We are winning

A.G. Schwarz

Submitted by Uncreative on February 1, 2011

Another battle is coming. Energised by the fires of December, the movement is claiming more and more ground. They won the fights in the streets, and they still haven't been defeated. Every week they’re claiming new buildings to turn into social centres, transforming their new parks into undeniable realities, and pushing the State back. The students in Thessaloniki are demanding that the university de-privatise the cleaning staff and give all the precarious workers permanent contracts. Kuneva’s syndicate in Athens is demanding the same for the trams and the trains.

The university director in Thessaloniki has threatened to call in the police. The mayor of Athens has denied the existence of the new park in Exarchia, saying: "I don’t see a park there, I see a parking lot." But both of these malakas know that if they touch either occupation, it’ll be a war all over again, and we will probably win. But eventually they’ll have to act, because like smart guerrillas, we refuse to go on the defensive. We don’t mistake these new occupations, these little victories, as ends in themselves. As precious as each one is they are only steps on the road to revolution. We will and we must risk losing them in order to go further because in the war against the State there is no peace or stalemate, and to stop and circle the wagons means to be destroyed. In other words if we do not go further, if we only try to protect what little we’ve won, we will certainly lose it. So each new liberated space is being developed for the long-term even as it is used as a staging point for the next attack.

We don’t disregard these liberated spaces as pawns in a struggle; on the contrary we treasure them. You step into the park in Exarchia and you see the handmade playground and all the new trees and it is obvious that it is a work of love. And if it weren’t, so many hundreds of people of all ages wouldn’t come here to hang out, and they wouldn’t defend it tooth and nail when it’s threatened. But we won’t settle for this park, or just for its physical existence, giving control of it over to the mayor like he wants. We'll use it as a staging ground for meetings and protests, another bubble of social asylum in the war against the police, and maybe we’ll decide one day to convert the bordering streets into pedestrian zones, ripping up all the asphalt. Soon they’ll have to strike back. A government cannot continue to issue hollow threats without losing all its legitimacy and inviting more rebellion.

Thursday the 2nd of April was a day of general strike. In the protest march there was a lot of talk about Kuneva. And right next to the march route a group of anarchists entered the office of the company that employed Kuneva and smashed it all up, from the computers to the filing cabinets to the hardwood furniture to the framed art hanging on the walls. These private contractors rent out hyper-exploited immigrant workers, pocketing the greater part of the labour costs budgeted by the government. But that Thursday was payback. The new Delta Force sped to the scene of the crime but they were too late. All the anarchists had disappeared into the crowd, having caused thousands of Euros of damage while hanging a banner off the office balcony to the delight of the crowds below. Later in the day, Kuneva’s syndicate occupied the offices of the city trains, demanding the private company be dismissed so that all the cleaners could be hired on a permanent contract. Outside, a crowd of anarchists, Alpha Kappa, and some leftists gathered in support, ensuring that the police could not come to save the bosses.

Before long, a cheer went up and the crowd began to clap and talk excitedly. The train company had caved in to the demands, essentially reversing the supposedly unstoppable tide of neo-liberal privatisations and austerity measures. The syndicate promised that if their agreement was not honoured, they would be back. History was being changed. Outside, the person next to me smiled and proclaimed, "We’re winning!"

I remember on the streets of Seattle and Prague, anarchists spray painted that same sentence on the walls, and later, watching it in some documentary; all the hardened activists smirked a little, cynical. But the possibility has returned. In fact it had never left. It’s not going to be over tomorrow, but we can win. And it depends largely on having the confidence to change history.