4. Obedience stopped, life is magical

Chronology: December 28-March 4

December 28, 2008: Friends, colleagues, libertarian syndicalists, and anarchists concentrate outside the Athens hospital where immigrant worker and union organiser Konstantina Kuneva is in intensive care.

December 30: The offices of the Trade Unions Center in Thessaloniki is occupied in solidarity with K. Kuneva.

December 31: A thousand anarchists gather outside Korydallos prison to celebrate New Year’s Eve with the prisoners, shooting fireworks, playing loud music, chanting, singing songs together with the people on the inside, and calling for the liberation of those arrested in December and for freedom for all prisoners.

January 1, 2009: Coordinated arson attacks in Athens, Piraeus, and Thessaloniki target banks and car dealerships during the New Year’s celebration. In Thessaloniki protesters attack police with rocks, and police respond with tear gas.

January 5: A few masked gunmen open fire on a riot police unit guarding the Ministry of Culture and Information in Exarchia, seriously injuring one cop. Revolutionary Struggle later claims this and the 23 December attacks. In their communiqué they critique capitalism and call for an armed uprising.

January 9: A student march in Athens planned to commemorate the 1991 killing of Temponeras gathers ten thousand people and turns violent when police attack the anarchist bloc, which fights back. Many protesters and bystanders are injured by police. In Thessaloniki, anarchists trash the offices of OIKOMET cleaning company in solidarity with their employee Konstantina Kuneva.

January 10: The Assembly of Media Workers and others occupy the office of the Editors’ Union of Athens Daily Papers to protest their distortion of the struggle and open a space for counter-information and alternative media.

January 17: Thousands of people protest in solidarity with December’s prisoners in Larissa, the only city where the anti-terror law is used against high school students participating in the riots. The terror charges are subsequently dropped.

January 20: Anarchists in Thessaloniki raise 13,000 euros for a seventy-four-year-o1d woman whose kiosk had been burned down in local riots two months earlier. In Athens, one hundred anarchists attack a fascist anti-immigration protest in Aghios Panteleimonos, a neighbourhood where neo-nazis and fascists will become increasingly active in the coming months, creating their own neighbourhood assembly

January 23: Anarchists and people from the extreme left protesting in solidarity with Konstantina Kuneva attack police guarding a government building in Athens. Farmers block the highway between Athens and Volos, as well as other national highways in northern Greece, protesting the low prices set for agricultural commodities by the European Union. The same week, 1,500 farmers in Crete occupy the Iraklion airport in protest.

January 26: Underestimating the continuing power of the revolt, the mayor of the city orders the cutting of the trees in Patision Park in order to turn the park into a parking garage. The felling of the trees sparks several days of actions and riots, including attacks on two police stations. On the second day neighbours, including anarchists and leftists, take over the park and occupy it permanently replanting trees. SYRIZA attempts to separate the struggle for the park from its context, such as persecution of immigrants in the neighbourhood, and turn it into an isolated issue to win votes. They are subsequently pushed out of the assembly that had formed in the park. Elsewhere in Athens the Assembly for Health, composed of doctors and nurses who participated in the insurrection, occupies the Red Cross hospital cashier’s office for four hours to allow everyone to get health care for free.

January 28: The National Opera Hall of Athens is occupied by artists. The daily assembly draws 600 people and discusses the connections between art, philosophy and insurrection, and every night the street outside is closed down by thousands of people dancing and playing improvisational music. The occupation lasts until February 7.

February 2: In Athens, hundreds of people take part in a torch-lit demo organised by the neo-nazi group Golden Dawn, which is aesthetically modelled on the early marches of the Nazis and Mussolini’s blackshirts. Police protect the march from an anarchist counter-attack.

February 3: Anti-authoritarian armed group Sect of Revolutionaries attacks an Athens police station with gunfire and a grenade. Later in the day farmers in Piraeus clash with riot police.

February 8: Over 2,000 people, mostly Afghani, Iranian, Pakistani, and Balkan immigrants, gather in Aghios Panteleimonos, invited by the activist initiative "We and For All of Us, Here and Now"The event is a huge celebration and feast with speeches and music by immigrants, also attended by many Greeks showing their support.

February 12: The Initiative of Health Industry Workers occupies the entrance and cashier of AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki, allowing everyone to receive free health care that day and distributing a text against the privatisation of health care.

February 17: Sect of Revolutionaries attacks the TV channel ALTER, shooting up fourteen cars belonging to station journalists, denouncing their manipulation of events and promising that next time, they will pay a visit to their homes.

February 22: Legendary outlaw Vassilis Palaiokostas makes a daring escape from Korydallos prison with a helicopter, along with an Albanian accomplice. This is the second time he has escaped from the same prison this way. Anarchists throughout Greece subsequently begin making stickers and buttons featuring a lone helicopter.

February 24: Unknown assailants, probably fascists or paramilitaries, attack the social centre of the Network for the Defence of Immigrants and Political Prisoners, in Exarchia, with a hand grenade while a meeting is taking place inside. Fortunately no one is injured.

February 27: About sixty students from the high schools of two rich Athens neighbourhoods attack the Athens American College, the private high school where the children of the elite are educated.

March 3: A group of about twenty anarchists, taking advantage of Carnival by wearing masks, carry out a major arson attack against the train station of Kifissia, the richest neighbourhood of Athens, causing sixteen million euros in damage. The attack was in solidarity with Konstantina Kuneva, who worked cleaning the trains. The same day; after Patras port police beat an Afghan immigrant who is trying to hide on a truck going to Italy immigrants riot and clash with police,

March 3: A large protest march in response to the fascist attack against the immigrants’ social center battles police and destroys several banks and luxury shops in Athens.The offices of neo-nazi group Golden Dawn are burned to the ground.

Alexis Grigoropoulos street

The corner of Mesologgiou and Tsavella, where the batsi shot down Alexis, has been transformed. It was always our turf, always the place where we hung out and where the mere presence of the police was an insult. But now it would be considered an act of war. The corner was turned into a living memorial - not a sacred temple purified by ritual and prohibition, but a beloved spot defended by our profane presence. Graffiti was everywhere. People started making stencils with the face of Alexis, to remember. Then we took down the old street signs and put up new ones: Odos Alexis Grigorpoulous, The street of Alexis Grigoropoulos. People brought candles, and a memorial was started in a little glass box right on the corner. Those candles burned for months.We did not let them go out. Then a plaque was put up on the wall, a huge, well done, beautiful one with his photo and an explanation of what happened there on that spot. We won't forget. We’ll carve our rage and the history of our struggle into the very walls and streets. These streets, our streets.

Koukouloforos

Extracts from the newspaper, The Hooded One, printed in Thessaloniki, with a 50,000 print run

THE INVISIBLE HAVE A FACE

We were shadows. Shadows in what you refer to as “everyday life." Countless invisible figures you walked past in the streets. Faces that reminded you of something but you were never sure of exactly what.

The pint of beer on the bar that is full again.

"I’ve ordered a pizza half an hour ago but the delivery boy isn’t here yet."

Supermarket shelves and shiny floors.

“Where is the girl to empty the ashtrays?"

Put your helmet on, your raincoat, drive your motorcycle across town.

“Position 146, how can I help you please?"

Behind the stalls, folding clothes, in the aisles organising books on the shelves.

"It seems a bit tight around the waist."

In front of computers answering phones.

Circling small ads “female wanted, person with former experience needed."

And sometimes queuing outside OAED [the Employment and Unemployment Offices].

"Signing checks every Monday-Wednesday-Friday."

Stage programs, seminars, "new job vacancies."

Never here, never there. In constant motion, in an endless nerve-racking standby.

Selling ourselves out, our whole lives in order to survive. Always present, always invisible, alien in our own cities.

And suddenly a shot...

"Have you heard the news? They murdered him, the bastards!"

“Who did they murder?”

“They murdered that boy, man!”

Murder. Violence. This word rings a bell. Yes, it does...

Early morning, wake up for work. The stamps they didn’t give me. The rent that I need to pay every month. Suddenly hitting the brakes and the creepy sound of crawling on the road. The nights that I stay in alone. My boss calling - fuck... I need to be at work tomorrow. My struggle to get paid for the hours I’ve worked. The peering eyes of the customers on my body when I serve them. Counting my stamps - can I go on the dole? Classified ads. The clock at work that seems to be stuck and my boss has just bought a new car. And in all this the sound of a shot. He was murdered. All in the streets, man! Rage. Rage for the killing, rage for our everyday death.

We meet in the streets. We yell at their faces together. We build roadblocks together. We break pavement apart and we put the stones in our pockets. Tear gas is suffocating but we go on. We continue, all of us who until yesterday spoke a different language, all of us who until yesterday were invisible. We go on because after this nothing will be the same again. Away from all those who tried to represent us, away from politicians and syndicates who speak a strange, foreign language, away from all those media experts who still wonder where we all came from.

We have no demands. No, we don’t. We fight for every reason in the world. We want back the life that everyday they are stealing from us. The violence of the cop who shot the boy is the condensed violence we suffer everyday It is against this that we revolt. We are not shadows anymore, although we started as such...

TO LIVE IN COMMUNISM, TO SPREAD ANARCHY

To live in communism, to spread anarchy It is not the first time that cops commit murder, so it is not the first time that people revolt, attack the police, or burn down banks. But this time things are different. The rage that broke loose inscribes its own history. Yes, it is an uprising. And what is characteristic of uprisings is a gut feeling that nothing will remain unchanged, that nothing will be the same again. That’s how we feel. History is condensing, new forces are being released, and authority becomes frozen. The immediate question is how we go on since we are no longer the same. What do we do when there is no bank left to be broken, no police quarters untouched, where do we meet again after the riots, how do we go on relentlessly as we used to, toward bringing down capitalism in the world? Since the first night of the murder, Athens Polytechnic School was occupied by hundreds of people. Since December 8 ASOEE has been under occupation as well. This is a part of the first announcement from their blog: "As a piece of social-class conflict, the occupied University of Economics and Business constitutes an open space for briefing and co-formation of collective action on the streets. At the same time we consider very important the occupation of academic institutions as spaces of rearrangement and self-organisation of our forces against state repression, so that no one will stay on his/her own in the struggle that has burst out against the State. For this reason the occupation of the University of Economics and Business stays open and calls for an assembly on Monday the 8th at 20:00. We declare that the occupation will last until the release of each and every one arrested by the police across the country"

The School of Theater in Thessaloniki is occupied on Saturday night after the riots on Aristotelous and Egnatia streets. From its blog: "After the demonstration in Thessaloniki on Saturday night in response to the murder of Alexandros, anti-authoritarians occupied the School of Theater in Thessaloniki to cater to the need to counter-inform protesters in the city. From the start the MAT tried in vain to invade the building. The next day after the assembly the occupation was reinforced by drama students and by people who do not belong to any political associations." The Salonica School of Theatre has become a centre for convocation, exchange of ideas, a space to organise action. The following day the Lawyers' Association of Thessaloniki building was squatted as well. There, a number of assemblies have taken place, mainly by students, and it functions as a counter-information centre until the cross country strike day on December 10 - when unprecedented occupations, without any specific demands, will overtake many state schools and academic institutions.

On the 12th of December the town hall of Aghios Dimitrios in Athens was occupied and calls for a public assembly were made. From their blog: "We are revolting. We function on a directly democratic basis because this is the only way that we want to live. We’ve taken our lives in our hands. We will get rid of our bosses and help the prosecuted to get rid of their charges. We use this public building as an open centre for counter-information, as a meeting place where people who have decided to change their lives come in great numbers to co-form ideas and actions." Three hundred people attended the first assembly. Actions were planned, current events discussed, people from different generations came together, individuals from various social backgrounds met, and cultural events and Greek language lessons for immigrants were organised. From the beginning the Association of Public Servants of Aghios Dimitrios Municipality stood in favour of the occupation and is actively involved in its defence. It is the first time ever that the town hall is truly open to the neighbourhood as a vivid political space. There is no point mentioning here the predictable reactions of the mayor and the cops.

On the same day the former town hall-KEP (Citizens' Information and Service centre) on Halandri Square was squatted. One blog read: "The sorrow and the rage that we all feel cannot be expressed by sapping from the couch in front of the TV. We decided to squat the former town hall-KEP on Halandri Square, the meeting place of town hall officials, and transform it into a place for counter-information and discussion on future actions. We invite the residents of Halandri, and the ones of nearby areas to defend this squat and take part in open, egalitarian, non-guided, co-forming procedures." A public meeting was called every day at around 7:00pm, while a number of actions and demonstrations are supported. On Monday the 15th the town hall of Sykies in Thessaloniki is occupied. A public assembly is announced that same afternoon. The main slogan on the banner that covers the face of the building demands the immediate release of all people arrested by police forces.

What matters is for these examples to spread, for people to start directing their own lives, to question the very idea of representation, of responsibility of getting politically comfortable while belonging to a party. Now is the time. Now, when everything has changed. The spontaneous occupations that started in many academic and non-academic places - not necessarily by students - provide the possibility for meeting each other. But they cannot accommodate us anymore. That's why we need to squat town halls, empty houses, public buildings, and transform them into places for meeting and organising. More places like that must be created, more places must be liberated, new spaces for communication and resistance must be founded. All anarchist squats should look into how they can make their actual space more accessible to their neighbourhood. Schools must close down and be transformed into places where the possibility to overthrow capitalistic-nationalistic education can be realised. Working places must be blocked by workers and the meaning of employment must be discussed and reinvented. The idea of direct organisation and solidarity must be carried into every collective. We don't need bosses, we are not in need of guidance, we don’t care for any kind of representatives. It’s time to start living in communism. It’s time to start living in anarchy. To create the communes of the future.

The spirit of December spread round the world

A.G. Schwarz

I have heard many anarchists from other countries ask,"Why weren’t the Greek insurrections generalised to other countries, and what could we have done to make them spread?" Most often, the question was not asked in a constructive way but posed to suggest that the local movement was worthless because the insurrection was not generalising. I have to say that this question strikes me as ignorant. A vital fact that anarchists must come to terms with and work their way around is that insurrections usually do not jump national borders. In the early years of the 20th century there was arguably more common consciousness among the lower classes of Europe that mitigated national divisions. Nonetheless, the much more extreme situation in Russia, which passed from insurrection to revolution, did little more than encourage pre-existing movements in other countries. It did not spread. The same is true in 1968. A rebellion here certainly encouraged a rebellion there but things always kicked off in response to local situations. The insurrection in Greece came from years of experience preparing society and anti-authoritarians themselves to fight back with everything they had, and that experience obviously cannot follow the photos of the riots as they race across the Internet.

Formed in part by the summit-hopping of the anti-globalisation movement, many anarchists forget that we live in a reality very different from most people. We are friends with anarchists in other countries or we at least know that when something happens the anarchists in other countries will stand in solidarity with us. In other words, we have emotional ties. I won't minimise the importance of theory but I will put it in its place: most people do not risk their lives in struggle on the basis of theory but on the basis of empathy love, courage, and rage. When an anarchist in Spain hears they have shot an anarchist in Greece and the comrades there are rioting, the insurrection has already come to her heart: she feels rage and a desire to join in the fight; an empathy and even a love for the living comrades who are pushing that fight forward in spite of the repression; and on the basis of these feelings and with the support of comrades in her own town she will find the courage to act. But everyone else in Spain, though they might hear about the assassination on the television, though they may think badly of the Greek police and even sympathise with the rioters, they will not understand how it applies to them. Because solidarity is based on affective bonds.

The nation is not only a trap created by the compulsory education of the State and the cultural institutions of capitalists to divide and conquer the lower classes, although it is that, too. In the absence of State and Capital the nation is a fictive community united by a common language, culture, and history; it is a context in which common experiences can take place and it is therefore also an affective universe. In other words as the world is not homogenous and there are many languages and cultures, there will also be nations (as distinct from nation-states, which is something else entirely). This is why insurrections are sparked off by local events, rather than spreading between nations: because it is much easier for people to identify emotionally with someone whom they see as belonging to their larger community. The high school students who started burning dumpsters in Patras did not personally know Alexis, but they saw him as“one of us." High school students in Italy are unlikely to make that connection because they live in a different cultural context and the death of a Greek high school student, even if it reaches them emotionally on some level, does not have the significance of constituting an attack on them. The common experience of the oppressiveness of high school or the oppressiveness of the police does not overcome these cultural differences.

Western anarchists, on the other hand, make up a common cultural group and in some senses we even speak the same language. We are something like a nation in diaspora, so repression against one of our communities in another country will make sense to us and will affect us emotionally. But we would be wrong to assume that other people are like us in this regard.

And we may even be overestimating the limits of our own solidarity. When immigrants in Omonia rioted in June 2009 after a cop ripped up a Koran in a racist police raid, shockingly few anarchists took part. The tearing of a Koran was interpreted by many immigrants as an attack on their identity their difference, and thus their very survival. Greek anarchists seemed to interpret it as a religious squabble, much the same way that Italian high school students might fail to understand what the killing of a Greek kid has to do with them.

After nation or culture, a second factor seems to be proximity but I think it is actually a matter of signals. The immigrant neighbourhood in Athens below Omonia is full of people who are not culturally integrated into Greek society people from many different nations, whose experience of life does not resonate within the national context. In other words they are excluded.Yet they became participants in the December rioting on a massive scale, especially on Monday when the riots kicked off right in their neighbourhood. Looking at it from a map, it seems that the insurrection spread geographically. Yet there are many culturally distinct groups that might not join an insurrection even if it is occurring right next to them. The Broken Windows theory of policing used by the authorities may propose a better explanation. Acts of disorder (such as broken windows) provide a signal to the people that authority is weak and further acts of disorder will be tolerated. The State itself implicitly recognises that authority is a provocation and by showing weakness it invites counter-attack; thus everyone carries within them the seed of insurrection.

The massive rioting on Monday provided a clear signal that everyone with a vendetta against State and Capital (and this includes a majority of the population, potentially anybody from whatever class who has not sold themselves out so completely) is free to take revenge. This idea of the importance of signals of disorder explains why people in different cultural groups with no physical proximity to the rioting, for example the Roma community outside Athens who attacked a police station with rifles, also took part in the insurrection if they had any personal cause to hate the authorities, because the signals of local disorder are also spread via the media. And this is one reason why people living under other governments, no matter how much they personally were affected by the killing of an anarchist youth, did not riot with abandon. The signals of disorder were absent, because other governments were not directly weakened by the situation in Greece.

A substance that lies behind both of these factors is the emotional, the subjective. The masculinised, depersonalised, and bureaucratic politics of the Left have long succeeded in removing emotional concerns from our concept of revolution, but you cannot have a liberating revolution while ignoring the emotional half of human existence. All you can have are square-jawed calls for sacrifice issued by a manipulative leadership and a convenient confusion between freedom that exists on paper and freedom that exists in the heart. It is only through the recognition of this subjective, personal, and emotional revolution that people can fight for themselves and recognise the constant attempts to recuperate the struggle through appeals to a false common good. This is not to say that struggle must be individualistic, but that only individuals who are free to feel their needs and desires can participate in a liberated collective capable of overthrowing authority and creating free communities.

Many of the things that happen in Greece could technically be carried out by anarchists in other countries - we have the numbers, the materials, and the proficiency - except that we are afraid. A striking feature of the insurrection and the anarchist movement in Greece is the centrality of courage.

But courage is largely a social phenomenon. There are always some people who have a little more of it, who are able to make the first strike, even if no one is behind them,but these people will never be a majority nor should they be (how terrible the world would be with so many impetuous jackasses running about!) In general, humans being social animals, courage is fostered firstly by peer group support, and secondly by broader community sympathy If you have enough comrades to act with you, or if you are an anonymous member of a like-minded crowd, you can perform superhuman acts you never would otherwise. And if you are in a group of fifty anarchists facing a hundred well-equipped riot police, you are much more likely to kick things off if you know that all the bystanders are cheering for you, then if you think they would disapprove of your actions or tell the police which street you ran down after it’s all over. The mood on the streets provides another vital signal that directly affects the morale of the police and the morale of the comrades. Take the same fifty anarchists and the same hundred cops, and put them on different streets with different moods, even if no bystanders actively intervene in the situation, and you end up with entirely different outcomes.

But courage is also a matter of practice. The first time you do something is always the scariest. And if you only do an illegal action after meticulous planning - not that planning isn’t necessary in many scenarios - you will not learn how to act spontaneously how to react to the immediate situation, which is a crucial skill for anarchists to have. The December revolts were not planned, they were not prepared by some assembly or vanguard party but they were prepared for. The insurrection would never have flowered at that moment if the Greek anarchists had not readied themselves to react, and they did this by developing proactive affinity groups united by trust, common politics, and practical experience together; and by carrying out dangerous actions with varying levels of preparation, from spontaneous (reacting in the heat of the moment) to minimal (deciding to do something in just a few hours or the next day and just going and doing it) to meticulous (with intensive planning). This capacity among hundreds or even thousands of anarchists was built up in the years before December, and it allowed them to react immediately upon Alexis’s death and define the character of the revolt in all the days to come. If they had needed to hold a meeting first, a long debate, do reconnaissance, weigh other options, and have the first counter-attacks ready a week later, Alexis’s murder never would have been avenged.

Additionally; because in the previous months and years Greek society was accustomed to seeing occasional attacks on police stations and banks carried out by anarchists, this form had entered the social consciousness and was ready and available for all the tens of thousands of high school students, immigrants, and others who needed some tool, some expression to their rage. If all they had seen in their worlds were peaceful protests in response to the aggressions and insults of State and capitalism, that is probably all they would have organised in response to the murder. There would have been a few scuffles with police to vent the worst of the rage, and the rest would have to be buried inside them, weighing them down even more and stealing more of their dignity; preparing them for adulthood, for integration, for retirement.

Now it should be clear how the spirit of December can spread internationally The insurrection of the comrades in Greece can animate us and rejuvenate our hope. It can invite us to study their situation and identify what made it possible, so we can go on building the foundations in our own corners of the world. We can also use it as an opportunity to increase the internationalism of those around us, by holding protests and memorials so our neighbours can consider the possibility that what the police do in Greece is important to us too. But it is counter-revolutionary to pull out our hair, as so many comrades have done, to lash out and insult our local movements for not being able to spread the insurrection, for misinterpreting the geographical limits of the insurrection as evidence of weakness or laziness in other parts. December is an opportunity to rejoice, to boost our morale. How terrible that some hotheads blogging endlessly on the Internet have used it as an opportunity to drain us of even more self-confidence. The opposite is needed.

The December insurrection arose from very specific local circumstances, and it was allowed to arise because people believed it could, within an anarchist movement that did not and does not consider itself special. The insurrection will arise where we are, and we can help it along in a number of ways.

- By understanding that insurrections are not controllable, and they do not follow ideological lines. They are an opportunity for all the oppressed and exploited to fight back in their own ways, but that in this light, many different people can meet one another, if they are willing.

- By understanding that insurrections usually do not topple governments, but if people do not base their hopes exclusively on the simple act of rioting, they will see that after people are physically exhausted and the lighting in the street stops, if the movement chooses to it can build off those experiences, lay deeper foundations, use the change in the social balance of power to open autonomous spaces and build the beginnings of an anarchist world, and move closer to stronger insurrections and to revolution.

- By organising attacks against authority and developing a capacity for spontaneous reaction, so that anarchists prepare themselves for insurrection and make it more likely that an event blooms into an insurrection, and so that society itself is prepared to accept the reality of struggle and counter-attack.

- By starting now to find whatever communal and anti-authoritarian traditions exist within our society and expanding on them to counteract the effects of capitalism on culture and to create a popular culture that supports violent resistance, distrusts authority and cherishes communal values.

- By intervening now in ongoing social conflicts, working respectfully with other non-institutional actors in these conflicts even if they are not anti-capitalists, and forcefully opening spaces or employing methods that transform the logic of the struggle from the mediating loop of conservatism vs. reform into one of authority vs. people.

- By building infrastructure and vital capacities (skills, habits, traditions) that reflect and cultivate the world that we want, not as alternatives but as beachheads, so that when we are able to force the police off the streets we will have something creative to move forward with, and so that in the meantime we can give substance to our dreams in a way that sustains hope and sustains us in our struggle, which is hard and long and cannot be fought just for pie in the sky.

These are some of the ways that we can be ready to seize the event and help it expand to its natural shape, a swelling rage and creative collectivity that knows no boundaries and denies logics of control, an explosion that will start to burn away the old world and leave us open ground for the planting of the new oner that we carry with us, if only we are courageous enough to seize the opportunity with both hands.

Konstantina was the first to join the union

Maya: A colleague of Konstantina Kuneva, interviewed by a Bulgarian comrade

Konstantina Kuneva is a Bulgarian migrant worker in Athens. She is also the secretary of the union of housekeepers and cleaners of Attika (PEKOP). She worked in ISAP, the state-owned Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway Company, which hired hundreds of cleaners through contract with OIKOMET, Kuneva's direct employer. She had a clash with her employer when she demanded that the entire Christmas bonus be paid to herself and the rest of her colleagues. She also denounced illegal payment procedures, and visited the occupation of the General Confederation of Greek Workers office in Athens. On the 23rd of December, she was attacked in front of her home by unknown assailants who threw sulphuric acid in her face and forced her to swallow acid. She was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition. She lost one of her eyes, and suffered severe burns to her face and internal organs.

What is the current condition of Konstantina Kuneva?

One of her eyes is fully lost and her other eye received a tissue graft. Her vision is weak, but she is able to see outlines, shadows and some colours, meaning that up to now the eye is recovering well. The problem is with her internal organs. The acid that had been swallowed, or possibly the acid fumes that had been inhaled, has subsequently damaged her oesophagus. Two days ago she had a serious operation - the doctors implanted an artificial oesophagus so that she would be able to eat on her own. It is possible that some complications may arise and thus we are waiting to see how things develop. In the beginning nobody went to visit her, apart from her mother. We wanted to leave her alone so that she could decide when she was able to see us. A few days ago I visited her in the hospital... She is unrecognisable. All her face is burnt, and she had a few plastic surgeries. Probably more will be done in the future. She is a bit better, but of course her face is not what it used to be. Basically Konstantina is doing okay and is very strong psychologically. She is aware that there is a lot of support outside, which is very important. She gets information all the time, her lawyers talk with her and with her mother.

Are there any direct charges or evidence against the attackers?

That’s a difficult task. Konstantina saw two of them and she gave testimony and described them, but these are faces she hadn’t seen before. And since she saw the attackers, they took care that she will not be able to see, because even if they are found she will not be able to identify them. But when they had thrown the acid she chased them. Can you imagine what a spirit she has? I would have totally lost it, but Konstantina got back on her feet and ran to catch one of them and told him: "Why did you do that to me? What did I do to you?"

How did you feel when you found out that Konstantina was brutally attacked in such a way? Did you get scared?

Of course. This was a warning against everyone who works in that company to keep our mouths shut.

And why did they choose Kuneva?

Because at this time Kuneva was a member of the PEKOP union and since she held an elected position in a trade union they cannot fire her. This protected her. In all other cases they would simply kick you out and that’s it. The problem with Konstantina was that her employer, whatever they attempted, couldn’t sack her. And Konstantina blamed the state-controlled organisations, pointing out that they I were an obstacle. They tried to buy her - they offered her a high position in the company working as the person responsible for the shifts, which is very highly paid. She refused and went on with her syndicalist activities. So they understood that they could neither buy her off nor kick her out, and thus they decided to stop her in the most brutal way to physically silence her and blind her.

What are the actual accusations against OIKOMET pressed by your syndicate and how did the conflict grow?

The Greek legislation is a bit confusing-there are many new laws and sub-laws and everyone reads them in any way they want. Companies like OIKOMET are private and they have a contract with state-owned companies and get money from them to hire workers and to organise the work on site. In this way state money is poured into private hands. Legally in Greece there should be a six-hour working day without any break. For an eight-hour working day there should be a 20 minute break during the shift. But there is that other law, according to which private companies can negotiate directly with the worker and thus come to an agreement about the working conditions. For a six-hour working day and five-day working week there is a heavy-labour insurance due to the worker. But if they have an oral agreement with their worker, the private contractor can set a thirty minute long break. In this way instead of 30 working hours per week, the worker gets around twenty-five and for that the worker no longer gets heavy insurance but a standard one instead. At the same time the State is obliged to pay for heavy-labour insurance as it is stated in the contract. And the money goes to the private company. In fact the whole situation started to unravel from that point onwards. Konsantina began to look for information and we are now putting that together.

If there is any form of complaint from a worker to a state institution regarding the way legal and labour relations are being controlled, they immediately warn the private contractor and the worker gets sacked. In order to impede the intervention from Kuneva’s syndicate, the private company created its own workers’ trade union. This means that if there are any problems related to the legal and labour relations, they say that the company trade union does not see any problems and that they would take care of everything. This is where the problems started. The company trade union initiated propaganda amongst the workers: "Look girls, we have a problem with Kuneva’s trade union, they want to shut down the company and you will lose your jobs." When you tell 300 people that they will lose their jobs they get scared. But at the end of the day after all the fuss, they stopped the breaks and now we have heavy-labour insurance. Subsequently the company trade union started to control the workers and to threaten them, saying they have no right to any break at all and that if they see them taking a break, even a really short one, they will fire them. This is why some of the girls got scared and decided they would prefer not to have heavy-labour insurance, but to have a 30 minute break instead. De facto now we are divided between two fronts. It is normal that if you’re working for six hours you take a 5 minute break for a snack. The shifts are in the morning and you get hungry at some point and you need to have something to eat, but those breaks are informal. And in the end we are cleaners, not doctors, we are not in the operating room.

Are your colleagues also migrants?

We are an International-from Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Bangladesh.

Do you think it is possible to stop private contractors like OIKOMET?

Really hard, since it had become one and the same thing with the state organisations. It has been three months since we have started trying to cancel the contract. Even only for what happened to Konstantina - it cannot be proven who did it, but there was information that the company is involved.

How did you decide to come to work and live here in Greece?

I came to Greece in 1995. At that time there was a crisis in Bulgaria, there were no jobs, so we came to Greece and settled in Athens. Firstly we started to work in one house. Here there is this system to take care of elderly people and to live with them. Initially I came with friends, and I didn't know the language. Much later my family moved to live here, now my family is here as well, everyone is here. My daughter graduated, my son is working here. None of us has Greek citizenship, but we have work permits.

How do you spend your day?

As anywhere else. The things I have to do after work are the same as in Bulgaria. After the night shift I have to cook, to wash.

How was PEKOP founded?

The union was created in 1998 (even before we came) out of the need to protect workers’ rights. Konstantina was the first to start looking for such an organisation, she found the address and joined. Initially we were afraid to join, since everyone who did lost their jobs. But after what happened to Konstantina there was a huge wave and people started to look for help and to get together, to overcome their problems.

What are the next steps before the syndicate, how do you see its future role?

We will start to unite. It is hard to call it a unification, but at least we will start to work in that direction together. We have to help each other and all the trade unions that are scattered by party interests have to start to work together to protect the interests of the workers.

Do you think youth and student organisations should be actively involved?

Not only that they should, but they absolutely ought to, because this is their future, too. If they do not secure some solid ground for the future, tomorrow it will be way harder. And no one is going to just grant that to you. This is what I learnt from the life here - you have to fight for every single thing. Maybe you are not going to achieve it, but when one day you wake up you can say to yourself - I didn’t achieve it, but at least I tried.

What does your family think of your activism?

They are afraid,..

Have you been threatened personally?

No, because I do not hide. I am very straightforward and direct, Konstantina possibly made one mistake - she went all alone. On the one hand she did not want to harm the others. On the other she was thinking that she would be able to achieve something legally. At that point there weren’t many followers and to be honest there weren’t many people that would have followed her. And practically it turned out that it is not possible for an individual to break through.

At the end of the day how do you evaluate what happened up till now, do you think you won after what had happened to her?

We won. We won a faith in the future, a faith that a human being, even alone, can shake up a large organisation. This means that we just have to work in that direction. No one should consent to being oppressed.

What is going to happen on the 2nd of April in Greece?

There is a call-out for a general strike of the workers in the public sector in Greece. Probably everything will be blockaded on that day. From that point onwards there is going to be a huge wave, something is going to change in this world. I see that most of the wealth of humanity is concentrated in the hands of very few people. Years ago profit was in fuels, after this in the drug and arms dealing. But now most of the profits come from cheap labour. And it seems that this is the future direction, to profit by exploiting people, treating them like labour units. I suppose that the activity of all international organisations should be directed towards this problem. I think that this financial crisis is created on purpose, to make the workers scared that they will lose their jobs and to use their fear to pass new laws. And this is everywhere in the world. I never expected to live at such a fast pace as I do now. But there are things to be finished and I do it mostly for the young.

We need to make it obvious that it is easy to attack

Ego Te Provoco: Four members of a counter-information group in Athens.

After December there wasn’t any time for reflection or self-evaluation because there was so much urgency there was so much to do. But December didn't just end one day other things kept turning up, like the Kuneva case, so around New Year’s Eve there were occupations and violent protest marches for Kuneva. December has still not ended. There are also the prisoners of December, the occupied parks... It’s a continuing process. The revolution did not freeze. And several collectives that were created in December are continuing their discourse and their actions. Even this building [where the interview is taking place], the Patision squat, is an outgrowth from the occupation of ASOEE and the relationships that formed there.

All this has been an opportunity to test out a new way of living. From my point of view, I’ve seen a lot of interest in reclaiming public life. People want to leave behind the private life, the dominant privatisation of lives. They resist it and try to express themselves publicly and this has been a place where we could hear opinions we hadn’t heard before, from people we hadn’t known, and do things with them and help them build the new structures. The ASOEE occupation was a real revelation. A week before no one could have guessed that we would be able to work together in such a harmonious way. These were mostly people who knew each other for many years. Still, I didn’t believe that we could do anything with them, plus a lot of people you had never seen in your life. But together we managed to organise the building, cook and clean, print, discuss, and plan external actions - sabotage, coordinating attacks between one hundred people. Then one or two hours later executing those attacks with minimal mistakes. This was unprecedented.

Even though the majority of revolutionary means used by the movement are quite old or established - like squatting, or blogs, or the attacks - through December they have proved quite useful. There has been a transvaluation of the old methods, and they have received a tremendous new impetus, and many more people are using them. A year ago squatting was not thought of as an offensive action, but now they are offensive, they are a form of attacking, and this is because of the relationships that they are developing internally.

And the same goes for the attacks, the violent attacks. The violent means that we used during the uprising were very popularised. The children were attacking police stations. Supermarkets were being looted, and people who had never used these methods before were able to try them out. The atmosphere was not so dangerous, so a lot of people could take part. If you count the battle hours of people who are now eighteen or nineteen years old, their accumulated battle hours are probably more than I tallied up from 16 to 28, because we’d always have to wait for November 17 and the leftist protest march, and that was it. That’s the practical side. The theoretical side is that during the general assemblies, in amphitheatres full of 500 people we were talking openly about violent attacks, which had never happened before. This prepared people for the notion that it might get dangerous, so people started thinking about it more. And there was no hierarchy that declared some people were good enough to cook and clean and make leaflets and some invisible group was capable of making the attacks. No: everyone cooked and everyone cleaned and everyone made attacks.

It was amazing to see people involved in these violent attacks in a way that was previously unimaginable. There was an acceleration. Being involved in the planning and execution of an attack became a normal thing, whereas before it was a closed issue.

There has been an increase in individuals’ discourse and actions while the loose periphery is coming more to the centre and getting involved in the central procedures of the movement. Many more people are getting involved in critical discourse and counter-information, and also violent attacks and sabotage. People are taking things more seriously in general.

Before December it was up to a few groups to carry out counter-information so each group was very significant and unique, but now it’s so diffuse, coming from so many corners of society it’s important to retain the images of December to hold on to the courage and also to retain the memory because the State wants to erase this. So we use the imagery of December to help keep the violence generalised. Personally I am dead set against creative forms of counter-information. I think this is playing the game of the spectacle. The situation is so serious and everyone recognises it, there is no need to use tricks. We’re not an advertising company, we’re a revolutionary movement and we’ll say it straight. And people are ready for it. Before, if people didn’t take a leaflet from us it was not because it wasn’t shiny but because before December there was no perspective, they couldn’t see an end to the tunnel and the tunnel wasn’t so intolerable to them. But now it is intolerable and they see a way out. Something has to be done and something can be done, in their eyes, so we don’t need marketing tricks to communicate with them.

The goal of counter-information is to remind people of the reasons why one should attack. If one is convinced of this he or she will find the ways. Secondly reminding people that this happened across the country and they did not manage to kick us off the streets; it was not repression that ended the uprising. And third to make it obvious that it is possible, it is easy to attack. And this is obvious from the fact that actions happen all the time.

While the regime is militarising itself, we should on the one hand keep attacking it to show that it is vulnerable and it’s not achieving the state of security that it claims, and on the other hand to produce a discourse against the state of security as such, to challenge its reasons for coming into existence. Greek society is allergic to military solutions, and the government is making a big mistake. You have a big uprising sparked by a police killing and what’s their solution? More cops. Very smart. Alexis was killed by a cop from the special branch, and all the rhetoric repeated the idea of insufficient training. Now they’re putting these special cops in their new Delta Force, to deal with an even higher level of violence, and they’re just getting one week of extra training. They’re shooting themselves in the foot.

Security is not the main value of this society although since the ’90s they’ve been trying to make it so, talking about immigrant criminality to provoke fear. Then there were the Olympic Games and the security that went with it, then the new police corps and the cameras. The Greek state is mimicking the Western metropolitan areas. But Greece is a different society, so it’s completely idiotic. They have no idea of what a society is; they’re completely mechanistic, they say it worked in New York so it can work here. To them there are only individuals, there is no society; they’re Thatcherites. Greeks have a hundred different reasons to oppose cameras that people in London may not have. People here are breaking a hundred laws every day, running red lights, not paying for the metro. So this kind of security might be a nice word in the coffee shop but when the cop comes to make you pay the traffic ticket you’re going to become very angry. In London they would say this is good because I did something wrong, so I should pay the ticket.

From the view of the antagonistic social movement there are two interlinking ways of dealing with this. One has to do with countering the anti-terrorist discourse of post-9-11, asymmetrical threats, and the immigrants. The other part has to do with countering the demand of security in everyday life. So on the one hand the demand for security is in itself a strategy of counterinsurgency. In this sense it prevents insurgency it engineers a pacification of society each one in his little house, don’t mind public affairs, just mind your own business. And on the other hand it prepares the State in terms of its ideological artillery and its material artillery and preparation on the street to be ready to counter any kind of challenge to it.

One way of countering this phenomenon is to demonstrate that this is an enterprise of war, a strategy of war by the State against society. But it’s a very different situation here because in the UK or the US the man in the street is convinced that there might be some rotten elements but the State in itself is good, that it’s there for your own good. In Greece no one believes that. There is a complete and utter mistrust, all politicians are lying bastards, all they do is steal the budget money but the people tolerate it because they can’t do anything else. There is no civil society in Greece. No social contract. There is a long relationship of imposition, and it is experienced as such, even though in reality it’s a relationship of complicity that is experienced as one of imposition. So resistance is a great value and compliance and conformity are utterly disgraceful in public discourse. They stink of the junta. The imaginative construction of Greek society draws from values of resistance. Of course complicity is still a part of the social reality here. But in Britain the real society is complicit and their ideal society is a complicit one as well.

Traditionally we are against using the media to communicate with the public. It is an issue that has been resolved for many years in the anarchist scene. There used to be collaboration with the media, until the early ’90s, but no more. Theoretically the argument is that you cannot fight alienation with alienated means. You cannot claim that journalists are the scum of the earth and snitches, and at the same time be using them. And on a higher level it’s the question of the spectacle, of whether you could actually use the media. Even if there is an article of yours in the newspaper, it will be next to another article so yours becomes just a piece of information, it supports this whole idea of democratic pluralism. Cooperation with the institutions is always an obstacle to the development of autonomous structures. Our relation to communication is based on face to face relation in the street. Often we also challenge the use of Indymedia, which creates this fiction of sharing things, this imaginative community but materially there is no sharing or community. Many people consider Indymedia to be a part of the spectacle.

We finally understood that many people supported us

Andreas: A squatter from Thessaloniki

In Thessaloniki things started calming down around the 15th of December. There were still really big demos but less violence. We started organising a solidarity movement for the prisoners of the uprising. We didn’t start the solidarity movement and the protests for the prisoners until the situation had relaxed, because we didn’t want to signal the end of the uprising, and we wanted to use it as a new rallying point so all the groups could gather and stay involved even though the fighting had stopped. We had about thirty people arrested in Thessaloniki, not so much. But it was very hard to find out who was arrested, because so many of the people who participated had no connection with the anarchists, they had never participated in the movement before. And we couldn’t just call up the jails to find out who was arrested because they only give this information to the lawyer of the prisoner. And lots of arrests were random. Immigrants walking down the street with a new mobile phone could be arrested on suspicion of looting and nobody would know. There were thousands of mobiles stolen during the uprising, so they made these kind of arrests frequently. We learned that they had an order to arrest people whom it would be hard to find out about, people without connections, because this would terrorise the movement. So it was hard work finding out the names of everyone who was arrested.

The situation after December has not really changed. It’s like it was before. To say that the many people who adopted our practices had some sort of a social awakening is to have a negative view of the people who weren't active. I believe that before December many of them maybe listened to us and agreed with us. What happened in December is that finally we understood that many people supported us but just didn’t have a way to enter, to join in.

In Greece there is no historical tradition of neighbourhood assemblies but now it is starting everywhere. The assembly provided a neutral place for people to come and shape the decisions from the beginning. A place like Delta [a squatted hotel in Thessaloniki], it’s not so open because from the beginning we already had a specific project, a specific politics in mind. But these assemblies and these new occupations provide ways for other people to join in.

December helped us see another weakness in our movement. We weren’t thinking about the future, about what the world might be like three or four months later. We were just doing the things we were already used to doing from all the years of struggle that had come before: burning banks and attacking the police. But you can only burn the same bank so many times before you have to stop. I tell you, all the banks were burned. In December we were not mature enough for planning. We were in a situation in which any plan was possible - we could have destroyed the TV transmitters and abolished television, we could have taken down the cell phone infrastructure, we could have squatted Parliament, but we did not make those plans and we did not realise how important it would have been for the future.

We saw our weaknesses. Rioting for five days showed us that violence alone doesn’t get us anything unless it has content. There was an organisational gap. December provided us with a new theoretical experience. We can see our structural gaps. Squat radio stations are being set up throughout the city. We’re going to set up a print shop. We’re creating the structures we need.

The most important thing about December is it made the movement understand the people, and not vice versa. It made us understand that they need a place to stand, a way to participate.You can see anarchists who used to be antisocial talking about social acceptance. And you see the non-violent groups talking about rioting and attacking the police. A coalition, an atypical coalition is being created here in Thessaloniki.

The myth of Sisyphus

Panagiotis Kalamaras: A publisher of editions on libertarian culture

For me, without the anti-globalisation movement we would not have what we have now in Greece. Many people went to other countries, they saw what was happening, they read the literature, and the numbers grew and the movement developed a certain internationalism - especially after the European Forum protests in Thessaloniki. Genoa [the G8 protests in 2001] was very important, many Greek anarchists were in a black bloc in Genoa. They saw what happened with the police, with the Left, and they told people back here about it. They went to the IMF protests in Prague, and then Thessaloniki in 2003. Some people say they were just revolutionary tourists but for me this is a major mistake. These protests provided a great school for the movement, people learned a lot.

Before we had influence but we didn't have the numbers. Now, since December, the anarchist movement begins to have the numbers. Not just in Athens but in other cities as well. We’re not just speaking about hundreds we’re speaking about thousands. The major difference between December and the major movements that occurred in the ’80s and ’90s was that in December it was an anarchist revolt. This was the big difference. Also this time it happened everywhere in Greece. In other strong periods of movement the anarchists were fewer, it was mostly leftists. And now a lot of people use an anarchist practice. I’m not the only one who says this, I even see this in leftist publications. You'd have to be an idiot not to recognise that this is the situation. In previous years it was the anarchists who made attacks on police stations. Now everybody does this. It doesn’t mean that these other people who attack police stations are also anarchists but there is an influence, there is osmosis. Now we will see if this will have an effect on everyday life. We will see. We are only at the beginning. But in December it was clear: ordinary people acted like anarchists.

There is an ethical problem I want to talk about. Maybe it’s too philosophical, but... The leftists say if I fight for revolution I will have a better life. Another way to look at it is that you don’t need the result, you say I’m going to fight because my fight is right and maybe there won’t be a revolution because our enemy is stronger than we are but we will fight anyway.

Like the myth of Sisyphus, even if God will knock down the stone, I will roll it up the hill again,I will keep trying. In a way the anarchist movement is very Kantian without being aware of it, because Kant says you always have to fight for what you believe is right no matter what happens. There are a lot of people on the Left who only believe in results. They decline to fight for revolution because they lost the civil war. And when the Socialists came into power they went with the socialists and joined the government. But the anarchists here don't have a history of losing and they believe that ethically they are the winners. But this presents a problem because you also need an outside judge to judge you. If you always judge yourself you have a problem. In a way, history can be a kind of judge. We have a problem in Greece that the anarchist movement is very self referential. We don't critique with the eyes of others, we critique with our own eyes.

When there is strong social conflict, you raise the tension of the attacks

Transgressio Legis: An insurrectionary anarchist group in Athens engaged in counter-information and direct action

After the first days of paralysis, the State recovered its powers and this manifested in two ways. First with numerous random arrests, and second with all the propaganda about the looting of small shops and the pressure to return to normality the idea that society could not stand this situation any longer. On the other hand the movement started to get more organised to provide solidarity for the hundreds of people arrested, and another important move against the return to normality was the occupation of the General Confederation of Greek Workers. And this countered the propaganda of the State that the workers did not participate in this struggle. After many different events and assemblies and talks inside the building, the General Assembly of Insurgents for Solidarity with the Prisoners of December was formed inside this occupation. Initially this assembly brought together 500 people, mainly from the anarchist horos, the scene. They organised the first actions of support for prisoners with posters and texts and protests, including the magnificent protest outside Korydallos prison. There were around 900 people gathered there for New Year's Eve. This was the first time there was such a large New Year's Eve noise demo, and it was similar in other cities. Later there was a large demonstration in Larissa, where many of the juveniles facing charges under the anti-terror law were being held.

The next move of this assembly was the organisation of the big demonstration in solidarity with the prisoners of December, on January 24. About 3,500 people came. At the end of the demo the police attacked without provocation, very brutally. But because of the inner polemics and disagreements among the groups participating in this general assembly many groups including ours left and because of this we believe that the solidarity movement lost force. Then there was a wave of armed attacks. Some comrades believe this caused an ideological counter-attack by the bourgeois press and the government, but it also scared the political elite, the economic elite, and the media elite. And as the massive actions faded away a strong second wave of government repression appeared. The dialogue to end the asylum in the universities, the effort to criminalise masks in protests, to criminalise insulting cops, when this had become a popular activity in December. The fear of crime and immigrants and poor people and junkies. So what does society need? Security. Total security. And this is the dominant political dialogue at this moment.

According to our analysis, it has been a traditional strategy going back many years that when they have taken prisoners or when there is strong social conflict, you raise the tension of the attacks and sabotage and vandalism. Our opinion is that we should intensify these tactics. Other groups believe that now is the time for more public and political presence. In our analysis this is faulty because the great disagreements between different anarchist groups don’t allow us to organise massive political appearances, like what was happening in December. The social spirit of December is no longer obvious, it no longer has visibility, so it’s up to small affinity groups to sustain the spirit of December by continuing arson attacks. We believe that there is no holistic logic or strategy we can all follow because of the variety of opinions and tactics and strategies. No one wishes to produce one general anarchist opinion or organisation or solution. This is the basic characteristic of all these years of anarchist action in Greece.

Of course whatever move the government makes after December, the anarchists will respond. And fortunately our responses will be wildly diverse. On the other hand what remains unchanged since December is that each group has its own analysis, makes its own decisions, and carries out its own response. In a way we carry on like December never happened. We don’t have a plan for the distant future. The strategy of the elites will provoke the specific response of the lower classes. We’ll respond in the ways we know how, but if new social phenomena appear, then we are ready to invent new responses, analytically and practically.

The war is continuing. Our generation has the opportunity to see incredible things happen to the societies of this planet. And it is up to us to see if the fascists and the leftists will capture the hopes of the people or if the anarchists, through our struggle, will offer society an escape route through the fires and cataclysm of liberation.

We want to occupy the media and use it for the movement

Assembly of Media Workers: About a dozen members of a group of media workers, and students of media and communications, including a wide range of the political spectrum, from the left to anarchists.

We occupied the offices of the Editors' Union of Athens Daily Papers. Our inspiration was the occupation of the General Confederation of Greek Workers in December. The idea was that we as workers in the media could occupy the office of our bosses.

Our group was started by students in the School of Mass Media and Communications. Within the school there had already been a room occupied for ten years now, that was used as a political gathering point and a foundation for our movement. As people finished school and were getting jobs in the industry they didn’t forget about their background; they kept coming back to the students here. So there was an osmosis between the students and the working people. This was especially important during the student occupation movement of two years ago. The workers started a group last year, that consisted mainly of a blog with writings about the media industry And we also started to go to the demonstrations of journalists, we met some people who were working as freelancers, started talking about the precarity of freelancers as a working problem. The idea arose to create a non-hierarchical, self-organised syndicate of freelancers who wanted something different. This failed. The fact is that freelancers in Greece do not work that way as a choice but the bosses want people to work as freelancers in order to have more flexibility. They don’t hire you as an employee, they make you do the same job as a freelancer. It’s a form of outsourcing. But in this case they don’t hire people from other companies, you’re just an individual worker, even though you’re essentially working for a specific newspaper or whatever. So you have to pay your own social security.

In December the media did an awful job, as always. They tried to divide the movement into the bad anarchists and the good students. After December the media used more aggressive tactics to scare people with the spectre of terrorism, to make them afraid so they would stay at home. But those of us who are in the movement and in the media have to point out some exceptions. There was one photojournalist who published the famous picture of a cop on the streets facing protesters and drawing his gun, just after the murder of Alexis. The journalist was fired for this photo. So we have to emphasise that what the media produce depends on what the bosses want, and what they want is to profit and to send the right political message.

Anarchists in Greece generally want no relationship whatsoever with the media or reporters. In the last ten years many photographers have been attacked by demonstrators and TV vans have been burned. And okay, the media have a central role in state propaganda today and in spreading fascism. They present anarchists as bad people wearing masks, the “known unknowns." There was a legend circulated by Greek TV in December that all the riots were provoked by anarchists. Their representation in the spectacle is as "the known unknowns" everybody knows them but nobody knows who they are, they’re an antisocial element that cannot be pinned down. So the anarchists respond ironically, "Yes, we’re the same 300 people since November ’73."

Since December they haven’t been using this term because no one believes it anymore. Now they say koukoulofori, the masked ones. The State’s main point is that these unknowns have names and addresses and we had better find them soon. The media and State cannot accept that there is anarchy in Greece and real people behind it. It is essential for them to make people believe that these anarchists are vicious criminals with ulterior motives. In their minds anarchists cannot exist, so it is obvious to them that they are manipulated by something. The Communist Party says they are police provocateurs, and nationalists say they are manipulated by some external element trying to destabilise Greece.

Our group participated in the revolt in December, in the occupations and mobilisations that were happening. At the first demo of the year, in January the cops were very aggressive and beat lots of people, including journalists and lawyers. This provided an opportunity to occupy the newspaper editors’ offices in order to talk about the labour problems of journalists, to criticise what the media were saying about the revolts, and to address the general precarity of all workers in Greece. The two main purposes of the occupation was to produce counter-information and to denounce our problems as workers, the firings, the precarity the aggressions of the bosses. The occupation lasted six days.

One of the main reasons we occupied these offices was because we knew that anarchists had no connections with the working class. The workplace did not play a large role in the rebellion of December and one main aspect of our action was our desire to get close to the working class, as we belong to it. We wanted to create some link or bridge, to show that these ideas are not opposed, that there is not such a big gap.

The movement received our action ambiguously. Some people said journalists don’t deserve to be a part of the movement and some people were more tolerant towards this occupation. The first two days were very complicated because people of the movement who had a bad impression of journalists came in contact with people working in the media who thought of themselves as part of the movement. The crowd there was very diverse. That was part of what made it unique but it also caused problems in terms of organising. People were trying to formulate different methods of organising because some people were really radical and others less so. There were two lines, one of people coming from the movement and another of people coming from the media. Some people came to the occupation because they wanted to work on counter-information, against the media and against the spectacle, and the people coming from the media wanted to do something against the bosses, and the job situation.

Counter-information is a key movement issue and we are a small part of that. Indymedia is another part of it, as are the people who publish magazines or newspapers. My personal view is that blogs and other forms of communication had a central role in December, facilitating instant reactions, instant responses to what was happening on the ground. Many people were trying to inform others and that worked really well in December. From the first night there were demos and attacks on police all over Greece because everyone knew what had happened in Athens. Due to the Internet and telephone and also the mainstream media the access to information was expansive. There were attacks in the most remote parts of Greece. I think high school kids saw it on TV so they got the idea to do it themselves. In a sense even the mainstream media has a positive role sometimes, in an impressionable kind of way: their coverage made an impression and some people wanted to know more. It’s not that they gave the rebellion and the attacks a positive spin, but it would have been worse if they had stayed silent.

But counter-information is necessary to actually produce discourse. And for this we employ classic methods, such as open assemblies, pamphlets, blogs, posters, demos, occupations.

Our assembly is now debating the role of the media. We don’t yet have a common idea on how to “despectacularise" the media. We believe in counter-information, we believe that the media uphold capitalism. Most of us want to occupy the media, or rather the means of production of the media, and use them for the movement. Indymedia is one direction. The other direction is, since we know from our studies how the public sphere is created and how the mechanisms of the State work, to expose the methods of brainwashing, of ideological suppression.

Another big discussion begun during the revolt centred around the use of videos. We don’t have an answer to this question yet. Some people said we must use videos, while others feel that they are a medium that creates the spectacle. The most obvious objection is that the cops will get hold of the images and get our identities, but it's more complicated. It also has to do with the fact that the videos are being edited by the TV channels so you can't be sure if it will be used in the wrong way People do not trust the medium of videos and audiovisual materials because it has been used primarily against us. As a squat we tried to make videos, one at the demo on January 16 and the other at the Patision Park. We also tried to work as a counter-information team at one demo. It was experimental. But some people strongly opposed us in this.

Then there is the debate about television. Is it possible to have a radical self-organised TV channel? It would be the same thing but with different political content. Some of us believe that within capitalism the media cannot be used to promote revolutionary ideas. There are some radio stations, but they are counter-information, pirate stations, they don’t have bosses, they self-organise with assemblies. I think the media industry is a capitalist machine that can’t be transformed within capitalism. But if we occupy them it can produce good results. During the revolt there was a group that occupied NET the national TV station. But this action was an interruption of the program, it was not a program promoting revolutionary ideas. I think that would have been a total failure.

TV is different from radio because you’re dealing with images. It would be propaganda on your behalf, using the spectacle to your benefit. But that’s a debate we haven't really gone into because it's so complicated. The TV is much more infused with the ideologies of state and capitalism than the radio or newspapers. Also the relationship you create with the audience; they are rendered more passive, it doesn’t matter if they're watching a demonstration or a football match. It’s naturally reactionary. To perceive yourself as a viewer means you are not an actor. In capitalist society we are alienated and we become spectators of our lives, our lives become strange to us. For example I can't imagine someone who tries to shoot photos during a demo instead of fighting with police.

These are some of the problems we are wrestling with. Journalists questioning their role as journalists. It's pretty self-annihilating but also creative if you think about it.

December’s riots as mediated by the image of mass media

Leandros Kyriakopoulos from void network

“lt is the historical and structural definition of consumption that, by way of [a] ‘lived' level, it exalts signs on the basis of a denial of things and the real." This quote comes from the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard as he was meditating on the culture of mass media and the ways in which visual consciousness adjoins the image. In these few pages, the devastating thinking of this mediator will be the vehicle for a reflection on the events that followed Alexandros Grigoropoulos’s death, as mediated by the visual and printed screens of Greek and international mass media, Reading the sign of Baudrillard, one could say that "riots" is a micro-event in the contemporary news reports, permanently interlocked with others of its like, such as the war in Afghanistan, a typhoon in the Philippines, sports events,and the weather forecast. This technique of mass exporting (and producing) events, like a collage, is based on the pathetic exaltation of them. This is the denial of the real through the multiple repetition of a reactualised exemplar. If the impossibility of an ”outbreak"is proposed, then this “outbreak" is being ritually sacralised by the media through the consumption of its image in the “up-to-the-minute"news reports.

The Greek and the international media identified the riots that followed Grigoropoulos's death as an “insurrection," strongly referring and comparing them with other historical events, such as the Parisian May of ’68 and the riots at Columbia in the US during the same period. The headlines of known newspapers are very indicative of this: "The whole world is inspired by the insurrection of Athens" or "The dynamic of the youth’s insurrection has awaken the citizens" On the 13th of December - a week after the riots had begun - all the Greek media had comments on the foreign press' reports about the situation in Greece: "The revolt of the spoiled: European youth are rising up as they see the end of their privileges." Titles like this on the front pages of the German and French press are the result of a correlation between the events of Athens and those of Berlin and Paris. Social injustice, suffering, and anger are incarnated in the image and are being combined with the archetypical paradigms of the modern expression of opposition and political disobedience (such as the Parisian May of ’68). At the same time, the media’s images carry the terror of violence as it cataclysmically intrudes in everyday life and disrupts the State’s efforts for an "equitable modernisation of the civil society."

This essay is not concerned with the political management of December’s events by the mass media. It can be said though, that the range of comments extends throughout the political spectrum-inside and outside the political correctness of the parliament (1). Every attempt at assembling December’s events through the image - even the "friendliest" one - embraced by the media’s logic of consumption, becomes suspect as a result, since the sign at stake - named in a holistic way as "outbreak" - is manipulated with certain contents which were not previously subject to that logic. That happens because of the turning of the events into up-to-the-minute daily news that corresponds to the technical essence of the media, that is the disarticulation of the real into successive and equivalent signs, and their combined modulation with other ones. This is evidenced in daily news reports such as: “the economic policy of the Minister of Finance," “the problematic state of Exarchia," "the state of alert of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs," "the limits of police violence," "the change of political attitude," "the major issue of European integration," and "the common question of global democratic governance?"

What is shared then, between media’s portrayed images and the emotionally stressed eyes of the viewers, is a corpus of signs and references based upon the camera’s representation and the state, legal, and political reformulation of the embodied lived experience of the riot’s participants. In this corpus of signs, the intractable materiality of "youth," "anarchist," "masked face," "foreigner," "unscrupulous vandal," is shifted from the dark and imponderable body of the street, towards politically familiar, ideology-bound platforms from which the question of the “outbreak" and its virtual answers can be addressed. Thereby mass communication excludes the corporeal experience of the polyphonic event of the riot, while at the same time it creates a common ground from which a compromise can be made among all the eyes staring at the dramatic images, toward the same ambiguous demand of this "outbreak"; namely a change to a more humane social world. Therefore, the reading of the new contents by the virtual collective of all those driven by the same ambiguous exigency sacralise “outbreak" as something profane that needs purification through an eligible "answer."

This “answer" though is not articulated, yet is always at stake in every effort for defining, commenting, and situating December’s events by the mass media. This rephrasing of the "outbreak" with its presaged answer implicitly provides a reassuring social narrative (which at the same time ascribes blame): that “modernisation of the State" and “just democratic governance" entails the progressive withdrawal of violence from everyday life. What is really at stake then, in the mass media’s discourse about December’s events, is not Alexandros Grigoropoulos’s death by the armed hand of the police and the riots triggered off by this death, but the capability of the State to handle this domestic crisis.

A month of continuing reports and live broadcasts is encapsulated in three stances that, after a year, makes Greek political life conform to the universalised rational norm of its parliamentary spectrum. The first concerns the criticism by the main opposition party the Socialists, against the government that is "incapable of protecting the citizens", the second is the attack on the small party of the progressive Left (SYRISA) by the liberal,the Communist, and the right-wing parties, because of its "unwillingness to confine its political range within parliamentary legitimacy." As for the third one, it involves all the parties and it is the commitment to terminating domestic terrorist political movements. Mass media say that December’s “outbreak” changed a lot of things in the political life of this country. I believe that these stances are the legacy of the power of images in the collective thinking of the Greek citizen-viewers.

The Greeks' involvement in December via the image and discourse of the media indicates their consent in the deciphering of the media’s message. And if "the medium is the message,” then this deciphering is not about the “outbreak" but about the media themselves. That is, the viewer is being unconsciously called upon to decipher the deep discursivity of the media - the realist representation of the camera with its applied objectivism - before and beyond December’s events. Thus, mass media’s image incarnates December’s riots while evading their embodied character, and re-writes them through an evenly up-to-the-minute agenda for collective reception. And as these riots are sacralised by the viewers for being the “outbreak” of a social and economic privation that troubles Greek society for many years now, they are sacrificed all the same when one attempts to find an answer in their actualisation.

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(1) The well-known national satiric comedian Lasopoulos, said during his most popular TV program: "I would recommend to these kids to destroy everything, do not sober up!"

The new neighbourhood assemblies

Mi: An anarchist of Exarchia

It is very early to draw conclusions about the messages and the lessons that we learned through the insurrection of December. Maybe it will take months or even years to understand what we did because we’re still in the heat of the moment. One characteristic of December was the occupation of government buildings, municipality buildings, universities, and municipal cultural centres. The goal of all these actions was to organise the participation of the inhabitants and local people in the centre of the different cities and also in the suburbs. In the city centres and in the universities, the occupations arose from political actors, from the libertarians or anarchists or autonomists, and also ultra-left movements, and inside these occupations the majority of participants were already politically conscious. On the other hand the vast majority of people who participated in the occupations in the suburbs were local people who hadn't been active before. Even though there were also politically conscious comrades there, the great majority of the participants were people who appeared in the movement for their first time, All these assemblies in the suburbs used the name, "Open Assembly of the Inhabitants of" whatever area, or "popular assembly" Because parthenogenesis does not exist, many of these assemblies arose from campaigns and meetings and struggles around specific local themes that predated December.

The second important characteristic of these assemblies is that for the first time struggles that started in the centre of Athens - like the response to the assassination of Alexis or the attack on Kuneva, or the solidarity with the prisoners, or general talks that took place during the insurrection in the occupation of the Polytechnic or Nomiki or ASOEE or the General Confederation of Greek Workers building - became subjects for discussion and struggle in the assemblies and neighbourhoods all around Greece. The central point of these assemblies was no longer a local problem, but a general subject that connected all these assemblies all throughout Greece. And this was apparent in a slogan that you could find in all the different assemblies, "Let’s take life back into our hands, "This means that we have to carry out a global struggle that includes all the different sides and activities of life.

In many areas of Greece where popular assemblies had never existed, new ones appeared for the first time, possibly started by neighbours who knew each other. To get a good picture of these assemblies, imagine that during December and the beginning of January, between 150-500 people in each neighbourhood were taking part. And they organised many different demonstrations for Alexis, for Kuneva, for the prisoners, they printed many different posters and pamphlets, and also organised concerts and attacks on police stations or other local targets.

In the neighbourhood assemblies people always prefer to talk and debate for hours and even days, sometimes to even avoid making a final decision at all, in order to seek consensus and avoid stooping to holding a vote. Sometimes this is chaotic, sometimes it is a lengthy procedure, but it allows everyone to express his or her own opinion and to find a place within the general spirit. Another important characteristic is how the general assemblies functioned as welcome centres where you could find announcements and calls for help for all the different initiatives that appeared inside the assembly. The initiatives were not created by final decisions coming from the assembly but rather they were the initiatives of members that were accommodated by the general assembly, There were no decisions about what would happen and what wouldn't. All of it was happening. Thus, these assemblies allowed important anarchist principles such as consensus and the empowerment of individual initiative to pass to people who were not anarchists but adopted the practices and theories and principles of the anarchist movement.

There were other actions that had previously been unheard of. The refusal to pay for public transportation and attacks on the ticket machines, the occupation of the Opera Hall that worked as a meeting point between the artists and the society, and gave the artists the chance to express their new ideas developed during the insurrection. To even mention all the actions that took place you would need a catalogue of the hundreds of blogs created during the insurrection by all these different assemblies and initiatives. These blogs were very important instruments for visibility and direct public announcements. There was no need anymore for any kind of mediation or intermediary, in the form of the media, And all of the groups produced thousands of posters and pamphlets that created direct public dialogue in the streets.

Another important initiative that started after December was the Assembly for Health. It is an assembly constituted by workers in the health sector, including doctors, pharmacists, and nurses. This assembly tries to expose the great problems of health care as a social problem and not a medical problem. To break the barriers between the specialists and the laymen, the doctors and the patients. The first actions of this assembly took place in two huge public hospitals where the members occupied the lobby liberating it and giving everyone a chance to have free health care for five hours. The idea behind these actions was to announce to all society that health is a social gift and that it is irrational to expect people to pay for health care.

It is also important to mention the assembly for solidarity with Kuneva. It gathered a large number of people who participated in the insurrection. With demos, occupations of state buildings, and the smashing of private cleaning companies. And the arson attack on the metro station of Kifissia, one of the richest areas of Athens, that caused 12 million euros in damage.

In the suburbs, after the occupations of all these municipality buildings and cultural centres and central buildings ended, the assemblies have continued to exist though they no longer have a central building as a reference point and they don’t gather such a large number of people. But in three different suburbs, Petralona, Nea Filadelfia, and Brachami, they now have permanent occupations for the assemblies. The health workers' assembly participates in the occupied building in Petralona. A new horizon has opened up in terms of building anarchist social struggles as they try to create solutions for health as a social problem, and to offer free health care to the people of the neighbourhood. And meanwhile the already existing social centres and squats have been empowered, and host intense activity every day.

These assemblies that we mention here, and all that we have left out, created an entire galaxy of actions, attacks, protests, confrontations, pamphlets, campaigns, posters, and critiques. All this appeared after the assassination of a fifteen-year-old boy but it spreads its light across the planet by creating itself, creating new people, new comrades, new actions, new visions, new practices, and the future of the movement itself.

Kill the sexist in your head

A communiqué released by an Athens anti-sexist group

During the insurrection, the slogan “Cops, cunts, you kill children" was often shouted. One of the times when we reacted, one of the "insurgents," to our disgust, said: "Learn to shut up. And if you do not know how, we will make you shut up."

We didn’t shut up, though.

It was not enough for us that already:

- Capital exploits our bodies. In employment, in the unpaid work between the four walls of our homes, in entertainment (for others).

- The nuclear Greek family wants us as housewives and rabbits, intending for our bodies, even within our own personal space, to reproduce: "the future of this country."

- We have to put up with the motherfuckers, the bosses at home and at work, and their culture of hunter and prey, their pick-ups and propositioning, their whispers and their harassment in the street and on the buses.

- All manner of liberal experts reassure us that "equality" has been achieved. Of course! With equal rights to wage slavery.

On top of it all, we have comrades and companeras who call the cops “pussy." This specific slogan is an attempt to denigrate the cop by comparing it with a pussy. Why does this word denigrate the cop? The word "cunt" (and the body part itself) is already denigrated in the social hierarchy of gender. This relationship is reproduced everywhere. Now also in the street!

Language reproduces and maintains the space in which the authoritarian gender relations are normalised. Without this space provided to them daily these relationships fall into a social vacuum, and thus are challenged.

In the dominant language, and in the language of the street, the "ardent desire" for sexual exploitation ("we will fuck you, pussy" etc.) undermines social liberation.

Hey! go further.

The subordination of bodies to violence and to the symbols of the ruling class can not be reversed with hidden hierarchies.

Aside from the cop...

Also kill the sexist in your head!
- The menses flow, the body asks for rebellion

The limitations of anti-sexism

Sissy Doutsiou from Void Network

During December 2008 anti-sexists were arguing about the sexist behaviour of comrades and youth in the streets who were shouting the slogan “Cops, Cunts, you kill children.” This argument opened a discussion in which a female group of participants of the rebellion of December expressed their opinion, through posters and communiqués, that many anarchists are sexists and the “movement” has a problem with sexism. This brought up a conversation among the members of the Greek anarchist space about what is sexism, what can be called anti-sexism and how you can fight effectively against sexism. This conversation was one more fragmented dialogue that happened in the occupied universities and in the streets behind the barricades in the few moments of calmness while we recovered from the teargas burning our eyes and lungs.

When the clashes ended and the various collectives directed their energies into many different actions and projects I found myself still thinking and trying to better understand this sexist/anti-sexist debate that took place, and envision a possible anarchist standpoint. I found myself trying to bring together my experiences from participating in many different anarchist groups in England over seven years, my thoughts about anti-sexist comrades in international meetings against the G8 or EU summit, and in squats and social centres across Europe during tours and travels. Through rumours spread mainly by anti-sexists and non-violent demonstrators it seems that many people believe that Greek anarchists are macho, sexist, and lacking in their theoretical understanding of sexism.

My goal in this essay is to use these international reflections in addition to my experiences during the social insurrection of December 2008 to offer some thoughts about an anarchist perspective on sexism and anti-sexism. The differences between societies in terms of culture and norms of behaviour make the topic a vast one. The different cultures of resistance, scales of confrontation, targets of disobedience, perspectives, terminologies, and political agendas of this world make it impossible to speak in general about sexism and anti-sexism in the global anarchist movement. Many things I say here express the thoughts of male, female, and homosexual comrades here in Greece, while other comrades are in disagreement. I hope these thoughts can open a creative debate.

Of course not all anti-sexists are the same, but I am directing this criticism at what I see as a major part of the anti-sexists. My major problem with these anti-sexists is how they characterize certain people as sexists and the criteria they use.

Each comrade has to change her everyday life first and then, as the next step, to share her experiences and visions with her friends, her community, and her society. Of course, we have to eliminate all the elements of capitalism, puritanism, sexism, greed, and apathy. The anarchist society - as we imagine it, and work and think and plan for it - is a different society from the one we live in. It could be said that anarchy is utopian - it is a network of honest human relationships free of the traps the elite have used for centuries to dominate us. Anarchy is a network of compassion and mutual aid without the taboos and limitations of organized religion, capitalism, and the State. Anarchy is the evolution to a more joyous form of life approaching the greatest possible freedom for all - the earth, the animals, humanity - where the people are not forced to follow one definite, obligatory way of life in order to survive.

A part of the fight against today's oppressions is the fight against sexism. But let’s not make a distinction between sexism within the anarchist movement and sexism in society because we are still part of this dominant society. Similarly, though we reject the role of consumer and buy as little as possible, we are still socialized in Western capitalist ethics and still participate in the reproduction of Capital, even at this minimum level.

Many anarchists believe that we first have to fight against sexism inside the movement and then to fight against sexism in society in general, or even if they do not adopt this argument, their practice reflects an almost exclusive focus on internal sexism. The same people believe that if we destroy sexism within ourselves, then the anarchist movement will be more open and more powerful, and above all more revolutionary. These anti-sexist warriors think that one of the weaknesses of the revolutionary movement is that it is still not inclusive for revolutionary women. Additionally, they mention the suppressive and condescending attitude prevalent in meetings towards women who do not say anything in public but rather limit themselves to communicating in informal, personal situations.

These women don’t speak except to respond to the kind of questions they are supposed to know about. The situationist Françoise Denevert, in her essay, “La Critique ad Mulierern” (1975), describes and remonstrates these silent women who, accidentally engaged in theoretical discussion, look worriedly from the edge of their eyes in search of acceptance from their boyfriend or a close male friend. They will never dare to admit their ignorance of a subject under discussion, and entangled in a confusion of thoughts or repeating what they heard someone else say, consider the difficulties they have as something to be ashamed of. Paradoxically, these same silent women, according to Denevert, are often eloquent writers, who themselves frequently comment about the discrepancy between their ability to express themselves in the written and spoken word.

In reality, the ability to speak and to write depends on the experiences of the person. It depends on self-cultivation, on socialization, on courage. There are men who are not good speakers at all, and there are women who are not good speakers at all. We cannot say that men are good speakers and women are not; nor can we say that women are more sensitive than men, as it depends on which women and which men we have met. We cannot limit our analysis inside the anarchist space as there are friends outside of the anarchist space who are not sexist, just as there are friends in an assembly who are misogynists.

There are different women, there are different men, and there are people who are different independent of their sex. The characteristics of a personality are not sexually segregated. Passivity is not only a female characteristic and ribaldry is not only a male characteristic. What is traditionally defined to be masculinity and femininity are complementary and can appear in both men and women.

If we accept the complaints and arguments of the anti-sexists, automatically the “silent women” are recognized as having greater sensitivity and are unable to speak in public not because of the behaviour of their male comrades but because of their sex. The anti-sexists lump together all the women who don't speak in an assembly without taking into consideration the differences between these women. So, the “silent women” and the watchers of the silent women are colonized by the theory of anti-sexism and see their selves the same as sexist society sees them. As Françoise Denevert was saying these women are colonized by the spectacle of their self, and they are colonized by the theory of anti-sexism. They enslave themselves in the obedience of the “silent woman.”

In our struggles we must be aware of the injustice capitalism imposes on us, as the first step to realizing that something is wrong. But sometimes we see the enemy in a person, a theory, or a situation which is only a vessel for the sexist culture that shapes and oppresses them.

Sometimes after reading an anti-sexist text, we start thinking that our boyfriend is a disgusting, sexist pig who victimizes us, in the same way that after reading a psychology book we start diagnosing ourselves with imaginary paranoias.

Women can build an identity upon the historical oppression they all share, and base their very respect for one another on this shared history. Some women - feminists and anti-sexists - ask for recognition of woman as a political category. And this is not only in the liberal political groups but also in the anarchist scene. Judith Butler expresses a view that “the representation of the category “women” is always exclusive, resulting in resistance to the domination that this representation claims. The category “women” is constituted by a political system, including “the state”, then a politics that takes this category as its foundation assists in the continual production of a hierarchical gender division. Feminism should understand how the category of “women” is produced and restrained by these systems rather than seeking emancipation through structures of power.”

Also, woman as political category can seek recognition of her liberation through an open assembly. But there is a difference between creating an assembly structure that recognizes women’s right to equal participation and allowing or expecting individual women to demand and seize the space for their equal participation. If we say that women are not capable of the latter, aren’t we the ones putting them in a weaker position? There is an important difference between being emancipated and empowering oneself. There is a difference between recognition and demand. There is a difference between respecting a woman because she is a woman and respecting her because she is a respectable person.

Louise Michel[1] put her revolutionary beliefs in practice because her sexual identity did not prevent her from doing what she thought was right. She didn’t want a special place just because she was a woman, she wanted to be recognized as a person regardless of her sex. She was consciously indifferent to existing agreements and compulsions based on her sex. She was recognized for her political importance thanks to her abilities, her radical nature, her courage, her decisiveness and her consistency in realizing her theory, and not because of her sex.

The revolutionaries are acrobats on the rope of theory who always fall, reaching too far in their quest to turn everything into politics. There is always the possibility of approaching anti-sexism and feminism as a class war and anti-capitalist issue only so that it is certified as a “valuable” political struggle. On the other hand, there is the possibility to approach feminism and anti-sexism just as individual women and men with bad personal moments and sad experiences with our partners.

The anti-sexists aim for the permanent destruction of gender inequality in revolutionary activity; in other words, their aim is to destroy the roles that alienate both sexes and to clarify the limitations these roles impose on the revolutionary experience. They mean to destroy the contrast between femininity and masculinity as a difference that comes from the social background of the construction of gender. But femininity, masculinity, and everything else are in the culture. Believing that femininity is just an element of the alienation of women and masculinity is only an element of the alienation of men leads to the possibility of losing our sexiness and our sensuality.

Judith Butler, in her 1993 interview by Peter Osborne and Lynne Segal in London, says that “One of the interpretations that has been made of Gender Trouble is that there is no sex, there is only gender, and gender is performative.[2] People then go on to think that if gender is performative it must be radically free. And it has seemed to many that the materiality of the body is vacated or ignored or negated here - disavowed, even. (There's a symptomatic reading of this as somatophobia. It's interesting to have one's text pathologised.) …. how it is that sex itself might be construed as a norm. Now, I take it that's a presupposition of Lacanian psychoanalysis - that sex is a norm. But I didn't want to remain restricted within the Lacanian purview. I wanted to work out how a norm actually materializes a body, how we might understand the materiality of the body to be not only invested with a norm, but in some sense animated by a norm, or contoured by a norm.”

We can also see somatophobia as negating the care of our body because of the recognition that this care is governed by some norm. The acceptance of beauty, of sexuality, of the visible differences of the two sexes serves only as a capitalist alienation, taking away from the individual their very own individuality and connecting them to the undercover ideology of the capitalist norm.

An individual under capitalism presupposes the use of a capitalistic object and the application of such abstract concepts as alienation, passivity, and an implicit admission to let capitalism penetrate inside his body and mind. The individual, as an anarchist, classifies the penetration of the alienation based on the frequency and the character of the use, of the consumption of an object, of a product, and not on the consciousness of the use of the product.

The consciousness and the choice to use, to consume a product seems much more an alienated choice and not an understanding of the very real distance between the object itself and the use of the object under capitalism. Everything seems to be lost in a relentless theorizing and an almost totalitarian relativism imposed by postmodern discourse and the need to define ourselves in the framework of yet another standard theory with the familiar standard enemy and standard allies.

The women who want to look the same as the supermodels and as the sex kittens on the magazine covers and the men who want to reproduce the hard and “macho” sexy man of the soap operas and newscasters relive “the society of the spectacle as simple promoters of the culture” (G. Debord). Yet the women who express their aggression towards men in order to show that they are not subjugated by any man or the men who avoid an honest aggressive dialogue with women because they must behave gently otherwise they would be sexists or even anarchist men and women who locate erroneous behaviours and explain them as sexists behaviours... all of these are the dolls that merely confirm the spectacle of the anti-sexist theory. Truly anarchist men and women take every effort to avoid merely confirming the sexist spectacle and to fight against it, even if they have a lot of taboos, problems, theoretical dead-ends, and many both written and unwritten political agendas.

A woman can be an accomplice to the “masculinity” that she allows to be imposed on her. All women (both in the West and in the East, although in the East they will face humiliation and even torture) have the ability to demand their time to speak, to put their thoughts and their ideas into practice, to swear at a man when they don’t like his behaviour, to humiliate a man if they think that this man humiliated their gender or themselves.

On the other hand, Simone de Beauvoir in her 1976 interview with John Gerassi said that a secretary or the wife of a worker could not enjoy the privileges which she enjoyed as a woman because these women did not abandon their female nature and their life was defined, determined. Beauvoir as an existentialist accepts the principle that existence precedes essence. Therefore, she believes that no one is born a woman, but becomes one. She said that these women must be aware of their dependence and then they have to believe in their own force and the women who have an interest in cooperation with the male-dominated society must be made aware of their betrayal; however, this position of Beauvoir supposes that only the women who are well educated are able to understand the social phenomena. Does this education come from a certificated institution? Of course not. All women can feel and enforce their freedom without reference to their job, class, age, and sexual desires.

We should not present the “silent women” as passive, innocent women because in this way these women are forced to not believe in their own thoughts and finally, feeling weak, to express only a childish anti-male identity based on intolerance. We should be careful that our theories do not turn the emancipated woman into some sort of compulsory asexual or bitch that just builds her identity on some immense illustrative narrative of her politicized problems. In this way, she will never understand what exactly made her a “silent woman,” and as an oppressed woman she will always be trapped in the explanations and excuses of an oppressive sexist society, never thinking deeper about her own limitations, fears, and insecurities.

We should also not stereotype in our theories loutish men as oppressive men, because in this way the loutish men will only become more certain of the effectiveness of the patriarchal structures and repressive mechanisms that they reproduce as men. Cast as a group and not as individuals with unique whims, these men will not be able to understand that their behaviour produces suffering not only for others but also for themselves. “Normal” identities and even identities that are based on going against these normal identities are attached to the fetters of the bourgeois morality or some caricature of revolutionary morality. The first morality is the passport for the reliable slaves of the State and the other is the passport for the reliable revolutionaries who have been conquered by the morality of the bourgeoisie as they define themselves only in negation to their bourgeois morality. But we don’t want any kind of passport or permission to follow revolutionary ideas. Even if there were an anarchist morality, we would be the heretics.

A claim for a morality that would be suitable for all is an illusion. What is fair for one person can be restrictive for another. An “objective” morality that treats all individuals the same without taking into consideration the particularities (the enormous difference between people) is a slave morality. Each individual can make up their own morality and their own criterion for dignity, within the twin limits of schizophrenia and freedom.

Each identity group can define a self. Experiences, participation, and actions with different groups create certain idiosyncrasies. Various expressions of our self can co-exist and these give us the ability to explore new phenomena and social relations. Any kind of ideology that is incapable of understanding social phenomena only makes us objects of that ideology. Throughout the ages, a socially aware person has been able to express vastly more intelligence and sensitivity in understanding social phenomena than a person entrenched in ideology. An activist acting in multiple struggles across identity groups is then far more capable of enacting revolution as compared to one who has a constructed identity in a specific group. This is the multi-expressional activist.

It is necessary for every person as an individual to resist, struggle, demand, and scream for their freedom. Nobody should be more respectful in relation to others. We don’t want men who will continue to express their macho status at any price nor women who will mourn because of their treatment by men. Using our political consciousness, we need to know and feel that men who dominate or behave badly with women are legitimizing the existing structures of authority and contributing to a wider net of domination which holds people back.

Sexism refers to when someone, woman or man, believes that his or her sex is superior or the opposite inferior, proficient or incapable, valuable or worthless compared with the other gender. Sexist behaviours are these behaviours that confirm and continue to apply the stereotypes of male and female and are influenced by and reproduce the above impressions and beliefs. But we should not forget that the levelling of differences is disorienting since it disrespects the particularities. It is impossible to simultaneously sustain basic sexist personal characteristics and try to eliminate the inequality between the two sexes. At the same time we want to be ourselves, to keep expressing our unique individuality amongst all the other people. As Emma Goldman said, “the mass and the individual, the true democrat and the true individual, man and woman, can meet without antagonism and opposition.” In her opinion, women have the right to love and be satisfied sexually but if women are the only ones to emancipate themselves while the whole society doesn’t change, these women would remain without an appropriate partner.

If women are released from their bonds while the remaining society is imprisoned by its bonds then their emancipation would not last. Liberation is not only for women. When we smash all barriers, liberation and emancipation will be the path to total freedom, liberation from obedience, the standard of morality, and the power of authority. We say this just to remind ourselves to avoid the traps of the heroic woman.

Sexism has spread everywhere, in every relation. Our comrades are not sexist but the authoritarian logic that anti-sexists borrow in order to distinguish them as sexists is sexist. Who exactly are sexists and who are anti-sexists? Are these roles absolutely separated? Where are the borders of sexism and anti-sexism? The agreement on these distinctions, as these distinctions are created by our social norms, is sexist.

The slogan of identity politics is “the celebration of the difference.” Yet it is a celebration of complacency to celebrate the illusion that identity is something fixed and everlasting. It is absurd to demand rights through the validation of victimization. I agree that there should be a “celebration of difference” but from another route to another destination. We can celebrate all together or we can celebrate as individuals who constitute themselves with the characteristics that the society and the state provide us. When we want to speak about identity then we need to analyse it philosophically and politically. Anti-sexism bases its dialectics on cultural categories (macho men and oppressed women) constructed, maintained, and used by the dominant culture. The definition of a specific denigrated sex, race, or social-economic class maintains the homogeneous culture of the dominant moralism, the specific categorization that something detectable reflects the common sense made by the statists, the sexists, and the racists. Marginalization doesn't end with the creation of marginalized groups. The division creates two groups, two categories. The division occurs when we deny the struggle of an identity politics group but it also occurs when the supporters, the participants, divide themselves and name their comrades as enemies.

Creating two opposite groups means that in theory and in practice, there is a conflict between them that must be solved. All behaviours are scanned by the undervalued sex. This is necessary as the sexists don’t notice the behaviours of their sex object since they are hypnotized by stereotypes of the two sexes. The anti-sexists examine every manner, every timbre and tone of the voice, any expression of the sexist and patriarchal macrocosm.

Language shapes us, composes us, and forms us. Language is based not on words per se but on the use of this word and the meaning of it at a specific time and place. However, the anti-sexist hysteria with language, with both creating new words and not using certain words, only makes those feel guilty who express themselves using words in a colloquial manner. This leads to a dead end even if it is simple and convenient to base the effects of sexism on just words. Phenomena such as metaphors, irony, and exaggeration abound in language. The meaning of a sentence in which these phenomena take place cannot be captured by the definitions of the words which constitute the sentence. The followers of anti-sexism only end up as jailers of the semantics of the words and detectives of the prohibited colloquial expressions.

The participants of an identity group, and especially some anti-sexists, in practice, keep watch over their members, their comrades in meetings, and in everyday life by imposing a certain identity, a fully determined behaviour code that implicitly presents a united homogeneous identity. Some anti-sexists posit a structure that assumes men's behaviour to be a direct result of stereotypes from the sexist society, analysing people as a definite result of a definite cause. Many of them are also essentialists, ignoring the complexity of social relations and homogenizing individuals in order to fit them into categories, without taking into consideration cultural, psychological, and historical differences, or allowing the individual to occasionally exist unburdened by any political analysis, to just be a person rather than the alienated product of inhuman social mechanisms. What we say and what we think are uncertain and chaotic.

The lace around us is so tight and we want to loosen it. The fashion, the lipstick, and the high heels, the expensive dresses and the modern styles are obligatory. However, a girl can decide to wear a short white dress, high heels, and red lipstick and have political consciousness. An anti-sexist would likely consider this girl to be stupid and not take her opinion seriously. Now, who here is sexist? Once trapped in anti-sexism, we found ourselves hidden under a rough exterior, and we lost our femininity and thought that all the men were the same.

The Church teaches fear, humility, decency, frugality, and submissiveness as important elements of a faithful Christian. The Church teaches the inferiority of women, presupposing that women fall easily into sin, so that she has to be a faithful believer and loyal supporter of the authority of men, like her husband, her father, her brother. How many of us have Christian parents, how many of us heard stories about Jesus and the Virgin Mary? Most official religions are oppressive towards women. We - men, women, transsexuals, homosexuals, hermaphrodites - have thousands of years of patriarchy and submission to confront and a heritage of elitism, feudalism, and the whole industrial society to eliminate from our minds and our memories.

Throughout the past centuries, from the times of our ancestors, all these patriarchal societies have not only given birth to obedient, submissive women. These very same societies have given birth to wild, liberated beings, to goddesses and orgiastic women, revolutionaries and poets, dreamers and wild witches. The past cannot be separated from the present; it will always leave its mark on the structures of today. In order to open the path to the future, we need to fight the obstacles we have inherited from the past and not the past itself. The unfinished battles of the sexual revolution leave us with habits, behaviors, and beliefs from the conservative society of the beginning of the 20th century. To overcome this conservatism, we need to identify which of these characteristics are actually obstacles rather than trying to erase all reminders of the past, as many anti-sexists do.

In the same moment as the church enforces an anti-sexual Puritanism, in a condition of schizophrenic contradiction capitalism sells through all kind of media and advertisements cynical hedonism and egoist sexism as an idol of a social status and modern way of existence. So it is obvious that it is easy for people who want to fight sexism, in their effort to avoid cynical capitalistic sexism, to reproduce puritanical attitudes or asexual ways of life. On the other hand, it is possible that those who want to fight against Christian morality and puritanical social codes to trap themselves in an egoistic, sexually extreme life and self-approved fetishism accompanied by an inability to create and sustain long-term love relationships. These are two problems that we have to face day after day in our struggle for erotic, joyous love relationships.

Comrades can adopt a puritanical opposition to sex and sexuality, and so embrace censorship, control, and suppression against pornography and all kinds of eroticism. This repressive behavior is rooted in systems of values that will need years, decades, and even centuries to be uprooted. Only then will generations grow up truly without sexism and none of us will be sexist. But my dear, today we cannot be non-sexist in a society where there are institutions of hierarchy and there are relations of power and domination. The oppression and opposition to our dreams come from all the dominant, authoritarian social mechanisms rather than simply masculine men, patriarchal behaviours and sexism.

Anarchist women and men need to see gender-based injustice as an expression of the dominant culture's ethos and not hypercriticise their comrades with an anti-sexist logic. We need to deconstruct the dominant reality, the substructure of this civilization. We need to deny the morality of the present time and the meanings of the words.

As individuals, we need to move beyond understanding sexism as an individual issue or singularly as an institutional, social, cultural problem. Sexism is a social problem and an individual issue simultaneously. Society and the individual feed each other, having a reciprocal relationship. Are not single-issue struggles a part of the whole? An analysis and political struggle based on some “objective” feature only creates groups that are categorized by these traits (gender for sexism, race for racism, class for classism, nationality for nationalism). Identity politics only reinforces identities that are maintained, rationalized, validated by the sexists, the racists, the nationalists, the governors.

Identification and association with a group are not sufficient. We think and act for a whole reversal of the dominant culture. Divided struggles based on identity cannot destroy the dominant reality from their singularity.

Joshua Gamson, a sociologist, argues that there is a dilemma: if the ethnic/essentialist maintenance of boundaries and the queer/deconstructionist destabilization of boundaries make sense. Gamson believes that queer politics reveal the limitations of essentialist gay and lesbian identity politics that inherently strengthen binary divisions, including the divisions between man/woman and hetero/homo that are produced by political oppression. But, he says that “the deconstructionist” strategies remain quite deaf and blind to the very concrete and violent institutional forms to which the most logical answer is resistance in and through a particular collective identity. To borrow a saying of sociologist Jeffery Weeks, “operational identities are necessary fictions.”

The capitalist system is sexist. The capitalist system promotes the “objective” norm of beauty. Capitalism sells everything and destroys the planet with the industries which produce consumer goods. Capitalism sells water, sells food, sells art, sells philosophy, sells the revolts of the past, sells love, and sells sex. Capitalism uses the human body as a piggy bank. Capitalism uses the optical illusion of a happy family or of a man who loves a woman to sell merchandise, private education, and bank loans. Capitalism uses our sexual desires to sell cars, shampoos, and toothpastes. Capitalism promotes the image of a secure couple to sell a person who wants to pay interest at 10% for all their life to live the capitalist dream.

Through our everyday decisions and practices we sustain a lot of state institutions and market choices that keep this world alive. Our obligation, our participation, and unconscious need to be a link in the chain of production keeps this system alive. All these days and years in offices, schools, universities, shops and supermarkets keep this society functioning and expanding. Our discipline increases the greed of this system. Our struggles against sexism, against racism, against homophobia, against social apathy and obedience to fashion, mass media and egocentrism are all parts of a struggle for cultural and social change.

Confronting certain individual behaviours is synonymous with confronting the regime. The revolution is a constant process of mutation and a constant conscious decision to define the conditions that we live in. Each of us, as an individual with her friends or her lover needs to make the first jump beyond this given reality. As radical individuals, we are rabid for the destruction of this world; when we fight we are fighting for our lives. We decide to fight for total freedom motivated by our dreams and not by the decisions of some assembly or group. Sometimes, loyalty to a group, to a collective can become compulsive but the loyalty to the beat of our heart is above all politics. There will always be men and women and children who will be very impudent or kind, raunchy or shy, vulgar or polite, saucy or gentle, nymphomaniac or asexual.

Regardless of whether or not we stopped being sexist, capitalism would still not be threatened but if we were quitting our jobs and dropping out from our universities then the capitalist system could collapse. Even if these actions did not cause it to collapse, we would have more time to dedicate to the procedures of the war against the state, more time to dedicate to our cultural revolution, more time to dedicate to the barricades, more time to dedicate to the cultivation of ourselves (to understand the phenomena and have critical thought) independently of wage slavery and morning hours in the classrooms. This time that is always missing is time that we don't give to friends, to lovers, to assemblies and squats and demonstrations and fights and projects, these are our chains. The hours that we offer to the system, the hours that we don't share.

Some people think that the biggest problem of the Greek anarchist movement is that it is sexist. As a Greek anarchist woman I think the biggest problem is that the anarchist movement cannot explain to society how an anarchist world could function. We don't have applied anarchist social economics.

As we cultivate ourselves, we cultivate the community around us in a cycle of constant interdependence. We, as anarchists, must be aware of struggling against the dominant cultural ethos, to live our experience with our limits. We fight for the vision of our dreams and the breath of our visions. We fight authority wherever we meet it.

Sexism outside and inside capitalism will corrode as we appear in every neighbourhood, in every march, in every rebellion, both small and large. We will confront issues, start conversations and critiques, and share ideas and dreams so that we will not see anti-sexism as a separate issue, separated from the whole body of revolution.

We are fighting for gay and lesbian power as we fight for the elimination of the state. We fight for identity and gender issues as we fight against repression and exploitation. We fight without distinction for the freedom of transsexuals as we fight for our freedom. Maybe we are not transsexual or maybe in our country there is no problem to kiss a girl fully on her red lips, but in Uganda, in Morocco, in Saudi Arabia it is illegal and dangerous and you could be put in prison for a kiss like that. Maybe in our country it is not illegal to be homosexual but in many countries your parents can put you in a psychiatric clinic for being homosexual. We fight for women's liberation and we fight against sexism.

Currently we grow up in a sexist society that imbues us with the idea that women must be inferior to men. Anti-sexism is not just about fighting against forms of sexism like violent rape, domestic violence, and overtly sexist words, it is also about challenging our relationships, the ideas that create a rape culture, the way that the people are socialized, our needs, our desires, our passions.

Anti-sexists challenge the ideas and behaviours that promote masculine sexism and alienated women, both in personal relationships and in social or political groups. But we have to remember that the relationships are not so simple, but are always complicated.

We are human, and men exist and women exist, as different as all of us are different. Some people are shy while some aren't, some people are charismatic while some aren't. Some women are sensitive and some aren't, some men are fat and some aren't. Some humans have a dick and some others have a pussy….some women shave their pussy and others do not. Some women are more masculine and some aren't, some men are more feminine and some aren't. Some men are more “macho” than others and some are not “macho’’ at all. Some women are nymphomaniac and some unorgasmic.

Masculinity and femininity is a personal trait, a personal relish. It is matter of taste if someone likes a macho man or an effeminate man, just as it is a matter of taste when a man likes a teenager or an adult, a BDSM mistress or a willing slave. Masculinity and sexism are different. Some masculine anarchist men gain a superficial understanding of the sexism in society by reading about women's liberation and feminism, and fight for anti-sexism within the anarchist movement. But it is a pseudo-analysis and pseudo-politics when we try to analyse and separate the anarchist movement from the whole society, a micro-logic for a micro-analysis. The anarchist space is not somewhere else, it is not a different planet so we cannot analyse it as a separate, self-existent community from capitalism. The anarchists are not saints living on holy mountains, living in foreign lands far from their grand-mothers and fathers. We need to realize what we reproduce.

We can have self-criticism about anarchist spaces but we don’t need to paralyse ourselves. The women who I know participate and contribute as much as they can and as they want in the movement, before, during, and after December. No comrade stops them, no one disrespects them, no one interrupts them in a meeting because they are women. People interrupt a woman in a meeting as they could interrupt a man if they don’t respect or don’t agree with what they say and not because of their gender. There are not masculine and feminine discussions, there are not masculine direct actions, and there are not separations and exclusions for girls and boys in their participation. If there is a particular majority of one sex, that doesn't give the characteristics of this sex to the resistance, as each sex is flexible and influenced by the other sex. There is no masculine or feminine participation in resistance: there is only resistance. Women are not treated as a weak gender and they don’t have a secondary role in the street fights, in arson attacks, in meetings and in decisions.

Dualism separates reality into two pieces, the good and bad. The anti-sexists are the good ones and the sexists are the bad ones. Anti-sexists want to make fully determinant the authority of men as oppressive, but anarchists have to fight against the oppression expressed by the whole of authoritarian society. The anarchists fight against alienation, exploitation, and power in its whole as expressed through decisions, hopes, activities, and plans of each member of this society. A PART OF THIS FIGHT IS THE FIGHT AGAINST SEXISM.

The whole world - our friends, our parents, our trips, our acid-trips, our readings, our listening - influences us. We choose to free ourselves from normality to become the most extreme of beings. We want to break through identities established by society, by tradition, and even by anarchist spaces. This deconstruction does not have to lead to nihilism; we can deconstruct these identities in order to arrive at a new synthesis, new understandings, and new horizons.

We encourage women to participate in actions and events as we encourage men and kids and grandmothers to participate in them. Is it mostly men or women who are taking up speaking engagements? Who talks at meetings? Who facilitates meetings? Who does the work of the organization, and then, who gets credit for it? These questions can be answered but this becomes mere statistics. In the world of chaos theory, the statistics of normality don’t work!

“Join The Resistance…Fall in Love.”

We want to celebrate our fluid identities and not a new constructed political identity. The anarchist movements fight against sexism but they are not identified with a separate anti-sexist ideology. We can define what sexist behavior is but not what an anti-sexist behaviour has to be. The anarchist activists fight against sexism but not though a separate ideological identity of “anti-sexists.” The society maintains sexism as long as we don’t fight against authority, exploitation and alienation.

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[1] Louise Michel (1830-1905) was a French anarchist, school teacher, and medical worker who participated in the Paris Commune. She treated her writings as emotional processes and not as intellectual ones. Her basic and most compelling feature was her ability to provoke both spontaneous anger against injustice in demonstrations and spontaneous assistance and mutual aid in wider society

[2]The difference between performance and performativity is that a performance presumes a subject but performativity contests the very notion of subject.

Now there are more social centres in Thessaloniki

Adriani and Flora: Two students of the Aristoteleous University of Thessaloniki

We really started to become active in December. Two years earlier, during the student movement, we voted for the occupation in our assembly but we weren’t really active, you know?

December was incredible. All the people were out in the streets, it was unstoppable. There was a lot of destruction. I'm from the part of the movement that is against the destruction, but... it was good that it happened. It made it clear that it won’t be tolerated when the police kill a young boy.

Now there are more social centres in Thessaloniki, I don’t know how many exactly, but many I like to go to Buenaventura. It’s like a social and cultural centre. Yfanet is nice but for normal people it's not so open. Delta, Yfanet, they’re older buildings, a little bit dirty They have a different feeling, a different aesthetic. But Buenaventura is a new building and it’s very nice, very clean. It’s also run by anarchists but it’s open, it’s easy for normal people to come to. They have lots of events, like free language classes. I take Japanese lessons there. And in the evenings there is usually cinema, some documentaries or films, maybe a presentation. It's nice, you should come.

Many people were saying that they want Bulgarian society to be “like in Greece”

Jana: An anarchist and blogger from Bulgaria

Initially the mass media demonised the Greek anarchists and tried to present them as terrorists and so on. Once it was clear that the revolt went beyond anarchists the mass media attempted to understand what was happening. Most stories were absurd - referring to ancient Greece or the "hotness of the southern blood." There were some liberal understandings - the “economic crisis" argument and a struggle against corruption.

Many people here in Bulgaria were sympathetic to what they understood as a greater level of concern for social issues in Greek society. I do not think those people were sympathetic because of what had been shown in the media, which as I said was often contradictory, incomplete, and very simplistic. Neither was it for any reasons people developed themselves, separate from the media interpretations. I think there was much sympathy because people would project their own beliefs, ideas, and anger onto what was going on. People saw Greece as a rebellion against the injustices they perceived themselves. For example, the liberals saw it as a rebellion against corruption, the nationalists/patriots saw that the Greeks cared for the children. Many people in Bulgaria are also angry at the isolation, alienation, and ultra-individualism of this society; even though they would express it in different language, depending on their politics. I think people were happy that someone was rebelling and jealous and self-deprecating that it doesn’t happen here. This kind of self-hate is common here: "In foreign countries it is always better."

In order to organise solidarity we were translating and trying to spread information on the Internet. We translated everything from sites like the Voices from Occupied London blog (1). Many people we didn't know before were very interested and the website hits went up dramatically Some people even joined to help with translations.

As for any real solidarity; the leftist student group Priziv, whom we work with, organised a small event. There was a discussion in Sofia University and then a small solidarity protest. There were only thirty or forty people, but this is normal for here. It was peaceful and there weren’t many police. They didn’t bother us when we stuck our posters on the door of the Greek Embassy even though the protest was unpermitted, which is unusual.

The fascist reaction to the Greek rebellion was quite interesting. At first the fascists just demonised anarchists on their websites. They said, "You see what the anarchists are doing", saying that anarchists do not respect property, they are lazy they have a destructive ideology and that they do not respect police authority But once they understood that this was not going to stop after a few days they stopped writing shit on their websites. Probably most of them felt angry that they weren’t in revolt like the Greeks.

In December a student in his twenties was killed in a fight on the student campus in Sofia. He was attacked by a group of drunk guys who beat him to death. The students politicised his death. They were under the strong influence of the images coming from Greece. There is a high level of everyday violence in Bulgaria and it is not the first case of a similar murder, but usually people do not pay much attention. At least the attention is not manifested in the public sphere, but is limited to individualised complaints. Many young people felt, for nationalistic reasons, that the Bulgarian youth should care more about Bulgarian children, like the youth in Greece. Leftist students tried to show that this murder, as well as the very high levels of violence on the student campus, is linked to the heavy process of commercialisation that is going on there. The Sofia student campus has the most clubs and bars in the whole city. They are mostly owned and used by the mafia and people inspired by the gangster, macho lifestyle - one that praises brutal violence as a way to assert oneself into the patriarchal and strongly conservative social order - and is extremely widespread in post-socialist capitalism.

The family of the boy who was killed also saw structural reasons for the death. They called out for action against the conditions that allowed it to happen. Some of the leftist students met with them.

The murder was also politicised by one right-wing populist student group, SROKSOS. They were using some of the slogans that were coming out of Greece, which they had probably read in the texts that we translated, along with ultra-conservative slogans like “we are the oldest state in Europe."

In December a demo was organised by both the leftist and the populist group. This may sound stupid and maybe it was a mistake, but I support the leftists in their decision to cooperate with the populists at that time, because they managed to push more radical demands and to identify commercialisation (which is heavily linked with the mafia lifestyle) as the structural reason behind the high levels of destructive violence. Also at that moment it was not clear how conservative SROKSOS actually were. The demo was organised in cooperation with environmentalists as well. It went okay even though one of the fascist parties tried to infiltrate and lead the protest-but they couldn’t in the end, because people wouldn’t allow them to do so. Many people joined the demo, which I think would not have happened without what was going in Greece at the same time. Many people were saying, the conservatives as well, that they wanted Bulgarian society to be "like in Greece," as people were often putting it.

Another demo was announced for the 14th of January, again co-organised by the students and the environmentalists. Soon we understood that the conservative students unilaterally decided to cooperate with the fascists and the leftist student group left the organisation. The right-wing populist students decided to play the national vanguard calling out for "national" protests, completely void of meaning, just empty talk, to be interpreted at will. We, the anarchists, published a declaration that we were not involved, as well as a warning of what was going to happen on the 14th, and some of the press published our position, It was good that we made it, because there were already many stories in the press demonising anarchists and scaring people with some mythical Greek football hooligans that were coming to return the favour after some Bulgarian anarchists helped in the Greek riots. We also met with the environmentalists to warn them, but they were a bit naive and they didn’t take us seriously. They didn’t really think SROKSOS met with fascists, and obviously the fascists don’t define themselves as such. This time they were disguised as a "sports organisation" though SROKSOS clearly knew who they were cooperating with.

At the so-called national protest there were a lot of people, thanks to the empty, nationalistic language that was used in the mobilisation. On the 14th there were all kinds of contradictory groups and demands-neoliberal political elites, fascists, environmentalists, some fanatics who were demanding that old people should not have voting rights, students demanding nationalisation of the student campus and so on. It was absurd.

The fascists were separated into some kind of a nazi black bloc; they use this kind of style here, copying it from the German national-autonome. In the end there was a big nazi riot all over the centre of Sofia. Its images attracted a lot of media attention and often it was interpreted as a continuation of the Greek revolt. The images they would see probably confused them even more, as the Bulgarian nazis wear black outfits and try to imitate the anarchists. In the Guardian or somewhere there was that article saying this was the first credit crunch riot spreading from Greece to other countries. Some people have a very simplistic understanding of politics. They think some economic indexes change in percentage and afterwards riots automatically follow. I am not saying there are no structural reasons for people’s discontent, but discontent can go in many directions. Also there are many reasons for anger. It is not as the liberals, who mainly see corruption, nor as the traditional Left, who can only see economic crisis and degradation, would have it.

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(1) Ed: This blog was perhaps the most important point of translation and diffusion for Greek texts in English, and also responsible for some of the translations in this book.

The next step is to create the places where all the people can meet

Little John: An anarchist who has been active for ten years, and is involved with one of Thessaloniki's squatted social centres, Fabrika Yfanet

In the last few years at Fabrika Yfanet, we’ve to developed structure necessary to organise open events. We've mostly done ideological work: publishing texts and forming groups that took on a specific theme, organising actions and discussions, participating in demonstrations, communicating to others about how we organised. And direct action of course. The space is basically a political social centre. It’s not just a social centre where people can be creative or come to fulfil certain needs, although this is a part of it. The difference is that the assembly of Yfanet is also a political assembly that involves itself in campaigns, makes political posters - we have a presence in the city.

You could say that lots of young people started to get involved through Yfanet. In recent years the anarchist movement has spread ideas about different ways to resist, and I think that offering this allowed December to happen. But in Thessaloniki, after December, you didn’t see lots of young people coming to the social centres wanting to get involved. Part of the reason is that Yfanet was a bit closed at this time. People were at meetings in the universities and here we only had small, closed meetings, so as a building or a structure it didn’t work for the masses. It worked for a smaller group of people who needed it. But in general Yfanet is an open place. You see many different people going there and they can see that it’s a place that’s open for them too. Maybe they don't participate in the assemblies, but going there has become normal for them and we can communicate without alienating them.

I think the State has begun its counterinsurgency yet we don’t understood what has happened. We can’t find the time to discuss it calmly, so I don’t know. There are a lot of questions we still have to answer. Since December so many people are talking about anarchists, they want to know what anarchism is, so for me the next step is to create places where all the people can meet - maybe on the basis of a common need. It can’t be a one time thing, it must be a response to a need people experience every day or a response to something that oppresses us every day. A new strategy that came out of Athens that is inspiring lots of people is to initiate local, neighbourhood assemblies.

In December this cinema was squatted, Olympian cinema, in the city centre, and all sorts of people came there to talk with anarchists, to participate. It was strange because we weren’t ready to propose anything, we were there just trying to organise a meeting. But all these new people came and it I turned into an interview with the anarchists: Why this? Why that? What do you want to do? This shows that people wanted to do more and to find ways to participate. We weren't ready for this, and next time we have to do it better.

So we’re starting with neighbourhood assemblies, getting used to talking with people from outside the movement. We’re doing this in our neighbourhood now, near Yfanet. We had to find a neutral place, not a squat, where everyone would feel comfortable. I think that maybe in five years it will be working great. Ha! It’s also happening in a few other neighbourhoods. And other people are starting new social centres, like one in the western part of the city where there has never been anything. And this is all the product of December.

But the State wants to stop it. In the newspapers today it said that law had to be brought to the squats and the police had to be able to enter them to see if illegal activities were taking place. And they tried to connect it to the student occupations. In the newspapers they confused everything - the students, the anarchists, random crimes happening near the universities. They try to blame it all on the occupations to scare people so they’ll want the police to come protect them. They want to criminalise the squats and the anarchists. It could be a preparation for some kind of repression.

The rebellion, the workplaces, and the rank'n'file unions

TPTG: An extract from "The rebellious passage of a proletarian minority through a brief period of time”

To discuss the reasons why the rebellion did not extend to the places of waged labour - a question often asked by comrades abroad - we need first to be more analytical about certain segments of the proletariat. From our empirical knowledge, those workers who can be described either as "workers with a stable job" or non-precarious had a very limited participation in the rebellion, if any. For those of them who actually took part in the rebellion, to try to extend it to their workplaces would mean to engage in wildcat strikes outside and against trade unions, since most strikes are called and controlled by them, although their prestige has been undermined for a long time now. In the last twenty years many strikes have been called in the public sector (education, public utility services, some ministries). These past struggles have revealed that the workers were not able to create autonomous forms of organization and let new contents emerge beyond the trade unionist demands. As far as occupations of workplaces are concerned, such activities have taken place only in defensive struggles against closures or relocations, mostly of textile factories. But even those, as well as most strikes, in the previous years have by and large been defeated in meeting their demands.

Capitalism in Greece is characterized by a low concentration of capital with many small firms where even less than ten people are employed and where almost no kind of unionism exists. One of the main subjects of the rebellion, thus, the precarious waged workers, who mainly work in such places, do not consider them to be a terrain of proletarian power and mobilization and in most cases they are not attached to their job. Possibly, it was precisely their inability or even unwillingness to mobilize there that made young precarious workers take to the streets. Moreover, like we said before, this first urban rebellion in Greece was, like all modern urban rebellions, a violent eruption of delegitimization of capitalist institutions of control and, what’s more, a short-lived experience of a communal life against separations and outside the workplaces - with the notable exception of the universities and the municipality of Aghios Dimitrios. In the case of precarious workers, extending the rebellion to their workplaces would mean wildcats and occupations and nothing less. Well, certainly, given the practical possibilities there and their subjective disposition, such an extention was both unfeasible and undesirable.

However, many rebels realized these limits and tried to make such a leap. The occupation of the central offices of the General Confederation of Labour of Greece (GSEE) stemmed from this need as well as the need to undermine the media presentation of the rebellion as a "youth protest at the expense of the workers’ interests". Besides, it offered an opportunity to expose the undermining role of GSEE itself in the rebellion. The initiative was taken by some members of the rank’n’file union of courriers who are mostly anti-authoritarians. However, during the occupation it became obvious that even the rank’n’file version of unionism could not relate to the rebellion. There were two, although not clear-cut, tendencies even at the preparation assembly: a unionist-workerist one and a proletarian one. For those in the first one the occupation should have had a distinct "worker" character as opposed to the so-called youth or "metropolitan" character of the rebellion while those in the second one saw it as only one moment of the rebellion, as an opportunity to attack one more institution of capitalist control and as a meeting point of high-school students, university students, unemployed, waged workers and immigrants, that is as one more community of struggle in the context of the general unrest. In fact, the unionist-workerist tendency tried to use the occupation rather as an instrument in the service of the above mentioned union and the idea of an independent of political influences base unionism in general. This didn’t work. That’s why some of them remained there just for two days.

As far as the rest of the "independent" left unions are concerned, things were even worse. There was only one assembly of trade unionists in the Faculty of Law on the 10th of December where several left bureaucrats stressed the need of a "political prospect" in the rebellion, meaning a political and unionist mediation expressed in a list of mostly populist demands. They rejected any proposals of violent forms of action and pompously called for extraordinary general assemblies and agitation at the workplaces for a general strike after one week - needless to say that nothing of the sort was ever tried.

In January the media workers that had participated actively in the rebellion occupied the offices of the corporatist journalists’ trade union. The Union of Editors of the Daily Newspapers of Athens (ESIEA) is the main journalists’ trade union in Greece. It includes journalists from the major Athenian newspapers many of whom are at the same time employers because they are TV-producers or they own newspapers, while it excludes those journalists who work with precarious contracts or are hired as "freelancers". The occupation of ESIEA focused broadly on two issues: the first was the work relations and the widespread precariousness in the media industry as well as the fragmented form of union organization of the media workers; the second was the control of information by the official media, the way the revolt was "covered" by them and how counter-information could be produced by the movement.

After the end of the occupation the same people created an assembly of media workers, students and unemployed which organized a series of actions at various workplaces against layoffs or attempted layoffs and "covered" demos and other activities of the movement in a way that was against the dominant propaganda. Many members of this assembly are former students of the Faculty of Mass Media and Communication and took part in the students’ movement against the university reform in 2006-07 while some of them had attempted to create a new union that would include all the media workers the previous years. Right now the workers of the media industry are organized in 15 different unions (photographers, journalists, cameramen, clerical staff etc). The idea is to create a union that will include all workers, regardless their position, from cleaners to journalists, and their labour contract, from fulltime employees to "freelancers". Recently they tried to coordinate their activity with that of the laid off workers of the newspaper Eleftheros Typos.

On the 22nd of December, in Petralona, an old working class neighbourhood of the city of Athens, a Bulgarian immigrant cleaner, Kostantina Kuneva, the General Secretary of the Janitors Union (PEKOP-All Attica Union for Janitors and Home Service Personnel), was the victim of an attack by goons of the bosses using sulphuric acid while returning home from her workplace, a railroad station of the ISAP public utility (Athens-Pireaus Electric Trains). She was seriously wounded, losing the use of one eye and of her vocal chords and she is still in hospital. It’s worth mentioning that she had also visited the occupation of GSEE since her previous activities had led her to a confrontation with the leadership of the confederation bureaucracy. The attack on Konstantina took place a couple of days after the end of the occupation of GSEE and that was one of the reasons why there was such an unprecedented mobilization of people. After the attack, a "solidarity assembly" was formed which using direct action tactics organized a series of actions (occupation of the headquarters of ISAP, sabotage of the ticket machines so that the commuters could travel free, demos). The assembly, despite its internal divisions, played a vital role in inspiring a remarkable solidarity movement which grew up throughout Greece demanding not only the prosecution of the perpetrators and the instigators but also the abolition of subcontracting altogether. We should add here that outsourcing cleaning services has become the norm for public sector’s companies and these companies do not hire cleaners any more. Contractors are now the employers of thousands of janitors, mainly women immigrants, who clean hundreds of public utilities, hospitals, railroad stations, schools, universities and other public buildings. However, regarding the character of cleaning sector jobs, these were always precarious and until the recent past it was regarded to be normal and natural for a woman to be a janitor or home service worker. Moreover, by equating subcontracting or precariousness in general with "slavery", the majority of this solidarity movement, mainly comprised of leftist union activists, is trying to equate certain struggles against precariousness - one of the main forms of the capitalist restructuring in this historical moment - with general political demands of a social-democratic content regarding the state as a "reliable" and preferable employer to private subcontractors and thus putting the question of the abolition of wage labour per se aside.

More old people and leftists are coming closer to anarchist ideas

Elina: An unemployed anarchist from Agrinio

Agrinio is a small town of 80,000 people with a radical history in western Greece. The anarcho-syndicalists were very active here, and there was a major tobacco strike in the ’20s. And this is the city where the Anarchist Union started.I think that was the ’70s but I’m not very good with the chronology. The anarchists in Agrinio thought that all the anarchists should come together, and also that they should be more social. This was at the time when other anarchists were taking up arms, like ELA (Popular Revolutionary Struggle). But the Anarchist Union failed. They had their assembly in Agrinio and Athens and Thessaloniki but in the other cities it stopped working. Later there was the Anarchist Federation of West Greece, it was mostly anarchist-communists, and Agrinio participated, but this also failed.

There were riots in Agrinio in December, of course. There were demonstrations with four hundred, five hundred people, and they smashed the banks. Lots of high school students participated, as well as the anarchists, including anarchists of the older generations and from the villages around Agrinio. This is what made December a rebellion, the fact that it came to all the small cities and the villages. Otherwise it would have just been a huge demonstration, a huge riot, in Athens.

Most people, normal people, were glad when they saw the smashed banks. My aunt went out to see the broken windows because she said it made her happy She was calling all her friends on her mobile phone, saying "They smashed all the banks here! And here too!" all full of joy But in a small village you can’t smash so many things since you usually know the person who owns it. Because of this there were some conflicts between Alpha Kappa and the Black Bloc anarchists here, with some people telling others not to smash certain shops.

After December you can see the difference. The thing didn’t stop with the demonstrations. Right after December anti-authoritarians of Agrinio made a new social centre, it’s the second one, there already was one anarchist social centre. The anti-authoritarian group Aura of Freedom, along with a cultural hip-hop collective, rented a building, painted it, fixed it up, and started hosting events. And some of the young people who became active in December are still participating. But it’s not just young people, some older people are participating as well. A colleague of my mother teaches classes in the new social centre. There are also two new pirate radio stations, Radiourgia and Kokkinoskoufitsa. Kokkinoskoufitsa means "Little Red Riding Hood," actually It was the name of the pirate radio station here in the ’80s and ’90s so in a way it’s been reincarnated in the struggles of our times.

I think the major result of December in Agrinio and maybe other villages and towns in the countryside has been that more women and men in their 30s and 40s, people from the generation of our grandfathers and our fathers, and also more leftists, are coming nearer to the anarchist and anti-authoritarian ideas.

Now I really know what terrorism means

Lito: The Exarchia resident who filmed the killing of Alexis and became the principal witness in the trial of the two cops responsible

I remember telling myself some years ago that I lived in a military camp, with all the police around Exarchia. Now I say that I live in a war zone. What happened in December, I never believed that it could happen. For me, there was always a limit, a final line, and when the police crossed it, there was a qualitative change. Everything changed. Everyone understood that there was a certain horizon to the situation and beyond it everything was different. We have passed this horizon. It is not a conflict anymore, it is war.

For a month after the killing I felt rage, but also an unbelievable silence. It was the first time in ten years that Exarchia has been silent, dead silent. It was very disconcerting. Now I've had time to think about everything but in the very beginning I was completely exhausted from talking about it, all the questions. I put up my video on Indymedia and from there TV stations picked it up. Soon journalists were calling me constantly, and i was seeing my video everywhere. For the first few months I was in a very strange state. I was never calm. I was in a state of shock for a month. Now I feel more better, but whenever I hear a certain sound... the stun grenade that the police threw a few minutes before they killed Alexis triggered a security alarm in one of the shops, or maybe a car. So during the entire video you hear this security alarm going off in the background. I kept seeing my video everywhere, it was on the TV and everything, and when I hear this specific alarm on the other side of the street, the feeling of the shooting comes back to me. I really want to go ask them to change the sound of the alarm because all the memories come back to me. It's unbelievable that a sound brings up these feelings it took me one month to recover from.

The assassination of Alexis was the last straw. There is no more tolerance for the police. The killing was so outrageous, so far beyond the limits. The people reacted and still continue to react. They are empowered by the rage that was expressed at the start of the killing. There were many other problems too, besides police brutality. These problems continue, but the people don't tolerate them, not anymore.

I don't know if Exarchia is more autonomous now than before. The people, the ones who are active, they try. And me, I always feel autonomous, but now I really know what terrorism means. From the day they killed Alexis to the day when the guerilla group attacked the police, the police did not appear on the corner where Alexis was killed. But when Revolutionary Struggle made this attack, the first thing the police did was to occupy the spot where Alexis was shot, and they stayed there for twenty-four hours. This was the riot police, with helmets, guns, everything. And when they came at midday, I was on the balcony and one of them looked up at me. I think because during this whole period the telephone was ringing, journalists were calling and trying to find out where this video had come from. When the one cop looked up at the balcony, I gestured like, "what do you want?" And he jabbed the guy at his side and pointed me out, and I felt completely terrified by the way they were looking at me. That night, I heard some neighbours talking, and then crying, and the cops were sitting right on the spot where Alexis died. I came out to see what was happening, and because I couldn't see I peered out discretely over my balcony and one of the cops saw me. I felt terrified so I crept back inside but the cop came down below my balcony and made eye contact with me. I thought they would raid my apartment. So I went to my neighbours house. I was terrified.

This is what I call terrorism. It's impossible to just sit on my balcony looking down into the street. Another time, in February I think, there was a car burning down in the street, and the police again came and looked up at me, and I got scared and went back inside my house. The policeman shouted up at me "So you're hiding, eh?", and then I realised, "What the fuck, what is happening, why do I hide?", so I went back to the balcony and I started taking photographs. And the police started taking photographs of me.

You can see everything from this window. That's why I'm thinking of putting a camera there, for the policemen and also for these young people who do many things without thinking about why they do it. Because everywhere there are a few people who can make a small mistake and everyone else has to live with the consequences. Some people say that this is Exarchia, the only thing to do is to burn the shops. But this is not the truth. There are many possible reactions outside the dogma of burning and smashing.

So I'll be in the trial of the policeman who killed Alexis. I was worrying about how I'll feel toward the defence lawyer, because he's defending a very bad person. Then I started to worry about the outcome of the trial. If this cop ends up with only two or three years in jail, I don't know how I would react. How do you react to the decision of a trial like this? Many terrifying things are happening, we hear about them and see them on the news, but it is very different when you see it with your own eyes. It is not just words, it is reality for you, there is no doubt, there is no distance from it. The assassination is such an absolute truth, it is like if you stole something from me, in front of my eyes, and then tell me it never existed. It is not something you just heard about from somewhere else. And I fear very much that if they find this cop not guilty, maybe my reaction will get me thrown in jail. I think about this all the time, as I prepare to testify.