Global Independent Analytics
Van Gelis
Van Gelis

Location: Greece

Specialization: Middle East

Neoliberal Globalisation and Mass Migration: The Example of Greece

Any serious analysis of mass migration as a phenomena has to provide an in depth study as to the effects of the process, of who benefits and who gains and whether it is a natural phenomena[i] or an organised movement[ii] which serves the neo-liberal agenda.

Greece once more is in the eye of the storm. During 2015 around 750,000 have passed through Greece on their way to Northern Europe. The borders have essentially become non-existent. Another 3 million are expected to arrive in 2016. Is this a natural phenomena (product of wars or economic displacement) or something more sinister? A new world order agenda to reduce wages in the EU as it is now in stark competition with the USA and China? Replacing a century and a half of unionised labour?

Greece suffered extensively as a result of two decades of wars, in the first half of the 20th century as a consequence of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and World War I and as a result of World War II and the subsequent Cold War (Truman doctrine was inaugurated in Greece) and civil war. As such it has been prone to mass movements of populations from abroad to Greece and vice versa and two examples stand out. The population transfers as a result of the Asia Minor expedition of the early 20’s that saw a couple of million arrive in Athens from Attaturk’s Turkey and the tens of thousands of Greeks that emigrated after the end of the civil war to find work in the factories and mines of Germany, Belgium and France.

From the mid 1960’s to approximately 1990 no large population movements occurred apart from the displacement of Greek Cypriots from Turkey’s invasion into Cyprus. What did occur and what isn’t mentioned ever is the first wave of globalisation created by the Greek merchant ship owners who had Greek flagged crews on their fleet which was mainly used to carry goods East to West and who developed enormously during the period of the embargo on Saudi Arabia in the 1950s.

They were closely linked to the City of London in terms of insurance and financing of loans for developing the merchant fleets and were at the cutting edge of labour reform. With the advent of new technology and the reduction in manning on merchant shipping, alongside the creation of schools for shipping in the Philippines and Central America, Greek flagged ships became a rarity. Most of the personnel were from the ‘third world,’ unless they were the captains or port engineers. Labour costs were driven to the ground way before the fall of the Soviet Union and in the 1990’s this essentially became the blueprint for neoliberal labour relations worldwide.

The military junta of the late 1960’s early 1970’s pioneered the first wave of cheap labour from Pakistan for agriculture but this was regulated and at the time the Drachma wasn’t a convertible currency so the export of currency was minimal and controlled by the government of the day.

Entrance into the EEC

Greece’s entrance into the EEC in 1981 occurred under the guise that it would develop both its agriculture and its heavy industry. Nearly four decades later its agriculture has been decimated and its heavy industry destroyed. Instead of Greek agricultural products being protected in the EU wide market the opposite occurred. Greek supermarkets were taken over by larger chains and they started to import produce the world over. This destroyed agricultural labour costs which led directly to the mass importation of cheap labour.  We recently had the odious situation of Asian farmers living with animals to pick strawberries in Greece and being shot for asking for wages. [iii]

Fall of the Soviet Union

When the Soviet Union fell there was a mass wave of illegals that arrived from Albania.

Statements alluded to the recent leader of New Democracy Samaras, made at the time when Greeks had two homes and multiple cars led to a massive wave of Albanians to arrive. Initially they were few but then they kept on coming and the crescendo reached the Olympic Games building projects of the early 2000.

Greek bosses started to prefer and select Albanian immigrant workers for cost as well as hours worked. Insofar as there was a building boom, they were needed and older Greek workers became foremen. Just as mechanisation in shipping led to smaller shipping crews required with more simple instructions, so the changes in building construction led to less workers required with a smaller skill set. By 2000 there were allegedly around 800,000 Albanians alone, but official figures always underestimate. According to estimates by the police there are currently 94 different nationalities present in Greece. In the first decade of the 21st century around 1.5 million Albanians gained legal status in Greece and this year all children born in Greece can gain nationality.

A Greek Parliamentary Committee was set up in 1993 to analyse the issue of mass migration and the demographic crisis. All the major parties signed it (PASOK, New Democracy, KKE and Sinaspismos - Syriza’s precursor[iv]).

Olympics Building Boom

Between 1999 and 2004 a mass building program of works occurred for the Olympic games. Thousands of companies were created and tens of thousands of new immigrant workers came. "The entrance of the new immigrants in the labor movement, which covers now around one third of the total number of laborers who are occupied in Greece,” explained the Greek TUC Report[v] in 2002.

In other words 33% of the working people are immigrants. From this many have concluded that the borders of Greece are hermetically sealed. Greece is a Fortress inside a European fortress! Someone could ask what percentage should the 33% of cheap laborers be, so as to theoretically accept that borders are open? 100% of all laborers, 200%, 500%, an endless figure? Not that we expect a reply to this
question.

‘Whoever continues to talk about open borders is either consciously lying or doesn't have a consciousness of reality’ was a common refrain at the time alongside what was written on walls all over Athens: ‘Worker, the bosses like racism.’

Just think about it. More than two million (and more) immigrants who live
in Greece, a number which represents 20% of the total population, is a ‘conscious lie'! Whilst truth is that Europe closed its borders a long time ago, stopped immigration, became a Fortress. The simple Greek worker who believes in the opposite doesn't have a consciousness of reality! As this reality isn't one which is witnessed daily in their journeys on public transport, in factories, on
ships, on building sites and public works, but that which exists in the realms of fantasy.

Is there competition for work amongst Greeks and immigrants?

‘No, jobs are not taken by immigrants.’ That is what we are told by the anti-racist globalists. Greek capitalists didn't bring them to replace the more expensive and demanding Greek workers but for them to do the jobs which the well fed locals refuse to do! The foreign workers who work in Greece apparently occupy positions that are exclusively those of unskilled laborers such as cleaning duties, cleaners
or building work and agricultural work for men.

Allegedly new migrant workers were required for work in occupations that were new in the expanding labor market, such as building sites. Even if we assume that was the case, building sites aren’t new occupations and unemployment always existed between 7-10% during the first decade of the 21st century.

As the ‘reality' for which we don't all have a ‘consciousness' is that before the immigrants arrived in Greece there were no house servants, no building workers, fishermen, no one dug any fields or worked in making furniture!

Let us contemplate the ‘logic’ of the ahistorical globalist: that before 1990 the Greek worker didn't work; he knitted and waited for the arrival of immigrants to stand upright and become a new labor aristocracy. Now he has found a new occupation: ‘managers of consumerism,’ avoiding every labor intensive activity, just like the writers on immigration in the neoliberal era  avoid every intellectual activity, with the end result of creating  paper-thin arguments, full of contradictions.

Greek labor fought for labor standards. Ship owners destroyed them.

The whole of the history of the Greek labor movement and of every country is based primarily on one-two militant sections of workers with a history and tradition, with a socialist tradition and perspective for another world. The dockworkers and building workers before they were globalised were the advanced guard of class struggle. They were the example to be copied by all the other sections. Whoever sits to read a little history will see that the dockworkers and sailors were the first in Greece during the 2nd world war that created Workers’ Committees which decided and forced the ship owners onto their regime on the ships. They reached such a level of class militancy and dynamism that the bosses couldn't recruit or sack who they wanted or when they wanted. Their fame spread in all the significant shipping fleets around the world and the dockers and sailors in many countries followed the example of the Greek dockworkers.

Greece occupied around 25% of the shipping fleet of the Western world and it is no coincidence that the ship owners tried to break the power of the dockworkers and ships crews. This was finally achieved by the rise of PASOK in power (in the early 1980’s) and the policies of the KKE who wrote off the leadership of the dockworkers and supported the party of ‘change' (which is how PASOK called themselves). The ship owners created schools of sailors in the Philippines and slowly but surely started to replace Greek crews with hungry, politically subdued and educationally backward workers so as to escape from the high labor contracts, and the special provisions regarding unhygienic and dangerous labor, pre-determined hours of work and introducing on the ships a regime of the Roman galleys, once more.

The ship owners from their base in the City of London have in store a future identical to the one above for the whole of the working class. With the use of foreign crews they achieved what they hadn't in four decades. They gained from the paltry wages they paid. More significantly they achieved a significant strategic defeat on the whole labor movement in Greece opening the path to the subjugation of all sectors, using as a lever neoliberal mass immigration. This task will be undertaken when every relationship with militant and revolutionary
traditions of the Greek labor movement are broken with the replacement of the natural carriers of these traditions not by the 33% of the Greek TUC report but by 100%, with the support of the ‘leftist' globalists.

People don't ask to whom do the jobs belong. To the Greek workers or to their bosses? If the Greek boss had 5 Greek workers on an X wage and he sacks them recruiting 15 immigrants, he didn't create 10 new positions but divided 5 wages to 15 people. With such logic (if anyone can call it that) they claim with all honesty that unemployment in Greece has remained stable and during certain periods even been reduced!... What a nice picture for Greek capitalism.[vi]

With 1/3 of the labor force being immigrants, with only 2,000 Greek seafarers left out of an estimated 100,000 in 1970, everything is going fine. For whom? This isn't really the issue. Due to the immigrants the wages on the building sites –as everywhere else in the private sector – are now under the level of the 1980's. Hours of work have gone through the roof. Thus the beggar became a ‘strong Greece.' Greece from being at the bottom of the EU, due to the expansion of immigrant labor, is now somewhere in the middle. First among last, great is its glory (but these borders keep on closing whilst the EU keeps expanding).

We are told that the use of immigrants hasn't occurred due to the profit collapse of gross sales by companies, but because of the expansion of the market. We needed immigrants in booming capitalism. You see, without them the Greek worker would be lazy. He wouldn't get off the couch to pick a grape (despite doing this for thousands of years) or to clean a hospital.

Foreign workers do not take jobs from Greeks, this is the common refrain, as the market has developed and unemployment remained the same. But if the market truly developed, would unemployment remain the same? The unemployed remain unemployed in a period of growth of the economy? So who takes all the new jobs (if they truly exist) as they aren't being taken by Greeks? Whilst some economists present a picture of economic boom of capitalism and the appearance of new jobs, unemployment remains static. In other words development doesn't equal a drop in unemployment. Immigrants don't then take the jobs of Greeks. Or are they taking the new jobs and therefore a drop in unemployment is impossible, despite development?

Trying to justify the unjustifiable and to state that the presence of immigrants has no social, political or economic consequences in the neoliberal era, but only brings to the surface the racist nature of Greek people, globalists who justify mass immigration are being led by mathematical precision into the camp of the apologists of capitalism, in its greatest crisis of history, which is attempting to survive transforming the planet into an arsenal of racial conflicts and planetary slavery. The industrial bourgeoisies in globalised capitalism will try to replace the hands it uses with cheaper and cheaper pools of labor, using the endless pools of illegal labor wherever it can on the planet. Not to improve the
standard of life of the hungry and dispossessed but to destroy whatever was achieved by struggle by Western workers and to globalize immiseration.

Riots over Illegal Immigration

Two areas, one in the central Athenian working class district of Ag. Panteleomonas, and another in the port town of Patras, have finally broken center-stage in political life. Starting off by people living in the areas, they protested against the mass invasion, occupation and enforced 'multiculturalism' of the Greek globalist oligarchy whose starting point is the City of London.

Initially unable to know what to do and frightened of being blamed for racism they complained to the official authorities about the squatter camps of hundreds of illegal immigrants camped in town squares, in children’s play areas, outside churches. The mass number of illegals meant that not having any work, crime skyrocketed in these areas, people were frightened of moving about in their areas, local businesses were forced into closure, property prices catapulted downwards and communal areas were being used by people to defecate, take drugs, drink, even have sex in full public view. Globalization had finally arrived.

The press initially started a mass wave of criticism blaming the victims for the crimes. The authorities provided no facilities for the hundreds thousands of illegals. Why should they? They don’t live in working class areas. After all multiculturalism is for the poor, not the rich. Over a sustained period of six months the protestors were vilified by all: by the media, by the government, by the leftists, but not by the Greek people. They stood on their side, in every conversation on the street, in the markets, even by the first large wave of immigrants. There were Albanians who signed petitions against the multicultural wave from Afghanistan, Somalia, Morocco, Pakistan, Nigeria, Chad, Bangladesh etc. The numbers are now currently standing at around 4 million new immigrants in a country of 10 million, in 2009.

The government’s loyal followers in the form of the leftists started a mass campaign to brand the citizens of the central Athens district of Ag. Panteleomonas as 'racists,' 'fascists,' and 'Nazis.' They held demo after demo in the area trying to hound out the hundreds of local protestors.

The focal point was the biggest Orthodox Church in Greece and the children’s play area in its garden. They would not be cowed or browbeaten though. They fought back, with posters, leaflets, petitions leading up to a national protest in Omonia Square central Athens. After 9 months of struggle and after the disastrous Euroelections for the ruling parties of both right and left, they have finally achieved half their aims.

The square has been cleared and the illegal immigrants have been forced to move on. Of course they haven't gone to the northern rich suburbs of Athens where the businessmen and politicians live, but the whole country has heard about them now. It’s become a national issue where before, it was a side issue. The KKE and the leftists in tow have stood on the opposite side of the class war with the government.

The fake Left has refused to participate or take up any of the issues. They have been forced to admit like the government that there is a problem. The 3,500-strong petition that was gathered (in November 2008) was of course ignored when circulated.

It will be extremely difficult to justify the current mass waves of sustained illegal immigration that currently number around 200,000 a year (2010 onwards). When we had Muslim protests in Athens, this further weakened the position of illegal immigration. The Greek working class has no reason to accept wave upon wave of migrants when it itself cannot survive.

By 2009, the percentage of votes going to extreme rightwing parties was minimal and their representation in the Athens council elections (central districts where most of the immigrants congregated) was minor. The arrival of the Troika meant the parties of the extreme centre (PASOK, New Democracy) which adopted the economic genocide of Greece started to fragment and from a high point of combined votes of 85% of the electorate dropped to around 30% (in the 2012 elections) and the political vacuum created meant people voted for parties of the alleged extreme left and right. Retro-fascists in the form of a party called Golden Dawn gained national prominence and the myth created around this party was that it was fighting for state power, when it had no such intentions. It arrived on the scene due to the political vacuum created.

Just as most of the heavy industries of the EU went to Asia due to high labour costs, so the high cost of Greek labour led to the importation of wave upon wave of immigrants who took over whole industries: farming, catering, building, home care, hotel work and so on. Many bosses preferred cash in hand work with no contractual ties and achieved what they always wanted: a labour movement with no history and zero memory. This they achieved in a majority of sectors and wherever there is some industry left, Greeks remain at most 20% of the labour force.

When New Democracy took over the elections in 2012, it was under pressure, due to another round of riots in central Athens after the murder of a Greek by lumpen Afghanis for a video camera as he was taking his wife to give birth. This forced New Democracy to take emergency measures to limit the globalist inflows of migrants who congregated with nothing to do in all the central town squares. This forced Manolis Glezos (historic leader of the Left who helped tear down the German flag from the Akropolis during the occupation) to make a statement against the Left stating it has adopted mass immigration without any criticisms. [vii]

Anyone visiting Athens between 2008 and 2012 would have noticed the total absence of tourist police (they never existed), hundreds of unlicenced immigrant street sellers everywhere, tens of migrants going round in shopping trolleys taking old metal, hundreds involved in daily muggings and in particular many crimes against old people who couldn’t defend themselves, whilst we also had the arrival of teenage prostitutes from Africa pushed by pimps 50 meters from a central police station, just south of Omonia Square.

This in a country that suffered extensively during the German occupation losing around 10% of its overall population, with such violence being unknown against old people by hungry and starving Greeks. These were the social effects of neoliberal globalisation on the immigration side. It would also be absurd to believe that so many people could survive in an era of de-industrialisation just by arriving in Greece. The export of the Euro (hard currency) is of course the pull factor, but this would have a detrimental effect on the actual economy as wages were pinned to the floor and local companies would face the full weight of global competition as was witnessed by the mass importation of low priced goods from Asia. A return to a national currency would reduce the presence of such large numbers of migrants only because the currency of the country would no longer have a global trading status.

Dublin II and Frontex

Throughout the first decade of the 21st century an agreement was reached called Dublin II which stated that all new immigrant arrivals would have to be registered in the first country of arrival. For a decade this was argued against by the parties from the Left. The argument was that Greece could not become a depository of lost souls. In other words, once in, new migrants should be free to travel anywhere within the EU. So why even bother paying fig leaf to borders. Why not just set up direct flights to Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Congo for example, and ask who wants to fly to Europe? There would a lot less stress and a lot less corporate propaganda, but how could the powers at be sell this process?

Brussels has a no pushback policy implying that at anytime one is in the territory of the EU one has to be processed forwards, everything else is illegal. That also implies that the navy of each country which is in the Mediterranean has to accept anyone at sea. As the states don’t want to openly admit they desire the mass movement of populations from Asia and Africa into the EU, they like the fact that this is organised on a for profit basis by smugglers and hundreds drown every now and again. It serves their globalist agenda.

The unregistered process serves big business well, as a section of workers has no papers, and bosses can use them as a way of lowering wages across the board.

At around the same time another organisation Frontex was set up, based in Poland,  whose aim was to process and register the hundreds of thousands that would arrive in  the EU.

Syriza’s rise to power with Independent Greeks
If Turkey does not accept repatriation Greece cannot be the EU’s reservoir of lost souls. This was the new common refrain. Without officially abolishing Dublin II, Germany gave the green light for millions to arrive in the EU. Syriza complied.

Tens of thousands have arrived and there seems to be no let up in the situation.

What is the real agenda? Solving Germany’s demographic problem or weakening European elites? Evidence exists for both[viii] options.[ix]                                            

There were indications that this was Syriza’s actual program: opening the borders and facilitating the mass importation of labor. It works insofar as tens of thousands don’t stay in Greece.  Each new migrant is given a travel document to leave Greece within 30 days. Priority is only given to Afghanis, Iraqis and Syrians. The non-EU countries bordering Greece like the former Yugoslavia, have been targeted perhaps to bring it into the EU. Immigrants could in theory just go to wherever they wanted via Bulgaria as there are no borders with Greece. Merkel wanted Brussels to centralize the mass movement of migrants and for each member state to receive constant flows and for Frontex to decide who is registered as an asylum seeker so individual states lose control of their own territory.

The future will be explosive, just like the past.

One cannot argue the political elite did not understand the issues related to mass immigration and the demographic problems of Greece or the fact that neighbouring states have laid claim to Greek land. A whole parliamentary committee was set up and it produced a report in 1993 signed by all the major parties.

The open borders regime introduced with the election of Syriza has meant around 1 million have entered the EU via Greece (officially 740,000)  in 2015. The EU commissioner on immigration who happens to be Greek (another 'natural' phenomenon) Dimitris Avramopoulos stated that “the end of the Schengen Treaty will mean the beginning of the end of Europe. We have thrown down the walls and we are seeing that some people are putting them up again," reported Kontra Newspaper on December 4, 2015. 

Turkey is expected to receive 3 billion Euros in order to ship across 3 million more migrants in 2016 whilst Greece has agreed to house and feed 50,000 and set up another 4 processing centers on top of the 11 reception centers created in 2012.

The plan is to reintroduce Dublin II whereby migrants are kept in country of arrival for 18 months before being allowed to leave. The expulsion of Greece from Schengen is the new propaganda tool, just like Grexit before it, to force Greece to accept joint naval operations in the Aegean sea with Turkey, to accept sole responsibility of borders to Frontex and lose all rights of national sovereignty. 

A weak state with porous borders: a new - found banana republic, without taking into account the host nation. How will they be housed and fed? Various programs are mentioned with respect to this, housing benefits and a minimal food subsidy. So do they have as an aim to house tens of thousands in empty properties that have been abandoned by owners due to the financial crash in Greece. Who will fix up these properties that are in decay? They will house thousands provisionally in old Olympic stadiums or ones still functioning eg. Galatsi, Faliro or the old Olympic Airport in Athens. Four new processing centres are to be set on Aegean islands but only one so far is functioning. No private housing has yet been set up, reported the ProtoThema Newspaper on December 6.

The EU is founded on four core principles: freedom of movement of capital services, capital, and goods. Any logjam in any of them implies the EU starts to unravel. This is what the globalist elites want to avoid at all costs and will try their hardest to achieve.

We had before movements of populations into the EU that were related to decolonization, with Algeria and Vietnam being the two most prominent cases at stake.

Over 100,000 Algerians arrived who were part of the security services of occupied Algeria and a similar situation developed when up to 2 million Vietnamese left Vietnam in the mid-70s when the US occupation collapsed there. Parallels with our times exist in the departure of Iraq’s Kurds in the early 1990’s organized by the then Secretary of the Conservative Party of Great Britain Jeffrey Archer. Nowadays for Western imperialism to gain influence in each society it occupies, priority is given to all these local quislings like the campaigns to allow Afghani translators free access to the UK by the British Army. [x]                                                 

All these issues are pie in the sky schemes without taking into account local reactions. One cannot relocate Asia and Africa into the EU under ‘humanitarian’ guises or ‘welcome all refugees’ to justify a globalist neoliberal free for all. One can start a process, attempt to control it by using riot police to stop people’s reactions, but in the long term there will be civil wars. The USA is a special case. It was created from scratch as an area whereby each successive wave of migrants replaced another, creating multi-ethnic ghettoes in a period where stability was guaranteed by America’s global status. In declining capitalism only ethnic ghettoes can be created which are in conflict with each other over declining resources and the idea that a new order can be created which doesn’t resemble the old order of the past is indeed a fantasy by those who have given up hope in another world and support the neoliberal order of the current one.

In John Kerry’s recent visit to Athens, his only visit was to an NGO serving mass immigration called Melissa. There were zero protests against his visit.

 

 


Sources

[i] George Soros on EU expansion, free trade zones and mass immigration: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rebuilding-refugee-asylum- system-by-george-soros-2015-09,

[ii] Hungarian PM blames Soros’ NGOs for refugee crisis:  https://www.rt.com/news/320192-soros-orban-hungary-usa/

iii] Greece’s migrant fruit pickers: ‘They kept firing. There was blood everywhere’ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/01/greece-migrant-fruit-pickers-shot-they-kept-firing

[v]  Debate on State of Greek Labour 2004  http://imfoccupationgreece.blogspot.gr/2015/12/debate-on-state-of-greek-labour-2004.html

[viii] Report states why population of EU which is 6% of global population has to become around 14%

[ix]Russian politician on EUs alleged refugee crisis:  http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/top-russian-politician-explains- who-behind-europes-refugee-crisis-nikolai-starikov-video

[x] Jeffery Archer and Kurds http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/jul/26/iraq.archer  25 years later same * different people...  http://kurdistantribune.com/2013/john-major-lord-archer-and-real-story -of-how-british-people-backed-kurds-in-1991/

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