You are a child growing up in Greece in the nineties…

By Occupied London:

The Games are here: development fever, a certain euphoria mixed with a longing, the longing to become “Western”, to finally “make it”…

You are a child growing up in Greece in the nineties. There is a high chance for one of your distant relatives or even your aunt, your uncle, your grandfather, your mother or father to carry a few years in their lives from which no bedtime stories will ever come. “Exile”, “dictatorship”, “civil war”: strange words ringing about but lost behind the veil of the untold. Silent grandparents with long gazes, voters-for-life of a Party that would repeatedly betray them through a lifetime too far down the road to change its course. Times past, hidden by the thick screen on to which the capitalist spectacle projects itself. By the mid-2000s, the spectacle has grown to Olympic proportions. The Games are here: development fever, a certain euphoria mixed with a longing, the longing to become “Western”, to finally “make it”… For a brief moment in time it seems to be happening, for some.

And suddenly the screen goes blank. December 2008, the month when a country’s divided collective past came back to bite. The time that followed, an animated reminder that class and political struggle had never been tucked away in museums or history books – and that they would most certainly not be tucked away any time soon. A sudden awakening. Or was it?

Contradictions, struggles, the ubiquitous feeling that history marches over everyday victories and defeats. The December revolt was the precise moment when an entire generation sat up wide awake to the realisation that the muted stories of the past had always been part of the present.

This book is a collective attempt to read the time between the revolt of December 2008 and the crisis that followed. Most of us were children who grew up in nineties Greece. Some are still there, some are now elsewhere, some have never visited. For all of us December is a key reference. Even if the reference was originally territorial, it quickly went beyond geographical boundaries. It became so much more. We feel that what is being played out in the Greek case poses some enormous questions that reach far beyond the place itself or the people who live there. Greece was “a bad apple”, we were told. The first European country to see austerity measures kick in, to see the IMF arrive. But Ireland was quick to follow. Portugal was next in line, then perhaps Spain. The bad apples multiplied, a domino of unrest that did not seem to care much about border crossings or about planned schedules. Revolts spring out of seemingly “nowhere”, at unexpected times. Think of Alexis Grigoropoulos’ assassination in Athens and what followed. Or Muhamed Bouazizi, the fed-up street vendor in Tunisia. He set himself on fire and the entire region ablaze. Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya… in a circle almost full, the flames of revolt become visible from Greek shores once again.

But what give birth to the revolt on these shores and what has followed it since? In order to answer these questions the book is divided into three parts. “The Site: Athens” is the reader’s landing strip, an introduction to the setting of the events. “The Event: December” is a reading of the revolt of December 2008 traced through its remnants in the present, to see what made those events possible but also what those events made possible in return. The final part of the book is titled “Crisis”. To be sure, this is about the global capitalist crisis as grounded and lived within the territory of Greece. But this concluding part is also about the social antagonist movement’s moment of crisis: even if the colloquial meaning of the word is a downfall, in its original meaning it stands for judgement and thinking – which would mean, in our case, some much-needed self-reflection.

The notion of crisis may also imply a moment of rapid change, a moment that marks and reveals a fast transition towards something different. What remains an open question and a challenge, then, is to try to make sense of this transition – of how we position ourselves within it as anarchists, as part of the global antagonist movement, as people inspired by the December revolt who nevertheless want to be better prepared for the Decembers that are sure to come.

Revolt and Crisis book introduction (original post at Occupied London)

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