OXI Means NO

55% youth unemployment
45% of retirees living below poverty line
35% rise in suicides
$2.5 billion in profit made by the IMF on loans to Greece

But the thirst of a leech is unquenchable.

The other day, I broke down sobbing as I was heading into work. Scanning my Twitter feed for updates on Greece as I do on the CTA every morning lately, I looked out the window and saw a man on the sidewalk of Chicago literally on his knees begging for help. As I got off the bus, I stumbled down the street until I found a place where I could curl up into the fetal position and weep.

Why do we allow ourselves to be ruled by leeches?

Later that week, negotiations broke down between the Greek government and its troika of “lenders”. After five months of negotiations with the newly elected Greek government, the troika refused to budge, insisting that Greece sign a new memorandum that was virtually the same as the last, one that would deepen the austerity measures which have driven the country into a deep depression.

But Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras refuses to sign and instead calls for a national referendum on the leeches!

Cue the most vicious propaganda campaign of fear-mongering and lies to ever hit airwaves. A VOTE FOR “NO” IS A VOTE TO LEAVE EUROPE! SYRIZA WILL TURN US INTO A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY! IT’S EUROZONE OR ZIMBABWE! (Never hurts to fan the flames of racism while you’re at it). Most polls show the “YES” vote with a narrow lead throughout the week. Banks remain closed, with capital controls restricting withdrawals. The media exaggerate lines at ATMs, using footage from other countries and claiming them to be Greece. “NO” rallies get 1 minute of coverage for every 6 minutes given to “YES.” Newscasters break down in tears on television lamenting the fate that awaits their proud country should the people vote “NO.”

July 5, 2015: Shattering all expectations, scoffing in the face of crocodile tears and poisoned lies, 61% of the people vote OXI! No to leeches and fear!

I cried tears of joy that day. I felt in my bones that day the blood of courage and resistance running through me, passed down from pappoudes who fought against the Nazis, who fought with the partisans, who survived the junta, who chased the American dream, who brought me here today.

Tomorrow, the Greek parliament will vote on a preposterous proposal, a financial coup d’etat aimed at stripping the Greeks of everything they have, from property to pride. The fact that Tsipras has even allowed this proposal to be put to a vote is a defeat in itself, one that had the masses of people who voted OXI last week reeling in the confusion and bitterness of betrayal. Even still, they did not miss a beat. Protests in the streets and a 24-hour general strike will take place tomorrow. Against false leaders and leeches alike.

You see, the thirst of a leech is unquenchable, yes. But its intestines are finite. And we have them outnumbered. And the strength of the human spirit cannot be bled dry. And we will not stop until justice is served. And it is not a threat, it is cause-and-effect, when I say (and you repeat): From Chicago to Greece, no justice no peace!

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On the murder of and by NYPD

There is nothing that can “justify” murder, there are only things that can *explain* it. Cause-and-effect operates outside of morality. Which is not to say that murder (or any human action) can be boiled down to a single cause but rather that a confluence of circumstances can be understood to have a certain potential to lead to a specific outcome, not unlike the way we understand the physical sciences. For example, different plants grow in different areas of the earth, they require a specific set of ecological circumstances in order to thrive, and changes to the environment consequently change the way plants grow, evolve, or die.

Human behavior is of course more complex, but I believe it still operates under the same basic laws of nature. By extension, I would argue that when you live in society dominated by a tiny minority of wealthy individuals who use murder, torture, exploitation, oppression, deception, etc. as a way to maintain their rule, you can expect to reap all sorts of unhealthy outcomes, including a police force that murders with impunity and individuals who see no other recourse than to murder back.

I do not believe we should seek to justify either side of this cycle of violence; rather, we should seek to expose the underlying causes of violence and move forward with the project of transforming this society into one that is capable of producing good rather than evil. Your individual morality does not change the inherent immorality upon which our current society is based. Only collective action can do that.

The Verdict

The jury has spoken.
But what has she said?

She has said that we are a nation of Laws
and that according to those Laws
George Zimmerman is
not guilty.

And thus
she has reminded us that
Law ≠ Justice.

Law is meant to be a tool of Justice.
But when instead it is used as a tool of Tyranny—
when laws are used to exonerate killers
when laws are used to sanctify killing
when laws are used to spy, torture, oppress, and exploit

Then we,
the civilized masses of people being brutalized by this uncivilization
have a duty
to ourselves, to each other, to life itself
to not respect these unjust laws
to instead expose them, resist them, defy them, belie them
to fight until true justice is served.

Because if George Zimmerman is not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin,
then we are.

We as a society are guilty.

Guilty of creating a world where George Zimmermans exist,
where they exist and flourish and get away with murder
every single day.
Guilty of allowing our world to be governed by sociopaths
who pillage the earth and crush human souls
in a parasitic quest for power.
Guilty of betraying our own freedom,
by adoring the chains that keep us bound to our oppressors
and divided from one another.

This is the real verdict,
the one woven in between the delusional lines of the court’s determination
the one hovering above the anguish in the courtroom and on the streets
the one staring us in the face at every crossroad that we refuse to see.

We are guilty.
Sentenced to life in prison.
Of our own volition.

Because we accept this fate
every day that we live our lives
without naming injustice for what it is
without fighting against it with all we have.

Our silence.
Our apathy.
Our ignorance.
Our compliance.
All accessories to our collective murder-suicide.

This is what the jury said today.

©Stavroula Harissis

Rapper Lupe Fiasco Honors Dr. King’s Legacy With Act of Civil Disobedience

by Stavroula Harissis

Lupe Fiasco

It’s Monday, January 21, 2013. Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States of America, is being inaugurated for his second and final term in office. As is custom, he takes his oath of office with one hand on the Bible, this one extra-special for having once belonged to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Some see this as a wonderful symbol of the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream. I see it as pure blasphemy.

Thankfully, another African American man representing Chicago decided to honor King’s memory in a different way.

Rapper Lupe Fiasco, known for his criticism of President Obama and the U.S. government in general, was invited to headline an unofficial inaugural celebration concert Sunday in Washington DC. Reports state that he was forced off stage after performing the song “Words I Never Said” for 30 minutes straight, along with ad-lib criticism of the President and his penchant for drone assassinations.

In response to the incident, event promoters stated: “This was not about his opinions. Instead, after a bizarrely repetitive, jarring performance that left the crowd vocally dissatisfied, organizers decided to move on to the next act.”

In any case, I admire Lupe’s openly critical lyrics and his courage to perform them, even in the face of repression and reprisal. I’m glad he was given a chance to make this statement on the eve of the day we honor Dr. King as a nation.

And I invite you to ask yourselves, who has truly honored Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend: President Obama, who rests his hand on the Bible in order to accept his continued power to assassinate innocents with impunity? Or Lupe Fiasco, who wraps his hand around the mic in order to speak truth to power and demand justice?

Ideology of Truth & Justice

I am a seeker of Truth and Justice. I will not put political ideology above either of those things. I will not defend someone who uses dishonest means, even if I agree with their ends. Propaganda is propaganda, no matter who spews it. Violence is violence, no matter who the victim. You reap what you sow. Simple as that.

I want a revolution. But if a revolution is based on violence, dishonest propaganda, and/or dogmatic ideology, I want no part of it. Because a TRUE revolution is one that has the courage and creativity to break free of the prescriptive chains of ideology. Anything less than that is just a change in regime. Do I think that some form of Socialism or Communism would be better for our world than Capitalism? Yes. Will I do “whatever it takes” to bring Socialism/Communism into being? No.

First off, such blind allegiance goes against my commitment to TRUTH. If all of my debates use a particular political ideology as a springboard, then I am not really seeking truth, I am only seeking to reaffirm my beliefs. Do I see truth in the theories of Communism? Yes. Will I continue to question them even as I attempt to bring them into action? Absolutely. Because all ideologies are flawed. And yet we all must live according to ideologies in one form or another. We are all guided by beliefs. But the question is, do we cling to our beliefs and ideologies as omnipotent, indestructible absolutes? Or do we use them to guide us towards an ever-evolving truth and understanding? I choose the latter.

This stance is not only consistent with my personal core value of seeking Truth but I also believe it is the only way to build a successful revolution. A legitimate revolution must come from the masses of people. The existing masses of people have a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs. In order to unite, we must respect each others’ opinions and work towards consensus. This includes listening to and considering the opinions of people we instinctively disagree with. Because no individual is in possession of complete or absolute truth. We must recognize and resist the tendency in ourselves to preach and to indoctrinate others to our beliefs. Our collective knowledge and creativity is what gives us strength. If we do not approach one another from a position of openness and humility, we cannot unite. It is not an easy task, but our humanity demands it.

Moreover, our humanity demands that we remain committed to JUSTICE. Committing to do “whatever it takes” to bring a particular political ideology into being goes against a commitment to justice. The ends do not justify the means. The intentional killing of another human being is never OK, in my opinion. So if it takes killing and oppressing “capitalists” in order to bring about a better system, I will not support it. We must find a way to break the cycle of violence that plagues our species. Oppressing our oppressors does not make us free, it just changes our role in the continuation of oppression.

Some say it can’t be done, non-violent revolution. I say that attitude is selling ourselves short. I say that attitude is cowardly and amoral. We must stick to our principles, even in the face of certain defeat. Because what is the worth of a victory gained by contradicting your own moral values? It is no victory at all, in my eyes. As Gandhi said, you must BE the change you wish to see in the world. When all human beings can BE what they say they wish the world to be, THAT will be the real revolution.

*I appreciatively welcome respectful comments, counter-arguments, and cooperative discussion.*