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Greece: Clashes with police during two-day general strike

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.”


Anti-Prison Demonstration in Downtown Milwaukee (tomorrow)
03/14/2011, 11:30 PM
Filed under: Milwaukee area, update | Tags: , , , , , , ,

A call from the UWM Theatre Occupation:

“A part of the bill which has not been given nearly as much attention within
the movement against it, which has been focusing mostly on collective
bargaining, entails changes regarding early release for prisoners and people
incarcerated in jail. This means that prisoners and people jailed will face
the entirety of their terms with no possible opportunity or encouragement for good
behavior. This exposes the utter lie of rehabilitation. It will increase the
terms of people in prison, and thus will increase the number of people in
prison in Wisconsin, in a country that already counts more than two million
people as captive within its walls and barbed fences.

Be there at 9pm sharp. Bring things to make noise. Bring banners and signs
against prisons.

Come protest this and against a society that deals with its problems by
putting people in cages.

Come to the South entrance of the Milwaukee Public Museum (800 West Wells

Tomorrow March 15th

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down (regarding recent strategy of the Greek state)

Just before the anniversary of the Greek riots….  There’s a mountain of anticipation building to see what will happen.  Already at least three major universities that were instrumental as bases of conflict have been occupied ahead of an announced closure by the administrations, there have been autonomous night time attacks throughout the country and calls for open assemblies to discussion the course of events.

During the last two months, the strategy of counterinsurgency developed by the Greek state since December has passed to a new phase of totalization. If we speak of counterinsurgency and not of repression it is because the former in contrast to the latter is not so much a military type intervention, as an integrated political and social technology producing consent, fear and defeatism. It aims not at the immediate annihilation of the insurgents, but at the removal of their living space: the conceptual, affective and cultural plane of the insurgency. This is a preventive strategy whose object is the wealth of possibilities that sprouted out of the insurrectionary event. It is a low intensity warfare, a politico-psychological warfare, in the sense that its goal is the corrosion of the political, social and psychological consistency of the insurgency. The basic principle of counterinsurgency is, on the one hand, to “win hearts and minds”, and, on the other hand, “not to take the fish out of the sea, but to dry the sea where the insurgents swim like fish”. And it does this by “separating and uniting”. Separating the insurgents from their possibilities, separating the insurgents from their political and social affinities, separating the insurgents from each other. And at the same time uniting social discontent with the call of reform, by representing the insurgency as a cause of backwardness, and uniting the forces of repression with wide segments of the population, by presenting the former in as both humane, pro-people and effective.


A first orientation of the counterinsurgency is the separation of the uncontrollable segment of the insurgents from the advantageous ground of their action. A process that spreads from Exarcheia, the university asylum and the axis of Patision avenue, till the area around Omonoia square and the axis of Acharnon avenue1. Exarcheia are perceived as a hypertopical metropolitan centre where the uncontrollable segments of youth gather – the anarchists and the leftists and all those who if not producing violent attacks are surely not annoyed by them. And it is precisely on that terrain -of sympathy or toleration- that the apparatus of counterinsurgency is mobilized. An initial three-day police occupation of the area in October demonstrated the military superiority of the state, carrying with it the assurance that it is but a slice of the force that can be activated. Ever since, the smallest incident ignites a totally unbalanced invasion, whose main scope is not the arrest of the perpetrators but a kind of mass and collective revenge on whoever might be moving in the area at the time. This is a strategy of psychological warfare aiming at the dissolution of toleration/sympathy, putting in motion processes of  (self)containment on the bases of a reversed calculation of the relation between incident and its consequences. For it is certain that an “internal” discontent is much more likely to minimize if not stop the often attacks in the wider area than the fear of repression.

At the same time, the dominant discourse on the university asylum is moving from a reading of it as a base of attacks, to its characterization as a space of anomie in itself that has to be reconquered by the state and the academic community. In other words, the university asylum is being constructed as a ground that has to be reoccupied in its entirety, uninterruptedly and continuously – not as an institution that produces isolated phenomena that need to be contained. The problem thus is placed with endurance not the moment, with the permanent situation and not with specific states of exception.

The psychological operations on Exarcheia and the university asylum2 were preceded by a cleansing operation of the wider metropolitan centre, articulated in terms of population management on the miserable but also massified immigrants. The criminalization of their gatherings and the biopolitical problematization of their co-habitation in hygienic terms (as in the case of the Efeteio squat3) initially removed the most uncontrollable subject of the insurgency from the spatial center of political and economic procedures. Then, it tried to subjectivate, under a social-democratic umbrella, its partial segments, through the political assimilation of immigrants via the promise of legalizing their children, giving them the right to vote in local elections, allowing them to build a mosque in Athens and even asking for their assistance in police departments4. This is a method of counterinsurgency par excellence centered on the dissolution of the ground that gives birth to the terms of collectivization, and on the imaginary re-unification of the segmented subject within the contours of democratic-statist recuperation.


On a second level, the counterinsurgency is trying to separate the general discontent from the insurgency as a dynamic and as a possibility, and to unite it with reform. The invention of an aim for the insurgents, and its unification with a systemic restructuring, leaves the insurgents without an object and renders any further action on their part out of place and pointless in the eyes of others. The imposition of dominant answers to questions posed by power itself in the first place is already half the work of the counterinsurgency. Part of this strategy is, for example, the meeting of the minister of education with a group of pupils. The dominant interpretation saw the explosion of violence as a result of a lack of democracy in schools and proposed to solve this problem with a “new social contract” between the pupils, the teachers and the ministry. The same spirit emanates the initiative by the ministry of public order to create “bureaus of confronting incidents of arbitrariness”5. A central tactic of every strategy of counterinsurgency, this enclosure of wide-spread discontent, which has been diagnosed by the state as a cause of December, is under the direction of social-democracy; a technology of power that not only promises the pacification of social and economic antitheses, but portrays the insurgency as cause of backwardness, as the source of delaying the exit from the tunnel.

A basic role in this injunction to peace and normality is relegated to the institutional left, the heart and mind of which has been with the state several decades now. Through the erection of a moralistic problematization of revolutionary violence, the left is taking up its role -social reproduction- by condemning “violence wherever it might be coming from” as a basic catalyst of an imaginary backwardness towards authoritarianism. Every violence, says the left, is in essence “a violence for violence”, a “hooded right-wing” that must be isolated either with condemnations or even with marches like the one sponsored by POSDEP (the union of academics)6. This tactic of equal distance from the extremes was expressed by the state in the simultaneous warrant against the three wanted anarchists and the perpetrators of the attack against K. Kouneva7. This injunction to give oneself up to the value system of the state, not as a system of subjection to law and order but as a system of dialogue, negotiation and compromise, is separating widespread social discontent from what it can really do, and subjectivates it as a series of demands of inclusion to the bog of the Capital-relation.

Counterinsurgency is ideally a war with not a single real battle. A war of isolation, of drying out, of cutting away, which wins by mobilizing the most conservative instincts of society while recuperating social discontent and protest in a context of pacification and reform.


Finally, the counterinsurgency campaign is aiming to corrode the internal consistency and unity of the insurgency, promoting a series of separations that start with the fragmentation of the insurgents into categories (social, political, psychoanalytic etc.) and finish with separating them from their very lived experience.

On the one hand, the insurgent are injucted to abandon the fluidity of December that destabilized all identities and to return to their post: the pupil must become a pupil, the anarchist an anarchist, the immigrant an immigrant, the junkie a junkie etc. The gates of the different worlds that met on the streets of December and acted together in the common negative work of destruction proving in practice that the phenomenally impossible subversion of social categories is feasible must forever close.

On the other hand, a central tactic on this scheme is the moralistic narrative of the ministry of public order regarding “children and instructors”, “hooligans and politicos”, “rioters and ideologists”. An essential part of this tactic is the injunction of a segment of the insurgents to separate itself or to bring the rest back to reason, based on some moral code approved by the state; on a “fair play” that guarantees the inclusion of social/class antagonism in a curve of normality surveyed and controlled not by the bureau of protecting the polity, but by the insurgents themselves. This self-disciplining of the insurgents against any deterritorialization of their practice, this asceticism of patience and hope, has been a pivotal technology of subjectivation of the most successful apparatus of normalization of the last century: the left.

At the same time, the criminalization of certain choices and practices is a classic tactic of depoliticization, rendering their agents easy pray to repression. Yet a necessary condition for this is their isolation from a wider political-social milieu with which they are linked. This recipe was tested with success during the summer of 2002 via the lobotomy plan of social memory which enjoyed the complete cooperation of the left8. The secret and not-so-secret warrants for “terrorist activity” today9 aim at the enclosure of a wider uncontrollable and radical population. They aim, on the one hand, to force everyone into a self-examination in order to discover any causes for his or her possible incrimination, and on the other hand, to cause quietism and relief to those who feel there is no way they can be linked since they belong to an unofficially recognized political factor, the one of  “ideologues” or “serious people”. The ministry is thus creating a morbid atmosphere of confession, suspicion, fear and even indifference: “Am I perhaps suspected?” “With what evidence could they arrest me?” “Might I be involved in someway or with someone in a manner unknown to me that can get me in trouble?”. Or else: “There is no way they are referring to us, the bell is tolling for those who have no principles”, etc. This mass, and at the same time molecular, paranoia, as a product par excellence of a secret police governmentality, has as its aim to separate the subject from his/her very lived experience, from her/his being-in-the-world: to force it to think like the state, in other words just like those piles of corpses, the zombie army of patriots, the organic matter of the Party of Order, think and speak – to bring about the sacrifice of the possibility of the now of insurrectionary becoming to the certainty of the completion/ payment of the debt towards the eternal being of the state.

4 December 2009                    flesh machine// ego te provoco// comrades