Yesterday (Wednesday 5th April 2010) huge protests took place across Greece, at the planned austerity measures to be imposed as a condition of the IMF bailout package.

Unfortunately, in Athens, three people, including a pregnant woman, died of asphyxiation in a bank set on fire by a petrol bomb – presumably thrown by a protester. Undoubtably this is a tragedy, and there is no way that it can be justified.

I do not condemn the protesters though. The Greek President  was correct in saying “violence breeds violence”, but should address such comments to himself and to his police. The Greek people are suffering an economic violence that will not hit them in their pockets so much as hitting them in their stomachs. This economic violence is secured through undemocratic means, and this is another very real type of oppressive violence – the political violence of unfreedom. Finally, both are backed up by the brutal violence of fully armed and geared riot police. No wonder people were angry enough to throw petrol bombs.

Still, this is the second recent tragedy caused by violence thought to be from anarchists (nothing is yet proven). A few weeks ago a kid was  killed in Athens by a bomb that went off in the street. A small autonomous group of anarchists has been arrested in connection with similar bombings, though the connection between the group and the various bombings hasn’t been fully backed-up yet (to my knowledge, at least – there may have been more recent developments). When people turn to such violence, these tragic accidents will happen – and that is more than sufficient reason for me to not use violence at all.

The earlier case illuminates the second: at a moment when there is a strong communal struggle taking place, certain “specialists” take it into their heads to act beyond the community, feeling justified in undertaking their struggle by whatever means, and on their own terms. These people are not justified: this is not how communal struggle is done; this is how terrorism is done. The case of these bombings split the anarchist communities, the Left and the larger community – because the proposed cause was correct and justifiable, but the means were not. We have to ask of yesterday’s tragedy whether it too was the result of specialists who see protests and destruction as an end in themselves, and thus justify to themselves means that are not designed to further a communal struggle, but to create a momentary impact. These are the people who go out looking to fight with the police, or who are determined to smash the windows of H&M or to set alight a bank (as it proved) as though these were themselves revolutionary acts. They are not; there is nothing revolutionary about these activities;  they are moronic, debased, tragic.

It is genuine revolutionary action that is needed, and if you don’t need to go back to the Communist Manifesto to see that the best result of a protest such as we saw yesterday in Greece is to create a body of people, a people who can articulate common problems and desires, and to mobilise them. Instead, of being triumphantly strengthened  – lighting a beacon to all in Europe – that body was yesterday weakened by yet another senseless bit of sadness to be swallowed down by all who looked on and wished for revolution.

Solidarity with all who struggle


~ by Wit on May 6, 2010.

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