, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, George W. Bush, Germany, Greece, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iceland, Italy, Libya, National Security Agency / NSA, NATO, NSA, Poland, Police State, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., U.K. War Crimes, Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on December 14, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Alex Lantier
12 December 2014

The publication of the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture has exposed the European powers’ complicity in ghastly crimes of US intelligence. Even though European states’ complicity in CIA torture and rendition operations has been documented for nearly a decade, no European officials have been held accountable.

In 2005, the Council of Europe tasked former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty with preparing a report on secret CIA prisons in Europe. He released two reports, in 2006 and 2007, documenting the complicity of dozens of European states in setting up facilities for illegal CIA rendition and torture. The states involved included Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Albania.

The existence of approximately 1,000 CIA flights and of secret prisons in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Bucharest (Romania), Antavilas (Lithuania), and Stare Kiejkuty (Poland) has since been confirmed.

Nonetheless, after the US Senate recognized CIA use of the grisliest forms of torture — including murder, sexual assault, sleep deprivation and forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs —officials across Europe reacted by insisting that they should enjoy immunity.

Top officials of the Polish government, which is appealing a July ruling against it over its role in CIA torture by the European Court on Human Rights, denounced the report. “Certain secrets should stay that way,” said Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.

Polish prosecutors have been investigating the case for six years, including a two-year investigation of former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, without bringing any charges. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was waterboarded as soon as he arrived at Stare Kiejkuty. One medical officer there noted: “We are basically doing a series of near-drownings.”

Other detainees at Stare Kiejkuty, which housed Saudi, Algerian and Yemeni detainees, were subjected to mock executions with a power drill while standing hooded and naked.
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski lamely claimed that CIA officials did not explain how they planned to use their secret prisons in Poland. “It was a question as we saw it only of creating secret sites,” he said, adding that he closed down the facility in 2003 because “the Americans’ secret activities began to worry” Polish authorities.
Lithuanian officials confirmed that the black site named “detention center Violet” by the US Senate report appears to be the Lithuanian detention center near the capital, Vilnius, identified in a 2009-2010 parliamentary investigation. Lawmaker Arvydas Anusauskas told Reuters, “The US Senate report, to me, makes a convincing case that prisoners were indeed held at the Lithuanian site.”

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi detainee now kept at Guantanamo Bay, has stated that he was kept and tortured at the site. Washington paid the Lithuanian government $1 million to “show appreciation” for operating the prison, according to the US Senate report, though the funds were reportedly paid out through “complex mechanisms.”

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius has asked Washington to confirm whether or not the CIA tortured prisoners at its secret prisons in Lithuania.

British Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed the issue of torture and Britain’s role in rendition flights to countries including Libya, saying that it had been “dealt with from a British perspective.” He told the public to trust British intelligence to police itself, as official investigations had “produced a series of questions that the intelligence and security community will look at … I’m satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues.”

In fact, the CIA torture report has revealed the advanced state of collapse of democratic forms of rule not only in the United States, but also in Europe. What has emerged across Europe since the September 11 attacks is the framework of a police state far more technically powerful than even the most ruthless dictatorships of twentieth-century Europe. The methods deployed as part of the “war on terror” will also be used against opposition in the working class to unpopular policies of austerity and war.

European governments participate in the digital spying on telecommunications and Internet activities of the European population, carried out by the US National Security Agency and its local counterparts, as revealed by Edward Snowden. They also are planning joint repression of social protests, based on talks between German federal police, France’s Gendarmerie, and other security forces with the European Commission.

“During my investigation, people called me a traitor and said I was making things up,” Marty told the Tribune de Genève. “The Europeans disappointed me. Germany, the United Kingdom, and many others blocked the establishment of the truth. In fact, most European countries actively participated in a system that legitimated large-scale state crimes.”

“I think we must recall, and it is very important, that this operation, this anti-terrorist policy, was decided and carried out under the aegis of NATO,” Marty told Swiss television channel RTS.

“The United States invoked Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which says that if one member of the alliance is attacked militarily [e.g., as Washington claimed, on September 11], all NATO members are required to come to its aid,” Marty said. Once this was accepted, he added, “there were a whole series of secret accords between the United States and European powers. And all the European countries pledged to grant total immunity to CIA agents, which is manifestly illegal.”

The European powers’ participation in the CIA torture program underscores the utter hypocrisy of the humanitarian pretensions used to justify operations ranging from NATO wars in Syria and Libya to this February’s NATO-backed, fascist-led putsch in Ukraine.

The ferocious opposition of the European ruling elites to attempts to bring this criminality to light is the clearest indication that the democratic rights of the population cannot be secured by appeals to any section of the state. The defense of the population’s democratic and social rights is a question of the revolutionary mobilization of the working class in an international struggle against European capitalism.

Article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/12/euto-d12.html

Rebellion against banks rocks Spain [Workers World]

Posted in Greece, Police, Police brutality, Portugal, Spain on January 23, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By John Catalinotto on January 23, 2014

A mid-January mass rebellion in one neighborhood of a mid-sized city in north-central Spain beat back a rightist City Hall government and sparked solidarity protests in nearly 50 other cities. This first working-class victory since the capitalist crisis exploded in 2008 has turned the name of the area — Gamonal — into a cry of resistance that could reverberate from Athens to Detroit.

Historically an independent village, Gamonal later developed as the industrial area of the city of Burgos and became its main working-class residential neighborhood, filled with apartment houses. The capitalist collapse of 2008 closed the factories and left 80 percent of Gamonal’s residents unemployed.

Burgos is a city of 180,000 people. Like most of Spain today, the whole city suffers high unemployment. Growing poverty has replaced working-class stability. As in the U.S., many were evicted, their homes turned over to the banks, so that now most people between 30 and 55 years old are living with their parents. In addition, the parents’ pensions have been frozen by the national government, which is enforcing “austerity” on behalf of the biggest European banks.

The right-wing Popular Party — which governs the Spanish state — also heads the city government of Burgos. To fill the coffers of a powerful construction company, this government ordered a large street to be torn down and replaced by an unneeded boulevard.

Besides squandering $11 million and slowing traffic, the new setup eliminated already scarce and inexpensive parking spots. The plan was to replace them with expensive private parking spaces beyond the reach of the unemployed residents. They would cost up to $26,000 for a 40-year lease. ­(publico.es, Jan. 14)

Many left analysts have said this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the drop that overflowed the vase. It was one abuse too many.

Gamoral’s community organization said 5,000 residents joined a demonstration on the afternoon of Jan. 13. When it was over, some 2,000 remained and occupied the construction area to prevent machinery from entering. (publico.es, Jan. 13 and 14) The next night, police began to attack and arrest demonstrators at random, with no restraint on their brutality.

Instead of stopping the protests, the police assault just brought out more people, who became furious with the police and with the banks that own the city — much as the banks now own Detroit in the U.S.

Leftist groups called solidarity demonstrations in at least 46 cities in all regions. The state authorities insulted and baited the demonstrators, charging them with planning violent and barbaric acts.

Most of those joining the demonstrations were workers fed up with the rapid impoverishment of a quarter of the ­population.

Burgos Mayor Javier Lacalle blamed the resistance on “outside agitators” from “ultra-left groups” who came from other parts of the Spanish state. It turned out, however, that all those arrested were from Burgos, and for once the corporate media contradicted the authorities. The mayor finally conceded and said the demolition and construction would stop, as the city could not guarantee safety at the site.

The residents are celebrating the victory, which they know may only be temporary, and are continuing to demand the mayor resign and that the 46 residents still held in prison as of Jan. 19 be released. Those on the left analyzing “the lessons of Gamonal” can’t resist remarking that the street (“la calle”) beat Lacalle.

The group Red Roja, paraphrasing a remark by Argentine/Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara about the Vietnamese liberation struggle, called for “two, three, many Gamonals.” (redroja.net, Jan. 18)

Many of Spain’s 6 million unemployed are undoubtedly hoping that Gamonal is no accident. And given the similar situation throughout Greece and Portugal and in many other European and U.S. cities under the gun of the banks’ austerity, if this is the start of a general rebellion, why should it stop at Spain’s borders?

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/01/23/rebellion-banks-rocks-spain/

Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

“How to Counter America’s Digital Hegemony” – China’s vanguard measures to protect national cyberspace [Strategic Culture Foundation]

Posted in Anti-China media bias, Anti-China propaganda exposure, China, France, Germany, Greece, Intenet control policy / "Great Firewall", Internet Global Hegemony, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on December 9, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Boris KAZANTSEV | 23.11.2013

The digital world, or cyberspace, is at a crossroads in its development. And not with respect to specific technologies, but with respect to state policy concepts regarding cyberspace and how and to what extent the state should influence it. The revelations of Edward Snowden were a jolt that has caused an avalanche of thoughts [sic] in many countries. And at the center of these thoughts are a single problem: how to maintain state sovereignty in an era of total digital transparency where there are methods of collecting information that in the past no one had even dreamed of.

The American concept of cyberspace cannot but be imperialistic. This means that the security of the U.S. becomes the point of reference for the behavior of all other countries and international organizations, to which the imperial “Center” may show “favor” by granting access to part of its capabilities, while demanding full submission in return. While previously this submission was expressed in the adoption of the culture, economy and currency of the “Center”, now it is expressed in the requirement to acknowledge the dominance of American IT corporations on the domestic markets of other countries. Furthermore, it is implied that other countries are not to independently maintain their own cyber-resources, as the “supreme protector” has already taken care of everything. The idea of an “informational umbrella”, as it were.

For a long time Europe has agreed with such logic, almost completely abandoning the expansion of its own capabilities in the digital world. This was encouraged by the fact that the socialist orientation of the ideologists of the European information society’s architecture were eclectically overlaid on the overall neoliberal model of the European Union. However, the Snowden affair jerked the Europeans out of their sweet slumber and forced them to take a serious look around in search of adequate models for responding to American digital hegemony.

Surprisingly, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Chinese model, which the Europeans themselves have been ruthlessly criticizing for the past 20 years, is just such a model. Individual elements of its implementation in Europe could be seen as early as 2009-2010. At that time European governments openly confronted American IT corporations, in particular, Google and Microsoft. Each case was different (for example, for Germany and Greece it was connected with the Google Street View project, and for France, with attempts to digitize its library collections), but in each case the Europeans tried to create a barrier to the boundless U.S. presence on their territories. In 2011 a “virtual Schengen” [sic — see Wikipedia’s “Schengen Agreement”: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Agreement] obviously organized after the manner of China’s “Golden Shield”, was even discussed, but it didn’t go any farther than generalities.

Apparently China’s experience (in scholarly literature they call it “the East Asian experience of building an information society”) will be increasingly sought after in the future by those countries which want to be subjects of international politics and not obedient performers of the “Center’s” will.

The “Chinese model” is based first of all on the recognition that “universal values” are not all that universal. Over the millennia of its existence, each large civilization has developed its own inherent deep-seated codes which it is safe to call “national values” and which are always unique. For China, for example, these are Confucian values. However, the Chinese recognize the existence of various value systems and do not categorize countries whose value systems differ from their own as “barbarians”, like the preachers of “universal values” in the West.

A second aspect is reliance on national production, which promotes economic growth on the one hand, and state security on the other…

On the technical level, China has from the beginning taken a very careful approach to the development of the World Wide Web on its territory, rejecting the neoliberal paradigm “the market will adjust everything”. In 2003 there were no more than 10 large networks in China which operated under the steady monitoring of the state. The rapid growth of the number of Internet cafes in the mid to late ’90s meant that for several years (1999 to the early 2000s) this sphere was subjected to more serious state regulation.

Thanks to the consistent and thoughtful policy of supporting high-tech sectors of the economy, in China they have done what for a long time seemed impossible: they have forced American IT corporations out of the domestic market and now are actively buying them up (for example, Lenovo bought out IBM, and now it has its eye on Blackberry). Today such Chinese brands as ZTE or Huawei have become synonyms of success and power…

In its content production policy, China holds to two simple principles.

…[T]he first principle [is called] “block and clone”, which means “smart censorship”. Its main distinction from “dumb censorship” is that the state, when blocking access to a foreign platform, immediately provides the possibility to use one just like it, but national [i.e. sourced domestically].

This has proven to be true in relation to absolutely all popular mechanisms of the Internet, from search engines and video services to social networks and microblogs. But the number of users of the Chinese Internet (and this is over 600 million people) makes the very concept of a “global network” quite relative, as there exists a self-sufficient cluster which provides itself with everything it needs.

The second principle is to identify a set of key topics which, in the opinion of the Chinese leadership, could have a destabilizing effect on the country’s life…

Such topics include information which contradicts the principles enshrined in the Constitution; threatens national security; reveals state secrets; undermines confidence in the government; erodes the unity of the state; damages its honor and interests; provokes ethnic hatred or discrimination; erodes the solidarity of the nation; could have negative consequences for state policy in the sphere of religion; spreads the cult of violence, debauchery, pornography, gambling, murder or terrorism or provokes crime; spreads rumors; disturbs the public order; undermines social stability; or violates the human rights enshrined in the Constitution. No one is likely to say that these topics do not in fact deserve heightened attention from the state…

Edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/11/23/how-to-counter-americas-digital-hegemony.html

The Detroit bankruptcy [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Greece, Obama, USA, Wall Street on July 25, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

20 July 2013

The bankruptcy of Detroit, the former auto capital of the world, is a milestone in the historical decay of American capitalism. It is as well a new point of departure in the social counterrevolution being carried out by the ruling class to make working people pay for the failure of its system.

Kevyn Orr, the unelected financial tsar, Republican Governor Rick Snyder, Democratic Mayor David Bing and the establishment media all point to the horrific conditions in Detroit — 78,000 abandoned buildings, non-functioning streetlights, antiquated and understaffed fire protection — not to indict the politicians and corporate powers who are responsible, but to justify the destruction of the living standards and essential public services of workers who bear no responsibility for the disastrous situation.

By going into court, Wall Street bankruptcy lawyer Orr intends to secure repayment of the city’s debt obligations to the big banks and bondholders by shredding union contracts; slashing pensions and health benefits of both active and retired city workers; gutting public services; privatizing public lighting, transit and sanitation; and selling off assets such as the water treatment plant, Belle Isle Park, Detroit Zoo animals, and the Detroit Institute of Arts’ world famous collection.

As a consequence, hundreds of thousands of Detroiters will be thrown into conditions of social immiseration. Thousands of small businesses will be wiped out. At the same time, the city is handing over hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds to enable billionaire Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch to build a new arena and to subsidize real estate mogul Dan Gilbert’s plans to gentrify a section of downtown Detroit.

In carrying out this agenda, Orr has the support of both big business parties and the Obama administration, which has ruled out any federal aid to Detroit.

By throwing Detroit into bankruptcy, the ruling class has exposed the reality of class rule and the dictatorship of capital that lurk behind the trappings of democracy. The domination of the banks and corporations is embodied in the role of their agent, Orr, who operates outside of any democratic control.

All of the explanations that are being given for Detroit’s descent into bankruptcy — inevitably centering on the supposedly exorbitant cost of city workers’ pensions and health benefits — are false. Detroit has been bled dry as a result of a deliberate policy pursued by the auto companies, the banks and the ruling class as a whole over a period of nearly four decades.

The city has been decimated through a process of deindustrialization that began in the late 1970s. This was the response of the American corporate-financial elite to falling profit rates in basic industry and the increasing global integration of production, which made it easier for companies to shift production to low-wage regions.

The dismantling of American industry went hand-in-hand with a shift to the most parasitic forms of financial speculation and the rise of a financial aristocracy. It was accompanied by an attack on social programs, tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and a wave of union-busting, strike-breaking and wage-cutting in the 1980s.

The assault on workers’ living standards continued unabated through Democratic as well as Republican administrations in Washington, and under Democratic and Republican politicians alike at the state and local level.

It coincided with the promotion of racial and identity politics and the integration of an upper-middle class layer of African Americans and other minorities into the political power structure, mainly via the Democratic Party. For decades, Detroit, like other US cities devastated by industrial decline, has been administered largely by African American politicians, who have proven no less ruthless and corrupt than their white counterparts.

The destruction of industry and with it the jobs, wages, working conditions and benefits of millions of workers, has been carried out with the full collaboration of the trade unions. The United Auto Workers (UAW), which arose out of explosive struggles by Detroit auto workers in the 1930s, isolated and betrayed every struggle against plant closures and wage-cutting in the 1980s and 1990s and integrated itself into the structure of corporate management.

The last major national auto strike called by the UAW occurred in 1970. Beginning with the Chrysler bailout of 1979-1980, the UAW has spent the last three decades suppressing the class struggle and working to impose ever more onerous concessions on autoworkers. Since the financial crash of 2008, it has completed its transformation into a corporatist adjunct of the auto companies, becoming a major shareholder in the Big Three auto firms.

The response of the UAW and the rest of the unions in Detroit to the bankruptcy filing has been to order their members to keep working and do nothing to oppose Orr. They have criticized the emergency manager mainly for spurning their offers to collaborate in the imposition of new concessions on city workers.

The bankruptcy filing has national and international implications. Detroit will serve as a precedent for other cities across the country that have been financially crippled by the economic crisis. The use of the bankruptcy court to rip up pensions and health benefits will open the floodgates for similar attacks on millions of teachers, transit workers, sanitation workers and other municipal employees.

Just as Greece became the model for attacks on workers throughout Europe and beyond, the Detroit bankruptcy — which goes beyond even the brutal measures carried out in Greece — will set the pattern for the next stage in the attack on the working class in the US and internationally. At stake is every gain won by the working class through immense and often bloody struggle and sacrifice in the course of more than a century.

The working class in Detroit must implacably oppose the bankruptcy. Workers should reject all demands for concessions and sacrifices to protect the wealth of the financial aristocracy.

The starting point for a struggle is the recognition that the Obama administration, the Democratic Party and the unions are on the opposite side of the barricades…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/07/20/pers-j20.html