Positions – Proposals – Framework
SOLIDARITY ECONOMY AND SELF-MANAGEMENT
For the networking and circulation of commons
What are the structural components of public space?
Characteristics of free public space
What can do a contemporary antiauthoritarian organization?
What can history teach us about this?
The death politics of Fortress Europe
European communities amongst the ruins of multiculturalism
How do we place ourselves in this political situation?
Gendered identity and stereotypes
Gendered violence and the act of rape
Historical retrospect of the concept of correction
Articles 187–187A: Antiterrorist Law
EMANCIPATORY PROJECTS: CRACKS OF FREEDOMS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD
Antiauthoritarian Movement (Αντιεξουσιαστική Κίνηση or A.K.) was created in 2002 with main goal the participation in the mobilizations against the summit of EU member states, which took place in June 2003, Thessaloniki. Today, 16 years later, it is the longest-standing network/organization in the antiauthoritarian “space” with several groups in different Greek cities.
On the occasion of the 16 years of existence and the dense historic time through which we have passed through as Greek society, we feel it is necessary to re-examine our aims and the reasons why we choose to be politically expressed through A.K. network and not through any other collectivity or organization.
The reasons because of which A.K. was created remain the same even today. The radical forces does not seem to have overcame their ideological paralysation, trying to fit the reality in their theory, which is being presented as undeniable truth. In an age which forces us to chase the reality and situations rather than to create them, as we once did, the danger of becoming ridiculous and forgotten on the shelves of history is closer than ever. As Antiauthoritarian Movement we choose to observe and research the reality, to interact with active subjects and from this base to emerge our theory, direction, values.
Antiauthoritarian Movement has, as its framework, 3 basic principles: the agreement on non-seizure of power, the anti-hierarchical structure and Direct Democracy, along with the admission of the idea that in order to create radical libertarian political cracks and potentials there is no need to place your trust in metaphysical readings of reality or wishful thinking. Today, we seen how the political fields of theory and practice, raised by the Antiauthoritarian Movement, are being embraced by growing segments of society. Free social spaces, social management of commons (water, garbage, transport, information), ecological struggles (the river Aheloos, the movement against coal, Skouries), squats for housing of refugees and migrants, as well as more concrete issues like transnational networking, protection of demonstrations, political festivals in metropolises and provinces, all these are based on and derive legitimacy from the wide social processes taking place in Greece and abroad.
We can identify 2 main reasons why A.K. still exists and is interacting WITH society, not leading it as an enlightened avant-garde, but also neither following it, trying to catch up with new developments.
The first one is the stubbornness of the people that constitute A.K. during all these years, so they could intervene in all social spaces, interacting with many different subjects, which surely are not the “revolutionary” models that some of the supporters of the “clean” and “uncontaminated” ideologies would like to see. The big “taboo” of the so-called ideologically “pure” subject was gradually broken, to a large extent exactly because of such type of interactions. That is, the long-lasting refusal of large sections of the radical space to participate in struggles, which were not strictly part of the anarchist or the leftist circles. Characteristic examples are: the movement of the squares and the “Aganaktismenoi” (2011), where obviously the thousands of people were not hard ideologically politicized cores but nonetheless they kept in tension a whole government and huge police force because of their persistence and massiveness; as well as older such cases like the student demonstrations from 2006–2007 where again thousands non-ideological students, alongside with other parts of society, managed to suspend the abrogation of Article 16 and the privatization of high education; and even the revolt of December ’08, where for one more time the angry youth (and not only), which was viewed as fluid and “apolitical” subject, managed to put on their knees – politically and ethically – the dominant mechanisms of the state.
The second reason is the complex issue of autonomy on which A.K. network is based. This means essentially that each city, movement, group or person inside A.K. can maintain their autonomy, and not their autonomization from the rest. A.K. strives at being a framework for organizational convergence, even if on different issues there is a different approach to interpreting social problems. I.e. the assemblies of the network that exist thorough Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Giannena, Larisa, Patra, Komotini, Piraeus) are pieces of one general whole, but in the same time they maintain their autonomy, not autonomization, from the rest of the network, mainly through the Panhellenic Assembly of all the people that participate in any way in the activities of A.K.
Essentially this is the main and basic difference between A.K. and other political formations that either existed before (anarchist collectives and leftist parties) or have emerged recently. Organizing through closed structures with fixed membership, the inability to make decisions if they are not validated by a central committee, and generally, the inelastic operational framework, which we consider as obstacles to individuals to reach their own conclusions, with collectivity functioning as helper and not as instructor, there are reasons why we believe that these forms of organization cannot respond to the complex political and social context that has been shaped today.
We believe that solving a problem which concerns a local community does not come out of a political manual or manifesto with positions, analyzes and projects that have been implemented and have failed in different times and places. The way in which each society is called upon to solve its issues is by the self-determining actors who consist it, and not through directives and guidance. One such more recent example is the case of Skouries in Chalkidiki, which is the tangible example of the resistance of a local community to capitalist development with its own radical and self-organized characteristics, and not with instruction manuals or raids in the sky.
Surely this method is not a panacea; anyway, we admit that a common solution to all the problems of the world is more of a field of the church and not ours.
What we want to make clear is that from the beginning of 2000, when essentially the anti-globalization movement ended, the only practice we were willing to try (since all the rest have been tried and have failed) was the test and error procedure. A new social and political field opens before us, in which we must leave aside the certainties and in which our compass must be the past experiences and the depots for which we have struggled so much, because the paths towards the solution are not just based on right choices but also on wrong choices.
We are quite sure anymore that the decentralized social and economic systems, organized in direct-democratic, non-statist way, will come only through common struggles of different movements and broader social participation. Therefore, instead of constantly trying to define what “true” anarchism is, for example asking if EZLN and Rojava are enough anarchist, we decided to try another approach: to locate the anti-authoritarian characteristics of various already existing social movements and to identify their common enemies (oppressors) and thus to connect them. And in order such connections to be made, narrow ideological narratives have to be abandoned and replaced by general anti-authoritarian culture, which can simultaneously be determined and itself to determine the context in which it was created, thus initiating one contemporary anticapitalist-antistatist enlightenment.
Moving beyond Ideology does not mean abdicating from our ideas and principles but their constant reevaluation and development. To the fears that without ideological identities we will be absorbed by the dominant culture of political apathy and mindless consumerism, we can answer with the creation of a broad citizen culture of autonomous individuals who are, before all, speakers of words and doers of deeds. One broader plan for exiting capitalism, based on the virtue of mutual respect and the principle of “positive liberty” of self-governance (and not simply the “negative liberty” of non-interference), will keep the anti-authoritarian spirit while allowing for interaction with large sections of the society and the implementation in practice of our ideas in different contexts. Only one such approach would help us avoid the “sectarianism” (with all its separatism and lifestyle) of the political movements that haunts them from the 20th century until today. Because of this we use the term ANTIAUTHORITARIAN in our name.
ON DIRECT DEMOCRACY
Direct democracy is Antiauthoritarian Movement’s (A.K.) political project as a prerequisite of social and individual autonomy. It actually contains the two elements of the three-pronged principles underlying our policy collectiveness, that is, non-seizure of power and anti-hierarchy. It becomes clear that, democratic pre-orientations as the process in each functional area is based on these two elements.
Democracy, by definition, stands against any authority that tries to dominate or exert itself over the power the people themselves hold. The people are the municipality, citizens who are self-defined as free and the only way for people to really be self-governed, the actual people and not some transplantation or imaginative construction, is for every citizen to act as a natural person and take part into the institutions of the decision and act upon them, across the range of social functions, into a free public space and time. Therefore, a substantive precondition of democracy is the essential and complete equality, which in turn requires individual and social freedom.
Since no one stands above the power of the municipality/people, who in turn recognizes itself as the primary source of power and meanings, these same meanings are being called into question. The question raised concerns the law, since the problem is that there is no mechanism separate from the political body that enforces the law, and the precondition for the law is not submisiveness but persuasion. Instead of heteronomy, the concept where the law comes from elsewhere, the law of authority, which is tight and closed, democracy is a condition of autonomy, social autonomy, since legislation and self-government are explicit collective actions, and consequently a condition of individual autonomy.
Direct democracy implies an entire project of self-government and the establishment of a society with clear content. It proposes the equality of all citizens and the freedom of every individual, it demands the existence of a true social space and an open social time, it shows the potential of a political doubt against the existing system. It is incompatible with any bureaucratic hierarchical mechanisms which attribute social power to the benefit of a state and preserve the separation of society from politics through the existence of the state. It can only exist against and in direct opposition to each state and hierarchical establishment. We must not forget that the project of modern movements in the world, from Occupy to Rojava is direct democracy. All spontaneous and radical social experiments and all the networks of social self-organized collectives that exist, essentially work in terms of direct democracy.
The request of direct democracy in the social field explicitly raised the question of social transformation, it questioned the dominant institutions and it provided a chance for a re-institutionalization of the social reality. The explicit acceptance of this request by a huge part of society at the moment where it was on the streets, militant, is a socio-historical moment of enormous importance.
In an autonomous society, based on direct democracy, politics, economic, social, ecological sphere should be organized on the basis of self-management and anti-hierarchy. Direct democracy should be embedded in each sphere to stay true.
What is today the experience of direct democracy from which the modern radical political collectives and groups can learn? Of course, the adoption of direct democracy and the instilling of its meaning into modern social redevelopment both in public space and time. That is:
A radical challenge to the existing social status/authority concerning it’s fundamentals. These fundamentals of the state power are:
The dominance of the economic sphere,
Political representation and separated power,
Authority in every area of social activity.
Instead of and against those, we stand for:
Creation and participation in free social networks around the public commons (communication, energy, water, nutrition, health, education, information, rubble, environment, etc.).
Defending locality, not on its geographical sense, but against the centralized management and centralized certification either from ethnographic bureaucracy, or from economic-bureaucracy.
Implementation of globality through the release of Internet communication and knowledge, the setting up of planetary networks for the exchange of information, ideas and products and the widening of global solidarity.
Subordination of the production and the economy to the rest of the social activities; economy does not rule the society, we do.
Open Collective Assemblies -with equal participation in terms of political decisions and acting on them, without exclusions.
Networking groups in nodes of direct democracy in order to achieve the possibility of a collective decision and act, for the possibility of people themselves who are involved in this to decide their daily working activities in the public time and space they choose to create. Not as producers separated and divided from consumers with a relationship of economic interest, but as people in a single community that seek autonomy for direct democracy.
Civil disobedience to the dominant system of state and economic power.
Creating a genuinely democratic education, through mutual-learning, free research, the diffusion of knowledge inside society but also by participating in institutions of direct democracy.
Defend and broaden the common ground, outside and against the ratified principle of state and capitalist mechanisms. Defend the free and social character of public space and time, abolition of the statist and private capitalist exploitation of the public.
Refusal of ethnic/national borders and exclusions, defending the right of the people to move freely as they want and broadening even further their rights to equality and freedom through the creation of autonomous and democratic institutions in which everyone will participate. Practical and actual solidarity with refugees and migrant populations.
Where disobedience leads to frontal conflicts with the state apparatus and the governing authority, this is where the social violence that occurs should be seen as something that might happen and not as the only cause. Social violence for the sake of emancipation and autonomy is not the only cause but means to an end.
During the period of memorandums and the economic crisis, the greatest attack ever on labor has occurred trying to take back our rights and conquests from previous eras. The idea that Greek debt is public, is the basis upon which state and employers seek to fully disrupt the labor relations to the detriment of employees. This process, the results of which the majority of Greek society is experiencing, is part of the overall degradation of life of the “average human” in one constant condition of poverty, control and repression, cultural decline, violent seizing of public space and huge environmental damage.
However, requests for no further degradation of labor and restoration of the principal industrial relations to decent levels often dominated over other aspects of the overall of the social crisis and have been expressed independently by various social groups. This framework of claims, which is mainly based on the syndicalist unions on all-levels, public and private, leftist or not includes the requirement for wage increases, freezing of redundancies, recruitment, etc., has been proven, especially as of late, something more than insufficient. The main tools of trade unionists in these claims, namely the short lived strikes and stoppages, in conjunction with the negotiation with the bourgeoisie or the state for more favorable conditions of exploitation have also reached a quagmire.
At the same time, the worker’s figure, as the supposedly revolutionary subject, has collapsed after numerous fragmentary struggles cut off from the rest of society, and instead we have examples of labor conflicting with social movements (see Skouries). That is to say that traditional labor arguments work against radical social movements. With these facts, to call upon the identity (of the “working class”, or the proletariat) can only be an obsessive, perpetual attempt to revive the revolutionary “scientific” promises of Marxism, which have been repeatedly contradicted throughout history.
These findings are not a question of the class composition of modern societies, nor are positions of defending employers obviously. The conclusion, on the other hand, is that economic inequality and exploitation will not be eliminated through traditional fetishist class analyzes and the trivial tools of trade unionism, even though trade unionism defines itself as revolutionary.
Considering the role of labor today, which is often opposed to the wider social interest (nuclear factories, arms factories, mining companies), two facts emerge. On one hand, social movements can, on occasion, be “anti-labor” and on the other hand, the management of production in a different way from the dominant one passes through the eventual destruction of a large harmful and useless part of it and that should be an issue for which the whole community will decide, not just the workers. In this context, the first fully self-managed and self-organized factory in Greece, Vio.Me. in Thessaloniki, is what we have in mind. The workers of Vio.Me., when confronted with the unemployment spectrum, made history for the labor movement in Greece.
They ignored the voices of traditional trade unionism that urged them to claim damages and decided to put into orbit one of the most important self-organized and radical projects. Since the beginning they opened the door to society by making it an equal partner through the processes of direct democracy on the issue of production, thus creating a strong solidarity movement. They placed respect for the environment as a predominant value and adapted their production to the contemporary ecological crisis. They did not perceive their operation as a simple alternative to survival in capitalism but as a radical incision in the existing exploitation system by not placing their products in supermarkets and participating in wider social movements and claims.
Already, other projects are getting ready to follow in the footsteps of Vio.Me. while international recognition of this top example of self-organization of production with an ally of society is remarkable. Self-organization, with a social and ecological sign, is projected as an appropriate plan to overcome the misery of traditional labor struggles and demands. It also broadens the horizons of complete social autonomy from the state and capitalism, extending it to the field of tertiary production. We consciously choose to be there at every step of these struggles, for a society without bosses and employers.
SOLIDARITY ECONOMY AND SELF-MANAGEMENT
The Today’s Reality
It is a fact that the initiatives from below have multiplied and now cover a wide range of activities in all areas of production. In the primary sector, small producer’s groups cooperate and small-scale producers are establishing distribution networks for their products, having as goal the quality and, to a certain extent, the low price. The squeezing of the market, with the intermediaries taking advantage of the situation, leaves no room for these producers and their turning towards direct distribution creates new conditions in productive relations. Relationships that not only shape the needs created by the crisis, but also by the active presence of consumers who want to have a say in the production cycle. In this way, there are being introduced new criteria, such as the locality and the work relations.
Something similar is also happening in the tertiary sector, with greater dynamism, due to the peculiarity and character of the Greek economy. The most difficult case is that of the secondary sector, where, even though there are great opportunities for the easy occupation of factories, the bureaucratic syndicalism, with completely different and hostile goals in its agenda, and sometimes the timidity or the conservatism of most base workers, make the initiatives of the cooperative economy in industry (as much as we can talk about industry in Greece) minority in all of the economy.
All such endeavors, that have impact on over 3,000 to 100,000 citizens (being part of such collaborative initiatives), create a new reality in one society, that was used with the representation and the resignation, in spite of its post-glimpses.
Let’s not be in a hurry though. The tragedy of the recent past will not be easily followed by either new optimism or new pessimism. Hopes and dangers still vary, and this is exemplified by the heated debates that have broken out both inside and outside of these initiatives. This assures us that the field is open and the directions are still pending.
Here are some basic issues regarding the certain problem that is grounded in the demands of the times and therefore on the role we can play in this fluid reality.
The Possible Roads
First of all, the endeavors in their whole, if we exclude some crooks who are hiding or intend to hide behind cooperativism, are not uniform in their framework nor in their direction. They de facto operate within the formal market economy and are struggling to survive. The pressure is twofold. It affects both their social reach and their range of action, which is confronted with the organization of the market and the anthropological type it has constructed and continues to do so, but also in relation to the former, with the state’s mechanisms for supervised legality and its existing institutional framework.
Of course these endeavors as economic units, act antagonistically towards the formal economy, but this alone cannot determine our attitude towards them. What will determine our attitude is their political orientation and the relationships that emerge from it as real imprint against the formal economy.
Competition is inherent in capitalism at all levels and, above all, economically, but the root of its politics is common for all its competitors that operate with its rules. It is of little interest whether this happens individually or collectively or cooperatively in this case. The economic antagonism of our own endeavors against capital stems from our political planning. The root of our own politics is the universality of equality (words-deeds) and of solidarity. This determines our participation in initiatives and is the one that provokes changes in the cycle of social reproduction.
By focusing on the core political differences between the various endeavors we can distinguish two main tendencies:
The first one is structured as supplement to the large gaps in the dominant production system and softens the huge effects of inequality and marginalization. In this case, the production and the productive relations of the endeavors either remain on the periphery of the formal economy and do not threaten it (within the boundaries of a legitimate but low-intensity underground economy), or as they grow stronger they adopt market rules and become assimilated by them. There is abundance of such examples that operate as NGOs of the economy.
The second trend is built on the disengagement from the market and the state, for which the gaps of the formal economy are a preferred field for action beyond the dominant rules. It is the base, the ground for confrontation with the existing socio-economic system that is being carried out daily inside and outside this path.
The political direction and the vision are therefore the measure of evaluating the different initiatives of the solidarity economy.
Undoubtedly the great debate and interest is presented for those endeavors that see themselves beyond the market and the state. This is the threat of the breach caused by the crisis.
The dangers inherent in these ventures are related to their survival, which in turn is linked to isolation, internal collapse, and repression. And if the last one is the result of external factors, the other two depend on internal ones.
The isolation of such endeavors can reproduce relations based on equality for some time, but the fact that they become politically indifferent cuts them off from collective social needs and processes, and the more they are being isolated from them, the more are they likely to be eroded by dominant competitions. Their strengths are being tested on individual rather than on collective-social level, thus becoming fruitless islands.
The internal collapse, on the other hand, has to do with the strategic choices of such endeavors regarding real social needs, which, as long as they don’t identify, remain in danger of reproducing the same world in different way, slowly retreating to the social periphery. It has to do also with the degree of internal participation in the collective and equal processes, when after certain limit, there can’t be taken decisions or if such are being made, they cannot be implemented by the critical “mass” that makes these types of endeavors horizontal and functional.
This is the point where is being transformed the organization of such initiatives (which as further away it goes from horizontality and the functional rotation of responsibility, leaves room for internal competitions), but also the management control of their direction (where neglect or indifference can lead to economic collapse).
Finally, the threat of repression, economic or physical, can be prevented by the shield of social and participatory solidarity. This depends on the magnitude of the interactive penetration of these ventures into the society that they target and vice versa. This brings us back to the measure of evaluation, which is their political direction. If the outcome of the confrontation is of any significance, then the social terms and their qualities that will be shaped in this interaction have a thousand times greater significance.
Despite the abundance and pluralism of such projects, networking between them is disproportionate to their numbers. Here we will specify the terms of networking.
Networking cannot be based only on a joint declaration of principles and positions without to embody a materialized imprint on which to test the principles and positions of the common politics of collaboration and coexistence. The political context of this imprint is not just the common component of individual frames or their sum, it does not obey the rules of mathematical equation.
It is a new creation of synthesis of certain projects, the existence of which is a condition of horizontal networking and this in turn is a prerequisite of their non-autonomization. Through networking endeavors become something other from what they were before. The dynamics change: scope, participation, commitment, responsibility, political goals. In other words, there is a change in the message and the symbolism of it. And in the fluid age we live in, the message can be more powerful than the physical imprint of networking.
When talking about physical footprint we mean nothing more than the creation of one or more new endeavors as a result of the activities of the first ones. The geographical location (distance), as well as the necessary and functional number of initial such initiatives can determine the type of secondary ventures, but at the same time this kind (productive or/and cultural) must be subsequential and endogenous with wider social needs.
This has to do with the strategic political planning (what, how, and why) of this choice. The precondition of this design is to not negate or assimilate existing ventures to the extent that their vital space, that makes them functional and useful, is being eradicated, so as not to jeopardize them with a new competitive centralization. Such secondary formations create the conditions for tertiary ones etc, embracing a wide geographic spectrum. This process of material and political osmosis of the ventures creates free spaces that, as much as they multiply, the dominant system will feel their breath.
Here too, the geographical location of the message is being catalyzed by its dynamics. And this dynamics is neither mathematical, nor deterministic, nor rational, but political. It is the dynamics of a political choice that is part of the general plan for overthrowing capitalism and reshaping life simultaneously on many levels (at the workplace, in defending public spaces, defending common goods, etc.), with goals that are being born by the confrontation, but at the same time carry the “germs” of alternative project.
The liberated space (from one farm until a whole mountain like the case of Skouries, from one free social space until one neighborhood assembly on a square, and from one workshop until a whole factory) from the shackles of the market and the state, the direct-democratic institutions of equality in these spaces, and the production and cultural structures of participatory solidarity, is the triptych of one already existing world that is being created within the shell of another, hostile world.
Of course, the existing horizontal projects of equal social reproduction cannot change the world by themselves, but the world also cannot be changed if they are being drastically reduced or destroyed. Everything depends on what type of society we want, what form of social organization, with what institutions and structures. Anyone who leaves these questions for the “great moment” (of the revolution) has already paved the road for a new domination, by preferentially reserving for himself, imaginarily or in reality, an indeed privileged and “sweet” relationship with her.
Small Autonomous Communities
The social and solidarity economy and its networks, integrated within this framework, can be the answer to the destruction and dissolution of life, which is being progressed by the accelerationist rhythms of capitalism.
We want a decentralized, equal, solidarity-based, horizontal and direct-democratic society that will send the economy back in its place. As one of human activities, and not as the main objective around which the past, present, and future are intertwined, interpreted and determined. A society free from the devastating myth of growth, with enormous ecological footprint, that acts unrestrained in a finite world and creates the anthropological type of the immortal narcissist into a mortal world.
The present endeavors and their networks have to be seen as liberating educational laboratories of social reproduction and as examples of political planning for the creation of one society consisted of small autonomous communities.
Small: To enable the deliberation of the specificities of their common and immediate problems, equality of speech, effective decision-making and direct implementation of decisions taken through open assemblies.
With solidarity and participation: Because only in this way they can coexist. Their solidarity is the social condition for their existence, individual and collective and not just a critical moment of need resulting from deprivation.
Direct-democratic and equal: Not because in this way we can secure one free society, but because it allows the possibility of shaping the conditions of freedom. Therefore, for these initiatives direct democracy and equality are not a procedural and limited event, but a universal way of organizing social reproduction at all levels.
Autonomous: Because they have full control and collective jurisdiction of management and change, over their institutions and structures, knowing that they are their own creations that derive directly from them, and this relationship is not a relationship of power with a third side.
We experience a period where movements together with society, propose the common production and management of basic goods such as water, seeds, food, waste, energy, communications, information, education, health, technology, culture, solidarity and public space.
Nowadays, the instituting of the commons is no longer a marginal proposal. On the contrary, it is a central political issue that is extensive and in conflict with the enclosure of the capitalist market, the world of commodification and state repression. It is a proposal for the appropriation of the public as a commons beyond organizational forms based on state and capital. And it finally forms a practical way out of today’s capitalist societies, which are destroying people and nature. The road towards one democracy of the commons is being paved, little by little and we learn to participate and share everything we need. And we open this path by walking together.
Neither statist, nor private
We can declare that natural resources belong to all (present and future generations, all living beings) and that the production of social wealth is basically the result of social co-operation. However, the attribution of specific relationships to the (re)production of life and the acceptance of these relations as a natural phenomenon in the dominant imaginary results in domination over the management of natural resources and produced wealth by powers separated from society. The diffuse implications of such a management constantly raise the question of its transformation. Therefore, sooner or later society faces a dilemma: STATIST OR PRIVATE? Although the state and private versions of management are, to a large degree, different sides of the same coin, they are being presented as different, and often incompatible, things. In essence, it is only the manager of social production that differs, with the world of labor and society remaining, in both cases, in the same position of exploitation and domination, dependent on the same employment relations and execution of orders.
Public, free and social
The escape from this pseudo-dilemma lays in the meaning and significance of the PUBLIC – FREE – SOCIAL nature of management of socially produced wealth, which is being deliberately confused with state management, while it is precisely the opposite of it. PUBLIC – FREE – SOCIAL is the type of management when society itself undertakes the control of socially produced wealth and not some power separated from it, such as the state and the private enterprises. PUBLIC – FREE – SOCIAL are the forms of direct-democratic organization and self-institution, through which society as a whole participates in the management of wealth and workers, as an extension of the social, participate in the management of the production. PUBLIC – FREE – SOCIAL is the equal and inclusive distribution of the socially produced wealth according to the needs of each and in a harmonious relationship with nature.
The commons are dynamic social relations. They are being formed whenever a group of people, through practices of direct actions, collectively manages a resource with an emphasis on equal and sustainable access and use.
Any material, social and intellectual resources that make up the social wealth are not part of the commons except only through the direct action of the social movements, which enables equal access, sharing and participation in their (re)production and management. The formation of the commons from movements and societies is an inherently confrontational process, based on declarations of independence from the control of the state and the capitalist market. The appropriation of a material, social or intellectual resource for the formation of the commons goes through its detachment from previous rights of private or state property and, above all, through the proclamation of its communal, inalienable and non-commodifiable character. The circulation and networking of the commons is a process that directly challenges the world of capital, destroying, influencing its flow and reproduction, and decolonizing whole spheres of common life from capitalist relations.
The commons are open and dynamic systems of social relations, that bring certain characteristics, that create anticapitalistic perspectives. Above all, the commons overturn the institution of property, private or statist, taking the possibility of control over the commons away from any authority that is separated from society. Furthermore, they are part of an alternative social reproduction, based not on commodity value, but on the use value of products/services, thus advancing not the logic of profit, i.e. of accumulation, but of satisfaction of social needs. But also, through the formation of movements for “commoning” of goods the social subjects liberate their collaborative and creative potential, detached from the commodification/alienation of the capitalist type of production.
The commons create perspectives for the articulation of responses from below to the ecological crisis. They are social relations, which, depending on the survival of communities from local natural resources, impose their good management, thus disrupting the rule of capitalism and economic growth and leading towards degrowth of production.
Of course, the common, like any other projection of the world we want, can only be an inherently confrontational precondition, since it carries elements of both the old, the rejected, and the new that is being imposed. Thus, within the sphere of the commons and as long as its cycle is not closing, even at a local level, there may survive elements of the barter economy that oppose the gift economy or elements that retain remnants of private enclosure versus their communal character. This contradiction, however, is not a sign of some sort of permanent defeat, as is often being perceived as, but on the contrary, it is indicative of a multilevel, fertile struggle and a plan for the ultimate overthrowing of the wild globalized capitalist market.
The creation of commons unites, with a thin red line, all the initiatives of the social movements. It has the prospect of bringing our struggles together in a coherent plan for change, giving a tangible outlook beyond, against and outside of the state and the capital, depicting a power that is embedded in society. If the cell of the circulation of capital is the commodity, then the cell for the circulation of social anti-authority is the commons.
For the networking and circulation of commons
After the historical experience of the social struggles of the past, we are able to say that the falsified ideology of the public as statist has undergone complete bankruptcy. The modern social struggles and the social conflicts of tomorrow are now structured around the “commoning” of the public, around the formation and preservation of the commons. They are increasingly taking the form of social resistance to the expropriation and destruction of natural and social wealth by the state-capital cluster and, on the other hand, the re-utilization of resources and the formation of the commons.
Today we can challenge the dominant paradigm of globalized capitalist market through the possibility of networking and long-term distributing the local commons.
Against the expansion of capitalist relations in every aspect of life, we can set in motion and circulation an ever-expanding sphere of alternative social relations that harmoniously unites the economy with politics on the basis of direct action and direct democracy, a direct democracy of the commons.
Against the destruction of society/nature by the capitalist machine, we must aim, not at the creation of islands or autonomous zones, doomed to be absorbed by the system, but to complete the cycle of the commons.
SOCIAL ECOLOGY – DEGROWTH
In contemporary societies, along with man’s exploitation, we have the exploitation and complete domination of man over nature. For us, the relation of humans with the natural environment, the ecological issue, is inextricably connected to the overall organization of contemporary societies. All ecological issues are related to social ones, that is, they are caused by today’s prevailing social, political and economic system.
Therefore, it isn’t “humanity” in general that is to blame for the ecological problems, but rather concrete social-economic systems, such as capitalism, that lead to nature’s destruction and undermine social life itself. The environmental disruption is deeply rooted in an irrational, anti-ecological society, whose basic problems cannot be healed with fragmentary reforms. Overcoming the ecological crisis requires, according to social ecology, a free society without hierarchical discrimination.
If we consider which is the basic value that motivates the decisions of politicians today, “growth” comes immediately to our mind. Both rightwing and leftwing, capitalist and socialist governments promote the theory of how much we need more production and consumption for societies to develop and overcome contemporary crisis. The narrative of constant economic growth is part of the dominant system’s hegemonic discourse. But some questions arise: What exactly is being developed? For what purpose should something be definitely developed? Isn’t the economic sector already too big?
This constant process of large-scale extraction and consumption of natural resources has caused serious degradation of nature. Scientists are warning that we are witnessing the biggest extinction of species over the last 65 million years. Human’s economic activity has caused a climate change (getting worse every year) that among other things, threatens to provoke mass population’s mobility (climate refugees). The soil fertility is being degraded, because of genetically modified crops, while the water and the air are being polluted, threatening human health. Entire islands of rubbish/waste are being formed over the deepest parts of the oceans. And the list goes on. We are talking about a war against nature. It is not clear how we will we be able to reverse the ecological crisis, caused by the Anthropocene Era, if we continue the same way.
Today, European Left (having the actual example of SYRIZA) is coming back promising to divide the “pie” more fairly. But again, as if it isn’t big enough, it needs to grow even more. It is not clear why this should happen, instead of simply sharing equally the abundance that already exists.
Economic growth is incompatible with ecological and self-sufficient ways of life. To continue with a growth like this, contemporary economy needs to absorb as many Common Goods as possible, thus making the human interactions outside of it impossible. Several enterprises, such as Google and Facebook (the two fastest growing multinationals in the history of capitalism), go even further commercializing our very existence in the digital field, crushing it in order to gain surplus value. By doing this, economic growth is actually empowering the capitalist system, which bears the responsibility, together with the state apparatus for the deepening of social inequalities.
We have to abandon overall the growth doctrine and shift our attention to the already existent financial “pie”. There is no point in trying to make it even bigger. On the contrary, if we want to have a future on this planet, the idea of degrowth is necessary. We need to share the “pie” equally, something that the state or other hierarchical structures outside society are incapable of doing, since equality requires equal participation in the decision making of all citizens. So, we reach a point where we have to talk about a complete change of paradigm: a total abandonment of economism of homo economicus and the adoption of social ecology with active citizens, passionate with the common affairs and aware of their coexistence with nature.
So, instead of elected representatives, economic oligarchs or contrived economic indicators that determine how the “pie” will be divided, we need networked, grassroots institutions (like public assemblies and councils of revocable spokesmen) that will give the opportunity of participation to all members of society. This way, social ecology and degrowth are only a part of the general direct democracy project.
The rejection of economic growth doesn’t mean going back to primitivism, but on the contrary, it means a different use and understanding of what we already have and what we will obtain in the future.
We reach the conclusion that economic growth, either coming from the right or from the left, cannot solve today’s social problems. On the contrary, it reinforces capitalism and state hierarchies that can only deepen the crisis roots. In order to face them successfully, a completely different paradigm is needed, one that will not aim to small changes but will confront holistically the real causes of our problems. A holistic and sustainable vision for the reconstruction of society on rational bases, and with co-existential rather than antagonistic relations between people, and also between man and nature.
What we are doing and will continue to do is to provoke, support and participate in such social struggles and movements, trying to bring them together and connect them in a new form of federalism (networked local communities) with content the management and production of common goods by the users themselves, based on self-limitation and Direct Democracy.
What are the structural components of public space?
The public space consists of the “inner” urban area of the city and the “external” natural environment. It is not just the geographical location but it is mainly determined by the individual-interpersonal relationships that develop within it and define it. In both of its aspects, the private / public, let’s say a town’s central square, and the fully public, that is, the political assembly, also known as Agora, is the common ground where the social functions and institutions that define the social establishment – are assembled and shaped.
Public space is essentially the place of politics, and as long as it is under the sovereignty of the state and private capital, society is excluded from lawmaking and self-government. The emergence of global neo-liberal capitalism with its tools, economic crisis, shock and leveling of local societies is essentially a boom in the public space through the privatization, homogenization, commercialization and sealing not only of urban but also of natural resources, i.e. of human relations in terms of society and the environment. It is no coincidence that social resistance and the new global social movements have placed the focus on the liberation of the public space, its reconstruction and its claim as free and social, against the state and capitalist power.
From the streets and squares of the world, from the self governed communities of Chiapas and Rojava to the free social spaces in the neighborhoods of the small cities and the bigger cities, the claim and the diffusion of the social struggles take place in and around the reconstruction of public space as free and social.
Free public space is a common place-territory, giving space to the equal, free personal-interpersonal relationships that develop within and define it. Public space is always constituted by something: a common claim or struggle (Halkidiki) and it even makes a use of a real place temporarily (e.g. occupation of municipality buildings during the hunger strike by N. Romanos) when necessary. It is activity and action, a process of gathering, is the place in which social norms are critically presented and are exceeded through the exhibition.
Public Space and Dominance
The attack of authority in the public sphere stems from state abuse of power, and today it is expressed either as a privatization or as a nationalization in totalitarian regimes. Differences are about the property, but not about the performance or the use, since in both cases the public space is capitalized and imported as a financial size to the gears of the global financial system.
This is what links, in terms of negative dialectic, the uprising of Gezi Park with the resistance of the inhabitants of Messochora to the cataclysm of their village that will lead to the diversion of Acheloos river or Chalkidiki (Skouries – Gold Mining struggles), while positively linking them to the meaning that is formed through the defense of public space. That is, the social content of public space against the imaginary of growth and the economy that dominates, both in Left and Right. It is no coincidence that all aspects of the political spectrum in the world are converging on the notion of unlimited development through the economic exploitation of both social and natural resources. All of these resources are the common goods of humanity, and so the struggle for their defense is the struggle of the whole of society.
Forms of Free Public Spaces
Free public space is a space of resistance and creation. In the modern, fragmented world, where the presence of state mechanisms does not allow the realization of a fully public, autonomous political space of self-government (which presupposes the destruction of state power and authority), free public spaces are multidimensional, partial and often temporary.
Temporary free public spaces are occupied squares and occupied public buildings when they become centers of struggle for a wider social revolt. Permanent free public spaces are free social spaces, either as squats or rented places, when they are open to all and avoid self-referential encroachment (as is the case with strict ideological affinities), squares and neighborhoods when they are self-organized by permanent assemblies, and of course self-governed communities where they are established. The latter, insofar as they claim their autonomy from the dominant information and exchange system, can turn into fully political public spaces, at the heart of political decisions, by establishing forms of direct democracy.
In direct democracy, both sides of public space, as a town central square and as an assembly, as a gathering and as a co-decision, as friendship and equality, are necessary in order for social literacy and freedom to become realized institutions.
Liberated public spaces are already forms of institutionalized anti-authority in practice, that they emerge within a heteronomous social institution but can develop into autonomous nodes of direct democracy, if they succeed in establishing self-government. Thus, their existence, even at the embryonic level of just free public places of education and resistance, is radically threatening for the established separated power of the state and the capital. They dispute not only the dominant establishment, but all established institutions, the separation of society itself from power and the state-capital dipole itself.
Characteristics of free public space
To do this, however, the absence of state jurisdiction is not enough. Besides, the edge of licentious authority is lawlessness. Autonomy presupposes that a free public space is not an end in itself, but also an instrument. Public space is equally an instrument and an end in itself, an end in itself as the freedom of coexistence, but at the same time it is the field in which social issues are raised. This is a means to achieve and expand social autonomy in the face of global liberation. In order for the public space to be truly free, it should have some central features:
No institution of separated power, no presence of state or capitalist mechanisms. The very community that creates public space is self-regulated and self-governed. This self-government means full respect and recognition of each person’s freedom, equality and autonomy.
Direct democracy, as the only egalitarian and free self-government system, with radically putting into question every authority and recognition of the self-sufficient person. The functioning of public space presupposes the principles of equality in participation and decision-making, as well as the ensuring of the horizontal and the non-assumption of power or of state intervention. Anti-racist, anti-sexist content and self-protection and restriction structures that promote participation. The openness of assemblies on any issue is necessary.
Subordination of economic activities to the purposes and activities of the community. Reversing the relationship of subordination of society to the economy and making the economy a tool of free, equal social activities. At a universal social level, this would mean full income equalization and full transparency of economic processes as tools rather than as goals. At the micro-social level, it means the questioning of capitalist economy, the absolute transparency of exchanges, the promotion of alternative trading methods and the abolishment of profit.
Free public spaces should be attributed to society as a whole, to each individual separately, even if not all of society has participated in their creation. For example, Vio.Me.’s success has not only been the self-organization of production at the labor level, but also that it has opened up this self-organization to society, that it has raised its product, that it has escaped centralized state certification and created a consumer network, radically changing the relationship between producer and consumer. It goes without saying, of course, that the mechanisms of the state and the capital that drain society are out of society, as well as the people who participate in them, while they participate and do not leave completely. Representatives of these mechanisms are automatically out of public space, until the mechanisms themselves are destroyed. Free public spaces should always be against any exclusion by multiplying horizontally by displacing in any way the state-capitalist dominance.
This horizontal multiplication is achieved through horizontal networking, on the central principles of parity, freedom and direct democracy. Already the networks of social resistance and solidarity constitute a fragile global network of autonomy that needs to be consolidated and strengthened. Through horizontal networks with global reach, the national lie can be overcome and the local links with the global, the local resistance with the global community and the local self-governing community with the world movement.
The invention of Internet has also created a public field of global communication and exchange and a whole world, cyberspace. Fights and battles against the prevailing sovereignty are also happening here, with free software movements, digital commons and hackers. The geographic public space, the common ground of physical communication and co-decision, is now directly linked to an infinite and direct public space of information and communication and through it to other existing similar communities. This whole range forms a world of resistance and democracy that intersects and exceeds (already) the state entities. It is also linked to the massive movements of populations, involuntary and imperative, which, however, call into question the very foundations of the state, the borders. For example, the state’s attack on refugee solidarity networks is attacking the nodes and arteries of this world movement.
Our goal is to continuously and creatively expand public space in as many ways as possible. Matters and demands primarily raise the issue of power, and therefore of public space, as a space of co-decision and self-management.
Public Space and Environment
Finally, there is the enormous issue of survival of humanity itself within the nature and relation of society with the external physical environment, with natural resources (social resources and production resources). The ecological problem is what urgently illustrates the problem of the relationship and the need for an immediate-democratic interaction of the local with the global one. For example, no autonomous community that lives along a river, can have full jurisdiction over the river, as it belongs to the very nature and humanity in it. No use of the natural environment can reach to its destruction.
Some natural resources and some commons cannot belong to a small part of humanity. Thus, the concept of free-public space when it comes to the natural environment also contains an inversion of the relationship between man and nature, from exploitation to cohabitation. All modern environmental movements, ranging from parks in urban fabric to Chalkidiki and beyond, highlight this relationship with the natural environment and demonstrate that the struggles for the earth are the school for direct democracy.
Free public space will either be the place of truly democratic, free education or it will be nothing.
Therefore, the notion of free public space, that is being recreated by the direct democratic and equalizing social movement, is already changing the political question, the question of power. Instead of taking over the established power, it is proposed to displace and destroy any hierarchical social institution towards the open horizontal fields of direct democracy.
What can do a contemporary antiauthoritarian organization?
It can contribute in practice to the creation of free public space, to its defense, to its opening to society, and then to autonomous and self-governed individuals to open up to the common creation of real institutions of freedom and self-government.
This is the meaning of our political action and creation, from the free social spaces, Mikropolis in Thessaloniki, Nosotros in Athens, Adelante in Komotini, Alimoura in Giannena, Alana in Larissa, Favela in Peiraeus, to our participation in the struggles of society on streets, squares and mountains against the state and capital.
ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS
Where are we at this point?
The violent attempt to homogenize the world has so far led to the dissolution of entire states, creating a huge crowd of people, without hope of survival, moving to the West. The base of the overwhelming majority of the new population mobility is located in a space of war-torn conflict, totalitarian regimes and fundamentalist horror, and it concerns the uninterrupted mobility of people from Syria, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq etc.
The Spring of the Arab world was quickly followed by the horror of the Syrian civil war, the consolidation of the Maghreb states as failed states and the emergence of ISIS and Al Nusra as regulators of barbarism in the territories of Syria and Iraq.
The low-intensity Middle East warfare recalls the responsibilities of the West. If at one point it launched imperialist wars in a never-ending effort to widen its spheres of influence and open up new markets, it is now embroiled in warfare, leaving behind dissolute states and oppressed ethnic and religious groups.
Of course, when we talk in the West about population mobility, we almost always define them as a phenomenon that arises exclusively as a result of wars or economic poverty. Without wanting to underestimate these factors, we note that for many decades the West exerts particular charm as a model of progress and modernized smooth institutional functioning in populations, oppressed by the theocracies of the East, the clan mode of social organization and the sense of cultural and economic hardship.
The need for new political structures expressed within the countries themselves during the Arab Spring was handled and dealt with by the great Western powers in every case occasionally. They were more concerned with the opportunities presented to them in terms of managing geopolitical competition (US-Russia, etc.), rather than with the political texture of these mobilizations and the latent social tendencies they showed.
Instead, they treated these countries as a chessboard in which a proxy war would unfold (in the terminology of the geopolitical think tank), ignoring, as usual, social injuries and social turmoil that they had undergone with this tactic.
What can history teach us about this?
To understand the current situation, we need to look at how migratory and refugee movements have developed during the 20th century, as well as their institutional/state treatment.
With the strengthening of the powers of the state after World War I and the enormous refugee waves that followed and numbered millions of people, refugee definition is created in international law and transnational agreements on the regulation of refugee flows are established. Following the end of the Second World War and the displacements of the totalitarian regimes of the interwar period, there were 30–40 million refugees in Europe. With the choice of mass naturalization and the repatriation of those displaced by the war, the issue of global movement enters the years of Cold War conflicts.
However, the legal definition of the refugee, despite the increased waves created by the decolonization process, is limited to the example of the individual persecution of dissidents by the communist states at the peak of Macarthy era in the U.S. The flow of mobility since 1950 has been determined by transnational agreements on the basis of common labor markets or labor cover policies in the west of capitalist growth. With the oil crisis in 1973, up to which about 20 million migrants had been recruited under the “hired worker” status, western European states decided to unilaterally ban the influx of workers. This policy, the laws limiting illegal immigration and the rapid realization of the permanence of travel, leads to the concept of separating a refugee and immigrant without papers, which will then determine the legal status of the displaced.
Through this separation western states will try to shape a migration policy that will allow them to accept migrant populations and meet their productive and developmental needs, while at the same time blocking the large quantities of people arriving outside their borders, keeping their social equilibrium within (relatively) intact.
The invasion of history in social time with the recent mobility of populations has created cracks for the reconstruction of all the legal categories on which the European institutional order was based. The fact that the overwhelming majority of migrants correspond to what the refugee law defines as a refugee together with their inability to absorb altogether in the direction of a resettlement policy and the impossibility of total legal cover erodes the legal and authoritarian separation of an immigrant and a refugee.
How should we define those who are displaced as a result of food and environmental crises or those who are trafficked or politically and religiously persecuted in the course of their journey? The greatest population movement we have ever witnessed since the Second World War is being carried out today and carries a new political situation, not a problem to solve.
So who are these refugees?
From the emergence of the refugee-immigrant figure in the foreground, several expressions, theories, visuals, deductions corresponding to more general ideological forms of interpretation of reality have been formulated by ideological groups that search for a new “subject”. In this way, the migrant refugee loses his or her real presence and becomes a “subject” in order to realize himself and at the same time to make through it a more general ideological, religious or political design.
The migrant /refugee is constructed as a subject in order to complement, multiply, promote a social change or even improve the existing social structure through charity. In this case, we clearly distinguish the complete homogeneity of imagination and interpretation of both the Christian and the Marxist (historical materialism) model of analysis. Both of these analysis were tried out in the past and they did not even manage to rescue a single refugee-immigrant hair from state racism, nor of course the duplication of these models of analysis would hinder a new Auschwitz. In other words, neither the statist ideology of “class brothers” nor the religious solidarity about pure “siblings” can constitute a serious basis for defining the refugee-migrant in a political society where power has the privilege of creating the state of exception. So, regardless of what the migrant refugee was, what is now in this treaty has characteristics of non-existence: no land, no papers, no secure existence, no rights, no society. A modern homo sacer (naked man) and a largely camped man, who suffers from the legal power of the state of exception that is imposed upon him. In this way, the immigrant refugee stripped off is naked and vulnerable, prone to be murdered by the state or fascists after the trunk of survival-existence has been sown.
The persecution suffered by the migrant refugee is lethal and the death that follows this fugitive comes from both states and nature and does not stop on the ground where he hopes to secure a prospect. Again as a second-class existence is recognized in this new situation, too, only the “benevolence” of the new power will allow it to survive. With no social order, position or social status guaranteed in an ethnic or a state manner, this situation of the refugee-immigrant figure can not be compared. That is where the role of anti-authoritarian criticism and solidarity lies in defending survival and equality against nature and power/authority.
The death politics of Fortress Europe
This development has sparked a major crisis within western societies, a crisis that highlights their deep political and social deadlocks. History is a field of open social processes and radically new definitions. The nation as a creation of particular socio-historical conditions and conflicts has allowed the assimilation of dissimilar populations by offering individuals the possibility of joining an imaginary collective body. It has been a huge area of identity production, unifying the difference and shaping uniformity, and the legitimate foundation of the establishment of the modern ethno-state under the predominant idea of the general will.
It has been a huge area of identity production, unifying the difference and shaping uniformity, and the legitimate basis for the constitution of the modern ethno-state under the dominant idea of general will. If nation offered the common bond that linked the scattered psyches to one body, then the general will was the ideological starting point for the political expression of this body as such.
Over the past 30 years that migratory movements have been perpetuating the borders of the West each year and more persistently, European states have responded with comic serfdom. The repression and militarization of the borders, the fences, the misappropriation of the mobility, the detention centers for immigrants and, in general, the spasmodic movements of the European elites show very clearly how thin the current political quo of the European immigration policy is.
In particular, since the launch of what was called “refugee crisis” in the public sphere, the failure to manage the situation appeared on each side. Despite the fences, the camps, Frontex, NATO and, in general, all the repressive arm that Europe had developed on the management of migratory and refugee movements, refugee flows broke the border lines, radically altering the above framework and forcing states to renegotiate their strategy, which directly confronted them with reality.
Europe’s proposal to create “hot spots” in Turkey with the offer of exchanges, while Turkey is putting siege into entire regions within it, creating a fence in Hungary, shielding nationalisms within states, a policy of relocation and a refusal to participate in several Member States, at the same time as the unilateral suspension of the Schengen Treaty by Germany, demonstrate the contradictory nature of western liberalism and of the EU construction.
European communities amongst the ruins of multiculturalism
Migratory flows have revealed the identity crisis in the modern western world. The debate on asylum and nationality grants to immigrants has sparked different types of discourse across countries. Citizenship in particular, which is essentially the anteroom of recognizing a migrant as a citizen, is perhaps one of the most characteristic issues of polarization in public discourse today. The provision of citizenship to all, outlines a fundamental challenge for a new social institution as it disrupts the conditions of exclusion, if we take into account that the lack of this legal identity dissolves all other property of the human subject which thus slides into the sphere of non- man and naked life.
The wreckage of western multiculturalism is revealed in the uprisings of the Parisian bells and the London suburbs. On the one hand, we have the emergence of an Islamophobic rhetoric, whether it is clearly far-right or covered in an enlightening mantle. On the other hand, we have excluded populations within the European metropolis, which, in the insignificance and meaninglessness of contemporary barbarism, are turning to religious archaism.
Young Europeans joining ISIS and traveling to Middle East to participate in the battlefields and, of course, the terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium show in the purest way the identitarian discomfort in which large sections of European population live.
This was ultimately the most important problem of multiculturalism: that it never became interculturalism. The immigrant communities of European cities and local populations did not come together in a meaningful interaction that surpasses prejudice, stereotypes and (at best) cosmopolitan or hipster exoticism. The invisible walls and cohabitation in terms of mutual tolerance was overwhelming, and did not attempt to obtain common references and starting points, to clarify the way they perceive their common future, to finally form themselves as a society. So it seems that two or more worlds have been created in western cities, worlds that do not meet until the moments when they are spectacularly and violently clashing with each other.
How do we place ourselves in this political situation?
Somewhere in there lies our political duty. In a world that seems unrelated and scattered, our primary political goal is to create social ties within a modern framework of recreation of social life. The housing squats for refugees and immigrants (Notara 26, Kanigos, 5th Lyceum, etc.), the creation of proximity communities with those moving under material conditions is and must be our political plan today. The political processes within them, the movemental tide that they brought after a tideless period, will be the ones that will also house the political struggles of the future, bypassing for the first time the scandalous fact that in a country with so many immigrants, they have almost always been absent from the political movement processes, which today seem to be determined by the subjectivity of the younger native activist.
Against the television view that sees refugees only as victims, their exoneration from the left and anarchist space, which with force wanted to give them liberating qualities and set them up as subjects (without their consent always), we, through these processes we learn and experience them on a daily basis. Pieces of the wealth of their journey are written over us through our common assemblies, our joint actions and our effort to manage our lives together. This is the element that can not be perceived by all those who are comfortable with constructing fantastic subjects and putting their political deadlocks on them at the same time as denouncing social proximity to immigrants as “charity”. When population movements peaked in July 2015, we realized from the outset that this is one of the most important political developments at the global level. The journey of the refugees would create a new political situation.
Our participation in housing squats was intended, of course, not only to provide physical assistance but to also help with the emergence of different meanings of how we can build communities that include immigrants, in order to try and make this new political situation less complex and breaking the state of exception along with migrants.
We have said in the past that the thread that unites us with immigrants is not an abstract class solidarity, but the oppression itself in its most naked form, the overthrow of the state of exception, the perceptual rather than the super sensible world. What we have said before is true, but today, beyond that, we are also joining something more important: the structures, the ventures, the common struggles we have built with them, our common search for breaths of freedom.
What we are doing now with migrant/refugees, we would do it with Jewish people, Roma people and homosexuals when they were being hunted and killed by the Nazi state. We would take them to our homes and squats, just to become equal in the eyes of power and authority by overthrowing the death condition. For individual and social liberation.
THE GENDER ISSUE
The views that the patriarchal family, personal property, state power and social inequality derive from the nature of every human being and that the female anatomy is responsible for every woman’s general weakness has been supported over the world by a vast variety of people. The patriarchal model while seeking for permanent confirmation resorts to, misinterpreted or not, biological references and often inaccurate historical sources, making it if not absolutely natural, surely a standard.
It is considered that the predominant sexes are two: male and female, and their role in society is specific and determined. Recognizing individuals of the lgbtqia++ community as active parts of the society and not as pariahs, and recognizing other genders is still at an early stage. In the countries where religious law prevails, the inferiority of women is taken for granted and is accepted by a broader part of society. In the Western world, equality between the two genders is institutionally guaranteed and theoretically men and women enjoy the same rights. Both inequality and different treatment are considered unconstitutional in most countries. But does this mean that patriarchy has been eliminated?
Gendered identity and stereotypes
Even before the person gets a name or enters the community, doctors give him his first identity. Suddenly, ages of stereotypes fall on the shoulders of every unborn child. Male and female. Son and daughter. Blue and pink. Without seeking to establish a ground zero, the moment when the identity is given can be considered as the start of the liberty deprivation of every person. Humanity has often proved that in order to interpret the world, its existence and coherence, it creates binaries.
Although gender identity standards are being manufactured continually on a world-wide basis, their foundation in the sense of social status takes place during socialization, no matter how triteness that sounds, with the perpetuation of the nuclear family, in which the role of mother and father diverges rather than coincides during everyday life.
Regardless our will to believe that we have left the model of the Greek family of the 50s behind us, in a world of single parent families, either the state or the social treatment of the latter, frequently remind us the intangible and informal law of natural and normal which is floating above our heads.
School as a pillar of children’s knowledge, according to the existing obsolete and inadequate educational system, is enhancing the gender separation either in the classroom or in the schoolyard. In classrooms students learn that male grammatical endings prevail against the female ones. For example the teaching of history is not only ideological and ethnocentric but also gendered. We come across great men and either small or unimportant women. When it comes to kids’ toys, stereotypes are once again repressive as the children’s toy industry is promoting strict norms with a burst of false weapons and make-up dolls which limits not only the imagination but also the liberty that should be promoted by the game. We learn social reality as it ‘is’ and we are called to consider it as the ideal model. We are struggling to distinguish when the stereotypes’ reproduction stops and when the individual’s conscious choice begins.
Patterns of beauty, interpersonal relationships, professional orientation, sexual life, etc., are, in fact, gender bonds and both oppressive. By destroying the gender in today’s theory and practice, the world of tomorrow will be created, without the concept of normal and different.
A world where gendered expression will not only be limited down to two possible choices but will be a vast spectrum of possible identities from which everyone can choose his own particular place. We need to recognize to each body the right to a life worth living, breaking the roots of the forced binary, demanding either no gender or many.
Gendered violence and the act of rape
The consecutive sexual assaults in a number of cities in Greece, such as Volos and Komotini, the transphobic attacks in the center of Athens, the murder of Vaggelis Yakoumakis (a 20 year old student who was consistently bullied by his co-students, ending up to commit suicide) are not random neither a coincidence. In 2018 a country that has constitutionally enshrined gender equality, has legally recognized the cohabitation of same sex couples and is considered as being part of the ‘’civilized west’’ is witnessing daily rapes, attacks against trans people, homophobic bullying and confronts in a racist way anything different. The society keeps building itself on patriarchal bases, which accept and demonstrate eteronormativity as the only natural orientation and place the male sex at the epicenter. Therefore, the sexist mentality perpetuates, incorporating a variety of oppressions and justifying at the same time any means of violence against the subject which is considered as inferior.
The sexual act, as a concept, is also based on the androcentric model. The phallus takes the role of the primary organ of pleasure for both sexes, since the relief of sexual desire is accomplished through the phallic penetration solely. If a woman cannot climax using the previous method is blamed to be anorgasmic, whereas if a man fails to have a satisfying erection is considered as impotent. This dominant perception for the sexual intercourse is very important in order to understand the equivalent main concept which is linked to the act of rape. In Greece, as rape is considered the forced intercourse. Hence, the criteria that have to be fulfilled in order for an act to be characterized as rape are the lack of consent and the actualization of phallic penetration. What happens, however, when it comes to the previous acts before the penetration? The threatening approach, the intimidating words, the touching without permission? And what if the penetration never took place for whichever reason? Perhaps, a full and precise definition of rape is hard to be constructed. However, what has to be done is the recognition and the projection of whichever act makes a person feel like losing the authority of her/his own body as an act of sexual violence.
Having realized the aspects of gendered violence in the social, erotic and sexual life we now have to relate this type of violence with the gender/sexual identities. Which is the limit of violence if a person does not match the narrow definitions of masculinity and femininity? The time to reject the social construction of two genders has come.
Despite the number of movements that occurred during the last two centuries (demanding of women rights, movements about sexual orientation rights, acts for the liberation of sexual desire and self-determination) there are fundamental characteristics that haven’t been incorporated yet to the modern movements, but they are considered to be vital for their efficiency.
Each and every demand and process of this type has to be transformed into a social movement and be part of the wider radical action in order to avoid the trap of a narrow pursuit of rights. Taking this into consideration each social group has to link its requests to the general social liberation-emancipation and not only to its own fulfillment. It has to seek for fundamental alteration of the existing against all forms of authority and oppression, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Right to civil marriage and adoption
Elimination of discrimination in working, social and legal level
Constitutional prohibition of any discrimination as far as sexual orientation and gender identity are concerned
Efficient protection for the victims of homophobic and transphobic violence
Prevention of the projection of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic stereotypes by the media.
ON FASCISM AND NATIONALISM
The fascist front, whose appearance has been deafening after the recent elections, leaves little room for time to deal with. The speeds are great and the changes are fast.
The shifting of a significant part of society towards a more brutal state of being is now more than obvious. The crisis, as a universal rupture within the exploitation system, liberated forces that moved on its edges, loaded with a past that had the weights of crime. In order to break the “egg of the snake”, which certainly was not birthed from the economic crisis, two main things had to happen: the de-legitimization of the regime and, at the same time, the birth of a guilt free extreme version. The economic crisis, which quickly became political and social, destroyed the traditional foundations of governance, conveying with it the entire post-civilization superstructure on which the political system was based. After the defeat imposed by social deprivation from traditional institutions, the stakes are not their salvation, but whether society can be re-established at its feet, creating new institutions of cohesion, solidarity and co-operation, on the basis of an ontological equality among people, without discrimination and exceptions, or will fall into the disintegration and war of all against all. Instead, this society is called upon to respond, and this work can only be a bottom-up project. How can a world that is massively outside a lets say formal society, devalued without any prospect of a recovery within the system, to organize its own life strategy in a united way or whether, on the contrary, fascists, gangs and organized crime prevail in a rooted social landscape; The latest version is already threatening.
The reinforcement of Golden Dawn, backed by media and channelists, by a significant section of the police, and by the closure of the eye by militia and deep state operatives, makes it not only systemic but a pillar of the deepest state, the most extreme version of it. Its emergence in a social stream with salient characteristics gives it the legitimacy to set up paramilitary mechanisms that use murderous violence and hatred in the Other (other race for example) as structural features of consistency and coherence. It mimics the way of anti-authoritarian and left-wing work as a propaganda tool, but with the context of stimulating the most humiliating instincts of the poorer masses, the petty miners, the wounded youth. It is the excitement of grudges that travels with the destruction of the meanings, the destruction of critical thinking with the reconstruction of historical experience, with beneficial fiction, in order to turn its fellow travelers into the easiest goal, to hunt the weakest, to the immigrant, the mentally ill, the disabled, the homosexual. It is the easy way, the useful recipe, for a wider rally, in order to join and compose the critical mass for a wider attack.
Let us bear in mind that for the sovereign system prosperity and impoverishment can go hand in hand, only thing is that the first one(prosperity) nowadays concerns a small part of the population, while the largest one only refers to the second. In this social barbed wire, the first ones will have ensured their well-being, as long as the second ones are controlled by the police, being thrown into zones of lawlessness and simultaneous destruction, provided that one has to impose their decomposition in a violent way.
In this project the Golden Dawn has a lot to offer and that is why it is very useful for the exploitation system that is being shaken down:
as a stream of integration, and a bloody one at that, in the system of impoverished and marginalized masses.
as a repressive force of any sort of anti-systemic practice from the oppressed people. Essentially working as a police force against movements
as the task force of a civil war in working class neighborhoods that will render unrealistic all initiatives of solidarity and cooperative community ventures.
as a means of identifying insurrectional practices even of the milder ones with the practices of Golden Dawn. The theory of the two extremes where one completes the other brings us back to arguments about the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler in power. It is the theory that closes the eye to the fascists, puts their agenda in public speech and preserves their immunity with the backs of the police, leaving the weak exposed to their assassinations.
Respectively, the phenomenon of fascism is dangerous and historically with tragic results because it condenses all those smaller or larger events with total and fascist connotation that occurred during the fake periods as it turned out to be prosperous. All those practices of wrath, indifference to the public, political, social and economic issues to the “specialists” in exchange for temporary benefits find shelter in Nazi herds.
Once again, the submissive miserable man, with the will of the slave, assigns his wrath, his will for justice, the content of his struggle, to the one who is ready to give him a “package” at any price. After the road from the neo-liberal governments and the fascist LAOS-type constructions was pushed, the monstrous views of Nazism are heard once again in this country and of course its price is always scary.
The question of fascism therefore goes hand in hand with the revolutionary affair and the transformation of a voluntarily enslaved society into a society of free people. But this is a matter that requires the effort and the physical presence of everyone and it does not disappear when the TV is closed.
Our interventions in the nationalist greek parades have to do with our opposition to the totalitarian policies summarized in a parade, militarism, faith in the State and the violence it exerts, submission, and a statement of respect for leadership. Generally, the parade in its essence and practice is the field that conveys in spectacular form all those features that plunge into barbarity and the world’s misery. This makes it a privileged field of expression of fascist speech in a field that is seemingly devoid of barbarity but in truth it is full of it.
We do not accept and question directly the image of the powerful state, as well as its fascist follower, the Nazis of the Golden Dawn. We do not consider the political leadership of the state traitors to be punished for this, but instead in reverse they must be overthrown because they remain faithful to the extermination of society and its subordination to the neo-liberal framework.
We believe that a share of responsibility also lays with parts of society for what they have done and for so many years they have been giving freedoms in return. We think we have a share of responsibility for what we do, and especially what we did not do to create a free society. But we are present, still fighting and putting everyone in charge of trying to overthrow our course towards total barbarism.
Historical retrospect of the concept of correction
By attempting a brief historical review, we realize that the concept of correction exists in a rather primitive form since the 16th century. The first prison facilities appear in Netherlands, where prisoners were mainly used as workforce. The imprisonment sentence was totally identical to the forced labor that was imposed on prisoners.
Since the 17th century, there has been a vigorous alternation of the corrective tactics. The dissociation and isolation of the offender from the rest of society supposedly aims at the consolidation of the latter through the exemplification and the avoidance of such incidents. When it comes to the 18th century, Foucault analyses the prison system indicating that the imprisonment sentence was not legally enforced but was used by the lords and masters as a mean of repression of the political dissidents following brutal punitive methods. In the 19th century, tortures are prohibited and new conditions are being created in prisons, constituting a new status quo while making inmates fight each other and develop the instinct of survival. As far as the 20th century is concerned, the prison system is presented in the current form we know and in the wretched living conditions of the prisoners, which still exist nowadays.
Correction is ideally a process through which someone who is not ‘prudent’ and against society’s principles becomes once again a ‘healthy’ member of it. Here lies the question of whether these values and meanings are set by society itself and not by state mechanisms and authority. The main method of correction is the imprisonment, which primarily deprives the individual of the basic right of his or her liberty.
This method forms the marginalization of the incarcerated by society, which often treats indifferently the issues that have to do with the former, as it usually considers them threatening for the social treaty. This is the reason why often any “comfort” (mobile phones, access to the internet, etc.) which is given to prisoners behind the walls meets the discontent of the social majority.
On its part, power has shown a continuous course of circumvention of basic rights using methods such as the vindictive imposition of penalties, the unjustified reductions in the exit licenses, the ban on visits, the unannounced violent checks in the cells and the terrible conditions of hygiene. Moreover, the targeting of relatives is a method which has been used to intimidate the ‘disobedient’ even further, such as in the cases of Athina Tsakalos’ and Evi Statiri’s where restrictive measures were imposed respectively with a ban on leaving the island of Salamina for the former and the one kilometer limit from her residence for the latter.
There still is the social segregation between the detainees who are wealthy and powerful and the ones who are not as strong (based on the money and the interconnections), something that affects the way in which the sentence is served and the conditions of living inside the prison. Thus, the same roles that exist in society are reproduced and those who do not have the financial comfort remain on the sidelines without having a choice. The use of systematic torture by prison staff reveals the punitive mood inherent in the prison institution. Despite the countless accusations of the detainees for such power abuse, a regime through which the members of the prison staff conceal each other under the tolerance of the judiciary is detected. The white cells, the beatings and the prohibition of having access to the prison yard are some of the usual methods which are used in order to humiliate the detainees as the prison personnel operate under absolute and unchallenged authority. Finally, the wretched living conditions, the small cells, the complete lack of medical care and the use of psychiatric drugs complete the harsh conditions that the prisoners have to face. The aim is, of course, the total psychological breakdown of the individual.
A typical example of the abandonment and the indifference of the state is the hospital of Korydallos’ prison ‘Agios Pavlos’. Poor facilities, lack of staff, lack of space and images of patients stacked together without anyone being interested in their existence. Indicative is that there are 8 doctors for 3,500 prisoners, while there are over 200 patients (many of which are HIV positive) instead of 60 which is the standard. As a result, the outbreak of tuberculosis is a risk for the lives of those who are hospitalized and threatened by different diseases, even death due to unavailable ambulances or the delay of the National Instant Aid Centre.
Articles 187–187A: Antiterrorist Law
The state and the authority, in periods of institutional controversy and prevalent meanings, in order to be shielded and equipped, operate outside the legal frame they have created and criminalize everything that they consider dangerous for their existence and reproduction. Under the occasion of the battle against terrorism and the maintenance of social peace, authority has found in the face of the (terrorist) organization ‘Nov. 17’ an internal enemy, which, due to its perilosity, could not have the treatment outlined by the procedural procedure by the state repressive mechanisms. In 2003, for the first time, we see the defendants of ‘17N’ being tried behind closed doors in order to avoid the publicity of the procedure followed, while the jurisdiction of the mixed jury court (which would normally had to judge the case according to the criminal law) has been overridden in order to subject the defendants to a tougher judicial control, while excluding any favorable treatment.
The fight against terrorism and the 17N’s trial constituted the kick-off and the precursor of a new way of managing, in which the state and the power, suspend constitutional provisions, freedoms and rights in order to protect themselves. The provisions of articles 187 and 187A of the Criminal Code have now validated / formed the legal status of the exception in criminal matters which had already begun to be outlined in previous years.
In particular, the provision of Article 187A has also contributed in the conformity of the Greek legal order with the counter-terrorism standards that were formulated and enforced after 9/11 and the state of emergency that was declared at international level. In the Greek case, the establishment of such a legal structure was politically oriented and motivated and aimed at suppressing by any means the political dissidents who had chosen as their field and mode of action the guerrilla of the city.
According to this law, even misdemeanors can be upgraded to felonies if, according to judicial or even police authorities, these actions aim at terrorizing and intimidating a population or a public authority or an international organization.
With the evaluation of someone as a terrorist some differentiations are also occurred concerning their legal treatment by the state mechanisms. Defendants who are persecuted with this law are deprived of their basic rights to communicate with their lawyer or even to read the documents of the case against them, while convicts lose their right to communicate with the outside world, even with their own family, or their right to abbreviate the penalty or obtain exit permission for a few days as the law indicates.
The Article 187 of the Criminal Code, on the other hand, while focusing on the suppression of mafias, it was attempted to be applied against the social movement in Skouries of Halkidiki, which resisted the gold mining, modern state totalitarianism and the total depreciation of human life at the altar of profit. Whereas, in order to establish this article, it is necessary to prove that the actions of the organization focus on making profit, as well as the existence of hierarchical relations and structures among the members, the state with the judicial authority tried to expand the content of the law in order to enclose in the framework of this arrangement a whole village of 300 dwellers, including people who were standing in solidarity, as a criminal organization.
In the meantime, Article 187 was used to match the social counterviolence of the movement in Skouries with the violence of the neo-Nazi organization of the Golden Dawn party, on the occasion of the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas. Thus, in criminal and ideological / social terms, it was attempted to equalize social resistance with the violence of extremist fascist elements, in order to consolidate the theory of the two extremes that the right-wing government of New Democracy brought to the political dialogue.
Within a period of time, the prisoners are fighting daily to improve their living conditions and claim their rights. The recognition of a framework of rights for detainees has been for several years out of the debate, since the prison institution is precisely structured in a way that suppresses any breath of freedom, transforming them into passive beings. Against these conditions and despite the fact that society has marginalized them, detainees react to every arbitrariness using any means available.
From 2007 onwards, a generalized mobilization of all detainees in prisons begins and a series of requests are made for the first time. From the denial of cell closure to abstaining from prison meals and hunger strikes, prisoners have managed to improve as much as they can the living conditions despite the wild beatings, the transportation to other facilities and the enlargement of their sentence. At the same time, it is important to consider the interaction within and outside the prison, with society pressuring the state power to satisfy the demands that the prisoners bring forward each time.
EMANCIPATORY PROJECTS: CRACKS OF FREEDOMS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD
“I shit on all the revolutionary vanguards of this planet“
While the global domination continues to incorporate self-organized, anti-hierarchical movements into the sphere of imagination, the examples of the Zapatista and Rojava demonstrate in practice that self-organization is not some kind of utopia, but a viable possibility. These two autonomous societies propose an alternative, sustainable model of social self-management that is contrary to capitalism, but also to the traditional revolutionary logic, which poses as a necessary condition the seizure of power.
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) is an armed guerilla movement that began its activity back in 1983 with the target of defending the rights of the agricultural population of Chiapas and the occupation of state authority. Soon they realized that the vanguardism of their ideological doctrine did not express the society they wanted to build and turned instead to self-organization by abandoning the idea of taking power. On the New Year of 1994 they occupied the southernmost city of Mexico, Chiapas and the wider region, declaring war on the Mexican government and the capitalist world, at the time of the signing of the North American Free Market Agreement (NAFTA). The EZLN is composed of indigenous, Mayan people whose rights have been suppressed for five centuries by US-led governments and colonial mechanisms of Mexico. After armed conflicts with the Mexican government that are continuing until today, they have managed to achieve and maintaine their autonomy in significant parts of Chiapas.
The Zapatistas, as suggested by subcomendante Marcos, one of the main speakers of the movement in the international media and a member of the EZLN, revolted from below aiming not at seizing power but at abolishing it, thus challenging the concept of revolutionary avant-garde. The non-seizure of power is one of the main features of the Zapatitas and indicates a break with Marxist-Leninist perceptions of social transformation that dominate traditional, revolutionary logic. Zapatista communities make decisions through the process of democratic confederalism. “Caracoles”, the administrative centers, comprise of three levels of governance: the municipality and the community are based on the decisions of popular assemblies operating in a democratic manner and the good governance councils are elected, with the precondition that delegates will rotate regularly and involve as much more people as possible. At the assemblies and Councils, women and men are equally involved, as the empowerment of women has been an important part of EZLN’s project since the beginning of the movement. Each Caracol has its own health, education and justice systems.
Ecology and respect for nature play an important role in Zapatista’s self-organization and culture. Their mainly rural economy, organized at communal / cooperative level, is based on traditional methods of indigenous production. The Zapatistas advocate for degrowth and “decolonization” of the imaginary from consumerism and economic growth, promoting instead values such as respect for the environment, local traditions and more generally for people who want to live with dignity without setting as their main goal biotic development.
The Kurdish people are indigenous to the Middle East, who throughout the course of their history has been subjected to multiple conquests and massacres, becoming the largest nation without its own state, with a population of more than 30,000,000. Kurdistan’s pieces belong to Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The Kurdish liberation movements have been revolting, which, despite some transient successes, have long been disturbed by feudal, patriarchal and racial structures that have cultivated individualistic perceptions.
In June 2012, in the wake of the civil war in Syria, a new revolutionary paradigm was adopted in the Rojava region with a completely different approach to the Kurdish question, based on Ocalan’s prison writings. Ocalan, influenced by the works of Bookchin and the Zapatist movement, by revising traditional Kurdish tactics and rejecting the Leninist-Marxist revolutionary approach, abandoned any form of nationalism (including the Kurdish), criticized the role of the state (even the socialist), and advocated for the social liberation of women.
The political system of Rosava opposes the modern state model, showing similarities with Zapatista. It operates on the basis of democratic confederation, with horizontal anti-hierarchical structures (councils), in which universal participation is praised, while there is no room for gender stereotypes, religion or nation. The party is not recognized as a form of liberation, as opposed to direct individual participation in political processes, which is achieved through councils. The importance of universal participation is evident from the fact that councils have been created for a whole year before the revolution began as well as by the high participation of the female population. Thus, the gradual degradation of patriarchy is achieved and women are equal members in every aspect of public life in a community in the heart of the Middle East. This is evident even from the creation of female militias, which together with male ones have replaced the regular army, giving Rojava an intense anti-militaristic character.
Regarding the economy, it is free but completely different from modern totalitarian liberalism. The economic committees at local and regional level play a major role in this by showing solidarity with the weakest and controlling product prices. In this way is being achieved elimination of competition and monopolistic use of property, while unemployment rates are low, so any adult can obtain full independance of themselves and to ensure the continuity of the revolution. The above institutions in combination with the setting of horizontal cooperatives and producer networks indicate that the model of a social and solidarity economy is a practical counterexample for economies on larger scale.
At the same time, we observe the “adoption” by the Kurds of the principles of a form of green communalism. All this, coupled with the rejection of Western capitalist standards, contributes to the creation of a framework for degrowth that refers to the reduction of over-consumption of energy and materials. Degrowth is not opposed to improving living conditions, nor is it identifiable with the economic downturn, but it breaks with the logic of squandering natural and human resources for profit. It proposes an exit and a change in production and consumption patterns, becoming a necessary step towards a more sustainable society.
The revolutionary patterns formulated by Rojava and Zapatista led to a historical shift in the modern perception of revolutionary processes, abandoning revolutionary dogmatism. They are the only successful experiments for social change without reformist tendencies, struggling for radical and holistic changes in all of the regions in which they operate. The question here is not a system based on the logic of growth but on the redefinition of social, political and economic relations. Without the “help of the developed Western world” and now liberated from the left narratives, they produce a modern revolutionary theory with clear anti-authoritarian paradigms.
After the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the Greek police in the neighborhood of Exarchia, a generalized rebellion followed, which was a crucial moment in Greece’s modern political history. For about a month, thousands of protesters across the country went outside to express their indignation against police violence and impunity, as well as the general social injustice that was at its peak at that time. The uprising of December had a massive, social and aggressive character. Dozens of occupations of public buildings, attacks on the forces of repression, and mass marches in all neighborhoods gave flesh and bones to the “New events of December” as they were characterized.
Thus, a large and resounding “NO” was said by the Greek society, a “NO” expressed in stones and molotov thrown at the MAT (riot police), at shop windows and decorations in Christmassy Athens, an “NO” addressed to the institutionalized imaginary of the master and his sterile ideals. In essence, the insurgents expressed a constant negative dialectic in the imperatives and affirmations of western consumerist paradigm and against the culture of impartiality, wealth and property. December 2008, was a question, as the typical slogan on the walls says. A question about to where one society is heading, when blindly following Puritan morals, eroded institutions and anti-social rules. A question about where will lead us this dangerous obedience and tolerance to hierarchy, bloodthirsty national ideals and atomic narcissism.
This question managed to spread throughout the Greek society despite the efforts of domination to silence it. The rebellion managed to defeat the conceptual repression, which was launched by the government and state media and attempted to shift the public opinion into focusing on damaged property and lawlessness. On the other hand, it managed to achieve many street-level victories, with the insurgents effectively dealing with the repressive army of the state that had murdered a 15-year-old child a few nights earlier.
However, the protesters did not oppose the MAT merely to avenge Alexis’s unfair death, but in this way they questioned and broke with the very concept of statecraft and the rhetoric that presents it as an integral meaning next to that of the social existence. The uprising attacked the state apparatus collectively, reclaiming key buildings and demanding the re-creation of public space. In the period of December, spontaneity, not as apolitical behavior, but as an autonomous political act dominated and at the same time all parts of society were connected and rallied, not around specific corporate or managerial demands, as would a leftist narrative propose, but around the universal questioning of the state as a way of organizing. Occupations of schools, universities, town halls, open neighborhood assemblies and collectives were co-creating and co-deciding by giving political space and time to self-management and direct democracy. Indeed, society has fought against cynicism, political apathy and individualism that dominate the sovereignty, and has established equality of political discourse and participation in the political processes that took place during the revolt.
Another important feature of December was the attack on spectacle and commodity. The rebellion questioned the practice of imaginary careerism and the culture of consumerist isolation. All kinds of shops were destroyed and burned down, while various products were expropriated mainly for collective use. In this way, the insurgents reacted to the consumerist manners of social standards, and this reaction succeeded in bringing the struggle for life back into the collective sphere, overthrowing the dominant notion that wants to transform man into a being that aims exclusively at the perpetual acquisition of more material goods than his neighbor.
For the first time, in modern Greek reality, the presumption of innocence of the commodity has fallen and finally its guilty role has been demonstrated. In a society that tended and tends to lose its human character, as the continuing downward trend in the value of the use of goods and services leads to the alienation and fragmentation of its members through their fictitious needs, the December uprising raised the meaning of emancipation and asked this marginal until then question to the 21st century consumer people: what kind of freedom can exist in a world where social acceleration, and the stress that accompanies it, overwhelms our everyday life, where concrete and industrialization of everything characterizes our style, where countless of useless and alienating artifacts fill the void in our lives?
December was a post-modern uprising for the post-modern society of consumption in which we live in. A rebellion that clashed with traditional norms and values, united thousands of people around the collective denial, and rejected any leadership or guidance. For these reasons, the “new events of December” went beyond the Left’s projects, leaving them behind to try to interpret ineffectively the revolt by using ridiculous analyzes. A rebellion that, as mentioned above, was a negative dialectic to all the dullness and rootedness of the instituted order of things, part of which were and still are the professional revolutionaries and politicians.
On the contrary, for us, who have proposed self-determination, direct democracy and social anti-authority, the December uprising gave time and space to our ideas. Our projects were embodied by the emergence of the collective person, the collective processes in open and public areas, the re-occupation of the public space and the practical questioning of authority. All this left a very important deposit for the radical space and is among the reasons for the ongoing social movements in Greece.
Movement of the Squares
Few years later, in May 2011, mass mobilizations began in dozens of cities in Greece. The “indignant” movement, as it was called, began with a call from anarchists in Spain and began to spread in many European countries. Gatherings in squares sprang up as well as in almost all the major cities of the country. Anti-governmental gatherings, provoked by the economic crisis and social injustice in every part of the world, that later turned into popular assemblies, anti-hierarchical and direct democratic, surrounded by the majority of society.
The movement of the squares did not maintained the trivial demand for changing of faces on the steering wheel. On the contrary, it insisted that nowadays the Western parliamentary states are unable to manage and stabilize the grim situation of crisis and austerity. The social contract between the rule of law and the citizens for securing a decent life for the latter has collapsed and society has to go forward as the crisis is not just economic or political, but a civilizational one, reaching deeply to the core of the system itself. This is what happened on May 2011, expressing the project of horizontal social organizing based on direct democracy, which not only adds a critique to the existing but abolishes it.
Thus, the movement of the squares became dangerous and antagonistic to the existing authority and its organizational basis as the mobilizations and assemblies of the movement gave structure, space and time far a different political path, that of self-management. The biopolitics of anti-authority took on flesh and bone, and for this reason the state responded with repression. Every day, statist and governmental actions were taking place with the goal of undermining the fervor of the daily popular mobilizations, as well as systematic attempts to alter the character of the popular assemblies. Moreover, the clashes of many social groups with the suppression forces had as a natural consequence the socialization and the political grounding of the practical conflict at all levels, as the movement questioned the regime of fear that the authorities had showed in previous years.
In the summer of that year, we had a movement that was not aiming at the seizure of power but in the radical transformation of the socio-political institutions. A movement that condemned parliamentary democracy as a whole and denied the identity clusters of the traditional political actors. Obviously, in the squares, the political deficit of all sorts of self-proclaimed revolutionary avant-gardes was made visible, these wanna-be leaders watched how society is overpassing them explicitly or implicitly opposing them, thus adding another arrow to the quiver of the traditional against one of the most massive attempts at social change. From the noticeable absence of the anarchist space, which did not saw its symbols and feared an eventual state assimilation, chose to deny any prospect to this movement, to the vulgar and antisocial attitude of the KKE, which chose to collide with the movement, defending together with the MAT, in October that year, the alienated political processes of bourgeois democracy that were in danger.
Ultimately, the movement of the squares demonstrated the ability of people to act politically with their only identity as natural subjects away from parties and factions. The project of direct democracy has come to the forefront.