Friday, May 8, 2009

Another Cocktail For The Gentleman?

During a visit to a friend's house, my friend sat with me, real time translated, and read to me texts that were produced after I left Greece when the insurrection was slowing down. In result, to be really real with you, the kid got a little teary eyed.

As a child, I was always an emotional little brat. The best, although patriarchical, expression for my disposition at the time was a "momma's boy." As I got older and suffered the backlash from crying fits in inappropriate places like department store dressing rooms and church pews during the collection, I got myself together. But now that I'm back in Greece, my outbursts are back in full effect. Yeah, in the States, I run around acting like I'm super thug but here I'm always getting choked up like a gangster in a '90s South Central LA flick that lost his dead homie.

After hearing texts like the one below, read to me in an English tickled with a Greek accent, who the fuck can blame me for getting all emotional? This text was produced and distributed as people began to leave Athens to celebrate Christmas in their home villages, a widespread tradition in Greece, a tradition that poured water on the flames that burned the tree in front of parliament. "Another Cocktail For The Gentleman?" turned out to be one of the most popular texts written during the insurrection. When I say "popular," I don't mean "popular with radicals," but it was a common occurrence to see little old ladies, with their heads wrapped in dark scarves, lining up in front of an occupied university to get their copy of an unapologetically radical article or magazine. To add to the bizarreness of this whole exchange, the texts were often distributed by comrades wearing black ski masks, who at the same time protected the university from the police with iron bars. In the case of this particular text, the queue of elderly women wrapped around the block!

Another Cocktail For The Gentleman?

“Every citizen in a time of civil war has the obligation to take sides, otherwise he shall be condemned to indemnity and will be stripped of his civil rights” Solon, Constitution of Athens, 6th century BCE.

Once the flames were extinguished, the state’s sages came out to the light to make estimations, analyses, overviews and predictions – but above all promises: “We shall disarm the police” – i.e. we shall arm it with a brand new non-lethal weaponry of electric globs, teizers, and armored vehicles. “We shall reform education” – i.e. we shall gather all the deans and principles and the rest of the chancellors of that bog of separated and useless knowledge called science and we shall craft a new system of debilitation, a new system of training young people to bow, snitch and beg. “We shall save democracy” – i.e. we shall find new ways of selling apathy, relegation, and voluntary servitude as an achievement, as a right, as freedom. The insurgents listen to the sirens of democracy and wonder: Bligh me, these people in their wilderness, haven’t they heard yet that negotiating is dead?

Who do they hope to come to the rescue of their Bastille? The cops? The merchants? The journalists? The trade union bosses? The student unions? Even if all the forces of repression, the market and mediation, from the highest priest of the spectacle to the lowest functionary of state violence put aside their internal differences for a moment, they will not be able to render the founding stone of any and all negotiation credible: the possibility of having anything to win from the perpetuation of this system. Even if the banks do away with all our debts. Even if the cops patrol the streets with flowers in their hair, and the “savoir vivre” underarm. Even if the ministry abolishes the finals, gives everyone an A, and sends all pupils to study at Harvard with a scholarship. Even if they invent a thousand demands for us, and realize every one of them with a simple presidential order, even then, reality proves stubborn: in this insurgency there has been not a single pathetic demand, not because we have waited for others to make demands for us, but because insurgencies do not demand – they attack. We need nothing – we want everything!

The slaves of capital, the lackeys of mediation cannot even perceive of politics without negotiation, because for them all life is an endless bazaar. Saturated by the logic of commodities, the only thing they can think is selling-off and its conditions. But the insurgency has proved how the wretched of the earth do dialogue: by uprooting stone by stone with their own hands that which exploits them, that which alienates them, that which oppresses them. And this is not only or primarily the police state, but the totality of the capital-relation, from class exploitation and the panoply of commodities, to the theaters and operas of bourgeois corruption, the pretentious veil of those who, after watching Brecht and listening to Shostakovich, rape Ludmila and force Ahmet wax their wooden floors.

The insurgency was not a step before the negotiations; it was the end of the bazaar, the end of the universal capitulation called the Republic. That is why the bosses are at loss. For their merchandise stands dusty and unsold. And the only thing remaining in their hands is an ever more clumsy management of the representation of violence. When those who attack police stations are high-school pupils. When entire neighborhoods instead of complaining about flaming barricades stone the pigs with flowerpots from their balconies. When it is nowadays hard even for a mounted pig to give a parking ticket without being piled with abuse, then power knows that all its efforts to demonize social counterviolence have been squashed. In the lightening of the insurgency that tears the darkness of ideologies, society acquires, even briefly, eyes and sees the contour of the real: the oppressive basis of its spectacular privileges. Those who weep over burned shops, let them go to Asia and see how the slaves produce the commodities that the ruffians of high street stuff their window panes with. Those who cry for the broken marbles of the universities, let them ask the dean’s cronies for the bill, for they have bought them six times over and have decorated their villas with them. And those who are outraged about their destroyed cars, let them take a stroll to the Niger Delta and see how blood runs next to the oil fields that fill their engines.

The exception, Alexis’s assassination, has brought about the overcoming of the logic of exception by uncovering it as what it really is: the rule. The rule of structural violence that is exercised daily for securing class, gender and racial privileges: from the acid that burns K. Kouneva’s face, to the slaves of the strawberry field of south Greece, and from the murdered prostitutes of the center of Athens and the invisible dead immigrants at the police station which issues permits, to the slaughter houses of Palestine and the Congo. That is why social counterviolence is turned against the system of exploitation and oppression as a totality – it does not personify the enemy. It is not reduced to a momentary and spasmodic act of revenge, but organizes itself in a constant and persistent attack on the foundations of this system: the social relations that reproduce it.

We have all the reasons in this world with our side. For they did not only kill one of us, nor is it just that the crisis of their system has weakened the promises that have kept us idle. It is that this world can only give birth to alienation, loneliness, separation, discipline, pillaging, destruction and death. It is that ever more dense refusals appear on the horizon as a storm that prepares to sweep away every last privilege of this rotten world. It is that, finally, all of us met united, alive, and decided and turned against it all. That is why every school, every university, every street, every town is now open to our will to let it never be the same again. This knowledge will transform the silent death they are preparing for us whatever its name be, reform, repression, or change of government, into a new frontline of the life we want to live. Every time more massively, every time more polarized. Every time more affirmatively, every time more unmediated, more collectively.




  1. beautiful. i hope you are doing well.

    -your okla-homie.

  2. I wish this would happen in the U.S. Please keep posting. Love from the Northwest.