Interview with Yavor and Danea, made by AK Malaboca
What are your main concerns with the new Greek government as members of a collective rooted in anarchist and antifascist struggles?
Danea: For me, the first problem with SYRIZA, is their collaboration with ANEL, a right-wing party, to take power. This is not the first time in modern Greek history, our parents and grandparents have seen that, but from a left-radical perspective, this should be very alarming. But practical, there was no other party for SYRIZA to cooperate with on economic issues and this is what they were voted for. The only other leftist party in parliament is KKE – the communist party – supporting Stalin…for god sake, they really support Stalin.
Yavor: Personally, I don‘t think that this is a huge problem. In the first place, ANEL is a young and populist party, mostly concerned with conspiracy theories. Their discourse is dangerous, but they don‘t have the power and experience to enforce it too much. What is more disappointing to me is that SYRIZA abandoned their focus on participation from below.
They are a neo-keynesianist government, that maybe can win on some points, like the rise of the minimum-wage and so on. But in their first election campaign in 2012 their slogan was „SYRIZA – This is you“ and they organized common assemblies in the squares and other grass-rooted activities to reinforce peoples participation. This time, it was changed to the populist and meaningless slogan of „SYRIZA – The hope is coming!“. This is a much more Obama-like propagandistic version which mainly focuses on the emotions of people, playing with their hopes rather encouraging them to really speak up. For me, this is a symbolic moment for a change of character in SYRIZA and one reason definitely lies in the growing influence of former PASOK-members pouring into the party.
Therefore, the social movements have to react quickly now. SYRIZA will not bring a more participative political system, they didn‘t even promise that. They focused mainly on economics and as far as the situation in very bad, this is also the peoples primary concern.
SYRIZA was, as you said, voted to power mainly for their economic program, but the pressure from all sides is high and their actual possibilities limited. How realistic is a real change of people‘s situation under this government and which dangers might a failure of this program entail?
Yavor: From the very beginning this neo-keynesian approach of SYRIZA was doomed to fail. It‘s an idea which worked in the 60s and 70s in the US and Europe, mainly because the state had a much stronger role to play. While nowadays, even in comments of SYRIZA official, you see the market, the holy market, being their point of reference. At any moment, a powerful state will be resurrected, the capital will flee from the country in seek for “better conditions”. And the problem is, that if SYRIZA fails with its experiment here, all the other parties – like Podemos in Spain for example – will have a very big question to answer. Greece could in this case become a powerful example for all right-wing parties to point to. As long as the Greek government is very alone in an environment of neoliberal governments, at one point or another they will have to abandon their neo-keynesianist dream and adopt more and more neoliberal policies.
Additionally SYRIZA revitalized the hope in a system of representative democracy which people started to loose. If they fail now the only force in terms of representative democracy which in a way still has some credibility will be “Golden Dawn”, since they never took power.
Danea: From a movement‘s perspective, the victory of SYRIZA first of all gives some breathing space to us. The cops don‘t come here and attack our spaces and Nazis are not that brave any more to take to the street. So now, its the time for us to go beyond this traditional forms of practices, like showing solidarity or any other symbolic action. We have to be active for example in building up more networks of solidarity economy and to start creating initiative, that are able can sustain communities economically. We need to establish economical relations from the bottom up in which the products stay in the use of the community which produces them. I think this is a good moment now since the level of repression decreased. And there are already many anti-authoritarian types of collectives and cooperatives in Greece, as well as for example in Spain, and we have to focus on strengthening and networking between these initiatives in order to sustain a larger amount of people.
The people were hungry and desperate and despite the hope, SYRIZA will not be able to change this situation fundamental. But on the other hand, people are also fed up with big words, of how the production or the society will look in the far future, which is not available to them. They need results here and now and if they see that their neighbors managing and surviving the crisis maybe they will follow their example. In times of crisis people are not willing to follow beautiful but empty promises – so we have to show them, how this can work now for them. Otherwise they will put their hope again in a strong nation-state, in fascism or any other of the horrors they already know.
Do you believe in social movements taking this role at the moment or do people still rely too much on SYRIZA solving their problems?
Danea: At the moment the majority of people supports the government. And of course in a way they expect them to solve their problems. But if we understand “the problem”, meaning the devastated conditions people live in, as a result of a capitalist way of production, SYRIZA will not and is even not able to solve this problem. SYRIZA is not a revolutionary party. This is no pessimistic assessment, but it would be insane to believe this. A revolution can be successful if people decide to take their live into their own hands and not with a party telling them to do so. This is one point where our collective differs from others anarchist group. We don‘t think, we could convince people for a revolutionary course, but they have to be convinced by their own will and we are not more specialists in this than anybody else is.
What the social movements can do now, is pushing for a wider space for people not only to breath but to have the concrete experience of auto-organization. In the production of goods for example we can try to push the idea of direct producer-consumer relations. Obviously this is nothing we can demand from governments or capital. In the international market system we live in, capital gains profits from the surplus value and they will ever insist on that. Therefore workers auto-organization will never go hand in hand with capitalism. As social movements we have to push for this different understanding of labor as a social relation and not just as one part of the production process besides resources, machines and so on. The products belong first of all to the people producing it and not to the capital.
And can SYRIZA be supportive in opening up these spaces?
Yavor: I think that this is one of the things SYRIZA could manage in one way or the other. They can in fact do a lot to support the creation of alternative ways of production, the social economy as they call it. They are giving more space to the movements by decreasing the repression and this is the time for the movements to reorganize itself.
As always, and this does not change with the new government, the social movements have to push from below. I don‘t believe in a revolutionary change in the sense of a sudden fundamental change and I don‘t think that this is something we even want to see. If there would be a revolution tomorrow the day after tomorrow would be horrible, as long as people are socialized in a capitalist world of social cannibalism. There is a need for people to learn that the basic step to a better living is participation and this is a long and slow process. The problem is that SYRIZAs victory for many people seems like a victory of representative democracy, but in fact – in term of participation from below – nothing has changed. If we are really looking for fundamental change, we have to use the space given to us now to practice little by little how to take ou life back into our hands. You don‘t learn it simply by reading books – you need to practice and experience it.
Excerpt from: What’s Next