Ego Te Provoco
"Having by our late labours and hazards made it appear to the world at how high a rate we value our just freedom (...) we do now hold ourselves bound in mutual duty to each other to take the best care we can for the future, to avoid the danger of returning into a slavish condition"
– Levellers, “An agreement of the people,” 1647
Let’s look beyond the tear gas, the batons, and the riot police vans: the operation being conducted by the bosses since December 6th doesn’t comprise a mere combination of repression and propaganda; rather, it is the application of a series of methods aiming to renegotiate social peace and consensus.
From the Communist Party, which views the revolting people as puppets of Syriza (the euro-left parliamentary party) and of the CIA, all the way to Socialist Party politicians moaning that Athens resembles a city of the Eastern Bloc, what with its streets empty of consumers. From the archbishop of Thessaloniki, who begs his flock to go shopping, to the city’s international exposition offering free parking to Christmas shoppers, they all share a common goal: the return to the normality of democracy and consumption. Thus the day after the revolt, which happens to be Christmas, the demand is raised that we must celebrate at all cost: not only in order for some tills to fill up but in order for us all to return to our graves. The day after holds the demand of the living dead that nothing disturbs their eternal sleep any more. It’s a moratorium legitimising the emptiness of their spectacle-driven world, a world of quiet and peaceful lives. And the generals of this war hold no weapon more lethal than the appeal to that absolute, timeless idea: democracy.
The word democracy developing as it does ever more densely from the demagogues of calmness, aims at the social imaginary - the collective field of structuring desires and fears. Everyone knew well before the assassination of Alexis, that the oligarchy of capital had given up on trying to even seem democratic, even by bourgeois standards: economic scandals, blatant incidents of police violence, monstrous laws.Yet this fact is not, neither here nor anywhere else, worrisome to the bosses. This is precisely because the functioning of the establishment under such terms (“Is it democratic enough? Is it really democratic?") reproduces the capitalist oligarchy The same oligarchy that builds around itself a wall of scandals, regrets, resignations, demands, and reforms - preventing, in this way the questioning of (not the democratic qualities of the regime but) democracy as a system of social organising. Hence bosses can still appeal to this higher value today this axiomatic mechanism of the political, in order to bring us back to normality consensus, compromise - in order to assimilate the general spontaneous rage in the sphere of mediation, before this rage can organise its revolutionary potential. A revolution that would swoop all intermediaries and peaceful democrats - bringing along a new form of organising: the commune.
Amidst this ludicrous climate of shallow analyses the salaried officials of the psychological war point at the revolted, howling: “That’s not democratic, that ignores the rules under which our democracy functions." We are speechless in the face of what we would until recently have considered impossible. Even if having the intention to deceive, the bosses of this country have said something true: we despise democracy more than anything else in this decadent world. For what is democracy other than a system of discriminations and coercions in the service of property and privacy? And what are its rules, other than rules of negotiation of the right to own - the invisible rules of alienation? Freedom, rights, equality egalitarianism: all these dead ideological masks together cannot cover their mission: the generalisation and preservation of the social as an economic sphere, as a sphere where not only what you have produced but also what you are and what you can do are already alienated. The bourgeois, with a voice trembling from piety promise: rights, justice, equality And the revolted hear: repression, exploitation, looting.
Democracy is the political system where everyone is equal in front of the guillotine of the spectacle-product. The only problem that concerned democrats, from Cromwell to Montesquieu, is what form of property is sufficient in order for someone to be recognised as a citizen, what kind of rights and obligations guarantee that they will never understand themselves as something beyond a private citizen. Everything else is no more than adjusting details of a regime in the service of capital.
Our contempt for democracy does not derive from some sort of idealism but rather from our very material animosity for a social entity in which value and organising are centred around the product and the spectacle. The revolt was by definition also a revolt against property and alienation. Anyone that didn’t hide behind the curtains of their privacy anyone who was out on the streets, knows it only too well: shops were looted not for computers, clothes, or furniture to be resold but for the joy of destroying what alienates us: the spectacle of the product. Anyone who doesn’t understand why someone delights in the sight of a destroyed product is a merchant or a cop. The fires that warmed the bodies of the revolted in these long December nights were full of the liberated products of our toil, from the disarmed symbols of what used to be an almighty fantasy. We simply took what belonged to us and we threw it to the fire together with all its co-expressions. The grand potlatch of the past few days was also a revolt of desire against the imposed rule of scarcity. A revolt of the gift against the sovereignty of money. A revolt of the anarchy of use value against the democracy of exchange value. A revolt of spontaneous collective freedom against rationalised individual coercion.