Greece: “On the occasion of the hunger strike of anarchist and political prisoners”, communique by Anarchist Group “Chaos Symphony”

Inter Arma received and translated:

A necessary supplement to every struggle is its revaluation after its end. The actions of its subjects, the questions, shortcomings and problematics encountered, the relationships created and the perceptions developed would be good to become objects of reflection, with the aim of enhancing our overall positioning against the existent, drawing useful conclusions and making self-criticism. This text is by no means an overall evaluation of the given struggle. It doesn’t intend to delve into specific events, activities, points of view and behaviors that occurred within the solidarity movement, nor into the general problems and pathologies of the anarchist milieu. Besides, any discussion around specific struggles and movements concerns the participants in them and those who intend to continue to struggle under the conditions of these movements. After such a long and dense in activities and practices struggle, we are able to express our opinion on a wide range of issues such as “intermediate struggles”, the hunger strike as a means of struggle, relations between imprisoned anarchists and the ones in solidarity with them, the relation between anarchists and projects with political demands and  much more. So, given the chance, we will take a position on those we think are most important, trying to share our own concerns and our own conclusions.

Hunger strike as a means of struggle

The hunger strike is a means used by anarchist, political and criminal prisoners in Greece for decades, with relative frequency. This frequency has the effect of triggering automatic support, solidarity and participation in the respective movement, something which, however, does not favor anarchist critique, not only to each separate case, but also to the means itself.

When taking place in the condition of captivity, the hunger strike is indeed one of the hardest means of struggle a prisoner of the state has at his/her disposal. However, the striker recognizes the enemy as a “negotiations partner” and makes demands in a process of blackmailing the humanitarian mask of the state and therefore the means as such, doesn’t have the aggressive characteristics of anarchist struggle. The passive nature and based on demands character of the hunger strike is a reality that while we see critically, we do that always in relation to the particular material conditions of the hostile field of prison. It can not therefore be compared with the means of struggle outside the walls. It has, however, a special feature, which must always be taken into account; it is by definition self-destructive in terms of biological wear and it usually leads to permanent health problems. This does not mean that the struggle has risks that must be avoided at all costs based on the sole criterion of survival. It means, however, the careful selection of battles and their proper organization and certainly not to facilitate the extermination instrumented against us by the enemy.

Here, it is not wise for the hunger strikers and the ones in solidarity with them to address the subject with an idealism, that either understands this choice as self-denial and considers the anarchist fighter a sacrifice to a higher Cause or overlooks opportunistically or in frustration the bureaucracy of the judicial-prison system, leading to a dead end or “defeat” from the de facto defeated position of the prisoner. The personal choices of anarchists should, in our opinion, be made based on their decision to live in a permanent and multilevel war with domination. This decision is taken because its subject understands that the plastic, mediated by authority, commodity and spectacle “life” in today’s social desert is fake and caged. So, it is a decision for life not sacrifice and death. In short, we think that an extreme means of struggle can not be used as a master key, chosen carelessly and used in a disorganized and wasteful way, without calculating the social-political context and without taking into account the absoluteness and the historical-political weight of the means and also the saturation it is subjected to with such use, leading, in this way, to ineffectiveness and to the trivialization of the physical existence of the hunger strike him/herself. Nevertheless, the hunger strike, with the existing problems mentioned above, is a personal choice, whose components we are not always in a position to know and thus it is left to the temperament, analysis, the actual possibilities and availability of the imprisoned anarchists who make it and who are responsible to communicate with the comrades in solidarity concerning issues of strategy and development of the struggle.

 The struggles inside the walls

However, apart from the nature of the means, it should be said that the hunger strike, like every other means, does not mean anything by itself. So, at the same time, we have to look into the conditions in which it happens and also mainly into the attitudes and strategies of the subjects using it. The recent hunger strike offers this opportunity, as it is the only struggle of anarchist and political prisoners, we can remember in Greece, which set a broad and comprehensive framework of demands on some specific topic, in this case against the repressive and legal arsenal of the State. Then, having this in mind, we will try to make a distinction between struggles that are reformist to their core and aspire to change the institutional framework and those aiming to loosen the prison conditions or to prison release.

So, in the recent case, we have a prisoners’ struggle, whose subjects set, even in general terms, a context of demands, which aims to abolish laws, legal provisions and to change the legal framework of some operational activities of the police-judicial complex. We have, namely, a struggle which is reformist to its core, with all what this means from an anarchist perspective. The way it was promoted is based on the logic of the revolutionary-movement opposition and this is evident not only from the demands but also from a number of things related to the political mentality of the struggle, such as the tactical choice of the present time while SY.RIZ.A. is in the government. It could be said (and by some communists strikers was implied clearly enough) that the context of demands of the strike was in the form of a “movement bill”, which was promoted “in the streets” by the “movement opposition”. Precisely because of this nature, there is another difference with past hunger strikes. The context of demands concerned not only the prisoners, but (perhaps more) all of this movement, which means that, theoretically, this time there wasn’t a separation between the prisoners an the ones in solidarity with them, but a common struggle in which each side has participated equally, with the means available to each part. This is also apparent from the stated intention of a large piece of the organized solidarity initiatives to link the strike with their wider revolutionary opposition project and with the creation of a revolutionary opposition movement, something which is understandable for those who have a political conception of the anarchist struggle.

Much can be said about whether the above “movement theorem” worked and for the strategy and tactics pursued by the participants in that venture of theirs, but now, approaching the struggle from this critical perspective, we will not deal with these issues. We say “now” because we self-critically recognize  that our attitude in this struggle was also on the wrong side, as it is inconsistent for anarchists who do not experience the condition of captivity to make demands and to negotiate with the state. Rather than supporting, in terms of solidarity, those prisoners with whom we share affinity, while remaining critical to the political, reformist content of the struggle, we joined it, supporting a piece of the context of demands and thus, in a way, that made us countersign some of the demands.

Before we articulate an overall view, let us refer to the second part of the distinction we mentioned before. In contrast to the above condition, there is a rich experience of struggles of anarchist prisoners (with hunger strike or not) who had as a demand either the loosening of confinement conditions or even their release from prison. Such examples are the struggles for the ending of disciplinary penalties, struggles against the deterioration of confinement conditions etc. These cases remain in the context of demands which are sometimes bounded by the tactical goal, they take place, however, in an environment where only such contexts can be set and at the same time express a fighting mentality and the denial of alienation by the prison’s environment. Here, the involvement of anarchists outside the walls is necessarily separated and moves exclusively in the field of solidarity towards the subject of the struggle and as the demand is personal and has to do with the confinement conditions, it has a secondary role as support criterion. This, of course, does not mean that the general framework inside which somebody’s mobilization takes place is unimportant. In every case, there are several factors that need to be examined, the general idea, however, remains the same.

At this point, we want to refer to a problematic important to us, which was highlighted more than ever before in the massive hunger strike of 2014’s summer, against the type C prisons bill, in which, the subject of struggle was a blurry sum that was “rallied” on the base of the prisoner’s identity. As we understand the struggles inside and outside prisons, every investment in masses of people that not only have nothing to do with anarchy, but also constitute, in their vast majority, an integral part of the social swamp, is to us totally hostile in the existential field and forced to fail, when talking in terms of tactics. Especially in the case of struggles inside prison where the degree of these subjects’ integration is much higher, the above thesis is de facto strengthened. We do not recognize collective subjects of struggle, even more when they are built with the entrapment in a hostile condition as their sole criterion. Let’s not forget, additionally, the ending of the mentioned hunger strike, which collapsed like a house of cards after about eight days, confirming that when the anarchist prisoner chooses to involve himself in a struggle in which the rest of the subjects do not participate to fight a hostile condition, but after orders of a vertically organized mafia or racial structure, which by nature triggers escalating competition between the organized groups and thus, making them unreliable and unable to perform such a mobilization with authenticity, then the only result is the self-humiliation of his very same struggle.

Summarizing, we say that our view on the anarchist struggle cannot keep up with movements, struggles and notions of reforming the existent. Especially when the case is about the monstrosity of prisons and the operations of this part of social industry’s institutions that represents the forefront of repression against us, namely all kinds of cops and judges. We do not understand the struggle in terms of politics, but in terms of war and even if partial strategies and tactics in its duration are required, it can not be downgraded to a radical opposition, which at an imaginary level will gradually reform the social factory, until it becomes administrated by it, following some other model of domination. Regarding the moments of struggle inside prisons, we approach them from the point of solidarity with the subjects with which we stand in affinity, understanding, on the one hand, the limited possibilities of struggle inside the walls and the peculiarity of this condition and, on the other hand, the importance of support of our comrades who at some point of the war found themselves locked in the dungeons of the democratic regime. We stand, however, clearly critical towards the individual demands and contexts in cases alike to the recent strike where these bear a reformist character.

The “intermediate struggles”

The result of our so far analysis is the involvement with the thorny issue of the so-called intermediate struggles and the ways in which anarchists are involved in them, as the following concerns arise: if the meaning of permanent anarchist insurrection is the continuous war against domination, how is it connected with the various sources of social or political struggles that break out from time to time? Given that every such struggle is partial, do we remain spectators, locked in an ivory tower of ideological purity?

The answers given to these questions by each individual and group are obviously in their discretion and not based on any engaging dogma or a unique recipe. Therefore, we will express our own opinion. The characterization of such mobilization as “intermediate struggles” gives them a particularity; it defines them as parts of a strategical puzzle and is the result of a logic that understands them as steps for the destruction of the State and the Capital, the Revolution etc. To us, the issue is not whether a mobilization bears or not the stated objective of a “final victory” against a pillar of domination, as something like that would be unrealistic. Principally, what matters is whether its pinpoint is making demands towards domination with the aim of reforming some of its expressions or not. To give a relevant example, in a mobilization against the construction of an airport or a bullet train, someone can create a context through which he may demand form the appropriate state institutions to cancel the project. He can, however, aim the wreckage of the construction through the polymorphous anarchist practice, without dealing with the institutions and without his actions to outline, on their own, some cut off, therefore partial, struggle, but with the pinpoint, in that case, of the anti-civilization critique, to be integrated in the overall anarchist struggle until the total destruction of the existent.

Attempting a deeper analysis, we recognize that the mobilizations we describe vary both in content and conditions in which they take place, and also in special goals. A thorough analysis of each separate case allows as, primarily, to index its characteristics and therefore realize whether there are possibilities of intervention or participation or not. To become more specific, in mobilizations where the special aim does not keep up with our view of the struggle, we have the ability to intervene independently and with our own characteristics, aiming to diffuse the anarchist theory and anarchist insurrectionary practice, regardless of the existent content or even against it. In mobilizations where the partial goal is a chance of incarnation of our theory, practice and overall imperatives, we have the ability to participate, always autonomously and with our characteristics, aiming to the pursuit of the goal through an anarchist, insurrectionary perspective. It is important to note here, that in such cases, we should not find ourselves caught up in the specific target to a degree that it becomes an end in itself or a partial activity, cleaved from the holistic nature of the anarchist struggle. Finally, if, in a mobilization, there is no room for neither intervention nor participation, then we have no reason to be concerned with it.

To us, these procedures are not steps on the road towards Revolution, but rather screenshots of a continuous insurrectionary war, through which we gain experiences, interact with comrades, evolve our analysis further and deeper and draw the joy of insurrection in terms of self-realization. In this light, therefore, the so-called intermediate struggles are not parts of a revolutionary strategical puzzle, nor a field in which we participate with the aim of diverting the massive struggle into politically and practically more radical forms, but opportunities for us to give one more fight in theoretical, practical and in terms of values level against domination. Away from notions of conciliation, reformism and mediation, it is crucial to preserve our characteristics in order to avoid being assimilated by the motley protesting crowd. Constant anarchist insurrection needs to find passages of intervention and enrichment in those struggles that allow the contexts of its polymorphous development, intensification and evolution to be set.

Anarchist Group “Chaos Symphony”

CS2

Contact via e-mail at: chaos_symphony@riseup.net

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