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Athens Polytechnic comes to UC Davis

November 22nd, 2011

A Greek friend has sent me lots of information on links between the suppression of dissent at UC Davis and similar events in Greece from the days of the military junta to the present. Here’s a video commemorating the 1973 uprising centred on Athens Polytechnic, which led to the downfall of the military junta the following year[1].  the last title says “The Polytechneio lives on. In struggles today.” Link

Among the legacies of the uprising was a university asylum law that restricted the ability of police to enter university campuses. University asylum was abolished a few months ago, as part of a process aimed at suppressing anti-austerity demonstrations. The abolition law was based on the recommendatiions of an expert committee, which reported a few months ago (report here, in Greek). There’s an English translation here, but it doesn’t work well for me.

Fortunately, my friend has translated the key recommendations

University campuses are unsafe. While the [Greek] Constitution permits the university leadership to protect campuses from elements inciting political instability, Rectors have shown themselves unwilling to exercise these rights and fulfill their responsibilities, and to take the decisions needed in order to guarantee the safety of the faculty, staff, and students. As a result, the university administration and teaching staff have not proven themselves good stewards of the facilities with which society has entrusted them. 

The politicizing of universities – and in particular, of students – represents participation in the political process that exceeds the bounds of logic. This contributes to the rapid deterioration of tertiary education. 

Among the authors of this report – Chancellor Linda Katehi, UC Davis. And, to add to the irony, Katehi was a student at Athens Polytechnic in 1973.

 

fn1. The fall of the Greek junta, only a year after Pinochet’s coup in Chile was, in retrospect, a historic turning point, after which rule by generals became steadily less common.

Posted via email from John’s posterous

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  1. AS
    November 23rd, 2011 at 02:16 | #1

    I’m not normally one for wedges and thin ends, but this seems to have been the trend in Western countries ie. to PROTECT our rights, the Government needs to give the police more powers and weapons. Don’t like it? Well, the police will then use those powers and weapons to SUPPRESS our rights.

    The wedge I don’t want to mention? “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

  2. Freelander
    November 23rd, 2011 at 05:38 | #2

    Sometimes I wonder whether vigorous suppression of discontent and alternative views might occasionally be linked to cognitive dissonance. The vigour seems to be greatest when those doing the suppression are not so confident in their own views, and I wonder whether the vigour is due to the dissent causing the suppressors pain due to cognitive dissonance. When people are confident in their own views they don’t seem so concerned about what others believe except to the extent that those beliefs cause undesirable behaviour. If a dissenting view is just stupid, while annoying, the reaction in others to the stupid views is rarely vicious. But when it comes to strongly held religious beliefs being challenged, or some form of organised madness like climate change denial there is always a measure of moral outrage and viciousness to their position being challenged. Of course, some energy can always be expected when interests and privileges are challenged but some of it at least seems to be because some shaky but strongly held beliefs are being questioned.

  3. Freelander
    November 23rd, 2011 at 05:58 | #3

    “university campuses are unsafe while…” Unsafe in what way exactly? What is the ‘threat’?

  4. Julie Thomas
    November 23rd, 2011 at 07:17 | #4

    Montesquieu said too much law making is a sign of civilization breaking down.

    Spinoza said laws are essential, but not sufficient, to make people behave in a civilized way

    Confuscius said “lead the people by political maneuvers, restrain them with punishment: the people will become cunning and shameless. Lead them by virtue, restrain them with ritual: they will develop a sense of shame and a sense of participation.”

    So what virtues do any of our governments stand for? They have all succumbed to zombie economics and the fallacy that market forces lead by themselves to intrinsically good outcomes.

  5. th.alys
    November 23rd, 2011 at 08:01 | #5

    @Freelander

    Political parties have institution based youth organisations that quite often clash with each other. In addition professors whose political opinions are not appreciated by extremist political groups usually find themselves victims of various attacks. Usually we’re talking about attempts to vandalize their offices or verbal confrontations, however physical violence is not unheard of.

    Last but not least, the prohibition of any police presence, meant that
    whoever wished to commit a crime, was very unlikely to be arrested f0r his crime. Beyond petty crimes such as selling illegal copies of software, more serious incidents, like attempts to rape or terrorist attacks have taken place. Probably none of these on its own would be enough to justify in the eyes of the society the abolition of the asylum, but the taken all together, apparently, were.

    Your friend should have informed you that there was an attempt to radically alter the asylum regulation, 4-5 years ago. The abolishment has little to do with the current situation and it was certainly not inspired by it. There was another committee in 2005-6, which made the same recommendations.

  6. November 23rd, 2011 at 08:06 | #6

    Here in Australia a surprising number of people are still following the Murdoch/MSM line of demonising occupy.

    Mainstream and so called independent media outlets/bloggers in Brisbane have belittled and untruthfully reported on violence and factional infighting within the movement.

    The establishment (on the right and left) are incapable of any other meaningful analysis and/or reporting because the occupy narrative is beyond the grasp of media monitors, political focus groups and spin doctors.

    Thankfully, there is now a space for voices to be heard – and this does not only mean occupying a park – the monopoly on dissent is over!

    It is great to see that you have discovered how wide ranging the problem is.

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