“We have to sabotage the implementation of the Third Memorandum”
Q: What are the reasons, in your opinion, for the decline in the level of social resistance and struggles against capitalist restructuring and austerity measures and how can we get out of this impasse? What should be the strategy in the anarchist space currently?
A: The cause of the lessening of social resistance is precisely that it had and continues to have a defensive character in face of the unprecedented onslaught of capital and the state after 2010. The capitalist machine has been malfunctioning since 2008, neither finding profitable investments for pumping out ever greater profits nor capital to offset its losses, so it attacks social gains and the working class. And it attacks social security, salaries and pensions, it confiscates property due to debts, reduces labor costs, and seizes public property through privatization.
To compensate for its losses, capital pushes through rescue programs, that is to say the memoranda, wiping out sections of the population that it neither wants to nor can exploit, leading to their destruction. The redistribution of large-scale social wealth by confiscation applies a large-scale policy of theft from society and societal genocide to save the powerful.
Faced with this unprecedented attack that has already left thousands dead and the majority of society immiserated and impoverished, the solution is not to struggle to restore the system and social order to pre-2008 conditions- when the system worked, the banking system was “prosperous” and giving loans, with a welfare state (which in Greece was never well-developed) and a social consensus on the neoliberal reforms of that time.
It is impossible to go back to that situation because of the dynamics of the system itself. Just as it is impossible to return to a social-democratic model of development with strong state intervention in the economy as advocated by Syriza before the elections of January 2015. This model has been disappearing for the past four decades. Rather, the solution is the overthrow and destruction of capitalism itself since its very existence creates crises, the tragic results of which we live. The solution is what we as Revolutionary Struggle have supported for years, that “the only answer to the crisis is social revolution”. The cause of the crisis is not neoliberalism as affirmed by Syriza in previous years, but capitalism itself, its very existence.
The people descended into the streets in the mobilizations of 2010 – 2012 and today on the occasion of the new memorandum, but they expected and still expect to restore the situation to pre-crisis conditions, and to maintain the gains that have been made in the past decades by the old labor and trade union movement’s compromises with capital. The protests that have been made then and now, with their defensive character, proved ineffective to halt in the slightest degree the measures taken by those governments.
But when people take to the streets in protests, it is a great opportunity for political forces to intervene catalytically by putting on the table the revolutionary perspective, the overthrow of capital and the state. And this was exactly what was missing in the period 2010 – 2012 and which is missing now. The masses taking to the streets did not hear anything other than what the regime’s trade unions and parties said to them.
The anarchist/anti-authoritarian space did not form itself into a political force that would pose the question of revolutionary perspective. It did not propose something tangibly different from the policies implemented. So it was a natural consequence that with these mass protests, however large they were, and however many riots there were in front of the Parliament, that they would eventually lose their energy and not manage to overthrow the austerity policies of the government.
I have said before in other events that the radical space found itself unprepared in front of the situation after 2010 which largely revealed its political shortcomings, its lack of analysis of our era and the political system, and its lack of perspectives, positions and proposals. To proclaim slogans like self-organization, self-management, social liberation, revolution, without being more specific is without meaning. That is why the anarchist space remains without serious popular and social support and can not intervene on the central political stage.
The answer to this impasse is to shape our own political positions and proposals, what we propose to society about the problems of our time. To have a political program, to take specific positions on the debt, memoranda, the EU and the eurozone, and what are our proposals to replace capitalism and the state. How can we shape the classless and stateless society to which we supposedly aspire, Libertarian Communism and Anarchy?
On the basis of our political objectives and positions we need to adapt accordingly our actions to achieve these goals and positions. Certainly our actions should be diverse, but to talk about revolution without preparing for armed conflict with the regime, and not to pursue armed confrontation with the regime, means that there is not really striving for revolution, and this word becomes meaningless. Social revolution is unthinkable without resorting to arms to smash the power of capital and the state.
I believe that a revolutionary movement must clearly formulate the positions and proposals of some sort of political program to allow maximum political agreement and commitment on these positions, and on the modes of action and means of struggle to implement these positions and our program. There must be as large as possible consolidation of forces, rather than a loose coordination of collectives or individuals that all have different priorities.
In the present time, we have to sabotage the implementation of the Third Memorandum and the measures taken by the government, along with the commitments they have pledged to the creditors. The range of such action is large: from the urban guerrilla, to mobilizations in the street whether violent or peaceful, counter-information and propaganda actions, or relief measures for the socially weak and vulnerable affected by the crisis, to self-organized projects, all should be pieces of one political project for subversion, not detached from each other. And an overturn cannot happen if we are not prepared for armed struggle, for armed confrontation with the central government for the capture of enemy strongholds, those places where the authorites make their decisions. If we want to make revolution we must be prepared for war literally, not figuratively, to be prepared to risk our lives. This is how I think struggles are conducted.
Also, I believe that a revolutionary movement must have a political-military character. It should have open, public action and also purely illegal action. If there was, for instance, a Federation of Anarchist Assemblies based on territorial distinctions with collectives, affinity groups and individuals participating on the basis of a clear political agreement on principles, objectives and means of struggle, this would link together and help achieve a politically revolutionary program, and parallel to this there could be an illegal armed structure, a mass armed group that would target structures of economic and political power, thus promoting the implementation of the positions and program of the Federation of Anarchist Assemblies.
This does not mean the existence of two mutually independent parts, a “legal” and an “illegal” arm of the movement, but the distinct existence of the open and public action with purely illegal and secret actions that exist within a single revolutionary movement that has diverse actions and does not have criteria for separations of legality or illegality, but is preparing for overthrow and armed confrontation with capital and the state.
There can be no revolutionary movement without having its sights set on armed struggle. There can be no serious revolutionary movement if it is not prepared for armed conflict with the regime. There can be no revolution if the movement has no armed forces and infrastructure to overwhelm the security forces and the armed forces of the regime.
Q. How to connect the solidarity with political prisoners and persecuted activists in the struggles against the memoranda, capitalist restructuring and in general the people descending on the streets at this time?
A: First of all, allow me to delineate what is solidarity. Solidarity means that we consider as comrades all who are in prison because of the means of struggle chosen and that the means chosen are integral parts of our common struggle for the revolution to overthrow capital and the state, with the one prerequisite of having a dignified attitude against the prosecuting authorities, meaning they do not cooperate with the authorities and do not repent of their actions. Solidarity means that we think and feel that with repression, persecution and imprisonment of comrades because of their action and means of struggle that they chose, this means that the state strikes at all of us. It means the continuation of the struggle for those who are prisoners because of their revolutionary action, it means the continuation of the struggle of those who gave their lives in the struggle for the revolution to overthrow Capital and the State.
On this basis, solidarity is expressed in many ways. For example, actions that allow the political prisoners to speak, or counter-information, interventions, occupations, and demonstrations designed to publicize and popularize the words of political prisoners and the reasons why they are in prison, and most importantly, to connect all this with the general revolutionary project, namely the overthrow of capital and the state in the social struggles of our time. It can of course also be the continuation of armed struggle when it concerns prisoners who are in prison because of armed action and are members of guerrilla organizations.
To connect the solidarity with political prisoners in the struggles against the memoranda and the attack which has been unleashed by capital and the state since 2010, there should exist on the one hand (in the political space to which the political prisoners belong) the prospect of subversion and social revolution, and this certainly not at the level of wishful thinking or sloganeering, but at the level of action; and on the other hand the political prisoners themselves advance the struggle with their words or actions that have a revolutionary perspective.
For example, the words and acts of Revolutionary Struggle that are expressed either as an organization that acts, or through prison, have a wide social audience, our words can be popularized and are assimilable. Because the actions and the logic of the organization are based on the struggle against the rescue programs and policies to address the crisis, it is a call to overthrow the regime for social liberation.
We are an anarchist collective who have talked about the enormous public debt since 2005, how the Greek economy was based on a dependency policy by borrowing from the markets and the transnational economic elites, and that the country would be in a dire situation if there erupted a crisis due to debt, and we diagnosed the policies implemented by the Greek governments since 2009 to address the crisis, these policies that led to the memoranda. We diagnosed the social explosions that would be caused by these policies, which resulted in the overall discrediting and delegitimation of the system for major portions of society and this appeared in the period 2010 – 2012, and as well we diagnosed the great opportunity that occurred due to this general discrediting and delegitimation of the system for a revolutionary attempt in Greece, this opportunity that currently remains untapped. We talked on just the same grounds since 2009 of the need to create a revolutionary movement with clear objectives to attempt the overthrow of capital and the state, but this has not been possible to do so far.
We made what should in our view be the political orientations and proposals that a revolutionary movement must have today, as expressed in the creation of our platform in the notice by which we undertook the responsibility for the attack on the Bank of Greece in 2014. Of course a revolutionary movement must not forget the captives who are in state hands.
As for a practical example of how to connect the solidarity with political prisoners in the struggles against the memoranda, I could mention the proposal on my part in March 2015, when the hunger strike of the political prisoners might have had a central demonstration in Athens linking those demands of political prisoners to the fight against the Memorandum, this coming at a time when the Syriza government had signed its acceptance for the extension of the then existing Memorandum and its acceptance of debt and obligations to lenders in the meeting of the Eurogroup on February 20, 2015- but this demonstration proved impossible to undertake.
Of course, the response to the hunger strike of political prisoners then revealed that solidarity with political prisoners is not a given. I have said some things about the hunger strike of political prisoners last March- in my view, there was not an appropriate response from pieces of the anarchist/anti-authoritarian space.
Generally over time it has been demonstrated that a large piece of the anarchist space consistently opposes and condemns armed revolutionary action but without being able to support that attitude publicly with political arguments, so instead it mobilizes on the issue of solidarity almost exclusively or more easily on issues like “violation of human rights” or in cases where the framework is of “machinations”, “persecution”, the “construction of cases”, the “criminalization of relations” , which are considered more fit for “popularization” and as more “digestible” in the eyes of society.
And because these political arguments can not be publicly supported by the depreciation of armed revolutionary action on their part, then it is most convenient in the case of prosecutions relating to armed rebel groups to misrepresent the substance of those cases, to claim that the meaning in these repressive attacks is not the suppression of armed revolutionary organizations but only the criminalization of the anarchist space, etc. In addition to the arsenal of this kind of “solidarity” has been also added the “solidarity does not mean identity”, but which has shown that the only ones who are asking for identification are only those who extend this kind of “solidarity”.
Over time, the unfortunate result of this split “solidarity” is seen with the political prisoners who are members of armed revolutionary organizations and have taken political responsibility for their organizations and actions and have carried the weight of political battles and confrontations with the state, through special courts and more generally.
The “solidarity” criteria that have prevailed in part of the anarchist space are either personal criteria, that some get mobilized on the basis whether they know someone or have personal, friendly or even family relationships; while at a political level the criterion for this split “solidarity” is the depreciation of armed revolutionary action and those who assume political responsibility for it and defend armed struggle. This is an attitude with which I disagree politically, and with which I am not in solidarity.
The hypocrisy of this split “solidarity” showed itself when I made the proposal for the creation of the Assembly of Solidarity for political prisoners, a proposal which was to determine solidarity solely on political criteria- i.e. to include all persons persecuted and imprisoned for using methods of struggle that are inextricable parts of the struggle of anarchists and revolutionaries in general, this including the communists, and with the only exception of those that have kept an undignified posture by making statements condemning actions or giving information to the authorities. In my opinion this should be the political criteria for solidarity regardless of the means of struggle of those that have been imprisoned, regardless of whether people know personally or not persecuted and imprisoned fighters, regardless of whether we agree or disagree in some or other matters, regardless whether some acknowledge their participation in armed rebel groups or whether their prosecution is a side effect of the judicial pursuit of guerrilla organizations.
But some, either inside prison or outside, raise concerns and make obstacles to create such a solidarity structure for all political prisoners because what they really wanted, but could not say so openly, was to exclude a significant portion of political prisoners as solidarity recipients since what they support – not publicly of course – is that this portion are not political prisoners. Let us not fool ourselves, let us not hide, but look at reality. Solidarity with all political prisoners as a whole who keep a dignified attitude is something that receives an underground war from parts of the radical space.
At this time, amid the general slump in social resistance (despite a mobilization period as now is the time for the pension bill of the Syriza government that implements the third Memorandum) and taking into account the general failure of the anarchist/anti-authoritarian space to emerge as it ought to, as the single serious political pole that puts on the table the revolutionary perspective, solidarity to political prisoners appears to be as discredited as ever. Any solidarity movement, any solidarity call is now settled in a fragmented manner in the general indifference, fragmentation and discord situation prevailing in the movement. Let’s apply what we said previously and still holds true: whoever forgets the prisoners of war, forgets the war itself. The problem is more radical and does not concern only solidarity but the struggle overall.
In conclusion, to answer your question as to how solidarity with political prisoners relates and can relate to the struggles against the memoranda, with capitalist restructuring and people descending into the streets- this is when our action must be aimed at social revolution, when our actions must bring us together in struggle with parts of society mobilized against the memoranda in order to influence them in an anti-capitalist and anti-state direction. To do this we must have clear policy positions and objectives, a revolutionary political program, we must have clear proposals to the militant segments of society to promote the influence of an anti-capitalist and anti-state direction, so that our actions can be understood to be for the benefit and interests of those affected by the attack of capital and the state, attacked by memoranda and the austerity policies for handling the crisis. Revolutionary Struggle has such action. Our action must reach a broad social audience and not be introverted or self-referential.
To have such action that puts on the table the prospect of subversion and revolution is the best shield and protection for political prisoners and imprisoned fighters.