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An Interview With Paul Mason in Avgi Newspaper

An Interview With Paul Mason in Avgi Newspaper

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Published by paul_mason_01
Paul Mason discussed with Natasa Giamali the themes of his book newly published in Greece.
Paul Mason discussed with Natasa Giamali the themes of his book newly published in Greece.

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Published by: paul_mason_01 on Jan 19, 2014
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An interview with Paul Mason in Avgi newspaper, Greece, 19 Jan 2014 English version

- Is there a red line connecting all the movements described in your book? Are there any shared characteristics? Yes - but it’s not red. It’s white - in every one of these movements you see people with white wire coming from their ears. This is a connected generation of young people who have turned the very thing that was supposed to enslave them into a weapon: not just technology but specifically network technology. What was supposed to keep them trapped in a bubble of individuality actually freed them to break out of it. What links Sol, Gezi and Tahrir is not Facebook - although they did use these things - it is their common experience of being a generation that cannot live with the conditions presented to them: by the breakdown of neoliberalism, by the corrupt, conservative and repressive state, by the development model which from New York to Cairo always favours the 1%. When the Arab Spring inevitably went into a period of reaction, a lot of people said - “you book is wrong”: then Gezi happened, then 1m people on the streets of Brazil. Recently the Economist magazine discovered that these movements were linked by inequality, corruption, economic crisis and a collapse in trust. I still think this misses something - where it;s really kicking off is in people’s heads. There is a Human Spring that you can’t make go away with tear gas and batons.

- How do you define the subjects of the movement? Is it young people and their problems, is it class struggle, is it religion, is it conservatism, is it the left, and who sets the tone? I don’t buy the whole analysis of the autonomists - that the working class has become replaced by a “collective worker” who can be the precariat, a housewife, a docker, a graffiti artist. For me that’s a form of declamatory thinking. However when the autonomists say - there’s not one mole undermining capitalism but a tribe of moles - they are describing reality.

coming up to you in balaclavas and saying they’re going to not defend the barricade but actually attack riot cops armed much heavier than the Greek ones. I was in the streets near Ermou when I saw all kinds of guys .In the preface of the greek edition of your book. But all movements have a kind of symbolic type and the networked young people are that . probably from outside traditional labour movement families. I have never seen such a big cross section of society stand facing tear gas for hours. The best way to describe it is when you get guys with good haircuts. the youth.at the height of 2011 you got a whole mass of more amorphous ordinary people.Look at every demo in Syntagma. the scale of hopelessness.of course there are some plainclothes cops but if you look at the demographic: young. I actually say in the book December was the first of the modern struggles the precariat.was so great that it blasted away all the existing divisions: Stalinism. probably owning a decent car. singing songs. right after Lehman went bust. .all going crazy over the memorandum. I saw it in Spain too. At the centre of the movements. male.kebab stall owners. The level of anger in Turkey . skinny. driving forward and keeping them going. If Gezi is yet to follow. the anarchists. then the black bloc arrive . I saw a level of social mobilisation I have not seen in Greece. gym-toned arms. whether they’re a coffee bar worker or a lawyer: that doesn’t mean there is no place for the proletariat just look at the scale of Greek and Turkish union mobilisations during their respective struggles. has generally been what sociologists call “networked individuals” people who live a connected lifestyle. women with gold bracelets and Fendi handbags . and Egypt. Then .in the book I call them Jacobins with a laptop. All I am saying is in Gezi. alienated. pensioners. Kemalism. you are suggesting that the Greek Gezi Park is yet to follow. people with no face covering. what happened in December 2008? Some people believe that it was the "ground zero”. labour movement splits going back 70 years mean there’s always two or three different official demos. giving .albeit from a defined half of the population that is secular .

Maybe Greece won’t have anything that big. email addresses. ones that do not openly espouse and organise violence. transparent. they will probably have to. How would the people react? .so if the signals intelligence people do not. Maybe the time for it has passed. convention on human rights etc . The left is not in that business. cripple the NHS and so on. So. cold-war style anti left surveillance and disruption operations. So I am not sure how much use the data is for the old. .that the mass collection of data came out of their strategy for dealing with the Iraq insurgency: collect all phone calls. you can data crunch and find out who did it. are we doomed? Actually what’s not properly recognised about the way the NSA/GCHQ works is .If Snowden's revelations are valid.as far as I know . NSA knows potentially pretty much everything about everyone. The left is in the business of a legal.is likely to get imposed on the intelligence guys now. I think its a reasonable question though. is going to be a hard sell even for the intelligence agencies in Europe and the USA.Say that in Britain Tories and Labor form a coalition government and impose 30% of GDP austerity over 3 years and abolish every labor right. As you know I interviewed Tsipras and I put to him: what do you do to avoid becoming the Greek Allende . metadata so that when an attack happens. The British drone pilots operate their aircraft with a lawyer on hand 24/7 .e.I think its a question people in Syriza are not so comfortable with. democratic struggle against austerity. . I think any attempt to use mass surveillance against legitimate protest movements or parties: i.away free food.Geneva convention. I also think the level of legal oversight on the western military . My most likely scenario with Greece is a political crisis if ND lose power.

I can guarantee you there is not going to be a Labour/Conservative coalition in Britain unless zombies attack the planet. not just balance the books . The Conservatives have openly said now. that their aim is to shrink the state.so if growth revives and keeps going. And if you were expecting me to say “it will explode” no country explodes where they’ve just printed 12% of GDP in money and started to filter it into people’s pockets. there will be a clear opportunity for Labour and even the Libdems to say: we will soften the austerity. The real problem in Britain is the total alienation of people from the political class. Actually I expect the next year to start seeing a discussion about a Liberal-Labour coalition. and also a fairly clear difference emerging over the scale of austerity. .

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