Police, protesters clash outside Amydaleza migrant camp in Greece

Man on a Rio street - December 2014.

Man on a Rio street – December 2014.

In-between spaces

February 23, 2015 — Leave a comment


If there was just one device with which to symbolise our state of historical being during this time of crisis, it would be a pendulum. There is, it feels, a seemingly eternal sense of moving between one historical moment and another, teetering on the verge of major catastrophe, of an uprising, just as we start to move out of the previous one. We find ourselves abeyant between alternating historical peaks. Vavel, an old and much-loved Greek comics magazine, described itself as a great accompaniment for its readers “to pleasantly pass their time between one catastrophe and the following one”. Time and again, the sentiment whilst we experience events unfold in the Greek territories has been exactly so. Our everyday existence feels like a mere parenthesis to the cataclysmic events always following or preceding it, an ever-fleeting time in-between.

Soon enough, on January 25, Greece will play host to yet another such moment, as it is set to witness the rise of a left-wing party, Syriza, to power ― a historical first. There are those, yours truly included, doubtful that social and historical change may ever be triggered by the parliamentary process. If so, and if there is no apparent way for mainstream parliamentary processes to either accelerate historical time, or even to create much-desired ruptures within it, what reason could there be for engaging with the outcome of these elections? The answer, I think, lies not in historical acceleration, but in the exact opposite effect that Syriza’s rise to power may lead to.

There are many in the left (and beyond) who fear Syriza has toned down its rhetoric already before coming to power: its financial programme reads more mainstream Keynesian, and less radical Marxist, than those in the right fear, and many in the left hope for. This “rationalisation” and main-streaming of Syriza’s programme are major signs of what may lay ahead. After all, if there was even one way for the plexus of financial and political powers to re-legitimise themselves and to hold their reign in Greece, it would lie precisely in a political force that is conciliatory as much as it is sensible, socially legitimate as it is fiscally responsible, so that it might gently steer capitalism out of its crisis. Let that be so. After all, one can hardly argue that the wider social antagonist movement, the grassroots political communities active in Greece, did not have the opportunity to fight back against the authoritarian-financial complex that has reigned in the country in these times of crisis. Decent as it was, this struggle did at the same time expose our very own limitations in acting under this burden of constantly shifting historical time, squeezed between the impact of the events we became witnesses to. And so, here is perhaps a seemingly strange proposition for the upcoming Syriza victory, and for the apparent normalisation of the party, the governance of Greek society and the economy, all deeply entrenched in this crisis. This normalised state of being equals little other than a slowing down of historical time, a long-needed breathing space away from a catastrophe sequence of events. If that is so, then grassroots social and political communities in Greece are faced with a unique opportunity to push for a change of paradigm. Rather than teetering in the in-between spaces of history, this normalised government could allow for the opening up of certain spaces ― of which I can think at least three.

First: spaces of dignity and survival. A demand of decent survival (even survival as a whole) in the form of a minimum wage or the reinstating of elementary labour rights, is no small deal. This is also imperative for Syriza if it is to have any luck in stabilising its position of power in a social body that has become, for the most part, increasingly reactionary and apathetic during the crisis.

Second: spaces of rupture in the authoritarian complex. Syriza has promised the abolition of much-hated police units including the MAT riot police and the DELTA motorcycle unit, and the disarmament of all police units that come in physical contact with demonstrators. Already, in his twitter Q&A of January 14, the Syriza leader appeared to renege on that promise ― at least the part concerning the abolition of the motorcycle police. Yet he should not by any means be allowed to do so. It is unthinkable for a government of the left to have those uniformed far-right gangs in its service. It is unthinkable for it to operate migrant detention centres, high-security prisons introduced primarily for the country’s political prisoners, or the security wall at the country’s NE border. In short, Syriza must be pushed to open up a space toward the dismantling of the state apparatus as we have known it so far.

Third and most important of all: spaces for the building of structures beyond this apparatus. From soup-kitchens and solidarity clinics to self-organised public spaces, vital projects are already in place, striving to exist through and beyond this ever-encompassing web of fiscal austerity and authoritarian control.

In its post-dictatorial years of social consensus, sovereignty in Greece had the foresight to allow for a certain type of a spatial contract, a violence equilibrium by which:

a certain level of social upheaval and unrest became possible within the Athens district of Exarcheia under a mutual but muted understanding that such unrest would rarely, if at all, spill over to other parts of the city or the national territory as a whole.

While holding power, the greatest service a Syriza government could possibly offer would be to expedite the formation of a new spatial contract: a contract no longer based on the rigid, geographical boundaries of a neighbourhood and the violence contained therein, but on the formation of in-between spaces instead. Spaces of survival and of political openings, spaces in which people in the Greek territory can start to build a society that is in the long-term as much post-austerity as it is post-authority.



Biblioteca Terra Libre

Em momentos de crise, a sociedade se questiona sobre seus rumos em busca de outros caminhos. Nesses momentos, os anarquistas estão presentes, na construção de uma alternativa social na qual as pessoas estejam no controle das suas próprias vidas, e não submetidas aos interesses do Estado e do Capital.

Isto pode ser observado na experiência da Grécia. Vivendo uma profunda crise econônomica há mais de cinco anos, os anarquistas gregos estão construindo organizações para suprir as necessidades do dia-a-dia, além de assembleias pautadas na democracia direta.

Com o objetivo de debater este tema, a Biblioteca Terra Livre, junto com o CCS-SP e o Ativismo ABC, organizam o ciclo de debates “Propostas e projetos anarquistas para uma sociedade em crise”. Nas atividades será exibido o curta “Isto é Atenas” (12 min.), legendado pela Biblioteca Terra Livre, seguido de debate com Antonis Vradis.

Antonis é ativista grego, membro do projeto The City at the Time of Crisis, do jornal Occupied London e doutor em Geografia, realizando pesquisas relacionadas à Geografia Urbana e Geografia Política, tendo como objeto de estudo a cidade de Atenas. O último número da Revista da Biblioteca Terra Livre publicou um texto seu sobre as recentes eleições do partido Syriza, que pode ser acessado aqui.

01/03, às 16h – Exibição do curta “Isto é Atenas” (12 min.) seguida de debate com Antonis Vradis (Grécia). Local: Centro de Cultura Social – Rua General Jardim, 253 – sala 22 (próximo ao metrô República).

03/03, às 19h30 – Exibição do curta “Isto é Atenas” (12 min.) seguida de debate com Antonis Vradis (Grécia). Local: Casa da Lagartixa Preta – Rua Alcides de Queirós, 161 – Santo André/SP.

For the purpose of the conference that took place in Athens May 9th and 10th, 2014 we had asked our guests to develop some thoughts based on an idea or a question that we posed them. In collecting their answers, we aimed to create a framework for the preparation of the conference itself, and to help outline those aspects of urban everydayness that we consider to be the most important for us to understand the questions posed by the city itself, at this moment of crisis.The contributions were published here on this site, as well as gathered in the conference publication which was distributed at the conference.

Future Suspended (english) from Ross Domoney on Vimeo.

In September 2013, the Greek coalition government (ND, conservative/PASOK, social democrat) announced that approximately six hundred administrative jobs were to be cut across eight of the country’s biggest universities: nearly half, that is, of their shared total of 1349. The announcement followed on the heels of the shut-down of the state broadcaster ERT three months earlier, which made its 2500 employees redundant overnight. Even if particularly emblematic, these are only two of the government decisions taken to meet the terms agreed with the EU/ECB/IMF ‘troika’ of lending agencies: For 2013 alone, the agreed plan was to place approximately 12000 state employees in the so-called ‘mobility scheme’, according to which they would receive 75% of their wage for a year, before being made redundant as well.

It would be tempting to brush off these developments as tips of the austerity iceberg: Greece, after all, has been read as anything from a crisis scapegoat to a villain, but has always been positioned in the eye of the fiscal storm that gripped Europe and much of the Global West from 2008-09 onward. Independent of their political viewpoint, analysts have for the largest part read this unabated crisis through existing units of power: that is, through the units of nation-states and national governments whether assigning them a weakened position (see, especially concerning the welfare state: Scott, 2013; concerning a shift in state regimes overall: Fujita, 2011) or a potentially empowered role (Bickerton, 2011; Therborn, 2009). Correspondingly, the discussion on either the EU “federalization” (Cloots, De Baere, & Sottiaux, 2012) or the empowerment of certain states at the expense of others nevertheless presupposes and reinforces the national as the scale of analysis.This editorial proposes another conceptualization both for the Eurozone crisis and potentially for the current wave of capitalist restructuring as a whole. It shows how political geographers have played a key role in grounding the abstraction of the fiscal crisis into its urban roots; and it argues that now, as the previously momentary crisis turns into a longer-lasting restructuring, we are met with an unprecedented opportunity: to build on the discipline’s knowledge of the flows and circuits of capital at the urban scale (as studied extensively in urban development and gentrification in particular) and through a shifting of this scale, to better comprehend the ongoing restructuring in supra-national capitalist development and governance. This editorial introduces gentrination as a conceptual tool that will potentially help in this direction.


Imaginaos a un ateniense que fue de viaje al extranjero durante un par de semanas y regresó a la ciudad el 28 de septiembre. El viajero se fue antes del asesinato de Pavlos Fyssas, y el despertar de los medios de comunicación y del gobierno sobre la amenaza neonazi que llevó a la detención del líder del Amanecer Dorado, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, y algunos de sus diputados y simpatizantes.

La reacción inicial del viajero a estas medidas severas sería de júbilo mezclado con sorpresa: el cambio de actitud de las autoridades tras el asesinato de Fyssas fue dramático. Y, sin embargo, las mismas autoridades han tenido información detallada sobre las actividades criminales del partido durante años. La violencia racista se vive todos los días y ha sido ampliamente cubierta por los medios de comunicación internacionales, nacionales, ONGs y el comisario de la UE para los derechos humanos. De hecho, la violencia racista se había normalizado para muchos. Las autoridades judiciales y políticas no estaban dispuestas a tomar medidas, la ley anti-racista de Grecia nunca se había aplicado (una versión mejorada fue rechazada recientemente por el Parlamento), y a los autores de ataques racistas se les ofrecía la impunidad.

Hace menos de un año, Nikos Dendias, el ministro de orden público, insistió en que no existía ningún vínculo entre la policía y el Amanecer Dorado, y amenazó al Guardian con una demanda por difamación cuando divulgó que los policías torturaban antifascistas. Sin embargo, frente al asesinato de Fyssas, Dendias se vio obligado a poner en marcha una investigación sobre dichos vínculos. Varios altos funcionarios fueron despedidos o suspendidos. Un día después del asesinato, 32 casos legales contra el Amanecer Dorado, incluyendo violentos incidentes, incluso letales, fueron presentados a la fiscalía.

Nuestro ateniense estaría perplejo por preguntas obvias: ¿por qué las autoridades no intervinieron antes? ¿Por qué están interviniendo ahora? ¿Podría ser porque un griego ha sido asesinado?

Amanecer Dorado debería haber sido designado como banda criminal y legalmente enfrentado hace mucho tiempo. Este curso de acción hubiera sido automático en la mayoría de los países europeos. Tras el asesinato, los políticos europeos expresaron su descontento con varios sugiriendo que a menos que Grecia se enfrenta a los neo-nazis no debe asumir la presidencia rotativa de la UE en enero.

Pero tal vez el principal motivo de la respuesta fluctuante del gobierno ha sido el cálculo político: hasta hace muy poco altos políticos de derecha y comentaristas sugerían que el partido de derecha (Nea Democratia) debería considerar la posibilidad de un gobierno de coalición con los neo-nazis, si llegaran a ser más “moderados”. El gobierno presentó la izquierda y el movimiento antifascista como uno de los dos “extremos” violentos, a pesar de que se resistieron al nazismo durante todos esos años.

Esta “teoría de los dos extremos” históricamente ignorante y moralmente perversa estaba destinada a infundir el miedo y hacer que la gente rechazara las organizaciones de izquierda y los movimientos populares que resisten a los ataques neonazis y apoyar a sus víctimas. El gobierno de coalición ND y PASOK ahora espera que la exposición de la criminalidad del Amanecer Dorado atraiga a sus votantes a su hogar natural.

Y así , el sentimiento es agridulce: incluso con retraso, el arresto muy publicitado del liderato del Amanecer Dorado será un alivio para muchos. Para los migrantes de la ciudad que les pueda resultar más fácil caminar por las calles de Atenas, para los homosexuales, los izquierdistas, para todos los antifascistas, para todos los que resienten la entrada desvergonzada del Amanecer Dorado en la vida cotidiana y en la política del país.

Todas las personas de piel oscura tenían que tomar precauciones en Atenas. El malo caminaba por las calles. Poco ha cambiado en el plano institucional, sin embargo. La aplicación de la ley penal a los matones no cambiará el racismo generalizado impulsado por el gobierno de coalición. Fue Andreas Loverdos, un miembro prominente del PASOK por aquel momento, que comparó al Amanecer Dorado a una “Hezbollah griega” porque son “activos en los grandes temas” y “generan confianza”.

Fue Vyron Polydoras, ex ministro de Nea Dimocratia, quien instó a una coalición con ellos. Y fue el propio primer ministro Samaras que declaró en marzo de 2012: “Nuestras ciudades están ocupadas por inmigrantes ilegales, vamos a tomarlas de vuelta.” Fiel a su palabra, el gobierno puso en marcha la operación irónicamente llamada Xenios Zeus, deteniendo a personas de piel oscura y a migrantes sin papeles en campos eufemísticamente llamados “centros de retención”.

El mismo gobierno derogó la reforma de la ley de ciudadanía griega 2010, la primera en ofrecer a los migrantes de segunda generación un derecho potencial a la ciudadanía. El gobierno y las autoridades criminalizaron a los pacientes con VIH y a los drogadictos; persiguieron y detuvieron ilegalmente a anarquistas y antifascistas, recortaron los salarios y las pensiones; hicieron que el desempleo juvenil subiera al 60 %, cerraron hospitales, y empujaron universidades hasta el punto del colapso. Esta es la gran paradoja de desmantelamiento del Amanecer Dorado: el mismo gobierno que pone en peligro la democracia y se entrega al fascismo da a si mismo las credenciales democráticas por su supuesta contención del extremismo.

Amanecer Dorado es a la vez un partido político y una banda – y prohibir los partidos políticos a menudo resulta problemático e ineficaz. La ley puede prohibir, pero no puede eliminar, las ideas fascistas, las cuales deben ser enfrentadas políticamente. Para la gente común, la lucha contra el Amanecer Dorado no se limita a la detención teatral de su liderazgo. El antifascismo es una lucha política para el tipo de vida que queremos llevar. Se lucha diariamente por ciudadanos, activistas, grupos de la sociedad civil y las comunidades de migrantes. Es una lucha por la democracia, la solidaridad y la justicia social. No se puede ganar a menos que el sistema de injusticia de la austeridad sea derrotado.