Anarchist space - anarhikos horos, the anarchist space, is the most common way to refer to what we in the English-speaking world would call the anarchist movement or anarchist struggle. The distinction acknowledges that there is no single body or direction chosen by the anarchists. Rather, they occupy a non-homogeneous part of the political terrain, just as they spread out spatially within their cities, with the anarcho-junkies hanging out in that square, the nihilists hanging out in this corner, the libertarians handing out in that bar, the hippies hanging out in that park, the Situationists hanging out in that squat, the classical anarcho-communists in that café and the insurrectionists in this one. They meet and coordinate without coming to agreement, or they keep their distance from one another, but if the police ever invade their turf, they band together to fight back.
Anarchists, autonomists and libertarians (oh my!) - Many, but not all, Greek anti-authoritarians use these terms in the following way. Anarchists are those who identify themselves with the specific anarchist tradition, going back to (but by no means limited to) Bakunin, even though the major influences probably come from the events of May '68, as well as other more recent manifestations of new and old theories and struggles. The autonomists are not necessarily dissident Marxists as they are in other countries, but perhaps dissident anarchists who favour a materialist analysis. The libertarians focus on the idea of freedom, philosophically and culturally. All of these currents are grouped together as anti-authoritarians, although sometimes the term "anti-authoritarian" is used to contrast to "anarchist," to refer to those "anti-authoritarians who do not specifically identify themselves as anarchists. These are all crass and clumsy generalisations, but hopefully they can help the foreign reader untangle the varied terms.
AK - Alpha Kappa, or Anti-authoritarian Current (most commonly mistranslated as Anti-authoritarian Movement), an anarchist organisation with sections in several cities, that often works with the extra-parliamentary Left.
ASOEE - The University of Economics and Business in Athens, located on Patison Ave. about a ten minute walk north of the Polytechnic and Exarchia.
Asylum - In recognition of the important role the students played in overthrowing the dictatorship and the heavy repression that was visited upon them, an important legal principle of the new democratic government, written into the constitution, was that any university campus was considered a place of asylum, and the police could not enter there. Due to Plan Bolonya, the neo-liberal restructuring of higher education being forced on all member states of the European Union, the Greek government must abolish the asylum. In 2007, the Greek government voted to limit asylum, so that police could enter a campus at the invitation of the university president. In practice, asylum still exists thanks to the proximity of the university administrators to the everyday force of the social movements created by the students, who would take any breach of the asylum as a declaration of war and respond accordingly.
Base union - A common term used by Greek anti-authoritarians to denote a grassroots workers union that acts as a vehicle for the coordination of information, action, and protest by workers, as distinct from the institutional labour unions that act as permanent governing bodies for the workers, and collaborate with the political parties and the General Confederation of Workers.
Delta force - The name given, apparently without any sense of irony,to the new special police force created in Athens in March. They travel in groups from six to fifty, riding two to a motorbike. They are intended to serve as a rapid response team to carry out arrests against anarchists. The force recruits the most fascist, brutal, and hooliganistic elements of all the different police sections.
Eleftheros Typos - "Free Press." Unfortunately, this is both the name of the anarchist publisher founded in 1976, and the major right wing newspaper later bought by the elite family that was also the driving force behind the Athens Olympics. Neither of these are to be confused with Eleftherotipia, the third largest newspaper in Greece, and staunchly leftist, known for publishing the communiques of 17 November and even running articles sympathetic to the anarchists or the autonomy of Exarchia.
Gas canister bomb - A small homemade bomb frequently used in attacks claimed by small anarchist groups, this bomb basically entails a group of exploding camping gas cannisters. The damage produced is mostly symbolic, and is unlikely to produce injuries.
General Confederation of Greek Workers - The GSEE, an organisation that brings together all the major labour unions, and has its central offices in Athens on Patison Ave., between Polytechnic and ASOEE. It is alternatively translated as the General Confederation of Labour of Greece.
General strike - In Greece, nationwide general strikes organised by the GSEE typically occur every several months, lasting for a single day and serving above all as a protest and a platform to demonstrate the clout of the major unions and the political parties that have retained them.
Golden Dawn - A long-standing and formerly illegal neo-nazi organisation that has gained some popularity in Greece over the last years. The government allowed them to participate in the 2009 national elections, in which they gathered 17,000 votes throughout Greece.
Ermou - A posh shopping street leading down from Syntagma Square.
Exarchia - A counter-cultural and rebellions neighbourhood of central Athens that has long been a stronghold of the anarchists. At different times over the last decades, the neighbourhood has been either a relatively autonomous zone in terms of a lack of police presence or it has been under armed police occupation. (A common alternative spelling, which adheres to the characters used in the Greek alphabet rather than to the pronunciation, is "Exarheia.")
KKE - The Communist Party of Greece, and the last real Communist party of all Europe, still defending Stalinism as a beneficial period in Russian society and spreading conservative ideas "to the masses." They were once a major force in controlling workers' struggles, but now hold only a small number of seats in Parliament. Incidentally, Communist refers to Party members or the Party collectively, whereas communist refers to the people who identify with that political position and tradition without necessarily being Party members. In fact, before and during the civil war, many communsits were killed by the Communists.
Kolonaki - A wealthy neighbourhood of central Athens, full of luxury boutiques and expensive apartments, just a few minutes walk from Exarchia, in one direction, or Syntagma, in the other.
Konstantina Kuneva - A Bulgarian migrant who led a base union of precarious cleaning workers, and was attacked for her organising activity on 23 December. "Kouneva," a frequent alternative spelling, is a transliteration of her name rendered in Greek.
Koukoulofori - "Hooded ones," the term used by the Greek media and state to dismissively describe the anarchists without giving them a political content. The singular is koukouloforos. A creative alternative translation that gives a good sense of the connotation of the word is "masketeer." The earlier terms were "provocateurs" and then"known unknowns."
LAOS - An extreme right political party with growing visibility in Greece, with a Le Pen-style fascism based on a popularistic xenophobia and emphasis on religion and family.
Le Pen - An influential French politician and former member of the Foreign Legion, Jean-Marie Le Pen has been instrumental in developing the new European crypto-fascism on the rise since the '80s. His anti-semitism, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and connections to right wing paramilitary groups hide behind a populist and nationalist conservatism.
Maria Kallas - A famous Greek opera singer, who was said to live in the large building on PAtison Avenue, Athens, occupied by anarchists in March 2009.
MAT - The hated Greek riot police. These "Sections of Direct Order" were created by PASOK in the early '80s to confront the violence of the early Greek Black Bloc and the wildcat strikes of those times.
Metapolitefsi - The period of political transition during the '70s, from the dictatorship to the democratic government.
ND - Nea Demokratia or New Democracy, the conservative political party in power at the time of the December insurrections and the following months. During those times it had been particularly scandal-racked and governed with a majority of only one representative in Parliament.
Nomiki - The Law University, located on the other side of Akadimias Ave. from Exarchia, relatively close to Kolonaki and Syntagma.
Omonia - A major square in central Athens, close to the Polytechnic and about a fifteen minute walk from Syntagma. The neighbourhood on one side of Omonia has become well known as an immigrant ghetto.
Panepistimio - The area of the University Rectorate, halfway between Omonia and Syntagma, next to Nomiki, and just below Exarchia. This is a common starting point for demonstration, which typically march to Omonia and turn around to go to Syntagma, one street farter down from Panepistimio.
PAOK - A football hooligan club with a strong presence throughout Greece, and with distinct anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian tendencies. Together with AEK from Athens, Asteras Exarchion (the amateur team of Exarchia) and some other football teams in the countryside they galvanise many hundreds of anarchist and anti-fascist hooligans (whose participation in the riots of Genoa achieved international visibility). In contrast to other European countries Greek anarchists and anti-fascists refuse to abandon the football stadiums and offer them to neo-nazis following the flase analysis that "hooligans are no serious political fighters."
PASOK - The Socialist Party of Greece, one of the two largest political parties, with a social democratic line similar to SPD in Germany.
Polytechnic - The Polytechnic University of Athens, located in the centre of the city on Patison Avenue close to Omonia, and alongside Exarchia, and a place of great symbolic importance for its central role in the major riots and insurrections from November 1973 to December 2008.
Popular Revolutionary Struggle (ELA) - A large anarcho-autonomist armed group active in the '70s, '80s and '90s. Some of their members were arrested in the early '00s. Unlike their more famous contemporaries, 17 November, they carried out no assassinations.
Revolutionary Struggle - An extreme Left armed struggle group that appeared in 2003. Their most spectacular action was a 2007 rocket attack against the US Embassy.
Sect of Revolutionaries - An anti-authoritarian armed group that became active after December.
17 November - A leftist urban guerilla group responsible for a number of political assassinations and other attacks, active in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Their name is a reference to a major date in the insurrection against the dictatorship in 1973. Several of their members were arrested in the early '00s.
Stournari - The street that runs alongside the Polytechnic, going towards Exarchia Square. There are many major computer stores on this street that were completely burned in December.
Syntagma - The square that stands before the Greek Parliament, the destination for many protest marches, and a site of many major street battles.
SYRIZA - A small party of the European Social Forum that unites many leftist organisations, also known as pink communists or Euro communists, and the only parliamentary party to participate in the December protests, alongside many tiny Marxist-Leninist, Trotskyist, and Maoist parties. They were all denounced by the KKE for aiding the protesters, and denounced by the protesters for trying to manipulate and represent the struggle. Their bid to capitalise on the youth demographic in the European Parliament elections in June failed wonderfully, as few people who participated in the insurrection went to the polls and SYRIZA received few votes.