INTERNATIONAL ANARCHIST MOVEMENT-GREECE:
RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE INSURRECTION IN GREECE:
Sooner or later you have to give your own opinion. Molly is "semi-familiar" with Greece, having visited the country a few years back, having a slight acquaintance with the language, and having followed events in that country for some years. I do not claim to be an "expert", and neither do I claim any precognition as to how events will play out in that country, with its complicated politics and with the inability of other countries to intervene at this time. All these caveats, however, don't say that one can't apply common sense to what is happening in Greece now, particularly insofar as it has "world importance" outside of the borders of Hellas- which indeed it does. Here are a few of my preliminary thoughts. Further developments may prove these right or wrong.
NEW FORMS OF REBELLION:
What is unique about the present rebellion in Greece, as compared to other previous uprisings in Europe, is the role of present technology in its development. After the original police murder the first protests were brought together within hours via such things as text messages. people gathered to protest without any organization that claimed to give out the call. This is, of course, very anarchistic, but what it does, in reality, is merely compress the "time frame" that has been evidenced in previous rebellions across the world. All previous revolutions have been the work of ordinary, non-aligned people rather than the work of conscious revolutionary organizations. Even the Russian Revolutions were, at first, a totally spontaneous uprising. The October Revolution that brought the Bolsheviks to power depended on their alliances with other forces such as the Left SRs and the anarchists, and this "revolution" would be better described by the term "coup d'etat" rather than "revolution". The actual "revolution" that the Communists set about forthwith to destroy was being made in the factories, the regiments and the rural estates of Russia by the people themselves. The "signals" were carried more by foot than by any other method. Trains and telegraphs, of course, spread the rebellion faster than word of mouth could, but the speed was still much slower than it is today.
This has meaning which has to be taken account of. The immediate success of the Greek rebels has, perhaps, given them an illusion of effectiveness that isn't justified by subsequent events. The best illustration of this is the call for an international day of solidarity on the 20th of this month. this was given with a very short notice. The illusion was that if, protests could be organized in Greece within hours that they could be similarly spread internationally within a day. The call was responded to, but, outside of Germany and France, it gathered few numbers and those only from the anarchist activist "scene".
The whole point is that the apparent success of the rebellion in Greece is predicated on a technology that has its limitations. It allows immediacy, but it also fosters the illusion that considered thought is unnecessary, and allows the participants to imagine that their own situation is the same as others. These sort of illusions can be forgiven when radical politics is a matter of "game-playing". they are unforgivable in situations where real goals are at stake.
THE NEW AND THE OLD:
The rebellion in Greece is already passing into history, and it will be compared to other such events in European history in the past half century. How does it compare to such events as the French uprising of 1968, Solidarnosc in Poland in 1980-81 and the Romanian Revolution of 1989. In one sense it is best equivalent to the latter. The first two had positive programs ie an idea of what was to replace the old order. The latter, much more violent than the events in Greece today, was also an inchoate uprising with no clear goals, and, of course, it was taken advantage of by those who had such goals. Nowadays in Greece those who would want to use the rebellion as a stepping stone to power, the socialists and the communists, have, like in France in 1968 been appalled by what has been unleashed. They are presently doing their best to restrain the movement, and have pretty much abandoned their own power seeking goals. The sheer persistence of the movement has astonished them and also frightened them. it has escaped their control.
The closest equivalent in modern history to what is happening in Greece today is France in 1968. The differences are instructive. In Poland in 1980-81 the rebellion was a trade union one, by definition a rebellion of the average person, of the population as a whole. In France in 1968 the rebellion was triggered by students, as a caste separate from the general population. Yet, the working class joined in, inspired by the goal of "self-management". Today in Greece this goal has barely been articulated. No doubt the phrase has been debased in the past few decades. It is presently one of the ideological shibboleths of those who have absolutely no intention of ever implementing it in reality, of social democrats, of Trotskyists, of communists and even of the most vicious and dictatorial of all- the Maoists. All of them use it as a slogan, but none of them mean it. They all try and confuse the matter, as the present Caudillo in Venezuela does, by pretending that control by state bureaucrats is the same as that of control by the workers themselves in an enterprise. No...it is fucking not, and that is obvious !!!!
Yet, no matter how long the young people in Greece can "hold out" and continue with their protests they cannot succeed unless the general population joins in. Quite unfortunately the present movement in Greece is very much driven by disgust with the present government, and, unlike France in 1968, there are few indications of a positive idea of an alternative. This will condemn the movement to eventual defeat, no matter how heroic it may be. This is where the movement fails- its lack of a program.
THE NEED FOR ORGANIZATION:
As I have said "revolutionaries don't create revolutions". Such events are far beyond the control of sects and parties. They happen when a population is really and truly fed up with an intolerable situation. What "revolutionaries" (amongst whom Molly does not count as belonging) can do, however, is to provide a clear idea of "what to do" to the people during such times as the people themselves rebel. This is predicated on a long period of organization before such uprisings and clear and careful thought as to the perennial question of "what is to be done". It also depends on a clear and non-rhetorical idea of what is possible or not in a given situation and time. It also depends on recognition that you may get half-way there and be much further ahead than if you go for an end goal that is unachievable.
In Greece today there are organizations that have presented something of a "final goal" ie the anarchosyndicalist ESE and the Greek platformists. What they have failed to do is present anything like a way in which movements can be advanced towards such final goals and how temporary gains can be stabilized even if they fall short of the final goal. They have also, and this is no fault of their own, considered how rebellions of "triggers" such as the students can be generalized into the full gun of a revolution. This is hardly the task of small groups, such as anarchists outside of Spain are today. It is, however, something to think about for the future. Hopefully the present events in Greece will lead to a deepening of the anarchist understanding in that country and a growth of those anarchist organizations that can actually point to a realistic way forward. At the present time Greece is in the vanguard of the struggle for a libertarian society. What is needed is time, organization and clear thinking.
No doubt the political horizons of many participants in the protests in Greece today hardly go beyond putting handcuffs on Greece's admittedly brutal police or, at best, forcing the conservative government to be a little less brutal in its policies. Having seen the Greek riot squads marched up and down streets uselessly Molly has little respect for their "size" as compared to the average Canadian cop, but I'm sure that they make up what they lack in stature by sheer meanness if they can corner an isolated victim- but I also have to admit that they aren't great at maintaining formation when it really matters.I sit in wonder as one or two cops chase a group of rioters down a street. Stupid, stupid. stupid. It's a tribute to the ineffectiveness of the rioters that more don't get taken down. But these, of course, are sheerly military comments. Politics are what counts. In this our Greek comrades are both brilliant and deficient. Hopefully we can learn from them, and they will learn from what they are doing now. That is for the future.
More thoughts later as the situation develops.