Leaflet distributed in Athens and Thessaloniki by the 'Group against work (waged or unwaged)' during the 2006 student movement, criticizing the various leftist groups and introducing the 'social wage [minimum income]' demand. Posted online on June 30th 2006, taken from the Blaumachen website.
All those who found themselves in the amphitheatres, assemblies, occupation committees and in the circles-where-people-are-talking in and around the universities found out that the movement has to answer to (extremely) serious dilemmas: Demo in Athens or Thessaloniki? Unified University Education or Unified 3rd degree Education? Should first talk the socialist, the “communist” or the leftist fraction of the student unions? Whose turn is to speak?
Last few weeks we (the students) have been enjoying the marvelous freedom of choice; to decide upon the dilemmas parties and political organizations are always setting. They try to make us talk about how we are going to organize our struggle (supposedly practically), since its content is supposed to be predetermined. They make sure that people who talk about the content of our actions remain unheard.
Last few weeks they have been trumpeting forth the bad law. A great part of students has very well understood that the enforcement of the law will make our everyday life worse. That’s why we are here anyway. But, has its content ever brought up for discussion? Have we tried to understand the real meaning of this law? Have we tried to understand the strategy hidden behind it? Why to bother with these tiny details, there are more serious things to decide: What will be the colour of the picket? And please, show your respect to the president of the assembly!
However, a great part of the students votes against the occupations. A lot of them choose the individual solutions capital offers: either they want to graduate now (that’s why they are so furious about setting their exams now in the middle of the struggle), or they are for the new law (or part of it) because they believe that a more meritocratic university will secure a better future for them.
An even greater part of the students votes for the occupations, but they never turn up at the occupied buildings. Passiveness and the trust they show to “their representatives” are so strong that most students think the only thing they can do is to let the specialists of politics handle the struggle. Obviously, the leftist organizations have a hand in it, trying to block every substantial debate in most open occupy committees. Their left fairy tale tells us that most students “have not understood”, “have not been politicized” or “don’t know enough about the law”. We cannot even smile with their pathetic performance.
The law as a solution of the capitalist state: an individualistic one.
The political zombies present the law as an attack to our rights (to be educated and work). Indeed, the new law is a part of the overall attack of capital to our class taking place last few years. It is an offensive move that tends to steal more of our time with only a promise for individual success against the others. It is a solution, indeed, an individualistic one. A solution that divides us in small and flexible factions and tries to create the objective conditions of our future division, too, since it will be more difficult for us to realize our common interests if this law is enforced. It is a solution that makes us (the working students) pay the cost of the (re)production of our labour power. The new institutions capital and state propose, such as the institute of lifetime education, constitute solutions addressed to every person separately. Each one of us is presented as a competitor in the market, which in the real world (and not the politically correct language of capital) means that everybody is presented as the enemy of all the others.
On the other side, the left wing of capital does nothing more than imagining the return to the past forms of class compromise. The bankruptcy of the traditional left is evident in the fact that it is unable to propose any practical solutions: social state is dead, trade unions have almost broken down, political mediation is in the agony of death. Lacking any practical proposals, traditional left sings old songs: “Public Free Education”, “Work not Unemployment”. These songs are the echoes of the past working class defeats. Indeed, they were forms of managing class struggle in the past, an alternative solution within the limits of capital relation. But the latter has evolved. It has been globally restructured. Capital seems to be unable (thus unwilling) to return to its old glorious form. There is no place for social democracy.
What had already been happening before the law was introduced?
Firstly, we are being terrified that there is no way out from this situation any more and that the only solution is the war against each other. We blame ourselves for unemployment and work insecurity. So, we fall to believing that if we work harder and more, for less money facing each other as enemies, then we will survive with dignity. Reality is reversed. Exploitation and alienation are presented as a normal situation and capital’s responsibility for the misery of our lives is transferred to us. Even though the law is not established yet, more and more exams and projects and post-graduate studies (most of them with tuitions) take place in students’ everyday life. More and more of our time is stolen for less money, we are compelled to work without salary and they feed us with promises; they threaten us everyday: if we do not have high degrees or previous employment, we do not deserve to work, therefore to live. Our life is crushed between work (in order to pay our rent) and exams, between nights and days in front of a PC and alcohol (that we drink not for pleasure but for waste), between army service and “ordinary” paid work and loneliness. Beginning from this shit, how far can we go? Can we storm heaven?
How are we going to respond?
We can stop giving answers to their questions and dilemmas. That’s a start. Let’s stop feeling guilty for every malfunction of capital. It’s not our job to cope with the problems of their economy, state’s debts or the bankruptcy of the insurance funds (as ΓΣΕΕ1 does). We won’t help them earn more. We won’t propose how many doctors must work at hospitals, how many teachers at schools, how many engineers at offices and worksites or how many workers at industries. We won’t help them exploit us more efficiently. We won’t make any suggestions about how we are going to become more profitable cogwheels of their system (like the representatives of the almost dead petty-bourgeois capital: KKE2 ). Social movements must not make any suggestions of educational and labour policy to the state, neither to think how they could contribute to the ascendancy of the crises that bosses face. Instead, social movements must use these crises in order to accentuate class struggle as much as possible; they must break the established social relations and fixed roles.
Let us be the ones who demand. Our needs have nothing to do with the development of their economy. We want time for ourselves. We want our life. We need the joy of love, the community with our friends; this is what makes us powerful. We are not the ego bastards of the advertisements. We do not want to compete with anybody. We do not want to be separated individuals. We are the relations we now own or build in the everyday struggle for life. We are creative subjects and our wealth is our community. We need to own the social wealth that we have produced so far and everything we will produce in the future. We need to share the results of our creativity. This is the meaning of freedom for us: Social freedom.
So, we deny evaluation and intensification of our student (or not) work. To start with, we could demand the satisfaction of our needs. We should not care if and when we are going to find a job. It should not be our problem. We demand wage for all of us.
We demand social wage for students, housewives, unemployed. Let’s throw the crisis back to capital.
Is it the case that people cannot be treated properly in the (factory like) hospitals because of lack of nursing personnel? And at the same time capital denies to hire doctors and nurses? It’s not our problem! We demand social wage for every unemployed doctor and nurse.
Is it the case that pupils get stacked in a room and the state denies to hire teachers? We don’t care! We demand social wage for every unemployed teacher and we do not take part in the exams anymore3 .
Are the factories shut down because of the “relocation of production”? That’s better for the workers to breathe clean air! We demand social wage for every unemployed worker!
Do you threaten us that there are not enough jobs and we cannot “settle ourselves” in the waged slavery? Better for us! We want to live; we don’t want to work for you. We demand wage AGAINST work and unemployment!
The way we are going to organize something arises from what is to be organized. We can make them run!
They have been trying to enforce this law since 1982 slightly different each time regarding the objective conditions and their estimation of our rejecting power. We have stopped them in the past and probably we are going to stop them now! Is this enough to stop the continuous worsening of our life? Let’s look around: The answer is NO. People have to work more and more, everybody seems to be even more isolated. As long as we keep on defending the past, capital will keep on attacking our future. If we just say no to this law, they will retry to enforce it at a more suitable moment (for them). They will probably try to enforce it step by step; as they have already done as far as various parts of the educational restructuring are concerned. If our struggle keeps barricading itself in the university, if students keep doing the ritual weekly demo, if the struggle isn’t circulated in other parts of the proletariat, we will have to confront a worse law than this in the future.
In order to bring close the occupied university with the rest of the city we need to make the whole city live like an occupied university. Let’s block the streets, where human and non-human commodities circulate. Let’s block the railway stations. Let’s party outside the university, let’s meet all these people we did not have time to meet before. Let’s celebrate wildly the re-appropriation of our time.