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.