Last weekend in the largest show of strength in over a decade thousands of anarchist marched to protest against the violent eviction of the squats of Villa Amalias and Skaramagka and Patision Sts in Athens and also the very repressive climate that police and state have created the last months in Greece.
Below is an interview with one of the largest anarchist groups in Greece- the Anti-Authoritarian Movement (AK) in relation to the present political and social climate in Greece, the threat posed by the far-right and of course the work of the anarchist movement.
Can you provide some background regarding the current crisis and austerity programme in Greece and how it is affecting the working class?
The current crisis has affected deeply the Greek society. Unemployment and poverty has increased hugely. There are homes without food or electricity. Everyday people are losing their work. Lots of people move abroad in order to work. And we think that this is only the beginning. It’s actually another “shock doctrine” experiment.
Anarchism has strong roots in many parts of the globe. When did it first emerge in Greece and what is it current strengths and weaknesses?
Anarchists have been present in Greece from the 1900’s. The big rise of the anarchist movement was in the 1980s though. There are plenty of strengths and weaknesses. We can just mention the participation and solidarity on social struggles of workers, immigrants or prisoners, the strength in the youth, the struggle against repression and against the capital. There must be a special mention on the struggle and the clashes against the IMF cuts and measures.
Who are the Anti-Authoritarian Movement (AK) and what type of activities and struggles are they involved in in terms of unions and community campaigns?
AK is a network of assemblies in some greek cities. There is a variety of struggles we are involved in. At the moment our main campaigns have to do with the support of the workers of “VioMe” factory, who are about to take over the factory and work it in a self – organized manner, the struggle in solidarity to the civilians of Chalkidiki, Kilkis and Thrace, against the goldmines that are going to be built in their regions (a fast-track investment which would be a catastrophe for the area) and generally the support of local struggles against the catastrophic and exploitative choices of the state and capital. Also, in Thessaloniki we participate to two social centers (“Micropolis” and “Scholeio” ) where at the moment we try to create new self – organized forms and structures of social and solidarity economy in order to respond to the crisis and to work on a proposition for a different way of life, a different society. You see, things are in a really critical condition now in Greece and there are basically two routes to choose either mass brutality or creativity. In this process we collaborate with lots of people and groups from Thessaloniki and from all around Greece who work in similar projects. Last but not least we should mention our focus to the antifacist struggle which is also a crucial issue as the radical neo-nazi party of Greece continues rising….
How many anarchist prisoners are incarcerated in Greek’s prisoners?
There must be over 20. Most of them have been accused for armed struggle.
Many sections of the foreign media such as The Guardian Newspaper have focused on the worrying rise of the far-right Golden Dawn party comparing the situation today with the Weimer Republic during the early 1930s. Who are they and what are anarchists and anti-fascists doing to combat their influence?
There is a rise of the neonazi and not just far-right Golden Dawn party. Not only the crisis but the state has created this rise. Golden Dawn was always a tool of the state where police couldn’t act. The state has acted by far more nazi way than the Nazis. The creation of detention centers for the refugees, the beatings of the demonstrators, the refugees, the recent tortures of the antifascists in the police headquarters, the well known brotherhood between police and Golden Dawn (50% of the police voted for it)… All these are turned now into a rise for the Nazis.
With the rise of Golden dawn, there is also a rise of the antifascist movement. Except of the try to inform the society about the role of Golden Dawn and its relations with the police, there is also a struggle to keep them off the streets and minimize their presence in the society. So far, it seems that we have the strength to do it despite their help from the state.
What is your perspective regarding the rise of the radical leftist party Syriza and did many anarchists vote for them in the last election?
First of all, Syriza is not radical at all. We will remind our announcement after the last elections. “We welcome Syriza in authority’s hell”. Syriza gained this rise from the movement in Syntagma Square but it is not the movement. It is a leftist party struggling to be government. We don’t know how many of the anarchists voted Syriza. We know that our assembly –Thessaloniki’s- didn’t vote at all.
Despite their being over dozen general strikes the current administration under New Democracy continues to impose vicious austerity measures at the behest of the IMF-EU. What do you think should be the next step and what role anarchists should play in these struggles?
It’s hard to predict the next step. One thing we understood, after struggling against a really determined repressive regime throughout the last 3 years, is that the “traditional” ways of struggling against their policies are not really effective at the moment. So nowadays, we try to create new bonds with different parts of the society which will help us resist and build something new. We will try to show to the society that there is an alternative way without the state and the capital. It’s a hard way, we know it but we wouldn’t be struggling for it if we don’t think it is possible. We can’t talk on behalf of all anarchists, we speak for our choices and strategy as AK.
What role can anarchists play outside of Greece in helping the movement?
The part of solidarity is so important at the moment. It helps people to keep on struggling and encourage them. It is vital also to press the authorities. It is so helpful to see that there are comrades and people out of your country who care about you and what is happening here. We feel we are not alone in this attack of the state and the capital. In addition we always look for meetings and collaborations with groups and collectives of Europe and especially from the PIIGS countries to share thoughts, experiences and forms of struggle. We shouldn’t be alone in this. You shouldn’t be alone. We are all together. For that reason during the last year we participate to the “European” anti-capitalistic network M31 (http://march31.net/).