Presentation of Nikos Maziotis: “Armed Struggle, Revolutionary Movement, and Social Revolution” – Athens Polytechnic, 2014 (Greece)

Presentation of Nikos Maziotis:
“Armed Struggle, Revolutionary Movement, and Social Revolution”
Athens Polytechnic, November 2014

[The talk began with various brief greetings to comrades attending the presentation, those of the squat KVOX for organizing the event, a reference by Maziotis to the government preventing him from speaking by phone to a prior meeting, etc. After this presentation, there were also some questions and responses which are not yet translated]…

This presentation deals with the theme, “Armed Struggle, Revolutionary Movement and Social Revolution” and has as its goal to show the clear and undeniable connection of armed struggle with the creation of a revolutionary movement that is a necessary precondition for social revolution, for the overturn of State and Capital.

I also believe that such a discussion is a good opportunity to begin political work that will aim at the creation of a certain form of political structure, that is to say a revolutionary movement that will try to overturn the rule of state and capital in the present-day Greek territory. Our goal as Revolutionary Struggle is the creation of such a revolutionary movement, and we have pursued this with our acts and our words. I believe with these words and acts we have brought political armaments and analysis into the anti-authoritarian space which can be used to build the base of a revolutionary movement. I would underline that a similar presentation in Thessaloniki at Terra Incognita squat at which I spoke, also fueled conversations and efforts to begin political work to form a revolutionary movement.

Moving on to today’s theme, I would like to begin by saying a bit about the character of Revolutionary Struggle concerning how we see armed struggle, what are its characteristics and what are its relations with the movement and with revolution. Revolutionary Struggle is an organization of armed propaganda. As its name implies, it is a group that tries in word and deed to spread to the larger society the idea of the need for social revolution, the abolition of state and capital, and the organization of the society on an anarcho-communist basis to found a classless and stateless society. Our goal as an organization is both this revolution and the growth of action that will have this revolution as its orientation and goal.

Here, I will make one thing clear: a few armed members of revolutionary groups do not make revolutions, rather the people in arms following the direction of an organized revolutionary movement do so. The role of armed propaganda organizations is to send powerful political messages with their targeted actions.

And these political messages have no other goal than to awaken the people to fight against and sabotage the political practices of the present system of domination, to show that this system is not invulnerable, that it can be overturned if people are conscious, awoken, organized, and if they attack those who exploit and repress them. That is to say, capital and the international elite, as we have characterized them in our analysis of today’s world of globalization, and also the state that acts as the guarantor for this elite and also is on its own a bureaucratic machine of oppression.

As an organization, I believe we have correctly analysed the world we live in, the existing political and economic conditions, right from the moment that we began our actions- that is to say in the beginning of the prior decade of the 2000s- and I think our actions were well-targeted and correct. Here I would like to say something about the conditions in which we began. At the start of the 2000s, globalization was in full swing. The dictatorship of the markets progressed, the system believed itself all-powerful, and it took on more and more totalitarian characteristics, precisely to advance this dictatorship of the markets. From the “war on terrorism” to the neoliberal reforms that were advanced, the result showed the political-military and economic characteristics of globalization. And in Greece we had a parallel development. The country was put into the Eurozone, the economy was controlled by multinational capital, neoliberal reforms were promoted and there was participation in the war against “terrorism” with the support of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the passing of “anti-terrorist” laws, and agreements of anti-terrorist cooperation between Greece, the EU and USA.

In the same period we had the arrests of November 17 and ELA. With those arrests, the Greek government not only announced the end of armed struggle in Greece, but also the omnipotence of the system, claiming that any effort of overturn and revolution was in vain. Hence we began our actions in 2003, showing up the governmental lie that armed struggle was over, contradicting the governmental claims that it was omnipotent, in order to show that armed struggle continued in Greece and that the idea of overturn and revolution remained alive. In these conditions of the first period of our action from 2003 to 2007, the aim of our actions was the war against terrorism and the neoliberal reforms of the then-government of Karamanlis. The attacks on the Evelpidon courthouse, on police buildings and units, the Economics ministry and the minister of public order Boulgaraki, with the high point of the attack against the US embassy in Athens, to close with the attack on the police station in Perissos, all these attacks were a part of this strategy.

In opposition to the systematic propaganda about a “strong Greece” and the strong Greek economic growth in the Eurozone, we said that Greece had a vast debt- from 2005 we said this- that the strong economy was a myth, and that in the event of an economic crisis breaking out the country would find itself in a very difficult situation, something that has been verified in a few years by the global economic crisis.

In the second period of our action from 2009 to the recent attack on the Bank of Greece in April 2014, the theme of our actions has been the systemic crisis. The political campaign was shaped on this basis, with the various attacks on Citibank, Eurobank, the Athens Stock Market, and the attack on the Bank of Greece, as part of our strategy to attack the structures of domestic and multinational capital, institutions and persons that are responsible for the crisis and for their attempts to save this political system.

Naturally our choice to act as an organization of armed propaganda does not mean that other forms of actions are useless. What it does mean is that a polymorphic revolutionary movement has to involve armed struggle. As we have said, there is a clear relation between a revolutionary movement and armed struggle, as a movement has to involve armed struggle in its goals if it wants to be practically revolutionary. Because historical experience has shown us that there is no revolution if it is not armed, and to overturn authority it is necessary to have recourse to arms. Some of these historical examples include: The Paris Commune of 1871, the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the German Revolution of 1918-19, the Spanish Revolution of 1936-7, the Greek resistance, the Chinese, Hungarian, Cuban revolutions, etc.

I will underline that struggles and movements that were not anti-capitalist, for example the Resistance movements in the countries under German occupation, used armed struggle and guerrilla tactics, like EAM in Greece. The same goes for the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial revolts in Third World countries, like for example Algeria or Vietnam. For us as Revolutionary Struggle, having as our goal social revolution, we believe that the basis of our actions is the massification of armed struggle, communication with widening sections of the lower social groups, and advancing a discourse that includes the perspective of a revolutionary movement, this perspective which above all we consider the primary thing needed for this same revolution.

A revolutionary movement will have its role as a political vanguard with the goal of providing people with ideas, suggestions, a political program, strategic actions; having as its literal aim to arm the poor, the people, workers- for the overturn of state and capital, for the realization of social revolution.

I will clarify what I mean by the word “vanguard”, since the word inspires a negative reaction. This vanguard is the same as the revolutionary movement. It is the most politically conscious section of the society which is responsible for leading and making a revolution. Historical experience has shown that in all revolutions there have been political forces that have taken this vanguard role in determination and direction. For instance in the Paris Commune it was the Blanquists that defined the political moment, although of course Proudhonist anarchists were included. In the Russian revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks triumphed over the other political forces, the social-revolutionaries and anarchists, and took over the control and direction of the revolution, something that defined the history of the 20th century until the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989-91. In the German Revolution the political lead was taken by the Spartacists, in Spain it was the Anarchists in the CNT-FAI, in the Chinese or Greek experiences the corresponding communist parties. The Cuban revolution was led by the guerrilla group of Castro, Guevara, and Cienfuegos.

Hence, without the organization of a vanguard revolutionary movement, we cannot seriously speak of a perspective of overturn. As Revolutionary Struggle, ever since our political campaign back in 2009, with its attacks on CitiBank, Eurobank, the Stock Market, even from the first announcement of this period when we took responsibility for attacking the MAT at the Cultural Ministry in response for the killing of Grigoropoulos, we have talked about the need to create a revolutionary movement that will exploit the situations offered by the crisis.

We believed, and this has been confirmed, that there exist excellent chances- objective conditions, as we say- for the overturn of the system, if of course there exists a subjective factor, meaning an organized revolutionary movement that will have the desire to exploit these favorable conditions, to acquire from its actions popular social support, to create a wide social and class grouping to attempt an uprising. Whether favorable or otherwise, the objective conditions consist of the deregulation of the political and economic system due to the unprecedented attack of capital, the multinational elite and the State against the majority of the populace (which was inaugurated by the signing of the memorandum in 2010 and the subordination of the country to the authority of the Troika, the IMF, EU, and ECB).

The regime has lost the societal consent of the pre-crisis years. That is to say, there could not exist more positive chances than those now existing for a revolutionary attempt in the country. In the two following years of 2010-2012, there were the largest and most massive popular demonstrations against the anti-societal measures of the memorandum, where as everyone knows thousands were involved in confrontations with the forces of repression. These took place in Syntagma square, where thousands of people tried to storm the Parliament, the symbol par excellence of the delegitimised social system, the despised democracy of the bosses, where the obedient politicians of the multinational elite voted the hated anti-societal measures that were dictated by the memorandum agreements. In those two years, the system succeeded in narrowly avoiding its collapse in an unplanned exit from the Eurozone and the euro, from an uncontrolled bankruptcy, something which would call forth even larger social reactions, chaos, ungovernability and possibly a brief absence of authority, which in our opinion if a revolutionary movement existed, it would seize this opportunity and not let anyone else do so.

The Papandreou government collapsed in the fall of 2011, and we said when we were arrested and took the responsibility for our Political Letter to Society, that the Papandreou government would not last because of its political decisions. Obviously, this government collapsed in these two years, not being able to support the weight of the memorandum measures, and gave way to a corporation-type government with a non-political figure at its head, the former #2 of the ECB, Lucas Papademas.

In the same time period there was the creation of the “indignados” movement that created popular assemblies in each neighborhood and many self-managed enterprises, but it did not subvert the attack of state and capital, nor stop the memorandum in the least. In my opinion this large opportunity was not exploited because there was missing the factor of a revolutionary movement, which could take advantage of these situations of systematic crisis and together with the people attempt subversion and an uprising.

The prior time I was in jail for the Revolutionary Struggle case, I spoke by phone in February 2011 with comrades from the “Assembly in solidarity with arrested and wanted comrades” in Herakleio, Crete. I said that a great chance was opening up for the anarchist/anti-authoritarian space to organize as a movement, to make an intervention in the crisis and to push for overthrow and revolution. The anarchist/anti-authoritarian space, in the main, was not equal to the role it needed to play in these conditions. As then, and as of now, we cannot really say that there exists a movement, and we cannot confuse what exists today in the anarchist/anti-authoritarian space with what a movement means.

We cannot speak of a movement when there is a general situation of fragmentation and discord, or if we go further, a polarization between the existing collectives and the unorganized individuals that are the overwhelming majority of the space. We cannot speak of a movement when more disagree than agree, all in the name of a contorted understanding of differentiation and autonomy; when actions of various collectives, groups and individuals never converge; when we disdain the very concept or idea of politics, organization, unification, and accountability.

A movement is a united political formation, in federated form following anarchist models, with a unified political program, with at least a minimum of political agreement between those who make up the movement, and on this basis we offer the people and society the bypassing of state and capital towards the construction of a classless, stateless society. And as we theorize that a revolutionary movement has to have in its goals armed struggle, when we speak of this movement we mean a unified political-military form. And here I want to bring an example from the past, from the libertarian movement of Spain, the CNT-FAI, which of course belongs to other conditions than those of today. The FAI was founded as a clandestine organization in 1927 in the period of the Primo de Rivero dictatorship. It was created by members of combat organizations from the preceding years who had gun-battles with the pistoleros of the employers that were killing anarcho-syndicalist workers.

As to what is a movement, what are its suggestions and structures- it is a microcosm of the larger society it tries to make. For example, the monolithic and centralized party of the Bolsheviks resulted in the monolithic and totalitarian character of the regime of “real socialism”, while the federated structure of the anarchists reflects the federated character of stateless and classless society. We as Revolutionary Struggle, in so much as we are a structure of armed anarchist propaganda, function without hierarchy and the method of resolving decisions is the assembly of the members of the group- we are a microcosm of the new society we propose.

From our side, since 2009 we have talked of the need to create a revolutionary movement, we have been trying to bring together a political program, based on political positions and demands that a movement must have to measure up to the practical demands of the Greek situation. And we theorize that the growth of a political program, positions and proposals is necessary and involves a discussion on the organized forms of a movement. In that frame, with the responsibility claim for the recent attack of Revolutionary Struggle on the Bank of Greece in April 2014, we published our platform of positions and proposals that in our view a movement today must have, in this way wanting to establish a political dialogue in the midst of the anarchist/anti-authoritarian space.

In closing, I would like to say the following: besides the fact that since 2012 we have had a lessening of social resistance, where the popular mobilizations of that period have exhausted their potential and strength, and that in the elections of summer of 2012 the system maintained a fragile stability and the attack of the Samaras government from the elections onward continued the policy of the multinational elite with undiminished brutality, and that many people and some anarchists are stuck in the dead-end logic of playing the game of parliamentary politics in voting for Syriza- in spite of all this, absolutely nothing is finished. The war continues. The capitalist machine, not only in Greece but in Europe and globally, will continue to break down.

The system cannot reproduce itself. In Europe (not only in the South) recession is even hitting advanced economies like France, while Germany, the dynamo of European growth, will not remain unaffected. Contrary to the propaganda of the Greek government that the memorandum and crisis have ended and that the country will remove itself from the oversight of the troika, new measures, memorandums and austerity will become a continuous and enduring condition. The lowering of incomes, reductions in wages and pensions, and the lowering of the costs of labour will become the general state of things, the same as heavy taxation.

The Greek economy will continue to be stuck in recession, the debt is unsustainable, and poverty, misery and hunger are here to stay. The politics of societal genocide will continue to be implemented because the system has no other solution, at least for the present. We have not yet seen the worst.

The overthrow of state and capital, social revolution is necessary for the survival of humanity, and to say this is not simple idealism. There is a need for a revolutionary movement to change the situation and to inspire people with the spirit of resistance and revolt.

Nikos Maziotis

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