Students occupying the Polytechnic University in Athens may not be in classes but are writing manifestos, press releases and stories about where Greece might be going. Solidarity actions have been initiated in Europe and the Americas. The students at the Polytechnic have called out for European and global-wide actions of resistance on December 20th in the memory of all assassinated youth, migrants and all those who were struggling against the lackeys of the state.
Students in France are also protesting a conservative education reform plan announced by Sarkozy this week. From the government’s perspective, now was not the best time to reveal to students that bailing out the banking system meant ‘balancing’ the education budget. So French politicians were concerned that the Greek riots would spread elsewhere. Well, too late.
Occupied London has been translating the Greek texts into English, German, French, and also Turkish, Spanish, and Italian for widespread dissemination. Up against the wall motherfuckers! We’ve come for what is ours… is the title of one – it gets its name from the radical New York anarchist and artist affinity group (they were the first to use the phrase “affinity group”) from the heyday of Ben Morea and Dan Georgakas, who were known as Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers!
This communique or manifesto from the Polytechnic is on OccupiedLondon.org/blog. Here are some excerpts.
In these days of rage, spectacle as a power-relation, as a relation that imprints memory onto objects and bodies, is faced with a diffuse counter-power which deterritorialises impressions allowing them to wonder away from the tyranny of the image and into the field of the senses. Senses are always felt antagonistically (they are always acted against something) – but under the current conditions they are driven towards an increasingly acute and radical polarisation.
But these Days of Rage are certainly more exciting, and waking thousands of people from the ‘imprinted memories’, and bringing them toward a more antagonistic attitude – than the original Days of Rage in Chicago, which was actually just four days and only 200 people showed up. A poll in Greece “confirms” this is a wide cross-section of society who are involved in the general strike, the sit-downs and the blockades. But the media still does not have a clue. iReporters on CNN know absolutely nothing about the situation. They found an American named John to tell CNN watchers what is happening in Greece, how insightful. (I think he just wants a job with CNN). Anyways, the phrase “deterritoralisation” comes from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guttari.
…The history of the legal order and the bourgeois class brainwashes us with an image of gradual and stable progress of humanity within which violence stands as a sorry exception stemming from the economically, emotionally and culturally underdeveloped. Yet all of us who have been crushed between school desks, behind offices, in factories, know only too well that history is nothing but a succession of bestial acts installed upon a morbid system of rules. The cardinals of normality weep for the law that was violated from the bullet of the pig Korkoneas (the killer cop). But who doesn’t know that the force of the law is merely the force of the powerful? That it is law itself that allows for violence to be exercised on violence? The law is void from end to bitter end; it contains no meaning, no target other than the coded power of imposition.
This interpretation of the law as power dynamics is like what critical legal studies theorists have argued, but the point is driven more forcefully here. But this has always been a powerful critique, one that the advocates of the corrupted jurisprudence theories never adequately take on.
…The global capitalist crisis has denied the bosses their most dynamic, most extorting response to the insurrection: “We offer you everything, for ever, while all they can offer is an uncertain present”. With one firm collapsing after the other, capitalism and its state are no longer in a position to offer anything other than worse days to come, tightened financial conditions, sacks, suspension of pensions, welfare cuts, crush of free education. Contrarily, in just seven days, the insurgents have proved in practice what they can do: to turn the city into a battlefield, to create enclaves of communes across the urban fabric, to abandon individuality and their pathetic security, seeking the composition of their collective power and the total destruction of this murderous system.
At this historical conjuncture of crisis, rage and the dismissal of institutions at which we finally stand, the only thing that can convert the systemic deregulation into a social revolution is the total rejection of work. When street fighting will be taking place in streets dark from the strike of the Electricity Company; when clashes will be taking place amidst tons of uncollected rubbish, when trolley-buses will be closing streets, blocking off the cops, when the striking teacher will be lighting up his revolted pupil’s molotov cocktail, then we will be finally able to say: “Ruffians, the days of your society are numbered; we weighted its joys and its justices and we found them all too short”. This, today, is no longer a mere fantasy but a concrete ability in everyone’s hand: the ability to act concretely on the concrete. The ability to charge the skies.
One of my friends and I were talking about “manifestos” a few weeks ago, and she remarked that when a set of ideas has reached a point where a group decides it can be embodied into ‘a manifesto’, it implies that many things before it had been leading up to that point. She has a dialetical theory about how ideas get embodied into manifesto. It certainly seems true now. All of the post-modern theory I have read is somewhat depressing when you wake up from the spectacle-as-commodity fairy tale and realize what it means. But is it culminating to something? Will it be a positive culmination? Is Greece the start of something new? These are questions I am grappling with now.
If all of these, namely the extension of the conflict into the sphere of production-circulation, with sabotages and wild strikes seem premature, it might just be because we haven’t quite realised how fast does power decomposes, how fast confrontational practices and counter-power forms of organising are socially diffused: from high school students pelting police stations with stones, to municipal employees and neighbours occupying town halls. The revolution does not take place with prayers towards and piety for historical conditions. It occurs by seizing whatever opportunity of insurrection in every aspect of the social; by transforming every reluctant gesture of condemnation of the cops into a definite strike to the foundations of this system.
Off the pigs!
“Off this pigs” was a Black Panther Party slogan, and the name of that communique actually comes from a poem called “Black People” by Amiri Baraka, and the poem was used against him in trial. The poem itself was – the white jury said – enough to incite riots in Newark, because you know, free speech “contains no meaning, no target other than the coded power of imposition,” in the words of the Polytechnic students. Baraka’s original poem goes:
You can’t steal nothing from a white man, he’s already stole it he owes you everything you want, even his life. All the stores will open if you say the magic words. The magic words are: Up against the wall motherfucker! this is a stick up… We must make our own world, man, our own world, and we can not do this unless the white man is dead. Let’s get together and kill him my man.
UATWMF also took part in the 1969 student sit-in at Columbia University, where members of the black community and radical university students barricaded Columbia, holed themselves in, and outfoxed the police when they tried to invade. Their goal was to prevent the university’s gentrification of New York and the IDF’s military weapons programs which was complicit with the Vietnam occupation, but it grew into something bigger. This photo is a screenshot from the student-made documentary film Columbia Revolt (part 1, part 2).
Thanks to Occupied London for translating these invaluable texts.