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...

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

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.

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.