Filed under: war-machine | Tags: canada, capitalism, civil war, fire, g20, police, police cars on fire, riot, street battles, the anarchy, toronto, violence
From Calgary CTV:
“A group of black-clad protesters has raged through downtown Toronto, smashing windows, vandalizing businesses and burning at least two police cruisers in the heart of the city.
The riots have forced officials to shut down downtown subway stations and close off main streets from traffic.
Only a few blocks from the mayhem, G20 leaders are meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
For more than five hours, much of the city’s core has been in a virtual lockdown as heavily armed police periodically clash with protesters.
The violence escalated after a splinter group broke away from a large and peaceful group of protesters who marched ahead of the high-level meetings.
A concert at the Air Canada Centre has been postponed, hospitals in the downtown core have been locked down and the Eaton Centre was also closed.
Toronto Mayor David Miller said at a news conference that the so-called anarchists are simply criminals who are determined to cause as much destruction as possible.
“It was a deliberate act by people who make it their business to commit these acts,” he said.
“Am I angry? Absolutely.”
Miller spoke to reporters at about 6 p.m. local time, nearly five hours after the protest erupted into violence.
Earlier, the black-clad protesters smashed up a police cruiser and smashed its windshield along Queen Street, as other demonstrators hurled bottles and sticks at a solid line of riot police.
As police donned gas masks and mounted units rode into the city’s core on horses, the violent protesters lit garbage on fire and tipped over recycling containers. They also smashed vehicles in and grabbed stones from nearby homes.
News media vehicles were also targeted and vandalized.
Initially, there were reports that police had fired tear gas. However, police said later that no officers had deployed any gas.
Earlier on Queen Street, next to the MuchMusic building, the violent protesters attempted to break southward through a tight line of riot police.
As some in the crowd pelted police with water bottles, officers hit back and pushed the group northward, away from the downtown core.
Three protesters involved in the confrontation suffered injuries. According to reports from the scene, some were bleeding from the head.
Moments later, another standoff occurred a few blocks west, where protesters reportedly tossed sticks at police and chanted “let us go.”
Earlier, thousands of demonstrators gathered at the Ontario legislature Saturday morning to hear speeches.
While protest organizers promised a family-friendly demonstration, a splinter group calling itself the “Get off the Fence contingent” has announced plans to break away from the main group and challenge the heavy security cordon around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the G20 summit will begin Saturday afternoon.
In a news release, the splinter group said it plans to continue on to the summit site “to confront the self-proclaimed G20 leaders and the security apparatus that will have occupied our city. We will take back our city from these exploitative profiteers, and in the streets we will be uncontrollable.”
The news release uses the word “militant” a number of times to describe the planned demonstration.
Around 1 p.m., two protesters were arrested near the downtown core and allegedly found with an “incendiary device.” Unconfirmed reports from the scene said the pair was carrying Molotov cocktails.”
Filed under: update | Tags: capitalism, communism, end notes, misery, theory, value, volume 2
Finally… We should have copies of this issue of the journal as soon as we can get them.
Descriptions and articles from END NOTES Volume 2:
Taking the capitalist class relation as a self-reproducing whole, the horizon of its overcoming appears as an invariant aspect of this whole, albeit one with a historically variant quality. Surplus population and capital’s basic problem of labour characterise core dynamics underlying the shift in this horizon beyond the old programme of workers’ power.
A re-reading and historical interpretation of Marx’s “general law of accumulation”— the tendency for the expanded reproduction of capital to throw off more labour than it absorbs—in light of the growth of surplus populations and surplus capital in the world today.
Maya GonzalezPreliminary materials for a theory of home-ownership, credit, and housework in the post-war US economy. How is the fundamental capitalist separation between production and reproduction affected when the home becomes the commodity through which all others are sold?
The theory of communisation and Marxian value-form theory emerge from the same historical moment, mutually complement each other, and point towards the same radical conception of revolution as the immediate transformation of social relations, one in which we cease to constitute value and it ceases to constitute us.
A reconstruction of the systematic dialectic of capital as a dialectic of class struggle. The forms of value which are constituted by and regulate social practice are totalising and self-reproducing through the subsumption of labour under capital. The totality so constituted is inwardly contradictory, and ultimately self-undermining: capitalist accumulation is a moving contradiction, i.e. a historical contradiction, between capital and proletariat.
The philosophical/logical concept of subsumption is employed in various periodisations of capitalist society, such as those of Théorie Communiste, Jacques Camatte, and Antonio Negri. A critical examination of this concept and its historical uses.
Worker’s enquiry in the cynical mode: the unrevolutionary working life of the web developer.
Filed under: update | Tags: anarchist, anarchists, anarchy, bad kidz, bedlam, bookfair, books, distro, festival of anarchy, Minneapolis, the middle finger, twin cities
The Burnt Bookmobile and friends will be tabling at this. We are somehow listed as one of the first bunch of participating vendors. Since and because of the NYC Anarchist Bookfair we’ve been accumulating a lot of new books and will surely have more by the time this comes around.
About the Twin Cities Anarchist Bookfair:
“The 11th and 12th of this September, anarchists will be having a Bookfair and Festival in the Twin Cities! Filled with radical distros, publishers, artists, music, crafters, workshops, skillshares, speakers and much more!
We will highlight Midwest anarchy and want to focus on this area, but we welcome radicals from far and wide to share with us.
The Bookfair portion of the festival will be held at the Bedlam Theatre in the West Bank community of Minneapolis on both the 11th & 12th of September. General Admission will be free with donations accepted. The Bedlam Theatre will be able to host the bulk of the activities, but some will be in other venues on the West Bank depending on the confirmed participation.
For more information visit our website http://www.tcanarchist.wordpress.com“
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
On 14/06/10 We stormed into a super-market of the chain Masoutis on M.Kyriakou street, we took basic need goods (olive oil, pasta, milk etc.) and destroyed the anti-theft systems and the surveillance camera while we also smashed the cashiers and burnt all the money they had inside.
From the beginning we had decided that the goods of the appropriation would be distributed among the comrades who participated, not outside the super-market. With this choice of ours we want to make clear that this, and other practices aim not at promoting some of us as saviors of the society – rather, we want society itself to familiarize itself with such practices and to embrace them without waiting for the “revolutionary” philanthropist/ friends of the poor. Especially in a period like this one, where the rottenness of the present system is pushing it toward collapse. As for the term “Robin Hoodies” (in Greek: Super-market Robins) we believe it consists another typical attempt to twist the meaning of such actions by Mass Media, which present comrades as some sort of elite stealing for the poor. In result, the distribution of the goods is presented in a way that refers to the narcosis and the passivity reflected in the thinking “someone will think-act-take care of us”.
We do not believe in a society of “weak-minded” people who must necessarily be ruled, as is wished by the ruling propaganda. We are happy when people walk on with the belief that their life belongs to them, away from mediators and needless gabble, when they organize under the premise of solidarity, anti-authoritarianism and self-organization; under the guidance of active negation and attack. When they do not fall for the fallacy of the regime that “by helping each other we will scrape through the crisis”. It is important, finally that when distributing goods you have no way of telling if the recipients are indeed in solidarity, even if that is not active, or if they are just hypocrites taking care of themselves only – and perhaps even, in another case, they would be the first to inform to the police. Of course we applaud similar actions by comrades who distribute the goods: as as we said earlier the aims are the same.
The burning of money is a symbolic action speaking for itself. These little pieces of paper that turned into ashes within seconds have managed, in even less seconds, to destroy lives, relationships, to transform the human and her desires by transforming life into indexes, digitalizing feelings and experiences, simplifying the feelings of joy and misery down to the dipole I have/ I have no money.
As for the action itself it took place exactly as planned. Our getaway was relaxed and with no unexpected incidents. We used bins to block off some roads precautionary while we made sure to know the movements of the cops before and during the action. It is telling that pigs of the Z force (motorcycle cops –trans.) were sitting around confused by the fountain on Egnatia Ave, obviously waiting for reinforcements and tried to approach only when we were already gone.
We are consciously and actively in solidarity with every other action sabotaging capitalism within the urban environment in which we act.
PS 1. A warning toward the “macho Greeks” who might want to become heroes: they’ll receive the treatment they deserve, exactly as it happened when one of them was spotted to be calling the cops – he was chased, along with the bunch who were about to intervene. But as the saying goes, “the mother of the fast one has never mourned”
PS 2. We can only laugh at the misinformation of the media about supposed clashes with repression forces, trolleys filled with goods that we never managed to hand out etc…
PS 3. Of course we support the appropriation of money for the needs of the movement, it is just that we wanted to give a different context to this particular action.
The thieves’ thieves
Filed under: Milwaukee area | Tags: CCC, letter writing, milwaukee, prisoner support, prisons, riverwest
From the HaveHeartCollective:
“This is the first of many events of its kind. In the wake of this event, we plan to host monthly letter writing nights every 3rd Friday of the month at the Cream City Collectives. In our view, prisoner support is something that needs to be sustained; a presence that needs to be continual. We know all too well the persistence of those who work overtime to send individuals to their captors. Point being, they don’t relent, why would we?
Envelopes, papers, pens, postage, and snacks will be provided (although it would be an awfully sweet surprise if one were to bring their own supplies). Remember, everything you write will be reviewed by the snouts of jail censors (polizei), so while your formulating ideas about what you’re going to write to your new pen pals, remember, what you say could land you or the prisoner you’re writing to in a hell of a lot of trouble. So, keep it legal; keep it fluffy.”
Friday, June 18th, 7pm
at the CCC (732 E Clarke St.)
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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