Greek riots- Reaping what you sow


The insurrection in Greece is a violent manifestation of the flame of class war that is sweeping across the world.
The flame of rage against injustice is burning from sweatshops in China to the streets and campuses of Dublin; to the inner city areas of Belfast. From the thousands of pensioners, education workers who took to the streets recently, to the workers who occupied a factory in Derry, we all share a common desire for change.

In 2005/06, we witnessed the spontaneous eruption of violence in the suburbs and the successful struggle against the CPE employment law in France. Since then there has been struggles against neo-liberal public service reforms in Germany, Italy and elsewhere, culminating with this social upheaval in Greece.

In November, over 7,000 Greek prisoners went on hungerstrike for 17 days forcing the government to concede some of their demands including promising to release the half of the country’s prison population by April 2009. As part of a general upsurge in class conflict, particular in the education and healthcare sector.

The common theme in all these struggles has been the adoption of anarchist ideas and methods of struggle. The setting up of mass assemblies based on mass participation and direct democracy to discuss ideas and coordinate actions, to mass direct action including riots, mass blockades, sabotage and the most potent weapon the social general strike.

The conflict in Greece, also serves as a timely reminder that we are the majority who keep this society ticking and the ruling class can only remain protected by their police, army and repressive laws for so long. It is us as workers, unemployed who have the power to transform society for our benefit.

The shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos lit the fire. Mass unemployment, government corruption, police brutality are systimatic under capitalism and the state, that is violent to its core. Conditions that are not just confined to Greece, or Paris, but in our own doorstep. From the death of Dublin man Terence Wheelock in police custody to state terrorism in the North are just some examples....

As one protestor, Zoe Papanidou said,

“There were many reasons why these riots happened. The situation was explosive, socially and economically. The state undermines people. You feel it is violating your rights. At some point the lid was going to burst.” (The Guardian, 10/12/08)

It remains to be seen weather this uprising will be contained and broken by the political establishment through a general election and token reforms, and if the anarchist movement is capable of providing a level of coherant organisation and vision.

In the midst of a power vacumm, in some parts of Greece the police and fascist gangs are actively resurrecting old alliances to crush any opposition. In the city of Patra these activities have been confirmed by the Mayor. There is only winner, as the state and insurrection cannot peacefully co-exist.

As anarchists, the challenge is to channel this insurrection into a social revolution that seizures control of the means of production, exchange and distribution based on workers’ control. The point is to expropriate the instruments of political and economic power. Sweeping away the ruins and rubbles and building a future for all. As Mikhail Bakunin said over a century ago “the urge to destroy is also a creative one.”

In the meantime we must increase resistance in our own communities and workplaces against the bosses and the state- igniting the combative spirit of revolt in the class.


During a brief visit to Greece in June this year, I met and stayed with comrades from the anti-authoritarian movement in the cities of Thessaloniki and Athens.
I also visted the anarchist social centre in the heart of Exarchia, a central district in Athens where the teenager was shot. The 3 storey building is known as 'Nosotros.' The centre provides free education classes, talks, bar and drama.