Tasos Sagris from Void Network
It’s Autumn 2009, the middle of September, in the daytime.
I walk in the streets of Athens from Monastiraki, the flea market, down from Acropolis, up to Exarchia, through the luxury market area, past Parliament, the business district, the offices, government buildings, bars, cinemas, and hotels.
I pass through buildings that burned down completely during the December riots, huge multi-floor corner buildings, still smelling of fire and rage: silent monuments of an outcry remains of a thunderbolt that came from the sky and hit the city like a wild nightmare. The city breathes hard work, blackmail, exhaustion, obligation, exploitation, and cheap amusements. Museums, galleries, stadiums, and clubs inhale the fears, misery and rage and turn them into a fake smile.
Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear
- Graffiti remaining on the wall from last Christmas
This ancient city continued her way to normality with all her fears and her cheap excuses, walking through this century like a slave girl in a parade, like a chained animal in a global circus, like you and I squandering our last and only lifetimes in a luxury mall or near the pool, drinking an expensive cocktail with our last Euros, pretending to be the heroes of a Hollywood movie.
So many cars burned, but the streets are still full of them, going everywhere like empty private countries moving in the city's veins and feeding the crisis. More than 500 shops were turned into debris and ashes, but in this city the market still works like an amusement park in the middle of a vast cemetery. The banks of all the major cities in Greece were smashed and burned, but people are still struggling with their clocks and their suspensions to pay back huge loans and high taxes. The workers’ strike was successful, but human beings still spend their lives in offices, keeping a mechanism that leads life on earth towards extinction in good working order. All the universities were squatted for a month, but the students are still taking exams and dreaming of good careers, good money and two weeks of crazy holidays somewhere away from here.
Nothing changed: the clock of this world rings us out of sleep at 6:30 in the morning here same as anywhere else. We have to run to survive, we have to obey to stay out of prison, we have to forget our dreams to stay employed, we have to buy our lives from the supermarket and pay for the water we drink and the air we breathe and the place we put our bed to sleep.
Nothing changed. The government announces elections and the Parliament is voting on our future; the politicians speak on TV every afternoon and plan our opinions; the policemen put immigrants without papers into concentration camps and small paramilitary groups of Nazis go around kicking Arabs and Balkan people out of the squares. People go around in the streets like ghosts without lives of their own, and kids spend their time in front of computer screens in dismal internet shops and petit-bourgeois apartments.
The same moves, the same decisions, the same confusion, the same doubts,the same wishes, the same answers, the same payments, the same walks, the same bars, the same clothes and shoes and makeup, the same songs and films and television programs, the same apologies, the same timetables. The production goes on and consumption consumes our days; the shops sell dreams that turn every night into individualised fears and collective social apathy.
Society sleeps in the night of oblivion. People try to find a way to live, or else to leave, to get away from here. Paradise still waits after death, somewhere beyond our lifetimes. Nothing has changed.
Alexis is still lying dead on that pedestrian street corner in Exarchia.
...everything is Different.
To express our rage with words or gestures is useless, ridiculous or dangerous, mindless or false common sense. Only the cold-blooded animals are poisonous.
Everything is different...
More than 100,000 people took part in the insurrection of December 2008 and many more were influenced by those days. They wait in the veins of this society ready to explode at any moment. Perhaps they can’t force the body of society in a specific direction, but when 100,000 cells explode in the veins of the social body the body collapses on its knees, like the Greek state during December 2008. The bureaucrats of the State know this, and the Business Administration does too.
There are thousands of young girls and boys walking the streets of this country who, just a few months ago, encircled the police stations of their neighbourhoods and threw stones at them, burned the local banks, and refused to go to school or work for weeks.
There are hundreds of workers who forced out the syndicalist's who ruled the General Workers Union and assembled in their offices. There are hundreds of thousands of unemployed people who hate the system, and lazy kids who hate working, and millions of dissatisfied producers and consumers of a life that offers nothing.
All these lonely people discovered their dignity during the insurrection, experiencing their personal and collective power to explode as the cities and villages caught fire and their horizons opened up beyond the white fog of teargas. Those horizons remained open night after night, and still stay open so long as the memory of the insurrection is a wound in your body and in the body of society.
Through our open wounds, we are observing the horizons of our future. We are an image from the future.
There are thousands and thousands of people who don’t trust any government and hate the banks and the corporations, The insurrection helped millions of people across the world to stop, to see their lives with the clarity of a flashback, shifting their way of thinking for a moment and observing this world naked. The fairytale revealed its ugliest face and the beautiful smiles of the journalists and politicians froze, unable to continue the narration that keeps the populace in deep sleep.
We stay awake in the deep night of social apathy. Around us millions of people continue sleeping, but the dreams are turning into nightmares that make them sweat as their hearts race and they weep silent teardrops that might wake them at any moment.
There are millions of people who don’t trust any official ideology or academic authority or any political leadership, who don't vote for any legal organisation, who mistrust rich philanthropists. The people of our times don’t believe in any universal truth or any specific lifestyle, any way of life or spiritual value system, any political agenda. They don’t read serious political or philosophical books or the announcements of the activists or even the free press except when they are in the metro for fifteen minutes. They don’t hear the right wing president when he speaks, or the speeches of the Communist Party; they want to go to a party get drunk, find a boyfriend, go to the back of the garden and make love in the moonlight.
Nothing has changed, but everything is different
Hundreds of squatted social centres and radical student groups function in the universities, the schools and in the streets of all Europe. Social initiatives, affinity groups, groups of friends, political gangs, and underground meeting points in the streets and in squatted buildings bring the heat of their action into the soft belly of the regime.
Arson attacks, riots, demonstrations, free festivals and distribution of analysis and propaganda are organised every week, day after day by common people. These actions send signals to the society that there are targets, institutions to mistrust, places to avoid, ways that have to change, places and relations of enslavement, places and relations of emancipation, points of no return.
Nobody trusts the government. Everyone knows that capitalism is destroying the planet, turning life into commodities, humanity into a destructive mechanism, suppressing creativity love, fantasy turning basic needs into a constant problem, offering none of the happiness promised to the ex-Soviet Bloc countries.
Neo-Liberalism is dying. Everything is different.
We are here in the highways and in the squares, out in the streets, downtown in Exarchia and in the city centre, still hanging around on the corner where Alexis liked to meet his friends. A whole new generation of people is around - you make so many new friends during an insurrection: so many new comrades to decide their own future and offer their new directions.
Everything is different. Week after week there are wild demonstrations for Freedom of Public Space from the State, Freedom of Immigrants from Borders, Freedom of All Prisoners from the causes of Imprisonment, Freedom for All Workers from their imprisoned lives. These demonstrations are travelling on the body of the city searching for the wild riots of the future, preparing with their chants the spirit of active negation, the fire of radical change, the hope for a general social uprising.
People are beginning to reflect again on what general social revolt will look like. It will look like December 2008, and we are here and waiting.
Now we are here and waiting: for society to digest the smoke of the burned luxuries, to express openly its distrust of state institutions and make directions and decisions that will appear on the social horizon for the first time. Hundreds upon hundreds of small pamphlets of radical analysis are distributed week after week by amateur intellectuals preparing the end of the classical Western way of thinking. Thousands of posters hang in the streets of each neighbourhood, by the local squats and social centres, sending a signal to the petit-bourgeoisie that the days of obedience, work, consumerism, and individualism are coming to an end. Thousands of short films and paragraphs of critical thought utilise the internet to transmit the real stories of our lives, the real news of our actions, to connect the moments in order to produce the myths and dreams of coming insurrections.
The "important" people of this world try to persuade us that all these are not important. Anyway they say all these underground books and pamphlets are published by non-existent publishers, the short videos on the internet are just childish games for kids and naive romantics, the radical blogs are not efficient, the squats are places for criminal activity and the youth cultures are the commodities of the near future. Anyway they say nothing changed: the television doesn’t speak about "all these" anymore except when a "terrorist" action occurs, the demonstrations are just some small riots around Exarchia. All that happened in December was a childish revolt over the accidental death of a child, which a few isolated anarchists took advantage of to express their nihilism, they say.
At the same time... "it's midnight in europe.”
There is a feeling of the end of an era all across Europe and amazing phenomenons of stupidity are happening in the heads of postmodern thinkers as postmodernism dies. Nobody controls the spirit of the age, nobody can offer solid analysis about what is happening around us, no one can predict what this world will look like in fifty years. The young boys and girls smile silently behind their black masks near the barricades, imagining a world with no obligations.
Everything is different. Maybe the elites, the rich, the famous and "important" people act like nothing changed, but nothing is normal anymore and no one has the authority to speak in the name of the people. The people express more mistrust towards the regime than ever, and perhaps they are ready to speak for themselves in such a way that no sociologist or journalist will be capable of understanding their language.
In the night, everywhere, the people speak about the general failure; in the bottom of their hearts, they know that everything has to change, that many things have to burn to ashes for humanity to continue its way in space and time.
I walk around in Exarchia. I pass through the squatted self-organised park, where old people from the neighbourhood stay in the shade of trees and speak with young girls about last night’s police attack on the area. A few meters away at the place Alexis was shot, there is a marble monument with flowers and posters all around the walls, and a lit candle... It’s early in the afternoon; some boys and girls stand around talking. People from a new squat give me a 32-page pamphlet analysing everyday racism on a molecular social scale; on the other side of the pedestrian street, I see two people from an underground post-rock band that I know from free festivals talking with people from a DIY drum ‘n bass collective.
No one will propagate a new way of life with words alone, there are no theories that can describe our passions. Maybe we are the ones who will take back life in our hands from capitalism and aristocracy Maybe we will be shot in the streets of our cities, like Alexis. There is no plan, or even a specific goal, or a single achievement we are fighting for. There are no futuristic visions of paradise inside the heads of the people, not even a wish to be in such a place, except perhaps for short-term expensive holidays. We fight to survive, to maintain our dignity, humanity and critical thinking from one day to the next; we fight off the businessmen, politicians, armies, and kings of this world as they attempt to steal our future and turn it into coins - day after day after day. We are the survivors of humanity in a war with our most pathetic selves .
We are lost in the darkness of a world in which we are strangers, foreigners, customers, guests, separate individuals, or we are just slaves that share some small personal salary to survive. We are survivors in the desert. When we meet, we meet in void, in void we live, the void we share. When we decide to attack, our attack is like a thunder that comes from outer space and breaks the night of social apathy We are waiting, waiting for the proper moment ...
Nothing will stay like it was.
We Are an Image from The Future.