War-Zone Athens: three people dead, many buildings burning as general strike march turns into a battle

War-Zone Athens: three people dead, many buildings burning as general strike march turns into a battle

Three people have suffocated to death as a result of a fire in Marfin Bank during ongoing battles between anti-measure protesters and police in Athens.

The Athens protest march marking the zenith of the general strike called for the 5th of May was attended by an approximate 200,000 (20,000 which is the foreign broadcast number referring to the PAME march alone), although because of lack of media coverage due to the media participation in the general strike no concrete estimates can be made. After the PAME (Communist Party union) protesters left Syntagma square, the first lines of the main march started arriving before the Parliament with the first clashes erupting at the end of Stadiou street. The march then walked on the Unknown Soldier grounds leading the Presidential Guard to retreat, and attempted to storm the Parliament but was pushed back by riot police forces which today demonstrated a particularly staunch attitude and resolve against the demonstrators. Soon battles erupted around the Parliament with protesters throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks, with one riot police armored van torched, and the police responding by extended use of tear gas that soon made Athens’ atmosphere unbearably acrid. As more blocks reached Syntagma square, the battles spread across the city center and lasted for more than five hours.

During the clashes several state buildings were set ablaze including the County Headquarters of Attika. At the time of writing the Ministry of Finance is reported to be on fire, and vital tax documents as destroyed by the raging fire. However the strange thing is that it is the fourth floor of the building that is burning, at a height inapproachable to petrol bombs. The building is in danger of total collapse.

According to news reports that began at 14:00 Greek time after, under pressure by the events, most radio and TV stations decided to break their strike, claim that the fire at Marfin Bank’s Stadiou street branch that has led to the death of three workers (one a pregnant woman) was started by protesters. However this remains an unsubstantiated claim. A similar case three decades ago had originally put the blame for the fire at Kappa-Marousi building on Panepistimiou street, leading to the death of several people inside, to anarchists, while its was later proved the fire was caused by tear gas fired by the police.

A video of the fire-brigade trying to evacuate the building can be seen in http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8661385.stm

After the tragic death of the three workers made the round of Athens, new clashes started to spread in the Greek capital, with a large crowd gathered outside the burned bank when Marfin's boss tried to visit the site. Clashes broke out between the crowd and police when the former attacked the bank magnate accusing him of forcing the dead workers to scab on a general strike and locking them in the building despite them demanding to evacuate it since 12:00.

In Parliament the Communist Party of Greece has accused the government for the deaths, claiming it was a result of agents provocateur fascist groups. The claims of the Communist Party are based on the fact that 50 fascists tried to enter the PAME demo bearing the flags of the union earlier in the morning. The fascists were spotted, chased and sought refuge behind riot police lines. Accusing the extreme-right as being behind the deaths, the Coalition of Radical Left has declared in Parliament that the government cannot pretend to be in grief for the loss of life, as it has been attacking human life by all means possible.

Meanwhile, extended clashes broke out in Salonika where approximately 50,000 people marched destroying dozens of banks and corporate shops in Greece’s second largest city. Clashes with the police continued for several hours. According to news broadcasts anarchist have occupied the Labour Center of the city.

In Patras, around 20,000 protesters were joined by tractor drivers and garbage truck drivers on their vehicles, as flaming barricades were erected along central streets of the city and clashes developed between protestors and the police.

In Ioannina the protesters attacked banks and corporate shops leading to extended use of chemicals by the police. In Heraklion, 10,000 people are reported as marching against the measures. In Corfu, protesters taking part in the anti-measures march occupied the County Headquarters. Protesters have occupied the Administrative Headquarters of Naxos and the City Hall of Naoussa.

As a result of the Athens riots, the police have cordoned off the entire center of the city, erecting check points of entry and exit, while all police work permits have been recalled. At the time of writing battles continue to rage in the inner city, while news broadcasts claim the police is mobilising its forces to storm an anarchist squat in Exarcheia.

Posted By

taxikipali
May 5 2010 15:14

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baboon
May 6 2010 21:30

Agree with Django above.

Is there any news of any sort of self-organisation among the workers, any attempts by workers to hold meetings, to join up?

Anti-German nationalism is a danger.

ernie
May 6 2010 22:04

Agree with Django and taxikipali about the seriousness of the situation and the danger to the movement represented by such pointless attacks of violence, let alone the tragic consequences. These actions as taxikipali says undermine the movement not take it forwards. They do not help the most essential need for the struggle: unity. Instead they add to the ruling class's (from Right to Left) efforts to divided up and exhaust the proletariat's and populations anger and militancy faced with these attacks; no matter what the intensions of those involved. As Taxilipali says even if this was an act of provocation it has had an impact because of the wider context of militariam and nilhilism.. The central question is the need to spread the struggle, to break down the divisions imposed by the ruling class; be it the riot sticks of the police or the radical slogans of the Stalinist; for the working class to take its struggle into its own hands. The proletariat in Greece is at the forefront of the struggle and the are faced not only with the Greek bourgeoisie but that of the whole of Europe and beyond. The ruling class want to smash the workers in Greece to give a lesson to the international proletariat: you cannot fight back and win. The responsibility of all revolutionaries is to do everything we can to help push forwards the unity of the class and to oppose that which works against this unity.
Taxipali's point about this kind of vanguardism being the same as the Stalinists is very true. It is the collective self-activity of the proletariat that will push back the bourgeoisie's attacks or at least provide invaluable experience of collective struggle for the proletariat in Greece and internationally.

ernie
May 6 2010 22:05

Agree with Baboon that it would be very useful to hear about any moves towards unity, self-organisation, mass meetings, etc.

ernie
May 6 2010 22:10

One last point, the information provide by the comrades in Greece has been extremely useful for discussing with work mates and others. The bourgeois here have made the most of the deaths to present the protests and strikes as leading to nothing but destruiction. For example they said the bank workers strike was to express there disgust at the deaths, but nothing about the anger towards the owner of the bank. The media concentrates almost solely on the violence. The Al Jazera news showed the riot police wading into the crowd today battering anyone who got in their way. It even showed police men having to restrain another one who has knocking the shit out of someone on the floor.

GerryK
May 6 2010 22:30

Here's a French version of the statement by the Marfin's bank employer (if others could inform French indiymedia, I - and the movement in Greece also maybe - would be grateful, as I'm too exhausted and my access tonight on the internet is limited):

Je me sens obligé envers mes collègues, qui moururent d'une façon tellement injuste, de parler ouvertement et de raconter des vérités objectives. J’envoie ce message à toutes les formes de médias. Tout le monde qui a quelque conscience devrait le publier. Les autres peuvent jouer le jeu du gouvernement.

Les pompiers n’ont jamais donné leur accord pour que ce bâtiment soit utilisable. Le permis, nécessaire pour que la banque puisse fonctionner, avait été donné sous la table, comme ça se passe pratiquement partout, et avec toutes les entreprises et sociétés en Grèce.

Ce bâtiment-là n’a aucun mécanisme de sécurité mis en place – ni prévu pour l'avenir. C’est-à-dire, il n’y a pas d’extincteur automatique d’incendie, de sortie d’urgence ou de lance à incendie. Il y a seulement quelques extincteurs portables qui, bien sûr, ne peuvent pas aider face à un feu répandu dans un bâtiment qui fut construit avec des normes de sécurité depuis longtemps obsolètes.

Il n'y avait, dans aucune agence de la Banque Marfin, d'employé formé pour combattre les incendies ou même pour utiliser des extincteurs. De plus la direction a toujours utilisé comme prétexte les prix élevés de la formation, et n'a même jamais pris les mesures les plus élémentaires pour protéger ses employés.

Il n’y a jamais eu d'exercice d’évacuation par des employés dans aucun bâtiment, ni de session de formation par les pompiers, pour transmettre des instructions pour des situations comme ça. Les seules sessions de formation qui ont eu lieu à la Banque Marfin concernaient des scénarios d'actions terroristes et spécifiquement les plans d'évacuation des grands chefs de bureaux pendant de telles situations.

Ce bâtiment-là, spécifiquement, n’était pas doté de protections contre les incendies, alors que la façon dont il a été construit le rendait vulnérable au feu, et qu'il était bourré, du sol au plafond, de matériel de bureau, matériel très inflammable: papiers, plastiques, dossiers, meubles. Le bâtiment n’était objectivement pas adéquat pour être utilisé comme banque, du fait de sa construction.

Aucun membre de la sécurité n’a de connaissance en matière de premiers secours ou d’extinction des feux, même s'ils sont, en pratique, chargés de la sécurité du bâtiment. Les employés de la banque doivent se transformer en pompiers ou employés de sécurité selon l’appétit de M. Vgenopoulos [propriétaire de la Banque Marfin].

La direction de la banque a strictement empêché les employés de partir aujourd’hui [le 5 mai], alors que ces derniers insistaient pour partir depuis très tôt ce matin – elle a aussi obligé les employés à fermer à clef les portes et à annoncer continuellement au téléphone que le bâtiment resterait fermé toute la journée. Elle a même bloqué leur accès Internet pour les empêcher de communiquer avec le monde extérieur.

Pendant plusieurs jours il y a eu une terreur complète à l'encontre des employés de la banque, au vu des mobilisations de ces derniers jours, avec la « proposition » orale : ou vous travaillez ou vous serez virés.

Les deux flics en civil qui sont normalement rattachés à l'agence de la banque pour la prévention des cambriolages ne sont pas arrivés aujourd’hui, alors que la direction de la banque avait promis oralement aux employés qu’ils seraient là.

Finalement, messieurs, faites vos autocritiques et arrêtez d’errer en faisant semblant d’être choqués. Vous êtes responsables de ce qui s’est passé aujourd’hui et dans une situation acceptable (comme celles que vous aimez utiliser de temps en temps comme des exemples importants dans vos spectacles de télé) vous auriez été arrêtés pour les actions décrites ici. Mes collègues ont perdu la vie aujourd’hui par malice : malice de la Banque Marfin, et de M. Vgenopoulos en personne, qui ont explicitement annoncé que ceux qui ne viendraient pas au travail aujourd’hui [le 5 mai, jour de la Grève Générale] n’auraient pas à venir au travail demain [car ils seraient virés].

Un employé de la Banque Marfin [originalement, ce texte a été écrit en grec. Cette version est la traduction de l'anglais].

rooieravotr
May 6 2010 22:32

taxikpali, thanks again and again for all theiformation and the insights!
On the events leading to the three deaths: I think we should be careful in how we discuss things like these. Criticism can be necessary. But it should not slide into condemnation of the people on our side we disagree with.
I am no fan of tactics like attacks with molotovs on bank buildings. I have seen things like that happening before my eyes in Genoa. My doubts are not because these tactics are 'violent' as such (there is a time when riots are in order, and revolution is not an non-violent thing). I just don t see how a burnt bank building weakens capital and the state. The risks - you cannot always be sure if there is something in the building... - do not outweigh the, mainly symbolic, contribution such acts make. I am open for arguments to show I am wring on this. And I accept that there is a place for sheer rage in our struggle...

But there is a big difference between openly debating the wisdom of such tactics on the one hand - and blanket rejection and condemnation of anyone using or advocating such tactics. The first strengthens our movement and our struggle. The second is aiding the state in criminalising our side.

giannis
May 6 2010 23:36
Quote:
Is there any news of any sort of self-organisation among the workers, any attempts by workers to hold meetings, to join up?

Well, not much. To be more accurate nothing official till now. There are self-organized fights in some workplaces, especially to prevent layoffs, but nothing big.

The way I see it, the labor movement in Greece is not at the pick of it's fight but rather in a transition point (I think that I'm making some bad translation at this point, sorry).

After the military junta (1974) and the big workers' struggles that followed, the state gave a lot of power to the unions, especially those of the public sector. Off course, as the years were passing by, the unions became a hierarchical bureaucratic layer and their only role was to intermediate the workers' fights, earn some little raises and keeping theirs privileges as unions. So today people have lost their fate in the unions as they have lost their fate in politicians.

To make a long story sort what we see now is the old world dying. The class war is not at the peek of it's fight. The workers are starting to discover what tactics (=just voting) are wrong. But they have not much experience in other tactics (=self-organization)*. Imagine us as some un-organized barbarians that make their final stand against the roman legions. If by this way we lose the fight, which I think is a big possibility, then new tactics will emerge. I think that you better don't wait to see self-organized fights in Greece right now but in the years to come as the resistance grows.

*for example, in contrary with other European countries, Greece never had a remarkable anarcho-syndicalist union or any kind of self-organized union. Recently some promising efforts have been made and we'll see the results in the years to come.

Ross from Atlanta
May 7 2010 03:05

Thank you Giannis for your reply.

I think these tragic events should be a wake up call for the international anarchist movement. After a day of shock and disappointment, I have come to many revelations. The situation in Greece does not look good. Despite the conditions being promising, the lack of organization is starting to show. The revolution will not come because of street fights.

I know some of you may believe that this event alone may have halted the workers movement in Greece, but the truth is that it is only a picture of the greater problem there.

Samotnaf
May 7 2010 06:05

I get the feeling (from the distance of a couple of thousand kilometers) that some people are dividing too much into pro-violence v. anti-violence camps, into dismissing workers struggles v. dismissing "marginal" struggles, into pro-strike anti- riot v. pro-riot anti-strike Manichean camps. This of course is a simplification but it's a tendency (and it's a stronger tendency on another thread here about these events).

After the vicious attack on Kouneva, some people attacked, in solidarity with her, a train and station which had been using the company she had gone on strike against, after making sure that all the passengers had left; the fire caused several million euros worth of damage. This, in a sense, was an attempt to unify solidarity with strikes and "marginal" violent action. To separate violent attacks from strikes is just what the ruling class wants. Of course, the difference, in this instance, with the bank deaths here is obvious: the March 09 Kouneva solidarity action involved making sure nobody was hurt (it seems they even attacked a station terminal to make sure that nobody's journey was interrupted); however, the communique they issued was kind of ridiculous in its arrogant dismissal of "commuters", still reflecting the separation between "marginals" and working proletarians. This separation has been exploited by our enemies throughout the history of class struggle since the post-68 period, and people who want a revolution should seriously consider how to practically and theoretically overcome this Grand Canyon in the movement to abolish present conditions. Neither "macho militarism" nor traditional workerism helps at all.

Samotnaf
May 7 2010 06:17

giannis:

Quote:
I think that you better don't wait to see self-organized fights in Greece right now but in the years to come as the resistance grows.

No - self-organisation has to grow now; what you say is just abstract hope that it wil grow - it could just as easily lessen and retreat (as happened in the 90s in the UK after poll tax). "Lessons" have to be learnt NOW, not when the ruling class has total control over all initiative.If the Greek working class (whether working or not) withdraws like the UK working class did, then the Greek proletariat will become as characterological, ideological, racist, nationalist, psychotic, suicidal, drug-addicted, alcohol-addicted, football-addicted, everyday lifestyle-addicted, "theory"-addicted as the UK proletariat has become. The chance of making progress in the struggle depends on each and everyone drawing significant conclusions to advance against the fear, indifference and/or guilt that this society pushes everyone into submitting to.

taxikipali
May 7 2010 08:42

First a great thanks to all for their contribution here; I believe this is a very fertile discussion and will hopefully help people in Greece think some things over in the days to come. My apologies for not being able to think and respond to each and one of the posts at the moment.

Update: The new measures have been voted in the Greek Parliament today by a majority of 172 votes out of a total 300, these including the votes of the ruling Socialist Party (PASOK) and the extreme-right party of junta nostalgic creeps, LAOS. The Conservative party, the Communist Party and the Radical Coalition of the Left voted against the measures. The procedure was not without surprises as 3 PASOK MPs cast a blank vote, leading to their expulsion from the Party. One of them a veteran Socialist politician and Olympic Games champion Mrs Sacorafa is refusing to hand over her seat in Parliament. At the same time the ex-Foreign Affairs Minister, daughter of the ex- PM Konstantinos Mitsotakis, and defeated candidate for the leadership of the Conservatives, Mrs Bakoyanni voted for the measures leading to her immediate expulsion from the Party – a move expected to lead the Conservatives to a major crisis. The demand of the Left for a 180 vote majority for the measures to be passed (a rule applied for constitutional reform) was not accepted by the government.

After the voting GSEE and ADEDY, the private and public sector union umbrellas staged a demo outside the Parliament, while around 10,000 PAME allied protesters gathered in Omonoia square and marched towards the Parliament. At the same time grassroots unions performed a march to the Parliament from Propylea where tension rose when police started detaining protestors with backpacks. After reaching Syntagma square around 10,000 protesters pressed against strong riot police forces protecting the Parliament shouting slogans like “air for the cholera to go away”. After some time clashes broke out when riot police attacked the crowd in order for it not to meet up with MPs exiting the Parliament. The clashes did not develop into riots and the general mood of the protesters has been reported as angry but not violent.

Similar protests took place in Salonica without clashes being reported.

It must be noted that tomorrow bank workers will once again perform a walk-out at 12:00. Today bank workers went on strike as a response to the death of their three colleagues yesterday.

giannis
May 7 2010 10:55
Quote:
Quote:
I think that you better don't wait to see self-organized fights in Greece right now but in the years to come as the resistance grows.

No - self-organisation has to grow now; what you say is just abstract hope that it wil grow - it could just as easily lessen and retreat (as happened in the 90s in the UK after poll tax). "Lessons" have to be learnt NOW, not when the ruling class has total control over all initiative.If the Greek working class (whether working or not) withdraws like the UK working class did, then the Greek proletariat will become as characterological, ideological, racist, nationalist, psychotic, suicidal, drug-addicted, alcohol-addicted, football-addicted, everyday lifestyle-addicted, "theory"-addicted as the UK proletariat has become. The chance of making progress in the struggle depends on each and everyone drawing significant conclusions to advance against the fear, indifference and/or guilt that this society pushes everyone into submitting to.

Let me rephrase in case it wasn't clear. There are not much self-organized struggles in Greece and no tradition of such struggles so you will probably don't see fights like these right now. Maybe you will see them in the close future.

Mark.
May 7 2010 11:18

Statement on the Occupied London blog
http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/

"The time has come for us to talk frankly about violence and to critically examine a specific culture of violence that has been developing in Greece in the past few years..."

Quote:
What do we honestly have to say about Wednesday’s events?

What do the events of Wednesday (5/5) honestly mean for the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement? How do we stand in the face of the deaths of these three people – regardless of who caused them? Where do we stand as humans and as people in struggle? Us, who do not accept that there are such things as “isolated incidents” (of police or state brutality) and who point the finger, on a daily basis, at the violence exercised by the state and the capitalist system. Us, who have the courage to call things by their name; us who expose those who torture migrants in police stations or those who play around with our lives from inside glamorous offices and TV studios. So, what do we have to say now?

We could hide behind the statement issued by the Union of Bank Workers (OTOE) or the accusations by employees of the bank branch; or we could keep it at the fact that the deceased had been forced to stay in a building with no fire protection – and locked up, even. We could keep it at what a scum-bag is Vgenopoulos, the owner of the bank; or at how this tragic incident will be used to leash out some unprecedented repression. Whoever (dared to) pass through Exarcheia on Wednesday night already has a clear picture of this. But this is not where the issue lies.

The issue is for us to see what share of the responsibilities falls on us, on all of us. We are all jointly responsible. Yes, we are right to fight with all our powers against the unjust measures imposed upon us; we are right to dedicate all our strength and our creativity toward a better world. But as political beings, we are equally responsible for every single one of our political choices, for the means we have impropriated and for our silence every time that we did not admit to our weaknesses and our mistakes. Us, who do not suck up to the people in order to gain in votes, us who have no interest in exploiting anyone, have the capacity, under these tragic circumstances, to be honest with ourselves and with those around us.

What the greek anarchist movement is experiencing at the moment is some total numbness. Because there are pressurising conditions for some tough self-criticism that is going to hurt. Beyond the horror of the fact that people have died who were on “our side”, the side of the workers – workers under extremely difficult conditions who would have quite possibly chosen to march by our side if things were different in their workplace – beyond this, were are hereby also confronted with demonstrator/s who put the lives of people in danger. Even if (and this goes without question) there was no intention to kill, this is a matter of essence that can hold much discussion – some discussion regarding the aims that we set and the means that we chose.

The incident did not happen at night, at some sabotage action. It happened during the largest demonstration in contemporary greek history. And here is where a series of painful questions emerge: Overall, in a demonstration of 150-200,000, unprecedented in the last few years, is there really a need for some “upgraded” violence? When you see thousands shouting “burn, burn Parliament” and swear at the cops, does another burnt bank really have anything more to offer to the movement?

When the movement itself turns massive – say like in December 2008 – what can an action offer, if this action exceeds the limits of what a society can take (at least at a present moment), or if this action puts human lives at danger?

When we take to the streets we are one with the people around us; we are next to them, by their side, with them – this is, at the end of the day, why we work our arses off writing texts and posters – and our own clauses are a single parameter in the many that converge. The time has come for us to talk frankly about violence and to critically examine a specific culture of violence that has been developing in Greece in the past few years. Our movement has not been strengthened because of the dynamic means it sometimes uses but rather, because of its political articulation. December 2008 did not turn historical only because thousands picked up and threw stones and molotovs, but mainly because of its political and social characteristics – and its rich legacies at this level. Of course we respond to the violence exercised upon us, and yet we are called in turn to talk about our political choices as well as the means we have impropriated, recognising our -and their – limits.

When we speak of freedom, it means that at every single moment we doubt what yesterday we took for granted. That we dare to go all the way and, avoiding some cliché political wordings, to look at things straight into the eye, as they are. It is clear that since we do not consider violence to be an end to itself, we should not allow it to cast shadows to the political dimension of our actions. We are neither murderers nor saints. We are part of a social movement, with our weaknesses and our mistakes. Today, instead of feeling stronger after such an enormous demonstration we feel numb, to say the least. This in itself speaks volumes. We must turn this tragic experience into soul-searching and inspire one another since at the end of the day, we all act based on our consciousness. And the cultivation of such a collective consciousness is what is at stake.

baboon
May 7 2010 11:46

Thanks for the reply Giannis (and Taxi by the way). Your first response was perfectly clear to me. The Greek unions and the state's left wing, despite their waning influence, still have a grip on the situation and a role to play in order to defend the state. Over and above this the whole of the European bourgeoisie will do what it can to contribute to the defeat of this movement and that it includes portraying it as an expression of blind, murderous violence and therefore nothing to with the proletariat elsewhere - helped in the process through ultra-minority actions that end up killing workers. In this respect I find Samotnaf's characterisation of the working class in Britain as it will affect those in Greece involved in a longer process, "nationalist, racist, psychotic, etc. etc.", contemptible. Further, his idea that self-organisation could lessen and retreat, is impossible if it doesn't exist in the first place. And according to Giannis it doesn't. Self-organisation and moves towards unity can't be imposed on the class "NOW" as Sam would like, but has to develop out of the struggle.

petey
May 7 2010 12:47
Quote:
a great thanks to all for their contribution here

thanks first of all to you taxikipali for these reports, and also to the other greek posters for their info and comments. these few outlets (occupied london, libcom) are indispensible

Mark.
May 8 2010 12:48

A rather garbled machine translation of a statement on Athens Indymedia, signed by the following publishing projects and collectives:
Εκδόσεις-περιοδικό Πανοπτικόν, Εκδόσεις των Ξένων, Εκδόσεις Στάσει Εκπίπτοντες, Εκδόσεις Εξάρχεια, Μαύρο Πιπέρι του Ευβοϊκού, Περιοδικό Νυχτεγερσία

If anyone whose Greek is better than mine could translate this properly then that would be useful.

http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1165849

Quote:

Anarchy is the struggle for life, not for death

In December 2008 during the events that followed the assassination of Alexander Gregoropoulos anarchist anti-authoritarian-fascist site responded to calls of SMEs to return to "peace, order and security" in disarming the slogan "you are talking about windows, we are talking about lives.

What makes a dangerous hypocrisy now some talk about the non-existent fire protection measures by the bank and not for the lives lost and what orgoueliki inversion of reality some people do talk about the tragic incident like this was a short circuit?

Does not understand that hypocrisy is the NATO equivalent of murderers who spoke on 'collateral damage'?

Does not understand that for granted and obvious cynicism and brutality of a megalokapitalisti, imposed blackmail employees to lie within the bank, not atone for any deaths?

Does not understand that if you use the tactics of the beast that you have been fighting against myself with this?

If you are fighting for something anarchists, if something is worth to fight the people are for life, liberty and dignity. In a world where death will no longer have the power...

In protest 6 / 5 in Thessaloniki, which responded to the call of the union clinicians Thessaloniki and primary societies, plenty people, anarchists and anti-authoritarians from the last block, shouted repeatedly: "It was murder, not illusions, state and Vgenopoulos kill workers. Surely such a thought for some it is comforting. But it is certain that they understand the contents and implications of what they wish?

We do not know what happened in Marfin noon 05/05/2010. But we know that the moment we heard the tragic news, no one from those around us were not able to say that was ruled out what prosecutors SMEs announced! And it is also tragic.

Because if the practice we do not make patently unthinkable (and first of all to ourselves) this does not come from people moving in the same room with us, then we have already opened the way for tragedy to happen (from murderous irresponsibility, twisted by malice or fraudulent design).

In an uncontrolled generalized rebellion there dead, was in Los Angeles, was in Argentina. Nobody dianoithike ever to perform in an organized political power challenged these deaths.

The fact that the three murdered, Marfin charged into anarchy definitely shows great responsibility. Who can ignore the pioneering reasonable tolerance and contempt of life? Not to say that the PA experienced anarchists over the years, many banks have been burned and that nobody was in danger ... not to say that PA blame Vgenopoulos which forced workers to left the bank, which was not fire, etc.

The responsibility does not leave on you.

If there are even few people who identify themselves as anarchists and irresponsible to reach the buildings burnt with people inside, some have grown this irresponsibility.

If, even worse, you pave the way for this to happen the biggest war provocation in Greece, then the long-term consequences going beyond the tragedy of the three murdered.

And the answer is not the protests that "the enemy is ruthless. We know the Piazza Fontana in Milan and the Scala in Barcelona.

The answer is the emerging populous opposition to take root in all social areas and nationwide, with persistent and laborious work, the camaraderie, mutual support and solidarity. The answer is the struggle for life, not death.

GCI-ICG
May 8 2010 13:34

This post as well as some others from Libcom and Occupied London about the current class struggles in Greece are reproduced on our own Blog of Information on Class Struggles.

We also published a new review in Greek:

ΚΟΜΜΟΥΝΙΣΜΟΣ Νο3 (Απριλιοσ 2010) - Κεντρικό Όργανο στα ελληνικά της ΔΚΟ | PDF |
Η ΟΙΚΟΝΟΜΙΑ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΣΕ ΚΡΙΣΗ. ΑΣ ΤΗΝ ΑΠΟΤΕΛΕΙΩΣΟΥΜΕ!!
Σχόλια ενάντια στη δικτατορία της οικονομίας
Για την λατρεια τησ εργασιασ
Αξιοποίηση/Αποαξιοποίηση

iaourti iaourtaki
May 8 2010 15:41

it's kinda scary seeing my post being published as two! that's censorship and has nuthing to do with anarchy.
it's simple: stop dissing the antarchist, the nihilists, the anarchists and the revolutionary communists of GREECE and their friends!
if ya start that shit ya are not better than the police junta of BASOK!

TAXIKIPALI,
don't force us too to run the mountains! Shall we go to Kosovo so that you can keep on with ya reformist project?!
getting thrown out of the orthodox church of the greek anarchists!
and to all the others: stop writing about the greeks!
we are all folks, populations and people living inside greece except from some rich whities!
funk off!
cheers
iassu malaka

taxikipali
May 8 2010 17:08

It is obvious that iaourti cannot afford having his/ her myth of greek anarchy troubled let alone breached by facts...I am sorry but the three dead are due to this kind of keeping silent about wrong methods and wrong ideas in the movement. Its time to break that silence or see all that we have been building collapse on our heads like a house of cards.

Samotnaf
May 8 2010 17:24

Hate to say "told you so" but...in fact I don't hate to say that, but some might hate that I'm saying that...As I said - more or less - in the thread about your reports in January iirc, taxikipali, to separate theory from the facts represses stating what you know is vital. (I don't have the referene at hand, and I'm in a hurry, but that , more or less is what I said). No more journalistic attitudes amongst radical news-givers - facts are selected according to a point of view and that point of view has to be explicit. Debate about the facts is as vital as changing the facts with actions . If this debate had been launched amongst the anti-authoritarian milieu in Greece a couple of months ago, maybe something different would have happened. But it's never too late. And at least something is developing out of the horror.Will post more when I have time.

taxikipali
May 8 2010 18:22

I have nothing more to say Sam than that you are right, and proved so in the most terrible way.

Mark.
May 9 2010 10:11

Translation of the "anarchy is struggle for life, not death" statement:
http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/05/08/284-anarchy-is-struggle-for-life-not-death/#comments

Anarchy is struggle for life, not death

In December 2008, during the events that followed the assassination of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, the anarchist/ anti-authoritarian movement responded to the fascist pleas of the Mass Media for a return to “quiet, order and security” with the disarming slogan: “you talk about shop fronts, we talk about human lives”.

What dangerous hypocrisy makes some now talk about the non-existing fire extinguishers of the bank rather than the lives that were lost? What Orwellian twist of reality makes some talk about the tragic event as if it was some short-circuit?

Don’t we really understand that this hypocrisy is on par with the NATO murderers who spoke of “collateral damage”?

Don’t we really understand that the granted and obvious cynicism and thuggery of a mega-capitalist, who blackmailed his employees in being in the bank, does not redeem anyone for the dead?

Don’t we really understand that if you use the tactics of the beast you are fighting against, you become one with it?

If anarchists struggle for something, if there is something worth for people to struggle for, this is Life, Freedom and Dignity. For a world where death will no longer hold any authority…

At the demonstration of May 6th in the centre of Thessaloniki, which came as response to the call-out by the union of hospital workers of Thessaloniki and grassroots unions, many people – mostly anarchists and anti-authoritarians from the demonstration’s last block – shouted repeatedly: “these were murders, we hold no illusions, the State and Vgenopoulos murder workers”. Surely for many such thoughts will be soothing. But do they definitely comprehend the content and the extension of what they are wishing for?

We do not know what exactly happened at Marfin bank on the afternoon of 5/5/2010. What we do know is that at the moment when we heard of the tragic news none of our surrounding was in a position to categorically reject that it was what the attorneys of the Corporate Media had declared it to be. And this is tragic too.

Because if through our practice we do not make it evidently impossible (to us, first and foremost) that such an act would come from people active in the same political space with us then we have already paved the way for tragedies to take place (from murderous irresponsibility, warped nastiness or malice).

In a generalised revolt there are uncontrollable dead; it happened in Los Angeles, it happened in Argentina. No-one ever thought of charging an organised political current with these deaths.

The fact that the three murdered workers of Marfin bank are charged to anarchy certainly reveals some huge responsibilities. Who can ignore the tolerance to avant-guardist logics and the contempt for human life? No matter if you say that the experienced anarchists, all these years, have set alight so many banks and no-one ever was endangered. No matter if you say that it is Vgenopoulos’ fault because he forced the employees to stay in the bank, which had no fire protection etc.

You cannot shake off the responsibility.

If there are even some few people who define themselves as anarchists and get to the point of irresponsibility to torch buildings alight with people inside them, this irresponsibility has somehow been cultivated.

If, worse even, you have paved the way for the largest act of agent provocateurs in Greece post-WWII, then the long-term consequences exceed even the tragedy of the three murdered people.

And the answer is not that “the enemy is ruthless”. We know of both Piazza Fontana in Milan and Scala in Barcelona.

The answer is the emergent, dense opposition which is growing roots across social spaces, across the country – with persistence and toilsome labour; with camaraderie, mutuality and solidarity. the answer is the struggle for life, not death.
.

Panopticon publications/journal, The Foreigners’ Publications, Stasei Ekpiptontes Publications, Exarcheia Publications, Black Peper of the Evian Gulf, Nixtegersia Magazine

[The signing collectives in Greek: Εκδόσεις-περιοδικό Πανοπτικόν, Εκδόσεις των Ξένων, Εκδόσεις Στάσει Εκπίπτοντες, Εκδόσεις Εξάρχεια, Μαύρο Πιπέρι του Ευβοϊκού, Περιοδικό Νυχτεγερσία]

baboon
May 9 2010 19:15

Taxi, your May 8 post seemed to have a bit of wistful sadness in it – understandably. You’re doing great and we very much appreciate it. Also your political analysis has developed and sharpened through your observation and narration of events. Your position on the “violence”, and similar positions above, carry weight and the conclusion has to be the pointlessness of individual acts of violence and the worship of the flame. And in the wider scheme of things, it’s worse than pointless.

There was a similar but different event in Britain during the 84 miners’ strike. Two men, breaking the strike and going to work in a taxi had a paving stone dropped on them by two other lads who laid an ambush from a bridge. One of the miners was killed and it was more than shocking. The left came out with excuses like “going to work in a taxi” (and no one can be more sanctimonious than the left of capital) but it was clearly wrong for worker to be killing worker in a struggle. These two lads weren’t really killers, murderers, but caught up, in this case, in a campaign pitting worker against worker.

The events in Greece are different but the underlying lessons are the same for the struggle and something positive can come out of these deaths. For the proletariat in Greece, and generally elsewhere, to push back or attenuate these attacks, it has to strengthen its position through the only way it can; self-organisation, solidarity, extension.

Mark.
May 9 2010 23:18

A rough translation of part of a discussion on alasbarricadas
http://www.alasbarricadas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=40822&start=150

CretaNarka wrote:
I don't know what to say about what happened on the demonstration with the tragic deaths…. words are superfluous in cases like these…

It's the same to me if it was "anarchists", fascists, secret police, provocateurs carrying out the "dirty work" of the state. It's the same to me if they attacked the bank knowing there were people inside or not (I'd like to believe they thought there was nobody inside…). What matters is that three people have met with a death that they haven't chosen. And it's wasn't just the events in the Marfin Bank. The same individuals (almost everyone says this) are the ones who attacked, broke [windows?] and threw molotov cocktails into the Bazzar supermarket… with employees and possibly customers inside… in the Ianos bookshop, where they tried to set it on fire (with people inside)… some compañeros tried to stop them, but they "defended" themselves with punches, blows [?] etc… I myself saw individuals destroying expensive cars, where there were people inside the cars!!!

In my opinion the deaths were something that was unfortunately going to occur sooner or later. The blind violence, the complicit silence of the anarchist space faced with the hooligans, the lovers of Nechayev, the nihilists… was some day going to leave us faced with these situations.

Far from whether the bank had safety systems for extinguishing fires, from the management terrorism (on the biggest demonstration in recent decades it was certain that banks were going to be the object of attacks) which didn't permit its employees to leave for their homes (which the same employees had asked for), locking them up in the bank as if they were rats etc etc… the most important thing is what it is that we do, how we move, how we protect our blocs, towards where we express our anger and in what way…

In fact… with 200,000 people on the streets, everyone (of all ages, of all political tendencies) shouting "burn the parliament"… the constant attacks against the police to occupy the parliament… putting into practice the slogans and actions which for many years the anarchists have been the only ones propagating… who believed it was the right time to attack banks and break some windows???

The time has now arrived for all the collectives and different anarchist tendencies in Greece to start talking and doing their self-criticism… a very hard self-criticism but one we should have done before. It's now time to leave behind the practices of the past, practices where all kinds of doubtful people [gentuza] who have nothing to do with anarchism have found "lodging". And the positive thing is that this self-criticism is already happening.

The state has found the perfect reason to attack the anarchists. It's a gift they've made maximum use of. Anyone who hasn't seen it can't imagine the repression suffered after the demonstration, in Exarchia, in social centres and even in people's homes.

I can state with complete certainty that the anarchist blocs have nothing to do with the attack on the Marfin Bank. What's more, when the attack was carried out we had already passed the bank and were quite a long way from it. Nevertheless, yes we are complicit. Yes we are to blame. Yes the dead were from our side. And yes we should quickly get rid of the doubtful people [gentuza] who have been "living" and "feeding" from us in recent years.

The anarchists love life, they have never put lives at risk and many times at risk of being arrested, they have helped people to evacuate banks and shops which were burning. And on various occasions they have gone into banks to get the employees out before attacking it. But in the end… it's not about looking for excuses.

It's about getting rid of [?] the anger…

Peterpan wrote:
It's always necessary to self-criticise and learn from any mistake. But the acts were individual and were the responsibility of those people. […] The self-criticism would be if the people who caused the deaths were anarchists, to make an act of responsibility and see how to develop it. If it is ignored one becomes complicit by not rejecting or targeting [?] actions that are a long way from our ideas.

To condemn a whole movement for the individual act of three people, and even more when it was a decision made by them and not planned by everyone.

CretaNarka wrote:
Yes, but it's more than that… the self-criticism is about the stance and behaviour of the Greek anarchist "movement", which in recent years has been accommodating [?] all those individuals, and "fascist" behaviours far from the libertarian spirit. And I repeat, even if it turns out that those who threw the molotov cocktails were fascists or state provocateurs (which wouldn't surprise me… Piazza Fontana, Caso Scala…), these issues need to be dealt with just the same. Enough of the dodgy people [gentuza] who on the streets are only interested in satisfying their own adrenalin without caring about the rest of the demonstrators. Let them go off to the football stadiums, where they'll find a lot to do [?]…

For years on the Athens streets we've been shouting: "Silence is complicity" and "You talk about material damage, we talk about human lives". What an irony. These questions have been returned to us in the most tragic manner (deaths).

Samotnaf
May 10 2010 04:44

taxikipali:

Quote:
I have nothing more to say Sam than that you are right, and proved so in the most terrible way.

Apologies if I sounded a little smug. And certainly I didn’t say this as some individual Cassandra warning about dangers in isolation, operating as some misunderstood genius that people scathingly dismiss – my influences were the TPTG and a friend in London, plus things long ago critiqued in the situ milieu, though I obviously applied them to what is going on in Greece. But you too weren't operating in a vacuum – you had plenty of flattering support for sticking to this separation of fact and theory: flattery gets the movement nowhere. Though guiltily "eating humble pie" is not useful for going forward and advancing against past mistakes, past mistakes have to be recognised, and I feel Rob Ray (from a far more petrified arrogant position)and Steven, amongst several others who tried to twist what I was saying into claiming I was dismissing what I had always insisted were mostly excellent reports (despite their limits) could also show a bit of humility - they'd encouraged you (and you certainly have worked unpaid overtime giving these reports, which is more than can be said for your applauding flatterers). They also are just as responsible (insofar as these forums have any effect on what happens in Greece, that is; I suspect they do a bit, but fairly marginally) and at least you've recognised a small margin of responsibity (in the sense of remaining silent about your contradictory feelings about violence) - not an easy thing to do (as iaourti, with a far more entrenched dogmatic attitude, has shown). I too want to encourage you to continue your reports, but this time - as you already seem to be doing anyway - with more of your ideas intertwined in them.

Although we might be a little paranoid about discussing violence with the State watching, for me the risk is necessary: silence is mouldy. Anyway, how much can we avoid the State planting incriminating evidence, cutting off our source of income, arranging fake "accidents" or whatever for those of us it deems a danger if it sets its collective 'mind' to it? Better to speak our minds than submit to the terror they try to impose; besides, who the State fucks over is often fairly indiscriminate - sometimes its most loyal citizens get caught up in its net. It's a "hanged if we do, hanged if we don't" world, so what the fuck does it matter really?

baboon:

Quote:
the pointlessness of individual acts of violence and the worship of the flame... in the wider scheme of things, it’s worse than pointless.
There was a similar but different event in Britain during the 84 miners’ strike. Two men, breaking the strike and going to work in a taxi had a paving stone dropped on them by two other lads who laid an ambush from a bridge. One of the miners was killed and it was more than shocking. The left came out with excuses like “going to work in a taxi” (and no one can be more sanctimonious than the left of capital) but it was clearly wrong for worker to be killing worker in a struggle. These two lads weren’t really killers, murderers, but caught up, in this case, in a campaign pitting worker against worker.
The events in Greece are different but the underlying lessons are the same for the struggle and something positive can come out of these deaths. For the proletariat in Greece, and generally elsewhere, to push back or attenuate these attacks, it has to strengthen its position through the only way it can; self-organisation, solidarity, extension.

This is typical ICC-type anti-violence rubbish, and a useless "critique" of violence. There's absolutely nothing wrong with violence against this hierarchically violent society - it depends on how and where it is expressed. The attack on the mini-scab at the end of '84 came after the deaths of at least 2 striking miners (Joe Green and David Jones) by scabs, deaths which were either virtually ignored or distorted by the media, surprise surprise (there were other deaths as well - for instance a cop car drove at high speed towards 2 pickets in a car, and they died swerving to avoid these filth). The mini-cab driver knew exactly what he was doing - he was getting extra pay (blood money, I'd call it) and - iirc - had been warned beforehand. The ICC during the strike condemned attacks on pickets as being within the traditions of trade unionism!!!! "If the Left suport it, we must be against it" should be their slogan. Ironically, Scargill condemned this attack on the mini-scab, saying he was against "violence away from the picket lines". And Kinnock, despite eulogising the mass murderer Indira Gandhi, also loudly condemned this attack. It was the miners themselves who shouted at scabs after this "Go get a mini-cab!", not "the Left" as the baboon claims. It's him who's being "sanctimonious". The Left were, generally speaking, a bit embarassed about it.

The problem with the attack on the bank wasn't that it was violent (there's nothing wrong with attacks on banks as such) but was that they seem to have fallen into a trap set by the highly political boss of Marfin, a trap which could only have worked because of the predictability of much of the anti-authoritarian milieu, who reduce revolt to a repetetive series of 'tactics' regardless of the simplest precautions or any attempt to think out different strategies that might be more relevant or innovative. In the autumn of 1985 (iirc) a petrol bomb attack on a post office during a riot in Handsworth, Birmingham, left 2 dead. One of the differences between this and the 5/5/10 situation is that these 2 people, despite loads of people shouting at them to get out, which they could easily have done, had decided to secure the valuables of the post office, and so wasted valuable time in not valuing themselves except as servants of surplus and exchange value ("enough with the puns, already" - ed.), whereas at Marfins, the 3 had been locked in by the boss. I must admit, callous bastard that I am, that i can't feel sorry for the ones in the post office in Birmingham or condemn the attack. The difference between Athens and this is the difference between "mindless" vilence and mindful violence. In the class struggle innocent people die, though our desire for a humane humanity obviously means we have to try to be as careful and conscientious as possible. I heard at a meeting a few years back, given by a guy who was very critical of the CNT in Spain in the revolution there (critical from a radical perspective) and who'd done an enormous amount of research into the period, that it was very likely that Durutti himself was a victim of carelessness - a ricocheting bullet from the republican side ( even if it made better propaganda to say it was a fascist bullet than to admit such carelessness). These things - terrible as they may be - happen. This is not in any way to condone the macho culture of the Greek anti-authoritarian milieu, but let's not go overboard with a counter-ideology à la ICC, as if baboon's magic words

Quote:
self-organisation, solidarity, extension

can somehow distract from the need from our side for class war, and not just empty clichés, however "correct".

Samotnaf
May 10 2010 04:47

The quote from baboon should read like this:

Quote:
the pointlessness of individual acts of violence and the worship of the flame... in the wider scheme of things, it’s worse than pointless.

There was a similar but different event in Britain during the 84 miners’ strike. Two men, breaking the strike and going to work in a taxi had a paving stone dropped on them by two other lads who laid an ambush from a bridge. One of the miners was killed and it was more than shocking. The left came out with excuses like “going to work in a taxi” (and no one can be more sanctimonious than the left of capital) but it was clearly wrong for worker to be killing worker in a struggle. These two lads weren’t really killers, murderers, but caught up, in this case, in a campaign pitting worker against worker.

The events in Greece are different but the underlying lessons are the same for the struggle and something positive can come out of these deaths. For the proletariat in Greece, and generally elsewhere, to push back or attenuate these attacks, it has to strengthen its position through the only way it can; self-organisation, solidarity, extension.

Admin; corrected in original post above.

Samotnaf
May 10 2010 07:01
Quote:
The ICC during the strike condemned attacks on pickets as being within the traditions of trade unionism!!!!

This should, of course, read "The ICC during the strike condemned attacks on scabs by pickets as being within the traditions of trade unionism!!!! " Sorry - very tired - woke up at 4 this morning feeling kinda blue, woke up at 4 this morning feeling kinda blue, got
my words 'bout the ICC wrong - jus' don' know whatta do ...wah wah wah....

Devrim
May 10 2010 07:50
Samotnaf (edit included) wrote:
This is typical ICC-type anti-violence rubbish, and a useless "critique" of violence. There's absolutely nothing wrong with violence against this hierarchically violent society - it depends on how and where it is expressed. The attack on the mini-scab at the end of '84 came after the deaths of at least 2 striking miners (Joe Green and David Jones) by scabs, deaths which were either virtually ignored or distorted by the media, surprise surprise (there were other deaths as well - for instance a cop car drove at high speed towards 2 pickets in a car, and they died swerving to avoid these filth). The mini-cab driver knew exactly what he was doing - he was getting extra pay (blood money, I'd call it) and - iirc - had been warned beforehand. The ICC during the strike condemned attacks on scabs by pickets as being within the traditions of trade unionism!!!! "If the Left suport it, we must be against it" should be their slogan. Ironically, Scargill condemned this attack on the mini-scab, saying he was against "violence away from the picket lines". And Kinnock, despite eulogising the mass murderer Indira Gandhi, also loudly condemned this attack. It was the miners themselves who shouted at scabs after this "Go get a mini-cab!", not "the Left" as the baboon claims. It's him who's being "sanctimonious". The Left were, generally speaking, a bit embarassed about it.

I can't remember exactly what the ICC said in the strike, nor was I a member then. Did the ICC actually condemn attacks on scabs, or did they say that it is not a way to take the strike forward? If we did condemn it then we were very very wrong. It isn't the job of revolutionaries to condemn workers in struggle. I think that it is the task of revolutionaries to comment on how they think struggles can develop, and to argue how to take the strike forward. In this I think that the ICC was correct in arguing that the way to win the strike was to extend it, and not by an ever increasing level of violence. There are times when 'more violence' has been used directly as an alternative to strikers arguing to extend the strike. Wapping was certainly one of these cases.

In the case of Dean Hancock and Russell Shankland, it would have been (and again I don't know what the ICC said at the time) absolutely wrong to condemn these people. Whatever we thought about their actions, and I thought they were deeply mistaken then as I do now, these people were class war prisoners and had to be supported.

Devrim

gypsy
May 10 2010 08:29

Samotnaf, thats surprising what you said about the post office workers in Handsworth. Just cos they tried to secure the contents of the post office should hardly mean they deserved to die for that act or am I misunderstanding u? I can't imagine that they were highly paid managers, just ordinary workers although correct me if im wrong. I know Handsworth and I think saying that to people there who remember the incident would land you in a serious argument.

Rob Ray
May 10 2010 10:20
Quote:
I feel Rob Ray... could also show a bit of humility

Why? I've never denied Taxikipali the right to make conclusions or voice his opinions.

What I lauded, and will continue to laud if he goes on with it, is the straightforward, uneditorialised way he informed me of what was happening without forcing me to wade through acres of his opinion mixed in with the facts as though it's part of a definitive view.

In fact, his opinion carries more weight with me now precisely because I respect the clearheaded approach he has taken in the past.

NB// I also think you taking advantage of the situation to have a pop at me and my views several months on from an argument is a bit of a shitty ego trip, tbh.