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Building the Revolution in Greece

category greece / turkey / cyprus | anarchist movement | opinion / analysis author Thursday April 04, 2013 16:31author by Joshua Stephens Report this post to the editors

Below I reproduce excerpts from a recent report at Truthout by Joshua Stephens on the constructive efforts by Greek anarchists to create alternatives to capitalism and the nation-state. The approaches they have been developing since the uprising in 2008 are similar to those proposed by Alexander Berkman based on his experiences during the Russian Revolution. Directly democratic popular assemblies formed the basis of the anarchist collectives during the Spanish Revolution, and were later championed by Murray Bookchin. Stephens refers to Colin Ward, whose ground breaking article on anarchism as a theory of organization is included in Volume Two of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Anarchist alternatives to capitalism and hierarchical organization are well documented in all three volumes of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, now on sale at AK Press.

Anarchist demonstration in Athens
Anarchist demonstration in Athens

Joshua Stephen’s on the situation in Greece:

“On the first day of the uprising, we smashed the police stations,” an anarchist in Thessaloniki told me last spring. ”On the second, we smashed the banks. On the third, there was nothing left to smash, and we were suddenly faced with the fact that we didn’t really know what to do.” It seems to have been a widespread frustration. The occupations of academic and political institutions that occurred amidst the uprising gave way to what are called Popular Assemblies in some 70 neighborhoods across Athens. About half of these are still operating, composed of an often unlikely spectrum of participants. Anarchists, local workers, even municipal employees and officeholders all collaborate off the political grid in democratically administering needs, redistributing available resources and bolstering existing struggles against both austerity and the steady creep of fascism.

Their strategy can be read in a short 1958 article by Colin Ward in the British anarchist journal Freedom, entitled “The Unwritten Handbook”: ”The choice between libertarian and authoritarian solutions occurs every day and in every way, and the extent to which we choose, or accept… or lack the imagination and inventiveness to discover alternatives to the authoritarian solutions to small problems is the extent to which we are their powerless victims in big affairs.” When a round of austerity measures included a new and often unaffordable property tax in electricity bills, many Greeks saw their power abruptly cut. Popular Assemblies began compiling lists of households without power, ranking them based on vulnerability (age, the presence of infants, etc.), and deploying qualified people to restore electricity, illegally.

On a cool April evening in the neighborhood of Peristeri, assembly participants debated models for localizing economic transactions through alternative currencies and non-monetary programs like time-banks. Over drinks following a talk I gave last spring, the bulk of the questions from local anarchists known the world over for bravado and street warfare were about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, an overwhelmingly liberal phenomena back home, hardly considered political (much less radical). In Greece, however, forging direct relationships with the agricultural sector amounts to a fuck-you to the International Monetary Fund and its threats of import cutoffs, issued to leverage passage of austerity measures.

During my few days on the ground in Athens this trip, I was invited to an anti-fascist march organized by the Popular Assemblies of south Athens. It marked what felt like an expansion of their role into directly confronting Golden Dawn, where the state has proved either unwilling or unable to tread. ”If we don’t resist in every neighborhood, they will soon become our prisons” could be heard reverberating off the facades of buildings. Counting by tens, I estimated roughly a thousand marching from the commercial plaza adjacent to the Dafni Metro, winding through a number of its various neighborhoods before reaching a former military installation occupied and renamed Asyrmatos Greek for “wireless,” referring to the towering antennas jutting out of what is now a sizable community garden and community-managed conservatory.

In the adjacent neighborhood of Aghios Dimitrios, where much of the march was organized, the Popular Assembly meets weekly in theatrical space of a local municipal building. On the surface, it appears quite innocuous, as though it’s scheduled through an arrangement with the local government. I was surprised to learn that each week’s meeting is a sort of micro-occupation; participants simply walk in and seize the space, with zero visible pushback from employees, and no police response. ”In 2008 (during the uprising), we seized the building for a month,” one local told me. ”So, I think that, for them, two hours a week is a bargain.”

The oldest Popular Assembly in Athens operates in the neighborhood of Petralona, the site of a recent, widely publicized murder of a Pakistani man at the hands of fascists. When I visited with them last spring, they were opening a kitchen and cafe space for educating people about nutrition and food production, and operating an extensive calendar of peer-led health and mental health events, inspired in part by Mexico’s Zapatistas. Today, they operate medical, dental and eye clinics in coordination with other Popular Assemblies, based on non-monetary mutual aid.

As we weaved through commercial corridors and narrow neighborhood arteries last week, all of this seemed to be shifting from a sort of quiet mode of survival into an overt assertion of power. Scattered action commanded the attention of onlookers. Quarter-sheet fliers were tossed into open bus windows, open supermarkets and even into the day’s light breeze, scattering like ticker tape. Two masked young women darted out of the crowd periodically, spray-painting a stencil onto walls featuring a sort of close-up frontal image of a boy with his fist forward, reading “The sons of Adolf will receive a red and black punch” (a reference to the colors of the traditional anarchist flag).

The smell of fresh spray paint hung in the air, the fire to its smoke appearing on walls, the sides of buses, and a newly favorite target in the country’s crisis establishments set up to buy people’s gold. These entrepreneurs are referred to as mavragoriters a termcoined during Greece’s years under Nazi occupation. “They were Greeks, usually friends of or sympathetic to the Nazis, and they took advantage of the crisis and the starvation that existed all over the country,” explained a young woman, who asked not to be named. ”It reached a point where they were buying houses in exchange for two bottles of olive oil, or quantities of rice.”

The subtext of the young woman’s description seems the soul of the Popular Assemblies: dignity. She later pointed me to a communique posted at Indymedia Athens, in which anarchists in the city set about countering the neoliberal mantra heard around the country, and the ethics of the mavragoriters “No job is a shame.” The Popular Assemblies appear to operate from the inverse that appears in the communique “Shame is not a job.” Surviving merely to revive histories of foreign occupation or homegrown fascism, for them, is a path without hope.


*Joshua Stephens is a board member with the Institute for Anarchist Studies, and has been active in anti-capitalist, international solidarity and worker-cooperative movements across the last two decades. He currently divides his time between the northeastern US and various parts of the Mediterranean.

Related Link: http://robertgraham.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/building-t...eece/

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1mays2014.jpg imageTo Taksim To Win 21:04 Wed 30 Apr by Revolutionary Anarchist Action 0 comments

The Turkish state has once again closed Taksim Square for the millions on 1st of May which it used to ''open'' a couple of years ago. It attacked with its batons, water cannons, tear gas bombs and plastic bullets the people who wanted to be in Taksim Square on the 1st of May for their slain brothers and sisters. It has injured and taken many workers, revolutionists and oppressed ones into custody; it has not allowed ambulances to enter for the wounded... Last year, the Turkish State attacked the resisters as it did on previous forbidden 1st of Mays. But what happened that day didn't discourage the resisters, conversely the anger of the 1st of May sparked a revolt.

LAF imageSolidarity Action with Berkin Elvan (Taksim Square Protests) 22:01 Tue 31 Dec by Highschool Anarchist Action-LAF 0 comments

HighSchool Anarchist Action, unfolded a banner to show support for Berkin Elvan from the rooftop of BurgerKing/Taksim.

bflag.jpg imageGreece: Crackdown against three squatted spaces in the port city of Patras 15:59 Tue 06 Aug by Glykosymoritis 0 comments

Greece: Crackdown against three squatted spaces in the port city of Patras

62909e606824b15558f9b0895ce6f13a_1.jpg imageIs the Greek Government Willing to Make a Martyr out of an Anarchist Hunger-striker? 01:27 Tue 09 Jul by Matthaios Tsimitakis - VICE 0 comments

Thousands participate in a solidarity motorcycle protest for Kostas Sakkas. (photo by Vassilis Mathiodakis)

free_sakkas.jpeg imageKostas Sakkas on hunger strike since 4th of June: Three years on remand in order to..make an example 02:27 Fri 05 Jul by eagainst.com 0 comments

He has been on remand for 3 years and was prosecuted twice for the same offence, despite the fact that his name doesn’t even appear in the case file.

The maximum time he should spend on remand expires tomorrow; and he chose this date to start a hunger strike, clarifying that “this is not an act of desperation, but rather to keep up the fight.”

textWE ARE WINNING! - We have seen the beach beneath the stones we have carried the black flag of the re 18:37 Fri 21 Jun by Revolutionary Anarchist Action 0 comments

On İstiklal Street, around French Consolate, 200 meters far from police, holding the stones of the beach in one hand and the flag of the revolt in the other you are clshing with the police. A piece of cloth wet with talcid is your gas mask, police is spraying pressured water, throwing gas bombs one and after, you are left in the middle of gas retreating throwing stones you are out of breath smothered, breatheless at that moment somebody run near you, spray water with antiacid on your face, asking “how are you, are you okay?” You are not okay but immediately you get well.

textRiots in Turkey 14:14 Mon 03 Jun by DAF 0 comments

This is just the beginning, the struggle is going on.
Revolt is out of time and space. For about 40 hours from Istiklal to Harbiye, from Tarlabasi to Besiktas the freedom of a rebellion is being felt. We come in to Taksim Square from Istiklal, after forty hours of clashes. Law enforcement officers run away with all their vehicles. Forty hours, forty years, the square has been a world for us.
This was the freedom of rebellion, maybe the most frightening slogan was that, this is just the beginning the struggle is going on.
Yes, our struggle is going on till we grow our free world, which we carry in our hearts.

fest4afisathumbmedium.jpg imageNaomi Klein to speak on B-Fest in Athens 21:19 Thu 23 May by Glykosymoritis 0 comments

Poster promoting the 4th Antiauthoritarian festival B-Fest

Among the speakers at B-Fest, billed as an 'antiauthoritarian festival', will be Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein, American literary theorist and political philosopher Michael Hardt, Mohawk community activist Clifton Nicholas and digital activism expert Sky Croeser

cebacebfceb6ceb1cebdceb7.jpg imageRegarding Andreas-Dimitris Bourzoukos, one of the four arrested and tortured anarchists in Kozani 21:59 Mon 04 Feb by Glykosymoritis 0 comments

In the pic below our tortured comrades.

villa1.jpg imageGreece: Police raided Villa Amalias 19:07 Thu 20 Dec by Dmitri (republishing) 0 comments

Greece: Police raided occupation of Villa Amalias, Athens

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imageNow It Is The Time To Raise the Struggle in Turkey Sep 13 by DAF 0 comments

Under the sun of June; the riots which have started in Taksim and have spread everywhere; have turned into the September riots in Ankara. The wind of the resistance which has been blowing for many days in ODTÜ and Tuzluçayır, have been saluted from all around the region, near and far. The ones who shine in the sky, the ones who are waving the flags of rebellion, who have been carrying the passion of revolt and who turn winds to storm, welcomed September with resistance. Salute to all who resist!

The authority and his law enforcement officers has murdered six of our brothers. The pain in our hearts is so deep. But they have also been a source of life for our struggle. Now the squares, the streets are resonating with the name of Ahmet... Resisting with his name, Ahmet.

imageAn anarchist comrade from Athens: Enough is enough May 18 by An anarchist comrade from Athens 0 comments

Let us shout it out loud and if they do not hear it let us show it with our actions: Enough is enough.

imageTurkey, Mayday 2010 - The Highest Revolutionary Commitment May 04 by Asli 0 comments

"Those who entered the square by letting the police to search themselves and stay their hunger in the corners of Mcdonald's during and after the meeting became the most concrete example of being distracted by the state's blessing"

textGreece: Something is happening in Egaleo Dec 17 by epoliticus 0 comments

The following entry was published on the blog of the Initiative of the Anarchists of Egaleo [1] on Tuesday (16 December 2008).

textA Few Words on the Greek Insurrection Dec 12 by Kevin S. 16 comments

The social rebellion in Greece contains all the explosive potential for a revolution. But an insurrection alone is not a revolution. Now more than ever discipline is needed to keep the struggle going and intensifying — not the discipline of waiting but the discipline of acting, the discipline it takes to step up the struggle faster than the authorities are able to control. [Polski] [Ελληνικά]

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imageTo Taksim To Win Apr 30 Revolutionary Anarchist Action 0 comments

The Turkish state has once again closed Taksim Square for the millions on 1st of May which it used to ''open'' a couple of years ago. It attacked with its batons, water cannons, tear gas bombs and plastic bullets the people who wanted to be in Taksim Square on the 1st of May for their slain brothers and sisters. It has injured and taken many workers, revolutionists and oppressed ones into custody; it has not allowed ambulances to enter for the wounded... Last year, the Turkish State attacked the resisters as it did on previous forbidden 1st of Mays. But what happened that day didn't discourage the resisters, conversely the anger of the 1st of May sparked a revolt.

textAnarchy is struggle for life, not death May 10 0 comments

Statement on Wednesday’s horrific events that have been written by anarchist and anti-authoritarian groups; in the midst of the tragedy, there is some concrete hope that us, the anarchists, are taking the events seriously enough, thinking and discussing them openly, at last. A vital first step. [- A translator for Occupied London]

text4th Balkan Anarchist Bookfair May 21 0 comments

4th BALKAN ANARCHIST BOOKFAIR (27-31 May 2009)

imageWe Want a Better World - Help Us Dec 17 0 comments

WE WANT A BETTER WORLD, HELP US

We are not terrorists, nor "hooded ones" nor "unknown-knowns"

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