Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anti-capital, anti-police, anti-state, exarchia, Greece, may day, riot, rocks, youth
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anti-capitalism, austerity, burning things, capitalism, demonstrations, fire, Greece, molotov, rioting, things on fire
From Occupied London:
There are various estimations about the number of the people concentrated on the streets and squares of the country. Athens had anything over 500,000 people on the streets, it is not easy to estimate it, but before the attack of the police every street leading to Syntagma and the square were packed, with thousands more coming from the neighbourhoods on foot or by buses and trains. Half an hour before the demo one could see the metro stations and the bus stops full of people waiting to get on a vehicle that would bring them to the centre. Every city saw rallies and mass marches, with Heraclion of Crete, a city that holds a record in the recent wave of suicides, having a 30,000-strong march. Demonstrations alla round the country turned violent, with people destroying banks or occupying governmental buildings, e.g. in Volos the branch of Eurobank, the Inland Revenue Offices and the town hall were torched or in Corfu people attacked to the offices of their region’s MPs, trashing them, the town hall of Rhodes was occupied during the demo and still is occupied, to mention but a few of such actions.
Police did several preemptive arrests in the morning hours before the start of the demonstration. Several activists were attacked by police officers in plain clothes and were detained as soon as they came out of their houses, while it was obvious since very early that police wanted to keep people away from the parliament. In there the new austerity package (an over 600-page document that was given to the MPs 24 hours in advance with the advice to vote for it before Monday morning when the stock markets will open) was being “discussed”. Early afternoon when the occupiers of Law School tried to march from the School to Syntagma the police attacked to them breaking the block, while they attempted to raid the School several times during the night, using also rubber bullets. Well before the arrival of most demonstrators who were still on their way, the police attacked en masse the crowd in Syntagma Square using physical violence, chemical gases and shock grenades. After the attack a big part of the demonstration was concentrated on Amalias st, Fillelinon st, Ermou st, Mitropoleos st and Karagiorgi Servias st. People battled with police for over 5 hours in their effort to return to Syntagma. Other people erected big barricades across Korai sq. on both Stadiou st and Panepistimiou st. and fought trying to reach Syntagma or defend themselves from police attacks. On Panepistimiou st. police concentrated much of its forces on the barricade in front of Athens University and people clashed head to head defending their barricade. DELTA motorcycle police raided several times the crowd, esp. in Mitropoleos street, MAT riot police did the same several times but also things went the other way around. Besides the barricades and the substantial groupings of people, demonstrators broke in various smaller groups that clashed with small groups of police or walked around searching for a barricade or to join a larger group.
After midnight the majority of the parliamentarians (199) voted for the new austerity memorandum that -among other measures- includes the drop of salaries by 22% and drops the minimum salary at about 400 Euro per month, while unemployment rate has been doubled (over 20% in Nov 2011) within 16 months.
74 demonstrators were arrested and over 50 people injured by the police were hospitalised, the number of detainees remains unknown.
Several banks, governmental buildings and two police departments (Acropolis and Exarchia depts.) were attacked by demonstrators during the night, while Athens city hall was occupied, but police concentrated forces invaded the building and arrested the occupiers. Over 40 buildings were burnt in Athens, while occupations of public buildings still are holding all around Greece. The Law School occupation issued a statement in early morning of 13/02/2012: “It was decided by the assembly of the Law School occupation that the occupation continues. We call everyone on the streets to continue the struggle. Nothing ended, everything now starts, the Law School is a centre of the struggle and as such it will remain”.
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anarchists, anarchy, december 2008, film, Greece, insurrection, revolt
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anarchy, Athens, austerity, general strike, Greece, police, rioting
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anarchy, Athens, austerity, general strike, Greece, riot, riot police, syntagma square, the state, violence
According to LA Times:
“Riot police fired tear gas at youths hurling rocks and petrol bombs near the Greek finance ministry Tuesday, trying to quell the anger unleashed during mass protests and a general strike as parliament debated new cost-cutting measures.
The latest austerity measures must pass in two parliamentary votes Wednesday and Thursday if Greece is to receive another batch of bailout funds to see it beyond the middle of next month. If the votes don’t pass, Greece could become the first eurozone nation to default on its debts, sending shock waves through the global economy.
The clashes came at the start of a two-day strike called by unions furious that the new (euro) 28 billion ($40 billion) austerity program will slap taxes on minimum wage earners and other struggling Greeks. The measures come on top of other spending cuts and tax hikes that have sent Greek unemployment soaring to over 16 percent.
“The situation that the workers are going through is tragic and we are near poverty levels,” said Spyros Linardopoulos, a protester with the PAME union blockading the port of Piraeus. “The government has declared war and to this war we will answer back with war.”
A peaceful demonstration of 20,000 people in Athens was soon marred by outbreaks of violence, when two groups clashed. One side took refuge near a coffee shop, and police fired tear gas in an attempt to clear the crowds and get them out.
The situation quickly degenerated, with masked and hooded youths pelting police with chunks of marble ripped off building facades and steps. They set fire to giant parasols at an outdoor cafe, using some to form barricades, and smashed windows of a McDonalds outlet and other snack shops.
Peaceful protesters nearby braved thick clouds of tear gas to stage an outdoor street party, banging pots and pans in time to music on loudspeakers.
Staff at upscale hotels handed out surgical masks to tourists and helped them with rolling luggage past the rioting, over ground strewn with smashed-up marble and cement paving stones.
Youths torched a satellite truck parked near parliament. The fire caused a freezer at a neighboring kiosk to explode, and hooded youths ducked behind the burning truck to help themselves to ice-cream cones.
The scale of the strike bought large parts of the Greek economy to a standstill. Everyone from doctors and ambulance drivers to casino workers and even actors at a state-funded theater were joining the strike or holding work stoppages for several hours.
An ongoing strike by electricity company workers kept up rolling blackouts across Greece. Not far from the violent protest, cafes and ice cream vendors popular with tourists used portable generators to keep the power on.
Hundreds of flights were canceled or rescheduled as air traffic controllers walked off the job for four hours in the morning. Another walkout is scheduled for later. Strikes by public transport workers snarled traffic across the capital and left tourists stranded around Piraeus.
Many Greeks insist they should not be forced to pay for a crisis they believe politicians are responsible for.
“We don’t owe any money, it’s the others who stole it,” said 69-year-old demonstrator Antonis Vrahas. “We’re resisting for a better society for the sake of our children and grandchildren.”
Despite the discontent being displayed – a sizable but peaceful demonstration was held in Greece’s second city Thessaloniki – the country’s lawmakers are preparing for their second day of debate over the austerity measures. The package and an additional implementation law must be passed so the European Union and the International Monetary Fund release the next installment of Greece’s (euro) 110 billion ($156 billion) bailout loan.
Without that (euro) 12 billion ($17 billion) installment, Greece faces the prospect of a default next month – a potentially disastrous event that could drag down European banks and hurt other financially troubled European countries.
But even lawmakers from the governing Socialists have been upset over the latest measures and Prime Minister George Papandreou has struggled to contain an internal party revolt. He reshuffled his cabinet earlier this month to try to ensure his party’s support for this vote, but the Socialists still only have a 5-seat majority in the 300-member Parliament.
Papandreou urged lawmakers Monday to fulfill a “patriotic duty” by voting in favor of the new measures, but two of his own lawmakers have suggested they won’t.
European officials have also been pressuring Greece’s the main conservative opposition party to back the austerity bill.
“Both the future of the country and financial stability in Europe are at stake,” European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said. “I fully respect the prerogatives and the sovereignty of the Greek Parliament in the ongoing debate. And I trust that the Greek political leaders are fully aware of the responsibility that lies on their shoulders to avoid default.”
But conservative party leader Antonis Samaras has refused, arguing that while he backs some austerity measures, the overall thinking behind the package is flawed.
As well as looking to get the next batch of bailout funds, Greece looks like it will need another financial rescue.
The initial plan had assumed that Greece would be able to return to the markets next year.
That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen so Greece is looking for more money. Papandreou has said a second bailout would be roughly the same size as the first and hopefully on better terms.
“I call on Europe, for its part, to give Greece the time and the terms it needs to really pay off its debt, without strangling growth, and without strangling its citizens,” he said.
Even with the new austerity measures and a second bailout, many investors still think Greece is heading for some sort of default because its overall (euro) 340 debt burden is too great.”
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: Athens, general strike, Greece, occupation, riot, riot dog, syntagma square
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anarchy, Athens, austerity, crisis, fire, general strike, Greece, police, riot, street battles
From Occupied London:
“More than 100,000 people marched in central Athens today against the freshly-voted labour relations law and the austerity measures imposed by the government and the EU/IMF/ECB troika. One of the most mass demonstrations the city has seen in recent times was met by brute police violence; the police, nevertheless, proven unable to quell peoples’ anger. A former conservative minister, Kostis Hatzidakis, made the unfortunate decision to be present at Stadiou Street at the time of the demonstration and felt the anger of the demonstrators, quickly leaving the scene injured. Street-fighting erupted across the city, which saw chaotic scenes for hours. Barricades were erected across Patision Avenue, which leads to the Polytechnic School; waves of demonstrators arriving at Syntagma square, outside Parliament, fiercely fought with the police. An – eventually unsuccessful – attempt by demonstrators to occupy the building of GSEE (the country’s mainstream trade union) saw people fighting off the notorious Delta motorcycle police and two of their bikes were set ablaze.”
Earlier in the day:
At 16:00 (GMT+2) protesters in Athens were clashing with riot police in front of the Polytechnic, while barricades have been erected all along Patision st. and the sourounding Exarcheia. Thousand of people refuse to leave the streets and the squares of the city -after the more than 100,000 strong march, they are regroupinhg all around the centre and clash with the police for most of the day. The atmosphere smells of tear gas while rubbish bins are in flames everywhere downtown.
Earlier the ministry of finance was attacked by the strikers while big clashes took place in front of the parliament in Syntagma square where the police lines were scattered under a rain of molotov cocktails at about 13:30 (GMT+2). Police threw gas bombs on the main body of the demo, but the march continued with loud chanting, police attacked the demontsrators in front of the Athens University and Sina st.
A few thousands of strikers attempted to occupy the HQ of the national trade unions (GSEE). GSEE executives are controlled by the governing PASOK party and in practice support the governmental measures while they have refused to represent the workers in any effective way. Strong police forces protected GSEE offices by the strikers, after clashes, the strikers returned towards Omonoia from 3rd Septmeber st.
Earlier the former minister Hastzidakis was seen near the parliament and was beatten up by strikers…
Back to the streets… and more news will follow”
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anarchy, Greece, insurrection, police, state strategy
(Sorry for the enormous amount of typos and grammatical errors. We certainly didn’t translate it.)
From Occupied London:
“Concerning the social war in Greece and the end of an over here and over there
The mirror of social peace begins to crack. The European social democratic management is expiring and the current political classes take notice of it. While in some other countries the legal bases for this shift have already been voted in the parliaments under relatively peaceful circumstances, the enmities in Greece took an unexpected width. This conflictuality could be put under the banner of the usual social movements against the dismantling of the welfare state, were it not that it is tending towards something very different. An agreement with the state in the logic of the old social pact seems to become less and less probable because there is no economic, political and social base left for it. We are experiencing something new. Accustomed to struggle against the social pacification and its consensus, we might now be facing a new form of management tending towards a climate of war. Therefore it is all the more necessary to develop new perspectives, to venture some new hypotheses on social war.
Risking a schematization of the reality but aiming at sketching out a few analytical routes which permit a more precise intervention in this reality, we can state that a profound restructuring of the economy –but not only- took place at the end of the 70’s. A considerable part of the industrial complex on the European continent was dismantled and decentralized by the integration of new technologies, the transformation of the production processes and delocalization. The existent rigid class relations were thoroughly turned upside down and torn apart. Thanks to the ever more deeper penetration of wares, capital started digging into ‘new’ markets related to the new technologies and strongly marked by the aspect of ‘services’.
Unfortunately, the restructurings after World War 2 and after the dictatorial periods in other countries have for years gambled on a social state which was assumed to accompany this capitalist reform and manage the social tensions accompanying it. From the 80’s onwards the so called ‘social achievements’ are under pressure and during the 90’s it are the international context and the local power structures which define the rhythm of its dismantlement and crumbling. The flexible labor market, the dismantlement of social welfare such as the pension system, the liberalization and privatization of the energy-, communication- and transport sector unsettle that which many had for a long time assumed being certainties.
The ‘financial crisis’ which started last year is in fact not a crisis but a consequence of these new restructurings. While many states have reserved big sums of money to ‘save’ an amount of banks, it was in fact mainly the selling out of ‘public’ institutions and industries that continued. However, the states remain to have massive deficits; a few recipes to replenish their coffers have already been used. They shall have to continue cutting in the human flesh. The current Greek situation gives us a preview of what is awaiting us in other countries.
The economic measures as they are being pushed through today in England, Spain, Italy, Greece and many other European countries are in fact diametrically opposed to what for decades used to be the paradigm of the ‘social state’: an acceleration of consumption on the interior market. On the one hand, the Greek state is reducing the access to consumption (reducing wages and pensions) and on the other hand it drastically increases the taxes on consumption wares hoping to get still some cash. It is clear that they do not longer practice the European model of ‘including the poor’, they openly declare that a whole part of the population which is already touched by misery, must now submit itself to an imposed exploitation and may be happy for it. For years this has been more or less the direction of the European immigration policy. In contrast to the ever more increasing immigration, the so called Fortress Europe manages the migration streams by means of regularizations and an acceleration of the deportation capacity, firmly connected to ever more precarious labor contracts. The existence of a lower layer in the population is clearly accepted and appreciated in function of the needs of the market.
Other conflicts from over the past years (just a few examples: Argentina in 2001 or Bangladesh, particularly in 2006) already pointed towards a harshening of the economical war, the current events in Greece are its objective European confirmation. State and capital are sensing a new horizon and they won’t offer their brutality on a golden plate any longer. Although hard times are announced, especially given the current weakness of the social and revolutionary critique, we have the intuition that for us as well new times might come, times which open up possibilities that we’ve often lost out of sight – and not because of the reasoning “the worse the better”. Although surprise gives us a pleasant feeling, we should make a big effort so that we will not experience the current challenges as being powerless commentators, sucked in the passive role which the domination is trying to sell us since years.
In the country of Prometheus
We have to go back a lot of years in history to find back a moment and space in which the revolutionary movement –moreover largely anti-authoritarian- was capable of being close to the social developments and social struggle as it is nowadays in Greece. It is the temporary result of many years of cross-fertilization between the Greek anarchist movement, in all her diversity, and a certain social combativeness. Many times the Greek anarchists have been standing next to the oppressed that revolted while they are as well able to struggle in times when the rest of society is looking towards the other side. Our enemies are aware of this as well. Not only was Greece assigned the role of the first eurozone country to take drastic social measures against the exploited and the up till now included in function of a new restructuring; not only is Greece an important operating base for the military management of the Balkans and at the same time an increasingly important passage through for eastern immigrants; it is as well the country facing ongoing social tensions and a fierce revolutionary activity.
Now that the institutional left is at power in Greece, she can no longer play her classical role of recycler and inhibitor of a growing social struggle. She has lost this chance when she was elected, on the basis of a ‘progressive program’ following the explosion of December 2008. So the margins of the Greek political class have been considerably reduced and two –nothing new seen from a historical perspective- roads are opening up: either does the hard right succeeds, making use of the demands of the international capital and the latent patriotism, with the aid of a technical administration to restore order which an iron fist, or the possibility of an insurrection rises at the horizon. There is a lot at stake.
During almost the whole of 2009, Greece has known a long series of strikes, blockades, manifestations and attacks against the power structures. The protests accelerated when the socialist government passed in fifth gear facing an increasing speculation against the Greek national debt (note that a big part of these debts is in hands of the ‘Greek’ banks) and the explosion of the budget deficit. It is not exaggerated to speak of a ‘climate of war’ on an economical as well as a political and social scale. From the beginning of 2009 up till now they’ve been cutting in the wages and pensions (from 10 to 30%), direct and indirect taxes were increased, education was restructured, public health care was almost entirely abolished. In order to maintain the structures of the state, the Greek political class and economic elite is obliged to turn Greece into a paradise of imposed exploitation, a spearhead in the European Union. The Greek state has declared war upon the lower classes and it solemnly tries to keep up the appearance of some “care about the people” by making use of patriotism and the spectacle of the “revolutionary terrorism”.
From an objective point of view the situation for the current Greek institutions is at a rather critical point and it has been a long time that a European state has felt the hot breath of a possible uprising. But let us not go too fast. Despite the meaningful but circumscribed disorder (on the manifestation of the 5th of May the trade union leaders of the GSEE could not even say 2 words before getting chased by hundreds of protesters), most protests maintain the directions of the social democrat unions, the Stalinist party KKE and a few leftist structures such as the PAME, because they are still at the base of a few formal initiatives such as the general strikes. Despite the many practical experiences of self-organization in the street (during manifestations, occupations, and riots), the protests do not yet pick up the necessary confirmation of their autonomy. In combination with a fairly brutal police repression and terror of the media, there is the danger of getting dragged into a bruising battle. Without claiming that the general strike (as opposed to “action days” of 24 hours) would be the harbinger of an insurrectionary movement, it stands beyond doubt that it is necessary to paralyze the economical activity and the circulation of wares. For this, a decentralization of the initiative is necessary, or in other words, an affirmed self-organization of the struggle. One of the possibilities to wrest the initiative of the unions and create an empty space in which the seeds of self-organization may flourish seems to move towards the paralyzation of a few economic infrastructures (communication, energy, transport) in a decentralized but well-considered way. And this matter does not only concern the revolutionary minority as some might claim, but it is a practical proposal to everyone, which feeds itself with the many experiences from other pre-insurrectional moments and in which creativity and diffusion outweigh an economist or military way of viewing the proposal.
Insurrection is not the work of revolutionaries and anarchists on their own. It is social, not only because it includes a big part of the exploited, but mainly because it undermines the existent social roles by destroying the structures which support them. But just like it doesn’t shoot at the exploited in order to end with exploitation, but at the structures and the people who enable this exploitation, it can neither let itself being blocked in an apology of ‘the people’ or ‘the exploited’ whose consent in the end is the fuel which makes the machine turn round and round.
The insurrectional hypothesis which seems to emerge in Greece actually follows a very different logic than the paradigm of the urban guerrilla. At moments of an explosively growing social tension it suits the state very well to present the conflict as a duel between two ‘fractions’ (in this case, the state versus the adepts of the urban guerrilla with the population as spectators). Not that she would not on a certain moment be able use the anarchist movement as a whole for this extent and try to let it been swallowed in a big spectacle –this is even very plausible- but it does not seem too intelligent to make it more easier for them by – even if it’s not been made explicit- making hierarchies between the different forms of attack against the structures of state and capital. Insurrection does not need any advance guard or protectors, she needs nothing but – free from all fetishisms- the determination of blowing the wind of subversion through the society. Already today, when the insurrection is still a hypothesis, the question of weapons needs to be put in the perspective of arming everyone, of a generalized offensive with the weapons in hand. We cannot let the armed fact been pushed back to this or that group, letter word or fraction.
The Greek state is beginning to insist on a fast militarization of the conflict, and hopes that the anarchists, maybe because of their generosity, will take the initiative in this. So the state is intensifying the specific repression and terror against the anarchist movement; in the meantime she has made clear as well that there will be dead bodies, that torture will not be hidden, that they are not afraid of an extreme militarization of for example Exarchia, that the fascist para-statal troops can hit fiercer and fiercer. The state does not only want to isolate the anarchists from the social struggle and break up their dynamics, but as well wants to drag them down into the spiral of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, entailing correct and brave counterblows of the anarchists but which could be at the extend of a subversive decline in the wider spheres of society. The state is consciously making use of the media with a contra insurrectional point of view trying to spread terror, making the population afraid (of the growing number of immigrants in Greece, the ‘anarchist terrorists’, the ‘blood thirsty robbers’,…). The state does no longer manage itself by using order, by calling for social peace and conciliation, but by declaring war on all who struggle. It’s difficult not to get trapped, not to get caught into the nets of a military conflict which is beyond doubt the bearer of death for any subversive project. Let’s be clear, the current situation asks for clarity: this is no call for putting down the arms, no discourse that says that the “insurrectional violence frightens the proletarians and therefore should be restricted”. On the contrary, this is the moment to give weapons to everyone who wants to use them; to share the necessity of attack as much as possible with all who don’t want to kneel down any longer in front of the altar of the Nation and the Economy; to give the attack the place that in fact should always be hers: as an act of willful destruction of an enemy structure and not a vehicle for self promotion. Subversion looses strength when comrades only speak after firing.
About a here and there
Now that long stored possibilities are violently trying to storm into the reality in Greece, urgent questions are coming up for comrades from other countries. Not only because what is happening in Greece will most probably have an effect on all anarchists and revolutionaries somewhere else in Europe and beyond, but mainly because a possible contamination is becoming more probable every day. We don’t want to bring the classical domino theory back to life, but it seems to us that because of the ever deeper inter-national integration of the economic and stately structures on the old continent (having the project of the European Union as its formal structure) it would point out to be a self chosen blindness if we look at the borders of the areas where we live, of the national states where we struggle as a horizon that cannot be overcome. The old question of internationalism is coming back and asks for some new answers.
Mainly it are the same questions which have been knocking on the doors of many comrades in December 2008, with the difference that today the question is much more demanding. Although traveling to Greece can be very interesting to exchange and share experiences, we think the question is more of how we in our own context can go further than declaring our international solidarity and push the question further than a generous and encouraging pat on the back to our Greek comrades who at the moment have so much to loose, but especially so much to win.
Considering that, given the extension of the social war in Greece, all struggles and deeds of revolt will have a bigger importance. Not because they would in one way of another put direct pressure on the Greek institutions, but exactly because they could be the feared bearers of contamination. Partly objective and partly dependent of a voluntary effort, it is possible to entangle different ‘local’ struggles with the social war in Greece, and visa versa, exactly because it is the logical consequence of a social connection, a resemblance of the Greek situation which, as whispered to us by our intuition, could happen tomorrow in ‘our’ areas as well. And it is certainly not malicious to state that the forces of subversion in many countries are less strong than in Greece and dealing with an overall presence of a furious reaction (just think about Italy where racism and the political management is having totalitarian edges since there is a terrifying consent in broad spheres of the population). This is why the necessity is pushing itself to go further than solidarity and to really try to intertwine our struggles internationally. Every given blow, can have a meaning that surpasses it; and we have to work hard towards this direction. In this way we could stop the logic of a here and there in our perspectives.
Although the current economic restructuring seems willing to make a new area of accumulation out of a generalized instability (in contrast to a few decennia before), another destabilization which doesn’t aid the domination is possible. It is necessary to think, to think seriously. Is it impossible to make some analyses which bind the local context to what will most probably touch the whole of the eurozone and in this way permit the evaluation of ongoing struggles in function of their potential destabilising effects? Maybe it is, maybe it is not. In any case it seems a challenge worth to be noted. To reinforce each other when a battle won in the drawn out social war could exceed its first concrete result; trying to develop our activities in light of their relation to the activities a few hundred miles away. Trying to go on these roads might help us developing insurrectional hypotheses, and as well avoid being caught up by surprise, to discover opportunities to push the discontent and anger present in many countries (and sometimes expressing itself in a confused way or lacking any libertarian perspectives) towards a social war against all forms of exploitation and authority.
An insurrectional hypothesis is in need of more than analysis and activity. Even more, it remains a dead letter or a shot in the water when it is unable to communicate its why. Although it is a method, a practical proposal towards everyone, it nowadays cannot fall back on the presence of a series of vague, yet discussed concepts of liberation. The concepts which have been put forward in the social struggles and made it possible to communicate them no longer exist. We must dare ask ourselves how to revive a dream, not as a mirage, not as a myth, but as intentions alive. The revolutionary contribution to the social struggle cannot limit itself to some destructive hints, to incite revolt. Its insurrectional character becomes more real when it manages not only to indentify the enemy and pose a negativity which will definitely encourage all enraged that want to break their chains, but when it is able to communicate about what we are fighting for and is already cherishing it at this very moment. Two decades of eroding and ideologising have caused a lot of damage to the revolutionary thoughts. We are the orphans of ideas which have lost their thinkability. We need to come out of the corner in which we were pushed and stop making a pathetic apology of it. The coming conflictuality which might have a character different from what we have know until now, offers real possibilities to restart experimenting and breaking through the ideological encirclement. Subversions contradiction is hidden in the tension between on the one hand getting closer towards reality and on the other hand to break the dance, to communicate about what is considered impossible.
These words are an invitation rather than an accurate sketch of our current situation, yes, you could even say it is a call to open our heads and look the challenges straight into the eyes. Much can be at stake in the future and our only certainty is that inertia might have some heavier consequences in future times.”
-Some friends of Prometheus
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anti-capitalism, capitalism, communism, composition, crisis, Greece, students, the university, theorie communiste
Amidst a sudden lack of happenings or information about them in Greece, in what seems like a defining moment of their struggle regarding the issue of revolutionary violence, here is an interesting article about the composition of the conflicts at play. (We do not necessarily agree with this position, but it is interesting):
“The riots1 (or the riot, spread out and fragmented in time and space) which broke out in Greece following the murder of the young Alexander on the evening of 6th December 2008, are productive of theory. They are practically – that is to say consciously – the self-understanding of this cycle of struggles in its current phase – they are a theoretical and chronological landmark. With all its limits, this movement is the first proletarian reaction (albeit non-global) to the crisis of restructured capital. In terms of its production of theory, this movement can be considered, more or less arbitrarily, according to six essential characteristics:
- The praxis and discourse of these riots make of the current crisis of capitalist reproduction a crisis of the future of this mode of production.
- The characterisation, in a topology of the reproduction of capitalist social relations, of the moment of oppression and coercion in the self-presupposition of capital.
- The question of whether the rioters had a “peripheral” character in relation to a “core” of the working class, that is to say the question of the unity of the class and of its recomposition.
- The overcoming of what was the contradictory dynamic of the anti-CPE movement in France, and this bears some relation to the second point.
- The overcoming in the struggle of the objectivity of the course of capital and the activities of the classes involved as choices, decisions, tactics, and strategies.
- The questioning of the theory of value and of the crisis of the capitalist mode of production in the light of an attack of capital outside of production and the spreading of practices of sabotage.
(some points have been gathered under one chapter)
1. The future
We can obviously refer to all the analyses of the permanent crisis of the educational system in Greece (and the recurrence of the struggles that take place there): its increasingly unbearable selectivity, “the intensification of student labour”, the permanent lie about the opportunities it opens up, the fact that from being a “social elevator” it becomes a mere “reflection of injustices and of social cleavages”. Studying becomes purely and simply the acceptance (without compensation) of all the relations of exploitation that give their form and content to the global education system. It is necessary to call all this to mind, and TPTG’s text ]The permanent crisis in education: On some recent struggles in Greece does this very well. But this is not enough – we have to go further. If, in many countries, education happens to be a particularly unstable and restless sector of capitalist society, it is not only because of the “reforms” that the reproduction of capital has imposed on this sector, but because it is the reproduction of capital that has become problematic. It is by becoming problematic, that is to say by being in crisis as reproduction, that the self-presupposition of capital designates, at first, as the place for the crisis, sectors of society where its reproduction takes a specified form in relation to society itself. It affects primarily the “entrants”, and constructs the social category of youth. This crisis of reproduction is concentrated in places specialising in reproduction, designating the precarious youth as its principal actor (the 600 Euros generation) of which the students remained the principal representatives throughout the movement. It is in this regard that the student movement was this general movement of riots.
Some Greek texts, like those of TPTG and Blaumachen, speak about university as a “fraction of capital” and consider the universities as work places – and places of exploitation. Consequently, the blockade of universities is understood as a hindrance to general reproduction, if not to production tout court, to the extent that the student is considered as the producer of a specific commodity- her labour-power. In such an approach, we should distinguish between what is said and what is implied, that is to say of what such an analysis – theoretically false – is the true symptom.
Unless they are private universities in which particular capitals requiring at least the average profit rate are invested, and in which the student is a consumer who buys the lesson as a commodity, universities are not fractions of capital (even in this case, universities would not be a productive sector). They are an essential function of the production / reproduction of labour-power, but regardless of their utility, to the extent that – via the state – it is money as revenue that functions here, and regardless of the necessity of the rationalisation of their performance (the less the student dawdles in his studies, the less it costs), they are not capitalist companies, as for any faux-frais of production. In studying, the student (we are not speaking here about the fact that “being a student” has become a position on the labour market for precarious jobs: there are “student” jobs, whether they are held by students or not) does not enter into a relation of purchase–sale of their labour-power and produces no commodity containing a surplus-value that her employer (the administration of the university) appropriates. The student must put a lot of herself into the production of her commodity – complex labour power – but she does not buy it from – nor sell it to – herself. As long as this commodity remains attached to his person, pure subjectivity, it does not enter any productive relation with capital. Even if we accepted the idea that the student manufactures a commodity, she would not be a productive worker (productive of capital), but at the most a petty independent producer bringing her commodity to market. We can here point out that this “left-wing idea” of the student as producer of a commodity is a recurring theme of the right-wing: each is the petty entrepreneur of their own person.
In the true self-understanding of the movement as anti-capitalist, what makes of it an anti-capitalist movement – the crisis of reproduction – produces a false self-understanding: the student is a productive worker, and the university is a capital. This “false” understanding is a true symptom of the situation which structures the “student” revolt. The movement did not construct itself as anti-repression, anti-government or anti-university-reform (and in this it breaks with the continuity of the student revolts in Greece). Indeed, in the school and university students’ revolt, it is really the reproduction of capitalist society which is at stake, which is the object of the contradiction. However, as such, this revolt is stuck – despite all the shows of sympathy and solidarity from the “population” – in the institutional forms of this reproduction, as a “breach of contract”, as the failure of a corrupted state under the close watch of the IMF and lying about its own functioning to the European Commission.
The capitalist mode of production itself has run out of future.
[What we have seen in Greece] is an original species of revolt, prefigured by earlier riots in Los Angeles, London and Paris, but arising from a new and more profound understanding that the future has been looted in advance. Indeed, what generation in modern history (apart from the sons of Europe in 1914) has ever been so comprehensively betrayed by the patriarchs? […] My “baby-boom” cohort bequeaths to its children a broken world economy, stupefying extremes of social inequality, brutal wars on the imperial frontiers, and an out of control planetary climate. (Mike Davis, The betrayed generation, interview given to a Greek magazine.)
If, in the Western capitalist area, the instances of sharper social conflicts are concentrated on the precarious youth (united in the riots in Greece, contrary to what happened in France in 2005 – 2006 between the banlieue riots and the anti-CPE struggle), it is because “youth” is a social construct. It is here that the link between the student movement and the riots lies, and in a totally immediate way, it is the labour contract which summarises this link. The crisis constructs and then attacks (in the same movement) the category of “entrants” depending on the modalities of their “entrance”: educational training, precariousness (and those who are in a similar situation- the migrants). The main thing here is the labour contract which places this labour power in its relation to capitalist exploitation at the level of the changing needs of the market, the mobility of capital, etc. It is something that can be seen, in a more or less violent way, everywhere in Europe and in the USA. It is the crisis of reproduction as such that annihilates the future and constructs the youth as the subject of social protest. The future, in the capitalist mode of production, is the constantly renewed reproduction of the fundamental capitalist social relation between labour-power and means of production as the principal result of capitalist production itself. The crisis of financialised capital is not simply the setting, the canvas, the circumstance underlying the riots in Greece: it is the specific form of the capitalist mode of production running out of future, and by definition it immediately places the crisis at the level of reproduction.
The transformation of the student movement into a generalised movement of proletarian riots which took as their target the reproduction of capital as such in what would make this reproduction possible (we will see later that the limits of these riots lies here), that is to say the institutions, the state, the violence, the ideology, exchange, the commodity, has produced its actors from an already existing material. Since the Second World War, the development of capitalism in Greece has been chaotic, destroying previous social relations rather than constructing new ones that would involve and define the whole of society. A good example of this – the entry into the European Union – was, so far, the last step taking place. The Greek bourgeoisie has always shown a faintheartedness, placing it far behind the big capitalist powers (even since “independence”), and has looked more overseas than towards its own national territory. Greek capitalist industry, which first developed under the form of a couple of enclaves most often in the hands of foreign capital (as was the royal family), is now decrepit. Employment relies on the merchant navy, tourism and the construction sector that is linked to it, and administration. The revolt against a capitalism that never allowed it to live properly is intrinsic to Greek society.
The riots of December 2008 stand in the conjunction between this predatory capitalism whose organ is a state run by clientelist mafias, and the crystallisation, which this capitalism creates in the student movement, of a social defiance built from hatred and contempt. Because, in Greece, the student movement is a “social milieu” that largely goes beyond the situation of students and school children. In such a capitalism, the “margins” of the “600 Euros generation” can quickly come to represent the whole social functioning, especially when they are already organised, like in the Exarchia district in Athens, in a whole network of resistance and alternatives (social centres, printing-houses, cafés, associations, crafts, jumble sales, sewing workshops…), that is to say when they are massive and view capitalism and the state as one would a foreign army of occupation. The riots movement is not a student movement not only because the students and schoolchildren were immediately joined by a whole fraction of the precarious and immigrant population, and benefited from the sympathy and occasional participation of a part of the population, but also because the student movement was already not a “student” movement. The student situation is a social and political situation; that is to say a conflictual relation to the state, which is at the same time a future exploiter (the administration is almost the only job opportunity opened) but also a potential exploiter, which by turning someone down condemns him to a social no man’s land. In this situation, produced by the very functioning of capitalism, the constraint and the exteriority of the capitalist social relation appear as a state, a point of departure, rather than as an activity (we can see here simultaneously the force and the limits of these riots). The production of one’s class belonging and of the capitalist social relation as an exterior constraint, which is an activity of the class within the relation itself, appear here as a state of exteriority whose only social foundation is violence. It should be noted that the “exteriority” to which we refer is intrinsic to a class activity which includes for the class, against capital, its own putting into question: we are absolutely not speaking here of a militant exteriority, of interventionism or activism. Whatever the specific limits of the movement considered here, it would be completely wrong to apply the schemes of the critique of militantism and interventionism to it.
Logically the targets of these riots were the institutions where the reproduction of the mode of production acquires a separated form, separated from the society of which they are the political, economic as well as ideological institutions of reproduction, as well as the forms of circulation in which capital returns to itself. When the future is already looted and when practically and consciously a movement takes place at this level of reproduction, even if the latter remains understood and attacked as structures separated from production, there can be no demands, because there is no longer any alternative and not even the illusion, like in Italy at the same time, that one can exist. It is in this crisis of the reproduction of the social relations that, in the self-presupposition of capital, the moments of coercion and normality, of which the riots were not only the update but also practically the shaping, are fixed.
The police and the army are the last word in the self-presupposition of capital in the face of resistance to the provisions taken by the capitalist class in the spheres of work, social security (health, retirement…), and education. To be a precarious or migrant worker means, directly in the relation to work, that one must work whenever the boss needs it, must accept to work unpaid overtime and to be fired according to the vagaries of the moment. It also means being beaten up or attacked with acid for a single demand or even complaint. To be a precarious or migrant worker is already to live under a reign of terror, and for a “stable Greek” worker, the terror of work are the “incidents” whose multiplication corresponds to the intensification of exploitation. Absurdly, the wage and the reproduction of labour-power tend to become illegitimate for capital itself (cf “Revendiquer pour le salaire”, Théorie Communiste 22)2. This is the crisis of reproduction, the running out of future. It is also for the proletariat, in the very objectivity of capital, the reproduction of its class belonging that becomes an exterior constraint in the very relation of exploitation that reproduces it as a class and links it inseparably, as a class, with capital. Everywhere in these riots a feeling is expressed that capital is in “breach of contract”: “Will we earn enough to be able to have children?”
The riots in Greece show the end of the period that started, in the current cycle, with the strike wave in 1995 in France and the “anti-summit” gatherings of the end of the 90s, that is to say the end of radical democratism3 as the expression and fixation of the limits of class struggle. No other future is possible, because there is no longer a future: the alternative is dead.
Recall the anti-WTO demonstrations and the “Battle of Seattle” in 1999 which opened a new era of non-violent protest and grassroots activism4. The tremendous popularity of the World Social Forums, the millions-strong turnouts to protest Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the widespread support for the Kyoto Accord – all augured enormous hope that an “alter monde” might yet be born. Meanwhile, the war did not end, greenhouse gas emissions soared, and the social forum movement has languished. An entire cycle of protest came to an end just as the Wall Street boiler-room of globalized capitalism exploded, leaving in its wake both more radical problems and new opportunities for radicalism. The revolt in Athens ends the recent drought of anger. Its cadre seems to have little tolerance for hopeful slogans or optimistic solutions, thus distinguishing itself from the utopian demands of 1968 or the wishful spirit of 1999. This absence of demands for reform (and, thus, any conventional handle for managing the protests), of course, is what is most scandalous, not the Molotov cocktails or broken shop windows. It recalls not so much the student left of the 1960s as the intransigent revolts of underclass anarchism in Montmartre in the 1890s or Barcelona’s Barrio Chino during the early 1930s.5
The lack of future lies not only in the disappearance of the promise of a better life, but also in the putting at stake of the possibility of being able to survive and to reproduce one’s own body, as made of flesh and bones. And, wanted or not, proletarians are made of flesh and bones. This is not their fault: to be made of flesh and bones is a completely social constraint and a social condition, the proletarian is the first purely physical worker, a subjectivity without object (he has no objective or personal relation to any means of production or subsistence). When the proletariat is attacked in its physical constitution, it is its social definition which is at stake.
At the same time, the “slogans of hope” and “optimistic solutions” are still current in Italy. One can see in this dissonance a simple effect of the contrasting economic situations in Italy and Greece, where the degree of trust that investors have toward the state has just been downgraded. But tomorrow, Italy could be the scene of a wave of riots similar to Greece and Greece, the scene of a large movement pressing for reformist demands alongside the flowering of grass-roots collectives. We should keep in mind that class struggle is a global – but not homogeneous – process and that struggles do not take place on a chronological axis in which there would be “avant-garde movements” and “anachronisms”. If the situation in which the proletariat acting as a class is in such a contradictory relation to capital that its struggle can be its own abolition, if this situation is the dynamic of this cycle of struggle, it stills develops itself in a chaotic manner. In some places, through wage demands that the capitalist mode of production neither can nor wants to fulfill, in others, through large self-organised grass-roots movements that propose alternatives, and in still others, through riots that produce one’s class belonging as an exterior constraint and the relation of exploitation as a coercion pure and simple. Nobody is ahead of their time; nobody is backward, because nobody is independent.
All the same, in this chaos, all the terms are not identical and do not have the same relation to the dynamic of this cycle considered as a totality. The dynamic of this cycle is the swerve that some current practices create within what is the general limit of this cycle of struggles: to act as a class. Presently, the class activity of the proletariat is more and more torn in an internal way: as long as it remains the action of a class, it has capital as its sole horizon (because all liberation of work and affirmation of the proletariat as the dominant class have disappeared), simultaneously in its action against capital it is its own existence as a class that it faces and that it must treat as something to do away with. The majority of the current struggles have to live through this swerve, this internal split, and the riots in Greece did not escape it.
To act as a class entails a swerve towards oneself, to the extent that this action entails its own putting into question in relation to itself: the proletariat’s negation of its existence as a class within its action as a class (and this is the swerve in the action as a class). In the riots in Greece, the proletariat does not demand anything and does not consider itself against capital as the basis for an alternative, it simply does not want to be what it is anymore.
At the same time, despite its larger scale, and the fact that it put into motion a large part of the working class, the Italian “Onda anomale” has to face – if only because of its simultaneity with the riots in Greece – its dead-ends, its lack of perspective. The riots in Greece mean that the Onda has no perspectives, does not point to the future of class struggle. Conversely, the very simultaneity of these struggles (Italian or Greek) give to these riots in Greece a meaning they would not have without this simultaneity, that is of pointing out, in the fact of acting as a class, the very nature of the current limits of class struggle within itself considered as a whole.
This entanglement, as swerve, of the elements of class struggle already has a meaning: that of the putting into question by the proletariat of its existence as a class in its struggle against capital. In Greece, the principal content of this putting into question was to show and to shape the reproduction of social relations as including coercion.”
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