We are an image from the future: the Greek revolt of December 2008

A collection of interviews, recollections, communiqués and articles about the December 2008 uprising in Greece in the wake of the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos by the police in Athens.

Submitted by Uncreative on December 17, 2010

This book is published by AK Press, and is available here.

Comments

klas batalo

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on January 23, 2011

uncreative it would be cool if you could up up the glossary at the end of the book. if not i am willing to take the task on!

Uncreative

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Uncreative on February 1, 2011

Ill stick the glossary up at the end. I'm not too far off finishing now.

Steven.

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 2, 2011

It is done!

The street has its own history

Tasos Sagris from Void Network / Laboratory for Kosmo-Politikal Consciousness

Submitted by Uncreative on December 17, 2010

The street had its own history,
someone wrote it on the wall with paint,...
It was just a word FREEDOM...
but the passerby said it was only written by the children.

- fragment from “The Street”, a greek song from the struggle against the dictatorship in the '70s.

The street has its own history It doesn’t need historians, it doesn’t need intellectuals or sociologists to speak in its name. Nobody can write the History of December 2008 and we assure you that a project like this is beyond our capabilities or intentions.

Just as we don’t have any official history of the Paris Commune or the Spanish Revolution this is not the History of the Greek Insurrection. Through fragments, rumours, myths, and stories the social insurrection finds its way directly into the hearts and the minds of the common people of the future.

Many years after our time a young girl or boy will find a fifteen—second video on the Internet from Greece, December 2008, a moment captured on a cell phone, a barricade in the middle of the street, a group of fifteen-year-old friends attacking the riot police with molotovs in their hands, amidst a fog of tear gas taking revenge for the assassination of a schoolmate, someone they didn't know at all, but he was one of them, and now they avenge him.

The girls and boys of the future will hear through rumours and myths that the Greek youth revolted for more than a month because of the police assassination of a young boy that they smashed, looted, and burned hundreds of police stations, banks, offices, government buildings, and luxury shops all across the country They will hear that the anarchists, the autonomists, the utopians, the naive romantics, and the leftists took part in this struggle. They will hear that the immigrants fought also, for their own reasons, against police brutality and racism.

The history of our times is written in short notes posted on Indymedia during the fight - short videos and photos taken by people who created these stories and were among the fighters. It is written by people who felt the panic of the riot, the pain in the lungs from the tear gas, people who ran in the streets, smashed the symbols of this civilisation, burned away their fears and faced down the danger of participating on the front line of the battles of our times.

Hence, this book is just a fifteen—second video shot with a cell phone in the middle of the riots, it’s just a story you heard on a train going from Paris to Barcelona, it’s just a memory of the smile of a boy on a beach in Greece, it's just a wave on the ocean of global struggle for liberation from capitalist democracy for the end of exploitation, the end of alienation, the end of suffering.

We say this clearly to you: this is not the book of the history of the Greek insurrection of December 2008. It is just our effort to share with you the experience before it fades away it is our walks in the empty streets of Athens one year after the revolt and our few memories that get lost in the night, it is a tear for Alexis long after his assassination, it is our hatred for any state and any police and any army of this planet, the hate that gets stronger and stronger every day it is the rage that becomes a book or a barricade or a stone in your hand. This is not the history of the December 2008 riots, the real history is hidden inside the hearts of those who fought the battle.

But we hope this book can be a thunderclap in the silent night of social apathy, a howl of craziness in the middle of a luxury shopping mall, it can be the sound of a smashing window, the smell of gasoline on your hands. Maybe it can be an image from the future. But this is up to you.

Because you are the future of this world and the revolutions that come will be the story of your life, not a narration, not just history but the story of our lives...

Comments

Solidarity is a flame

A. G. Schwarz

Submitted by Uncreative on December 17, 2010

Solidarity is a flame that cannot be extinguished.
- words from a poster urging support for the Greek insurrection

It was a miserable winter evening tied down with the razor wire of routine and obligation when I realized that, if I let myself, I was free to do whatever I wanted. Of course it's not the first time I’ve thought this, but it’s a realisation that’s heavy with the responsibility that accompanies it: it sinks like a stone amidst the empty interactions that people our worlds, and we have to keep reaching for it and picking it up again.

What I wanted to do that particular evening was to go back to Greece. I was tired of nourishing myself on the smallest signs of life that our dream gives off in these inhospitable circumstances, or the more dramatic signs from somewhere else that one can find on the Internet.

But I didn’t want to go to Greece just to pick myself up, as important as that was. What good would it do for me to replenish my inspiration if all my friends were slowly hardening? If people were citing the insurrection in Greece not to take hope or strategic lessons but to prove to themselves that the struggle is only possible some place far away? Or, even worse, if people were saying that the struggle in Greece is just as doomed as anywhere else, citing the fact that the fires had died down after Christmas?

But in cryptic emails the Greek comrades were insisting that even though the fires had gone out, nothing had gone back to normal. I realised that as anarchists we focus a lot on the strange alchemy that suddenly explodes in insurrection, we drool over the insurrections themselves, but in regards to what comes after, we know almost nothing. Is it because we’re trapped waiting for a riot that never ends, or do we fear the demands the revolution will make of us, once we’ve burned everything? And what does happen after the angry crowds of the insurrection disappear?

I felt a need to go to Greece, to talk to people there, find out what was happening and why and share these stories with as much of the rest of the world as possible. So I wrote to my friends there with my proposal, they wrote back with ideas of their own, and I started to look into how the hell I could get over there without any money being for the past months, unemployed, another victim of the crisis.

Suddenly, the winter darkness was the cloak for an ember that could burst again into flames. The obligations and routines that pretended to tie down my future blew away like paper.

Everything is possible again. The struggle welcomes us back ecstatically.

Comments

1. Prologues

Chronology: 19th-20th Century

Submitted by Uncreative on December 17, 2010

19th century: Going back to 1860, a growing anarchist movement appears in Greece comprised of many different tendencies, including anarcho-syndicalist, anarchist-communist, individualist, and Christian anarchists, involved mostly in publishing, cultural work, forming revolutionary organisations, and taking active part in workers’ and peasants' struggles.

Early 20th century: Anarchists have active groups in every city in Greece, and play a prominent role in several struggles. Popular hero and anarchist peasant Marinos Antypas is largely credited for leading the struggle to liberate Greek peasants from post-Ottoman feudalism. In 1913 anarchist Alexandros Schinas successfully assassinates Greek King George I in Thessaloniki. He was arrested and tortured though he refused to give up any names, and was subsequently murdered by police.

1920s and 1930s: Greek anarcho-syndicalists participate in many workers struggles and wildcat strikes, collaborating with the Communists, whose hit squads assassinate several influential anarchists.

1936-1944: First under the Metaxas dictatorship (1936-1940) and later under the Nazi occupation, many anarchists and other leftists are killed or imprisoned in concentration camps. A strong guerrilla movement eventually pushes out the Nazis, who are weakened by major defeats elsewhere on the Eastern Front, and the country mostly liberates itself before the British arrive. Unbeknownst to the Greek people, Stalin and Churchill had come to an agreement that Greece should be in the British sphere of influence.

December 1944-1949: Armed organisations and the rank and file of the Communist Party launch an uprising that leads to a lengthy civil war. From the beginning, Communist hit squads assassinate anarchists, Trotskyists, dissidents, and other political opponents.

1950-1967: After the right wing wins the civil war with the help of the British and the CIA, a constitutional monarchy rules Greece for nearly two decades, suppressing, persecuting, and exiling socialists, anarchists, and others. Greek anarchism remains alive principally in the activity of a few writers and poets living abroad or in penal colonies on the islands.

1967-1974: As the Greek youth begin to radicalise and fight against the government and the conservative culture, the military takes power in a coup and rules in the form of a junta for nearly a decade. Despite the repression, resistance against the regime continues to grow.

1971: Christos Konstantinidis founds Diethnis Vivliothiki (International Library), a publishing collective that releases translations of classical anarchist and Situationist texts as well as contemporary counter-cultural and anarchist works in Greek. He and his comrades help to instigate and radicalise the student uprising that starts on November 14, l973. Their banners "Down with the State, Down with Capital, Down with Authority!" adorn the front gates of the Polytechnic for the first days of the uprising, until communists take them down.

November 17, 1973: The State responds to a university student uprising by sending tanks into the Polytechnic, killing at least twenty-two people. Several months later the Turkish state attacks and partially captures the island of Cyprus. Under the combined stress of these calamities, the dictatorship transfers power to a democratic government. The date of November 17 forever remains engraved in the popular consciousness as a symbol of struggle, and is marked by major demonstrations every year.

1976: The anarchist publisher Eleftheros Typos (Free Press) is founded in Athens by a politically active Greek returning from London, and begins to translate and publish influential libertarian texts. Simultaneously rock, hippy and freak countercultures rejected by the Left adopt anarchist characteristics and are influential in turning neighbourhoods like Plaka (around the Acropolis) and then Exarchia into autonomous zones and expanding the anarchist space.

October 1977: A cell of Popular Revolutionary Struggle is involved in a shoot—out with police as they try to place a bomb outside the factory of German company AEG in response to the German state’s assassination of RAF leadership. Christos Kassimis is killed.

1979: A vast student movement begins occupying the universities in all major cities, influenced largely by leftists and anarchists. ·

October 1981: The Socialist Party PASOK, comes into power, leading to the institutionalisation of much of the Left.

Early 80s: A new generation constituting a punk counterculture adopts violent practices, popularising the use of molotovs and confrontations with police, and are denounced as provocateurs by the leftists.

December 1984: In what might be the first major Greek Black Bloc, thousands of anarchists attack the Hotel Caravel in Athens, forcing the cancellation of a far-right conference that had drawn such reactionaries as Le Pen of France.

May 15, 1985: Christos Tsoutsouvis, an ex—member of Popular Revolutionary Struggle, is involved in a shoot-out with police in Athens while trying to steal a car for an action. He kills three cops and is shot to death. In the following days, there are major riots in his honour in various cities throughout Greece.

November 17, 1985: After the annual November 17 demonstration, police fatally shoot fifteen~year-old Michalis Kaltezas in the back of the head during street fighting with anarchists at the Polytechnic. There are major riots in response.

1986: A national conference attempts to unite all the anarchist currents in Greece, though they do not succeed and their effort generates much controversy among other anarchists. The Greek anarchist space remains fragmented. The following year, those who still agree with the project, involving many different groups from the whole country form the Anarchist Union.

October 1, 1987: Michalis Prekas resists a police attempt to search his house in an anti-terror investigation, and is killed. As usual, major riots follow.

April 15, 1988: Anarchists start the squat Lelas Karagiani in Athens. It hosts many discussions, film showings, concerts, and other events, defends itself against multiple fascist attacks, and still exists in 2010.

March 2, 1990: Anarchists in Athens form the hardcore punk squat Villa Amalias, which still exists in 2010.

Winter 1991: A massive movement of high school students, occupying 1,500 schools and all the major universities, and bringing hundreds of thousands of people into the streets, succeeds in blocking the right-wing government from privatising the universities through outsourcing contracts with private companies and changing the constitution to allow private universities. Police in Patras kill teacher and member of the far Left, Nikos Temponeras, in front of the occupied school he is defending along with his students, leading to two days of rioting in Athens.

November 1995: Anarchists and youth occupy the Polytechnic in solidarity with an ongoing prisoner hunger strike. Police invade the campus and arrest 500 people.

July 1996: Anarchist Christoforos Marinos is assassinated in mysterious circumstances in Piraeus.

None of the chronologies presented in this book represent even a tenth of the happenings and important events, They are intended only to give the reader an idea of the progression and kind of events, not their scale or frequency...

Comments

December is a result of social and political processes going back many years (part 1)

Alkis: An anarchist, squatter, publisher, and worker.

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

First, I want to say that I am not a historian. I’m an activist, a fighter on the front lines in the anarchist struggle since the end of the ’70s. I don't know how precise my knowledge of anarchist history is, as it is a product of my memory and the things I heard and learned from other comrades during the years of my participation in this struggle.

As far as I know, concerning the post-war period, the first anarchists appeared early in the ’70s and the last years of the dictatorship, as a result of the influence of the revolt of May ’68 which mainly had an impact on the Greeks living abroad, but also on those living here. By saying the influence of May ’68 I also mean what came before that, the Situationists and other radical positions. In that sense the birth of anarchy in Greece, as a movement, does not refer so much to traditional anarchism - with its most significant moment being the Spanish Revolution and its main expressions the anarchist federations and the anarcho-syndicalist organisations - but mainly to the anti-authoritarian, radical political waves of the ’60s.

As I said before, in Greece anarchists appeared in the beginning of the ’70s and that is when they made their first publications and analysis about the Greek reality from an anti-authoritarian point of view.

The presence and participation of anarchist comrades in the events of the revolt of November 1973 was very significant, not in terms of numbers but rather in terms of their particular, remarkable political contribution, as they did not limit themselves to slogans against the dictatorship, but instead adopted broader political characteristics, which were anti-capitalist and anti-state. They were also among the few who started this revolt together with militants from the extreme Left. And they were so visible that representatives of the formal Left condemned their presence in the events, claiming that the anarchists were provocateurs hired by the dictatorship, while they also condemned their slogans, characterising them as foreign and unrelated with the popular demands. In reality the formal Left was hostile to the revolt itself because they were supporting the so-called democratisation, a peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy. And since they could not stop the spontaneous revolt of ’73 in which youth and workers participated, they came with the intent to manipulate it and then, after the fall of the dictatorship, to exploit it politically.

During the revolt of ’73 there were two tendencies: those who wanted it to be controlled and manipulated,in the context of fighting against the dictatorship, in favour of democracy and against American influence; and those, of whom anarchists formed an important part, who saw the revolt in a broader way against authority and capitalism. These two tendencies continued to clash, also after the dictatorship, in the era we call metapolitefsi, which means after the colonels gave the power to the politicians. It was a conflict between those who supported civil democracy and those who were against it. The first tendency considered the events of the Polytechnic as a revolt for democracy while those who were against the regime of civil democracy saw the events of the Polytechnic as a revolt for social liberation. The echo of this conflict lasts until today in a way.

So, this is how anarchists appeared, and this was their contribution...

After the colonels handed over power to the politicians, two major forces appeared in Greece. From the one side, there were radical political and social forces disputing the existing political, social, and economic order, and this was expressed by parts of the youth and workers as well. And on the other side there were the political forces of domination-from the conservative right wing that was in government, to their allies on the formal Left that became incorporated in the political system after the fall of the dictatorship. The right wing government was trying to repress and terrorise the radical political and social forces we mentioned before, and so did the institutional Left, with its own means, when it couldn’t control and manipulate them. Among these radical political and social forces were the anarchists, who were in conflict with even the most radical traditional concepts of the Left, such as the central role of the working class, the hierarchical organisation in political parties, the idea of the vanguard, the vision of taking power, and the socialist transformation of society from above.

An important moment of the social struggle during the first years of metapolitefsi, at the end of the ’70s, was the struggle in the universities, sparked by the efforts of the right wing government to institute educational reform. In this struggle anarchists also had a significant presence, as well as other groups and individuals with an anti-authoritarian and libertarian perspective. To a large degree, this struggle surpassed the boundaries of the university and university students as a subject, assuming wider radical characteristics and attracting the presence and participation of many more people. Not strictly students, but youth generally like high schoolers, and workers as well. It was an important moment in which the anarchists spread their influence among wide social sectors that were fighting.

A little while after this struggle against the educational reform, anarchists, almost alone, carried out another struggle - solidarity with the prisoners’ struggles. There, they demonstrated another characteristic of their radicalism: they didn’t hesitate to engage in questions that were seen as taboo for society; like the question of prisons and prisoners, and they expressed their solidarity with them, fighting together with them for their demands - the abolition of disciplinary penalties, denunciation of tortures, and granting prisoners with life sentences the right to have their cases examined by appeals courts - while always maintaining their vision of a society without any prisons at all.

A very important event of that period that shows the political and social dynamics of the subjects of resistance and, at the same time, the ferocity of political power, was a demonstration that took place on the 17th of November, 1980, on the seventh anniversary of the Polytechnic revolt, an event which actually defined the political developments of those times. (Every year there was and still is a demonstration on the anniversary). That particular year the government had forbidden the demonstration from going to the US Embassy The youth organisations, as well as the student organisations controlled by the Communist and the Socialist Parties, obeyed the prohibition; however, political organisations of the extreme Left, which were strong in that period of time, decided to attempt to continue the demonstration to the American Embassy defying the prohibition laid down by the government and the police.

So, on the night of the 17th of November, 1980, next to the Parliament building, in the street leading to the embassy thousands of demonstrators were confronted by a very strong force of police. The effort of the first lines of demonstrators, who were members of the extreme Left, to push forward to the American Embassy was followed by a massive attack by the police forces in order to disperse the crowd. But despite the police attacks there was a strong and lasting resistance by several thousand people, youth and workers, members of the extreme Left, anarchists and autonomists, who set up barricades in central Athens-barricades that the police used armoured vehicles to dismantle. During these clashes two demonstrators were murdered by the police, Iakovos Koumis and Stamatina Kanelopoulou, both members of extreme Left organisations, and hundreds were injured, some seriously. Among the ones injured, two were wounded by live ammunition, one of them in the chest, shot by police outside the Polytechnic.

During these clashes many capitalist targets were attacked and looted, like department stores, jewellery shops, and the like. This type of attack, which was one of the first expressions of metropolitan violence not strictly limited to targeting the police, but also expressions and symbols of wealth, was condemned even by the extreme Left, whose political culture recognised only the police as a legitimate target. But a new phenomenon of metropolitan violence was emerging. Besides engaging in confrontations with the police, demonstrators were also destroying and looting capitalist targets, and that is exactly what was condemned by the Left.

Those events of November 1980 were, as we mentioned, an expression of the political and social dynamics of the first years of metapolitefsi, but also the culmination and the end of the hegemony of the extreme Left on these dynamics. The Left didn’t manage to explain, in their own terms, the extent and the form of the events to their followers. However, these same events were a catalyst for the fall of the right wing government, one year later.

In the beginning of the ’80s, as a result of a major effort by a part of the political system to control and manipulate the social, political, and class resistances and demands, a new political change occurred and the Socialist Party PASOK, came to power (October '81). In that period this seemed to be a huge, historical change. It created a lot of illusions, it incorporated and neutralised old militants in the institutions and marked the end of these first years of metapolitefsi, the end of a variety of spontaneous social and class struggles which had appeared in the first years after the fall of the dictatorship.

So, after this political change, anarchists who were hostile to any kind of mediation and incorporation into the institutions were in a sense alone against this new authority which had many controlled and manipulated supporters, many adherents full of illusions.

PASOK came to power in order to modernise Greek society They repealed laws that were products of the civil war era - when the Right had crushed the Left in an armed conflict - and the post-civil war era, and satisfied a series of demands coming from the Left; demands that did not at all undermine the authoritarian and class organisation of society but, on the contrary that modernised and strengthened it by making it come closer to the model of the Western European societies.

This political change meant that a large part of the Left was weakened and absorbed into the system, it also meant that the anarchists together with autonomists and anti-authoritarians in general manifested a single effort to intervene socially. Organising amongst the youth, they organised the first squats in Greece, influenced by similar projects in Western Europe.

The first squat, in Exarchia, became the epicentre of anarchist and anti-authoritarian mobilisations, and led to other occupations in Athens and Thessaloniki. Eventually it was attacked and evicted, a victim of government repression, in the beginning of 1982. The same happened with the other squats as well.

(On that point, we could also mention that from the end of the ’70s and especially in the beginning of the ’80s a repressive operation by the State was conducted in order to corrupt and destroy the resistance movement by spreading heroin in the social spaces of the youth. This operation was very new then, unprecedented in Greece, and anarchists came in face-to-face conflict with that, lighting against it in the social spaces, in the places of the youth, and also inside the squats.)

The first years of government by PASOK were full of artificially cultivated aspirations for changes, ones that were of course neither essential nor subversive. They were years of a broad social consent to political power, against which anarchists stood alone, to a large degree. But very soon this political authority showed its true face and its profound class character against the lower social classes, as well as its repressive ambitions with regards to those resisting-anarchists, leftists, and insubordinate youth. The turning point, the end of the illusions, was in 1985, a year scarred by the police murder of fifteen-year-old Michalis Kaltezas who was shot in the back of the head outside the Polytechnic during riots between anarchists and insubordinate youth on one side and the police on the other, after the end of the 17th of November demonstration that year.

This murder triggered a series of insurrectionary events whose major moments were the occupation of the Chemistry University and the Polytechnic. Moreover, it caused a deeper uprising of consciousness and hostile dispositions against the police and authority that gave birth to numerous events of resistance in the following years, since it was not something that was expressed and exhausted in one moment, but be- came a precedent of many violent and combative moments of resistance in the following years. It formed a "tradition” of similar events; these events burst forth either as reactions to state murders, or as expressions of solidarity with the struggles of oppressed people, such as the prisoners. It is also within these conditions that a new wave of squats, mainly by anarchists and anti-authoritarian groups, appeared and rooted socially thus broadening the fronts as much as the influence of the struggle.

For example we can mention the clashes with the police and the occupation of the Polytechnic for seventeen days in 1990, after the acquittal of the cop who murdered Kaltezas.

The extensive social clashes in the streets of Athens in 1991, lasting a full two days, after the murder of the teacher and Left fighter, Nikos Temponeras, by para-state thugs in a student-occupied school in the city of Patras.

The uprising of anarchists and youth in November, 1995, during the anniversary of the ’73 revolt, in which they occupied the Polytechnic in solidarity with the revolt of the prisoners which was going on at the same time. This revolt in the prisons was under fire from the whole propaganda mechanism of the State and by the media, and it was facing the immediate threat of a police invasion in the prison facilities.

ln an effort to suppress the ’95 Polytechnic revolt and attack the anarchists and the youth - not only for the resistance they were engaged in at that specific moment but also for all the events that they had created during the previous years, and the events which they were threatening to continue - the State made use of the major propaganda assault by the media, which had been waged to extract social consent for the plans of repression. The police invaded the occupied Polytechnic on the morning of the 17th of November, 1995 and arrested more than 500 occupants, but the entire repressive operation was a failure: they wanted to present the anarchists as very few and isolated, as small gangs of rioters - the stereotype presented by the State is of “50 known unknowns" - but they turned out to have great influence on youths. They also failed to terrorise anarchists with the arrests and the prosecutions in the courts, because the majority of defendants remained insubordinate, turning the trials that followed into another point of strong conflict with the State.

In the following years, this phenomenon of refusal and resistance by anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and insubordinate youth spread socially leading to a variety of political initiatives, social interventions, counter-information projects, events of resistance, and the creation of new self-organised spaces. No strategy of domination was left unchallenged, neither the policies against the immigrants, nor the 2004 Olympics, the international political and economic summits, the participation of Greece in military plans and operations of the West against the countries of the East.

Based simultaneously on the political and organisational values of social solidarity direct action, equality anti-hierarchy and self-organisation, anarchists didn’t hesitate and didn’t fail to answer, at least to the extent they could, any attack by the State against society, and its most marginalised parts. They always stood side by side with the oppressed people and with those of them who fought back, refusing the dilemmas and defying the blackmails that the State utilises in order to extract consent. And they did that clearly and regardless of the cost they would have to pay. They consistently stayed outside and against all institutions, outside and against the political system. At a time when others, no matter how radical they appeared, were adopting the mentality of the State, the anarchists stood alone against such proposals. The result was that the Left lost its influence among the most radical parts of society while for the anarchists, the same thing that was said to be a weakness that would lead to their social isolation, was and still is exactly their strength: the fact that they stayed outside the political system and all institutions. Because when the people revolt they surpass the institutions and their restrictions, and communicate very well with the anarchists.

We hardly have any money; we work unselfishly in small, fluid affinity groups, but this is our strength...

This interview continues in chapter 5

Comments

There were many people who felt we had an unfinished revolution

Panagiotis Kalamaras: Publisher of Libertarian Culture editions

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

One thing that is certain, during the dictatorship and afterward, there were lots of people who liked rock and roll. We didn’t have ’68, but lots of Greeks travelled, they lived in France and Italy they saw how it was to live with girls and take long walks in the city and listen to rock and roll.

One of the first anarchist books ever published in Greek was by George Garbis (publisher of Eleftheros Typos - Free Press Publications) who lived in London, and the other anarchist publication was by people who spoke other languages and could make translations. You see the cultural influence from other countries was very important.

After the collapse of the junta there were many people who had the feeling that we had an unfinished revolution. Many people felt that the Communist Party sold out and joined the authority. So we have these two elements, that we wanted another way of life and that on the political level it was clear that the people of the far Left didn’t really believe in revolution.

In my opinion, the first anarchist uses of violence in demonstrations, was a way to let everyone know that the anarchists were absolutely different. They used violence so other people could see that they didn't compromise with the State like all the leftists did. And especially for that reason the Communists attacked the anarchists very severely because the anarchists made the criticism that they were supporting the State.

The Communist Party is in a very strong position in Greece. They fought a civil war. Whole families were in the Communist Party. Thirty years ago if you said you were not with the Communists or the Maoists or the Trotskyists, you were in a difficult position. And our position from the beginning was to make no compromise with the authorities.

The occupations organised by the student movement in 1979, were our first organised battles to prove that we were something different. We mostly called ourselves autonomists then, not anarchists, because we were influenced by the Italians. But we weren’t Marxist-Leninists. There were anarchists, but they didn’t start calling themselves anarchists until ’81, '82. And then it wasn’t just to name themselves and identify themselves, but to be provocative. After the Socialists came to power in 1981, we said we were anarchists to be provocative. Because then this word didn’t have a political meaning, connected to a political movement like in the United States. It meant that we do what we want. It had a bad meaning socially; it was a bad word. But we said we were anarchists to show that we had no connection with the State, with the elections. And we identified ourselves through violence.

But it was also an existentialist question, not only a political choice but a reflection that we wanted a different everyday life. So from the ’80s the anarchists started squatting and communal living, things like this. Because we don’t want to wait until after the revolution to live how we want to live. And for this reason we had big debates in the '90s about merchandise, do we sell beer or give it away in the punk shows do we charge entrance or not?

The first appearance of anarchists on the streets was the May Day protest in 1976. It arose in the midst of the existing movements, and during this time there were demonstrations every day. But the anarchists came out of this and differentiated themselves from it through violence and a new kind of protest. Also at this time there were many wildcat strikes. The anarchists had a soil to grow in. If you do not have soil you cannot have flowers.

With the student movement in '79, the anarchists did not have a strong presence, there were very few of us, but we had the mentality that we organised ourselves without Parties, and that we made parties in the streets, not just a typical solemn demonstration. And after this student movement lots of left organisations completely collapsed and lots of the people became anarchists, at least in their mentality. The anarchist mentality how we organised, was very influential in ’79. There were some university occupations that were done in a lawful way but then other people self-organised the occupations with an open assembly and this was much more successful and empowering.

Legally in the eyes of the authorities, we do not have the right of self-defence. With the Left, or with workers, they don’t believe in fighting back if the police beat them, they don’t believe in self-defence. The anarchists have the absolute opposite mentality We don’t wait for the police to attack us, we attack first. The Left only debate self-defence. In their view they are the ones being beaten. They have a victim mentality. They play the victim so that society will sympathise with these poor people beaten by the cops.

In Greece there was a civil war and the Left lost. They not only lost, they were tortured and murdered and wiped out, and they internalised this defeat. The anarchists are different. In Greece we have not been defeated. In fact we now have the upper hand.

The first anarchist demonstration that was completely anarchist was in 1984, with the visit of the French fascist Le Pen. It was his first visit to Greece. We had a big demo, a lot of people. What's important is not the number of people but the fact that we were very heavily armed, well equipped, and not in a spontaneous way either. We were prepared. Many people went down the street to burn down the hotel where Le Pen was staying and to fight face to face with the police. For me this was the birth of the present anarchist movement. It was a rupture.

In Greece there is no influence of traditional anarchism because with us it started in the ’70s. Here many people who say they are anarchist have never read Bakunin or Kropotkin. We had a big movement in the classical sense until the First World War. But because of the big influence of the Communist Party all this disappeared. It didn’t come back until the ’70s.

Is there a tradition of anarchist bandits and bank robbers in Greece?

No, this is a misconception. In Greece we don’t have anarchists who rob banks to fund the movement. We don’t have the tradition of expropriations for buying weapons or anything else for the movement, like Brigati Rossi or Durruti. Sure there are individuals who are personally anarchists who rob banks for themselves, because they oppose work. But there are also nationalists or fascists or leftists or apolitical people who rob banks. We don’t have the phenomenon of anarchist bank robbers in Greece. I don’t like these stories, like this British historian, people on the outside who have this preconceived idea in their head of political expropriations. It’s absolutely not true. Groups like the 17th of November never talked about how they acquired their money; and they denied making robberies. Yes a lot of people in the movement support bank robbers and they have sympathy for this activity but this is different from being an organised movement activity If there are people in the anarchist movement involved in this, they would never say it because they would be outlawed. It's not safe. We are not living in the '30s, we are living in the 21st century, we must be careful.

Comments

I began to get involved when I was 16

23.10: A person involved in the anarchist movement for some years

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

I began to get involved when I was sixteen, when I was a student. This was 1990, when we had a very big student movement in Greece. This was my first involvement in the anarchist movement. In 1995 I attended the Polytechnic, when there was an incident in which the police invaded the university and arrested over 500 anarchists. They had given a warning first, so I was not in this group of people who got arrested.

The years that followed were years of decline for the anarchist movement. There were fewer people, many of those who were arrested were very young and after they got charges they were afraid to remain involved in the movement. So the movement was very small. There were lots of conflicts in the movement. In my opinion there were three wings. One wing was the people who gathered in the Polytechnic, another wing of the movement were people involved with the anarchist newspaper Alfa, today these are the people of Alpha Kappa. They were a smaller wing. And a third wing were a kind of Autonomia. But Greek autonomists are very idiosyncratic. They are not dissident Marxists as in other countries. Rather, many of them were ex-anarchists who were disappointed with the anarchist movement, especially after 1995.

In 1996 there was an incident that strongly divided the anarchist movement. The death of the anarchist Christoforos Marinos. The confusion around his death, I believe, created the division between the wing that gathered in the Polytechnic and the wing around Alfa newspaper, Do you want to hear the story about Christoforos Marinos? Okay.

He was killed on a boat, a ferry going to one of the islands, by the special forces of the Greek police. Officially he committed suicide, but there are many indications that it was murder. Because in the same boat was the wife of the then prime minister. Many people in the police considered Marinos a very dangerous person. When they found out that on one side of the boat was the prime minister’s wife, and then this anarchist Marinos was on the other side, they stormed the boat and shot him. But some people from Alfa said he was crazy and he committed suicide, some other anarchists maintained that he was murdered.

Marinos had a long story in the anarchist movement. He had been arrested in the past for involvement with an armed group, then after his arrest police found a safe house, and in this house they found the fingerprint of another person, a leftist. Some people claimed that Marinos had given the address of the safe house, but this is not true. But Marinos got the reputation of a traitor. Many people viewed him with suspicion. Maybe because of this incident Marinos tried to exaggerate his activities in order to fix his reputation. Sometime in 1995 he was involved in a robbery the treasury of a hospital. During this robbery a clerk was killed. Some people were arrested, not anarchists, and one of them claimed that Christoforos was involved. The police arrested him, and when he went to jail he began a hunger strike, for about sixty days. At the same time, another anarchist, Kostos Kalaremas, accused of bank robbery was also on hunger strike. One of the reasons the Polytechnic was invaded in 1995 was because there were two powerful hunger strikes at the same time. The Polytechnic had been occupied in solidarity with these hunger strikes.

You must understand, the Polytechnic is occupied every year, every 17th of November, to commemorate the student riots against the dictatorship. Since the ’80s this has become a date for the anarchists, because at that time the leftists began to integrate with the political system and abandon the political violence. So they occupy the university every year, but one of their causes this year was for the two prisoners.

And after the police invasion of the Polytechnic, the two prisoners were freed. Marinos was put on house arrest. He violated his house arrest and one day there was a shooting attack against the offices of the governing party the Socialists. After the death of Christoforos Marinos, police arrested an anarchist who confessed that he was the driver of the motorbike used for this shooting attack, and in the back-seat was Marinos, the shooter. He also said that Marinos had become mentally unstable after his hunger strike. This guy justified the police action, he gave them the excuse they needed, by saying Marinos was crazy The guy who informed on Marinos was defended by the people of the Alfa newspaper, and they adopted the story that he was crazy. Other people defended Marinos, said he wasn’t crazy and that the police murdered him. This created a strong division.

In 1998 there were two very big movements and one significant incident, which was exclusively anarchist. A well-known anarchist was arrested, Nikos Maziotis. His arrest began a process whereby many anarchists began to gather in a permanent assembly in Polytechnic. This helped the movement to regain its power. And those who gathered represented only one wing of the anarchist movement.

In the summer, there was a strong movement of professors and teachers, and anarchists were also strongly involved. This helped us to regain our self-confidence as a movement. And then in the winter of 1998 the movement of the high school students began. Going back to 1990 there is a strong tradition of student movements. Every winter they occupied their schools. I think in January of 1999, or maybe February there was the bombing of Yugoslavia, so there were many demonstrations, many riots. Anarchists had a violent presence in all these incidents; riots in the demonstrations, small groups that carried out arsons. And these incidents, these actions, these movements all helped the anarchist movement rise again.

Something else, an external factor: from ’98 to '99, a process began in Greece to reform the universities. There was an increase in university enrolment because of the reforms. In my opinion, that helped the rise of the anarchist movement, the rise of movements in general, that all these new people were going to study There was also a small decline of leftists in the universities. In my very personal opinion, the leftist groups inside the universities had created a model of action, of presence, based on making an occupation of their university building every year for a few weeks, to show strength in order to collect followers and voters - every April we have student elections - and they all had the same model, they tried to do the same thing every year. People got bored. So this kind of action declined.

In my opinion what happened in the last five years was a decline of some traditional anarchist groups. By traditional I mean very old groups that had belonged to the wing of the Polytechnic assembly Some anarchist groups were marginalised or they withdrew from Exarchia, from the centre of anarchist politics. Maybe these groups were marginalised because their cycle had ended, they didn’t have anything else to give, In my opinion there was a political vacuum, there were not other groups to replace them. Alongside this, there were very many new young people who participated in the anarchist movement. Many young people were coming to Exarchia, and there was also an increase in direct actions. Well-organised actions, attacks on police stations. Some were quite sophisticated, quite daring. The traditional groups, in my opinion, operated on a strategy of intervention and participation with the existing social movements. The newer anarchists were characterised by illegalism and individualism, by individualism I mean struggle as a subjective process. I supported these new ideas but now I think you need a balance of the two approaches.

What allowed the movement to sustain itself and continue itself generation to generation?

I have doubts about this. It was not something in the movement, I think. Anarchism had become an underground trend for young people. One reason was the sophistication of these actions. They were not spontaneous. Many young people saw all these actions, these activities, and they were impressed, so it became an underground trend. But I'm not very sure about this. It’s very subjective.

Comments

2. And now one slogan that unites us all: cops, pigs, murders!

Chronology: September 2000-November 2008

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

September 2000: Greek anarchists participate in the Black Bloc during the international mobilisation against the International Monetary Fund meeting in Prague, making connections and creating mutual influence with the anarchist movements of other countries, They subsequently played a major role in the protests against the G8 in Genova, Italy in 2001.

May 2002: Anarchists in Iraklion squat a former hospital, Evangelismos, creating one of the biggest squats in all Crete. The squat plays an important role in spreading anarchist ideas throughout the island in the following years.The squat still exists in 2010.

June 2003: Greek anarchists with comrades from abroad play a major role in the mobilisations, protests, and riots against the European Union Summit in Thessaloniki. During the organisation of these protests, the organisation Anti-authoritarian Current (AK) is created, establishing assemblies and social centres in many major cities of Greece. They also attempt to be a nationwide organisation similar to the earlier Anarchist Union.

2004: The Olympic Games come to Athens, and with them the usual accompaniment of urban renewal, ethnic cleansing, heavy policing, and technologies of social control. The first neighbourhood assemblies arise to defend the areas of Akropolis and Exarchia from the results of the Games, and there are also solidarity campaigns with the hyper-exploited immigrant workers doing most of the construction. However these struggles are not so successful.

March 20, 2004: Anarchists in Thessaloniki squat a huge abandoned factory to create the social center Fabrika Yfanet.

May 1, 2005: AK organises a demonstration of dignity and solidarity for the workers at the shipyards of Perama, an area that is hit with many economic problems.

August 22-28, 2005: Anarchists in Bulgaria and Greece organise a No Border Camp on both sides of the border, including an attack on a detention facility that is later closed down. Some immigrants held there are liberated during the attack.

2006-2007: Students across Greece occupy their universities and create a major movement against the restructuring of higher education under the European Union's Plan Bolonya. Despite the strong resistance, the restructuring was passed into law in March 2007, though the politicians had to do it with the smell of tear gas in the air and the sound of fireworks exploding outside the front door of Parliament. However, the students did not give up their struggle and this pressure has prevented the university administrations from implementing the legal changes.

23 April 2007: After imprisoned anarchist bank robber Yiannis Dimitrakis is beaten by prison guards, other prisoners riot in solidarity in Malandrinos prison and subsequently in all major prisons in the country Outside the prisons there are several solidarity actions, including anarchist groups on motorcycles attacking police stations with molotov cocktails.

August 2007: Major forest fires break out across Greece in a coordinated way burning huge swaths of forest and killing dozens of people. Many Greeks realise that these fires are set by developers who want to clear land for construction, as Greek law prohibits construction in forested areas. More than 5,000 people from a diversity of economic classes and cultural backgrounds gather outside Parliament to shout at all the political parties,"kick them all out!"

August 18, 2007: In Thessaloniki, Nigerian immigrant Tony Onoya dies after a run—in with police who had previously beat him up. Officially he died falling off a balcony while trying to escape, but immigrant eyewitnesses say he was pushed. Subsequently hundreds of Nigerians and other immigrants, joined by local anarchists and anti-authoritarians, gather and riot.

Januury 30, 2008: Immigrants along with AK Patras and the Network for the Defence of Immigrants organise a protest that brings together over 1,500 immigrants, mostly Afghans, calling for asylum and respect for their human rights.

February 2, 2008: About sixty members of the Greek neo-nazi group Golden Dawn attempt to march in Athens. They are attacked by 400 anarchists and extreme leftists, but the police move in to protect the fascists and attack the anarchists. During the resulting riot, fascists and riot police work together on the streets to fight against anarchists. The collaboration is caught on video and aired widely, proving to Greek society the link between the police and the fascists. The same day; about ten anarchists on motorbike attack an Athens police station with molotovs, and the next day about twenty hooded anarchists on foot throw molotovs at a group of riot police guarding the Socialist Party offices in Athens.

June 2008: Wealthy Greek industrialist Giorgos Mylonas is kidnapped after he made a comment that Greek workers would simply have to tighten their belts to survive new austerity measures. His wife pays twelve million euros for his release. In their communiqué the kidnappers say that workers are kidnapped and ransomed every day of their lives. It is later learned that the four kidnappers include anarchists Polikarpos Georgiadis and Vaggelis Hrisohoides, along with legendary outlaw Vassilis Palaiokostas, who with his brother Nikos has been carrying out robberies and prison breaks for decades.

August 29-31. 2008: Anti-authoritarians and people from the far Left hold a No Border Camp in Patras, demonstrating in solidarity with the immigrants in the port city, which is a common entry point to Italy and the rest of Europe.

November 2008: Eight thousand prisoners all across Greece participate in a hunger strike, pressing sixteen demands. Anti-authoritarians inside and outside the prison strongly support the struggle. The prisoners win the majority of their demands.

December 5, 2008: Normalcy reigns. No one predicts anything out of the ordinary. Horoscopes call for more of the same.

Comments

Exarchia Square and the neighbourhood assemblies

Argiris: A long time anarchist activist from Athens

Submitted by Uncreative on April 16, 2010

So it was like this. We were sitting in a house, something like four hundred meters away from Exarchia Square. This was around June, 2003. It was like 2:30 in the afternoon, we were drinking coffee and smoking the first joint of the day. And suddenly they called us on the telephone. Our friend was in the square, she said to us that there were some workers on the square, and some machines, construction machines, and it was looking like they wanted to begin construction on the square, in the general spirit of construction for the Olympic Games. At that period there was gentrification in all the city for the Olympics. So immediately we understood that our time had come to face this problem in the square. The funniest thing I remember is that immediately from the moment we hung up the telephone, though we were just four people in the middle of a big city, we had a natural, powerful feeling that we could stop all the Mayor's construction projects by ourselves. That afternoon i felt this passionate enthusiasm that had no rationality, just this feeling of power and commitment. Because we decided that would never happen, it would never happen for sure. We were sure. There were four of us walking to the square and I felt like I belonged to an army.

It was like we were carrying a monster with us, and this monster was the reputation, the mythology of the anarchist movement in general. We carried with us all the power of all the actions that had come before us. We were not just four people, we were 2,000 people.

And so when we arrived there, we went directly to the workers and we asked, "What are you doing here? Who is responsible for this work?"

They say, "We don't know, we don't know", but they pointed out this fat guy in the café drinking a frappe and overseeing the work. He was in charge. And as we went to speak to this man, we saw that they had already made a hole, 1.5 metres deep, 2 metres wide. So we go to this man and we ask him, "Why are you here? What do you want to do?"

"They've made a plan for big changes to the square", he said. The planning is already decided. He's not responsible for these decisions but he's responsible for finishing the construction. And we ask him very politely, "What is the plan, what will the square look like?"

He said they would throw away the statue, the classical statue in the middle of the square with the ancient god Eros. The statue was symbolic for the punks and it was something like a guardian angel for the junkies who hung out there. They write graffiti on it, sticking up posters or announcements. It is the symbolic centre of the square.

We're surprised, so we ask if he's sure they were going to remove the statue.

He says, "Yes, all the middle of the square will be taken up by a pool, with a fountain."

The benches of the square were old, falling apart, so we asked about the benches, will they put in new benches?

"No, we're going to rip it all out and put in new things."

"What kind of new things?"

"We will put in a cement platform for the people to sit on."

"How is it possible for old people to sit on this cement thing? No one will come to sit."

"It doesn't matter, normal people don't hang out here. I don't care what you say, it's already planned."

So we say to him, "You stay here and wait, just see what happens."

All that afternoon, there were many people like us calling each other and talking about this. And through this, an assembly for Exarchia Square was called. So next afternoon, spreading the word by phone or word of mouth, about 400 people gathered. Half of them were inhabitants of the area, and half were anarchist who hung out at the square. And then we went and we threw all the construction machines in this hole, destroyed them, we told the workers that the people of the square would not allow them to work here, we would not allow them to build a metal barrier around the square to hide the construction from the public view. And we said that whatever construction will happen in the future, the locals will decide the design, and any construction will happen in the public view. Out of this struggle the assembly of the "Initiative of Exarchia residents" was born, and this assembly continues today, playing an important role in resisting the police presence in the neighbourhood.

Because of this organised struggle, the construction stopped for many months, and in the period that followed, the representatives from the assembly of Exarchia went to the construction company and asked about the planning. In the beginning, the company said that because they were a private company they didn't have any obligation to show us the plans. So the assembly decided they didn't have to allow any construction, and that only if the construction company accepts the architectural ideas of the assembly would any construction be allowed to happen. So the assembly prepared plans, which included an expansion of the green area of the square, to add more trees and bushes, keep the statue, not put in the fountain, and they would install new high-quality benches.

In the first months, the mayor of the city sent riot police to guard the construction site. But because of the inhabitants' negation of the plan, the riot police could not save the construction project. They couldn't enforce it themselves. And after one month the riot police left, because every time they went away for a moment, we destroyed the machines and the metal construction barriers. Three times this happened. So the works stopped. And they stopped for almost one year. And it was very funny because during that period, there was no cement, the construction workers had taken away all the paving stones to prepare the construction. Suddenly Exarchia Square was bare earth. So in the meantime we enjoyed this, we put a volleyball net and announced that we now had a beach in the square.

To defend the square, the anarcho-punks stayed there. All around the square all different sorts of people regularly gathered, but in the middle of the square it was the anarcho-punks. This lasted for almost one year, the period of the beach in the park.

Due to all these factors, the construction company realised they had to accept the planning of the inhabitants' assembly, and they announced their concession. As this was the period of the reconstruction around the Acropolis, for the Olympics, this was when the first two neighbourhood assemblies started. Philopapou, around the Acropolis, was the first one, and then the assembly of the inhabitants of Exarchia. Both of these assemblies were successful in stopping construction projects and stopping gentrification. The spirit of these assemblies produced many other neighbourhood assemblies in other parts of Athens and other cities throughout Greece.

This was the beginning of a new period in the anarchist movement, the meeting of the powerful direct action of the anarchists with the interests and the hopes of the inhabitants, their dreams for their own neighbourhood. The inhabitants felt this confluence between their dreams and the power of the direct actions of the insurrectionist anarchists, that it was good.

Comments

Steven.

14 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on April 16, 2010

great article! Got to love the Greeks

taxikipali

14 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on April 16, 2010

Thanks! great article! It should be noted that yesterday night big protest marches for the liberation of Maris Z. the swimming instructor arrested during the last general strike took place in all major cities of Greece, including Mytelene on Lesbos island. In Athens the protesters numbered around 5,000 people, mostly anarchists, extraordinary given the state terror climate in the capital. In Heraclion, Crete, the march was attacked by riot police forces with two arrests. In Salonica, due to three people being detained for fly-posting before the start of the march, the School of Journalism of the city was and remains occupied with demands for the immediate release of the 6 arrested anarchists accused of terrorism in Athens.

Do you join the Party to fuck or do you fuck to join the Party?

Iulia: A participant in the queer and anarchist movements

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

There’s a saying that sums up the gender dynamics on the Left: Do you join the party to fuck or do you fuck to join the party? It’s better with the anarchists but there are still problems. I flirt with the anarchists, I feel much closer to them, but I don’t want to label myself. Mostly I participate in local things, projects that are happening in my immediate area. I do a lot of art.

Generally you could say that in Greece there is quite a conservative logic. The feminist movement in Greece in the ’80s had visibility they had some successes, but then they disappeared or became part of the mainstream political scene, merging with the Socialist Party or others, So I don’t think there is a tradition for gender politics.I think in revolutionary terms it was always quite closed, never open to other issues. The anarchist idea of freedom is very big, very open, and it doesn’t have room for tendencies within it that have a limited focus.

I prefer to say that I’m an anarchist than to say that I’m a feminist. The problem is very philosophical, between the partial and the total. If I protest for my partial freedom, as a woman, I would focus on being able to get a good job, receiving welfare from the State when I have a baby That would be my partial freedom, and it would be completely compatible with capitalism. But I’m against identity politics because it carries a greater danger of entering into mainstream politics. I don’t think that you should rely on the State for partial freedom. This is vain, at the end of the day because you don’t change the social relations.You just say you want a better position within the existing framework.

But when you strive for total freedom, you need to have the whole picture in your head, and then you can’t rely on the State or coexist with capitalism in order to win just a part of that freedom, because by doing so you would negate your total freedom. However, you also have to leave room for all the individual parts within your conception of freedom. Otherwise you become apathetic to women, to workers, you just say I’m an anarchist and that’s that.You have to synthesise and analyse how it would work, understand all the different kinds of oppression so you can understand the totality of freedom. You have to understand how it works. You can’t just have a god of freedom, you can’t believe in freedom generally or abstractly.

I don’t want to generalise and say that the leftists or the anarchists are misogynistic, but I want to say there is a tendency that overshadows the politics of gays and lesbians and their struggles don’t become visible. That’s why I think it’s quite closed. You have this ideology of revolution and freedom, you go out and smash things out of anger, but you don’t actually look for ways to get there.

Lots of anarchists don’t question what is considered to be normal. We have romantic couples that control each other with jealousy or maybe I take on the role of the girlfriend and have very mainstream ideas of how I should behave. Together we fight for revolution but within each of us we sustain norms that are bourgeois. If I go out to participate in the struggle but then I come back and on my couch I’m doing the same things as everyone else, there is no revolution. People carry these norms with them subconsciously and if they don’t work on changing themselves internally they’ll sabotage whatever revolution they make. But if we work on our relationships then we can go beyond simple opposition to the State.

The anarchist movement in Greece is a revolutionary subject group. But this umbrella of the anarchist movement, which is a powerful thing, creates the trap of making people suspicious of anyone who doesn’t wear the label of anarchist. So it’s not easy to get access, and also not easy to introduce new lines of politics. So the subject group can become a bit sexist. And the anarchist movement here excludes aesthetic matters, cultural matters, spiritual matters. There is a very straightforward political identity they want to carry and okay theoretically it’s very libertarian, but practically their personal relations are the same, they’re mainstream and bourgeois. In terms of gender dynamics, in my experience it's common to create relationships that don’t go beyond normality. You don’t risk making it revolutionary, you don’t create any openness. But when you risk it you find out you had been living in a relationship with the same old jealousies and forms of control, without a spirit of friendship or solidarity. I’m not saying the anarchists should be blamed, they just sustain an unconscious function. It’s normality.

But it’s difficult if we don't have anything concrete to propose. It starts on a very small scale, dealing with the relations between us. That’s why I advocate having an inward focus.

I had a friend who wanted to do a belly dance performance at Villa Amalias [an anarcho-punk squat], and they rejected the idea as misogynist. But for her it was an art form, it was spiritual, and it’s strange how they can turn it around and tell you that you can’t do certain things with your body Taking things out of context, that’s queer to me. But the belly dancing wasn’t allowed to be put in a new context.

You can see that the flows are a bit blocked. At the assemblies they’ll talk for three hours about the ideas and the theory and then when it comes to the organisation, everybody splits in groups, and this makes me really angry; because the important thing is the organisation. If everybody is in small groups specialising in what we are going to organise, then what are we doing at the general assemblies, just discussing the idea of freedom? And to me that’s where you see some of these macho dynamics, macho in the sense of having leaders.

If we talk about desire - I’m reading Deleuze now - with desire what’s necessary is that it functions not that it is analysed. So if you go to an assembly and don't discuss how it’s going to function, that’s problematic for me. For three hours everybody says the same thing. In Greece we don’t have a pragmatic culture and for me that reflects the gender relations. You have the same structure, the abstract specialists, after a while it’s like a revolutionary bureaucracy. And yet everything still happened in December so I don't want to dismiss it, but there’s also a problem because everything is being carried out by groups that are quite closed.

The other thing that becomes obvious, because they are not open to spiritual, cultural, or aesthetic matters, the idea of violence is a holy thing for the anarchists. You have to be violent in a way and that excludes a lot of things. I think that's very uncultivated, sometimes it’s not very strategic and leads to people doing stupid things without taking precautions just to prove that they can do it.

If we suppose that the anarchists in Greece are sexist I would say that it has to do with their relationship to violence in a way that excludes other activities that are more feminine in quotation marks. They have to be heroic and if they’re not they’re not important in the movement. It’s this structure of small factions each with their own leader or face, a persona, and I don’t like that. It’s a patriarchal structure. Greek society is quite patriarchal and we carry these structures into our own groups as well.

As for valuing masculine labour over feminine labour, we lack the organisation in which the importance of feminine labour becomes obvious. The heroic acts are more important; that's the Only narrative we have, and so the feminine labour is not valued. I think that's why we don't have may squats in Greece, because it requires organisation. But we're getting more and more squats.

The heroic aspect is consumed in the solidarity as well. I don't like to say this because you have to support the people when they go to prison, but everything else seems to stop after a while. In the years before December, all the focus was going to supporting the heroes and not to the other aspects of the struggle.

Comments

The raves and free spaces is where the collective consciousness is coming together

J.: A libertarian freethinker and organiser of underground happenings since the late '80s

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

Let’s say we have three different phases in the anarchist movement. The first phase was in the ’80s, and it was characterised by Eastern philosophies, Western philosophies, psychedelic views, all combined and non-puritan. It was not differentiated. But this all changed in the mid-90s when the movement Italianised, so to speak. It began to copy the Italian model, to differentiate itself and distance itself from its cultural aspects, saying the only way to be effective was to be militant. It adopted a more objective and materialistic view. The major influences during the ’90s were the Italian autonomia, to a lesser extent things like Green Anarchy from the American movement, and very much so the Situationist International and the new formulation of metropolis, the capitalistic centres as metropolis, the places where the spectacle is more actively formulated. The German underground and punk rock also had an influence, and these were not so tolerant of other approaches. In the ’80s it was easier to speak together about Proudhon or the Doors or the psychedelic communes. In the ’90s there were two currents. The prominent one was very materialistic and rational, based on Western anarchist thinkers. The second one, very much a minority had to do with spirituality and seeking utopias. However this second current has larger reflections in the rest of society There are lots of people moving in this alternative way but they move in small groups, they are not creating big congregations or assemblies like the first current.

The third phase - that led to December - is that there are so many people sharing libertarian ideas, with a majority of militant thinking and a minority with a spiritual and cultural focus. When everyone was trying to do the best from their own view and all of this together brought December.

The second current in the ’90s, based in spirituality arose mainly through the neo-hippy culture that came from abroad in rave parties or Rainbow Gatherings. It was connected with Reclaim the Streets from the UK. In the Greek version thereof, there was unity between the two factions, but it didn’t last for long. Not because of the repression of the State but because of the inner contradictions of this union. One side thought that the other side was just lifestyle anarchists losing themselves in spirituality focusing on meditation rather than changing the system. So there was a break, slowly but surely Because of this, a big part of the Greek anarchist movement is very puritan in its attitude. Even though they are anarchists they can easily remind you of the Communists. They’re very strict, not very flexible. But all these contradictions is what makes the movement so strong, somehow. Because in the times of great social unrest all these people came together and acted together before they broke up again into different pieces.

Spirituality is not important for the revolutionary struggle, spirituality is important for changing how you view the world. If you change that it’s very difficult for you to be repressed. If you are a spiritual person and connect with your inner consciousness, it comes naturally that you want to be there for other people.You feel love for them, you want them to be okay you don’t want them to have to live in a society that is repressing them so much. Spirituality also makes you effective in what you are doing. It gives you a clear mind, unaffected by hatred. A mind that is ready to act without being affected by the poisonous surroundings that necessitate the actions. Spirituality allows you to act freely so that you are no longer a slave, neither from the outside nor from your inner complexities. Since you understand that the great game of existence surpasses any higher ideology you are no longer definable, you are someone who changes all the time.

In the first current hate is sovereign, hatred of the structures of the system. For people who develop their spirituality hatred is not valid at all, it’s poisonous. But this doesn’t mean that they’re passive. This means that they act without hate but they are still there when they need to shout or fight. But they have a clear view. They understand that the real enemy is not the Other, but the ignorance that distorts our relationships.

Most of us in this second current are pacifists. But if the last resort is to fight, here the idea is that we fight. But only if it is the last option, if it is to protect yourself or to save the person beside you who is getting beaten. Only then. We are not ideologising violence, and neither are we ideologising pacifism. That's very important. Because you cannot stay peaceful when someone next to you is being attacked.You fight but the important thing is that you are not feeling hatred.

How do you feel about spirituality accommodating a bourgeois lifestyle?

We hate that! We are completely against that idea, we don’t accept it as real spirituality It’s a way of drugging yourself. Spirituality is about developing strong philosophical systems that work slowly; or sometimes more quickly that bring you to a higher consciousness. It has nothing to do with beads and new age shops and all this bullshit coming from the California ideology. We are against this stuff in the same way that we are against the ideologising of hatred in the libertarian movement. That’s a very important difference you can see between Greece and the Anglo-Saxon world. None of us see spirituality as something you can buy. Most of us really are searchers, free- thinkers. We don’t fit into Murray Bookchin’s ideas of lifestyle anarchism. Actually we don’t like his ideas. He was great in the ’70s but after time he just wanted to make the whole movement adhere to his ideas, eventually he became just an old fart. Anything that was outside of his narrow idea of anarchism had to be placed inside a single term and abolished. We are against Bookchin, and new age, and lifestyle. We are not even post-modern. We can take ideas from Baudrillard and the rest but we use them in our own way. Anyway postmodernism is just another Western idea, it’s not a global idea, It’s part of the myth and ideology of the West.

People outside the movement are very affected by the connection of spirituality and libertarian ideas. Especially the young people are experimenting with new ways of living. Some move out of the cities, some go travelling, some of them find ways to travel inside their own neighbourhoods and societies. This is not centralised, and it doesn’t follow the approach of the main current in the anarchist movement. These people are much more loose and cool. But for example in December all of them were in the streets. They were in the councils, in the streets, in the riots, everywhere. Somehow December surpassed the classical anarchist groups in Greece.

The raves and free spaces form a part of the network where the new collective consciousness is coming together. People are making friendships, using music to express themselves, using psychedelics, or not. Many people don’t use any psychedelics at all, but it’s just one way to get an ecstatic view of the world. The rave culture brought many people back in touch with nature, with free love and free thinking. Of course there were some people inside this subculture who were there for business but that was a minority. Most people were there for the sacred atmosphere that was being developed inside these parties. Two generations came together and they were ready to destroy the apathy. Most of the people at these parties were pacifists, though there was always a strong minority that were into rioting, which is why many of these rave parties ended in riots. People at the parties wanted to keep the cops out, so they would attack them, and you would get riots lasting all night. In Greece the police don't attack the parties of the underground so much because they are afraid of the counter-attack. They prefer to attack the parties of the pacifists. There were many attacks against them and no one fought back. This is how they destroyed the outdoor rave scene in the ’90s. People were organising raves in the forests and the mountains, but they kept getting attacked. This didn’t happen to the parties in the metropolis or the parties organised by anarchists, because these people were ready to fight. And after the riots the parties didn’t stop, they continued the whole time. The party was the source of the riot and something for it to melt back into.

Also in the indie rock scene, there have been massive riots at concerts. It’s very important to note that in the places where these festivals took place there was no asylum, like there is in the universities. The concerts were not held in the universities, but usually in Pedion Areos Park in the centre of Athens. In the last eighteen years in Athens at least eight major riots started from concerts there, and even though they had no asylum, police were only able to break up the concerts three of those times.

In Thessaloniki in 2003 there were seven days of parties organised by Void Network, leading up until the night of the big riots against the European Union summit. There were two different squats inside the campus, one led by the Black Bloc and the other by an anti-authoritarian coalition. The parties took place between these two occupations, and they kept going constantly These were great moments. I think they prepared people for the big demonstrations and the major riots that took place. It was a very unique space for new connections and new ideas. For me this was much more important than the demonstration itself. It was a great union between the neo-hippies and the people who are all about barricades. There were many differences, and much arguing, but in the end they all came together.

There was a party in September 2006 at the Polytechnic. It turned into a massive riot with 7,000 people. There were artists from all over Europe there, playing for free. The riots started around two in the morning and kept going until seven or eight. The police would shoot tear gas and people would scatter but then come back together. This whole time the party never stopped. People would fight the police around the campus and go back to the party. There was one DJ from Germany who said it was a great moment for the rave scene. He put his T-shirt around his face and went back on stage to keep spinning.

In late 2001 there was a major party in Propilea, in front of the University Rectorate in the centre of Athens. Void Network occupied the place for twenty-four hours. All the tribes came together, there were 5,000 people, 6,000 people, blocking the streets, dancing. The riot police surrounded us but they couldn’t do anything, because that plaza is protected by the asylum. This was a very significant event, all these people occupying part of the city, dancing together, writing slogans on the wall. In the morning we had taken over the area of a major metro station, Panepistimio. Workers and other people were coming by and seeing this scene and they couldn't understand how it could happen, it was too far outside their reality. And this is the most important thing, creating holes in reality to show people that we can create anything we desire, surpassing these blocks in the general consciousness of society It was really good. For me this party summarises the whole idea of the multidimensional movement.

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Lefteria ston Yiannis Dimitraki!!!

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

In the afternoon of January 16, 2006, there was an armed attack on the National Bank of Greece in central Athens. After a crossfire with two special unit police officers, one of the participants, Yiannis Dimitrakis, was seriously injured by three shots from the police in different parts of his body. The other four participants escaped with about $50,000, although one of them was also injured. After spending some months in different hospitals during his recovery he was transferred to the Korydallos prison of Athens.

In another self-parody of the Greek justice system he was accused of seven robberies and multiple counts of attempted homicide, with the application of the anti-terrorist law. This was not the first time anarchists in Greece have gotten trumped up charges. Subsequently anarchists all over Greece painted walls with the phrase, “Lefteria ston Yiannis Dimitraki!" Freedom for Yiannis Dimitrakis!

This is the letter that he sent out on June 23, 2007.

Comrades,

This letter is my first attempt to communicate and comment on what happened after the robbery of the Greek National Bank in the centre of Athens on January 16, 2006. Before speaking about the actual events I would like to mention some things in respect to the motivations behind the action and the significance they have for me.

I consider that today society is like a train on a track headed for total dehumanisation. We are the motor that powers the train, its engine, its passengers, and its wheels. The driver has the cruel face of capitalism and the co-pilot is the lazy faceless State. The tracks are not made of rose petals, they are made of blood and corpses, bodies solitary or piled in mounds, of people who wanted to resist or change that frenetic course.

They are many: insubordinates, rebels, leftists, anti-authoritarians and anarchists; their names fill the history of this journey. I place myself between these last two categories. In agreement with my conscience and my vision of the world, what I clearly discern is that this society depends only on violence, exploitation, and oppression. A society whose purpose is the loss of human dignity in all its signs and senses. This is something we all experience every day: forced to act through the state institutions or work under a boss who exploits us.

Employment and work: words that in reality signify enslavement and prostration. Work and the added value are columns of the actual economy while the conditions in which work takes place confirm that people are treated like expendable products, like modern slaves. We see workers rotting from diseases caused by exposure to toxic substances in the workplace; they are dying in one way or another in the temples constructed by the capitalists. They have abandoned their will, their lives and their spontaneity essential characteristics of a free person. They are working long hours for scraps. To cover the majority of their basic necessities a person is obligated to mortgage everything they have to those cold oppressors called banks and under the weight of that financial responsibility they begin to show signs of submission and servitude. If they can’t pay their debts they are driven until they crack; and they end up committing suicide or humbling themselves in public in the worst forms. In order to perpetuate themselves, the State and Capital are today constructing a system that sacrifices human life on the altar of profit. And as was said before, one of the principal partners are the banks, which are nothing more than financial sharks that lend to those who will drop to their knees. The banks are directly or indirectly guilty for the plunder of the population. Taking all this into consideration we can understand Brecht’s character Maki when he asks:"What is a bank robbery in comparison to the establishment of the bank?"

I want to take into consideration my actions of resistance at a personal level and an external level. All the people who know me in person know that I did everything I could to determine the conditions and quality of my life. I rejected work as a unity of mass production, another wheel of the train. I wanted to attack the bank monstrosity knowing that I couldn’t cause it that much damage. Choosing a dignified way of living, I decided to rob a bank. I consider this action, like many others, revolutionary. In all honesty I want to admit that I intended to steal the money for myself. But at the same time, as an anarchist I wanted to show support to the actions and contribute to the necessities of the movement. What I want to say is that not every anarchist has to be a bank robber nor is every worker a slave.

I started to tell my story when I was lying on the ground, injured by police bullets, unable to escape the hot embrace of the State. Despite everything, I imagine it was an impressive image, but at the same time an example for anyone who wants to involve themselves in similar actions: a crowd of blue-uniformed hunters, encircling me, the injured captive, lovingly kicking me and calling out: "We have fucked you! You’re not that big now son of a bitch!" My back was exposed and I couldn’t move nor breathe because of the bullets in my lung, liver, and elbow.

I speak about this without bitterness, I have no lament nor delusion because I didn’t expect any better treatment from my enemies. Lesser criminals than I have received worse treatment.While I was being attended in the general hospital of Athens I experienced the violation of every human right. The first time my parents came to visit me they put an armed policeman between us, denying even one intimate moment with my family and I couldn’t open my mouth because of the drugs they gave me in the ICU. Later, amidst the fog of pain and drugs I realised that without permission from the hospital the police had entered my room to surveil me at all times. But I would like to thank all the hospital staff who took care of me despite their political views, and also for resisting the pressure from the authorities. The boss of the ICU informed me about my rights. He also helped me out when the clever prosecutor Diotis came. He kicked him out of the room saying he couldn’t interrogate me in that condition, and I heard Diotis saying: “Clearly I have respect for the condition this guy is in, otherwise I would have removed his breathing tubes or bumped the pressure up to 50..." At that moment I understood that had the hospital personnel not been protecting me I would have had to face the infamous techniques of Diotis, carried out in many past interrogations.

After that incident the conditions of my detention got worse. I was transferred to another wing where there were always two civil cops in the room with me and two regular cops outside. Every thirty minutes another policeman came to monitor the situation and there were five or six more in the waiting room. Because of that I couldn’t sleep for three or four days. I protested to the director and he responded that since I was a prisoner they could decide how to treat me to prevent a suicide attempt. They falsified the doctor’s report so they could ship me to prison sooner.

Now the prosecutor has tried to charge another person with the same crime as me, just because we are part of the same anarchist scene. It's the classic scenario concocted between the police and journalists. They invented a story about an armed group of ten to fifteen people, all anonymous so they could accuse a lot more people, and then they accuse this mysterious group of six more bank robberies supposedly committed to fund anarchist groups. The end of the story is that I find myself accused of seven bank robberies, attempted homicide, and stealing money; all under the anti-terrorist law. That the state has prefabricated techniques to win convictions and destroy people’s reputations in a mediatic parody is nothing new.

Finally I want to say to all those who are planning our physical, ethical, and political annihilation: it’s not important what dirty techniques you use, it’s not important if you hunt us or beat us down, you will never destroy or domesticate us, because it is honourable to rebel. We will not lower our heads in submission.

I want to thank all of those who are showing solidarity knowing how difficult my case is.

In struggle,
Yiannis Dimitrakis
Korydallos, Greece

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The Permanent Crisis in Education: On Some Recent Struggles in Greece - TPTG

A detailed look at the strikes and occupations by teachers, students and parents in 2006-7 in response to neo-liberal policies being imposed on the Greek educational system.

Submitted by Red Marriott on October 28, 2008

Capitalist development in Greece during the 60's meant the growth of the secondary sector, namely construction and manufacturing (mainly based on the low cost of labour and not on big investments in fixed capital), the corresponding influx of peasants in the towns and the erosion of local subsistence economies. Gradually, this development created the need for a more skilled and diversified labour power. As a consequence, public education expanded, basic education became obligatory and the population of university students started to rise. Wildcat strikes were on the daily agenda, campaigns on welfare, housing or local issues were organized in almost every neighborhood. This was also the time when struggles for a "free and public education" began.

Reformist class struggles were back on the agenda after the fall of the dictatorship (1974) and education –in particular university education– became the main social climbing "mechanism" since the 70's in Greece, as was the case in the advanced capitalist countries two decades earlier. Students of humble origin, coming from peasant or working class families, could find a permanent post in the public sector or a relatively secure job in the private sector if they possessed a university diploma (and furthermore even acquire a managerial position or set up their own successful small enterprises, especially in the construction sector). Thus, public university has become one of the most important institutions for the integration and satisfaction of "social expectations", with constantly increasing costs for the state budget.

The integration of "popular" demands helped the legitimization of the exploitative capitalist relations, which is the one of the two basic functions of the modern democratic capitalist state –its other function being to provide for the smooth course of capitalist accumulation, through the expanded reproduction of both labour power and capital. But class struggles during the 70's had the consequence that in the beginning of the 80's the state started to have great difficulties in exercising these two complementary but contradictory functions in a satisfactory way. “Social expectations” haven’t been reduced even after the introduction of neoliberal policies in the 90's that aimed to resolve this contradiction through the deepening of divisions inside the working class. This is proved by the constant reappearance of struggles in the education sector.

What follows is the translation of parts of texts we wrote during the last two years. These texts were an attempt at a theoretical analysis of the crisis of the educational system, i.e. the neoliberal restructuring process taking place for years now and the struggles against it. Apart from the university student occupations, another recent struggle that inspired these texts was the six-weeks strike of the primary school teachers in the autumn 2006. Its duration and demands and the fact that some of us participated in this strike urged us to try to analyze it in the general context of the education crisis.

Although primary school teachers in Greece haven’t yet felt the pressure of an alienating, standardized and under constant evaluation labour process –like in the U.K. for example– nonetheless there is a growing tendency to make school courses more and more intensive. Curriculums tend to become stricter, new teaching methods have been introduced and, quite recently, new textbooks were imposed on teachers and students with a lot more and more difficult material than previously. The teachers’ gradual loss of control over the teaching process is accompanied with the slow entry of sponsor companies selling educational programmes. On top of all these, there has been an increasing tendency of cutting down education costs, as a part of a general policy of holding public expenses down.

TEN YEARS AFTER
As we mentioned before, education, as the main capitalist institution that shapes, qualifies and allocates the labour-power commodity in a continuously developing capitalist division of labour, has been expanding in terms of student population since the 60's in Greece. This development has given rise to new "popular" demands, expectations, opportunities of social mobility and individual "successes". It has also led to the accumulation of tensions and contradictions, frustrations and individual "failures" (also called "failures of the schooling system"). Back in 1998, we had participated in the movement against the previous attempt of the state at an education reform that went under the jarring name of "Act 2525". At that time, in the 7th issue of our journal we wrote that:

"The democratization of education that caused a mass production of expectations (and a corresponding temporary rise in civil servant and petit-bourgeois strata in the 70's and the 80's, e.g. in 1982 68.7 % of university graduates worked in the public sector) created an inevitable structural crisis in the hierarchical division of labour and a crisis of discipline and meaning in school; in other words, a crisis of legitimacy that hard hit state education".

Ten years after, we are obliged to say that this crisis …keeps going on. No matter what you call this crisis –a "crisis of legitimacy", a "crisis in the selective-allocating role of education", a "crisis of expectations" or a "crisis in the correspondence of qualifications to career opportunities"– the truth is that education has been seriously crisis ridden and it stands to reason that this situation will be maintained in the next years.

It is precisely the fact that state education is responsible for fulfilling a wide range of functions with great social importance that dooms it to be in a constant state of crisis. To the extent that it has appropriated and integrated functions which historically were performed by other social institutions (the family, the working class community, the workshop, the corporation), all social conflicts and contradictions manifest themselves in its terrain. Socialization is not confined to the family alone, apprenticeship as a means of imparting knowledge has almost ceased to exist as the task of the guild and individual capitalists do not have the right to organize the basic education of their workforce. As the role of state education is expanding, it is transformed inevitably into a terrain of social struggle, a terrain of class demands and mobilizations (and often, at the level of everyday life, of harsh competition among individuals). Furthermore, the fact that all these conflicts are taking place in the sphere of educational institutions makes them appear as aspects of an educational crisis and not of a crisis of class exploitative relations. From this standpoint, even if modern school has lost its monopoly in the impartment and management of knowledge confronting powerful, and perhaps more alluring, competitors such as the mass media and the Internet, none the less it retains entirely its social role (and there is no sign that it can be replaced by any other social institutions). On the one hand it is used by the capitalist state as an instrument for the legitimization and reproduction of class relations, on the other hand it is used by the working class as an instrument for the mitigation of divisions and selection. Both of these two antagonistic objectives aim at the root of the reproduction of capitalist social relations.
The neoliberal attempts to restructure education that took place a decade ago in Greece had been opposed by students’, pupils’ and teachers’ movements. In the aforementioned article, we had tried to give a theoretical account of this (multiple and, more or less, contradictory) response. One of our faults was that we took for granted that the capitalist state would be capable of weathering its crisis. By that time, the plan of the state to weather the crisis was visible; none the less it remained just a plan. Probing into its details, we referred to the various “educational programs that relate the EC educational directives to a postfordist organization of labour and align job qualifications with educational qualifications in order to train the future multifunctional worker-collaborator, who sees herself as a user/consumer of technological products and services...” We also mentioned the role of

"decentralization that is aiming not only at the fragmentation of resistance and social demands but also at the transfer of the education costs to the local communities, as well as at the strengthening of the "autonomy" of the school unit, as a unit of "self-evaluating, collaborating" teaching staff that self-manages the school (maybe with the help of financial sponsors) –possibly in competition to other units". Finally, we referred to the transformation of the teacher’s identity from that of a state "functionary" –"a word that is rarely used today, while a few years before it indicated a prestigious identity and an obsolete social-democratic, "humanitarian" self-perception" –to that of a "professional".

In the case of the tertiary education, we had thought that the attempt to deepen the separation between workers with low qualifications and graduates of universities, as well as between graduates with low and average qualifications and graduates with high qualifications would have been successful. But one shouldn’t take at face value the neoliberal propaganda in its attempt to come through the contradictions inherited from the period of social-democracy. It’s true that in the beginning, our adversaries gained several victories and, what’s more, quite material ones, when they passed Act 2525 in 1997: the abolition of the teachers’ list of seniority meant that there began an era when "lifelong training" and precarity would be enforced through the ideology of "meritocracy" and competition, replacing a status quo of formal equality in labour relations; in the case of the secondary education, selection became more intensive with the creation of the new Comprehensive High School on the one hand and the "TEE" (technical institutes) on the other; in the case of the universities the state attempted to establish "lifelong training" through new training programmes (called "PSE") imposing tuition fees.

However, there followed a series of open struggles: the movement of the unemployed teachers and the riots outside examination centers against the abolition of the above mentioned list of seniority; the occupations of secondary schools and universities by pupils and students later that year. There were, also, several invisible reactions and refusals expressed by students, teachers and parents that whittled away the examinational monstrosity of the Comprehensive High School. The result was a relative relaxation of the selective process and a bridging of the separation between the "elite" entering the tertiary education and the "trash" graduating from the technical institutes. Furthermore, the "PSE" university programs were never really implemented and the initial plan for the abolition of the teachers’ list of seniority was modified through the creation of a complex appointment system that was constituted of various lists that bypassed the provisions of the 1997 Act.

Due to class struggles, the use of EC money for setting up new university departments in the small towns in order to strengthen local revenues, and the formation and state management of a pool of reserve, complex and cheap labour power for the tertiary sector, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of students in higher education. In 1993, only 26.7 percent of greek citizens in an age between 18 and 21 years followed higher education. In 2004, this number had risen to 60.3 percent.
In order to avoid a fiscal crisis, state expenditure on education as a proportion of the GNP remained at the same levels in the last 15 years (fluctuating between 3.5 and 4 percent).

But in order to diminish “social expectations”, the state had to do something more. So it changed its education strategy towards a purer neoliberal agenda. The first signs of this change of direction have appeared since the beginning of this decade. Generally, this reorientation consists of two simple formulas: changes in the running of the education system (or at least a gradual movement to that direction) and inadequate state funding of education. The implementation of the first formula is visible for the time being in primary and secondary education only in the planned cooperation between the public and the private sector in the construction and joint running of the new school buildings. It will probably be manifested in the future in the appearance of companies sponsoring primary and secondary schools, asserting this way their right to participate in the training of their future labour force. The revision of article 16 of the Greek constitution (more on this later) is also part of the same process, with regard to the universities. The reduction of public spending for the education sector is a constant characteristic of neoliberal policies. Nevertheless, it is a contradictory one condemned to create more problems than those it is supposed to solve. On the one hand, it helps the state to hold down its expenses and accelerate the process of education restructuring, claiming that it is a "social demand". On the other hand, individual capitalists (whether we refer to future sponsors of primary education or owners of private universities) rightfully have the bad reputation of being unable to go beyond their individual interests and place themselves at the disposal of the general interests of capitalist accumulation. In other words, because of their priorities an enterprise or even a sector cannot substitute the functions that historically have been assumed by the state.

In addition, neoliberals can hardly hide their vulgarity at the ideological level. "Meritocracy" has been stripped of the mystification of the social-liberal ideology which made claims to a supposed social utility. For neoliberals, the individual right to act as if one was a private enterpreuner leads to a historical diminution of the idea of social justice while "society" is perceived as a mere aggregate of individuals (or families-households, as Thatcher used to say) who are supposed to be in a state of constant competition. The problem for neoliberals is that such ideas undermine the basis of their political legitimacy, which in turn brings back the necessity to reinforce the state (and therefore the state provisions for education). It’s a vicious circle.

At all levels of education the attempt to transform it into a capitalist enterprise is contradictory but constant. This attempt is visible in nursery schools with the new proposals about intensification of the curriculum and thus the earlier insertion of children in the world of evaluation, quantification and, therefore, labour; in secondary education with the proposal –once again– of the National Education Council for a stricter selection of the students of the Comprehensive High Schools and the chanelling of a part of the student population to early training through the "new" technical schools; in the new law for the universities that intensifies work in the partially and silently entrepreneurialized environment of higher public education since the 90's, threatening the unproductive (and thus surplus) intellectual proletariat with expulsion.

Visible and invisible struggles in the previous years have put limits to the capitalist valorization of public education and continue to do so nowadays. The movement of university occupations that broke out in May 2006 and lasted for almost a year is a perfect example of a (spectacularly) visible struggle. In the second case, there belong latent processes that sabotage and undermine the imposed "innovations". E.g., the attempts to transform primary education teachers into "professionals" –executing orders from the Ministry of Education, carrying out "programmes" and projects in order to find sponsors– were faced with rejection. A programme called "Flexible Zone", which was supposed to connect schools to local commercial activities and was presented by the state intellectuals as an attempt to put into practice the old principles of radical and integral education, was never really implemented. Neither the talk about the "connection of school with everyday life", nor the babbling about the "abolition of the teacher-centered model" and the "development of collaboration among students" had any effect. In simple terms, most of the teachers could see that such programmes would deepen the inequalities among pupils since they were connected with new evaluation systems and, after all, they would impose more unpaid labour on them. In the course of events, it became plain for all to see that the implementation of the aforementioned programme was an issue of immense importance for the Ministry of Education, to the extent that it incorporated the basic lines of its policy: combination of central, bureaucratic control with decentralization, reduction of state funding and internalization of capital’s logic while at the same time the participation of sponsors is encouraged in order to find resources for the realization of the projects.

WHEN THE LAW BREAKS
In this second part, we will try to summarize the actions of resistance against capital's attempts to restructure education in the last few years. As we have already mentioned, the main weapons used by the state are the intensification of student and teacher labour, the inadequate funding of the education sector and the stricter selection. In this manner, the state tries to respond to the crisis of the hierarchical allocation of the labour force that first manifested itself in the mid 80's while at the same time it strives for the continuing legitimization of capitalist social relations –a combination that, let's say it once more, constantly tends to create new crises and contradictions.

The new bill for higher education, that was initially presented in the middle of 2006 (and was finally voted in the midst of the second round of the student movement in March 2007) attempted to legally institutionalize and bolster the existing enterpreneurialization and privatization tendencies in the universities. A series of provisions in this bill promoted the intensification of studies (for example, through setting an upper limit in the allowable years of study) and imposed underpaid or even unpaid student labour (for example, through the granting of student loans and reciprocal scholarships in exchange of part-time employment inside the university). Furthermore, university funding is getting connected with an evaluation process. Also, the attempt to revise article 16 of the greek constitution, in order to permit the establishment of private universities, is intended to win the same end, i.e. to restructure public universities so that they are run more and more like private enterprises. Using the weapon of underfunding and selective funding, the state inserts universities in a competitive environment. This has the consequence that universities are obliged to transform their activities into profit making ones wherever this is possible. The basic criteria of their "good" operation and adequate state funding will be the size of their investments, the kind of research they undertake and their ability to impose the new disciplinary rules and regulations and encourage their students to individually invest in human capital.

Last but not least, the new bill changes the definition of the academic sanctuary. Academic sanctuary was the legal product of an earlier cycle of class struggles in Greece. It was introduced in the beginning of the 80's by the "socialist" government as an acknowledgement of the role of the "student" insurrection in 1973 in overthrowing the dictatorship and was one of the measures that intended to recuperate not only the militant student movement but the whole class movement of the 70's. Thanks to the right of sanctuary there have been constant occupations of universities for political campaigns and, to a certain extent, other social uses of university buildings (for example, university rooms in the centre of Athens are used for political presentations, non-commercial parties and so on without permit from the university authorities). The new bill restricts academic sanctuary to the protection of "the right to work" and makes provision for specific penalties. From now on, strikes of the teaching or clerical staff, student occupations etc can be considered as actions that violate the law on academic sanctuary and as such could be repressed by the police.

The university occupations movement broke out in May 2006. Schools and departments entered into the struggle one after the other, and in a very short time almost all universities were occupied. The first round of the student movement managed to postpone the passing of the bill. The occupations started again in January 2007, when the government attempted to revise the article 16 of the constitution and lasted till the end of March. The movement managed to postpone the revision of the constitution for the next two or three years (at all events, the revision process is slow and it requires a large majority backing in the parliament). Nevertheless, the bill became a law in the 8th of March, while outside the parliament a fierce riot which lasted for many hours took place. The movement gained some concessions (not essential ones), but the new law has not been fully enforced yet. There are signs that a new movement may appear when the real enforcement of the law will commence. As far as the qualitative characteristics of the movement are concerned, it is true that occupations were more vivid in terms of student participation, organization of presentations, workshops and so on, during the first round of the movement and not so much in the second one. There were only a few minority actions that tried to spread the movement into other arenas (like for example blockades or interventions in workplaces like call centers where some students work) but the participation in demonstrations was really massive all over Greece (in the 8th of March it is estimated that forty to fifty thousand people participated in the demo).

But in order to understand the reasons why this movement got so massive dimensions, it’s not enough to refer only to the changes in the legislation because some of the changes affected mostly future students. It is possible to understand this movement only if we see it as an expression of the accumulated dissatisfaction a whole generation of working class youth has been experiencing since the previous reforms, ten years ago. These reforms were instrumental in imposing intensified work rates in the school and in the realm of proper wage labour. It is not accidental that the mobilizations broke out in the midst of an examination period. Even if the official spokesmen of the movement never stopped babbling that the academic year "will not be lost" and the examinations will be taken after the movement, the occupations had also the character of an "examination strike", especially during May and June 2006, since a lot of students, both active and "passive" participants in the movement, didn’t want to take the exams before the summer vacations, asserting thus their denial of intensified work rates. Furthermore, the mobilized students raised the question of the "free" reproduction of their labour power (even if an contradictory way) through the demand for a "public and free education". This demand was expressed more explicitly by the minority tendencies inside the movement that made the demands for "free board and lodging" as well as for "free transport for all" which were promoted with a few blockades of roads and train stations and some interventions in the metro stations.

Although, the 1997 reform in the secondary education had managed to discipline a generation of students for some years, this was a temporary victory. This generation could not be stopped from expressing its discontent for a life that is increasingly characterized by insecurity and fear. A great part of the students realized that the promises for a "successful career" will be true only for a minority of them. At the same time, they revolted against an everyday activity that looks similar to any other kind of work. This revolt against student labour was given a boost by a significant number of students who already experience directly exploitation and alienation as proper wage laborers. In this context, there were interventions for better working conditions in call centres where students work. Nevertheless, this was not a dominant tendency in the movement, since most of the students depend on their parents while many others still hope that in one way or another they will become "professionals". Thus, "workers" were mostly considered as external supporters and it was mainly their parents. Of course, connection with other parts of the working class is directly dependent on the existence of struggles outside the university. For example, when a local struggle for better working and service conditions broke out at a state health centre in a village near Thessaloniki, solidarity was expressed by the students of the Medicine School that were on strike.

The strike of the teachers in primary education was called by the teachers’ union during the first round of the student movement after a proposal made by the leftist trade unionists. It must be noted that there was no offensive from the state before the call of the strike. The list of official demands included both wage demands and demands about working conditions. It was a rather huge list of demands but although it came "from above", and in particular from the leftist group that took the initiative, it nonetheless gave voice to the needs of teachers in an indirect way.

The strike began on the 18th of September 2006 as a 5-day action and lasted for six weeks. The union had no intention to continue the strike after the end of the first week, and this was proved by the attitude of the trade unionists in the general assemblies that took place after the first week of the strike. However, the fact that participation in the strike was very high, especially in Athens and some other urban areas (about 70-80%), as well as the fact that the ministry did not make any concessions, made it very difficult for the union to step back. At this point it may be helpful to note that some teachers in rural areas didn’t participate, maybe because they have other jobs as a sideline, e.g. farming.
So, although the strike was called by the union leadership, in the process it became more of a rank-and-file action. Participation remained rather high in some urban areas for the whole period of 6 weeks and during this period massive demonstrations took place at the centre of Athens. On the other hand, participation in the assemblies was not high with the exception of some local union departments. Strike committees were organised right from the start. These committees were mainly executives of the decisions taken in the local assemblies and there was no coordination amongst them. As usual, the assemblies were an arena of various conflicts. The struggle remained under the control of the union and this is partially due to the fact that the leftist group that somehow represents and brings together many radical elements in this sector took over the administration of the union during the strike.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the real reasons of the strike and its militancy.

Firstly, we have to stress that teachers cannot be considered a privileged sector of the working class: the entry wage of a teacher is about 900 euros while the minimum wage in Greece is about 700 euros. But the wage demands did not take precedence over all others.

The basic demands that were really made by the rank-and-file were mainly two:
Higher state expenses for public education;
and second, an end to the ongoing "marketization of school".

The first demand expresses an outright opposition to the transfer of the costs of reproduction of labour power to the working class. In a way, teachers made a demand on behalf of the whole working class. The straitened conditions and the economic misery of the school is identified in the eyes of the teachers with the misery of the lack of meaning in their work. The traditional, positive self-perception of the teacher collapses under the weight of economic neglect and alienation. The fact that all this was not expressed explicitly in the demands while it was evident in a lot of meetings between teachers and parents, in some texts, in discussions and in the streets is indicative of the weakness of the rank-and-file to express itself substantially as well as of its weakness to get rid of the official union spokesmen.

The protests against the "marketization of school" was the second main characteristic of the strike. The coming of the financial sponsors accumulated all the fury of the strikers mystifying the fact that public education is already connected with capital and that this relation cannot be only identified with sponsors. If teachers could manage to overcome this narrow point of view, they could say much about their everyday alienation. Apart from loose words, this feeling against work wasn't articulated into a discourse and it was expressed only through the large duration of the strike. Slogans like "we will strike till the year 3000" and "we give up the next monthly wage, too" express the desire not to return to the daily alienation of the classroom. Or else it is very difficult to explain the gap separating the large duration of the strike and its militancy and the more or less predictable union demands. Our interpretation of the events is further backed by the fact that this was an offensive strike: without a visible attack from the state and with a list of demands which only indirectly expressed the needs of the strikers, it would otherwise be difficult to understand why many teachers didn’t want to go back to work even after six weeks on strike.

Following this line of explanation, we can understand better the wage demands. The demand for a 500 euros wage rise was a demand for compensation for the increasing deterioration of working conditions. As such it was more teacher-centered and sectoral and less a working class demand: slogans around wages appear to say that "work has become impersonal, alienating and intensified – at least it shouldn’t be so much underpaid".

Nevertheless, the need to come together with other parts of the working class (mainly parents but also other workers who supported the strike) on a common ground could not be expressed through the demand for a good wage for the teachers (which also implies that intellectual labour is superior to manual). This common ground could only be common needs, that’s why the initial demand was transformed into a demand for "1400 euros for everyone" in the middle of the strike and was accepted by the majority of teachers then. However, real communication with the "others" was confined to common demos with a minority of students and some meetings with parents organized by the strikers.
As we said, the strike ended after six weeks. Facing the intransigence of the state and not being able to transcend the limits posed by their social role and the union representation, the strikers did not manage to make the extra step that was necessary. But, of course this was not easy: a collective challenge and critique of the alienating and selective nature of education accompanied by a critique of the union would amount to something much more than a strike; it would amount to an insurrection.
The strike didn’t win any material concessions, but were there any interesting aspects in it? Our answer will be positive in two aspects.

First, the strike delegitimized to some extent a neoliberal state that claims to guarantee a "qualitative" and "public and free" education system.

Second, at a more educational level, a strike of one and a half months annulled the image of a "smoothly" functioning school system. And what's more, it crashed the image of the teacher as a professional, an organ of the state for the enforcement of its ideological control and a "petit bourgeois" that, supposedly, enjoys his/her privileged position.

Nevertheless, the way that the strike ended with no perspective for the future and no material gains, had negative consequences and clearly shows that a part of the working class cannot gain much if it remains isolated, however militant it is.

This became obvious early this year when the government introduced a new law which was an attack on welfare benefits and pensions. According to this new law on social security, there will be an increase of the retirement age even for mothers with under age kids, a decrease in pension earnings and an increase in the number of stamps needed for medical and sickness insurance, something that hits hard mainly young, part-time and precarious workers. Despite the slashing attack on all workers (students included) the resistance of teachers and students was very weak.

July 2008
TA PAIDIA TIS GALARIAS (TPTG)
P.O. BOX 76149
N.Smirni
17110
Athens, Greece
Email: [email protected]

Comments

The supermarket expropriations were very successful

Nikos: An anarchist from Athens, active for about ten years

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

One action that started happening more frequently in the year before December were expropriations in the supermarkets. We would gather with a group of at least thirty people, mask up, run into a major supermarket and fill carts with food. The timing was very important. Inside the store everyone knew what they had to do, everyone stayed in a group and didn’t go down any aisle alone, and we were all out of there in a minute. Sometimes people would calm the workers, saying that it was an expropriation and that all the food would be distributed for free, we were against property but we didn’t want to hurt anybody And we always made sure to get out of there very quickly It all took just a few seconds.

In Athens we usually did these expropriations close to open air markets, when lots of people were outside shopping. That way we would not have to go far to find a place where lots of people were gathered to leave the food. After we did this a few times, when the people saw us, they would cry out excitedly "It’s them! It’s them!" and they would cheer us and they were very happy to take our food. It was a nice feeling, to include all these people in our illegality. Also, they learned not to be afraid of the koukoulofori. The people who were masked up, dressed in black, and doing outrageous things were on their side. That was very important.

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The prisoners' hunger strike

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

On the 3rd of November, the Greek prisoners launched a major struggle that quickly spread to all twenty-one prisons in the country Prisoners released sixteen principal demands and announced their struggle would take three stages: first, the refusal of prison food; second, full hunger strike; and third, if the authorities had still not agreed to the demands, a general uprising.

Their demands were:

1. Abolition of cumulative disciplinary charges.
2. Reduction of the sentence limit (the proportion of the sentence the prisoner had to serve, as a minimum) from 3/5 to 3/7 and abolition of the 4/5 limit for drug related crimes.
3. A 3-year reduction of all sentences to relieve overcrowding, and rejection of the new panopticon prisons that isolate the prisoners from the urban social body.
4. Abolition of all juvenile prisons, and their replacement with open structures meant to take care of youth.
5. Reduction of the sentence limit that allows 25 years of continuous detention. Reduction of the minimum detention time for conditional release from 16 to 12 years.
6. Reduction of mandatory minimums, more days of furlough.
7. Limited use of pretrial detention and shortened maximum pretrial detention to 12 months from 18.
8. Against the use of vengeful sentencing meant to kill prisoners with long sentences. Shorter sentences and greater use of suspended sentences and conditional release.
9. 24-hour full medical service and psychiatric service, improved hygiene in baths and toilets, transportation to hospitals in ambulances, not in police cars.
10. The right to paid work, classes, technical training, and access to education outside the prisons.
11 Free access to the prisons for social and political institutions, lawyers, doctors, human rights organisations and international organisations, free circulation of political and educational press with no exceptions.
12. Alternative forms of detention such as agricultural prisons and partial liberty as well as community service.
13. Increase of free visits with privacy.
14, Work and access to creative activities for all, and sentence reduction for work.
15. Right to serve their sentence in the country of origin for people from other countries, if they choose.
16. Humane and faster transportation between prisons.

In the first stage, 8,000 of Greece’s 12,300 prisoners participated in the first stage. Starting November 7, 1,000 prisoners went on hunger strike, though the number soon grew to 7,000, with seventeen having sewn their mouths shut. Thousands of non-participating prisoners supported the strike and helped fellow prisoners who were in a weakened condition due to fasting. Many anarchist prisoners participated in the hunger strike, while others wrote and circulated texts in support, while criticising the tactics of hunger striking and the making of demands. Many solidarity actions were realised outside the prisons, including concerts, huge protest marches, and attacks.

On November 20, the government caved to most of the demands, agreeing to reduce Greece’s prison population to 6,800 by April, releasing all prisoners who had served 1/5 of their sentence, if under two years, and 1/3 of their sentence, if longer, without exceptions. The government announced that additionally; the law would be changed so that for all sentences under five years, the convicted person could pay a fine proportionate to the sentence instead of going to prison; pretrial detention would be limited at twelve months for many offences; furloughs would increase slightly; accumulative disciplinary penalties would be limited but not abolished; and more people with serious health problems such as AIDS would be granted conditional release. It is worth noting that juvenile prisons, a key component in the disciplinary transformation of society under neoliberalism, were not abolished, and most of the reforms affected those with shorter sentences, thus dividing them from the long-term, non-reformable prisoners, those considered to be hardened criminals.

The Prisoners' Committee responded by calling off their hunger strike, but announcing that:

We the prisoners treat this amendment as a first step, a result of our struggle and of the solidarity shown by society. Yet it fails to cover us, it fails to solve our problems. With our struggle, we have first of all fought for our dignity. And this dignity we cannot offer as a present to any minister nor any screw. We shall tolerate no arbitrary acts, no vengeful relocations, no terrorising disciplinary act. We are standing and we shall stay standing... Finally, we offer our thanks to the solidarity movement, to every component, party medium, and militant who stood by us with all and any means of his or her choice, and we declare that our struggle against these human refuse dumps and for the victory of all our demands continues.

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The prisoners gained a new ability to coordinate their actions

N. & Mi: Two anarchists from Exarchia engaged in solidarity for the prisoners, among other things.

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

The most important conclusion of this struggle was that prisoners gained a new ability to coordinate their actions inside the prisons of all Greece, they gained a common platform of solidarity and they gained dignity There also appeared this feeling, this consciousness. Vaggelis Palis and Yiannis Dimitrakis wrote a letter that explained this feeling from the terrace of their prison during the 2007 prison revolt, there they explained the amazing feeling of solidarity they gained that day when they experienced the end of all the differences and all the internal fights, the elimination of all the different nationalities, the end of ghettos inside the prison, the liberating feeling of the struggle in the terrace of your jail when all the prisoners come together as one.

To not idealise the prisoners, the important thing is that year after year thousands of people in the prisons understand that they have to fight against the drugs, the snitching, the separation and alienation, and the egotism. The prisoners have to realise that all these are basic elements of the creation of the society of prisons, and they have to fight against this.

It was not important for the anarchists how they carried out the struggle. For all of us it was important how the prisoners themselves realised the struggle. Because it was a struggle for demands, the important thing was how many of their demands they succeeded in winning, and the anarchist movement was ready to struggle in solidarity with the prisoners so they could gain more. The anarchists believed they had to go further, to not relax after the announcement that the government would grant some of their demands. That they could gain much greater victories if they continued. We have to say that during the days of the hunger strike the government announced that they would release almost half the prisoners of Greece. But it became apparent at the end of the hunger strike that this will be through a long procedure that takes place drop by drop. But this still shows the power of the struggle.

We have to clarify that the political analysis and the efforts of the anarchist movement in Greece focuses their solidarity on the anarchist prisoners of course, but a big difference between them and the anarchist movements of other countries is that the anarchist movement of Greece campaigns through the publication of thousands of pamphlets and protests for the elimination of prison itself. It attacks the entire prison system. Because of this the influence of anarchist ideas appears inside the prisons, and the prisoners show solidarity to the anarchist prisoners. From the dictatorship until today there was never even a month without anarchist prisoners in the prison. The anarchist movement organised solidarity for their prisoners, the anarchist prisoners influenced the other prisoners, and the prisoners influenced the anarchist movement, without differentiating between social and political prisoners. Because when the anarchists are prisoners they fight for all people on the inside.

The Left organisations in Greece, when they speak about the prisoners they speak about improving the conditions and for the human rights of the prisoners. On the other hand, when the anarchists speak about the prisoners, even if it is a poster or pamphlet that talks about solidarity with a specific prisoner, they include mention of the liberation of all prisoners and the destruction of the prison system, so even if it has the goal of expressing solidarity with one person, it opens the way towards the anarchist proposition of society without imprisonment.

But the importance is the strategy, the way of expressing your ideas to society Of course the prisoners agree the conditions have to improve, but when we speak to the society the anarchists are explicit about their highest, authentic goal and message. A society without prisons. In this way it becomes another anarchist struggle.

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You talk about material damages, we speak about human life

Panagiotis Papadimitropoulos: from Void Network

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

Perhaps the best manifestation of human agency especially as far as the formation of the modern world is concerned, is that which accompanies the ideas and practices of social movements. During the course of the 20th century different groups of people have struggled for diverse political ends using different political means with the aim to transform the social order. Everywhere around us we experience the product of past and present collective attempts to bring about social change, that is to replace old meanings and forms with new ones according to the ideas, dreams, and aspirations of social groups.

Social anthropology being particularly interested in the meanings and symbols that structure and guide social practice, has always been sensitive to the viewpoint of the weak and the oppressed because of its understanding of the workings of culture and the differential positions of power that are created within it. Especially after the mid-seventies through a series of ethnographies, such as those by James Scott, Jean Comarrof, Eric Wolf (Samuel Popkin), it approached resistance as ameans of facing and critically negotiating the power that was imposed on local societies by world structures of domination and inequality. From the ’70s onwards Marxist social theory detached itself from the model of "basis and superstructure" in which the emphasis was laid on the economic sphere. This change contributed to the promotion of anti-essentialist perspectives and thought with many different branches. The diverse readings of Gramsci, Foucault, French post-structuralism, and the multifarious feminist theory during the ’80s engendered a new field of exploration of culture through the study of subjectivity and power. As a primary consequence, a shift occurred in the conception of culture as a social totality whose meanings are shared by all of its members. The turn was to “culture" as a field of continuous change, opposition, and negotiation of meanings.

The focus has turned on the social context and conditions in which different meanings and perceptions of social reality appear. But since this is conceived in the plural as “contexts," the conditions, the practices, and the "places" in which particular phenomena manifest themselves are not reduced to a unified structural coherence that derives from the economy the values or some functional needs of the social system. The basic change that this theoretical move brought about has been the questioning of naturalised categories or conceptual tools, such as those of class, gender, or for that matter of society as an "objective" reality toward their dynamic conception as categories that develop historically through dominant discourses.

Thus, a central position in non-reductionist approaches is given to discourse analysis as a methodology that imprints and reveals with greater clarity the conceptual universe of subjects and its relation to particular institutions and social practices that construct collective or individual identities. (Scott Joan Wallash, 1988, Gender and the Politics of History). The understanding that identity is not something static but in constant flux is now common place. Much theoretical work has gone into deconstructing essentialist notions of identity based on sameness, replacing them with a conception of identity as multiple, plural or hybrid, and based on difference. In the context of talking about social reproduction and change in a discussion about social movements, we should follow Sherry Ortner in asking how exactly and in which conditions individuals or social groups perceive themselves in a particular way which, on the one hand, excludes alternative perceptions while, on the other, constructs acting subjects who select particular ways of action and reject others.

Perhaps a useful methodological and theoretical route comes from a creative match between discourse analysis and the theory of symbolic meaning in a perspective that views every social action and cultural form - and thus both power and the resistance to it - as constituting cultural constructs. That is, relations that are arranged through the human capacity to construct meaning, to interpret reality and communicate through the use of symbols, ones with a “life" of their own.

What I mean by this is that culture is perceived as inherently a historical process. For Ortner and Dirks the "place" where the cultural order meets with history in a creative combination is the discourse about power. Hence, they speak about “culture as emergent from relations of power and domination, culture as a form of power and domination, culture as a medium in which power is both constituted and resisted." The focus on phenomena of resistance and domination does not imply some essentialist view of culture. Power is not considered“some universal‘drive’ lodged in individuals nor some elementary force transcending society and history" (Ortner). On the contrary; power is interlinked with freedom or resistance in a way that the one defines the field of diffusion of the other. It always appears in an historically specific cultural context in which man as a socio-historical being composes an entire matrix of meanings and conceptions that include a wide range of desires and emotions but also of inequalities that every time are formulated and expressed in the idiom of existent cultural meanings.

Anthropological approaches to social movements and resistance have focused on the culturally specific expression of these movements. Taking culture as a central component of movements, these approaches move beyond debates about resistance and rebellion as "irrational" outbursts by subordinate peoples or carefully calculated strategic expressions of dissent, to ones that talk about movements as cultural struggles over meaning. Generally speaking, social movements and collective action have emerged in close connection with the development of structural inequalities, marginalisation, and exclusion on the one hand, and the ideas of rights, social justice, and entitlements on the other. Different groups and organisations have built platforms of solidarity and mobilisation to make claims and express their grievances targeting either the state or capital or international institutions. If in the past social movements or collective action have emerged and concentrated protest within nation-states or colonial states, with the increasing interconnectedness of different locations and social spaces, currently social movements have attained global dimensions and created transnational communities.

In a context of global flows of identities, researchers like Marianne Maeckelbergh have focused on the decision making practices within the anti-globaliation movement and on the ways democratic values are practised on a global scale through network structures that support and diffuse social movements. Very interestingly Maeckelbergh sees prefigurative practices as a strategic movement practice from which local action becomes part of global action. Eeva Berglund, looking at groups of environmentalists in Germany and Fin- land, has focused on the ideas about citizenship, independent knowledge and political practice that are generated through activism, and has argued that "environmentalist sensibilities that lead to activism arise out of shared experiences of loss of trust in ‘official’ sources of knowledge as well as unsatisfactory environmental conditions.” Activism in this context has been approached as a field of social practice that contests the legitimacy of state-produced scientific knowledge, and creates transnational ideas of independence from and opposition to state or corporate power which is seen by people as hostile to the concept of a civil society. This is not to say that we can talk about universalising models of political transformation since investigations of "civil society" discourses have exposed how such concepts as "citizenship" and “democracy" are deployed in varied forms by different actors (Gal and Kligman, 2000/Hann and Dunn, 1995, about postsocialist countries). We should therefore agree with Berglund that "we must attend to the ways in which activists make sense of local political cultures even as they attempt to transform them and effect social change."

Closer to what I will talk about today Jeffrey Juris has had an interest in studying activist and transnational networking in the context of the anti-globalisation movement in what he calls “militant ethnography” Militant ethnography according to Juris, involves "practice-based and politically committed research that is carried out in horizontal collaboration with social movements." Juris rightly remarks that "diverse activist networks physically express their contrasting political visions and identities through alternative forms of direct action" (2007). This action becomes visible through the communication of powerful and emotive images of protest that are diffused both by activist networks and mainstream media with different interpretations. Furthermore, Juris has also focused on the Black Bloc, that is the anarchist groups that have be- come particularly violent during counter summit protests (Seattle, Prague, Genova, Thessaloniki, etc.), He approaches their violence as performative violence, which he defines as “a form of meaningful interaction through which actors construct social reality based on available cultural templates." His argument, with which I agree, is that Black Bloc performative violence tends to be neither random nor senseless.

On the one hand, performative violence of anarchist groups operates on an instrumental level, that of the attempt to directly transform the social environment. On the other, we may use "performative violence" to "refer to symbolic ritual enactments of violent interaction with a predominant emphasis on communication and cultural expression." In fact, the two are interlinked. In a context of political action, and following a particular perception of social reality activists seek to effect social transformation by staging symbolic confrontation based on "the representation of antagonistic relationships and the enactment of prototypical images of violence" (Schrober and Schmidt, 2001). Very importantly the ritualistic element seems to be ever-present, especially as far as clashes with the police are concerned. A riot takes place (and in Athens riots occur almost every week), anarchists (if they participate) decide to attack particular targets that represent the State and capitalism, they move first, the police respond, activists set up barricades, and a small scale street confrontation begins with anarchists throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails and the police responding with tear gas and, when possible, with arrests.

As Kertzer has pointed out ritual is important in all political systems and there are many ways that ritual is employed in politics. Ritual, defined broadly as symbolic behaviour that is socially standardised and repetitive, is used to create reality for the people around it, while at the same time channels emotion, guides cognition, and organises social groups. In addition, ritual does not only legitimise authority since it is also used by those who want to overthrow it. That is, there are rites that legitimise authority and rites that delegitimise it. Ritual characterises conservation or continuity as well as change, transformation, or revolution. At the same time as all human conduct and perception of reality are symbolically organised, that is they represent not an essence of things but rather a relation between them, it follows that politics arises as a sphere of symbolic meanings, a sphere that on the one hand rests on existent habitus, while, on the other, creates particular discourses about power, ideal forms of social relations, the role of man, and the "nature of things" at large.

Symbols are means, indeed the primary means, by which we give meaning to the world around us. They allow us to interpret what we see, and of course they allow us to see ourselves in certain ways while excluding others. Perhaps the most striking aspect of this symbolic process is, as Kertzer remarks,“its taken-for-granted quality.” People are not generally aware that they themselves and their culture endow the world with their own symbolically constructed version of reality. On the contrary people believe the world simply presents itself in the form it is perceived. "But what else could you call a hippopotamus" Geertz remarks, and this, fortunately or unfortunately, is also true for anthropologists - at least in their non-academic activities. We could not get out of bed in the morning (at least for those who want to get out of bed) if we did not subscribe to this view, for if we fully recognised the extent to which our notions of reality are the product of an artificially constructed symbol system, it would be, as Kenneth Burke pointed out, "like peering over the edge of things into an ultimate abyss."

Through symbols we confront the experiential chaos that surrounds us, and create order. By objectifying our symbolic categories, rather than recognising them as products of human creation, we see them as somehow the products of nature, “things” that we simply perceive and recognise. Indeed, l as many (e.g. Cassirer and Bauman) have remarked, the very distinction we make between the objective world and the subjective world is itself a product of humanly created symbols that divide the world of fact from the world of opinion.

However, this is not to say that people or cultures can freely create any symbolic system imaginable, or that all such constructs are potentially equally tenacious in the material world. There is a continuous interaction between the ways people have for dealing with the physical and social universe and the actual contours of that universe. As Sahlins has emphasised, when symbolic systems collide with refractory social or physical forces, the potential for change in the symbolic system is ever present. Moreover, symbols do not simply arise spontaneously nor is the continuing process of redefinition of the symbolic universe a matter of chance. Both are heavily influenced by the distribution of resources found in the society and the relationships that exist with other societies. The key is two-fold: no meanings appear outside the existent tank of cultural materials, but at the same time it is human creativity that produces change and alternative understandings by situated individuals. Though symbols provide people a way of understanding the world, it is people who produce new symbols and transform the old. This seems to be especially true for societies like our own in which, due to their complexity; everyday practices depend on a higher degree of abstraction.

Having said this,I consider the social practices that I will refer to as fundamentally symbolic action that is organised around a particular understanding and categorisation of the social world, largely subversive. Although a lot has been said about anti-globalisation movements in the context of a reaction to processes of globalisation, my interest here is mostly on the violence performed by anarchist groups in Athens, and thus it is not necessarily or directly linked with the anti-globalisation movement. Their discourse producing a particular perception of major political institutions and their function, such as the State, as well as of basic social relations and forms such as ideas around wage-labour or the commodity form have been around long before popular discourse about globalisation begins. So I am more concerned with an agonistic rhetoric that characterises anarchist discourse in Athens and that in my view both constructs identities and opens the way to the performance of violent acts, mainly in the public space, by creating a certain perception of antagonists that the individual not only has to encounter but also to win.

December has been quite unique in Athens and to some extent in the whole country The murder of a young boy by a police officer in the area of Exarchia, well known to the whole country for its anarchist activity, led to what many saw as a spontaneous insurrection that lasted for about two weeks. Thousands of people went out to the streets, demonstrating and fighting against the police. Riots became very violent, and hundreds of banks, luxury shops, and cars were smashed and burned, as well as whole buildings. Extensive looting was taking place, while in the square outside the Parliament the burning of the city's Christmas tree, symbol of the city’s prosperity order, and normality was reported by the media as proof that the country had surrendered itself to chaos and to the destructive intentions of mindless individuals who did not know how to protest. In the first four days the riot police launched more than four tons of tear gas in Athens alone, and had to import more from Israel because they had run out of it! Barricades were set up in major avenues of the cities especially outside the squatted universities that people used as their base of operations (in Greece the universities have a constitutionally guaranteed asylum in recognition of the events of November ’73, so according to the law the police cannot enter). In the context of political processes run mainly by anarchist groups, open assemblies were taking place every day in the universities to discuss means for the continuation of the upheaval. Many texts were being printed and distributed in different areas of the city.

Although it is difficult to interpret what exactly has happened there are a few certain things that I could mention. Firstly that the death of the child was only the spark. The causes are certainly deeper and are related to specific ideas of particular people about Greek society and capitalist society as a whole, as well as to specific underprivileged statuses (e.g. a lot of immigrants participated, feeling that they were striking back in some way). Secondly, the people (people from different age groups, social classes and ethnic groups) who participated were a minority. Most people could not understand where this thing was coming from. Finally being to a large extent a destructive force, the insurrection did not express any specific demands - besides the rage against police brutality - that made many people wonder even more about its character. It seems to me that some people (especially anarchist groups with ideological discourse and orientations) knew quite well what they were doing whereas others responded more spontaneously. But for the anarchists too the major question - an ideological one - has been what the next step would be, what this situation could leave behind as a seed. Clearly for some this was resistance against the State. The antagonist was the State represented both in the places where commodities were being destroyed and in the riot police that were being attacked.

The crucial factor here is a powerful discursive formation, that of anarchist ideology that, largely based on Marxism, is characterised both by a specific revolutionary narrative about the social world and a specific conception of the individual. It begins with the presupposition that a better and more just society in which social and economic equality can be attained, is possible. A belief in the self-determination of the individual and the autonomy or self-management of his community considers that hierarchically structured social relations produce societies of inequality and exploitation in which people are divided into the oppressors, those who have power, and the oppressed, those who are subjected to the control and the power of the former. From this perspective a polarised conception of the social world creates a dichotomous view of society as constituted by subjects categorised on the basis of their access to material resources that is thus equated to the power to control. In this manner, the majority of people are presented, to a large extent, as lacking agency, not being able to determine the conditions of their own existence, but being subjected to the will of individuals and institutions that manipulate them in order to further their utilitarian needs and interests.

In this context, anarchist ideology and discourse aspire to a general ideal of "human freedom" which is defined as a condition wherein the individual lives and creates according to his/her desires that, in turn, spring from a reference to the concept of self. The self should be the creator of both the community and its institutions that are presented in direct opposition to the existent ones as consolidated on the basis of man’s "real" needs, that is not following economic interest which only supports a class society. Interestingly the utopian society of anarchists is not one of absolute harmony, but one where conflict appears when people themselves decide so. This is why the nation-state is considered an artificial construct that homogenises and unites people by force for the promotion of class and power interests of the elite. The abolition of the State comes as the answer to the issue of ideal political organisation that, according to this view, must aim to the autonomy of a smaller community.

The vehicle of this fundamental social change is considered to be the mass mobilisation of people, the movement to revolution which can bring "human freedom" when people realise the fetters of the State and its mechanisms, but also their own power to act shaping their conditions of life. From this point of view, representative democracy is viewed as an oppressive system of governance that maintains the distinction between rulers and ruled, and perpetuates in a sly way human heteronomy.

At the same time, especially among the groups I am focusing on, wage-labour is considered perhaps the most oppressive condition in modern societies and it is thus often referred to as "wage-slavery" mainly because of the restrictions it is thought to pose to “human desire," but also because according to the Marxist point of view, it reifies what is in fact a social relation. Indeed, the notion of "desire" is a fundamental one -and for the researcher a crucial factor - because it implies an essential self that differs from the so cial self in its will to live in ways that are not related and are contrary to the restrictions put by dominant culture. And as I said, perhaps the most important such restriction is considered to be wage-labour. Labor is identified with economic interest, which is ethically inferior in the hierarchy of values. But more importantly; wage-labour is considered to be the greatest compromise of an individual’s personal freedom. From here springs the disrespect for the workplace (a place that is by definition presented as oppressive) and the will for one to physically attack it, especially when it reflects the interests of capital. In this manner, what is the workplace of some becomes the target of violent attacks by others, since these are perceived not only as spaces of exploitation and alienation but also of promotion of material-capitalist interest.

These observations concerning the anarchist ideal and discourse cannot be of much help in understanding performative violence if they are not contextualised within Greek political history, a history of intense political violence. Towards the end of the sixties anarchist ideas began to appear in Greece as a further radicalisation of the already existent social struggle and the wider left social movement that fought through severe strikes, demonstrations, and clashes with the police for social and labour rights in a society in which the civil war of 1946-49, between the national government and the communists, had cost the lives of about 70,000 people, with tens of thousands of leftists exiled to small inhospitable Greek islands. In contrast to other countries, like Spain, anarchism in Greece appears, mainly as an urban political culture embraced by - but not limited to - the young (although its influence is also present in rural mobilisations at the beginning of the 20th century). The initial ideological influences came from the French May of ’68 but also from the legacy of the American counter-culture, and blended with the Greek left tradition of disrespect for a state that from the beginning of the 20th century was characterised by its nationalistic orientation, policies, and discourse and that until 1974 - and especially during the years of the dictatorship 1967-1974 - was fighting against what it perceived as the communist threat. Very importantly, in 1974 the Greek Communist Party was recognised as a legal political party and officially became a member party of the Parliament. At the level of ideology this change meant an important withdrawal since the Communist Party could no longer evangelise the possibility of a revolution.

Thus, towards the end of the seventies anarchists (that part of the libertarians who found the Left to be conservative both in lifestyles and in their political agenda) began to perceive the use of violence as an authentic expression of the old political and social dream of revolution and themselves as continuing and persisting with the conditions of the civil war, a war that had ended with the communists’ defeat and surrendering of arms. Violence, in this context, performed not as terroristic acts by groups like November 17th, which planted bombs and assassinated people, but in the open public space during riots, or today as small scale hits on targets such as police stations or specific companies and banks by a number of people with a “teaching them a lesson" logic. Violence of this sort began to express the authenticity of intentions/the most honest way" as an informant said, to preserve the flame of revolution. It is in this sense that violence during riots represents those who see themselves as keeping alive the dream of revolution. And as Pratt has demonstrated about anarchism in Andalusia, the moral vision of anarchists for a new social order without class divisions has given rise to a revolutionary narrative in which revolution is associated with destruction.

In the early eighties came the influence of the German movement of autonomen-chaoten and its symbols. Anarchists in Greece, now operating independently from the numerous leftist groups, began to identify themselves as "anarchist" and to use the now well-known circled "A." Most importantly they borrow from the German movement the use of the hood/mask, as a symbol of an unexpected attack by an invisible and fearful aggressor (today most would argue that the primary reason for one wearing a mask is not to be traced by the surveillance systems of the police, thus downplaying its powerful symbolic value).

From the early nineties onwards, anarchist groups started to have an interest in influencing society more than they did in the past - they became more social and less marginal, in a sense - not necessarily with the aim of forming a movement, but more in the sense of their attempt to be politically visible during times of important social problems. A basic idea begins to take root that of the transformation of everyday life brought about both by Situationists like Debord and Vaneigem and the German and Italian Autonomia. So, in riots for instance, they begin to respond to specific central decisions and plans that came with neoliberalism after the fall of the Soviet Union, such as privatisations. But most importantly through a public discourse that manifested itself in thousands of printed pamphlets and street posters distributed in the whole country they further cultivated the idea of "an anarchist attack."

Now, the whole idea of the attack has great significance, it appears a lot in anarchist discourse and can enlighten us on perceptions of violence. I am referring to a widespread view that anarchists hold for themselves, according to which it is they who attack. In this manner, they are self- identified not so much as a movement of resistance - since this characterisation is followed by connotations of a weak position - but as a movement of offence/attack/assault. Practically this means that the police (which are perceived as a class mechanism that stands as a barrier between the people and capital) should not be the ones, strategically speaking, to make the first move, that is they should not be the ones who attack first. On the contrary it is the anarchists who retain the momentum, that is they select the occasion, exact place/spot and the exact time of the performance of a violent act. As a consequence, they do not perceive themselves as victims of police brutality. Being the aggressor prevents one from victimising oneself. Not victimising oneself means that even if you "lose" there is reference to the category of an agonistic dignity - as indeed occurs - which thus increases. So, accordingly the struggle is always offensive, thus the slogans with such strong imagery: "clashing opens passages" or "think revolutionary, act aggressively".

This is why the discourse in brochures and street posters presents themselves as the aggressors with the use of an eager rhetoric of continuous war, self-sacrifice but also open conspiratory activity aiming at the subversion of the existent social order. An example of this comes from the text that followed the attack by twenty people on a police station, burning the parked police cars and motorbikes in July 2008. To explain their position they stated: "And if some (people) continue to spin round on a roulette wheel waiting to end up on a lucky number, if some leave their lives to chance, there are others who ambush, thinking that they only live once and owe it to hemselves to draw a course of dignity in the everyday life that surrounds them choosing the role of its denier. And we are some of these people, and we organise our desires with rage and consciousness and not with blank justifications for inaction and passivity We are the carriers of hatred for your world. Disgusted by everything that provides the sense of order and security, your police stations are always our target."

What we have to emphasise is that in this militarised anarchist discourse we find implicit the conception of the perpetuation of attack to the capitalist order and the State that leads to the idea of an ethical legitimisation and higher responsibility. What is more, this legitimisation of violence is, in the anarchist imagination, to be sanctioned not by present society but from history that is by the society of the future. Anarchist discourse does not negotiate, does not converse about the value of violent activity with those who find violence senseless or useless. This is why during riots, whenever people from the Left attempt to persuade and prevent them from carrying out acts of destruction they fail. Indeed, holding a view of modern society as bankrupted and resembling a "desert" (a now commonly used metaphor), I would argue, creates a conviction that today’s violent acts will be validated by people in a distant future, that is by future generations. In this way there is a displacement of the dialogue for recognition of violence from present society to that of the future. So, a belief that an act of revolution is an act of destruction and that nothing else from society as presently constituted is to be carried forward, creates a dialogue with the future, thus the powerful slogan that we saw during December: "we are an image from the future" in which one traces the idea that a certain violence performed against what is perceived as political targets will only be understood in the years to come. In this context, decisions about the performance of violence are beyond dispute since they represent a higher goal that cannot converse with or be compromised by present conditions, considerations or ideas. In this way; the culturally accepted idiom that could set the terms of a dialogue breaks down, or is being transcended. Hence, there is no discussion about whether it is right or wrong to burn down a store ("if in the society of the future private property will not have the same content it has today we can, today, attack it"). Such a categorisation armours individuals since it legitimises violent activity by considering that this will only be understood in the future.

In this sense, violence is necessary for the message it sends to future generations. Since past experience informs the understanding of the present and marks possible routes of action, it is certain that the frequent performance of violence creates specific conceptions in society about the tolerable and normal limits of it, not in the sense of its acceptance but in the sense of the consolidation of an expected degree of violence, a degree that is manageable both by society and the State. Especially as far as the police are concerned, they (the police) seem to operate within a specific set of meanings that define the relation of the antagonists on the basis of a past experience of violence, an experience that is guided by and at the same time recognises a particular ritualistic sequence in a confrontation that usually does not allow for this violence to become murderous. There is in a way; an implicit and mutual understanding between the antagonists - between anarchist groups and the police - that violence during riots must not lead to the loss of human life, which is appreciated more than material loss in the whole system of cultural meanings. This, on the other hand, could be regarded as an antithesis since a discourse of war does not account only for material damage but for human loss as well. But as we remarked, violence does not only have practical - instrumental aspects, but also symbolic - expressive ones (Riches). Going back to December, the confrontations in the streets and the heavy material dam- ages all over Greece were followed by an attack on a riot police bus with machine guns by the terrorist group Revolutionary Struggle that aimed at the assassination of police officers as a response to the assassination of the young boy Most of the people I talked to said that they were not sure if this was a proper reaction, since it was taking the conflict to a different level, that is taking away the legitimation of violence that had taken place in the streets. From this point of view, violence was useful and successful, that is serving the interests of a social movement that wants to gain popular support, only as long as it does not become murderous. However, those who believe in an open and continuous confrontation with the State and "its guards," those who engage in a discourse of perpetual war thought that the identity of the revolutionary is defined by him negating that the State should have the monopoly of violence. As one person told me: "why is it normal for the police to walk around with guns, while I am taken for a crazy and dangerous person if I do so? They killed a young boy in cold blood. Aren’t they dangerous?"

The State employs discourses of law, order, and good citizenship and uses symbols to legitimise its authority. A different set of symbols (the violent confrontation and its targets) are used by anarchist groups to mobilise opposition and communicate a negation of what is perceived as a coercive institution and mechanism that according to a Marxist and anarchist perspective collaborates with the other major force of human exploitation that historically helped in its creation and development, namely capital or the capitalist establishment, which is identified with the State and its ordering of human life.

So far the anarchist argument follows a well known leftist or libertarian logic familiar to all of us: capital accumulates social wealth and at the same time creates and supports the State to safeguard its interests. The State does not represent or promote the needs of society but those of the capital that produce social inequality and exploitation. So, the argument goes, the State lies in its self-image and pseudo-identification with society. The problem, certainly not a social one, arises when some people believe this is so more than others and decide to act in a more, we could say direct manner, one that is considered by most, at least in our societies, as less “civilised," Indeed, for most people, although political protest is a legitimate means for advancing certain demands and interests - social, economic, political and so forth - this must be performed within certain limits of legality established by the laws of the State, And by no means do most of us know enough or feel comfortable enough to become violent during a demonstration (to burn a few cars, to smash some banks or throw Molotov cocktails at the police or luxury shops). All the more so since this usually involves some preparation that is mostly a matter of interpretation which is linked to the multivocality of symbols (the same symbol may be understood by different people in different ways). You either feel that a Ferrari should or could be burned or you don’t, you either consider it a manifestation of social inequality or a proof of higher technology and beauty or a little bit of both, but more one than the other. Of course, what is at stake here is a basic organisational principle of our societies: that of private property and its sacredness.“No one has the right to touch what I have gained through hard labour." The anarchist understanding is slightly different: if you own a lot it means that you have been subjecting others to some sort of exploitation since someone has to be poor if someone else becomes rich. At the same time, there is a powerful idea that surrounds behaviour towards objects, that of the nature of the commodity form. According to a Marxist and Debordian perspective commodities being the product of alienating social relations are themselves alienating, supporting a reified picture of the world, that is a world comprised by “things" and not social relations.

Commodities are being produced by people who sell their product to those who own the means of production, thus giving up what belongs to them. What is left to them from the produced product is the paid labour, while capital is produced through the unpaid labour, known as surplus value. Alienation, here, is conceived as a process by which the paid worker experiences a sense of loss that the giving away of his product creates, and the simultaneous implicit misconception that what you buy is not yours. The products that an individual has produced with his labour return to him through consumption in which he is called to buy what he himself has produced. As Guy Debord (The Society of the Spectacle) has argued, especially after the explosion of the advertising industry; the commodity form is being diffused to all levels of society; falsifying all social activities and relations through the strong imagery it creates. In a society where everything can be sold, it is thought that reality is transformed into an economic transaction. Social relations are mediated by commodities as when status is acquired through the consumption of particular products. The commodity form, being diffused, is transformed into images mediated by it so that it can be sold. This, according to the particular perspective, creates the various lifestyles that the advertising industry promotes, thus constructing identities based on consumption. In this manner, the argument goes, the commodity is being internalised, that is it exists as a mediated image that guides human behaviour and consumerist culture. In a world where image dominates, we begin to relate not to real individuals but with the images of the commodity If human relations are mediated by their images, and images are mediated by commodity then, in the final analysis, social relations are mediated by commodities.

In anarchist discourse then, it is this perception of commodities as falsifying elements of human interaction that provides legitimisation to the acts of destroying commodities (and the shops which sell them) and allows individuals to imagine looting as an act by which products are being taken by those who "really" own them.

This is precisely what anarchist discourse does: it provides individuals with particular knowledge that helps in ordering the world and providing necessary material for action. And action is indeed their speciality. Without getting into detail I would say that anarchist groups appear in at least seven cities around Greece. Influenced by a different range of theoretical stances such as the situationists, classical anarchism, the German and Italian autonomia, and more recently but less so, the so-called insurrectionists like the Italian Bonanno and the French “illegalists," they develop a discourse that conceptualises major institutions in the way I have described.

Now, when I am talking about anarchist groups I am referring to organised ones, that is groups that can range from five to forty people (from diverse social backgrounds. Aya has remarked on the fact that the anarchist movement in Spain constituted an alliance of different economic actors, and has seen this as one of the reasons for its weakness) with specific political activity. This includes three main practices. The first is the printing and distribution of street posters and brochures. The second is regular horizontally-structured, closed meetings in which various topics and routes of action are discussed and analysed. The third involves participation in larger open anarchist assemblies in which a great deal of networking activity and common organising takes place on a local or national level. All three practices seem to be crucial and their coexistence is important for a sense of collective identity.

Regarding the first, with the printed material groups present their political views and criticisms in a written text that, through its distribution, is announced and communicated to society. As far as the second is concerned, the closed meeting comprises a proof that the group indeed exists and is operative through a process of dialogue between equals who see each other as "comrades." To a large extent it is the main decision-making mechanism of small collectivities, and it being closed means that certain people not only have attained a certain degree of friendship and personal contact, but also a particular way of thinking and vocabulary that excludes others-anarchists and non-anarchists alike. Coming to the third, participation in large anarchist assemblies (often held in universities) indicates participation in political processes that extend from those of one's own group and facilitates wider decision-making by people with similar outlooks and common interests. In such assemblies, which can last from two to five hours, anyone can present his views and decisions are taken through consensus, not a majority vote. This is seen by many as an intrinsic feature and a central element that distinguishes “us" from “them," that is from non-anarchist decision-making practices that are hierarchically or vertically structured. Such assemblies might be open to everyone - as when possible participation in protests is being discussed - or closed, that is by invitation to particular people and groups - as when decisions regarding risky and violent acts are about to take place.

In relation to these, they can include a wide range of targets and different practices. Banks may be smashed or burned (with molotov cocktails), as well as luxury shops and cars, supermarkets might be looted, also sabotage of surveillance cameras may take place - especially during riots - but most importantly state buildings are attacked, and finally what is a relatively recent practice, from the last two to three years, police stations are attacked by groups of thirty to fifty people with sledge hammers and molotov cocktails, burning police cars, and smashing the building.

Mainstream media and a lot of people who find this violence meaningless and posing a danger for democracy wonder why the police cannot arrest these people. The answer is very interesting, but also very simple, and quite far from the experience of most people in modern cities. The answer is that if thirty people, and thirty is a lot of people, decide to perform a violent act against someone or something, they will most probably succeed in doing so.

What we have to keep in mind is that we are talking about small groups, both men and women, who come together in order to plan and perform unexpected attacks. But the most important element is not the accuracy of a plan - though this is definitely important - but the fact that small hits of this sort are based on close, long-lasting interpersonal relationships of friendship and intimacy What is more, the most fundamental element appears to be that of trust. You cannot carry out a violent act with people you do not know. On the contrary people who cooperate have done so in the past and know that they can rely on each other. And there are certain criteria and characteristics that are appreciated and valued for creating this sense of trust. A person must be courageous (i.e. bold but always sticking to the plan), must not set himself or the group to additional risk, must be able to move fast, to perform certain tasks, and also to show an ability to improvise in case something goes wrong.

What is more, setting oneself into frequent danger and risk of arrest and imprisonment, as well as the fact that experience of this sort transmits a sense of certainty about success, create a different perception of one’s own position towards state repression, and most importantly a different perception of normality It is not only that notions of “citizenship" are being challenged here. Performative violence constructs subjects with a different relation towards the emotion of fear. In this context, what is normality for some becomes a passive state of being for those informed by an agonistic discourse that guides them into social practices that most of us would consider life-threatening. From this perspective, I would argue, that since what prevents some people from such acts is the internalisation of the fear of arrest and punishment that flows from the dominant discourse of an ever present and powerful state, what we find in groups like these is precisely a better management of this fear constituted through experience. This involves a powerful notion that relates to the different expectations of the people concerned: the notion that "anything is possible," that increased empowerment constructs a strong sense of agency in people who conceptualise the State as a major force of restraint of human agency and initiative. This, then, becomes a crucial factor of contestation of State power by groups that perceive it not only as coercive but also as defeatable.

It is through personal initiative for violence that individuals construct an identity of an active subject that resists perceived conditions of general passivity and apathy. The insurrectionist, the term most commonly used, is identified with the person who resists the determination of his life by an antagonistic State. In a country with a long history of intercommunal political violence, the insurrectionist constructs himself the field of conflict and steps into it by becoming either an urban guerrilla or an activist.

In one of his papers, Jeffrey Juris remarks that anti-corporate globalisation activists face the challenge or having to develop new approaches in the face of their mass direct actions becoming stagnant. He sees the need for sustainable organisation - even if decentralised and network based - that can survive the flows of mass mobilisation. On the other hand, anarchist groups in Greece do not face, in my view, a similar challenge. Their discourse and a long history of violence provide the necessary material to continue with a solid perception of the State as their main antagonist. It is this perception that being internally uncontested generates performative violence as a basic means to articulate identities that will reproduce it.

It has been said that the impact of a particular ritual is a product of its past performances. Memories associated with earlier experiences guide new enactments of rites. This is why rites have both a conservative bias and an innovative potential. This is also why December reinforced the pre-existing view among these groups that this specific sort of violence, with its spectacular characteristics, can operate as a successful political and subversive technique. To the extent that the whole country watched in awe what a few thousand people can do when they coordinate reinforces this truism.

The so-called "chaos” that anarchists create, the absence of specific - read “logical" - demands, and their rituals (violent confrontation and assemblies) - to the extent that they do not represent a particular political program-operate as crucial elements in the creation of an alternative structure. While not devoid of organisation, their non-hierarchical, non-authoritarian modes as well as the fact that they do not stand for - like the organisations of other radicals - a counter-structure helps in retaining characteristics of anti-structure that are not easily contested. Acts of destruction communicate in an explicit way their utopian vision for a change that is perceived not as political but as cultural, therefore generating even stronger moral judgements and passions. At the same time, they themselves comprise an important example of the multiplicity of cultural discourses that can lead to a multiplicity of cultural experience and subjectivity within the same society.

In the cultural invention of the frequent use of violence we see not only an attempt to retain agency but also the ways dominant discourse and power are contested. We see not a burst that reaffirms the value of maintaining the social order but a claim for its transformation. This is why performative violence might be a subversive process that challenges the preservation of existent meanings and not an element that reinforces them.

Comments

3. These days are for Alexis

Chronology: December 6-25, 2008

Submitted by Uncreative on December 17, 2010

Saturday December 6, 2008: Two cops confront a group of young anarchists on Mesollogiou Street in Exarchia, Athens. Cop Epaminondas Korkoneas shoots and kills fifteen-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. Within an hour people gather and soon begin clashing with police. Some anarchists quickly make the critical decision to occupy the Polytechnic. Attacks on police, banks, and luxury stores spread to Patision Avenue, Ermou, and to the universities Nomiki and Pantio. Friends of Alexis fight off police attempts to enter Evaggelismos Hospital, where his body has been taken. Seventy luxury shops on Ermou are smashed and burnt to the ground, and a seven-floor megastore is torched. People in the cafes and bars hear the news and join in.Anarchists also occupy ASOEE university and leftists and anti-authoritarians occupy Nomiki, the law school. By the end of the night, much of the city is filled with tear gas, police have been chased out of many neighbourhoods, and multiple police stations have been attacked. News of the killing and the riots spread throughout Greece via internet and cell phone. Starting within just a couple hours of the murder, major spontaneous protests attack police stations and banks in Thessaloniki, Iraklion, Chania, Patras, Ionnina, Kavala, and Volos. Smaller demonstrations occur in Rethymnon, Komotini, Mytilini, Alexandropouli, Serres, Sparta, Corfu, Xanthi, Larissa, Naxos, Agrinio, and countless small towns.

December 7: In Athens a demonstration of over 10,000 people immediately turns into a riot causing major property damage, burning down many corporate and luxury shops. Police attack with thousands of tear gas canisters, but are frequently chased away sometimes even being routed by rioters. Riot police try to occupy Exarchia and residents pelt them with stones and flower pots, More banks and police stations are burned. Police are only able to carry out seven arrests throughout the day owing to heavy and generalised resistance. In Thessaloniki 1,000 people break away from a protest march of 3,000 and attack a police station. After the leftists leave the march it continues to attack government buildings and another police station, setting up barricades and burning luxury stores. Police attack the university and theatre school occupations. Police and demonstrators alike are injured in the fighting. In Iraklion and Patras there are demonstrations of 600 and 1,000 people, respectively with the anarchists forming large blocs at the end as usual. In both cities many banks are attacked, causing the leftists in Patras to leave the march. In Corfu several hundred people protest. After demonstrators clash with police, a dozen youth from KKE (the Communist Party) and PASOK lock the university and refuse to let the protesters in, leaving them at the mercy of the riot police.There is also a large, violent demonstration in Ionnina involving 1,000 people, it is attacked by police, who hospitalise three. Other protests and actions occur in Mytilini, Ithaki, Larissa, Pyrgos, Karditsa, Kavala, Xanthi, Volos, Serres, Sparta, Kozani, Arta, and Naxos. In some cases in small cities, groups of as few as ten people carry out bold actions like attacking police stations with molotovs and dispersing before they can be caught, as occurred in Pyrgos. In Kozani an anarchist demo of just eighty people besieges the local police station, kicking out journalists and building barricades. In other places, events unfold rather peacefully as in Sparta where anarchists occupy a university and set up an infopoint.

December 8: Many schools and universities are closed this Monday But rather than stay at home, students occupy their schools or take to the streets. In Athens alone, thousands of students march on and attack police stations all over the city Meanwhile, anarchists at the Polytechnic battle police for hours and burn down all the computer stores on Stournari Street. More than 200 arson attacks occur across the city and the huge, decorative Christmas tree on Syntagma Square is burnt down. Cops open fire on rioters with live ammo. Many police stations, banks, government offices, ministries, luxury stores, and corporate chain stores are smashed or burned completely Dozens of cops are injured. In Piraeus all the police cars parked at the police station are destroyed by local high school students. In Thessaloniki students and extreme Left organisations hold multiple protests, and occupy the Lawyers Association building to use it as a counter-information center. Police stations and government ministries are attacked with stones and molotovs, and a student march down the principal avenue, Egnatia, destroys every bank on the street, along with many other stores, while burning Greek flags. In Patras, anarchists occupy a local TV station to broadcast counter-information. In Iraklion, a march of 2,000 people forces police to retreat, and at night the city is engulfed in rioting, in which many Roma, hooligans, and poor people participate alongside anarchists and students. Most banks in the city centre are torched. Thousands of people, mostly students, march and riot in Chania, Larissa, Rhodes, Nafplio, Chios, Egio, Veria, Kavala, Agrinio, Aliveri, Alexandroupoli, Chaldiki, Giannitsa, Syros, Ierapetra, Kastoria, Korinthos, Kyprarissia, Pyrgos, Corfu, Xanthi, Kilkis, Trikala, Serres, Tripoli, Mytilini, Kalamata, Moudros, Lamia, Kozani, Florina, Edessa, and elsewhere. In each place between 50 and 2,000 people participate, and actions range from blockading the police station and pelting it with garbage, to pelting police with molotovs and rocks and burning down banks. In several cities, youth with the KKE try to protect the police or prevent the occupation of universities.

December 9: Cops provoke the massive crowd at Alexis’s burial, shooting tear gas just as he is being interred, leading to more fighting. At the time most of the anarchists in Athens are at the funeral, yet heavy street fighting is simultaneously being carried out by non-political people throughout the city. The ASOEE occupation successfully repels a MAT attack. Thousands of prisoners throughout Greece boycott meals for the day in commemoration of Alexis, even though they are recovering from their hunger strike. Anarchists expropriate food from supermarkets to feed the university occupations or to distribute it on the streets. Multiple police stations across the city are attacked. Immigrants are hunted by police and fascists. Fighting and protesting continues in other cities and towns across the country There are major protests in Thessaloniki, Patras,Volos, and Ioannina, that are brutally attacked by police trying to stop the uprising. In Thessaloniki and Patras cops and fascists work together to attack the anarchists and the occupations.

December 10: The General Confederation of Greek Workers calls off the general strike it had already scheduled months earlier for that day Tens of thousands of people gather in the streets anyway and fighting with police resumes throughout Athens. Many workers, including air traffic controllers, walk off the job, bringing transportation to a halt. Police are increasingly assisted by fascists in Athens, while in Thessaloniki members of the KKE unmask and beat a rioter. Protests, occupations, and riots continue in other cities and towns throughout Greece. A group of about 100 Roma attack a police station in the Zefyri suburb of Athens. Total damages up to that point are estimated at fifty million euros, 554 buildings have been attacked, and twenty-seven cars set on fire. By the end the total cost of damages would quadruple.

December 11: The city hall of Aghios Dimitrios is occupied by residents. Throughout Athens students hold assemblies or fight on the streets alongside anarchists. In the afternoon, twenty-five police stations throughout the city are besieged and multiple undercover cops are put in the hospital. One hundred twenty schools in Athens are occupied by their students. Police request more tear gas from Israel; they have run out. In Piraeus anti-authoritarian students manage to kick the KKE out of the university so they can occupy it. In Thessaloniki a march of about 600, mostly anarchists, is attacked by police, but residents join them and the protest swells to 3,000, repelling police. Five thousand protest in Patras. Demonstrations, actions, and occupations continue to occur in other cities and towns.

December 12: In Athens Flash FM radio is occupied but the signal is quickly cut. A government building in the Chalandri neighbourhood is occupied and turned into an infopoint. The old city hall in the same neighbourhood is occupied to house an open popular assembly Students organise a massive march in the centre of Athens.They are attacked by police and fight back. Outside Parliament there is a peaceful sit down protest. Police attack the Nomiki occupation and are repelled by the people. Many cops are set on fire. All over the country open assemblies are held in university occupations. The city hall in Ioannina is occupied. At night a massive, peaceful, candlelit protest is held in Athens in commemoration of Alexis.

December 13-23: Thousands of actions, too many to count, occur across Athens and in many other cities and towns, including occupations, counter-information. The large scale production of pamphlets and texts speaking to hundreds of themes to counteract the lies broadcast by the media commences. Protests, propaganda work, supermarket expropriations, actions to liberate the public transportation, assemblies, attacks against specific targets, and direct communication with society on a diffuse and massive scale continues.

December 16: A group of artists and anarchists occupies NET the major public television station in Athens, interrupting a speech by the prime minister and broadcasting a message urging people to turn off their TVs and take to the streets.

December 17: The central building of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) in Athens is occupied by anarcho-autonomous base unions, supported by anarchists and libertarians. Roughly six hundred people participate in their assembly every afternoon.

December 21: The occupation of the GSEE ends.

December 23: Three thousand protesters march through Athens. In the afternoon a riot police bus is shot up with automatic rifles in Zografou, a neighbourhood of Athens. Bulgarian immigrant worker Konstantina Kuneva is brutally attacked by unknown assailants, probably in retaliation for her activity organising fellow precarious cleaning workers and her association with the GSEE occupation.

December 24: Several hundred anarchist stage a peaceful march through Athens.

December 25: Christmas is exploited to the maximum extent as a social symbol of peace, tradition, the atomisation of social life into the private sphere, and consumption. In the official narrative Christmas marks the definitive end of the revolt; however arson attacks targeting banks, car dealerships, and government officials in multiple Athens neighbourhoods as well as in Ioannina promise a continued struggle.

Comments

The world left behind

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

“There was a protest scheduled for earlier that day, the 6th of December,” she was telling me, an ironic twinkle in her eye. “I remember, we had a meeting to discuss what to do. At the protest would we throw stones, or paint bombs, or just trash? We decided to throw trash. We knew that nothing much would happen at the protest, and we weren't prepared for strong clashes with the police. It was just another day. Nothing out of the ordinary could be seen on the horizon. Before nine o’clock that night, Athens was the most miserable place in the world. The same as everywhere else."

Comments

Suddenly i heard a bang

Lito: An Exarchia resident whose balcony overlooks the spot where Alexis Grigoropoulos was murdered.

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

I’m not so involved in any political activities. I’m not an activist. I can only speak about the killing. I can’t take a position on all the other things that happened because all these other things are very complicated and I don’t have clear thoughts on them.

Exarchia has always been an alternative, counter-culture neighbourhood. For many years it was a frequent occurrence that something would happen on a street corner in Exarchia and suddenly everyone from the cafés and the bars and the sidewalks would pour out into the streets and run to see what was happening. Usually it was incidents between people and police, some fights, confrontations, insults, shouting matches. In the old times it happened very often. Then there was a period when this didn’t happen so much, but in the last years it has started becoming more common again.

The reason that I found myself with a camera on the balcony that night was because I had always wanted to film one of these confrontations that are always taking place below my window But every time I would come to my balcony to see what was happening, I got delayed. By the time I went back inside to get my camera it was too late, it was already over. This happened to me many times. And the last time that it happened, I said to myself, the next time, first I’ll grab the camera and then I’ll go to the balcony.

And the next time turned out to be an incident that I never expected could happen. Two years earlier a friend visited me from Germany and he mentioned that the police here seem very provocative and dangerous. Even though he was a tourist, the way they behaved made him feel less safe, they made him feel endangered. And when this friend heard about what happened on the 6th of December, he wrote that he wasn’t at all surprised. But I was.

All the previous times, I never got scared observing these lights between people and the police. It was part of my everyday life in Exarchia. It was something commonplace. Because the Exarchia locals express their negation of authority firmly and they believe in it, whenever something was happening I didn’t need to take a position or make a stand because it was just a part of life in this area. Of course in the ten years that I’ve lived in this flat, I’ve observed year after year a gradual increase in the police presence, an intensification. Policemen began to appear on every corner in the neighbourhood, in groups, and also they were armoured. Observing armoured police in full riot gear carrying pistols, tear gas guns, and machine guns - was feeling more and more intense. In this period the slogan started to appear on the walls: "on every street corner there are police, the junta didn’t end in ’73."

On December 6 I was here in the apartment with my German friend. He was cooking in the kitchen and I was in the living room. Suddenly I heard a bang. I hadn’t heard any noise before that. Nothing was happening in the streets, no shouts, nothing. Without warning there was just a bang. It seemed to me that it came from down the street, on the left-hand side. Despite the surprise, this time I remembered to grab my camera first. I was not in a panic, I didn’t feel anything unusual, I just calmly got the camera and went to the balcony I didn’t think anything extraordinary had happened. I looked outside, but I didn't turn the camera on in the beginning because nothing was happening. I saw a few youths down to the left, sitting like they always do. The young anarchists are always hanging out down there, although this night there were fewer than normal. And on the right-hand side, up the street, I saw a police car parked at the corner. One moment after the police car drove off, I saw two cops coming back on foot, and this was very strange to me. I asked myself, what are they going to do? They arrived at the spot where the car had been before, and started provoking the kids, saying "Come on you pussies!" When I heard this I shouted to the German guy, "Come look! The police came and they’re starting a fight." He would get a chance to see this phenomenon of the Greek cops provoking a fight by insulting people. It’s normal that the police speak bad to people, but this was too much. It was provocative because they parked the police car and they came walking back and shouting challenges. That’s how normalpeople start a fight. It was like a personal fight, not the usual provocation by police.

Immediately after that they both took out their guns, both the cops. This was never mentioned by the media. And I got one surprise after another. First they came back on foot, then they started a fight by insulting the kids, then they took out their guns, and then they took aim-in a moment when there was no challenge and no threat, there was no fight or confrontation going on. And they shot. I heard two shots but I can’t say if both of them shot or if one shot twice. It's possible that one of them shot twice. And they turned around and just left, simple as that, as though nothing had happened. Me, until that moment, it didn’t occur to me to look to the left, to the group of kids, because it was all so incredibly strange, the behaviour of these two policemen. There was no need to look to the other side because nothing was happening there. And then I heard the people in the street shout that a kid had been shot. And then I felt panic. I ran inside, grabbed the telephone and called an ambulance, and I went down to the street. I saw just one kid lying there, and I was shocked. Everybody was shouting and many people were fainting. The kid wasn't dead yet, and a doctor had appeared and was trying to administer first aid. Then the ambulance arrived and he died inside in the ambulance, I think.

I found out from other people that the first bang had been a concussion grenade. Apparently someone had thrown a plastic bottle at the police car and yelled an insult as it was passing and the police responded by throwing the grenade from the car. That’s not so unusual here. It’s normal to shout, everyone in Greece is shouting at each other. So I’m sure the policemen hadn’t been threatened, they weren’t defending themselves. Really if a policeman feels a serious threat, he doesn’t drive down to the next corner then walk back to clean up the situation. Usually when the police feel a threat or feel like they’re under attack, they drive off, they get out of there. The police were not on the defensive at that moment.

I went back up and tried to watch the video on my computer, but I couldn’t because I was missing some program. So I knocked on my neighbours door and said I recorded something but I don’t know what it is. Can we put it in your computer so I can see what it is? And we saw the video, and the way I felt, I had never felt that way in my entire life. We called down all the people from the entire neighbourhood, everyone, we all came down onto the streets, and the energy the atmosphere, was one of rage. It was overflowing all the streets, everywhere people were pouring out of their houses onto the streets. Everybody.

The riot police had the gall to come here, back to this corner where the first cop car had stopped, and where the shots were fired. And of course everybody started shouting at them, young people, old people, normal people, everyone was shouting at them to go the hell away.

About two hours after the shooting, it’s impossible to say exactly how long but it was about two hours. The secret police came. I was back in my house listening to the radio and the TV which were saying there were riots in Exarchia, that the police had been attacked and fired in self-defence, but this wasn’t true. And the riots hadn’t even started yet. And from my window I saw men without uniforms looking at the walls of the buildings around the shooting. The secret police had come to search for the shell casings and the bullets, to investigate the area. I was with my neighbour, and I told him I was going down. I wanted to react somehow to what they were saying on the news. So I went down and I said that what they’re reporting on the television wasn’t true. One tall old guy came up to me with a greasy smile, and said, yes, and who are you? And I felt an amazing fear. Because I’m very naive,I just felt the obligation to go down and say the truth. But this guy he terrified me. So I backed off and said, no, who are you? And he told me his name and his position. He was the chief of the secret police agency and he was in charge of the autopsy and investigation. They took my name and telephone, and they asked me if I was going to come to the central police station to testify and I said "yes."

He asked me what happened. I brought him to the exact point where the policemen were standing when they opened fire. And that’s exactly where they found the shell casings. They asked me if I had a vehicle, if I could drive myself to the station. I responded "no" and they told me I would come with them. I said I hoped the people wouldn’t bomb the police car on the way and the chief laughed and said have no fear. He directed me to where a large group of riot police were
gathered, and I found myself in the middle of a MAT squad. It was right at that moment that the people attacked. The chief disappeared immediately he ran away and they left me while the people were attacking, and I saw all the guns that the police had and I flipped out. I couldn’t focus on anything. I felt how powerful the people were, they were full of rage. I can’t remember if they were attacking with stones or molotovs or clubs, only that they were overpowering and I had to get out of there. I ran away by myself and came back to my house.

Of course I was expecting that they would call me for an interview as a witness. But they never did. I spoke with a lawyer of the movement, Yianna Kurtovick, she’s one of the members of the Network for the Defence of Political Prisoners and Immigrants. And she brought me to the examining magistrate. I had to go to find the judge because the police never called me to testify. And after I testified, some days later, they closed the whole area to make the official report to prove whether the bullet hit the kid directly or if it ricocheted off the ground. That was the official story that the one cop had fired at the ground and the bullet bounced up and hit him.

The magistrate, the photographer, and the secretary came up to my balcony to take photographs. The chief of the secret police was down in the street. I called out to him, "Oh hello, you left me alone last time in the middle of a riot." And he answered, "I didn’t abandon you, it was you who was afraid that the rioters would burn us alive." And I said to him, "Don’t tell lies in front of all these people."

Comments

I ran to the Polytechnic

23.10: A person involved in the anarchist movement for some years.

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

December 6. So my friends phoned me and told me something very bad had happened. I ran to the Polytechnic. When I got there, we made sure that the story was true, that this boy had really been killed.And I began to feel that something very important was happening. Many people had begun to gather in the Polytechnic. It was clear that there would be some riots. Because it has happened before, that very young anarchists were killed in Exarchia. It happened in 1985, and there were riots. I felt like history was repeating itself. There were different trends in the Polytechnic. Some comrades said to focus our actions there, others said to go out on the streets, to attack police stations, or the commercial centre. I preferred the second option. This happened. Some of us left the university after the riots had begun. We went to a police station in the centre of Athens and we attacked with stones and molotovs. We were many we were not a group of some fifteen people, we were maybe 100. Then we attacked luxury stores in the commercial centre of Athens and we went back to the Polytechnic.

After I returned, some friends phoned me from Nomiki, the School of Law building, so I went there. It was occupied, there were many people there. Many were leftists, not anarchists, who were there to fight with the police. This is very unusual because the leftists have a very mechanical view of political violence. They say it’s not appropriate to fight the police until the movement is mature, and they use this as an excuse to never fight with the police. They build an identity out of it. But that night I saw hundreds of these people, including people I’ve argued with over this very issue, lighting with the police. This made me feel very emotional, seeing these people also fighting against the police.

I slept in the Polytechnic the first night. Many people had left the building. There were only a few dozen of us left in the building. To be honest, at that moment I thought that the incident had ended. Maybe some riots the next day because there would be a big demonstration, but then things would end.

The next day there were thousands of people at the big demonstration. Some wild riots, very wild riots. We didn’t manage to get very close to the police headquarters, the objective for the demonstration, but there were big riots. I went back to the Polytechnic, there were also big riots happening there. But I thought that things would end then, on Sunday.

Next day, Monday, December 8, there was a demonstration. I’m still not sure who organised it. But I think some Left groups organised this demo. I had underestimated the situation, I thought nothing would happen on Monday. But that morning strange events began to occur. School students in many parts of Greece began to attack police stations. Some friends phoned me and told me that in Piraeus, which is usually indifferent, nothing happens there, school students attacked the police station and rolled police cars over. News like this began to appear from everywhere that morning.

But I had underestimated the afternoon demo. I went to the demo at the last moment because I was very tired from the previous days, and I thought maybe I wouldn’t go. When I came up from the metro, I saw tens of thousands of people. I couldn’t believe it. The demo hadn’t begun and already some people, very young people, unknown people, had already started to fight with police. The demo started but it began to lose its purpose as a demonstration because riots were beginning on all sides.

I’ve seen many violent things in protests throughout my life. I don't say this to speak about myself but just to let you know. In this demo I began to feel afraid. To be honest, the violence was blind. There were molotovs thrown inside buildings while people were still in them. I was afraid not for myself, but that something very bad would happen and anarchism could not politically defend it. I met a friend of mine, an anarchist, and I asked her what she thought and she said "I’m not sure I want to be here," and I felt the same. Around us were unknown young people throwing molotovs, fighting with the police, burning buildings, shops, everything. Many of the shops were already closed, and in the others, the people were getting out of there.

The sense of the demonstration had been lost. It was all riots. Soon people began to break into big groups. They went down different streets, they rioted. Smashing and burning. Mostly unknown people. Young people, second generation immigrants, Gypsies, Greeks, everything. Most of them were masked. But the presence of certain demographics, like the immigrants was very obvious. After this, when the riots began to calm down in a way, I went to Syntagma Square, where I saw the big Christmas tree burning. I went to Norniki, which was occupied by AK and some Left groups. I went there not so much because I agree with these people politically but because I was close by and thought it was safest to go there. And there were riots there too, something was happening.

At Nomiki there were many anarchists and other people, unknown people, who didn’t belong to these specific groups. By cell phone we learned that riots had happened in many other places, like the Polytechnic, ASOEE, and another university three or four kilometres away One friend phoned me, a very experienced guy about forty-years-old, and said “I’m very afraid, some amazing things are happening here.”A very experienced person. He was also in Genova.

On the 8th, Monday the anarchists themselves were surprised by the level of violence coming from many parts of society. They felt anxious. These were the people who before were very active and very violent, and now they felt surprised and even a little anxious about society, They felt that society had surpassed them. This created anxiety among people, and I’m not talking about the pacifist anarchists.

I didn’t feel so safe in Nomiki because I saw many buildings on fire in the area and I thought that maybe the police would begin massive arrests. When things began to calm at Nomiki, I thought it was a good moment to move to the Polytechnic. It was night time when I went there, and I saw that the streets were mostly deserted, there were only some people who had been participating in the riots. The riots at the Polytechnic had also begun to calm down, but everything was burned down. There were many people in the university many second generation immigrants, also first generation immigrants. Many people felt a kind of disappointment. There were many people there, we did not know them, they weren't anarchists, many of them had been stealing things from the shops that were broken open and we didn’t agree with this, we just thought the things should be burned. We didn’t feel safe there. But there were also anarchists who said we should support them, they should be able to do what they want. That was Monday.

The following days there were occupations of university buildings and municipal buildings starting in towns around Athens. The social climate was very friendly toward the anarchists at this time.

I began to be more involved in the occupation of the ASOEE, where there were more people I know and more politically involved people. But I also had some doubts, whether it was right to be there, where there were anarchists, or to be in the Polytechnic where the subjects of this struggle were: young people, immigrants, unknown people. So I tried to strike a balance, going sometimes to ASOEE and sometimes to the Polytechnic. The anarchists organised many actions and many attacks in the following days - some things that under other circumstances, we wouldn’t dare to do. But because we felt the climate around us was quite friendly, maybe we felt more safe to carry out actions like this. There was a discussion among us that in one or two days, it will all end. But the end never came. New things were always happening. New occupations in the provincial areas of Greece, attacks against police and state targets.

And then somewhere around the 20th of December, there was the assault against the Bulgarian syndicalist, Konstantina Kuneva. She was attacked to punish her organising activities, and some other people began to get even more involved with the whole situation. People had meetings about incidents like this. It led to an occupation of the central trade union of Greece which lasted some days. And then people from the workers movement, whom we hadn’t seen in the previous days, came out on the streets and to the assemblies. And sometime around Christmas, the situation began to calm down.

Comments

Homo sacer quartet

Flesh Machine: An anarchist magazine “on the body and its desiring machines” published in Athens.

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

A boy resides out-of-place. Two pigs charge into the out-of-place. In the conjuncture of these two trajectories, an event is born. The boy challenges the violation of the border of his out-of-place by the pigs. The pigs park in-place and cross, once again, the limits of the heterotopia, this time on foot. The pigs enjoin the boy. The boy responds to the injunction. The pigs shoot and destroy the life that "is not worth being lived." The pigs return to in-place. The borders of the out-of-place are ruptured and urban space, from end to end, is recomposed into a thick burning network of heterotopia: the city is on fire.

For sovereignty every life out-of-place is a life that is not worth being lived. The state of exception is imposed, even by suspension,on every life out-of-place, on every life that is acted not as a contemplation of privacy and its commodity-panoply but as a social relation, as a self-constituted construction of the space and time of conviviality. The sovereign exception is not so much about the control or the destruction of an excess in itself, but about the creation or the definition of a space where juridico-political order can be perpetually validated. The state of exception classifies space and the bodies withinit. It puts them in order. It imposes order upon them. With assimilation, commodification, surveillance, and discipline. Executing the delinquent with prisons, psychiatric units, marginalisation. And wherever, whenever might be necessary with bullets, with bullets, with bullets.

In a society dedicated to the production of privacies the murder of a boy can only be conceptualised in the terms of the value of his privacy, the ontological base of property: the sacred right to one’s own life. This is the only way in which death can be political: as a destruction of the source of property The destruction of property, let alone of its source, is a dreadful crime in the bourgeois world. Even, or especially when it is committed by the apparatus charged with its protection. But to destroy properties in order to take revenge for the destruction of property that is a doubly nefarious crime: have you not understood a thing? All those tears, all the dirge, the requiems are not for a boy that attacked the power-that-safeguards-property, they are for the power that failed in its duty: the duty to defend life as the ultimate property as privacy.

The body of an enemy now deceased can be sanitised, pillaged, transformed into a symbolic capital for the reproduction of sovereignty and Hnally in the announcement or reminder of the capacity for the imposition of a generalised state of exception. An emergency confirming the sovereign monopoly on the definition of the real through the abolition of its symbolic legitimisation. The sovereignty, in tears, shouts: you are all private individuals, else you are all potential corpses. And society falls on its knees in awe of its idols and shows remorse: mea culpa; from now on, I will take care of myself only, as long as you safeguard its reproduction. The return to the normalcy of the private is paved with the pectacle of generalized exception.

December 10, 2008, from the occupied Athens School of Economics and Business.

Comments

I was in the heart of the catastrophe

Mrs. S.: The retired mother of a longtime anarchist, who typically votes for the conservative party

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

Are you sure you want to interview me? I think you'll get burned! I’m one of the people who believes in peaceful ways of doing things. It won’t be helpful for this book you’re writing. When I was young I was with the Socialists. We started the very first student movement back in the middle of the ’60s, before the dictatorship. We were jumping on our desks in the classrooms, in the high schools, shouting for freedom and social justice. But when the Socialists came into power it was very disappointing. After the dictatorship people were in the universities, still on their desks, shouting for social justice and equality. And when we won in 1981, we were betrayed. The new government stole the money and nothing changed. We are the betrayed generation. We took the government, but nothing happened. We won, only to lose. I don’t agree with this way of protesting, destroying all the shops. But I’m a child of the '60s. We did it peacefully

But wasn't there a lot of rioting and struggle in the ’60s too?

Okay, there was, there were very big riots. The construction workers would come and gather barrels of stones to throw at the police. But the target was the police and the government, not private shops. I don’t agree with damaging private property.

If we're going to protest like this, let’s just start at home, open our own doors and let them do it here, smash it up and take our things. They just attack the shops because they’re more vulnerable, more accessible, easier to attack, so that’s why they pay the price. If people agree with this destruction, they should take the next step and open their own houses to be destroyed.

I even prefer the silent protests to these destructive ones. If you want to destroy the market, then don't buy things, don’t consume. If you want to do something about the prices or the killing of the animals, don’t eat meat. Try to build a majority and bring all the people into the streets. If everyone came into the streets and stayed for three days, with everyone participating, even if they didn’t do anything the impact would be very strong. They announce days in which no one should buy anything, as a protest, but still people go shopping these days. So the right mentality isn’t there yet.

When the banks got smashed... Ha ha, well, in a way all of us said that it was good what happened to them. They deserved it. But the problem is that this flood of destruction also claimed many small shops, many people’s cars. In the moment of rioting it’s difficult to discriminate. Together with the dry ones, you also burned the fresh ones. That’s a Greek phrase.

As for the asylum in the universities, I don’t think they should get rid of it, but I believe it has to be an asylum for the ideas - for the assemblies and public events for all different ideas, but I don’t believe that if someone kills somebody outside the university they should be able to take refuge in the university to escape and not go to trial. It can’t be an asylum for criminal actions. In ’73, when the students took refuge in the university while they were struggling against the government, they didn’t damage the universities. But now okay in December they didn’t damage the university buildings but in many other cases recently that’s happened, that the university buildings have been damaged by the people taking refuge there.

Of course I think the episode in December was a healthy reaction. I could never say it was wrong for the people to rise up after the police killed Alexis. It was not only healthy it was the obligation of the people to revolt. But I disagree with how they did it. I can’t stand the violence and the destruction. The cause is right. The way they do it, I don't know if it’s right or not. Also I cannot agree if you revolt when one boy like Alexis is killed, but you never revolt when a policeman dies. Me, I cannot discriminate between human beings. A policeman is a worker, he’s not responsible for his actions. People much higher than him are responsible for his actions. In all the different jobs, there are people who are more evil, or aggressive, or arrogant. It’s not only policemen.

I was in Ermou, the street with all the luxury shops near Parliament, early on Sunday morning, just after Alexis was killed. The whole street was still on fire. I couldn't go to Syntagma because everything was closed. The police were saying, "Where are you going, lady?" They wouldn’t let me pass, but I wanted to go to church with my six-year-old granddaughter. There were some major chain stores that were burned in Monastiraki, and the big banks. I wasn’t scared, because most of the fires had almost burned out. Two months later I passed again and I told my granddaughter, "You see, they fixed the bank, its open again." I asked my granddaughter if she remembered and she said, "Yes, it was all burned."

When the police told me I couldn’t pass on this side, they sent me a block down, and I went there and it was full of junkies and illegal immigrants! It was packed! I had to go through this street with my little grandchild to get to the church. It was strange. And I asked the people "What happened, is it okay?" And they told me, "Everything is fine, mother, pass through," and opened the way for me and let me pass. I didn’t know that the riots had started, or what had happened, but I got to church in the end. I was in the heart of the catastrophe, It was very surprising, to see all those luxury stores destroyed that morning.

The first day I saw it with my own eyes, but after that most of what I learned came through the newspapers and the television. Mostly the television tries to produce fear. Through the TV the events become exaggerated. They blow it up like a balloon, and show again and again the same images, and use the same words, and this repetition causes panic. If you don’t have a critical mind it’s easy to get trapped in these feelings and freak out. I personally never allow myself to feel these things. I always understand that the TV exaggerates the situation and blows it out of proportion.

But yes, there were small shops destroyed, it’s not only the TV saying this. On Ermou in addition to all the burned banks and chain stores I also saw one or two shops that were not big shops, they were not chains. One clothing shop that was smashed open and looted. Next time I pass there I’ll go to that shop and find out who it belongs to. And in Syntagma there was an old building that was burned out completely I don’t know what that building was. I want to go tomorrow and find out. I'm curious as to why they burned that one down. It’s normal that they burn the banks and the big stores if they want to hit capitalism, this you can understand. But you can’t understand why they would burn the small shops, and when you see a building that was burned out completely you can’t understand why they chose this target. I guess I can understand the riots and the burnings because it’s part of their fight against capitalism, but when you also have destruction of the universities and small shops and other targets, it’s not clear to the people why it happened.

Do you think it will happen again, or that there will be a revolution?

The death of Alexis was only the spark. The real cause is that the whole society is bubbling. This was just the match in the dynamite store. The episode was caused by the economic and social problems that have been here for years. But if we have to speak about revolution, we speak about a general revolution, one that includes all aspects of life. But for me this is difficult to imagine because the people are alienated, they’re rotten. Because of this, the people who really want a revolution are always a minority. So a general revolution that will include everybody, it can’t happen. I believe that in general the people have found their places, they are volemenos - not comfortable but resigned, subdued, complacent. They are not satisfied, they don’t agree with what is happening, but they have the minimum. And they’ll stay like that instead of risking themselves or getting themselves into trouble. In the past people were more courageous, and when there were popular revolutions people were more heroic and they faced bigger problems, like starvation, or the complete denial of their human rights. So it was easier for them to revolt.

Comments

Okay, now we're going to fuck everything up

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

Submitted by Uncreative on December 18, 2010

It wasn’t a specific squat or group responsible for the insurrection. In Greece there is a specific culture of responding to police aggression. When the police do something really wrong, there is a fast reaction: people attack police stations or other targets. At the end of August, 2007, this guy from Nigeria, Toni Onoya, was in a café selling CDs. He saw some people he recognised as undercover cops so he tried to escape by jumping down from the second floor veranda. The immigrants are always being hunted by the cops. But this time he fell on his head and died. His friends came and they tried to stop the police from taking the body before they could find their own doctor because they believed that police would falsify the autopsy and change the story They called the media, people started to learn what had happened and they converged on the square. At nightfall there were 200 people. The police made another attempt to remove the body and this started the conflict. There was some rioting, and the next day there was a demonstration of immigrants, the Nigerian community students, anarchists, and they all attacked the police station with stones.And that was it. It ended with a demonstration in the centre, some rioting, and about seventeen people arrested. This is how the anarchists here react. When there is police violence, we must respond in a direct way.

A week before the killing of Alexis we had gone to Volos because there had been another killing by police. There we were only one hundred people and we attacked the police station but it didn’t get out of control like it did with Alexis. Somehow that time, maybe because it happened in Exarchia, we all decided, "Okay, now we’re going to fuck everything up."

So we met in the university to see what we were going to do. We didn’t know that in other cities people were doing the same thing. We knew that Athens would explode but we didn’t know it would happen in all the other cities too. Five hundred people gathered in the university and we didn’t talk too much, just decided how we would respond. Some people went out and started setting things on fire. The police weren’t out on the streets, they were protecting the police stations, so we were free to do whatever we wanted. There weren't more than five hundred of us in the streets.

The next day we met at twelve at Kamara, in the centre. There had been no time to make a poster, we just used phones and word of mouth, but there were three thousand people there and we were starting to hear that things had happened in other cities as well.

Monday was the big boom. The high school students were in the streets attacking police stations, demonstrating. In the morning the high school students attacked the central police station for hours. And in the afternoon 10,000 people gathered, and then it was a real insurrection. And this continued for three more days. Until the end of the week there was a demonstration every day Sometimes with fighting, sometimes not. On Wednesday there was a general strike, by coincidence. This is a periodic occurrence in Greece, a one-day strike every three months, and this one happened to fall in this week of insurrection. The government tried to cancel it and the labour unions agreed not to hold a demonstration, but just to gather, play some music, and send everyone home.

The mixture of people in the streets included students, anarchists, people who had connections with political spaces but had not been active, young people, immigrants, and political people from past generations, older people. We could see that communicating through violence and counter-attack was really working. Small communities were organising themselves to attack. They didn’t need us to organise them. You could see small groups of students, fifteen year olds, faces covered, forming affinity groups like anarchists, but with no connections to the anarchists. We only tried to say, "Please when you smash something be sure that it's an appropriate target." This was a very strange role for us. All the banks were destroyed, really gutted, but no one had satisfied their urge for destruction yet, so they went on to the luxury stores. But sometimes the young people could not differentiate and they attacked a few smaller shops, which the media really exaggerated and exploited. Also, the employers used the damages as an excuse to lay off employees but they already needed to cut their workforce. They just blamed us to provide a scapegoat and to divide the people. And no one was in the streets to go shopping for Christmas, because no one had any money - you can really see the effects of the crisis. But they tried to blame that on us too.

At least there weren’t many arrests in Thessaloniki. Mostly younger people who didn’t know how to recognise undercover cops and protect themselves.

I don’t think the anarchist movement spread in December, but its tactics spread. I think that over time, step by step, the anarchist movement in Thessaloniki is growing stronger. After 2003, with the European Union summit protests here, it sped up, then in the last years it’s been moving slower, building steadily through actions, structures, communications. But I couldn’t smell anything in the atmosphere that suggested it was possible for everything in Greece to blow up the very next day. Except for the prison uprisings two years ago, and then the prisoners’ hunger strike in November, But before the 6th of December you couldn't understand that there were powers in society that could react in such an instantaneous and magical way. So it was all related to the anarchist movement, but we call it insurrection because it extended beyond the movement.

Fabrika Yfanet is a huge squatted social centre in the eastern part if Thessaloniki. It used to be a factory, and now serves as a space for shows, political gatherings, and other events. Part of it is a house, and another part holds art spaces, workshops, a library, a bar, a climbing wall, a skate park, and more.

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We started with 300 people, and came back with 500

Andreas: A squatter from Thessaloniki

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

On Saturday we received word of Alexis's death by phone. Five hundred people met in the university at once. In the meeting we shared the information we had, but it didn’t end so well.We couldn’t agree on what to do, and we broke in half. The smaller half stayed around the university for hit and run fighting, and the larger half marched down Egnatia, the main street of Thessaloniki, to smash all the banks and luxury shops. I was in this second group. There were also small groups of friends all over the city hitting specific targets-banks, police stations, et cetera. But this strategy, or lack of strategy worked quite well, because the police had to divide their forces and they didn’t know what to expect. A lot were near the university fighting with the students there and defending the construction site for the new metro, so on Egnatia we didn’t find any cops. We had the streets to ourselves.

Another thing: we started with 300 people, setting out from Kamara, and we came back with 500. Because people on the streets were joining us. They weren’t afraid because we were doing it calmly Yes, we were angry we were very pissed off about the death of Alexis, but we kept ourselves under control. The banks had to be smashed, so we smashed them, but we did it calmly One window, CRASH, next window, CRASH, here’s someone who is afraid, okay come over here, we'll move them out of the way and then we get the next window. So no one had reason to be afraid of us, they sympathised with what we were doing and felt they could join us, so they joined us. Just normal people on the streets.

In some countries there is a critique of nonviolence. In Greece there is a critique of violence. But it’s a very black and white issue. Everyone understands it is a part of the struggle, but some don’t like it and others love it. There’s no middle position. If you tell people you’re in the middle they get confused. But I’m in the gray area. I think it’s necessary to be careful with the violence. I don’t say not to use it, of course you have to use it, but do it calmly without losing control. You have to be calm. And you can do it this way at any level, no matter what degree of violence you're using.

Because we were calm people joined us on Saturday night and we came back with more people. We walked down Egnatia, attacked the police station with a variety of ammunitions, you know, and then we returned by the same street, smashing the shops a second time.

On the first day we didn’t really understand what was happening. After the second day students were everywhere, setting dumpsters on fire, attacking capitalist targets. They just came from everywhere and started doing it on their own.I see two explanations for this: one is that they were doing what they saw on the television. The other is that they have a subconscious hatred for the mechanisms that were destroying their lives.

The media were so dramatic in how they covered the riots, I think it’s one of the reasons people started joining a few days later. But by the fourth or fifth day, the national media realised they were destabilising the situation, and they tried to censor their coverage. They didn’t show any more arsons, they didn’t show masses of people fighting with police, and they prohibited the phrase "student riots." But the foreign media were more honest, and they were very interested in the riots, so after that Greece got all its coverage of the riots from the international channels. By coincidence there had been this conference in Athens about the role of the media in democracy so all the international press was already in the country when the fighting started. The media were confused because they couldn’t understand the general feeling and they really messed it up.

After the students came the hooligans, and after the hooligans came the immigrants, and after the immigrants every exploited person came out on the streets. You could see yuppies with ties burning banks and grandmas and grandpas attacking the police for gassing the children.

During these days there were six or seven major demonstrations, really big ones. The first contained about 3,000 people. Each of these demos destroyed a different part of the city. And all this time, there were small groups hitting the banks and attacking the police stations again and again. This is no exaggeration - at five o’clock if there was an attack on a police station, there would be another attack, by another group of people, at four past five. The cops were terrified, shouting, almost crying on their radios, yelling for backup, thinking they were going to be burned to death.

I have to tell you, the theatre school occupation was very important. On the second day, Alpha Kappa squatted the theatre school and then they left so the students of that school could assume the occupation--they reoccupied it together. This became a central point. There were really diverse opinions expressed there, from the radical Left to the blackest of the black.

Another building, the office of the lawyers guild, was occupied by leftists and anarchists but after the media started turning public opinion against the uprising the leftists abandoned it. So this theatre school was very central. Many decisions were made there for the movement as a whole. If they called a protest for a certain day and hour, it happened. But sometimes this was problematic.

There are lots of conflicts in the movement. Some of the major conflicts are with anti-authoritarian Movement, Alpha Kappa. First of all I think it’s a bad translation. It shouldn’t be Anti-authoritarian Movement but Anti-authoritarian Current. Because this word, kinisi, it doesn’t mean like a political movement, but a flow or a current. And the anti-authoritarian movement in Greece is much bigger than Alpha Kappa. Because of the way they act they can collaborate with the leftists but there aren’t many anarchists who will work with them. They make media statements, give interviews, talk with the journalists in the spotlight, you know, things no anarchists would do. They often take postures that belong to the Left, not to anarchists. And in December they made a declaration, saying that the people who loot are not anarchists. The looters are not anarchists. It's unbelievable.

But I’m talking mostly about Alpha Kappa in Athens. In each city they’re a little different and there are bigger problems with the group in Athens. In Thessaloniki they’re not like this. They’re comrades. We have to remember that in December we were in the streets together with Alpha Kappa. We forgot about our separations and we moved together, we mixed, we weren’t in separate blocs. Everyone rallied around the anti-authoritarian movement. I don’t only speak about anarchists but also about leftists and autonomia.

Comments

That's how big this thing was

Anna: A student on Samos, a medium-sized island close to Turkey

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

After the killing of Alexis there was a demonstration in the city on the other side of the island. And all the students at my school, kids who wouldn’t even get off their Playstations long enough to go down to the beach, went forty kilometres, all the way to the other side of the island to take part in that protest. That’s how big this thing was. It brought the kids out of their bubbles, because we could feel it was important.

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In Patras, 1000 people came out to the demonstrations

Yiannis: An anarchist from Patras

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

In Patras, in December, there were many demonstrations and riots, It wasn’t as big as in Athens, but it was big, In the demonstrations there were maybe 1,000 people, and here in Patras there are maybe 2-300,000 people. The major thing wasn’t rioting, though. We would make a demonstration and then in the evenings go and talk to the people, have discussions, give out flyers.

Because the port is here, there are many immigrants in Patras - in recent years, mostly from Afghanistan. We are friends with some of them, and they came to the demonstration. They don’t have a word for anarchism, and they grow up in a society that teaches them very strongly to accept God and the State, to accept authority. But our common ground was our opposition to the police. One of these friends had no papers, he had been here for a year, and if he were arrested it would be very bad. But when the demonstration came a block away from the police station, he went with those who threw rocks at the police, I kept taking him by the arm and leading him away saying "leave this for the other people to do," and he kept going back to throw more rocks.

Before the demonstrations we would have a meeting and decide, for example, that we would smash all the banks we passed, but if anyone went to smash a store, we would stop them. However, the media were saying all sorts of things - that we were smashing stores, that we were attacking people. It was crazy.

On Tuesday so the third day of riots, the fascists attacked us. They were behind the police lines, protected by the police, they gathered all the stones that we had thrown, and then they attacked us. Fortunately no one was injured. But later that day they went around the streets hunting and attacking immigrants. They had knives. I don’t know how many were injured. They grabbed this friend of ours also, but fortunately he got away. And they also smashed up the offices of Alpha Kappa.

Comments

That was the craziest moment of all December for me

Vortex: A person from Athens who was already involved in the movement when the rebellion started

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

We organised assemblies but no one needed them. Within an hour of the shooting people had already started smashing things. When I went out around 11:30, two hours after Alexis’s murder, the fights had already started. On Akadimias I saw people coming from every direction. Since it was clear that there would be many people on the street I thought that we should create as many fronts as possible. My idea was that if different groups of people would be causing trouble throughout the centre, smashing shops and then fighting the police when they came, we should start blocking the roads with dumpsters and so forth. But it became obvious that the leftists had a very different perspective. Around 12:30 that night, my little group of four people was on Akadimias, which is a big avenue, trying to block it with dumpsters and big tubes from a nearby construction site. And these various leftist groups come marching by from different streets. On our right there’s this one leftist bloc marching away. Another group of leftists starts coming towards us, but they see what we’re doing and they decided to go another way I started shouting at them not to go because four of us couldn’t hold a barricade on a central avenue. And then there was this one crazy guy who had decided to start smashing a bank all by himself.

I shouted at the leftists, "Where the fuck are you going?" They had gotten it in their heads that they were going to march and start a demo. But there was no demo, it was already kicking off. You’re not asking for something, it's not a matter of making demands, so you don't walk around the city like it’s a protest, you fucking start doing it! So I was shouting at them not to leave, but they had made up their minds to go to Omonia. But there was no protest at Omonia, I knew that the shit had already started there. So I ran up to this other group of leftists and told them we’re closing down the avenue, come help us. I knew they were leftists but I thought they might have some different tactics. These guys all had their megaphones, shouting at each other what to do. “Comrades, we’re going this way!" And they yelled at their herds not to listen to me and they left.

Since there were only four or five of us in the middle of a central avenue, we left. We went down Solonos Street, and there I had the idea that if we don’t flip a car now then when are we going to do it? But my friends refused so we continued.

What impressed me on Sunday and Monday was that the people, especially the anarchists, were very well prepared.They had gas masks, helmets, and some of them had even attached these pillows to their arms so they could block the police clubs without breaking their arms.

The interesting thing during these days was that you didn’t have the feeling that you could only do things if you had your friends around. You could do it by yourself. In Omonia I was in a luxury clothing store by myself. There were 300 leftists around me just watching, but I felt very confident. You knew that things were happening everywhere so you weren’t alone even if you couldn’t see them. It was a strange sort of confidence. It was the moment we were all waiting for all these years.

In the fights in the streets we all worked like one collective brain connected in a mysterious way. Somehow you knew what your comrades needed to back them up. The police couldn’t cope with it. They are a mechanism that works only with orders, with central decision-making. But with us, ten of us would go forward at the same time, ten of us would go back at the same time.

By Monday night they were throwing this strange tear gas that made a terrible sound, very loud. And it would affect hundreds of people within an area of many blocks. People would be blinded, they couldn’t breathe. It was much stronger than normal tear gas. With normal tear gas, you have a few seconds to run away and a block later you’re alright. If you weren’t wearing a gas mask you’d have to pull back for a few minutes, and that was all. This new tear gas was much worse. But we set so many fires it burned off the tear gas. This was one of the reasons to set the fires, to protect ourselves.

On Monday night at one point I circled around behind the cops, and I saw this big motorbike pull up with two guys carrying a big backpack. They started pulling tear gas canisters out of the backpack and distributing it to the riot cops, who had run out. Evidently they had called in to headquarters and these two undercovers were going around with resupplies. They left very fast.

A lot of people went to work with sledgehammers to smash windows and also to smash up the pavement into rocks for throwing. Monday afternoon there were many different teams of people who had come to create chaos. The difference between Monday’s protest and a regular demo is that no one had to wait for the right time to attack. Just two blocks from Panepistimio, the starting point, people already started smashing things. There were teams of four or five people, and every team would have some tool for breaking the glass and something for setting fires. Some people hadn’t even had the time to make molotovs, they just brought big plastic jugs of gasoline. People acted in a spontaneous way, but I imagine each team also had their certain tactics. These had to do more with how to care for each other and look out for each other and back each other up,because this time it wasn’t a matter of selecting targets. You would pretty much burn anything that didn’t look like a small shop.

I flipped my first car, that was a great joy. About seven or eight of us flipped a big jeep, quite an expensive car. Seven to turn it upside down and another to throw the molotov and that’s it. And barricades everywhere. Of course you know that when you put a garbage can in the middle of the street you also light it, because even if there’s no tear gas now, it will come so you’d better be prepared.

On Monday there were two hits on Kolonaki. I had this idea in the morning, before the demo. We’d already had two days of fighting with the police so I thought the evening demo would be very dangerous for us. Perhaps it would be a trap, with the police arresting everyone. It never happened like that. But my idea was that instead of going to the demo, we should make a team of about 100 people and go to Kolonaki and smash everything while the demo was starting - because I thought that all the police would be there and they’d definitely want to fuck us. But some people had already arranged that, and they had arranged it for a few hours earlier. I was lucky because I found this friend of mine, told him my plan, and he said “You know what, we’re going for it in fifteen minutes, so if you want to come...” I said, “Okay, let’s go, I’m coming."

It was fucking scary for a person sitting outside, watching about fifty people all of the sudden putting on their gloves and masks. It was a light attack, though, a few luxury shops were smashed and some luxury cars were burned. But the same night, the same street got hit again by a different group of people. And whereas the first group smashed four blocks on this street, the second group smashed the whole street. We heard that it was happening while we were at Nomiki throwing rocks at the cops, and we started running. There were some immigrants with us without masks. They weren’t speaking at all, they were just breaking. And we caught up with them and participated in what was left, also going into the shops to smash more things. Some people were looting as well but I was not interested in that.

The luxury street was empty because half the city was already burned down, and at that moment there was fierce fighting with the police around the universities. So there were no police, no traffic, nothing. It was really fun to see people just running along the roofs of these luxury cars, smashing them from the top, doing whatever they wanted.

At one point on Monday we had left Nomiki because the police were surrounding it. We left the areas where there was more tear gas, went to a kiosk to get a beer, and we’re coming back, passing Kolonaki. And there we saw this group of school kids wearing masks. About four or five boys, and two or three girls. None of them older than 18, wearing trendy clothes; they looked like emo kids. They’re just walking down the street with masks like it’s perfectly normal. And all of a sudden they started smashing shops. They didn’t have tools with them, they just picked up whatever they could find and started smashing, as they were calmly talking with each other, joking around, having fun, you know? It was like a company of friends who had gone out for a drink and they were just having fun. That’s how comfortable they felt there, how safe, at that moment. It was magical to see.

And then my friend shouts at them, “Hey, don’t leave that bank." And they look at the bank, which they hadn’t smashed, and looked to each other and said,"Yeah, he’s right." So they found this big piece of wood, all of them together, they rammed it against the door of the bank, and the fucking thing just collapsed. It didn’t break, it didn’t shatter, it just fell inwards and all the bank alarms started going off.

So we decided to simply follow them and see how they were experiencing it because it was magical. They smashed a few more shops after the bank and they reached Kolonaki Square. It was just a few of them but they were acting like they were in a playground, the girls walking arm in arm, all of them smashing things on their own. And all of a sudden a police car passes. And just one of them alone starts shouting "batsi!" (cops!), like he was challenging them to get out of the car, and he grabs a rock. One of them alone started chasing the police car, the cop stepped on the gas and got out of there and the guy threw the rock. And after this they didn’t even leave the scene, they just sat there in the square, talking, like nothing was happening. They were ignoring us, just sitting there. For me it was a moment of truth, to see that situation, because they weren’t afraid of the all powerful law. And they had taken their masks off, put them back on, they were playing with them. This was the most luxurious square in the centre of Athens. And we’re watching with our mouths open.

At one point one of these guys had gone down a street where you could see the group of police stationed outside the presidential house. And he starts yelling at them, insulting them, "Suck my dick you fucking cops!" Imagine a cop who is there listening to the radio about how the centre of Athens is burning, but Kolonaki seems calm when all of a sudden this kid with a mask appears from the most luxurious square in the city to just taunt him, alone, without fear. That was the craziest moment for me in all of December.

If I had to summarise it in one sentence: perhaps we don't know how, but we can do it.

Comments

This is the spirit of the revolt

Pavlos and Irina: Two anarchists who were in the Polytechnic occupation

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

I heard about the shooting of Alexis from a friend, over the phone. This was already several hours later, at one in the morning. I went there as soon as I got the call, but the events had already begun. When I got to Exarchia, the streets were full of fires. People had occupied the Polytechnic after having a small assembly there and deciding to take it over. At this time, 1:30, 2:00, the cops tried to surround the campus to prevent people from gathering there. People from Exarchia Square and more people from Patision, from Omonia, were trying to approach the Polytechnic so there were fights between the riot police and the people, in Exarchia and on Patision Avenue.

From the moment of the assassination, people in that area started to take action. There was an announcement for a meeting in the Polytechnic half an hour after the murder. At the same time people were gathering at the spot where the shooting took place. Significantly the struggle did not begin from an organised initiative, but spontaneously as a natural expansion of the event.

Some leftists were gathering on Akademias Avenue, while people were fighting at and around the Polytechnic. Some hours after midnight, a big group of anarchists, 100-200 people, not a specific political group, but an ad hoc gathering, walked to another neighbourhood one or two kilometres away a commercial district, an area with night life, and they attacked many big shops. There were buildings that were completely burned out. This same group also attacked one or two police stations while travelling around the city. This was the first counter-attack, the first initiative of people going on the offensive.

These first reactions were vital in lending a defining character to everything that came afterwards. The first reactions determine what happens next. This is why what happened in Exarchia is so crucial. From the first moment, people gathered. In the first hour a large group of people occupied the Polytechnic. And this initiative, this counter-attack, gave a specific character to all the subsequent reactions.

The cops who were stationed in Exarchia were attacked. It’s something that has happened before as a spontaneous response to police aggressions, or as a planned attack. It has happened frequently In the past loose gatherings of young people would meet and decide, let’s go, tomorrow night, and attack the cops at this location. It was done fluidly not by formal organisation. It’s a field of exercise. This is important.

People already had all this experience. Not only the experience of organisation or political discussion but also the experience of fighting in the streets. This is one of the features that enabled our successes in December.

I don’t remember at what hour but at one point the cops disappeared from around the Polytechnic and all the people could come gather there. And this happened because all night more and more people were coming down into the street to fight with police. The fighting continued all night. That first night provides us a vantage point from which we can look at the rest of the insurrection. First of all I only use the word insurrection to express what period we're talking about, in December. My opinion is that we cannot determine the insurrectional when it happens, according to rules or standards.We cannot measure it. That’s a sociological discussion, to demarcate when the insurrection begins and ends. It didn’t begin on December 6, the insurrection was always here. In every individual or every group of people that reacted against the State and authority. What happened on December 6 in Athens and later in all of Greece and across the world was the meeting of all the insurrections, all the revolts, that could meet at this time. I don’t want to see history from a sociological point of view, "Now we have many people so it is an insurrection, now they are no longer in the streets so it ended." It’s not like this. With such a perspective you cannot see what is under the events, you cannot explain how it came to light and how it continues, if you see history only as numbers.And this explains how in some hours thousands of people gathered in the centre of town fighting with the police. It was because the fire was already lit. The inner motive was already there. It’s like a bomb. A single event that meant something to masses of people was the fuse to ignite a social power that had already been smouldering, invisibly This explains how thousands of people met, gathered in a few hours, and could continue fighting for days, and why this expanded to other places.

December 6 wasn’t the first time that a cop killed a civilian. They do it often. What made the difference, what gave a specific meaning to this event from the first moment, was that it was an attack, a straight attack. The cop car passed the area where young people were hanging out, drinking beers, discussing. And this is a place where young people and anarchists pass their time, a pedestrian street. When the cops drove by, someone insulted them, shouted something. Perhaps they threw a plastic bottle of water, I'm not sure. The cops drove on,they parked the car two blocks away where there was a bus of riot police, which is normally stationed there. They parked the car in a safe place and they came back on foot. They both took out their guns, and one of them aimed it at the group of young people, and shot two or three times. The first important feature of the event is that it was a blatant attack by the police; no one can talk about an accident. Always when they kill someone they call it an accident.

Secondly it was in a neighbourhood that is in a way liberated from the police. Not totally, but they don’t do what they want in Exarchia, they don’t pass easily And that’s why they first parked the car somewhere out of this zone. Let’s say there was a mental border, a not safe place, a stateless zone, and outside of this border there is state security This mental scheme is understood by everybody It was a social accomplishment in everybody’s minds, even the enemy recognised it. From time to time in the newspapers, in the Sunday editions where they run articles with political analysis, terrorism, or anarchists, there were articles about the avaton of Exarchia. Traditionally this word was only used for the holy mountain of Khalkidiki, which is a mountain where only monks can go. It has boundaries, it’s like another country. Avaton is a place where you cannot step. And the State was using this word for Exarchia. In fact some journalists on the first night or the next day were saying that this assassination provided an opportunity to discuss the problem of the avaton of Exarchia.

They are stupid, they couldn’t understand the meaning of the event and what the consequences would be. They were talking a bunch of hot air because they couldn’t yet understand what would happen. Starting the very next day everybody was selling tears, capitalising on the grief of the assassination. Up to the president. There were some journalists saying this bullshit but the rest of the State understood how serious the situation was and everybody was trying to erase the meaning, to lower the value of the event, pretending to sympathise, because Alexis was young. And the fact that he was a young student was important because from the first moment it concerned all the youth, all the students.

After the first assembly in the Polytechnic some people left and went to start another occupation, at the ASOEE, joined by other people who weren’t at Polytechnic. They did it for a political reason. They did not want to be near a chaotic situation which they couldn’t control. There were also people who believed it would be better to have more occupations than one, more centres, more bases for the struggle, it’s true, and some people went to ASOEE because the police pre- vented them from entering the Polytechnic at that moment so they went to another occupation. The fact that we had more than one occupation functioned as a factor of power, it was more difficult to attack more places. It also allowed a greater diversity of people to participate, since there were different occupations with different ways of doing things.

From the first day we were among the people in the Polytechnic who had the opinion that all the occupations must continue. That we have to keep more buildings, different bases. I’m not sure if it was the same night or the next day when there was also a third occupation at Nomiki, carried out by people of the Left and Alpha Kappa, the Anti-authoritarian Current. They have good relations with the leftists and bad relations with most of the rest of the anarchist movement. During the first night everybody was mixed, but after some hours people began to separate and clarify their political character. Some people left the Polytechnic because they did not want to be together with an uncontrolled crowd. They preferred to be in an area where they could subject all actions to a general discussion. It’s not that they didn’t want direct action or a violent fight, but they wanted to do it in the way they were already familiar with.

So I know that my criticism is a little hard, but I think it’s true. The occupation of ASOEE had more of a Party character, not in an institutional way but symbolically, and in its ideological purity But also I use the word Party because this strategy divided them from the uncontrolled crowds that were fighting, destroying anything in the streets. The ASOEE group participated in the marches, in many events, they also did actions by themselves, I don’t say that it was a bureaucratic group, and as I said before my opinion was that all the occupations must continue, they all were important. So in the ASOEE occupation there were many discussions but among people who already knew one another, like a big family you could say discussing different subjects. And of course the cohesion that they had between them was an advantage for many actions. They intervened in the lighting in the streets, they made attacks in the metro.

On the other hand, those of us who stayed in the Polytechnic, from the first moment, were there not because we dropped in accidentally but because we believed that we had to stay there, to keep this occupation, for many reasons. Some of these reasons are related to the beginning of the insurrection. The Polytechnic as a place was an important factor in the insurrection. For example the people who attacked the commercial district, they started from the Polytechnic. Many of them didn’t participate later in the Polytechnic, some of them went to ASOEE, it doesn’t matter. They started from the Polytechnic because the Polytechnic has a historical value. Not like a monument, but a living meaning. It’s still the base, the centre, of serious struggles, and a place of organisational processes, like assemblies. This meaning comes from the insurrection of ’73 before the end of the dictatorship.

Because of this living historical value, the living meaning of Polytecnio, we had to be there, we had to keep this place. The Polytechnic is a point on the map of social consciousness that is related with insurrection. That’s why not only the first night but all the first week and the days after thousands of people passed through there to fight. Many more than the number of people who stayed in the occupation. We were only a few dozen staying there, keeping the occupation running, just a few people next to the huge masses who participated in the events. In the assemblies there were some hundreds of people who didn’t sleep there, didn’t stay in the buildings, and during the nights, in the fighting outside the Polytechnic, there were thousands of people. And of course not only anarchists.

Regardless of the meaning of the place and the historical value of the Polytechnic, and because of that meaning, it was the gathering point for many different people, many who had never worked together or met until that moment, and they met there for a common reason: insurrection. To fight against the State. The campus and the streets around it were also the specific place designated for fighting, for violence against the police and the State. The common idea was that this was our place. The place where we do what we want. You could see so many different people in the occupation and in the lights in the surrounding streets. You could see immigrants from any race or country blacks, Eastern Europeans, anybody. You could see high school students, lumpen proletariat - people who live on the streets, junkies, hooligans, gypsies. And all ages were there.You could see all ages from the first night, the first hours, all the generations of anarchists, all the generations that had lived through struggles in the past and now gathered in the streets.You could see people who had left the struggle years ago. But they came out again this night. And the place of this mixture was the Polytechnic.

What other anarchists didn’t like was the melting pot, the mixing with people from other cultures that are not very familiar or welcoming to us.And they didn’t like the blurring of actions, including many actions that they didn’t accept or that didn’t fit their view of insurrection. This fact was one of the reasons that we wanted to be there. Because we don’t understand the insurrection as an expression of the process of our ideas or a clear manifestation of anarchist organisations in society, but as a social explosion, as the expression of the needs of people who are repressed, exploited, tortured. And our work until this moment was and should be to provoke this moment, to provoke this meeting, this melting. We keep our thinking, we keep our way of organising, our characteristics, our way to organise our own fight, but we have to be there and to mix with all the others. This is our role, to support this, to push this. So we can say that the occupation of the Polytechnic was the most proletarian of all the occupations. It wasn’t restricted to anarchists but the way of doing things and the general strategy the way of thinking in the assemblies, was anarchist.

And that’s why in the pamphlets from the Polytechnic occupation and in the poster we made you could find the clearest reference to class struggle, to a counter-attack by the lower class. lt was not an exclusively anarchist view of the event, on what is the State, what is the insurrection, but our discourse was very clear in announcing that the counter-attack of our class begins now. From the first paper we printed, we were talking about all the people assassinated in the past, naming them, remembering them, referring also to the armed guerrillas that were killed in fights, because we are not into victimisation. We said that these days of struggle were for all of them as well as for Alexis. We will take revenge for all of them. And for all of us.

On the first night, many shops on Stournari Street were smashed open. Some were looted, others were burned. Stournari is the street that goes from Exarchia Square, past the Polytechnic, to Patision. Cops were on the corner of Patision and Stournari, and higher up on Stournari, to keep people from convening in the Polytechnic. They were also behind the campus, where there is always a police bus guarding the Ministry of Culture. Normally the police attack Polytechnic from Kanigos Square and this night they did so again to try to cut off Stournari. But the cops were defeated in the street, and the shops were destroyed - all the big shops and some smaller ones, but most of the little shops were not touched. The biggest computer shop in this street and one of the biggest in all Greece was smashed open and burned completely. Many floors, a tall building, all burned. And it was burning slowly so the arson was well done. I think it is not usable now I think they will have to demolish it. This particular building was burned on purpose because this company was part of a consortium that wanted to build a technological park, like Silicon Valley on a mountain near Athens, in a place where there is forest now.

The next morning Stournari and all the smaller side streets were a surrealistic place, a magical and unimaginable scene.You couldn’t picture it if you hadn’t seen it. The whole street covered with stones, pieces of metal, anything that could be thrown. Burnt cars. Cars flipped over. Smoke. It was like a moonscape. Very quiet, that morning. Only a few people passing by to see the scene or take photos. But you didn’t see anyone going to work, no one went to open their shops. It was like time stopped there. The feeling was great. Tranquillity. It was like this the first morning, and all the mornings of the first week. People were passing by going into the occupation or coming out. Like it was our place, it was free. A specific political and military situation, a balance of power, in which one neighbourhood, one street, was liberated. It was ours. For days. It was a place of no control. It’s not like the police came to write up the damages. For one week, there was no State there. In the rest of the city the police were on the streets, but only in big groups, in defensive formation, or they were hiding. But here it was ours. And just one and a half blocks away there was a bus of riot police guarding a ministry building. They never left their post. They were attacked many times, with a variety of methods, but they didn’t budge. Very surreal.

Next day Sunday was the first march. It started near Polytecnio and went towards the police headquarters, at Leoforos Alexandras, not too far, but away from the centre. This march contained many people, and much energy It was an unstoppable attack, from the first moment. l\/[any people started destroying all the symbols of capitalism. They were burning corporate offices, supermarkets, banks, car dealerships, for example Ford was burned totally. And the cops were not there at first, they were waiting near their headquarters. As soon as the people saw the cops on Leoforos Alexandras guarding the headquarters, they attacked. But the cops managed to break the march and push it back, and there was continuous conflict. The people didn’t scatter, but they were steadily pushed back. At this point the police were trying to disperse people, not to make arrests. They used incredible amounts of tear gas. Sunday’s march was the first mass outlet of destruction in the city. Some leftists and Left parties called the Sunday march, I think also with Alpha Kappa. But everybody went there. People from all the occupations, anarchists generally. The people from the political parties were not in control, they did very little.

Sunday night, after the protest march, thousands more came to the Polytechnic to fight with police, thousands of people. This happened from Saturday to Wednesday but Sunday night was the night of the rage outside the Polytechnic. The people were uncontrollable. You cannot describe it with words, the rage that was expressed there. Against the cops and against anything that symbolised authority It was pure rage. When I went out from the university into the street on Sunday night, I saw a large group of people in front of one of the computer shops throwing anything they could find, along with dozens, maybe hundreds of molotovs, into the same shop. For a long time. It didn’t follow any plan, it was just uncontrolled rage. And then they went to find the police at Kanigos Square. In Kanigos there is also a ministry building so you could always be sure to find cops there. These nights we went out from the occupation to go fight, but we didn’t have to do anything because everything was done, it was done by others. Fighting and rioting was not the exclusive specialty of the anarchists.

Many people, anarchists and others, were coming from other countries to experience the insurrection. There was a hooligan from Poland who heard the news and on the second day he took a plane to Athens, came to the Polytechnic, and he stayed there until the last clay of the occupation. It wasn’t only a political familiarity that attracted the people, it was the mind of the insurrection, the common potential of every exploited person. On Monday there were events in the whole country. Even in the little islands far to the east, near Turkey the students made attacks on the police stations. And also in an area in the northwest of Athens where many gypsies live, on the second day they participated in the insurrection. They didn’t come down to the centre but gathered in their own area and burned a bank, looted a big store, and attacked the local police station. They set fire to a stolen truck, jammed down the gas pedal, and drove it into the front door. Then they shot the building up with hunting rifles. It’s a hard place, there are bad relations between the cops and the gypsies. They also have lost people to police assassinations in the past.

Next day Monday the minister of education decided to close the schools and universities so that the students could not gather. They had estimated that they would have a problem with the students mobilising, and they thought they could stop them like this. But on Monday morning the students swarmed around their closed schools and started carrying out actions spontaneously everywhere. Everywhere in Athens and throughout the entire country. You could hear about students who were blocking streets, making protest marches, others who were attacking police stations with stones. And we’re talking about people who didn’t have any contact with us and who hadn't been in the centre of Athens the previous two nights. These were random people all over the country who gathered and did things. It seemed like the entire student body of some schools were coming down to the Polytechnic. On Monday morning I went to Patision Avenue with some other friends, some comrades, to distribute pamphlets. It was the first pamphlet that was written in the Polytechnic occupation. Students were arriving in groups thinking that the Polytechnic was the place to gather and find out how to get involved. They asked us what we would do and when, and where.

I will add a personal experience to illustrate the atmosphere there. At one point a march arrives, with a large mass of students. They had come from many kilometres away not a very poor neighbourhood either, but middle class and upper middle class. And when they arrived at Patision outside the historical door of the Polytechnic, where the tanks attacked in ’73, they blocked the avenue without asking us what to do. And they started shouting the common slogan, "Batsi, gourounya, dolofoni!" Cops, pigs, killers! Watching this scene, I became ecstatic. And I understood at this moment that the thing now has departed. It has gone beyond us. I don’t say it surpassed us. Many people use this word, but I don’t believe this. Maybe it surpassed them because they didn’t believe this could happen, but the insurrection surpassed this way of thinking. I am one of those people who was sure that insurrections will happen, and soon. And I am one of the people who believe that revolution also will happen.

So when the insurrection came here, it wasn’t a surprise. The moment changes you, every experience in this situation becomes a new part of you. But it’s not unexpected. It’s what you expected but you’ve just never seen it before and now here it is in front of you, all around you. And in this moment, in front of this scene, I was ecstatic, thinking that these are our people. It’s not only our small circle of comrades. Now that which is hidden in everybody every single person, will be expressed. It was in this moment that I understood that now the event goes forward. It’s free to advance, it can’t be stopped now.

Monday afternoon was the first march in the centre of town. Everyone was there. It was the biggest march of the week. And it was this afternoon that the centre of Athens was burned.

From the first moment, people started attacking. Burning buildings, central banks, state buildings, big shops, chain stores, department stores.And looting. Below Omonia Square, let’s say Omonia is the border between the high city and the low city where normal society meets the underclasses. Immigrants, junkies, homeless people, they always gather below Omonia. When the destruction began, it spread through Omonia Square, and many people who weren’t in the march started to destroy and to loot. Many of the people arrested this day a big percentage of the total arrests, were immigrants from this situation. When the riot police came there, they found dozens of people inside the shops. They were hanging out, choosing things, not just breaking, burning, and running,
like we were.

The attacks of the Monday protest spread beyond the march, destroying the bordering areas. One friend went to Kolonaki Square after the march, and he saw a group of young people, ten people hooded and masked, in the richest square of town, smashing shops. My friends continued to Skoufa Street, that goes from Kolonaki Square to Exarchia, and here they found another group, students, coming up towards Kolonaki, and these two groups joined and started to smash all the shops on the street. This also shows how the insurrection works. Many people, including anarchists, have a mechanical way of understanding how things work. They cannot understand how the State cannot control certain situations, why the State cannot repress Greek anarchists, why they cannot stop violence in the marches. Many anarchists understand the State as something that can only increase its power. The insurrection of December demonstrates how this mechanical understanding is not real, it’s not valid. It’s only the projection of the State’s own mentality. A mentality concentrated on control, the idea that everything can be controlled. It’s a reality that many of us accept. Me too. I opposed this way of thinking, yet I also had a view of a strategy planned in advance, a prepared way to begin the insurrection.

But in the insurrection of December I saw how a plural subject can be more clever than any individual subject. When we are in a situation that involves many minds working together, in the midst of action, the group is more intelligent, more fluid. The insurrection of December is evidence of the intelligence of anarchy. On Monday afternoon in particular we did not have any plan or single strategy but precisely because of this the State and the cops could not control us. The situation was too chaotic for them. They cannot stop an enemy that is everywhere or anywhere. They cannot stop an enemy that doesn’t have a single objective. When they attack in one area, they lose another area.

In the fights outside the Polytechnic, I saw how a thousand people or fifty people could attack the riot police, working as a single body We could fight without having an organisation, a structure, prepared before the action, because all of the participants could understand the fight and the moment from a holistic point of view a point of view centred in the group. The group existed not because before we had an assembly but because everyone at that moment understood himself as a part of a group. And it is more effective than their model because in our model everyone simultaneously has a vision of the entire situation and everyone feels the responsibility to take any initiative he can take to support the common objective.

On the third night, Monday night, thousands of people, mostly students, came to the Polytechnic after the march. You could see people as young as 12 years old, breaking, destroying, throwing stones. All the generations were there. This night at the university saw the greatest participation in the riots and the character of the conflict was visibly a little bit different than the nights before. Sunday night was the rage, but on Monday night... you could see a spirit of collectivity. There were many students but also immigrants and anarchists and junkies and others, all of us thinking collectively There were groups coming into the Polytechnic to rest, others going out to fight, a continuous chain.A large group of people, many of them girls, were inside the Polytechnic breaking the masonry to make stones, collecting things to throw. They were working like a factory but nobody told them what to do. They were like the ants of revolution. We didn’t have to do anything, our group that was keeping the occupation running. We were at the doors just checking that nobody got caught, nobody got left alone. Or we would throw the gas canisters back at the police.

In these events, there was a generation who educated themselves, who passed through a rite of passage. This is a generation that will be in the streets for the next ten, twenty years. I believe that. It’s a very powerful experience for a young person, if this was your first experience in the streets. It’s not so easy afterwards to go back to normality Once again we see the importance of the occupation of the Polytechnic. It was an opportunity for all these people to gather and fight in the streets.

One of the occupations, that of the central building of the General Confederation of Greek Workers, happened during the second week. It was started by some comrades who were already organising base unions. They weren’t explicitly anarchist unions, but anti-authoritarian workers unions. Some of these comrades had also been in the occupation of the Polytechnic. Their approach was to emphasise a class analysis, but not as a formulation of economic demands or a discourse focused strictly on work. They were representing themselves as workers in revolt, talking about the insurrection, the prisoners. They wanted to mobilise working people but inside the insurrection. Not in a divided program, in a limited struggle for solely economic demands. The truth is that this effort didn’t achieve the mobilisation of many workers, or the creation of mass events, but they provided a basis for some struggles that are beginning now, directed at problems of work but seizing the spirit of the insurrection. Konstantina Kuneva participated in the assemblies of this occupation, before she was attacked. When she went with her union to ask for solidarity from the General Confederation and to spread their text about the brutality of their bosses, the General Confederation asked them to denounce the occupation. And of course Kuneva and her union refused.

Afterwards they occupied the central offices of the railway which contracts the private companies that employ the cleaners represented by Kuneva's union. And her union refused to cooperate with the Communist Party union or any other party. They were protesting with us, with the people who supported the insurrection, anarchists and the base unions. Another Left party offered Kuneva a spot on the list of candidates for the European Parliament and she refused that too. And in the workers’ marches there were also violent conflicts, attacks on banks, fights with the police. The insurrection provided a basis for bringing anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and autonomists, closer together with working people who are ready to fight.

As the days passed, violent events continued, but they were not as massive as before. In Exarchia and the Polytechnic, people continued to carry out violent struggle. One week after the assassination there was a meeting right on the spot where he was killed. All the anarchists went there, and we started fighting the cops. There was an attack on a police bus and the police station of Exarchia, and then the fighting went on all night around the Polytechnic. Some anarchists in the university occupation, we believed that we should take the initiative to call for a major march. Until then none of the marches had been called by the anarchist occupations. And we believed that we should call a central march, as the occupation of the Polytechnic, to send a political message against the State but also to society, of what we are and what we want. That the insurrection is not only anger, but also a political objective.We did not want to represent the insurrection but to give a clear political stance of one major group that was participating in the insurrection and that supported its goals and proposals. But we encountered resistance from many comrades in the occupation and outside of it. There were not enough of us in favour of this proposal. It’s not a matter of numbers, but a matter of synthesis. We felt we couldn’t take the initiative, being such a small part of the anarchist movement. If we had gone into the streets thousands of people would have come but we did not want to monopolise that role, even though we believed it should be done. And it didn’t happen.

In the discussion inside the Polytechnic our proposal was absorbed by another one calling for a day of global resistance against state violence, and the assemblies of the Polytechnic and ASOEE adopted this call-out, for the second Saturday after the assassination of Alexis. On December 20 protests and actions took place in more than forty countries, and over 100 cities. It wasn’t the first day that there were events outside of Greece. From the very first days of the insurrection things started happening in other countries, like occupations of embassies, marches, in Germany London, France. The ASOEE occupation called for a march that morning, and the Polytechnic occupation called for a gathering to take place at night at the spot of the assassination.

So on the 20th we started a violent fight that spread once again to the Polytechnic. On this night we didn’t have the thousands we had two weeks before, but all the anarchists were there and they were prepared. I mention it because it was the first time that we took the initiative, the decision to call for an offensive action well in advance. We didn’t hold a march somewhere, or go off in a spontaneous group to riot. This time we decided to do this, to converge as a movement in order to go on the offensive. And this night was the first time the State started talking about suspending the asylum and invading the Polytechnic. It was the last day of mass violent struggles. They could accept spontaneous fighting but theydid not want to accept something on that scale planned in advance. It was a publicly announced attack, and they didn’t want to tolerate that. So they started a lot of discussion and propaganda about invading the Polytechnic and taking away the asylum. But they didn’t do it, because they weren’t ready to manage it politically, and I don’t know if they are ready now or if they will ever be ready Also because they were afraid of the fight; they cou1dn’t invade without spilling blood.

But after this night they revoked the university’s asylum and said they could invade at any time; if there were any more attacks they would invade. It was a psychological tactic. Previously we had decided to hold a concert the following Tuesday and despite this government pressure we decided to continue with our plans and also to transform the concert into a response to the government’s threats. We did it, although some comrades disagreed with us because there were so many people who were physically exhausted and people who couldn’t understand that our power was not our numbers inside the occupation but the social meaning of the occupation. There were people who thought that we had to announce a definite date for ending the occupation. And there were many comrades who didn’t want to hold a central march because they were afraid of the repression. They couldn't understand that it wasn’t just some anarchists against the State but that what we were doing was embraced by many people. We wouldn’t have been alone.

So we held the concert, and two days later, one day before we had scheduled an end to the occupation, some professors came to the assembly and told us that the cops were ready to invade and they would come in one hour. This had also happened the Sunday after the attack, the 21st. We ignored the warning. It was repeated the next day and this second time they were really trying to pressure us - the leftists, the professors, the syndicate of lawyers, everyone was pressuring us and waiting for the police to invade the Polytechnic. We said that it was a psychological game, They knew we didn’t want to leave and that we had an internal conflict over this question, so they wanted to exploit the event politically They wanted to be able to say that they pressured us and we came out, so they won. In response to this pressure we decided to stay longer. The same night, during the assembly; we made a pamphlet and published it, just a few words saying that they will not pass, we will not let them take the Polytechnic, we don’t give in. Just ten minutes after we published the pamphlet on Indymedia and had it read over the anarchist radio, the professors came again and said, "Okay guys, excuse us, the information was wrong, the minister had been pleading with us to stop the occupation," and we responded, "Okay, when the prime minister calls us up to beg, maybe we’ll discuss it."

An important characteristic of the occupations, besides the violence, was how they were following an anarchist model. No organ could make decisions for the occupation besides the general assembly. This wasn't an assembly of students but of all the people participating in the occupation and the lights. For example the occupation of the architectural school in the Polytechnic, they had their own assembly and they supported the general occupation, but they didn’t have any authority over the occupation as a whole. The different schools weren’t separated, it was a unified occupation. Some leftist students tried to separate the different schools, and in the first week we tried to work with them and give them space to do their own activities but they kept trying to bypass the general assembly and occupy areas of the Polytechnic just for themselves, to cut it up like a cake, in a very underhanded way. And of course they were thrown out.

After the first days of the insurrection we said that the occupation must take on another role, to be a centre of speech, of discussion, of the distribution of ideas. We made some pamphlets and some posters but we didn’t have the time and the energy to do so many things because we were tired. A few people were keeping the occupation going, day and night, and we had to do many things. But all things considered we published a lot, as did other anarchists throughout the city At the end of the first week, we opened the dining hall of the university a very luxurious establishment because it was new We opened it and started cooking every day for everybody We used it to feed the struggle, every day. There was a group of people who were working there. We had cooks and other people who went there to clean. I for example didn’t cook but I cleaned. And every day we had food for everybody notonly people living in the occupation. Poor people were coming there only to eat. To keep the restaurant stocked, groups of about thirty people formed up every day to go to supermarkets, fill up shopping carts, and take the food. And other things were expropriated as well, like fire extinguishers and the sound systems.

It was important because having this tool, this ability to feed ourselves, affected our living conditions. But it was also like a womb of the world that we want to create inside the insurrection. But also there were people coming to steal food from the occupation. I don't want to give a bad impression, but it’s okay to admit this because it was our decision to mix with everyone in the insurrection, and out of all these people who came together there were many who carried within them the culture of the enemy So there were people who came to steal mobile phones and computers to sell for money. I don't have a problem with this but when it happens in an insurrection it doesn’t advance the struggle. So that's why we put an end to this phenomenon after the second or third day, because some people were coming only to steal things. After that, any time somebody wanted to enter the gates of the campus with looted items - there were people carrying boxes of stolen goods, computers and other things - we didn't allow them in unless they gave us the objects to throw in the fire. We told them, "You have to choose: you or your computer."

I think that people were ready to go until their own personal limits. The intentions of the insurgents were not so limited; they wanted the destruction of the State, or at least the destruction of the police. If they had the means to attack further, they would have done it, many of them. But they fought until they were physically exhausted. The police didn’t stop us. We stopped. But the external limits were numerous. One of them is that we haven't constructed our world. And I don’t believe any more that in one night we will change the world. I’m not a pacifist but now I believe that as we were saying in the assemblies of the Polytechnic, if the revolution doesn’t come now, if we don’t push this insurrection to a real revolution, it will not be because we don't have the power but because we don’t have our world. And that’s what we’re building now. The truth is that already in the first week we were discussing revolution. It may seem very romantic, very fictional, very fantastic, but seeing the potential of the struggle, we knew that revolution was an open prospect, a possible future. We were ready for everything. And I’m not sure if they could have stopped us, even with the military.

I think it would have been a serious problem for the State to deploy the military I read somewhere, I’m not sure if it’s true, that the generals told the government that the army at that moment was not ready to take on such a responsibility that if we engage the army we will lose the army It's a problem for a democracy to pass to an open war. It may be efficient in the immediate moment, in a military way of seeing the conflict, but it would destroy the entire basis of State domination of society, all the links. The internal links, let’s say between society and democratic domination, Particularly in Greece. For example in Italy they have a tradition with fascism, with the domestic use of the military that is not wholly rejected by Italian society. We also have a tradition with dictatorship, we have a nationalist movement, but the dictatorship was not popular and in general the intervention of the army in social and political life is not legitimate for Greek society.

There are many factors that gave birth to the insurrection, factors that go far into the past. Why it happened in Greece, for example, Why in Greece anarchists have so much liberty to act, now as well as before the insurrection, Why it’s so easy for people here to use violence. Greek history plays an important role, In the past century after World War II, we had a guerrilla movement that never surrendered. The civil war didn’t end in negotiations, with a peace agreement between communists and nationalists as in Italy. Here we had a civil war that continued, and even when it ended its spirit continued by other means. The spirit of civil war never ended in Greece. And in this period, violent struggle was always legitimate. There were always people struggling, not only anarchist militants, not only revolutionaries, but a large part of Greek society Here, struggle is legitimate. This is one factor.A living tradition, that goes from one generation to the next, expressed in new ways.

Another factor is that the anarchist movement in Greece is very young. There were anarchists in Greece at the beginning of the 20th century but they were all repressed by the Communists and they disappeared. The movement we have now began after the ’70s. This movement from its beginnings linked up with society It wasn’t just an ideological, a closed thing. It was not just philosophical or alternative. It carried the tradition of the struggle and the violence, the tradition of Greek society the traditions of the anarchists, of direct action, and also the concentration on expanding throughout society the revolt and direct action and self-organisation. And year by year it created this potential. That means much work was done years before, with a variety of methods, working in neighbourhoods, violent struggle against the State, everything. That made this unity this synthesis.

In the ’80s, the first years of an organised anarchist movement in Greece, the anarchists were calling demonstrations and violent marches but as people who were fighting in the ’80s dropped out at the end of the decade, due to repression and other factors, there was a big change. And in the ’90s anarchists weren’t very numerous, they generally didn’t organise many marches and many of them participated in the protests of the leftists. But at the end of the ’90s, as more people joined the anarchist movement, this new generation began to stay in the movement. The first generations were lost, they left, but those of us who started to fight in the ’90s are still in the streets. The movement started to construct a history. The cause of this shift, I think, was a clearer political vision.

From the beginning of December’s insurrection, from Monday night, the State took exceptional measures to protectthe members of the government. The ministers were all assigned armed escorts and were sent into hiding. They put some military units on readiness, to come down to the city if need be. They had the soldiers equipped with plastic bullets. The cops in Athens were already shooting plastic bullets, but this wasn't new. A year earlier I was shot with a plastic bullet in a fight near Exarchia. We know that in some military units the officers were making propaganda, psychologically preparing the soldiers to deploy against the insurrection. There were rumours that if the street fighting had continued for three more days they would have sent in the military. But those of us fighting in the streets, we weren’t afraid, we weren’t discussing it as a possible end to the revolt. Of course the insurgents weren’t ready to fight against an armed force, but nobody came into the street with the belief that there was a point we could not pass, that there were limits. We just fought, and we were ready for anything. And this is the spirit of revolt.

Comments

Their democracy murders

The Polytechnic University occupation

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

On Saturday December 6, 2008, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a fifteen-year-old comrade, was murdered in cold blood, with a bullet in the chest by Epaminondas Korkoneas of the special guards’ police force in the area of Exarchia.

Contrary to the statements of politicians and journalists who are accomplices to the murder, this was not an "isolated incident," but an explosion of the state repression that systematically and in an organised manner targets those who resist, those who revolt, the anarchists and anti-authoritarians.

What we are seeing is an increase in state terrorism. It’s expressed in the upgrading of repressive mechanisms, the continuous armament, increasing levels of violence/zero tolerance" doctrines, and the slanderous media propaganda that criminalizes those fighting against authority.

These conditions prepare the ground for the intensification of repression, attempting to extract social consent beforehand, and arming state murderers in uniform who are targeting the people who fight - the youth, the damned who are revolting in the entire country Lethal violence against the people in the social and class struggle seeks everybody's submission, serves as exemplary punishment, and is meant to spread fear.

It is the escalation of the generalized attack of the State and the bosses against the whole of society in order to impose more rigid conditions of exploitation and oppression, to consolidate control and repression. An attack that is reflected every day in poverty social exclusion, the blackmail to adjust to the world of social and class divisions, the ideological war launched by the dominant mechanisms of manipulation (the mass media). An attack which is raging in every social space, demanding from the oppressed their division and silence. From the schools’ cells and the universities to the dungeons of waged slavery with the hundreds of dead workers in the so-called "working accidents" to the poverty embracing large numbers of the population". From the mine fields at the borders, the pogroms and the murders of immigrants and refugees to the numerous "suicides" in prisons and police stations... from the "accidental shootings" in police blockades to violent repression of local resistances, Democracy is showing its teeth!

In these conditions of fierce exploitation and oppression, and against the daily looting and pillaging that the State and the bosses are launching, taking as spoils the oppressed people’s labour force, their life, their dignity and freedom, the accumulated social suffocation is accompanying today the rage erupting in the streets and the barricades for the murder of Alexandros.

From the first moment after the murder of Alexandros, spontaneous demonstrations and riots appeared in the centre of Athens; the Polytechnic,the Economic and the Law Schools are being occupied and attacks against state and capitalist targets take place in many different neighbourhoods and in the city centre. Demonstrations, attacks and clashes erupt in Thessaloniki, Patras,Volos, Chania and Heraklion in Crete, in Giannena, Komotini, Xanthi, Serres, Sparti, Alexandroupoli, Mytilini. In Athens, in Patision Street - outside the Polytechnic and the Economic School - clashes last all night. Outside the Polytechnic the riot police make use of plastic bullets.

On Sunday the 7th of December, thousands of people march on the police headquarters in Athens, attacking the riot police. Clashes of unprecedented tension spread in the streets of the city centre, lasting until late at night. Many demonstrators are injured and a number of them are arrested.

From Monday morning until today the revolt spreads and becomes generalized. The last days are full of uncountable social events: militant high school students' demonstrations ending up - in many cases - in attacks against police stations and clashes with the cops in the neighbourhoods of Athens and in the rest of the country massive demonstrations and conflicts between protesters and the police in the centre of Athens, during which there are assaults on banks, big department stores and ministries, the siege of the Parliament in Syntagma Square, occupations of public buildings, demonstrations ending in riots and attacks against state and capitalist targets in many different cities.

The attacks of the police against youth and generally against people who are fighting, the dozens of arrests and beatings of demonstrators, and in some cases the threatening of protesters by cops waving their guns, as well as their cooperation with the fascist thugs - like in the incidents of Patras, where cops together with fascists charged against the rebels of the city - are the methods in which the State’s uniformed dogs are implementing the doctrine of “zero tolerance" under the commands of the political bosses in order to suppress the wave of revolt that was triggered last Saturday night.

The terrorism by the police occupation army is completed by the exemplary punishment of those who are arrested and now face severe accusations leading to their imprisonment: in the city of Larisa, eight arrested persons are prosecuted with the "anti"-terrorist law and were imprisoned facing charges for "criminal organization." Twenty-five immigrants who were arrested during the riots in Athens face the same charges. Also in Athens, five of the arrested on Monday were imprisoned, and five more who were arrested Wednesday night are in custody and will be taken in front of a prosecutor next Monday, facing felony charges.

At the same time, a deceitful propaganda war is launched against the people fighting, paving the way for repression, for the return to the normality of social injustice and submission.

The explosive events right after the murder caused a wave of international mobilization in memory of Alexandros and in solidarity with the revolted who are fighting in the streets, inspiring a counter-attack against the totalitarianism of democracy Concentrations, demonstrations, symbolic attacks on Greek embassies and consulates and other solidarity actions have taken place in cities in Cyprus, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Holland, Great Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Turkey, USA, in Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Slovakia, Croatia, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Belgium, New Zealand, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and elsewhere.

We continue the occupation of the Polytechnic School which started on Saturday night, creating a space for all people who are lighting to gather, and one more permanent focus of resistance in the city.

In the barricades, the occupations, the demonstrations, and the assemblies we keep alive the memory of Alexandros, but also the memory of Michalis Kaltezas, of Carlo Giuliani, Michalis Prekas, Christoforos Marinos and of all the comrades who were murdered by the State. We don’t forget the social - class war in which these comrades fell and we keep open the front of a total refusal to the aged world of authority. Our actions, our attempts are the living cells of the insubordinate free world that we dream, without masters and slaves, without police, armies, prisons and borders.

The bullets of the murderers in uniform, the arrests and beatings of demonstrators, the chemical gas war launched by the police forces, the ideological attack of Democracy not only cannot manage to impose fear and silence, but they become for the people the reason to raise against state terrorism the cries of the struggle for freedom, to abandon fear and to meet - more and more every day youth, high school and university students, immigrants, jobless people, workers - in the streets of revolt. To let the rage overflow and drown them!

THE STATE,THE BOSSES,THEIR THUGS AND THEIR LACKEYS ARE MOCKING US, ROBBING US AND KILLING US!

LET’S ORGANISE, COUNTER-ATTACK AND SMASH THEM!

THESE NIGHTS BELONG TO ALEXIS!

CONCENTRATION FOR SOLIDARITY TO THE ARRESTED AT EVELPIDON COURTHOUSE: MONDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2008, 9AM

IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ALL THE ARRESTED

We are sending our solidarity to everyone occupying universities, schools, and state buildings, demonstrating and clashing with the state murderers all over the country

We are sending our solidarity to all comrades abroad who are mobilizing, transferring our voice everywhere. In the great battle for global social liberation we stand together!

- The Occupation of the Polytechnic University in Athens, Friday, December 12, 2008

Comments

All the kids felt so much power yelling at the cops

Alexander, Thodoris, Vlasis, & Kostas: Two students and two graduates from Exarchia High School

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

Vlasis: Some years ago I became politically active. I’m influenced by the place where I grew up, Exarchia, and by my family. My mother was also a political activist. Those of us in the neighbourhood, we’ve experienced lots of political events that helped us deepen our political understanding.

I was in a house a few hundred meters from the crime scene. The assassination took place at about eleven o’clock [sic] and I heard about it half an hour later. I went immediately to Exarchia Square. There I found that the atmosphere was tense, and already a lot of rioting had happened even though there weren’t more than thirty people on the spot. When I got there the people assured me it was true, Alexis had been murdered, and altogether we made our way to the Polytechnic, where there was asylum. The cops blocked us from entering the university so we went back to the square. We were waiting to see what we could do but our goal was to get to the campus. At that point a group of about forty other people attacked the riot police really hard, throwing stones and molotovs, and they opened the way for us to go to the university. When I arrived at the Polytechnic I was amazed to see that even though there had been no call for a meeting there were thousands of people gathered, mobilised just through phone calls. The sheer numbers made it possible to attack the cops in a powerful way.

It was the first time I met people from all ages, from fathers on down, in a confrontation with police. All of them put Alexis in the position of their own children - they put themselves in the shoes of his parents and they made it personal. It was the first time that we saw so many people of different ages attacking the cops with such limitless determination and hatred. And they all had gathered there in just a few hours.

Alexander: Before December we were in the streets. Most children of Exarchia were influenced by the political activities that were taking place in the neighbourhood. But from the period when we were protesting and participating in the student movement (2006-2007), we took it up a level to the more violent activities during December. It developed strictly from the student struggle. The way of organising also changed. It was no longer demonstrations following a specific course but something that was happening everywhere in the city.

So that night I was getting ready to go to a party and the news spread around. I don’t remember how but it was very vague, no one knew what had happened, they just knew some shots were fired, someone was hurt, but not necessarily killed. My mother came down to my room and told me not to go out because police were shooting and things were burning. An hour later I called a classmate of mine and he told me to come down to the square, the square was on fire and a boy got shot. So when I went down there was already a big riot, and cops, but the cops were farther away in the outlying areas. The riots were spread all around the square, three and four streets away there were garbage bins burning and no cars on the streets. You had to wonder how everyone came there so quickly.

Thodoris: Before December I was not personally informed about political ideas and I didn’t participate in any political activities, even though I lived in Exarchia. During December I spoke with my friends more deeply about political ideas, and I started to participate more.

I was in my house when I heard about the killing on television. Even though I was not the type to go out in the streets, I felt depressed because I hang out with my friends in this exact place, and I realized it could have been me. The first day my parents didn’t allow me, so I didn’t go. The next day I started to go to Stournari with my friends, and I continued going every day. The scene was completely different than normal. You had the impression that you were in a war, a battlefield. It was mostly young people. That made me think, how there were so many really young people who came down into the streets just to confront the cops, throw stones, smash shops. I also saw that the neighbours in Exarchia were speaking with the demonstrators and that was good. Any type of person could come down for this reason. We were welcomed.

Kostas: I’m a graduate of Exarchia High, now I’m a university student but I still live in Exarchia. Before December I was already participating in political activities and riots and violent confrontations with the cops, but what opened my eyes is that another assassination happened just like with Michalis Kaltezas so many years before, and nothing had changed in society We were at the same point. And through this understanding your horizon opens up. You can see all the injustice of society and from this moment you fight against it however possible. And I am still doing it.

On the 6th I was with my friends outside of Exarchia. I came down half an hour later, passing by Nomiki. I saw there were already barricades and riots in Exarchia, and I stayed there for the next few days participating in the riots. I met with my company of friends, we already had an affinity group that we ran with in the demos, never following a bloc or an organization. It was just me and my friends making actions. So immediately we put this into practice again, we met and attacked the riot cops. I stayed until eight in the morning, then I took a look at the TV and what they were saying about the assassination, I went to my house and ate, and then I came back. From that day on you didn't have anything else in your head except that it was a boy that could have been me. There was no possibility of a non-violent response to this situation, so the violent practices were the only possible ones in my mind. The only reason that you were coming to the streets was to burn, smash, and fight against cops, against the whole copocracy It was the only possible response.

When the State steals something from you and doesn’t give it back then you demand it and take it back with violence, so that’s why the use of violence was the only way.

A big difference between these days and previously is that previously in the demos there were some people in the front fighting with police and most other people standing back, but this time everyone was at the front, rioting and fighting police, and no one was standing back. Me personally was helped by my parents because they never told me to stay at home. They were also inhabitants of Exarchia and felt angry, too.

Vlasis: I want to tell you about Alexis. In the beginning, he mostly just came to Exarchia on the weekends. Personally I was closer with his friends, but whenever we met we said hello. Generally speaking, he was a calm person, polite, but he had a passion to know more and more about the political activities and ideas, His friends were mainly active in the Network of Autonomous Student Groups that was formed during the student movements. It was a choice of his to hang out in Exarchia. As most of us who hang out there, he had a strong anti-cop feeling. He had a lot of reasons and a lot of arguments against the police, he could analyse the police as an oppressive machine in Exarchia and in society. He was never violent, before, when he confronted the police. Our experience from meeting with him contradicts with the testimony of the cop’s lawyer and the cop himself, who said that Alexis was one of the most violent people in Exarchia. To conclude, I have to say that all his friends, even if before they were pacifists or leftists, afterwards they transformed into the worst enemies of the police.

Alexander: The first clay of the week, Monday, most schools were open and functioning but no one was focusing on the lessons, The children and teachers were all discussing how to react, and talking about taking to the streets. It’s not true that the schools were closed on Monday maybe some were, but most of them weren’t. It was the day of the funeral - Wednesday I think - that the schools were all closed across the country We did go to class a little bit but the murder was the subject of the day. Since there was a riot close to the school many people left. Most people weren't participating in these things before the murder, they were only looking forward to their holidays, but that week you saw many people who had never protested before going down to the square to express themselves violently.

Vlasis: On Monday I was at my house when I found out about a demo that was organised by all kinds of students from many schools around Athens. The meeting point was at the spot of the murder, The moment I got there I saw thousands of young people there for Alexis. We were all wondering how the cops could be investigating whether the bullet that killed him ricocheted. Everybody was sure that if Alexis shot a policeman, they would never investigate the possibility of a ricochet, they would just charge him for murder. Everyone was angry about this hypocrisy In my mind there was a great plan orchestrated by the State and the media to cover it up.

Alexander: I thought it was funny when the students of two schools met in front of the neighbourhood police station and the cops looked so weak in front of all those angry students. That day they were ashamed, saying sorry and they weren’t attacking or being aggressive as usual. And all the kids felt so much power yelling at the cops, and throwing rotten fruit at them, those wild oranges that are all over the street in the winter.

There was a riot at Syntagma Square and I had never smelled so much tear gas. Some people fainted. Others were prepared, with masks. Lots of people were getting out of there, screaming, crying, from the gas, but the police did not chase them, they just surrounded the square. Then the huge Christmas tree caught fire and burned slowly; from the bottom up. A lot of cops gathered at the base but they didn’t know what to do. And there were a lot of people clapping. Me, during all the days of December I worked my job from six in the afternoon until midnight and then I went directly to the riots at the Polytechnic, everyday.

Vlasis: In the first few days I was in the Polytechnic but in later days I went to Nomiki, where we made some amazing actions. The cops were running after demonstrators there and we were up on the balconies of the school throwing molotovs down on them, burning many of them.You could see them burn.

Thodoris: One day I left class at noon and went to the centre, where I found myself in a very strange situation. There were some huge people with masks taking part, but for me it was obvious they were cops. I saw that they burned a bank van but when they took out the old man who was driving they beat him badly. I was almost sure these guys were from the secret police. Other days I saw these same people and they were behaving very strangely; going around in a small group with hammers, smashing irrelevant, random things, scaring neighbours, and causing trouble.

Alexander: You always see this, people acting like junkies or anarchists but causing troubles and then later you see them in front of the police station talking with the cops. Many secret police do this. There were photos of this in December, with groups of hooded people talking with policemen behind their lines, planning.

Vlasis: All of us believe that there was a plan, a set up, made public by the journalists and put into practice by the State. In other words the journalists created a debate with a dead boy on one side and the destruction of small properties on the other, and the State put it into practice. They got undercover cops to play demonstrators and smash small shops and kiosks, to produce a conflict between the social elements.

Alexander: Even though on the TV everyday they said the streets were full of young boys and girls being irresponsible, smashing and burning small businesses and cars, I never once saw any young person smash these kinds of targets, it was always old athletic men. So it was a self-fulfilled prophesy. They wanted to turn public opinion against the riot. They wanted parents to tell their children to stay home so the case could go to trial like any other case, without all the people in the streets.

Kostas: During the funeral thousands of people gathered to honour Alexis and without any reason the State stationed the riot police very close to the funeral. It was ridiculous and provocative to see the same cops who killed him, the riot police,just in front of you while the funeral was happening, And the police provoked people and shouted things at them. They were singing a humiliating song during the funeral, going "Where is Alexis? tra-la-la! tra-la-la!” It was a spark that made the whole thing explode. Then cops from all different units came to the graveyard, on motorcycle, on foot, riot police, so riots started all around the cemetery. There was panic because most people did not know how to respond to such a situation, they were normal people, old people, and they weren’t prepared.

At that moment some motorcycle cops took out their guns and fired into the air, producing more panic. After December there were many situations when the cops took out their guns. In some demonstrations there were some cops from the special branch, the ones with masks who have the license to kill, and they were brought down to confront young people. I read that in Australia after the cops killed a boy they were disarmed and given tasers, but here after they killed a boy they started using their guns even more. It became normal.

Vlasis: Many times during the insurrection, members of leftist political organizations or people representing mainstream parties would come to student assemblies and try to force them to release statements against the riots. I felt the opposite, the need to express solidarity with the people who got arrested because it is unbelievably hard to have to deal with a murder and at the same time with people from the movement going to prison.

For me December was very dynamic. There was no political party or organisation that could use it to become more popular. Everyone who was in the streets was a total militant, using violent practices without identifying themselves with the anarchist movement, but at the same moment they were standing miles away from the leftist organizations. The leftist parties and organizations, they tried to do the same thing that they always do in social movements, they tried to push the political views of the students and change the appearance ofthe communiques to make it look like the student movement was adopting their own political program. For me it is a sick idea to step on a dead body to announce your political ideas.

But there are also people who use the anarchist movement to just act like hooligans, without any ideological background.

Kostas: During December the leftists were behaving as always, they do non-violent demonstrations to beg for something from the State. This time they were begging for an apology. On the other end the anarchists always believe - and this time much more so - that the State is stealing something from our lives and they go out in the street to take it back. I feel the same way and the majority of people in these days believed it too.

Alexander: I don’t think anyone was influenced by the parties because they weren't listening. I didn’t spend time watching TV during this period. It is obvious that no one on the streets belonged to the Right but at the same time they didn’t belong to any organization.

Vlasis: However there were some people who exploited these moments, like fascist groups that used this time to make connections with the police and attack the insurgents. This is normal in social movements.

Alexander: It looked like a battlefield, those riots. You could see the Golden Dawn, the neo-nazi group, with the cops, protecting each other, and against the anarchists. They weren’t trying to hide it, everyone could see.

Thodoris: Me personally I am an Albanian immigrant. One day in December I was coming home from the gym with two friends, one from Bulgaria and another from Greece. We passed the police station responsible for killing Alexis and the MAT encircled us so no one on the outside could see what they were doing. I had my hands in my pockets so they hit my arms and shouted that I should stand at attention in front of them. They asked for our papers and we said we were immigrant students. Immediately they turned to my Greek friend and said, "What the fuck, you keep company with these malakas?" And they arrested me and the Bulgarian boy. My mother came to the police station to get me out and when she showed them my papers they saw that I was from the south of Albania, where there is a Greek minority they suddenly changed their tune. They told her to be careful that I don’t keep company with Bulgarians and other immigrants, I said to the cop that before he told my friend not to hang out with me because I was an immigrant and he said I was lying.

Me personally I have many friends from all kinds of countries like Ethiopia, Bulgaria, all over the planet. We have big problems with the copocracy because the cops and many normal people treat us like shit, like we are nothing. If the cops ask for your papers you'll have big problems. Any time you meet with the cops they behave really bad; they treat you like you're already a criminal, and they behave the same way with all of us.

Comments

A black immigrant's cry of despair

The Voice of the Black: Text written by black brothers in the occupation of ASOEE, December 19, 2008

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

For me, a black man, freedom stops at my apartment’s door. And I call the Greek youth, who are concerned about equality and the rights of all people. For this reason, I join you and your noble struggle, because we know that you do not ignore how the police are squeezing us in all the corners of the streets, in front of the bus stations, even in front of our houses.

Conscious youth, Greek people, I don’t say something that you don’t already know: in front of a policeman I don’t have any right but to obey up to the point where:

• he will take my residential card
• he will kick me because I display my merchandise
• he will take away all my personal belongings indefinitely
• he will hit me whenever he wants

Conscious youth, Greek people, I feel like I am in the 17th century, the century of barbarity, where it is possible to shoot a little boy, like Alexis. We join with your struggle and we express our deep condolences to his family and to the Greek people.

Comments

These days are ours, too

From the Haunt of Albanian Migrants

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

Following the assassination of Alexis Grigoropoulos we have been living in an unprecedented condition of turmoil, an outflow of rage that doesn’t seem to end. Leading this uprising, it seems, are the students - who with an inexhaustible passion and hearty spontaneity have reversed the whole situation. You cannot stop something you don’t control, something that is organised spontaneously and under terms you do not comprehend. This is the beauty of the uprising. The high school students are making history and leave it to the others to write it up and to classify it ideologically. The streets, the incentive, the passion belongs to them.

In the framework of this wider mobilization, with the student demonstrations being its steam engine, there is a mass participation of the second generation of migrants and many refugees also. The refugees come to the streets in small numbers, with limited organization, with spontaneity and impetus informing their mobilization. Right now they are the most militant foreigners living in Greece. Either way they have very little to lose. The children of migrants mobilize en masse and dynamically primarily through high school and university actions but also through the organizations of the Left and the far Left. They are the most integrated part of the migrant community, the most courageous. They are unlike their parents, who came with their heads bowed, as if they were begging for a loaf of bread. They are a part of the Greek society since they’ve lived in no other. They do not beg for something, they demand to be equal with their Greek classmates. Equal in rights, on the streets, in dreaming.

For us, the politically organised migrants, this is a second French November of 2005. We never had any illusions that when the peoples' rage overflowed we would be able to direct it in any way Despite the struggles we have taken on during all these years we never managed to achieve such a mass response like this one. Now is the time for the street to talk: the deafening scream is for the eighteen years of violence, repression, exploitation, and humiliation. These days are ours, too.

These days are for the hundreds of migrants and refugees murdered at the borders, in police stations, and workplaces. They are for those murdered by cops or “concerned citizens.” They are for those murdered for daring to cross the border, worked to death, for not bowing their head, or for nothing. They are for Gramos Palusi, Luan Bertelina, Edison Yahai, Tony Onuoha, Abdurahim Edriz, Modaser Mohamed Ashtraf and so many others that we haven't forgotten.

These days are for the everyday police violence that remains unpunished and unanswered. They are for the humiliations at the border and at the migrant detention centres, which continue to date. They are for the crying injustice of the Greek courts, the migrants and refugees unjustly in prison, the justice we are denied. Even now, in the days and nights of the uprising, the migrants pay a heavy toll - what with the attacks of far-righters and cops, with sentences of deportation and imprisonment that the courts hand out with Christian love to us infidels.

These days are for the exploitation continuing unabatedly for eighteen years now. They are for the struggles that are not forgotten: in the downs of Volos, the Olympic works, the town of Amaliada. They are for the toil and the blood of our parents, for informal labour, for the endless shifts. They are for the deposits and the adhesive stamps, the welfare contributions we paid and will never have recognized, They are for the papers we will be chasing for the rest of our lives like a lottery ticket.

These days are for the price we have to pay simply in order to exist, to breathe. They are for all those times when we crunched our teeth for the insults we took, the defeats we were charged with. They are for all the times when we didn’t react, even when having all the reasons in the world to do so. They are for all the times when we did react and we were alone because our deaths and our rage did not fit pre-existing shapes, didn’t bring votes in, didn’t sell in the prime-time news.

These days belong to all the marginalized, the excluded, the people with the difficult names and the unknown stories. They belong to all those who die every day in the Aegean Sea and Evros River, to all those murdered at the border or on a central Athens street; they belong to the Roma in Zefyri, to the drug addicts in Exarchia. These days belong to the kids of Messollogiou Street, to the un-integrated, the uncontrollable students. Thanks to Alexis, these days belong to us all.

Eighteen years of silent rage are too many.

To the streets, for solidarity and dignity.

We haven't forgotten, we won't forget-these days are yours too, Luan, Tony, Mohamed, Alexis...

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Invitation to the Open Popular Assembly of the Liberated City Hall of Aghios Dimitrios

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

On December 6th, 2008, the special guard Epaminondas Korkoneas pulled out his gun and murdered a citizen, a fifteen-year-old kid. The rage that everyone feels is huge, despite all the attempts by the government and the mass media to disorient public opinion. It is now certain that this insurrection is not only homage to the unjust loss of Alexandros Grigoropoulos. There has been a lot of talk since then about violence, thefts, and pillages. For those in the media and power, violence is only what destroys the proper order.

For us however:

Violence is to work forty years for crumbs and to wonder if you will ever retire,

Violence is the bonds, the stolen pensions, the securities fraud,

Violence is to be forced to take a housing loan that you will pay back through the nose,

Violence is the managerial right of the employer to fire you at will,

Violence is unemployment, temporary employment, 700 euros a month,

Violence is the "industrial accidents" that happen because the bosses cut costs at the expense of worker safety,

Violence is to take psycho-medications and vitamins to withstand the exhaustive work schedule,

Violence is to be an immigrant, to live with the fear that you can be thrown out of the country at any time and to be in a state of constant insecurity,

Violence is to be simultaneously a wage worker, a housewife, and a mother,

Violence is to be worked to death and then to be told “smile, we are not asking that much of you,"

The insurrection of high school and university students, of temporary workers and immigrants, broke this violence of normality. This insurrection must not stop! Syndicalists, political parties, priests, journalists, and businesspeople do whatever they can to maintain the violence we described above. It is not just them, but we too are responsible for the perpetuation of this situation. The insurrection opened a space where we can finally express ourselves freely As a continuation of this opening we went forward with the occupation of the City Hall of Ag. Dimitrios and the formation of a popular assembly open to all.

An open space for communication, to break our silence, to undertake action for our life.

Saturday December 13, 2008, 7:00pm, open popular assembly at the Ag. Dimitrios City Hall.

NO PROSECUTION - IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ALL THOSE ARRESTED

-The occupation of Aghios Dimitrios City Hall

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I thought the revolution was coming

Katerina: A Thessaloniki student sympathetic to the anarchist movement

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010

December... it was amazing. Everyone was in the streets. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I thought the revolution was coming, I really did! There was so much energy all the normal ways of living had ended and it was all in the streets. There was a lot of violence, lots of burning. It was very frightening. There was a rumour that they would send in the military I got scared - after the 3rd or 4th day I shut myself in my apartment. I didn’t have television, no radio, no Internet. I would just go out on my balcony sometimes to look out in the streets, to see if everything was alright. I expected to see soldiers some morning.

But in December I learned that the TV is the most powerful weapon they have. The most important. It's the only one they need. To make people afraid, to make people stay home, to misinform people, to turn people against the revolution. Now I think everyone has gone back to their old lives, to the normal way of doing things, thanks to the TV.

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I want to eliminate everything that represents the alienation of our lives

Maria: An anarchist poet

Submitted by Uncreative on December 19, 2010