As we have asserted in the first article of this review, the international proletarian revolt against worldwide capitalism has continued to unfold over the last few months, as the bourgeois society continues to inflict its catastrophic situation on the pauperised population of the planet. In Greece, its expressions were struggles of the imprisoned, of the undocumented immigrants, of the students, of the marginalized. These lasted many months, until the generalisation of the struggle in December 2008. In doing so, it anticipated what may and will happen in other countries, while giving indications on the path to follow. In other words, this international and internationalist protest against capitalism had been gaining momentum in Greece, until the sweeping upheaval of December, triggered by the murder of the young Alexis Grigoropoulos by the henchmen of this vile social system.
The cells, the compartments, the segmentations that capitalism had erected everywhere, through all sorts of go-betweens aiming at negating the proletarian struggle, were shattered by the very proletarian movement, although only in this country and in culminating moments of the struggle. This happened because proletarians took to the streets not only as such: i.e. workers or unemployed, natives or foreigners, students or shanty-town dwellers, young (even kids!) or elderly people, men or women, documented or undocumented, hooded or openly, pupils or teachers, “peasants” or city-dwellers, but precisely because the movement, resorting to all available means (flyers, Internet, pamphlets, newspapers, and so on) explicitly denounced all these categorizations with which the historical enemy insulted and sought to dismember and liquidate this extraordinary and generous social movement.
The first expressions of this movement to spread throughout the world proclaim: “Who is behind the revolt? Whose actions, deeds and movements keep and grow its flame? The anarchists? The students? The immigrants? The unemployed and the humiliated? The youths from the rich Northern and Southern suburbs? The gypsies? The hooligans? The workers? To all of them and many more belong the actions that shape the unstoppable lava that was awaken when the unthinkable murder of Alexis that shook all of Greece took place on Saturday night.” (3) Beyond the limitations contained in these first written manifestations, they go up against all that the media are trying to convey, because they claim this revolt belongs to all.
During the course of the French suburbs riots disparagement and affronts were given a free rein, even to the point of insulting, in the name of the proletariat, the very proletarians that had risen up. In Greece the bourgeoisie resorted to all available means to discredit the riots or reduce them to a question of particular social categories. However, the movement succeeded in ridiculing these efforts, and even in exposing the lackeys of the State for what they were. The media, voice of our enemies, proclaimed, as always, that we were “only” dealing with a bunch of anarchists, hooligans, young people, whose sole purpose was indiscriminate violence, but the generalisation of the riots, and the proclamations that asserted its proletarian and revolutionary nature, left no room for doubt among the proletarians not only in Greece, but in other countries too. The proclamations made it clear that it was not a matter of replacing a rightist government with a leftist one, of discarding one government programme to implement another, or to change the government so that the situation is back to normal. Quite the opposite, this very normality, this very daily routine, was denounced by the proletarian riot for what it was: salaried slavery and permanent blackmail. The movement yells its truth in the face of the counterrevolutionary falsifications.
It had been a long time since the proletariat in the heat of the battle had professed so unambiguously its revolutionary goals. A pamphlet from our comrades stated: “We are part of the revolt of life against the daily death the existing social relations impose on us.” (4) It went on saying that: “We erect a steadfast barricade against the loathsome normality of the cycle of production and distribution. In the current conjunction, nothing is more important than consolidating this barricade against the class enemy. Even if we retreat under the pressure of the (para-) state scum and the insufficiency of the barricade, we all know that nothing will ever be the same in our lives.”
What a wonderful affirmation of the proletariat as a class! What a terrorising (for the bourgeoisie) reassertion of the proletarian struggle to abolish the social system, and the dominant class! “We also position ourselves in the historical conjunction of the recomposition of a new class subject that carries from long ago the promise of assuming the role of the gravedigger of the capitalist system. We believe that the proletariat was never a class because of its position; on the contrary, it constitutes itself as a class for itself on the grounds of the clash with the bosses, first acting and only later gaining consciousness of its actions.” (5)
The proletariat is reborn when it takes to the streets. The proletariat defines and moulds itself in the confrontation with capital, the very revolutionary theory is reasserted by vanguards’ expressions. The very concept of proletariat, ever falsified, sociologified, often reduced to the sole industrial workers and systematically emptied of its social counterpoint dynamics by the counterrevolution, is reclaimed by our comrades: the proletariat constitutes itself in the confrontation with capital! The proletariat stands as a force against the ceaseless blackmail of wage labour.
When it was no longer possible to conceal the generalisation of the riots, neither on the national nor on the international level, our old enemy went on to explain, through all the media available, that the “rightist government had made mistakes” and that “it should step down”. But uncountable communiqués and proclamations were issued to denounce that vile lie.
“Politicians and journalists brag around, trying to impose on our movement
their own failing rationality. We would revolt because our government is corrupted
or because we’d like more of their money, more of their jobs.
If we break the banks it’s because we recognize money as one of the central cause of our sadness, if we break down shop windows it’s not because life is expensive but because commodity prevent us from living, at all cost. If we attack the police scum, it’s not only to avenge our dead comrades but because between this world and the one we desire, they will always be an obstacle.” (6)
How critical it is for the ongoing struggle that the proletariat does not mistake its enemy for such or such government, or party. Its enemy is not even all governments and parties as a whole, but money, capital, the social relations of production! In spite of all anti-terrorist campaigns set up by all the states in the world in order to consolidate their own monopoly of terror, the proletarians in Greece who took to the streets yelled in the heat of the battle: “Wage labour is the real terrorism! No peace for the bosses!”
The uprising of the proletariat in Greece has lit up the whole world; not its positive proposals, but its radical critique of today’s society without requesting anything from the power in place, which obviously is what most terrified the bourgeois worldwide power at the international level. We quote the revolutionary expressions of the proletarians in struggle: “The insurrection of December didn't put out any concrete demands, exactly because the participating subjects daily experience, and therefore know the denial of the ruling class to meet any such demand. The whisperings of the left that initially demanded the removal of the government were replaced by a mute terror and a desperate attempt to relieve the uncontrollable insurrectionary wave. The absence of any reformist demand whatsoever reflects an underground (but still unconscious) disposition toward a radical subversion and surpassing of the existing commodity relations and the creation of qualitatively now ones.” (7)
Contrarily to other countries (where the proletariat does not take to the streets when it should, when undocumented immigrants and prisoners are being repressed, when overtly racist acts are committed) the strength of the movement in Greece is based on the fact that the bourgeoisie and its various apparatuses has not succeeded in isolating the sectors of the proletariat that, well before December, had initiated exemplary struggles that resonated in the whole country, and abroad. We are referring to the sectors that are most repressed on a daily basis –the prisoners, the undocumented immigrants, the immigrants, the youth, and “nonconformists”- but more globally, to all proletarians in irregular and precarious situations, poorly paid, who undoubtedly sparked off the movement.
The proletariat in Greece has proven its vigour by not shying away from expressing solidarity with those sectors that were radically confronted to capitalism and the State. Indeed, it was the struggle of the prisoners, the undocumented immigrants, and the marginalized that resonated through the whole proletariat as its very own, and originated in the movement. Already in November 2008, the struggle in the prisons spread out, with more than 7,000 of the 12,000 prisoners taking part in a series of organised protests (among which the hunger strike that started on the 3rd of that month). (8) The bourgeoisie proved unable to keep the struggle in check, and the protest spilled through the streets, as evidenced by the radicalisation of the demonstration of November 17th. (9) Small groups carried out direct action throughout the month of November. Actions were undertaken against repressors and also against all forms of citizen surveillance, such as destroying surveillance cameras in many strategic places. At that time, the struggle reached out for abroad and constituted a first call to international solidarity. Within the scope of this very movement came the struggle of various groups of immigrants and undocumented immigrants who also started a hunger strike, along with other demonstrations and actions (such as the occupation of the city hall of Chania). This gave a new impulse to the proletarian movement that was demonstrating violently in various cities, and particularly in Athens, on December 5th. Soon not a day would pass without struggles, and everyday the Athenian democracy responded repressively, leading to the murder of Alexis, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
From that moment on, nothing would be the same. We cannot produce a detailed chronicle of the movement, but we can highlight some of its synthetic elements:
“From the first moment after the murder of Alexandros, spontaneous demonstrations and riots appear in the centre of Athens, the Polytechnic, the Economic and the Law Schools are being occupied and attacks against state and capitalist targets take place in many different neighbourhoods and in the city centre. Demonstrations, attacks and clashes erupt in Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Chania and Heraklion in Crete, in Giannena, Komotini, Xanthi, Serres, Sparti, Alexandroupoli, Mytilini. In Athens, in Patission Street – outside the Polytechnic and the Economic School - clashes last all night. Outside the Polytechnic the riot police make use of plastic bullets. On Sunday the 7th December, thousands of people demonstrate towards the police headquarters in Athens, attacking the riot police. Clashes of unprecedented tension spread in the streets of the city centre, lasting until late at night. Many demonstrators are injured and a number of them are arrested. From Monday morning until today the revolt spreads and becomes generalized. The last days are full of uncountable social events: militant high school students’ demonstrations ending up -in many cases- in attacks against police stations and clashes with the cops in the neighbourhoods of Athens and in the rest of the country, massive demonstrations and conflicts between protestors and the police in the centre of Athens, during which there are assaults in banks, big department stores and ministries, siege of the Parliament in Syntagma square, occupations of public buildings, demonstrations ending in riots and attacks against state and capitalist targets in many different cities.” (10)
Other accounts of the movement, which were circulating on the Internet, describe how unstoppable was the splendid proletarian fury, how relevant was the choice of its targets:
“All of us together with our differences we write history and we shake
the whole planet. This revolt not only will not stop but is intended to spread
across Europe and the whole world. In this framework, we can comprehend the
panic of the State. But nothing can forgive or justify or make bearable the
incredible, unmatched orgy of violence that it continuously sets off. How
much rather when this violence is not recorded or when it is unbearably distorted
from the media. Our comrades have suffered unjustified beatings, pupils are
beaten mercilessly, fascists make use of their weapons, secret cops act out
of control, immigrants have their lives threatened but for the media there
is only burned shops and “criminal” looting. Unlucky for them what is left
is old aged housewives and the rest of little scared men like the finished
fascist followers. Our rage for all them has no limit and from now on they
should be careful. The rebellion turns the impossible to possible. It is the
dream that wakes up when the never-ending nightmare before ends. Because comrades,
what we lived in the Western suburbs, Athens, the whole world, was a nightmare.
In an ugly city to spit every day on our misery, to kill our imagination,
to be scared of our neighbour, to remain helpless in our incapability being
bombarded by made up advertisements that make us believe that we are worth
for what we have and not who we are.
Alexis, we are ashamed of you because it took your blood us to wake us up from the nightmare and live the dream of life. But if we are ashamed of you, the others should be fearing you with a fear that paralyses their guts. First of all the cops that dress up like revolting people to abduct pupils and take them to the dungeons of central offices. NO MERCY FOR THEM. THEY CAN’T HIDE FROM US. Their punishment is coming and no State can save them. You are the ones that spread the worst catastrophism, the vile defeatism, the insane fear and all that just to save your skin. You will not save it. But it is not only you that do all the above. ALL the parliamentary parties live in distress and are dying to diffuse the revolt. The lower middle class people that cannot think of their life without their little shop. Dehydrated existences that only live for their money income; they also have their fears of existence. They don't have to fear us that much. Apart from those who actively and openly help the murdering State, the rest will be left to their unbearable misery. And well done to those of them that went further than them selves and took part in the events on the right side. As much as it is suppressed, they are not few. But we wrote enough for the lower-middle class.
History is written now from other powers and those powers will strengthen their presence overwhelmingly in the next days. After six days of colossal battles, fatally TODAY is the start of the second round with new heights and landmarks to reach. (…) The pupils that have suffered the worst kind of police brutality will be there, the students of the 2006-7 revolts will be there, the unemployed that fight against depression and humiliation will be there, the workers who lately look at their boss with a different eye will be there, the immigrants who for years know what dictatorship means will be there, we, from the Western suburbs who for years are torn by the most ridiculous regionalisms, will be there. WE WILL ALL BE THERE.” (11)
It is true that besides this rejection, this negation of the world, besides the movement’s stunning comprehension of the necessity for a social revolution that is the necessity to destroy totally the capitalist system, this manifesto also developed further much vaguer and weaker expressions.
“We are accused that our rebellion is inarticulate, blind, and reactive.
That we don’t know what we want and what we don’t want, yet. That we are thieves
and destroyers. Well then, we know what we want and we don’t want. We don’t
want cops paid to terrorize teenagers. We don’t want chemical war that blocks
our lungs and blinds our eyes. We don’t want riot police, bodyguards, pimps,
parasites, bouncers, professions of violence and force. We don’t want polluted
air, and burned forests, concrete that kills the earth. We don’t want prisons
that annihilate the individual, absurd laws about cannabis, cameras that supervise
life in order to protect inanimate property. In this draft of manifesto for
life after the revolt we ask and shall impose.
1) Liberation of the wider centre of Athens from cars. City for pedestrians, bikes and children.
2) Transformation of the destroyed banks to asylums for the poor, libraries and free internet points as well as coffee shops as in Amsterdam.
3) Transformation of police departments into kitchens that would offer natural food, free of charge to whoever asks and is in need of.
4) Copyleft all intellectual, informative material as well as free 1gbps internet with modern optic fibres.
5) Stop the use of oil and natural gas and replace them with high tech solar energy beehives and other completely recyclable energy sources.
6) Assaults to all the covered from the police whore houses and release of the forced prostitutes. Positive recognition of the feminine sexuality as a right that will be practiced by choice. No mercy to rapists and paedophiles. No humiliation to those who enjoy their sexuality in different way provided that they do not do it by using force.
7) Assaults in prisons and release of everyone unless they have been proven to be related with crimes of pederasty, rape, racism and white slavery.
8) Priority to children and their needs for play, love, tenderness and joy.
9) Free infrastructure; educational and medicinal with simultaneous restriction of arbitrariness and power of those working there. Responsible, open, friendly relationships between doctor-patient and pupil-teacher.
10) Free transportation and encouragement of the use of bikes in the city, while expanding trains across the country.
These are roughly what we want and will achieve. Maybe some others equally essential are absent but those mentioned are not a few nor negligible. We know that our movement not only has acquired world interest but it has taken to inspire a global revolt. As we drew upon the 10 rough points of “what we want” it was under serious consideration.”
It would be a lot easier to discard such propositions or to ridicule the narrow scope of such claims. However, in this listing of issues that emerged from discussions and assemblies, we highlight, before anything else, the total rejection of the present world, through the enumeration of what “we do not want”. The rejection, the negation, constitutes the starting point of every revolutionary movement. We reaffirm that this negation does not beg for anything to anyone, not even to the State. It aims at enforcing itself. These expressions have the huge merit of starting from the essential understanding that in order for things to change it will be necessary to resort to violence in order to bring down the authority of the state and replace it with something else. The movement’s desire to turn the speculation and repression centres (banks, police stations…) into something useful to mankind is something positive, although it is hard to fathom how such thing could ever be achieved. Finally, it is worth noting that the protagonists see these claims (which, in reality, amount to not much) solely as immediate measures, that they are not negotiable and that further and more critical issues will have to be dealt with later.
Yes, it is true that this manifesto contains a variety of illusions distinctive of any burgeoning and heterogeneous movement, encouraged by circumstances and ideological pressure to express hastily positive solutions and having yet to affirm its strength of negation of the whole existing society. This is why some solutions appear, which are somewhat illusory on the means considered to change what most affects them in their immediate lives, without uprooting the whole system of exploitation. It is also true, that in these expressions can be felt the harmful influence of ideologies such as are fashionable among leftists and environmentalists, whose reformist obedience inevitably reduces the scope of the movement. These have been and will be limitations that the next proletarian movement will be confronted with, but the most important is not the content of these timid immediate, and very often reformist (although some may sound quite appealing) immediate measures, but the inherent negation of all that currently exists, the violent confrontation against the whole capitalist world defended by leftists, centrists or rightists.
Finally, it is worth noting that point 7, to storm the prisons and release all the detainees (beyond some limitations in the formulation), does not match the others, since it is not something that should be aimed at, but rather it is a crucial expression of the movement, although at this stage it doesn’t have the strength to shoulder it. It is an important objective, but for the time being out of reach. Unlike all others it stands overtly against the democratic and legal structure of private property and bourgeois domination and by doing so presents a clearer rupture with reformism.
In this historical epoch of so much division within the proletarian movement, the most significant feature of the struggles in Greece is, as we have mentioned before, the strength that the movement displayed in prevailing over the fragmentations and compartmentalization so crucial to the bourgeois domination. Against official contempt, against the racism inherent to capitalism, against the good citizens, the proletariat shouldered the defence of its interests, rallying under its banner the prisoners, the immigrants, the youth and all other sectors that are usually kept isolated. If they often had to face, alone, the coalition of all bourgeois forces, in December their joining together and taking to the streets kindled a beacon-fire in Greece, whose powerful flame could be admired by the proletarians throughout the world.
Far from ignoring the problem of racism and other segmentations permanently used to maintain the capitalist domination and oppression, (12) the movement faced them for what they are, and many discussions and communiqués dealt with the matter of the immigrants and foreigners. Class consciousness asserted itself among other things against the ever-present divisions, and the protagonists made it clear that they fought side by side with the local proletarians as well as with the immigrants and refugees.
“In the framework of this wider mobilisation, with the student demonstrations being its steam-engine, there is a mass participation of the second generation of migrants and many refugees also. The refugees come to the streets in small numbers, with limited organisation, with the spontaneity and impetus describing their mobilisation. Right now, they are the most militant part of the foreigners living in Greece. (…) The children of migrants mobilise en mass and dynamically, (…) this is a second French November of 2005. (…) These days are ours, too. These days are for the hundreds of migrants and refugees who were murdered at the borders, in police stations, workplaces. (…) They are for Gramos Palusi, Luan Bertelina, Edison Yahai, Tony Onuoha, Abdurahim Edriz, Modaser Mohamed Ashtraf and so many others that we haven’t forgotten. These days are for the everyday police violence that remains unpunished and unanswered. They are for the humiliations at the border and at the migrant detention centres, which continue to date. (…) These days are for the price we have to pay simply in order to exist, to breathe. They are for all those times when we crunched our teeth, for the insults we took, the defeats we were charged with. They are for all the times when we didn’t react even when having all the reasons in the world to do so. They are for all the times when we did react and we were alone because our deaths and our rage did not fit pre-existing shapes, didn’t bring votes in, and didn’t sell in the prime-time news. These days belong to all the marginalized, the excluded, the people with the difficult names and the unknown stories. They belong to all those who die every day in the Aegean sea and Evros river, to all those murdered at the border or at a central Athens street; they belong to the Roma in Zefyri, to the drug addicts in Eksarhia. These days belong to the kids of Mesollogiou Street, to the unintegrated, the uncontrollable students. Thanks to Alexis, these days belong to us all.” (13)
With these words, issued in Europe, historical centre of colonialism and racism, the struggle of the proletariat in Greece proclaims the internationalism of the proletariat as a class. The opposition between the present and future world could not be clearer, between the world of capital with its racism, its wars, its slavery and massacres and a society rid of inhumanity, brought forth by the proletariat and its revolutionary struggle.
It is true that, as often before, the movement stemmed from specific sectors of the proletariat. As witnessed by the protesters, when it embarked on a radical course after the murder of a youngster, the streets were filled mostly with youngsters, nearly kids (this had also happened in France, in the suburbs’ riot and during the anti-CPE struggle). Of course, as always, the protagonists initially viewed this as a problem, but continuity and generalisation (including geographically) of the struggle eventually transcended it. Such reassertion of the proletariat as a class generated an interesting intergenerational exchange of communiqués. We emphasize some noteworthy elements, in which some “kids” produce a sound and constructive critique of the conformism of the adults, basically, their own parents. Here in the box is the letter handed out at Alexi’s funeral, written by his classmates (the words in capital letters were like that in the original letter).
“WE WANT A BETTER WORLD!
This communiqué circulated a lot, in Greece as abroad, and obviously many could not but denigrate its authors, but there were also a number of replies who wholeheartedly agreed with it, calling for all proletarians to join the fight, and this is what we want to emphasize. (14)
Of course, as in other occasions, some sectors of the proletariat failed to act, stuck in front of their televisions and digesting unmoved the ideological venom that produces good citizen. There will always be proletarians who will betray their class and act as silent accomplices of their own repression, as pointed out by the pamphlet of the “kids”. It was not the bourgeois who went to repress and kill the proletarians in struggle. The bourgeois were hiding in fear. Class domination is based on the ability of the ruling class to enlist part of the proletarians in order to repress the other part.
In Greece, as we have seen, the protagonists not only globally denounced the cringing citizen, but also whoever balks at taking sides or fails to break away from the citizen demonstrations organised by the leftists and the trade-unions.
“The owners of the commodity labour-power who had it invested in the stock
exchange of social security and in the hope of seeing their offspring exiting
this condition through social ascension, continue to observe the insurrectionary
party without taking part, but also without calling the police to dissolve
it. Along with the substitution of social security with police security and
the collapse of the stock market of class movability, many workers, under
the burden of the collapsing universe of petit-bourgeois ideology and the
state hybris, are moving toward a (socially important) moral justification
of the youth outbreak, but without yet joining the attack against this murderous
They kept on dragging their corpse on three-month litanies of the professional unionists and on defending a sad sectional defeatism against the raging class aggressiveness that is rapidly coming to the fore. These two worlds met up on Monday, 8/12, on the streets, and the entire country caught on fire. The world of the sectional defeatism took the streets to defend the democratic right of the separated roles of the citizen, the worker, the consumer, to participate in demonstrations without getting shot at. Nearby, not that far away, the world of class aggressiveness took the streets in the form of small organized "gangs" that break, burn, loot, smash the pavements to throw stones onto the murderers. The first world (at least as expressed in the politics of the professional unionists) was so scared by the presence of the second, that on Wednesday, 10/12, attempted to demonstrate without the annoying presence of the ‘riff-raff’. The dilemma regarding how to be on the streets was already layed in: Either with the democratic safety of the citizen, or with the clash solidarity of the group, the aggressive block, the march that defends everyone's existence with sharp attacks and barricades.” (15)
Many of the movement’s expressions denounce, rightfully and violently, all those who, although shocked with Alexis’s death and peacefully demonstrating in protest, yet submit totally to the dominant ideology and collaborate with the ruling class on an everyday basis.
Proletarians from sectors where their jobs are less threatened, and who, very often, enjoy the highest trade-union protection, are always the most conservative. For the most part, they are, with their ideas and illusions, an obstacle to proletarian solidarity and combativeness. Beyond those who actually enjoy a “privileged” position within the production apparatus, the average good citizen is a key asset of the counterrevolution. The left-wing bourgeois parties are crucial to the construction of that ideology. In Greece as in other countries, these parties are strongly rooted in the above-mentioned sectors and always take stand against the communist struggle. The occupation of the headquarters of the General Confederation of Workers in Greece by the Assembly of Insurgent Workers of Athens constituted a stunning act of defiance against the tutelage of these leftist counterrevolutionary forces and dismissed many media lies. This edifice, permanent bastion of the bourgeois order, paid by the proletarians, briefly reverted to the latter’s control, and its repossession was a head-on confrontation against the counterrevolutionary containment attempts of the trade-unions. Beyond the mere taking over of the building, it was highly symbolic of the struggle against the trade-unionist apparatus and bureaucracy, as emphasized in the present communiqué:
“To flay and uncover the role of the trade union bureaucracy in the undermining of the insurrection -and not only there. GSEE and the entire trade union mechanism that supports it for decades and decades, undermine the struggles, bargain our labour power for crumbling, perpetuate the system of exploitation and wage slavery. The stance of GSEE last Wednesday is quite telling: GSEE cancelled the programmed strikers’ demonstration, stopping short at the organization of a brief gathering in Syntagma Sq., making simultaneously sure that the people will be dispersed in a hurry from the Square, fearing that they might get infected by the virus of insurrection.” (16)
However, during this bold direct action, two classical tendencies confronted each other, as it is always and everywhere the case: on one hand the left-wing of Social Democracy only criticizing the union bureaucracy, and on the other hand those who get to the root of the problem by criticizing the very essence of the union as an apparatus of capitalist oppression:
“From the beginning it was obvious that there were two tendencies inside the occupation –no matter how clearly articulated: a workerist one, that wanted to use the occupation symbolically in order to criticize the trade unionist bureaucracy and promote the idea of an independent of political influences base unionism; and a proletarian one, that wanted to attack one more institution of capitalist society, criticize syndicalism and use the place for the construction of one more community of struggle in the context of the general unrest.” (17)
Obviously unionists and their shock troops couldn’t allow such an affront from the revolutionary proletariat. That day, they tried to recover the premises by force. In order to achieve this, they called out more than 50 henchmen who tried to throw out the occupants, but the latter resisted and thanks to the occupants of ASOEE, they succeeded in postponing the eviction till around 3 p.m. To reaffirm the occupation, calls to gather around the building were issued, which materialized a few hours later with around 800 people taking part.
In spite of all these efforts we must admit that our enemies’ endeavour bore fruit, and that from the vast numbers of proletarians in the streets in those days of fighting, few were those who had clearly broken away from the trade-unionist bourgeois tutelage. Many workers of the heavy industry were spectators rather than protagonists, meaning that they failed to take on the struggle that their comrades from the vanguard were urging them to join. This proved a significant limitation to the scope of the revolt. However, when the crisis deepens, even job security, that is so central to securing conformism, starts to totter. Then, the proletarians of the large companies end up breaking free from the trade-unionist tutelage (and Social Democratic ones generally speaking) and may play a major role in the struggle. By the way, we deem it relevant to make a comparison with the proletarian revolt in Argentina in 2001/2002, when the crisis had reached such proportions that even those sectors took to the streets, which was generally not the case in Greece. As a matter of fact capitalism has yet to launch in Europe a head-on strike on all these sectors, which for the time being makes it possible for all the State apparatuses (and in particular the trade-unions) to continue keeping the proletariat divided. In spite of what is known today as “the crisis”, the capitalist catastrophe in Europe has primarily hit the weakest strata of the proletariat (young people, immigrants, undocumented immigrants, and marginalized people in precarious situations). Consequently, they have spearheaded all the main struggles on this continent. This may be a reason for the difference with the characteristics of the struggle in Argentina. In Greece, judging from the outburst and the insurrectional pattern, the movement seemed set on laying it all on the line. In Argentina the movement lasted much longer, but much greater was the infestation by political illusions (Constituent Assembly, classical reformism, Argentinean flags, and so on) and above all by managemental trends (self-management, productive cooperatives set up by the jobless, and so on). These plagues were the main internal factor of the liquidation of the movement. In Greece the ideology conveyed by Negri (or Holloway) or the fashionable Comandante Marcos, who want to change the world without settling the power issue, hardly impacted the movement. It issued an outright challenge to the ruling class (in the Argentinean-style “Que se vayan todos!” – Out with them all!). It affirmed explicitly its insurrectionalist objectives and was only and ultimately held in check by its isolation, in other words, by the fact that without the proletariat from other countries joining the struggle (at least the other European countries, as stated in the pamphlets) it was not possible to go any further.
Here too the vanguard sectors showed great lucidity: “We know that the
time has come for us to think strategically. In this Imperial time we know
that the condition of a victorious insurrection is that it spreads, at least,
on a European level. Those last years we’ve seen and we’ve learnt: The counter-summits
worldwide, students and suburban riots in France, the No-Tav movement in Italy,
the Oaxaca commune, Montreal’s riots, the offensive defence of the Ungdomshuset
squat in Copenhagen, riots against the Republican National Convention in the
USA, the list goes on.
Born in the catastrophe, we’re the children of all crises: political, social, economical, ecological. We know this world is a dead-end. You have to be crazy to cling on its ruins. You have to be wise to self-organize.” (18)
The appeals from Greece proliferated arouse solidarity with the proletarian revolt in Greece throughout the world:
“The explosive events right after the murder caused a wave of international mobilization in memory of Alexandros and in solidarity with the revolted who are fighting in the streets, inspiring a counter-attack to the totalitarianism of democracy. Concentrations, demonstrations, symbolic attacks in Greek embassies and consulates and other solidarity actions have taken place in cities of Cyprus, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Holland, G. Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Turkey, USA, in Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Slovakia, Croatia, Russia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Belgium, N. Zealand, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and elsewhere.” (19)
There were significantly more repercussions and displays of solidarity than for other instances of revolt these last few years. We hope that this is a sign that however dormant the proletariat was, the catastrophic current situation of the bourgeois society and the riposte of the proletarians in Greece have been a vital shake-up that is starting to awake it (to the great apprehension of the bourgeoisie). Have we reached a turning point towards the end of class unawareness, a point where no one will ever feel indifferent to the ever more daily catastrophe and this valorous struggle against the system?
Of course, these international direct actions must be taken as models and opposed to bourgeois leftist alternatives of ever, that merely caricature solidarity (actually, that try to deflect, or prevent it), encouraging peaceful demonstrations, petitions, harmless carnivals, or humanitarian/charity campaigns.
Is it necessary to remind that real, strong, and organized class solidarity still doesn’t exist, that what do, we proletarians from everywhere else in the world, to support an extraordinary movement such as this, is totally insufficient.
One of the biggest difficulties for the proletariat everywhere in the world is the “what’s to be done?” in order to snatch, after each small conflict or big battle, our fellow prisoners from the clutches of repression. Under the current international balance of forces, the inability of the proletariat to carry through this necessity on class grounds is obvious. Our failure to forcefully release our comrades from detention through direct action is used as an element of permanent blackmail, which democracy and its agents systematically resort to in order to force us to follow their rules. According to those rules, the individual is left isolated to face the state, the citizen faces the legal apparatus alone, and no other “defence” is possible but the individual defence on legal grounds and based on “solidarity” – sending material aid to help endure the hardships of detention, prepare the trial and pay the lawyer… The tricky discussion on how to face each concrete situation must not make us lose sight of the fact that the bourgeoisie exercises the dictatorship not only when it imprisons our comrades but also when it enforces the rule of law and leaves us nothing but this individual defence as a citizen. The citizen’s rights, widely advocated by our enemies, always involve a component of state terror that is used to oppose the organization of the proletariat in force.
But, as we already developed, important and courageous that the direct action of the international proletariat may be when in solidarity with the struggle of the proletariat in a region, the genuine solidarity is the intensification of the struggle against the bourgeoisie wherever it is. The ultimate expression of solidarity will be when, from all parts of the world, the proletariat will simultaneously take to the streets, and confront one and the same enemy. Only then will social revolution be possible, as expressed by many internationalist groups.
“Comrades, let’s follow the example of our brothers in Greece, unchecked by all democratic integration attempt. Beware of the tricks democracy pulls out to try and fool us. All the politicians in the government or in the opposition, left- or right-wingers as well, the repressive forces, journalists and other heralds of capital… all of them are expressions of the capitalist beast: i.e. spare parts, alternatives, false oppositions and tools to crush us. It’s the whole world we want to change right from its foundations. And for this, we rely only on ourselves, by getting organized outside and against all the apparatuses of the state (parties, unions, NGO’s, etc.), breaking away from the divisions they want to impose upon us (youngsters vs. oldsters, workers vs. students or unemployed, immigrants vs. natives, etc.).” (20)
From Rosario in Argentina the claim is the same – real solidarity means to struggle everywhere against capitalism, and to confront our “own bourgeoisie”:
“Why react to these events, which take place so many kilometres from where we try to live our lives? Because, exploited and oppressed, we have no homeland: patriotism serves the ruling class in its hiding of the social antagonism, we are living in, it’s the alibi to divide the dominated, in order to deprive them from their class identity. Because we were, we are and we will be those who stand against this form of non-life, we support those who drive the revolts in Greece forward, as an affirmation of life, destroying what destroys them (and what destroys us), retrieving the food produced by our brothers, occupying universities in order to get together, confronting the police, reclaiming the streets, acting outside and against parties and unions, showing us that the real organization is built from below. ‘Workers, unemployed, students, hooded’ are categories used by the bourgeois medias to isolate and divide. We say: ‘All proletarians! So, let’s struggle and get organized against ‘our’ own bourgeoisie in ‘our’ own region…” (21)
And even from the Czech Republic (“the little putrefied pond of social peace” as some comrades described “their” own country), calls for solidarity and proletarian action were issued:
“Is economy in crisis? Let’s finish it off! Down with social peace! One
Greece is not enough!
Sooner or later, capital will leave us with no reserves. We will suffer and maybe we will die, if we will continue to slavishly accept wage labour and money as a necessary means to satisfy our needs. But surely there will be proletarians, who will refuse the logic of exchange value and surge into supermarkets and take without paying, what they will need. The class movement in Greece will explode anew with even greater subversive power and this time it will not be alone. And it will not be only proletarians in China, Bangladesh, Egypt or Bolivia, who will rise up. Even over here, shop windows will be trashed. We will loot shops and luxurious bourgeois haciendas. Mass strikes without and against trade unions will subvert all the capitalist economy. The state with its police and army will, as always, defend bourgeois order and properties and make terror against the proletariat, who will never solve anything, unless it makes its own revolution. In the meantime, all our support, sympathies, thoughts belong to proletarians in Greece, who struggle or are imprisoned. We long for helping them through spreading the struggle in the Czech Republic and the whole world. We want to share and develop their experience with them, in order to put a global revolutionary insurrection back on the order of history…” (22)
Proletarian class unawareness in Europe and worldwide keeps pushing down with all its weight, preventing this simultaneous outburst of proletarian violence that is so critical to make a riot turn into an international social revolution. Obviously, without this generalization, as our comrades from the ASOEE said (see their communiqué already quoted), there is a point when, due to the correlation of forces, momentum will be lost. It is a saddening thought, and nonetheless realistic, that sooner or later and despite our efforts to maintain and expand the movement, things will revert to normality. It is an important fact, because one of the factors that hobble the movement is the idea, according to which “the insurrection should be sustained for as long as possible”. As a matter of fact, we have read communiqués on the Internet that advocated this. (23)
The internationalism of the proletariat is still limited to these few actions, vital and exemplary, such as carried out by a small minority of groups that in various countries took to the streets to lend support to the revolt in Greece, attacking symbolic targets, representations of State, handing out pamphlets, proclamations and appeals to join the fight to the dormant proletariat that in other countries “watch” what (our enemies claim) “is going on in Greece” through the caricaturing and castrating images on TV. Tragically, sedatives and other ideological drugs are still effective and prevent the spreading of the fire. Indeed, this time, a lot more happened than during other proletarian revolts such as the ones that occurred in Iraq, Algeria, and Argentina. There was also a feeling of recognition at the international level that created an atmosphere contrasting with the one of a world class that very often seems buried. In the militant discussions, in assemblies, in publications, in bars, on Internet… we can see that a large number of proletarians, who a few times ago were yet sedated with idiocies, ideologies and pacifism, somehow identified themselves with this great violent expression of our class. Even though one could sense an embryonic re-emergence of this feeling of belonging to one and the same class opposed to the world of capital, we cannot say that there was an international extension of the proletarian revolt.
This extension is not prevented by a lack of internationalism among the proletariat in Greece. On the contrary, it is the unawareness of internationalism from the proletariat in other countries that sets the objective limits of the Greek revolt. In Greece the proletariat did all it could to break its isolation, and its actions were internationalist in essence. They brought light to all our proletarian brothers that in those actions could see their potentiality, the grandeur of the revolution they announced. Furthermore, not only did the proletariat in Greece, in its actions and proclamations, call its brothers to join the fight, but in the midst of the struggle it clearly expressed, through concrete acts, its internationalist solidarity – with the proletariat in other countries, not only with foreign proletarians fighting in Greece. As a matter of fact, there were pamphlets and actions in Greece directed against the terrorist repression, conducted in those very days by the State of Israel (and the USA), of the proletariat in the Gaza strip. This shows that against the terrorism of the international State there is no solidarity but through the use of force and direct action.
Concerning this, we would like to emphasize something critically important. During the revolt in Greece, proletarians realized that the USA were supplying the criminals of the Jewish State with military equipment that transited through the port of Astakos, and fought to interrupt the traffic. This is the report of “Voices of Resistance from an occupied London”:
“Mainstream media reports have revealed that the U.S. Navy is attempting to ship 325 20-foot containers of ammunition (over 3000 tons) from the private Greek port of Astakos to Israel, in an emergency shipment of arms to aid the occupation in its ongoing war crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Information as for when this shipment will be attempted is conflicting; possible dates are the 15th, 25th and 31st of January. (…) groups and individuals (…) are organising for a national mobilisation/blockade of the port of Astakos: the anti-authoritarian movement, the anti-war internationalist movement and Astakos’ local assembly of groups and individuals have already issued statements calling for a gathering at the port of Astakos on Thursday, 15.1.” (24)
Some days later, the state of the United States informed its Israeli counterpart that the shipment had been cancelled under an unknown pretext. But with proletarians in struggle in Greece, in Palestine and in the world, we knew that our enemies would rather cancel the shipment (maybe hoping to organize it in some other way) rather than maintain it, as by doing so they would confront the international proletarian solidarity and prompt a sharp class against class violence at the general level. This reaction, in turn, would have been an objective element prone to raise the consciousness of the proletariat at an international level. This is what they fear most: evidence that the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat alone can stop wars, repressions and state-led massacres, which would ridicule all pacifist speeches and demonstrations.
There’s one last question: what is left of the revolt in Greece? Let’s quote once again these clearheaded protagonists of our class:
“Everything begins and matures in violence – but nothing stops there. The destructive violence that unleashed in the events of December caused the blocking of the capitalist normality in the centre of the metropolis, a necessary yet insufficient condition for the transforming of the insurrection into an attempt for social liberation. The destabilization of capitalist society is impossible without paralysing the economy – that is, without disrupting the function of the centres of production and distribution, through sabotage, occupations, and strikes. The absence of a positive, creative proposal for a different form of organizing the social relations was –up until now- more than self-evident. Nevertheless, the insurrection of December must be understood within the historical context of an enlivement process of class struggle that takes place on the international level.” (25)
At the time of conclusion of the present text (February 2009), the struggle of the proletariat in Greece was going on, although, of course, in a more limited way. After a phase of road and highway blockades mainly led by the agricultural proletariat, occupations and especially assemblies are going on. Political structures and groups are taking stock of what happened and are drawing lessons and giving instructions for the next explosion, which is as unavoidable as the catastrophe of capital.
Nothing will be the same anymore, neither in Greece nor elsewhere. The comrades who were in the street in Greece have many lessons to draw and to pass on for the fights that are on the way in the whole Europe and all over the world. May our present contribution go in this direction!
The proletariat in Greece showed to the world proletariat the essential way to continue... and to develop further.
This text has been originally written in Spanish in
February 2009 and published in our review “Comunismo” No.59 (May 2009) as
well as in French in “Communisme” No.61 (June 2009) under the title: “It’s
going on: Greece”. For this late publication in English, when new struggles
are occurring in Greece against the austerity measures imposed by capital,
we changed a little bit the title to precisely express this continuity in
From the text “Greece: Call for a New International” distributed in Greece during the movement of December.
Extract from the leaflet “Nothing is Over – We are only the beginning – Statement” issued by assemblies (found on UK Indymedia) and displaying a high level of spontaneity and innocence as for the goals of the movement that we comment on further.
“We destroy the present because we come from the future. Communiqué from proletarians of the occupied ASOEE,” already published in our previous review in English “Communism” No.14 (January 2009). We would like also to emphasize how these comrades are directly in line with what we wrote in the introduction of our “Theses of Programmatical Orientation” (note No.2): “Despite all the difficulties presented by formal-logical and bourgeois language, we are trying to express, in the most precise possible way, the subject of revolution at the same time as our concept of communism. For us the concept of communism is not an ideal to be applied, but the movement of destruction of the society of capital and the society resulting from this practical negation. (...) Against the current of dominant ideology and at the risk of shocking, we can state, if we put ourselves at a higher level of abstraction, that it is not communists or the proletariat which turn social movement into communist movement but, on the contrary, it is communism as a historical movement which, for the first time in history, finds in the proletariat a truly revolutionary class capable of imposing communism as an effective negation. It is communism which co-opts the most historically decisive elements of the class, those which always put forward the interests of the whole of the proletariat as the leadership of the party and the Revolution to come.”
Extract from “Greece: Call for a New International,” already quoted.
From “We destroy the present because we come from the future,” already quoted.
“We, prisoners in the extermination centres of the Greek state, tired of the false promises of all the ministers of justice of these last ten years about the penitentiary detention conditions improvement, we have decided to mobilize and to insist on our just demands,” a communiqué declared.
At each anniversary of the “fall of the dictatorship,” demonstrations are organized, but this year, thanks to the prisoners’ struggle, they intensified and solidarity with these rebels was proclaimed, which was its climax.
From the leaflet “Their Democracy Murders…” - The Occupation of the Polytechnic University in Athens, Friday, December 12th, 2008, already published in our previous review in English “Communism” No.14 (January 2009).
From the leaflet “Nothing is Over – We are only the beginning – Statement,” already quoted.
The worst aspect of racism is the one present in the very essence of the capitalist social relations, which makes the labour force of a national white worker worth much more than the labour force of a black and/or a foreigner. This is all the more pernicious when this reality is denied on the grounds of an “antiracist” ideological discourse.
This communiqué has been handed out on December 15th, 2008 and started with the following header: “The following text was distributed at the student picket outside the police headquarters today by people from Athens’ Haunt of Albanian Migrants.”
See “An Open Letter to Students by Workers in Athens” signed Proletarians we already published in our previous review in English “Communism” No.14 (January 2009).
From “We destroy the present because we come from the future,” already quoted.
From the “Declaration of the General Assembly of Insurgent Workers in Athens”.
From “A detailed updated summary of the recent events in Athens, from the perspective of some proletarian participants,” found among others on libcom.org web site.
From “Greece: Call for a New International,” already quoted.
From the already quoted leaflet “Their Democracy Murders…”
Excerpt translated from the call issued by the Committee of the Asturias in solidarity with the struggles in Greece (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The call here reproduced and translated is entitled: “We are going to light up the obscurity!” and signed Anarquistas de Rosario, Argentina (www.anarquistasrosario.cjb.net – email@example.com).
From the leaflet of Class War Group (“T?ídní válka” in Czech): “Declaration of Solidarity with Struggling and Prosecuted Proletarians in Greece” (www.tridnivalka.tk – firstname.lastname@example.org).
This is a completely absurd version of “insurrectionalism,” according to which everything is insurrection. This pretty fashionable current undermines the essence of proletarian insurrection, while identifying it with any form of direct action. To advocate “insurrectionalism” without the critical qualitative leap that destroys the power of the dominant class amounts to negating the necessity of a proletarian revolution and always turns out to be a waste of energy. “Insurrectionalism” concretely stands in the way of the social revolution, which requires the liquidation of capitalist power and the enforcement, by means of revolutionary violence, and different social organization. More precisely, the proletarian insurrection is the necessary qualitative leap in terms of concentration, organization and centralization of proletarian force against the bourgeois power that will turn the generalized revolt into a social revolution. Therefore, the many self-proclaimed “insurrectionalists” who make an indiscriminate use of the word “insurrection” are definitely not acting for the real insurrection.
On this topic, see the complete article in English on: http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/.
From “We destroy the present because we come from the future,” already quoted.