Interview with Member of Communization Movement from Greece

Introductory Notes from post-cap.

There was the one of the most keenly expressed crisis situations in Greece for the last several years. Austerity measures to which the state resorts are directly related to the global economic crisis that began in 2007. High economic growth rates in Greece were highly dependent on capital inflows, and therefore suddenly appeared threat of bankruptcy was caused by heavy economic dependence on the external flows of value. Greece has become one of the countries which assumed the consequences of the international crisis. The Greek state has reorganized the economy to save the private sector. Unemployment, cuts in public budgets actually led to the loss of the status of «social state» (if such a term is appropriate). Protests, nationwide strikes, clashes with the police in a few years became a usual thing for the country. For us, under the circumstances, the Greek events are the one of the sources of modern practices that needed to be conscious.

Our Greek comrade is a member of communization movement (groups like Theorie Communiste, Troploin, Endnotes, Blaumachen etc). Proponents of this current in their theory emphasize that communism is the real movement and not some «ideal» society that needs to be «built». Communization is the process of destruction of the attributes of a class society (commodity production, property, state), and of spread of communism. So one of the most ambiguous concepts is an immediate (without identifying stages) destruction of commodity relations. In contrast to anarchists, communization movement recognizes the need for transitional phase and temporary power to protect communist measures (see «Communisation» by Troploin and «Communisation vs. Socialisation» by TC). Communization movement does not want to call this period «dictatorship of proletariat», and it proceeds from a view of the state as a product of commodity relations and of proletariat as antagonist and satellite capital. Proletariat exists when capital exists (and it means the contradiction between capital and labor exists too), and communization does not focus on the constitution of labour (because it makes worker as an element of the capital), communization transforms the proletarian into the individual of a classless society.

Participation of representatives of the communization movement at the points of social resistance (France, Greece) along with the strongest attributes of their theory (non-democratic and non-educational understanding of the communist movement, that begins in the period of capitalism) makes it necessary to study the valuable experience of movement and the establishment of international relations. We cannot agree with each answer in an interview, in particular as regards the use of the term «anti-authoritarian» and presentation AntiMaidan as a mirror of the Maidan, although the analysis of comrade rightly overcomes beyond superficial judgments about the political direction of the Maidan and AntiMaidan, preferring to look their essence hidden behind external factors.

Interview with Member of Communization Movement from Greece

summer 2014

Tell about yourself and your positions.

I am from Greece, 26 years old and for the last 3 years I am into communization and modern marxist theory. I am the author of the blog «a ruthless critique» which is mainly a blog about modern communist theory and class struggle in Greece and Eastern Europe. I am also the author of a side project blog called «our baba doesn’t say fairy tales» where I publish anti-authoritarian and communist news from the Balkans and Eastern Europe in Greek and sometimes news from Greece in English. I started getting involved into the anti-autoritarian movement when I was at the age of 18. I started from more traditional anarchist ideas and I moved slowly to more anti-state marxist ideas 4 years ago. The main projects which concern me is theoretical subjects like the essential aspects of capital relation, critique to both vulgar marxism and traditional anti authoritarianism, a marxist and not bourgeois or postmodern critique of sexism, sex and class relations, ideology, and marxist linguistics. I’m also into marxology discussions i.e. the methodology of Marx in his writings etc. The main ideological position of my blog is the completely dismiss of any form of commodity and money exchange, the complete dismiss of nationalism and national idea as I see it a form that arises from capital relations and the complete dismiss of power, state etc as also a form of unity of the bourgeois subjects. Least but not last, I completely dismiss any kind of democracy as long as exchange, property and national relations and separations are still existed. Together with other people of similar but not identical views we are trying to form an anti-authoritarian public discourse that completely rejects commodity and nationalism, because we think that the Greek movement is not eager against these aspects of capitalist life, and is heavily influenced by semi-patriotic rhetoric and a non-concrete critique to money/commodity i.e. class relations.

 

What can you tell about economical struggle in Greece: strikes, trade union movement etc. Are there some real active workers or just bureaucracy controlling union members? What about so-called «communist» party of Greece (KKE) and its real role (with some examples). We know what it actually is, and know that it’s bourgeois party but there are some people in Russia who praise it and we need to know more facts about its real actions.

There is the main trade union which is called ГΣΣЕ. It was created during the 20s by the KKE. After the fall of the military dictatorship at 74′ the ГССЕ became a completely bourgeois trade union, and it was the only trade union that could go on strike legally. All other smaller unions were calling for a strike but typically these strikes were illegal.
The ГΣΣЕ union during the 80s grew and became the biggest union in Greece, it had thousands of members, but it was heavily under governmental control and especially under the control of PASOK, a bourgeois liberal/socialist party that had the control of the parliament for the biggest part of the 80s and 90. The main reason why PASOK and GSSE were that successful was that they were heavily corrupted and through party connections there was a good chance to find a job with a very god salary in the state bureaucracy. Now after the crisis the ΓΣΣΕ union lost their members fast because it couldn’t full fill the task of finding you a job as before. But all these people who left the ГΣΣΕ are not organizing massively somewhere else more radically.
Most of them go back to their homes sad, have given up every hope for a change and they don’t create a massive labour movement.

The second most powerful union is the ПАМЕ of KKE. This union has a dubious role. On the one hand is clearly more radical than ГΣΣΕ. On the other hand stands clearly on a Khrushchev-style perspective of the state and the labour movement. They believe that they are the only true representatives of the labour movement and that only they have the right to defend the labour rights, but to do so they see as a main perspective the parliament not the direct class struggle. They have a very communist-soviet style rhetoric about revolutions etc, but their main efforts are to raise their % at the elections. The more radical elements inside the KKE are the builders and the shipyard workers who traditionally are more radical. These are the main mass of ПАМЕ and they are the most violent elements inside the KKE. But even these people are not much different in their political views from the other KKE members, they believe that the main goal is t raise the voters of KKE so the party will be able to defend them through parliament. Because of these internal tensions the KKE has to find its balance and a middle ground. On the one hand there some workers who consist the 40% of its voter basis, on the other hand there is this other 60% of its voters who don’t want violent clashes etc. So the KKE sometimes goes more violent some times more peacefully on the streets. The main problem is that the KKE is very afraid of criticism from other parliamentary parties and sees the parliament as a good thing so they don’t go too radical. They criticize others that without the parliament will be chaos etc. So the KKE and especially the ПАМЕ when it comes to confront more radical elements in the streets they side always with the state, cause they see state as an neutral instrument that could be used for emancipation. This happened many times during the last 20 years with the ПАМЕ members working side by side with the police some times. These incidents also caused heavy criticism against KKE. The other problem with KKE is that sometimes if a class struggle is going well, but the KKE has not control over the struggle, they are trying indirectly to sabotage the struggle. This is the case mainly with union student strikes and university occupations that the KKE has no great influence. Another problem of KKE that is very complex to analyze here is that KKE has a set of his own business mainly publishing organizations, TV channel, newspaper etc. KKE there as any capitalist firm within the context of capitalist market is forced to cut salaries, fire people etc. The problem is that KKE hides it and event under these tensions from the market, it doesn’t shift its critique to a more «commodity, market, critique» but they remain focused on a political analysis that salaries are just a matter of political will. They don’t see the internal contradictions on the capitalist categories of money, value etc. Other than that KKE is never cooperating with their leftist forces, during the 90s they participated in a united government with the liberal right wing party of New Democracy, they believe that homosexuality is something that would eclipse in communism and is a bourgeois phenomenon, and because of the Greek history and the antifascist struggle during the ww2, the main partisan organization against the Germans was that of KKE, the EAM organization, because of these events, KKE has a strong national character(KKE claims it defended the country) which as I said here in Greece is not tolerated at all by the movement . In many of their demonstrations they have many Greek flags etc. Also at the EAM participated many priests during the WWII so KKE IS NOT against religion but only against the uncontrollable church organizations. KKE is a very complex and controversial situation.

After the trade union of KKE, come smaller trade unions of leftist of anarchist groups or sometimes coalitions of them. I think that the strongest of these must be the OЛМЕ union of school teachers which until very recently was very radical, but during the last two years after some big defeats they are not very strong. Other groups exist as anarcho-syndicalist groups of delivery food guys(this is the main occupation for the 15% of the younger males) that are very strong and very radical, these trade unions are almost under complete control of anarchists and ultra-leftists, mainly cause many people of these political views work as delivery guys. Keep in mind that in Greece this is a massive occupation. There are also many student unions that are massive and radical but these unions are strong only within the universities. In general you should keep in mind that the way the trade unions are organized is different in the public sector and different in the privet sector of economy. In the private sector of economy trade unions are organized as political organizations, by people who are involved in the anarchist/leftist movement, they are more or less like worker grass root initiatives. This makes them more radical but less massive. On the other hand, unions in the public sector are a legal thing; they work as small parliaments which represent the interests of the workers. Every year they hold elections per professional sector, so the trade union may come under the influence of more radical or less radical elements. This is a complex system that is called the 1st, second and 3rd level of trade unions. The only 3rd degree trade union is the ГΣΣΕ, unions like ОЛМЕ(which are per professional sector) are second degree and unions of private sector are first degree or completely autonomous. In sum that’s all about the labour movement. In general all these were strong enough some years back, now nothing is really happening, and the labor movement, tops to bottom is very weak with some exceptions.

 

How are masses reactions on the agitation?

It depends on the year. 4 years or 5 years ago, people were very angry; there were massive and violent riots. After 4 years of austerity by the IMF polices there is nothing left. People really seem not to mobilize at all, the protests are not massive. In general people gave up their hopes to SIRIZA, the biggest social-democratic party. On the other hand some people, small bourgeois but also many workers, turned to Golden Dawn, the extreme right wing/neonazi party of Greece, as they think that it’s a revolutionary party.
Mainly what I can say is that there is a strong tendency to people to strength their national(istic) idea and rhetoric as they falsely see, national independence as a counter power to the IMF and capitalism in general(!). They cannot understand that the national state and the national formed and divided society is exactly what makes the IMF and capitalism in general to be able to work. You can’t have capitalism without national states and national ideas. Here is a big controversy that needs to be analyzed more, and here we don’t have the time or space: Many people think that capitalism dissolves states or nations, but what it really does is to strengthen their formation and at the same time to bring them on crisis, so to reconstruct them in an effective way for capital accumulation. It’s a controversial two dimension movement of capital.

The agitation on the streets now is a big question. In general there is this part of the people that they do not participate but they see very positive the protesting movement. These people are elder leftists of even semi- liberals that they are dissatisfied with the current situation. Of course between them there are great differences but they are in general «pro-protest». I think that the main difference between them is how they imagine and what kind of protest movement they want: some of them want a political movement of left-wing organizations, others-the liberal ones-want a movement of «citizens» because they think that the current government is not serving the interests of «Greek people» or even of the Greek nation (a more nationalistic variant of that perspective). On the other hand there are some extreme liberals who they think that the current situation is what we really want, what we really need. These are the people who support the current government. There is also a majority of people who they do nothing: they don’t vote for any party, but they also don’t get involved in any class struggle practice. They just trying to keep their job and to work hard because they are really worried about the future, but they believe that there is no other solution except working really hard to make it. They in general don’t really care about the protest movement at all. Of course as you can imagine these are not solid categories and social group but there is a dynamic between them: people sitting around from one category to the other all the time. SIRIZA in general gain that kind of mass support because is trying to combine the semi-nationalistic populist rhetoric with more leftist views and liberal gibergaber.

 

What about street riots? Some people (especially many anarchists) primarily pay attention to them and forget about worker’s movement.

Some anarchists are more into class struggle than others. In general anarchist in Greece are not into street clashes and riots as a fetish. This is more a cliché than a reality. Anarchists in Greece are of course the main force on the street riots and clashes but they strongly prefer to do it in a class struggle way, during strikes, local labour or ecological movements. On the other hand they are not into class struggle in the very strict meaning of the word i.e. to fight for a bigger salary. They are also into other forms of class struggle such as heavy expropriation riots etc. This in the anarchist Greek movement is considered a way of class struggle among with traditional forms of class struggle such as syndicalism. Me and Blaumachen are strongly «for» this kind of struggle, cause they are considered a way of destroying the commodity form of a product. The biggest part of the anarchists are like that I think. Don’t forget that from time to time the Greek social movement is more «radical» and «progressive» like during the riots of 2008 or the strikes of 2010 when simple people don’t want to riot as «workers» but simply as «humans» who want everything. It was these people that started the clashes in these cases and they did the most of the expropriation. They didn’t want to be-for some moment of course- labourers, they just wanted what they needed. Of course the expropriation activity and the practical critique of the commodity form during the riots is a more complex phenomenon that me, Blaumachen, Théorie Communiste and others tried to criticize and evolve more, but this is the main outlines. There are two categories of anarchists. First is a small but very famous organization of anarchists called AK. They started back in 2003 and until 2010 were very strong, many of the people of the modern anarchist movement were involved with this organization (also I was a member) After the 2010 AK abolished any kind of class analysis and many people left. Since then AK is very «soft» on their rhetoric, but very violent and militarized in the streets during classes with the police. Except from them there is also a relatively big part of anarchists the so called «armed» (вооруженный) these are mainly people of solidarity organizations combined around the solidarity to leftist and anarchist «terrorist» organizations, who rob banks, setup bombs, kill cops etc. Some of these they say that they like a more traditional class struggle, but only if it is combined with armed «nihilist» forces, the others are only pro-armed struggle. I don’t use the word nihilist in vain, many of them consider themselves us such, and they read only such bibliography.

 

You said that you (and Blaumachen) strongly for forms of activity as expropriation riots etc, but what aspect is seems more perspective for you — this kind of riots or mass economical class struggle as strikes?

I can’t really say what the Blaumachen people are thinking right now, cause they are in a phase of reconciliation and rethinking some of their concepts. But I will answer about what is the situation until now about myself. I think that the main social relation of capitalism is commodity. Commodity is value formed, that means that is a form of value, and value exists only through its forms. These forms need to be a circle: a commodity is sold; a capitalist takes some money, gives some to the workers and keeps the rest for himself and for reinvestment. Then the workers keep on working, reproducing themselves as workers and reproducing the capital its self. Then the whole process repeats itself. So this is a circuit. Marx called it the circuit of capital, or the circuit of value forms (cause its consisted by forms of value: money, commodity, constant capital etc). Only if the above process is undisturbed the capital can work and reproduce its self as a social relation. Now, to break the circuit of capital, i.e. the circuit of value forms, you can do it both ways: by «economic» struggle that they may disturb the production process of value(Marx as you know argued that capital doesn’t produce simply «products» but it produces value) or by expropriation, massive stealing from stores etc, that they disturb the value circuit when the commodity is on the market. This could cause a more polarizing situation inside the production line between the workers and the capitalists. In theory you can do it both ways, and we are not in favour of one or the other. But in practice, at least as we saw it in Europe and Greece the second way is more likely to be done. The reason about the possibility of the second way, is not irrelevant with the impossibility of the first one (economic struggle in the production lines).The increasing productivity of labour power, and the financialisation of capitalism produce the dissolving of the working class as a historical subject. This is for two reasons: production of a constant mass of unemployment (ENDNOTES have a very interesting article on that) which scares the workers to fight. On the other hand the incising productivity makes it more and more difficult for firms to accumulate capital, their products are becoming cheaper, so most of them are becoming very aggressive against their workers, and also some times this turns the workers against other workers of other capitals, they believe that their life depends from the survival of their capital, so they are defending them (we saw this many times). If you combine these interrelated reasons it’s easy to see that the working place is not any more a good place to «pick a fight» with capital. On the other hand these marginals, and the excluded people from capital circuit (they are unemployed or with very low salaries for many years etc), seem to be more likely to break the value circuit by massive protest etc. So the thing is not what we support the one way of the fight or the other, but what the proletarians do themselves. In Greece Spain, France, and the Balkans, the proletarians as a movement are non-existed in general, because of the above. Of course that doesn’t mean that we don’t support economic struggles in the production lines, of course we do, but we don’t see it to be happening massively compared to the other.

 

How people, which are now taking part in expropriations, can organize? Are there some territorial «unions» of these groups. If not, is perspective of that kind of «unions» of expropriators real?

No there are not any kind of expropriation unions organized, and there is no such perspective. Because this kind of activity is highly illegal and is mainly practiced by marginals. There were some thoughts by some people to organize marginals to expropriate supermarkets but we didn’t make it. The only think that we made was anarchists groups which sometimes expropriated supermarkets and then gave the products to the people for free. This was the only organized thing that happened. Besides that the only massive expropriations happened during the massive protesting. The closer thing to what you are asking is the so called «movement of self-revaluation». This is a movement especially focused to the problem of electricity and gas prices. The electricity and gas bills are very high and many people how have no job, or a low income they are unable to pay them, so they live without electricity or heat. This was a movement that was going from neighborhood to neighborhood and was reconnecting the electricity and the gas heat without the bill been paid. Of course there are limits to this kind of practice but for a time this was very successful.

 

What do you think about Maidan? It’s not class movement, it’s more “citizen” protest, but what useful perspectives can it bring for the communist movement? Can this protest lead directly to the mass class-based protest formation?

Maidan is a very complex thing that I put a lot of effort into. Here in Greece only me and some stalinists are paying attention to the events in Ukraine. Maidan is clearly a citizen movement like that in Spain and Greece. In fact it was very similar to the Greek Sidagma movement: There were only national flags, mainly people were demanding a «better bourgeois democracy» and a better capitalism and of course there were some progressive elements together with some nationalist, but they were all together under the abstract identity of the «citizens». With the exception that ultranationalist were more active and more violent, there are no differences between the Greek movement and the Ukrainian one. If we conceive the capitalist society as an heteronomy of the social individual, as Marx said: «This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the production of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part» (The German Ideology). «The various forms of social connectedness confront the individual as a mere means towards his private purposes, as external necessity» (Grundrisse).That means that the Maidan was clearly a movement against the general dynamic of modern crisis capitalism that destroys and reconstructs a big part of the bourgeois social roles and identities. From this point of view Maidan was a movement and not a NATO motivated protest. On the other hand because the contemporary contradictions of capitalism don’t allow the construction of a clearly proletarian movement, Maidan as it is can’t give any perspectives to the worker movement(you need to have a worker movement first of all to do that, but if you had one, you wouldn’t have a Maidan in the first place).

Maidan was the reaction to the dynamics of modern crisis-financial capitalism but it was from a bourgeois perspective: its main goal was the revaluation of the bourgeois subjects as a whole, as united subjects. This was the main reason why people had that kind national hysteria. National is exactly that: the unity of bourgeois subjects. This kind of analysis is derived from the fact that modern capitalism wants the extreme devaluation of a big part of the bourgeois society, so the social individuals are reacting in a way to keep their previous social structure or to construct a «healthy capitalism» a «capitalism for all». Of course this cannot be done so this kind of movements such us Maidan, Sidagma, or even Occupy wall street have a short limit to their activity, soon enough they find themselves in a dead end as has happened everywhere. The thing is what king of contradictions is created by the Maidan and such movements that they may drive us to a worker or marginal movement. I think that this is the main thing that we have to focus on, to see the contradictions which arise from the activity of these movements and not these movements as they are. These contradictions that may arise from these movements won’t have the characteristics of Maidan, or antiMaidan, they may be against and different as a form, from both Maidan and antiMaidan. Also I would like to add here that the above analysis includes also the antiMaidan movement. If we don’t pay attention to the very militarized conflict that was happening the two last months, and we see the general dissatisfaction of people from eastern Ukraine about the EU agreement, we may see similar but counter contradictions to the contradictions which sparked the Maidan. People from east Ukraine have the same fears and the same worries about their future, BUT their lives were structured and bounded to the Russian region of capitalist accumulation, so with the EU agreement they were afraid the same way the western region were afraid from their lives if Ukraine was to join the Custom Union. The antiMaidan was the exact mirror movement of Maidan, not less bourgeois and conservative, not less progressive either. It was a movement of the eastern bourgeois subjects us a whole as a unity. The main reason why the Ukrainian crisis took this form and not the form of Spain or Greece(I mean the form of a small civil war and not just a civil movement) is the main contradiction of the Ukrainian state, which was unable to work us a general capitalist, cause for many years there was no way to combine the eastern economy, which was a different capital composition from the capital composition of Western Ukraine. What I am saying is that there is no way to understand full the contradictions of the Ukrainian events without an understanding of the contradictions and the capital composition of the Ukrainian society during the last 15 years. I have translated one of my texts that is about this kind of perspective in my blog, is called «Songs of the Black Sea».

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