Greece: Lessons and Paths of Dignity, Rage, and Hope in Collective Strength

On the 16th of July, 2015 we held this Gathering of the Pueblos en Camino in the spirit of helping to weave resistances and autonomies between peoples and processes. The meeting took place just a few days after the referendum in which 62% of Greek voters said NO! OXI! to austerity and submission to the Troika and the economic power of capitalism in the European Union. It was also a few days after the ‘Left’ government of Syriza, with Tsipras as Prime Minister- who had promised to end austerity and who had called the referendum- ignoring and even going against its outcome, had presented and passed a humiliating ‘agreement’ in the parliament. This agreement was humiliating and against the people’s will, promoting economic plunder and the humiliating loss of sovereignty in favour of the economic power of big capital. The ‘agreement’ was approved by the Troika and this means that the immediate future for Greece is plunder, misery and humiliation. ‘The Greek people say OXI! NO! to fear’ in an act of great courage and dignity. The masks of the institutional Left fall and capitalism too unveils its real project, burying the fantasy of a democratic and participatory Europe. Here we share the debate that is happening in streets and homes in Greece and around the world, so that it goes on and grows into words and paths of peoples weaving struggle and resistance.

 

Presenting from Greece:

Katerina Nasioka

Evgenia Mijalopoulou

Theodoros Karyotis

 

Present:

Raúl Zibechi, Montevideo, Uruguay

Beatriz Amor, La Plata, Argentina

Tomás Astelarra, Córdoba, Argentina

Martín Villarroel Borgna,   Córdoba, Argentina

Gabriela Sepúlveda, Patagonia, Argentina

María Eugenia Borsani, Patagonia, Argentina

Héctor Mondragón, Colombia, desde Sao Paulo, Brasil

Malely Linares, Colombia, desde México

Alejandro Guerrero, Colombia, desde México

Constanza Cuetia, Pueblo Nasa, Tejido de Comunicación, Colombia

Colectivo Social Ruptura, Guadalajara, México

René Olvera, Querétaro, México

Alonso Gutiérrez, México D.F., México

Jesús Alemancia, Panamá, Panamá

Vilma Almendra, Cauca, Colombia

Manuel Rozental, Cauca, Colombia

Jorge Alonso, Guadalajara, México

Leonie Pokutta, Alemania, desde España

Saskia Fischer, desde Grecia

Tancredi Tarantino, Roma, Italia

Hugo Blanco Galdos: Filming a documentray in La Convención, could not be present.

Juan Gutiérrez: Colombia, from Rosario, Argentina, we could not get a connection.

 

Presentation-Provocation from Greece

 

Evgenia Mijalopoulou:

 

Kalimera in Greek. Good morning. Teo should start. He has just written an article on the subject which was circulated to everyone and published as material for this discussion. I think this would be a good starting point.

 

Theodoros Karyotis (Teo):

 

You both start, and I will gladly follow.

 

Evgenia: Katerina and I need to tell you all that we don’t have the distance necessary for making a full analysis on the situation and especially one so intense and recent. So the questions and comments will help in this. To start off, we want to put forward three points:

 

1. Is Syriza Left or not? This is not about our opinions but has to do with something more profound. In Greece, either we give a new meaning to the term ‘Left’ or we abandon it. Let’s start by pointing out the fact that everyone is Left, from the PRD in Mexico to Lula and Dilma’s governments, to Syriza and many more. So the meaning of Left can’t continue to be interpreted in this way. We have to address this issue and make decisions about it.

 

2. Knowing capitalism today. The enemy’s characteristics in the current moment. We need to analyse this and understand it. If we don’t, or if we fail to understand it, we will easily fall into its traps and make mistakes.

 

3. The 62% in the Referendum. This is the most important and valuable thing, for all of us. Those of us who are meeting today and who identify with it through our participation in the struggle and the path, that 62% is crucial for the struggle from below.

 

Katerina Nasioka:

 

1. Syriza:Today in Greece many people are saying that this is the end of an era, of the period from the metropolis/post-dictatorship to the present. All the different forces, absolutely all of them, have gone through the mill of power and come out defeated. We have no illusions- based both on the evidence and our accumulated experiences- that the official Left could lead a struggle against capital and on our terms.

 

On Syriza’s characteristics.Syriza put forward a two-pronged strategy:

 

1. Achieving a kind of national consensus under capitalism; social cohesion based on the consolidation of production in Greece and a less unequal equilibrium, but under capitalism. An equilibrium with the lower classes but that only deals with extreme situations, without touching class structures or the establishment. It does not entail any redistribution of wealth. Now faced with the facts we see that this is how it is. That this is Syriza’s project: an agreement with the elites in that sense.

 

2. The Syriza illusion. A gentler capitalism. Its political project is one that poses the possibility of a weak social state. They didn’t recognise that the only path we can take against capital will be more conflictive than consensual. These points that we are making only describe the visible outcomes of Syriza’s decisions, which have the backing of the right and centre, and not the Left characteristics that many people thought they had, which were based on illusions, desires, needs and rhetoric.

 

 

Evgenia:

 

Syriza was never Left. They are a social-democratic partyin a Europe in which not even social democracy lite is allowed. Could they take us towards a rupture with the EU? The answer is NO! That wasn’t amongst their options.  What they did have was a strategy to stay inside the EU at whatever cost. This they never tried to hide. Their negotiations with the EU followed this path. In my opinion, it was wrong to pursue negotiations from that position. They thought they could take advantage of the divisions within the EU to push for a more humane capitalism. That was totally impossible and wrong.

 

There are those within Syriza who are and will clearly always be in favour of leaving the EU. I am more angry with them than with Tsipras and his allies. The Syriza youth, the Communist Party and so on. My anger comes from the fact that what they are  proposing was never anything more than rhetoric, that’s to say that they never had anything more serious or forceful than an opinion. Not one of them has sat down to actually plan out the process of leaving the Euro. How to do it. They had no strategy.They gave Syriza the legitimacy it has today with their anti-system rhetoric against the EU machine. It was their stance that persuaded people to believe in Syriza’s project faced with the EU. It was thanks to them that Syriza was transformed from a coalition of struggles in the street to a party that won power. And they, following the pathological tradition of the Left, fled the streets and collective struggles to secure a piece of the pie inside the party of government, abandoning the struggle and its meaning while at the same time enlisting it as popular backing from the bases.  

 

It was Don Quijote, saving his lady love from disaster, but this time it wasn’t windmills but real giants.

Either we rename the Left, questioning and redefining it, or we abandon it.

 

 

Katerina:

 

A very important point is that what happened has destroyed for good the narrative of a Europe of peoples and democracy. This will become clearer in the future, but it’s already happened. The contradictions of this project of the EU intensified to the point where something finally broke. This is the beginning of the end of a politics that has lasted many years.

 

The other thing: exit from the Euro and to the Drachma. I agree with Evgenia. If we think of the Drachma as a separate currency outside of the Euro, as a project in itself, then that is not rupture with the EU. Let’s remember that Schauble himself, from within the Troika, is proposing this as an exit. Even the financial institutions are proposing an exit from the Euro, to throw Greece out of the Euro. We’ll likely reach that point, but the important thing is to understand that this, contrary to what is being said and argued, is not a rupture with neoliberal policies, nor with capital. It doesn’t change the relations of forces against capital in any way but rather favours capital, and in essence involves redistribution through the plunder of the poor in favour of rich. The Drachma is neoliberal capitalism with another face. A distraction.  

 

They didn’t have a plan to confront the economic model and the EU because Tsipras didn’t want one and because in reality this doesn’t imply a rupture.

 

The real NO-OXI is something very different to that which was vaguely proposed in terms of another currency. OXI implies an opening to something that we don’t yet know, and which helps us to go on fighting in our own way, but not about the currency and the economy because they’re the same. 

 

What we are going to see, what is in store for us: the measures are very harsh. Our daily life is going to be very difficult. We are going to be faced with a very hard situation and it is in confronting it that the OXI will take on meaning. That’s when it will be put to the test and we are going to be profoundly challenged by this. These very difficult circumstances that we are going to face could, coming out of that OXI, produce a scream from daily life and from poverty that doesn’t yet have a shape, a path of paths from which what need emerges. What we want. What motivated us to say OXI with dignity.

 

Teo:

 

I agree with everything that the compañeras have said. In the interests of the discussion, I will play devil’s advocate, the role of conciliator:

 

Syriza, both as a project and in terms of its defeat, were inevitable. It’s the chronicle of a necessary, inevitable and predictable defeat. Society thoughtthat with this project they were going to find the way out of the crisis and of austerity. It was predicable and it’s already failed. We are at a critical juncture now. Syriza built an impressive hegemony within social movements and in doing that, demobilised them. That hegemony has been demolished, it ended in one day. The good thing is that it became very clear at the European level that Europe is nothing more than domination and imposition and not its false promise of democracy and union. The Left needs to recognise itself in this deception. The project that resolved and promised to change  Europe’s course without changing things at root has been demolished.

 

This loss of faith in representative democracy could produce a desire in many people to ridicule democracy, but that has the danger of holding back democracy itself, that is radical, popular and real democracy, and it can lead to more reactionary, far right positions. Positions that have representatives and definite strengths in all parts such as Golden Dawn in Greece and across Europe, like the parties in France and England. This is already a real and concrete scenario with clear actors who could take advantage of the failure of the party Left’s projects.

 

There’s no doubt that the majority’s NO! OXI is a major legacy. We have to deepen it. To actively hope and work until the end- till the atmosphere of terror which we are living in has run its course, and to see how to deepen a real and radical democracy from below.

 

Syriza’s project was also possible because of our shortcomings: from those of us who fight for a better world. We failed to articulate ourselves. I am not talking about electorally. We failed to put forward proposals. For example, we stayed in a hyper-abstract ‘revolutionism.’ We failed to build tangible processes, pathsand alternatives to deal with people’s needs. Powers and paths close to the people, to their needs and experiences. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and hopefully the coming period will be different in that respect.

 

Evgenia:

 

I agree with Teo. Two points:

 

1. With respect to the European project: I ask, ‘why did Europe decide to finish with its narrative, the myth that it has cultivated for so many years?’ It’s the strategy which promotes breaking with the image that we were defending that is dominant.Today we have a Europe which has thrown to the devil its centuries old myth. During the past weeks we’ve heard voices argue this directly and openly, in the name of power and capital.For example, the President of the European Parliament, who as you know declared this week: never again will we allow immature governments or peoples to put the idea of Europe in jeopardy. We want the states, constitutions and finance ministers so that nothing is decided in the parliaments of immature and autonomous countries, who are not ruled by the centre. We want everything to be decided in Brussels. It’s over, the idea of that other decentralised, articulated and democratic Europe.

 

History (with capital letters) is undergoing a critical change. We are living through this change, we are witnesses to it and we need to recognise and understand this. They could easily have incorporated Tsipras and Syriza in this new course. But they won’t do it. They haven’t done it. They have opted instead for a profound change.

 

2. OXI, the 62. The NO wasn’t homogenous nor even conscious of its consequences, but it marks a critical juncture. It does for me, without doubt. The people overcame fear. This is crucial and we need to nurture it. That OXI-62 is a silent and invisible revolt, of the kind that doesn’t get written down in History with capital letters. 

 

In other words, an example to illustrate the point: the Mexican Revolution was made possible because of invisible revolts that happened prior to it. It’s the same with every one of those moments which were the outcome of a long sequence of invisible processes, forgotten but very real and concrete, built from below, and which resulted in those tumultuous and visible events which could no longer be hidden. This is how eruptions grow. It’s the same with the referendum and the people’s decision to lose its fear despite the threats and possible consequences on the part of the system. This is a juncture of that kind. OXI is a moment in which the people lost their fear.

 

But there is no project. We do not have a Project.I agree with Teo.There are projects, but there is no weaving or communication between them and society. Very soon we will have that communication with society. I want to believe it. It is necessary. But that 62 is fertile ground which we have to sustain and harness precisely to this work of weaving.

 

Katerina:

 

I agree with what has been said. Why does Europe decide to end with its myth? We are living through tumultuous political times in Greece. The whole political Left has been reconfigured. Syriza’s hegemony has ended but Tsipras’ is beginning. At a small scale, now we are seeing things that we didn’t before.The measures are being approved by Syriza and the right, but nobody says anything. Syriza or Tsipras’ failures are not being discussed. Nor is their lack of a project.Tsipras is not being challenged at the moment. Right now, he appears as an untainted winner. He’s being presented as a national hero and the only way out, now under nationalism and not from the Left anymore.

 

It wasn’t any strong pressure that forced Europe’s contradictions to emerge.They burst out. They were exposed. They couldn’t contain these contradictions anymore, and so they were revealed.

We don’t know where we are going. We are too close to have the distance needed to better observe what’s happening, and everything changes very rapidly. It’s difficult to figure out. I don’t know if we are going to radicalise democracy or if we’re headed toward a post-democracy with many parties which would be just the opposite of a radical, popular and real democracy. That this mask of a hollow democracy is a direct consequence of the last 5 years and of this defeat.

 

As movements, we haven’t managed to create or support a rupture.Our solidarity structures are weak. We have initiatives, many of them, but they aren’t interwoven to deal with the necessities that people are going to confront. But there’s no other option. We’ve already broken with the illusion that was built around Syriza and with the myth of Europe and its institutions, and at the same time, the unquestioned illusion of the Left has fallen apart in its own terms and fantasies.

 

Evgenia:

 

We were living in Europe, we had advantages, and now these are gone.

 

1. It needs to be made clear that Syriza was never Left.

 

2. Syriza continues to want to rule with an anti-memorandum government. But this doesn’t move the Troika or Europe’s capital. On the contrary, if as it was someone raises their head to oppose them with dignity. If they do this in spite of a majority vote, it really doesn’t matter to them. Openly and with no shame they crush them. There’s no need for debate here, the facts speak for themselves. The power of supra-national capital is occupying Europe and it is untouchable and authoritarian, and it no longer bothers to keep up appearances, it attacksopenly.

 

3. The NO, the referendum with its 62% is an embryo, a path to be travelled. It’s a treasure, much more than a possibility, it’s a path that can open itself to dignity.

 

Conversation and Debate

 

Jorge Alonso-Guadalajara:

With all that has been said, there still exists a contradiction within the Troika, in relation with the ‘rescue.’ That contradiction inside the Troika could make the situation worse: the IMFsays that it can’t approve a rescue deal if the country is not viable. Greek debt is at 128% and it could reach 220%. Germany says it can’t enforce the deal because its laws don’t allow it to, all of which is to say that things could be even worse than they appear to be in the agreement that has been signed and approved.

 

 

After what has been approved by Parliament, everything could be worse still than before the referendum. The interests and sectors that make up the Troika are not interested in democracy, nor does it have any use to them. My question, assuming that ‘it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness’ is: is it possible to harness the NO to planning a strategy which tries to find a way out from below, without depending on ties with Europe?  

 

Rafael Sandoval-Guadalajara:

 

I’ll start from Raúl Zibechi’s words in his email yesterday about today’s meeting (in relation to not always trying to find the easy way out which consists in blaming the enemy to cover up and avoid the fact that we don’t have proposals, strategies or capacity, and need to deal with our failure.) It would be important to talk about what’s happening with our strategy. The problem of having our own strategy in the current context- and not just in Greece, a radical strategy that is anti-capitalist and anti-state.  If we talk about what this means. Is it still necessary to call ourselves Left? And what’s more, this implies being anti-capitalist and anti-state in our daily lives, but also being against the state form in our daily lives. The ‘them.’ This position implies a negation of that which negates us, in order to build autonomies.

 

So to be concrete about what is involved in the building of strategies: Yes we need to define the enemy, without doubt, but if we stay there, we remain in the logic and the rationale of those from above. We are in their agenda. Specifically, this gets consolidated in the movement that consists in first building majorities and then pushing for change. That doesn’t work. As has been more than adequately demonstrated in Greece and in all parts of Latin America.

 

Building electoral majorities, or majorities whatever the cost, to then use these as backing for a project of transformation, this allows us neither to build those majorities, nor does it lead to transformation. But it’s more, now it is clear that the dominant political class will Never Again permit even something like Syriza.

 

If we are talking about the need to have our own strategy, this meanswe need to overcome the economic rationale of the capitalist project. To stop thinking in terms of the balance of forces. The referendum itself is part of the project of those from above. The only way to express ourselves is in their terms. But there are more examples. They happen all the time. Today the project in which the Pope is leading environmental, anti-systemic and popular struggles. We already know that it will inevitably lead to disillusion, another disillusion which moreover depletes our energies and makes us succumb yet again to impotence and exhaustion when confronted with the possibility, the hope and the choice of thinking from a different imaginary.

 

Now I would like to make the point more sharply:It is not about being anti-capitalist in the abstract, but about building something concrete. For example, on the question of Autonomy: of being conscious of existing within the dominant context. Frequently this leads us to think that you cannot take a radical position because that position is coming from those of us who are not suffering in terms of basic needs or of hunger and so, being pure, we give ourselves the luxury of demanding impractical impossibles. To act in accordance with this view, or this pressure, implies that we settle for that which can be achieved in practice, which is to say the given, that which exists, that which is shaped by the system’s structure and possibilities, and we cut short that other logic of transformation which is needed.

 

It’s a guilt that weighs us down, oppresses us and limits the potential for transformation in the name of turning those most dependent, limited and suppressed into a vanguard for transformation. I think that our accumulated and recurring experiences should have taught by now us to not fall subject to this kind of guilt or the guilt that leads us to support the Pope while he’s on our side, or Evo or Syriza. That is to say, either we submit ourselves to the suppressed because of our guilt at being privileged and being able to think of alternatives- or even to think at all and to make demands of ourselves critically, or we submit ourselves when a public figure articulates our discourse, picks up our words or takes on our project. In my opinion, both of these are proven strategies of co-optation which always lead us to the same state of impotence and submission to existing terms.

 

If we engage in anti-capitalist resistance which has no content in terms of rebellion, of not accepting negotiations in the terms of those from above, and abandoning that which we ourselves could build, we will continue to be victims of the imaginary which entraps us: at best, one could build democracy from above.

 

Raúl Zibechi:

 

I agree with Teo, Evgenia and Katerina’ analysis. We are at the end of an era, the end of certain illusions. Syriza never hid its true nature. It’s time to not lay the blame elsewhere. It is due to our shortcomings. It’s the end of a historic narrative. This is an end that we are seeing. I think that accumulation by dispossession is coming in a brutal form to Europe, to Greece and Europe.

I have read the 7 page document (‘agreement’)  that was signed with the Troika. Not even Menem would have dreamed up let alone signed such a document. It is humiliation without limit. Structural adjustment has come to Greece and Europe in a savage way.

 

 

Three things have ended

 

1. The Welfare state is over. It’s the end of the ‘dangerous classes’ within the system. From now on, they will be outside, it’s over.

 

2. The end of democracy. If the 62%  submits itself to the 1%, it will be left without voice, without words nor representatives, and democracy will have been kidnapped by the 1%.

 

3. The most difficult thing to accept. The end of national projects. You will recall the late Marcos in the Fourth World War and other texts saying that to struggle for the state is to struggle for the helm of ship that doesn’t exist anymore. Parliament in Greece and in all places needs to have the Troika’s approval or it cannot exist. Decision making is completely controlled by centralised capital. It was the same in Uruguay in certain instances. 

 

As a consequence of these facts and especially of the last one, the end of the national: Our projects of rebellion cannot be for Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Greece, but instead must be the projects of peoples, Tojolabales, Nasa. It’s about relations between peoples who do not submit themselves to the national borders which capital’s project and its powers do not submit themselves to either anymore.

 

In the short term, it is inevitable that the Right will grow. For example, le Pen could win in France. Or Golden Dawn in Greece. And others in the UK or the Netherlands.

Although this is a very serious problem, we have to recognise it and get through it: to resist it and come out the other side. In 1938 it was the Nazis who invaded, today it is Greece being invaded. The good thing is that the system has dropped its mask, although there are many who even in the face of these events refuse to recognise the fact. We have to confront this, to endure the avalanche so that something beyond this can come into being.  

 

Jesús Alemancia:

 

A few questions.

 

1. Describing the 62%. Which sectors of Greek society voted this way?

 

2. There’s a critique which has been made based on what is happening in Latin America, on the experiences  we have had with the Left in power and its limited or non-existent capacity for self-criticism, together with its amnesia. On the institutional Left in Greece, Syriza, which has the resources to participate in public administration and the bureaucracy: what is its position? Are they staying? Are they self-critical? With respect to the economic agreement, the referendum: are they talking about these questions? Do they recognise themselves in the mirror that is being held up to them?

 

3. Recognising that Syriza is not Left. A referendum with a majority against and for dignity, and a humiliating agreement, these are facts. For those who didn’t make a deal within Syriza, what plans do they have in terms of what needs to be done? A plan of struggle? Another party? What is their political and social strategy given the vote and events? I know that shortcomings have been talked about, but where is the debate? Given this situation, how do we open up the process in terms of communities and organisation etc?

 

4.Is there a strategy in Greece to build other processes which could provide supports for what is happening there as well as in other countries, weaving peoples together across countries to confront this harsh situation?

A Comment:

 

Starting from the situation in Latin America and the debate which it has generated, and which today is taking place in Greece and Spain (PODEMOS): how do we build anti-capitalism when one part of the Left wants to join the state and administer that which it criticises?

 

If we don’t do it, someone else will and will take over its running.

 

In other words: to forge an anti-capitalist and anti-state subject, we need to engage in discussions which are as yet unresolved. 

 

It’s not for ego, but the only anti-capitalist positions which I know, which have many contradictions and are not always transformative, but despite that, are nonetheless clearly anti-capitalist, come from the indigenous movement.

 

Alonso Gutiérrez:

 

In describing the composition of the 62%, as Jesús has already indicated, what was the level of participation? What about abstentions? Were there any? And if so, what does that sector think?

 

Once again we see ‘hope as a commodity,’ as the Zapatistas call it. Hope is sold and positioned as a commodity. This is what happened in Greece. Faced with events and people’s disappointment and frustration, how does one gather up hope again, rebuild it?

 

That rush of strength which has seen its hope sold and which asks itself what to do next and how to go on. That answer of answers is the challenge, the road, the opportunity and also the risk.

 

Evgenia:

 

The questions are for everyone. We can answer the ones that are about abstentions, voter composition, the facts, information and our point of view etc. but after that, we all need to answer them. 

 

Katerina:

 

I thought that Raúl’s words were very clear and spoke to the current moment. He should have started off the presentation and not us. I agree. I didn’t understand very clearly what was said about the projects of rebellion. If we can do it from the everyday. That it not come from the arena of nation-states. Those arenas cannot control the crisis. The idea of a national economy is a new illusion that nobody can absorb.

 

We should try and describe not what we would like but what is actually happening. What we would like are autonomies, anti-state processes, but we’re in a pretty weak position to do much about it. There is going to be a push to lower people’s material conditions. That isn’t going to deride people in security and comfort, but will rather shake up even more what is already an unstable situation. We should work on this! I can’t see it yet. I see initiatives and a long road of work ahead to create something more concrete and interwoven.

 

In my view, with respect to the question of ‘what is to be done?’ that we always ask ourselves:

 

The NO! was a class NO. It came from the lowest classes but not only from those who had nothing to lose. A NO! of insubordination and not the NO of a clear class strategy. The parties of the centre which are not Left are no longer an option. It’s possible that they create another one, or several more, but that’s no longer an option.

 

Teo:

 

I’d like to comment on the opinions that we’ve heard:

 

That the referendum is part of an institutional agenda. That’s an open debate.There are situations which force us to take positions. If we don’t, that weakens us and makes us irrelevant. That’s what’s happening with the anarchist movement in Greece because all of its proposals begin with ‘making revolution,’ a proposal and a posture that is very abstract in the face of demands, needs and dynamics that are concrete and pressing.

 

Referendum: Very class-conscious. Those from below, who always come out losing, were those we came out with the NO! We need to be there and to seek out fissures, alliances, work, to not be absent; to join, accompany and work.

 

The other positions: abstentions and the blank vote. The Communist Party for example, advocated a blank vote. Anarchists, abstention. As if this was any old election. These positions make us irrelevant. As if by taking the moral high ground we could rise above the current conjuncture.

 

For example, the debate about the Euro and the Drachma. We haven’t given it the attention it deserves. This is not about us. We championed a Plan C. (Plan A being the Troika’s, inside the EU, which is being imposed and consolidated now. Plan B being to exit the EU and enter the Drachma, this is an economic exit which comes from them and is more of the same with a different currency). Not to return to the EU nor the Drachma but rather to common goods, community and self-management. But there is a quandary: Euro/Drachma. And they pressure and rush us. This problem worries people and is very much present and real. I don’t think we can keep a distance from it. Perhaps it is not a good idea to think that this question is irrelevant.

 

Katerina:

 

At a more concrete level in Greece, in Thessaloniki, the Assemblies which are being organised to care for the NO! consist in trying to go to the neighbourhoods, not in a centralised way, and seeing if we can link up with the people who said NO! and weave together peoples and processes. These are small initiatives which have begun. That is the challenge and the process to reproduce in all parts. How to find the strength, the networks and structures, and to be ready for the rupture and these difficult times?

 

Emmanuel Rozental (Manuel):

It’s an ethical and strategic (though I don’t like the words) challenge that we are confronted with, in Greece and in all places. Let me explain what I mean:

 

1. If capital’s scope is transnational and if nations disappear or re-structure (adjust) themselves to serve transnational accumulation, to carry out infrastructure projects for extractivism, agribusiness, financial accumulation and demographic and social control, to implement repressive policies and population control (as with the traffic of commodities) then peoples’ struggles and the challenges we confront are shared. It is not then Greece’s problem to weave from below, in adverse conditions and faced with a machinery that has the power to crush and suppress. It is not only a challenge for Greece at a distance- with repercussions only there, that of working and building locally at the same time as both knowing very well and resisting capital’s strategies and aggression.

 

2. We need to move beyond the false dilemma between the local/autonomist and the global in terms of anti-systemic resistance. It’s precisely that which is the ‘ethical-strategic’ task that is shared by the peoples. If we lose in Greece, we lose the peoples. The OXI! is a victory of ours which we need to care for, even if it was those who voted that way who put their bodies on the line.

 

3. We make the mistake of ignoring the arena of power and the state. Of not building strategies that are consistent with our rebellion and which could be implemented by states in the service of local and autonomous processes and to oxygenate our weavings, in the knowledge that these are structures which we should use or confront to eliminate them, but they exist. The problem is not that we confront and are faced with the reality of states, but that we always end up putting ourselves within their logics. We’ve been absent in terms of decisions because we are dominated by History with a capital H and we view our history in lower case as supressed and enveloped in theirs, in their terms, as a marginal element in the winners’ history. We don’t consider nor do we recognise that our history which is, for example, what happened in 1994 with the Zapatista uprising, and from there on, as it is and has been in many cases, very many, and as it is in that which OXI expresses and holds as potential, and in so many others from which we can learn without them having to become prescriptions, that is that our history in lower case has always, in every instance, overflowed their history, it doesn’t fit in their terms nor their narratives. It is and has been and has to be an other history. One finds it in facts and processes, in narratives, words and paths that have confronted our relation with the state, from and for the peoples and in diverse ways, without dodging this challenge and without succumbing to institutional logics because they do not fit there, they are something else! Either we are interested in the state in its own terms, which are those of power and bureaucracy and capital, or we are not interested in the state and we are not interested in administering it, and for that reason we have no plan B or C which would include what to do with the state and from there, with ourselves. It’s a real challenge for and from the peoples in a process of weaving resistances and autonomies. In the face of this, the fact arises that we need to recognise a context from which we have been absent in the majority of decisions taken, and this absence is due in large part to the fact that we are dominated by History with capitals, because our history in lower case is for the cracks, the shadows and margins. To make our own history in order that it overflows theirs means, in specific circumstances and structures, that we have to generate our own strategies and control our own destinies. This is not the same thing as putting ourselves in power following their terms. To dismantle the dilemma from within as they do, or from outside at the margins. It can’t continue to be one or the other because that is the architecture of capitalism. It is one that is neither one nor the other and which exceeds them in order to advance a process of processes which overcomes them without negating them or turning our back to them.

 

3. In analysing and comparing what has happened in Greece with what capitalism is imposing in a very aggressive manner in other spheres, across the planet (Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, China, Russia… the whole planet) today one can clearly observe how they are advancing in a total and global war in order to overcome their systemic crisis. One can observe this if one wants to recognise oneself against the current of propaganda. It can be seen, but in isolated cases, at the regional and nation-state level, but not in a comprehensive manner. It’s necessary to mark differences and to confront visions between that which capitalists see, motivated by their need to accumulate through the exploitation of nature and of labour which they carry to the limit which is to say to their extinction, and that which we see from below in our plans for life and our collective processes. Confronting us is the problem that we face capital’s war of destruction, which capital needs and which requires the elimination of surplus populations, that is, eliminating people by diverse means, from hunger and structural adjustment, to the varied forms of war, and by appropriating nature in order to keep accumulating. In strategic terms, capital needs fascism, and in Europe and across the world this is what it is rolling out. The elimination of those of us who are left overs for capital.

 

Given these three core ideas that have been made in a schematic way, and in the context of this exchange, I would like to firmly make one point: we haven’t yet finished understanding that we have not been resisting as peoples. We don’t feel called as peoples at a global level to resist capital’s totalitarian neo-fascism which at this very moment has moved over Greece, nor to resist the conquest to eliminate and supress its people and rob them of their wealth and territories. They are taking over the world country by country with a totalising and totalitarian project of accumulation and we, the peoples, have not assumed a POPULAR GLOBAL RESISTANCE OF THOSE FROM BELOW AGAINST TOTALITARIAN CAPITALISM! As practice and as an immediate challenge, I propose to you that we recognise this vacuum and take on the task which demands that we understand how to move on.

 

When Teo, Evgenia and Katerina speak, they speak and it weaves with what all of us are saying from our shared bases, and we note that what is happening in Greece is happening to all of us in the world as we confront Capital. Really the OXI! moved and motivated us not as an event in Greece but as the expression of our dignity, the dignity of the peoples. It’s the same thing in relation with the massacre in Gaza or Ayotzinapa or Mapuche or Nasa dignity. It is a we in resistance that has to be recognised, and a global resistance that needs to be taken up and acted on. 

 

It’s not a question of yes or no to the state, that is their debate, it belongs to the system in which they place us. Rather, it is a question of the multiple resistances of all that could make our history appear and unfold.

 

Saskia Fischer:

 

A question. I have been reading lately about colonialism and colonial subjectivity. I don’t know if that would be a useful way to think about colonialism and a capital that has a country. People’s perceptions that their future has to be tied to Europe even if that means a servile state. Would it be useful to think from that perspective about this situation and reality?

 

Rafael:

 

I hear what Teo is saying, but the other way around. I think that respecting the people does not mean assuming in principle and from the beginning that they are right and for that reason that one must leave aside what one thinks in order to accompany the people in what they think. This is a very important question. Greece has shown us that the gringos act more like anarchists (I am referring to them because Teo mentioned them, but this could apply to others). I am not talking about revolution in the abstract, rather it seems to me that the most important thing is not to worry about being relevant and to then leave the collective gardens and what is built from below. We shouldn’t worry so much about being relevant and participating in the system’s agenda. For that reason therefore the big question of Politics in capitals becomes more important. Theirs and ours. There is an insistence on a different imaginary which doesn’t pay attention to whether it leaves us isolated or not.

 

Manuel:

 

This is not about a dichotomy. That is the dualistic logic of the system. It is not that either we do local and follow our agenda or we busy ourselves with power and the state’s agenda. In the example that Teo gave this was made very clear. For example, he said unequivocally that the Drachma is not one of our issues, just as the referendum was an opportunity to express a position. We couldn’t isolate ourselves from either of these questions and remain above or outside of the pressing issues. These are both spheres of debate, of struggle. Spaces which exist in the realities in which those of us who participate as a we put forward interpretations which are not the dualistic ones of the system, or which overflow it, dismantling it. The Water War. They privatised it and the people rose up against privatisation. Up to that point, the dichotomy, the dualism of the power of capital/the state and the peoples demanding a right. But that dichotomy was exceeded. Very quickly, in the irrepressible popular assembly, it ceased being a question of that dichotomy. Another agenda emerged: overcoming the state and consolidating, in practice, community-collective power, starting from water. From a struggle within the terms of the system it overflows in a manner that then overtakes the established order.

 

It’s not a matter of us entering into some themes-arenas-dynamics because they are ours, and others not, because they are theirs. There are questions that cannot be ignored, there are areas and dynamics that have to be made the most of and re-appropriated from the point of view of a history of societies that have been negated, and the referendum is not a reality that we control within a regime that subordinates us. The important thing is to recognise and confront them so that the ways in which we think, develop and are when faced with them can be seen and felt. Our history in lower case is made up of those events which appear to us later as defeats when in fact they were momentary triumphs during which that other world that is possible showed itself. By narrating them with the dualistic logic of the system, they don’t get interwoven, we don’t weave them, because we speak in their dualisms and dichotomies, in terms of their winners’ History. Our history from below is that of the weave of these overcomings, these overflowings and re-appropriations of what could be, and of everything.

 

Vilma Almendra:

 

Three things:

 

1.      I’ll take up Raúl’s words on the crisis. There is a crisis in all spheres, not only in theirs. It is our crisis too, including in the indigenous movement. We need to take note of and recognise this. The masks are falling. Yes, the masks are falling or it’s becoming clear that they are masks, even in the indigenous movement. Here there are progressive as well as state-focussed currents. It is good to recognise this, to expose them and so that the crisis becomes visible, because in that way we can recognise ourselves and recognise them without masks.  

2.      From below, things are emerging that are not in History with capitals, that are woven from below, cooked on bonfires or at a low simmer inside our territories and homes. Things which even those of us who call ourselves Left are not aware of.

3.      Now is the time for us to get closer to and to accompany in greater measure the struggles which those who are not part of movements, parties or structures carry out every day. Small and daily struggles through which changes happen.

 

Evgenia:

 

These are very big questions that we are naming and addressing. Those which are coming out in the questions.

 

Raúl described the stage that both we and the elites are in today very well, and what Vilma said summed up the context and the challenges very well. 

 

I think we are in a period of profound change. The types of resistance were those which we know. Now we are in another period, beyond parties, unions and so on. A period in which to cultivate other forms, and we need time for this. The Zapatistas and many other processes are the expression of this and they take time. I believe very strongly in everyday struggles. The neighbour who needs to secure bread and doesn’t think about forms of resistance, but she will find, if we meet each other, together with us she will find new ways of resistance which don’t yet have a clear or visible shape today or which are negated or which we simply can’t see yet. These are very new things. But I’m thinking, and maybe I’m wrong. They are already happening. They don’t bear fruit immediately, but they are already happening and in the immediate future, or in the medium term were are going to see things that we couldn’t even have imagined.

 

The powerful will never win in History with capitals with the people confronting them. And today they won’t win either. We need to trust and have faith in human nature because throughout the centuries it has resisted and it keeps resisting. I trust in that 62 absolutely. It’s a class vote, but if we have faith, with that faith we can trace a strategy in the everyday, we can trace a new way. If we stay home, nothing will happen.

 

I have a deep concern… we need all of our passion. There are a ton of resistances in Greece. There were self-managed community radios. Self-managed television. Co-operatives. Evidence that resistance is taking place. We need to care for these critical moments  because we need to believe in society. A lot of the time we don’t believe in society, I think.

 

 

Katerina:

 

I agree with Evgenia. This is a precedent. Soon we are going to confront it head on. The narrative of peoples and nation-states is over.

 

Evgenia:

 

And they don’t take the shape of unions either, that form has ended too.

 

Katerina:

 

That homogeneity is over. We are very much inspired by struggles in Latin America. We are thinking about what happened in Argentina with barter, or in Mexico with its multiplicity of experiences, and hopefully we can keep talking about this. 

 

Evgenia:

 

We need hope.

 

Thank you everybody, see you soon!

 

Malely Linares:

 

Many thanks to everyone. It was really very enriching.

 

Saskia:

 

I’m going to translate the transcript into English if you all agree, because the debate in that language doesn’t have this richness.

 

Gabriela Sepúlveda:

 

Thank you everyone! Super- enriching and it’s very valuable for us in thinking about our own realities!

 

Martín Villarroel Borgna:

 

Thank you compañeras, it was a really rich experience.

 

Tomas Astelarra:

 

Thank you!

 

Beatriz Amor:

 

Ok thank you, until next time!

 

Leonie  Pokutta:

 

Thank you for the hope! Hugs for all thecompañeros!

 

Alonso Gutiérrez:

 

Thank you everyone!!

 

René Olvera Salinas:

 

Have a lovely day compas! Many thanks!!

 

Note

The audio was recorded and edited by Constanza Cuetia of the Tejido de Comunicación del Pueblo Nasa (the Communication Weave of the Nasa People). The transcript was written up by Emmanuel Rozental – with some help from Rafael Sandoval and Tomás Astelarra, and based on a live transcript of the conversation. Translated into English: Saskia Fisher. As a result, this is not a literal transcript but rather a record of proposals and fundamental ideas. In reviewing and editing it, we seek to strengthen what was expressed so that it becomes a more useful tool for dissemination, reading and debate in other spheres. Before publishing it, we share it with those who participated so that they can make substantive corrections. Once that is done, the further it gets disseminated and discussed, the better. The transcripts have no owner, they belong to the Pueblos en Camino who weave autonomies and resistances. A recording of the gathering can be found at: www.pueblosencamino.org

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