Riots and protests against austerity measures have erupted in Spain over the past few days, in the lead up to the government’s budget report for 2013. The austerity measures – which are a policy of cutting spending on welfare and public services in order to reduce the financial deficit – are taking place across Europe as part of the global financial crisis. There was also a general strike and rioting in Greece yesterday against yet another round of austerity.
Anti-austerity protests have been an important facet of global affairs since the crisis began. The occupy movement had the goal of changing power relations and alleviating economic inequality for the masses. Austerity measures have come under great criticism essentially as they put the mass of the financial burden on those with the least money. The social and political ramifications of the riots in Greece and Spain are massive, and we’re not talking about a few hundred people here – we’re talking about tens if not hundreds of thousands revolting against their government. What happens in Spain and Greece will directly affect us in Britain as our economies are intrinsically linked.
The Sun did not see this as being of importance to the people of Britain. On their website there was no front page coverage of the situation in Spain and in the paper there was none at all. Typing the word ‘Spain’ into the search bar it came up firstly with a story entitled: ‘’Illegal immigrant caught sneaking into Spain inside a car seat.’’ After scrolling down the list, I finally found some coverage of the protests, which was as follows:
Markets dive over Euro fear
MORE than £23billion was wiped off the value of Britain’s biggest companies last night amid growing alarm over the Spanish economy.
With anti-austerity protests taking place in Madrid and Athens, confidence in the City was hammered. The FTSE 100 plunged by more than 91 points. Stock markets in Spain, France and Germany also fell.
Analysts said traders had “finally woken up” to the fact the debt-ridden eurozone was still in deep trouble.
Spain’s economy is in freefall amid speculation it will seek an international bailout to stop it going bust. The economy there is set to shrink by 1.5 per cent this year.
The first observation to make is on the vagueness surrounding the anti-austerity protests in Madrid and Athens: Madrid was enormous and Greece was a general strike, but from this report you would think one man and his dog protested in Madrid and Athens. The other problem is that it doesn’t explain much about the situation to the reader. Spain has a youth unemployment rate of 50%, young people are on the streets because there are little future prospects for them and they understand that the cuts will only make this worse. Why do they understand this? Because they’ve already suffered several rounds of austerity that has made their situation worse. The Sun’s piece is completely lacking in any context.
One explanation for this is that if The Sun attempted to give depth to their articles ordinary people wouldn’t understand it. The idea that these issues are too complicated for people doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Upon hearing discussions in the workplace about football and the intricacies of how team’s operate, where money is spent, what is prioritised etc, it became apparent to me that people do have the capacity to critically analyse institutions, and they enjoy it. The difference between protests and riots in Greece and Spain and football is that they are not encouraged to think that Spain and Greece is an issue for them, that they have any influence over it, or that indeed anyone can influence direction of economies. Football teams are of high importance to people in terms of discussion, activity and keeping up to date with developments. It’s a multi-million pound industry to support this culture. Struggle and resistance on the Mediterranean? There’s little money to be made from promoting that as a serious issue.
International issues in general receive poor coverage from the mainstream media. They portray any protesting or political activity which is out with the national boundaries as being irrelevant. But this could not be further from the truth. Internationalism should be a basic consciousness of the modern, globalised world: you treat human-beings across the earth as equal and equivalent to you, and when they defend the values you believe in you stand up for them. It is of crucial importance that working class people see their struggles as being linked to those abroad: their fight is our fight.