ΑΝΤΙΣΤΑΣΗ ΣΤΗ ΚΡΑΤΙΚΗ ΚΑΤΑΣΤΟΛΗ
WE STAND AGAINST STATE REPRESSION
Counter-information written collectively by the assembly of squatters in Exarchia, Athens, August 2019
The state and capitalism continues to target the freedom of the social base and appropriate its labour and resources. In recent years we have experienced some the most violent attacks on this freedom through the mass impoverishment of the already oppressed and exploited.
At the same time, a widespread social resistance and solidarity movement has formed. People have created a variety of self-organized spaces such as housing infrastructures, social medical centres, community kitchens, open parks and public spaces. Despite economic and political set-backs, the movement has created a solid social territory and accumulated considerable knowledge and experience. Through squats, political groups, unions, squares and neighborhood assemblies we have formed strong social bonds that are able to criticize society. At times, the movement has had to use counter-violence as means to defend and expand free spaces against state repression, capitalist interests and fascist attacks. It is a movement that grows in diversity and vibrancy, despite the ongoing criminalisation of solidarity and mobility.
In the context of this socio-class conflict, on Monday, 26/8, the state, armed with police forces, seized Exarchia and evicted four squats. Two of these squats were migrant homes – Transito and Sp Trikoupi 17 – from which police captured 144 migrants, uprooting them from their residences for a second time and isolating them in what the state calls detention centers. Evictions were also carried out in an ongoing housing and political squat in Assimaki Fotila and the Gare squat where three arrests were made. Police also invaded the homes of comrades from Gare.
In addition to the squats and the movement itself, this repressive operation is aimed at migrants. They are some of the most oppressed people in society since their very existence is considered illegal. In a state of ‘illegality’, there is no access to health and education, and working conditions are rife with exploitation and subjugation. Many choose self-organisation and solidarity structures in order to survive and resist. Together with local and international solidarity we build communities and claim visibility, posing a direct threat to political and economic power. The solidarity we are building is in contrast to the humanitarian aid of NGO’s that can be seen to manipulate migrants and make money from their problems. Real solidarity is at odds with the ‘humanitarianism’ of the state that covers up deaths at the borders and deflects from the violent conditions at concentration camps. Prisoners do not receive adequate medical care and therefore suffer from potentially fatal diseases. These concentration camps lack basic hygiene, people live with bed bugs and miserable food, and are frequently beaten or raped to force them to flee the Greek and European territory, or commit suicide. Transferring migrants from the squats where they have chosen to live, undermines their dignity and self-determination. The excuse that these camps are safer and healthier is a vicious state lie.
Throughout these years the solidarity movement has responded to migrants’ direct needs and desires. The most important achievement of the movement is that people of different backgrounds have organized into squats and formed collective bodies to create projects that reflect the world of equality and freedom we desire. Squats are free spaces where social relations can be developed free from state control and economic exclusion. These spaces overcome national, gender and other systemic discriminations and respond to basic needs such as housing, breaking out of rent coercion, and wage exploitation. In times of mass forced migration, they offer shelter and hope to thousands of people by making inclusive and active spaces. Squats in collaboration with other grassroots forces defend neighborhoods and public spaces from corporate and political power.
The political agenda of “New Democracy” is a continuation of Syriza’s policy. It aims to transform Exarchia and surrounds into easily exploitable land for local and foreign capital. The result is further exploitation and destruction of the environment and the aggressive gentrification of space that transforms urban neighborhoods into tourist consumption areas, displacing residents and carrying out informal “social cleansing”. The militarisation of public space and the imprisonment of those who are rising up to defend it is essential for implementing this policy and results in the repression of migrants, workers, students, the unemployed, women and queers. Some of “New Democracy’s” first moves were to integrate the correctional system and the immigration ministry under police jurisdiction. At the same time, they hired 1,500 new people to the police force, expanding the state’s repressive army. They further criminalised the means of struggle and abolished university asylum in preparation for the new social class struggles. The struggles that Syriza assimilated and disintegrated paved the way for an even more capable totalitarian state that we saw with the rise of “New Democracy”.
We call on all people of struggle – the rebellious, squatters, collectives and individuals – here and abroad, to join in strengthening efforts towards a common front against police and state repression. Our primary aim is to defend the squats and our social achievements against the state and capital. Don’t let the struggle be assimilated by any regime of power! Let’s expand the already existing self-organised structures and create new ones that escalate with class and social struggles. It is time to crush the repressive forces, to debunk systemic media propaganda, and bring out the truth of the struggle of the oppressed.
“by the end of the month they (Greece’s New Democracy government) will have put an end to Athens’ experiment with autonomous urban governance and its grassroots refugee solidarity network, which currently houses over 1,000 people”
a. behind your helmets you have shit (for brains) / what would you understand about freedom
b. greece of greeks, cops, snitches, killers and torturers
c. solidarity is the people’s weapon on the war of the bosses
Do you think that:
-our future is borderless, and intersectional
-our community’s are trans: national/personal/identity/generational/species
Do you think that:
-our collective (tele/cyber) presence requires a new way of thinking and organising – through COSMOPOLITICS
-we have universal and unwavering human rights & RESPONSIBILITIES to ALL life on this planet and beyond
-our global justice and governance bodies suffer from a massive LACK due to the veto and financial power of nation states that are tied up in corporate interests, and whom have a serious lack of OPENNESS and sharing
-the few should not decide for the many
Do you think that:
the way out
of crony&disaster&neo-liberal competitive capitalism and the destructive tendencies of ‘own’ership
& -ACTING upon alternative models that will ACTUALLY benefit the globe and all its constituents
and that this (re-commoning) is largely already happening in so many places all the time BUT the progressive peoples of our world are fragmented, siloed, isolated (even-though-hyper-connected), and potentially prey to the narcissistic shitswarm, nationalist rhetoric, competitive labour demands, social and traditional media manipulation, personal fixation… etc f’n etc that is the current power-paradigm-model of personal-collective delusion
Do you think that:
-to keep our global institutions accountable and powerful
-to relate our autonomies
-to be a force at the table of the future
is to support a progressive international movement dedicated to bringing the VOICES of the many who are fighting for distinct yet super connected causes into a position that can challenge the institutions of hate and greed that continue to drown us out on a global scale
YES to the local fight, it can only ever be.
YES to keeping things small and slow.
& YES to bringing these together globally to ACT in a way that our future friends CAN’T DEFEAT.
This is one of many actions we need to take. We must understand the power of people plus technology plus ETHICS in the new economy that WILL see us progress beyond the end of our colonial-imperial-nationalist shared histories.
We can’t miss this chance to see and be in the possible. To wrestle a smart-future into our hands and away from those bent on control through manipulating chaos.
Join Progressive International:
“Our Progressive International will reach out to communities in every corner of the world to help build our shared vision.
Our Progressive International will stand by people who are already fighting to end inequality, exploitation, discrimination and environmental degradation.
Our Progressive International will reclaim our communities, our cities, our countries, and our planet with a bold International New Deal that we will work, together, to deliver.
It is time for progressives of the world to unite.
Today, on behalf of DiEM25 and The Sanders Institute, we issue a Call to Action: to create a global network of individuals and organizations that will fight together for dignity, peace, prosperity and the future of our planet.
Join us. Join Progressive International.”
Visit the website here.
I was cold, and perched next to jagged rocks and short sharp shrubbery. I could feel the ends of my toes as if they were separate to their starting joints, and I breathed low and short, in an attempt to push down whatever warmth was left in my gut, through to the rest of me.
It had been months since I started falling. Walking and climbing seemed now to be an antidote I wished I had practiced from the start; instead of running, stumbling, running endlessly attempting to know the truth of what ached me.
If there was anything I learned as a teen it was that if the slope is kind you can never fall off a mountain. One must be a goat.
As I sat there taking in the extraordinarily massive view, 180 degrees around me, eating crunchy peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches and breathing sharp windy clarity through my teeth, I decided it was finally time to descend, and face (them) my worst fears.
written at La Cunziria, Vizzini, Catania, Sicily, Italia, Globo, 2015
CRITICAL DREAMING: POLITICALLY ENGAGED ART IN AN UNREASONABLE WORLD.
Or, metamodern avant-garde propositions to aide in the reintegration of human to human and to cosmos (all as one in multiplicity and chaos)
There is no central or single concern.
Rather a complex of methods investigating the usefulness of an art, now, formed beyond a system of capital and into a realm that helps us to redefine and re-understand who we are, in relation.
In this way (my) research embodies various theoretical methods and positions.
Why? Because they are already connected anyway, and it would be dishonest to not try and re-newly connect the dots. We live in a world of dream and lore that is hauled into an invented space for competition and conformity. A space in which we are forced into submission, as subjects and objects of power.
There are not too many free spaces left. As artists we work in the mindfield. In a whatmire. What are we going to do with our time in the field of mind? We ask ourselves this question every day and night without knowing it. It is an essential and moral problem of knowing being.
As I said before there are not too many free spaces left. Where can free-seeking agents of agency turn? In my view this is the realm of the artist-philosopher. Some have argued that the artist has no place to hold a moral high ground, that throughout history and especially now they are an affectual problem of the capital elite. They are the access class, they access the elite through the performance and production of capital. They are an imposter, fixed in a symbiotic relationship. Producing and performing desire. The (cultural tourist) elite pay to feel they are culturally superior, elevate themselves even further away from the classic oppressed. If they perform the right manners, the artist gets an invite to the dinner table. BUT I am not talking about that kind of artist. I am also not interested in understanding how the word artist becomes a Creative, who’s purpose is to sweeten product to market. What I am interested in is the type of artist I would like to think I am, and the types of artists I think all of you are, and the million other hearts and minds across the globe who also wake up every day unconsciously asking: what am I going to do with my time in the field of mind?
I can’t differentiate the two anymore: the artist from the philosopher, the philosopher from the artist, or either from the human. This process of research-practice has further entangled that. If I ask what kind of artist am I, will it suffice to say I am a philosophical one? Perhaps, but that may be inaccurate. It may be more true to say I am a problematic one. One who enjoys problems. One who requires them to wake up to the world.
The problem of time is a real one, it’s an important one, it is one we have a privilege to play with in a way that many others do not. And THAT is a problem. Perhaps it is the problem.
It is important. To understand the type of artist I am. Or the one I should be. Or maybe it is discovering I am not one at all. That through the deepening into discourse on what it means to be an artist, I discover it was fakery all along – like the language I speak that is not of this land, like my performances of being, me.
In my 2018 work Humans Can Be Artists, art students sold themselves to the highest bidder in a museum in Nanjing, China. Whilst ‘sold’ they had one role, to be a burden on the buyer, to talk with them about the kind of artist-person they are, or want to be. The buyer, on the other hand had no obligation other than to be physically attached by rope to the student-artist during the length of time they spent in the gallery; how the two spent time together is largely unknown.
Almost a year later the same group of students took on another aspect of the original provocation I made; to accompany their buyer to their home and continue their work in burdening and proposing their self. I was unawares this project continued. It’s a small meme, an appropriation of appropriations. It is theirs now.
And isn’t this interesting, at a time in academic and wider cultural discourse where we are rightfully concerning ourselves over questions of what is human, what is person, who can be human. The moral-political agenda informing these questions has always been critical but now it is urgent as our current paradigm requires a radical re-shifting. A project of undoing (and re-imagining) who or WHAT we all are. If we survive it, perhaps we can all be artists.
This brings me to the place of further definitions. What then, is an artist? As Noam Chomsky points out in the 1971 discussion with Michel Foucault on the ‘ideal society’ – all human beings are creative. The very act of learning language requires not only the intrinsic brain that can allow for it, but that individual creativity is required to make the leap from mere sets of signs to systems of meanings.
As Foucault and Chomsky go on to disagree with each other as more than just a sport of different perspectives we also learn that the external conditions, the historical and physical apparatuses, bare significance in whether the child (or the scientist or artist) can creatively leap between frameworks of knowledge in order to make sense, or, anew, of the limited data in front of them.
As Foucault points out this is a “matter of transforming the same knowledge” or, as Chomsky adds, of “forgetting certain problems and leaping to new theories” .
The position of individual creativity becomes paramount then when considering the conditions a society puts on its people, as Chomsky states:
if it is correct, as I believe it is, that a fundamental element of human nature is the need for creative work, for creative inquiry, for free creation without the arbitrary limiting effect of coercive institutions, then, of course, it will follow that a decent society should maximise the possibilities for this fundamental human characteristic to be realised.
And this was in 1971.
And it remains as immediate and real a concern as ever. What are the measures that should maximize these fundamental human characteristics like creativity? What changes need to occur to allow for it to flourish and be central to our way of life, every day, and leading to every other day? It is not so difficult to imagine an ecology that puts human creativity as a driving force of its economy. You could rewire that sentence: It is not so difficult to imagine an economy that puts human creativity as a driving force of its ecology. As Chomsky says, “There is no longer any social necessity for human beings to be treated as mechanical elements in the productive process”.
In my work Humans Are Horses, (2017) https://vimeo.com/251905839
I spoke of the simplicity of re-perceiving oneself not as a cog in the machinery of disaster capitalism, but as a free-seeking agent of change who can use their time to creatively care for and uplift fellow others. In this work – which was performed in my domestic home, and which stepped through body-sculpture, video installation, performance-lecture-ritual, feast, and dialogue – I proposed a few simple mechanisms of how an artist-led economy could and should “change the world”. There were a few tongues in cheeks. But a few nice things have come out of it. The donations given upon entry have been invested in the first crypto universal basic income, which is growing, and which will be fed back into a collective, commoning project I am working toward.
A friend and curator-artist colleague recently pointed out to me there is a significant element of care in my work and life. It is central to my methodology. In her words:
You hardly ever make work for galleries because they are cold alienating spaces. You don’t simply cater for people you cook for them. You make them comfortable in spaces, you drive people to the airport in the middle of the night and talk with them about their ideas. BUT WHY? This love (or care) is a subject worthy of critical attention.
This leads me to what may be actually be the central tenet of my theses. That it is now the role of the artist-philosopher to take up the charge to overcome oppression and mechanistic reductionism by forging (urging for) “a society of freedom and free association in which the creative urge… will in fact be able to realise itself in whatever way it will.” (Chomsky, 1971).
In other readings, such as from a depth psychology or contemporary shamanistic view the term creativity could be re-classed as desire but more on that another time.
As I have contemplated this problem, I have come to understand it in a complex way. When Chomsky refers to free association, he is likely referring to the ability for people to freely associate with others, for civil liberties to be open, for human mobility to not be encumbered by laws of private property and the nation state. I would add another layer of meaning/need to this term: the free association of phenomena, of psychological experience, of meaning making, of new language forms, of signs, of an embodiment of the unconscious through daily (creative/ collective) praxis. An identarian heuristics informing our personal-collective.
If we assume that the space of artistic investigation is free, and if we further acknowledge that the bulk of social relations are ordered through a mechanistic framework of capital growth through production and resource extraction which is harmful to our human and other-than-human ecologies, then it becomes clear that the role of the artist, and the spaces which artists inhabit, have the responsibility to open to, and be imperative to the struggle for freedom and free association.
Ultimately then maybe I come back to the places of inquiry that launched me into this investigation. The effect of history on my bodies, the effect of histories on my body. And the responsibility we have to re-embody a history that could have been, and through this rewrite our future. This is not just words. This is the playing field of ritual-body-communal-dream-world-making. Whether we know it or not we are in the practice of it. I have become aware of this. And I choose to follow it.
PRESENTED AT LOOP FOR THE ART & PERFORMANCE GROUP, DEAKIN UNIVERSE 9th July 2019, Melbourne