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John Passant

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July 2015



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Kevin Ovenden on the lead up to the referendum in Greece

Feels like any other Saturday evening in the Galatsi neighbourhood of Athens.

But you can sense the polarisation within the society. Its division into the No and Yes camps will be measured in the referendum tomorrow.

Say one thing for the European capitalist class – they don’t give up. Took 80 years to get the British out of Egypt. The EU and elites’ political stooges voted in the Greek parliament against having a referendum. The decree passed.

They toyed – for propaganda advantage – with getting the unelected and partisan judiciary to injunct it. That fell. Now today’s papers from Dublin to Dubrovnik, Aberdeen to Athens carry dire warnings that the Greek banking system is just hours away from collapse (see the FT, Figaro, FAZ, Kathimerini…).

These stories are of a piece with the right’s campaign, with centre-left fig leaf, this week but are too late to really make a difference to tomorrow. They point, in fact, beyond tomorrow and the result we will get late Sunday/early Monday.

Don’t underestimate the other side. They are pondering how they might deal with the range of outcomes over the next 48 hours. Step one – don’t be paralysed by speculation, secure those redoubts you can, exert maximum pressure the length of the line and then we’ll see – on s’engage partout et puis on vois, as Napoleon put it.

They are looking beyond Sunday to Monday, and beyond that. We should learn from them.

Had a nice early evening with two socialist journalist friends – one Greek, one British. We chewed the fat – divided by a choice of beer or wine.

It was the kind of free discussion which sets you thinking, but which if put down on paper can set hares running. I’ll return tomorrow morning with something more considered before heading out to some polling places to join the No campaigners there.

For now, I’m confident of one judgement – the political system of the old order is broken. It goes without saying that a defeat for our side tomorrow is, to say the least, unwelcome. But, putting the same thing in another way, what of a victory for their side tomorrow? For several reasons we didn’t think tonight that that would stabilise things for them, despite the advantage it obviously would give.

I’ll return to that tomorrow, but the fundamental reason for saying that was evidenced by what I saw this evening in my local square, St Andrews. There was an antifa (anti-fascist) rap event in the outdoor basketball courts.

I find it hard to listen to Greek hip-hop without the image of Pavlos Fyssas, the anti-racist rapper murdered by Golden Dawn in September 2013, occupying my mind. He played the gig in January of that same year at the end of the anti-fascist demonstration which had become also in memoriam of Shehzad Luqman, a Greek retail worker from Pakistan also taken by fascism, just two days earlier.

The gig was full, really full of young people from the area. Went there with a friend to have a look earlier. Went back on my way home. By then there were many hundreds of high school age young people.

This is a part of Greece which rarely gets reported. Even on the radical left it is often overlooked. On the one hand, there’s the temptation for us to see in the movement in Greece just more left wing variants of the alphabet soup of structures and parties we have in our own countries – as if that were all that were in Syntagma Square last night.

The other temptation is to see the world not through the eyes of experience but nostalgia. “Get down to Exarchia to see the radical, anti-authoritarian youth” has become a journalistic cliché, even on the left.

Guys, colleagues, there’s a bit of a young radical scene in Exarchia, but most of the people in the neighbourhood were, like me, radicalised (sorry Mr Cameron and Ms May) 30 years ago. They’re my age. Their kids are at high school or university. The children of 1980s radicals tend not to hang out edgily on their parents’ doorstep.

No. Young Greece, despite quite literal decimation of its numbers in the society with 200,000 leaving the country in the crisis years, is not a black hoodie caricature. But it is radical. And it was great to be among it at the anti-fascist spoken word event tonight.

Oxi was not the focus. But the few I spoke to are with the No camp. All of them. The Yes camp cannot reach this generation of the future. That’s for sure. The open question is what radical politics will they look to, and forge.

Elsewhere in the square, which is packed these crisis years as people find new appreciation of free space when you can’t afford to sit at the café, were some No campaigners. They were still going at midnight as I left.

People are relaxed. Quietly confident. Also deeply thoughtful about what the coming weeks will bring, whatever the result tomorrow.

It reminds me very much of the atmosphere before January’s general election.

With that thought, and not in the slightest superstitious, I am going to the same places tomorrow, and watching the results in the same place with the same friends in case my materialist conception of the world is wholly wrong and such ritual re-enactment might bring good fortune.

*The banner reads: No to fear, No to blackmail, No to austerity and was made by some members of Syriza in Galatsi.


*As well as the book due out in the autumn, I’m delighted to have a piece in the debut issue of Salvage on young people in Greece, the children of the crisis.



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