Little John: An anarchist who has been active for ten years, and is involved with one of Thessaloniki's squatted social centres, Fabrika Yfanet
The next step is to create the places where all the people can meet
In the last few years at Fabrika Yfanet, we’ve to developed structure necessary to organise open events. We've mostly done ideological work: publishing texts and forming groups that took on a specific theme, organising actions and discussions, participating in demonstrations, communicating to others about how we organised. And direct action of course. The space is basically a political social centre. It’s not just a social centre where people can be creative or come to fulfil certain needs, although this is a part of it. The difference is that the assembly of Yfanet is also a political assembly that involves itself in campaigns, makes political posters - we have a presence in the city.
You could say that lots of young people started to get involved through Yfanet. In recent years the anarchist movement has spread ideas about different ways to resist, and I think that offering this allowed December to happen. But in Thessaloniki, after December, you didn’t see lots of young people coming to the social centres wanting to get involved. Part of the reason is that Yfanet was a bit closed at this time. People were at meetings in the universities and here we only had small, closed meetings, so as a building or a structure it didn’t work for the masses. It worked for a smaller group of people who needed it. But in general Yfanet is an open place. You see many different people going there and they can see that it’s a place that’s open for them too. Maybe they don't participate in the assemblies, but going there has become normal for them and we can communicate without alienating them.
I think the State has begun its counterinsurgency yet we don’t understood what has happened. We can’t find the time to discuss it calmly, so I don’t know. There are a lot of questions we still have to answer. Since December so many people are talking about anarchists, they want to know what anarchism is, so for me the next step is to create places where all the people can meet - maybe on the basis of a common need. It can’t be a one time thing, it must be a response to a need people experience every day or a response to something that oppresses us every day. A new strategy that came out of Athens that is inspiring lots of people is to initiate local, neighbourhood assemblies.
In December this cinema was squatted, Olympian cinema, in the city centre, and all sorts of people came there to talk with anarchists, to participate. It was strange because we weren’t ready to propose anything, we were there just trying to organise a meeting. But all these new people came and it I turned into an interview with the anarchists: Why this? Why that? What do you want to do? This shows that people wanted to do more and to find ways to participate. We weren't ready for this, and next time we have to do it better.
So we’re starting with neighbourhood assemblies, getting used to talking with people from outside the movement. We’re doing this in our neighbourhood now, near Yfanet. We had to find a neutral place, not a squat, where everyone would feel comfortable. I think that maybe in five years it will be working great. Ha! It’s also happening in a few other neighbourhoods. And other people are starting new social centres, like one in the western part of the city where there has never been anything. And this is all the product of December.
But the State wants to stop it. In the newspapers today it said that law had to be brought to the squats and the police had to be able to enter them to see if illegal activities were taking place. And they tried to connect it to the student occupations. In the newspapers they confused everything - the students, the anarchists, random crimes happening near the universities. They try to blame it all on the occupations to scare people so they’ll want the police to come protect them. They want to criminalise the squats and the anarchists. It could be a preparation for some kind of repression.