Recent violence in Greece

I must say that I really don’t know that violence is the answer, but I always feel encouraged when I hear news from Greece. The Greek anarchists continue to impress me. With the recent report today of massive riots in the Greek cities of Athens and Thessaloniki I continue to be impressed by their courage and cohession:

ATHENS, Greece – Rioters rampaged through Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki Sunday, hurling Molotov cocktails, burning stores and blocking city streets with flaming barricades after protests against the fatal police shooting of a teenager erupted into chaos.

Youths wearing hoods smashed storefronts and cars in Athens. Riot police responded with tear gas while the fire department rushed to extinguish blazes. Several bank branches, stores and at least one building were on fire on a major street leading to the capital’s police headquarters. Clashes also broke out near Parliament.

Streets quickly emptied as word of the violence spread. Local media reported several people sought treatment for breathing problems.

Violence often breaks out during demonstrations in Greece between riot police and anarchists, who attack banks, high-end shops, diplomatic vehicles and foreign car dealerships in late-night fire-bombings that rarely cause injuries.

Some believe the anarchist movement has its roots in the resistance to the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967-74. The anarchists often take refuge inside university buildings or campuses, where police are barred under Greek law.

The shooting of the 16-year-old boy that set off the first riots took place Saturday night in Exarchia, a downtown Athens district of bars, music clubs and restaurants that is seen as the anarchists' home base.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting were initially unclear. Police said the two officers involved claimed they were attacked by a group of youths, and that three gunshots and a stun grenade were fired in response.

Youths burning shops, set up flaming barricades and torched cars in cities around the country overnight. At dawn crews cleaned up streets littered with the burned debris of businesses and cars. Tear gas hung in the air.

Sunday’s riots broke out during demonstrations moving toward the police headquarters in Thessaloniki and Athens. Protesters in the northern city attacked City Hall, two police precincts, several shops and a bank, as well as vans and cars belonging to several Greek television channels.

In Athens, violence broke out as more than two thousand protesters marched to the police headquarters. Youths fought with riot police for about two hours before groups split off into different parts of the city. More violence was reported in Exarchia.
(Link to the full article)

From this article above, it mentions, “Some believe the anarchist movement has its roots in the resistance to the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967-74.” The roots are much older than that and the anarchist movement is not just there, but it is global and working into every facet of human life and being. People want THE truest freedom, and only anarchy can bring it.

In a recent edition of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, they published a letter from a greek anarchist in prison for bank robbery. Reading his story and all the reports coming out of Greece I think gives every anarchist courage, no matter whether their struggle is through non-violent means (as this site promotes in so far as rethinking city design) or through violent means. So to the Greeks --- thank you all. Your courage is amazing and strengthening.

I have a college friend who studied for a short time at a university in Athens and he said that its simply amazing what the greek anarchists are doing. He told me that at the time he was there, about two years go, anarchists had taken over actually a whole district of the city of Athens and the police knew not to enter it.

If the anarchists were to take over the whole city and banish the police forever, I think this would be monumental. Violence through the police power is central to the preservation of the capitalist/authoritarian system.

John Zerzan (a very prominant green anarchist/primitivist and a main editor of the publication Green Anarchy) in one of his recent radio shows told of a news report he’d recently seen from the city of Thessaloniki (a city mentioned in the article above) in which a bunch of hooded anarchists entered a grocery store and gathered up arm-fulls of food from the store, walked out without paying and just handed the food all out to passers by. Zerzan said that actually he’d seen reports of it being done before in Greece. And food should be free. We should make our cities so food is everywhere in the plants and trees all around us. The earth provides abundance of food so easily. I have to write an article in here soon about eating “weeds.” Most weeds are quite edible.

All of this reminds me again of the work of A.M. Bonanno, a prominant Italian anarchist who wrote in his internationally banned book, Armed Joy about of the end of the ownership system and the beginning of anarchy:

  Wealth must not be destroyed, it must be used. It doesn’t matter what it is, what form it takes or what prospects of employment it allows. What counts is grabbing it from whoever is holding on to it at the time so that everyone can have access to it.
  Everyone? Of course, everyone.

Nothing belongs to anyone in anarchy. If you own it, then you rule it, and there are no rulers (“no rulers” is the central definition of anarchy). Some, as exhibited by many greeks as shown above, feel that violence against the violent (the capitalists who rule with the police power), must be taken as they are unconvinced by mere reasoning to embrace anarchy. Bonanno goes on:

But really, what will we do after we have cut off so many heads that we are bored with it? What will we do when there are no more landlords to be found, even if we go looking for them with lanterns?

This is the question which this site seeks to answer. We must dream and envision that anarchist world now and make it real now in the daily practice of our lives.

Dec. 7, 2008