On reading this article I was taken back to my visit to Athens in January this year. I saw people going through the wheely bins of rubbish for something of value, the graffiti “profit = theft” daubed on walls, the shuttered shops, and the massive sale reductions of 75% off products. I was particularly struck by the busker singing The Beatles song, ‘Yesterday’, whose lyrics are very apt for the Greek situation (“all my troubles seemed so far away and now they are here to stay”). I was shocked by ‘needle park’ near the chic district of Kolonaki where young people were openly in daylight “shooting up” drugs. At the main railway station I discovered that all international train movements had ceased. The infrastructure projects started in the halcyon days after Greece adopted the Euro, after the Athens Olympics and the glory that was Greece winning the football Euro 2004 had been halted. A telling sign was the abandonment of extensions to the main Athens railway station, overhead electrification had stopped mid-way and the Krupp-Thyssen escalator mechanisms still in their plastic coverings on pallets lying in the yard. The Greek Tragedy is capitalism in crisis.
Steve Clayton, London SW8
Pathfinders (June 2012) writes the concept of free access seems to be extending and that the ubiquity of online delivery is normalising free access, a quiet revolution in which charging money for important and socially useful things begins to be seen as selfish. This assessment is too optimistic, although intellectual property generally has never had much popular support. In the computer industry the trend is certainly more mixed to say the least and has been the case throughout personal computer history. Political action will be necessary to effectively uphold popular demand and combat the encroachments of property by the powerful in the same way the commons were enclosed in the 17th Century.
John D White (by email)