received by sysiphus 17/01/2012
Without a doubt, we are living through a period where the living conditions in this world are being renegotiated in their totality. Capitalism’s gleaming shop window has been shattered to reveal what lies behind: a process of putrefaction and decadence. Democratic hopes and capitalist promises are being ousted alongside the fictitious prosperity -through loans- of capitalism’s golden age experienced in previous decades; at the same time the “promised land”—complete with private swimming pool, two cars, and four televisions— is replaced by a gray desert of depression, desperation, insecurity, and fear. Domination, in a demonstration of its more then efficient flexibility, is withdrawing toward a new kind of digitally programmed totalitarianism, and is creating bulwarks by setting up new police units, biometric databases, and even newer, more elastic “antiterrorist” laws—all in an attempt to steel itself against the enemy within, which is threatening the ever-so-fragile social peace. The transparent social galley is being transformed into a maximum-security prison, as social cohesion built up over years is set in renegotiation of the rules on which it was based: access to wealth and consumption; the promises and hopes of social ascent and recognition; the role of wage-labor as a means to satisfy needs and desires and as a ticket to human self-fulfillment in a world of consumerist dreams and sensations.
Work is not simply and exclusively an economic process that commercializes human activity. Due to its totalitarian character, it imposes itself as a generalized universal condition that creates and shapes relationships and consciousness. It was through the re-signification of work as a means of attaining social ascent and of capitalist promises of participation in consumption that Power was remodeled in the minds of its subjects, was shared out and broadened, thus consolidating the dominant discourse across classes. The rhetoric of “self-made businessmen”, of achieving social recognition through bank loans, but also of self- fulfillment through consumption, found fertile ground in attentive ears for the cultivation of a cannibalistic consciousness whose supreme value was the ruthless pursuit—even over dead bodies—of prestige, power, and wealth. The old working class was transformed into petty-bourgeois/middle class proprietors who identified their own interests with those of the system, since apart from their chains (now made of plastic and in the form of loans) they also had their comforts and social status to lose. Under the terms of the generalized consensus taking shape, the traditional repressive forces “withdrew” to the rearguard (although still developing under the surface) and a campaign of enervation and individuation was launched, spearheaded by prefabricated lifestyle models, of access to centers of entertainment, of social recognition, and consumerist happiness. Social peace was guaranteed through satisfying the new collective desires of a society that, hungry to consume products and images, dedicated itself to an orgy of de-signification of its own existence. This was the era in which existential poverty deepened, individuation and concern only for one’s own skin rooted themselves into people’s consciences, and life kept on loosing more and more its meaning—caged by work hours, televised reality shows, standardized entertainment outlets, and images of fictitious happiness. However, this festival had an expiration date and now the time has come to add up the bill, which will have to be paid plus the interest rates.
The new social conditions being shaped come to make the transitional leap from the internalization of control –made possible via access to power and consumer goods- to the internalization of obedience through fear, insecurity, flexible work hours, unemployment, and images of entire areas occupied by the mercenaries of the police. Using the international financial crisis as a pretext, an attempt of unprecedented scale is being made to redistribute wealth toward the highest social strata and simultaneously restructure social relations in their entirety. The fictitious image of affluence is being forcefully unseated, together with the illusions that accompanied it, and is replaced by that of a relentless future now dawning. Fear and uncertainty are coming to replace promises as the main driving force of the social machinery and to establish themselves in the minds of the until recently happy subjects, who are now watching the disintegration of their “earthly paradise” made from loans, as they are touched by the same fate to which they themselves—untroubled by all the blood that accompanied their progress and happiness—once condemned people who live on the margins of capitalism. Wage-labor, the cornerstone of widespread social change, is being stripped of its veneer as a means of ascent and success and demystified, thus revealing its true face: a coercive process of producing inequality and exploitation. Based on this condition, where the traditional mechanisms of consensus previously in function are collapsing, and with social cohesion becoming more and more fragile, Domination is adopting a discourse of war. It is declaring a permanent state of emergency and fortifying itself behind flexible new “antiterrorist” laws, biological databases, surveillance systems, and thousands of new urban mercenaries/ police officers in preparation to face the enemy within who threatens the grand plans to impose a new totalitarianism.
The rekindling of insurrectionary practices on a global level, the reappearance of metropolitan guerrilla warfare, the confrontational demos around the world, the revolts in the Arab world, the growing distrust of the role of regime intermediary being played by the Left, and the turn towards more radical forms of struggle come to remind us that the wager for a revolutionary solution has neither been lost nor forgotten. Rather, it is entering the arena once again, more urgent and vital than ever. The prosecution, imprisonment, and murder of those who struggle are not the results of an attack launched by Domination; rather they constitute its defensive efforts undertaken to address the cracks found throughout its foundation, which are becoming more and more intensified, as faith in the image of its omnipotence is dwindling day by day.
On January 31, while I was making my getaway after carrying out a robbery at the vehicle auction organized by the Public Asset Management Agency Inc. (which conducts a wide range of different auctions and is responsible for the liquidation of cars, motorcycles, and many other assets seized by the pigs or by customs), I was surrounded and arrested by uniformed pigs from the DIAS squad. They brought me to Thessaloniki Police Headquarters, where I was stripped down to my underwear, handcuffed behind my back, and made to stand facing a wall for about seven hours while various undercovers and other pigs joined the parade to get a look at me. I continually refused to say anything other than that I am an anarchist, and I also refused to have my fingerprints and photograph taken.
They later brought me to my home, which they searched for five hours before we returned to Police Headquarters. Once back there, a dozen pigs surrounded me and their chief attempted to begin a process of interrogation and humiliation of my principles in the style of a “friendly chat,” during which I heard grotesques such as: “We’re the real revolutionaries and you’re just a selfish loser,” “We’re against the banks” (!), “While you refuse to help yourself, the other one has already squealed,” [some clichés never die] etc. The only thing I told them time and time again was that I am a revolutionary anarchist and that they are nothing more than Power’s thugs—lackey enforcers of the law without minds of their own, who humiliate, torture, and murder in exchange for a salary. When morning came, after getting in touch with my lawyer I found out that—because of a phone number written on a slip of paper I tragically forgot I had on me—they had arrested another person I knew from the antiauthoritarian milieu, and the mass media had printed photos of both of us. They then brought us to court, making a shocking spectacle out of the whole thing like always. They dressed us in white bulletproof vests, with panic-stricken pigs in balaclavas looking like something out of a scene from a cheap Hollywood action flick. The only thing I told the hearing judge was that I did what I did as an anarchist in the context of the refusal of work, and that the other person being charged had nothing to do with the case. They ruled that I was to be placed in pretrial detention, while the other comrade was released because dozens of witnesses testified that he was working at the self-managed café stand in the Polytechnic school at the exact time of the robbery.
Robbing the Public Asset Management Agency Inc. dealers of stolen goods is a partial expression of my refusal to submit to the oppressive, empty reality imposed by the fragmented space and time of work hours and predetermined paths; imposed by the coercive “you must” ordered by bosses and the alienated “I want” expressed by their subordinates; imposed by a production process that turns people into living spare parts for the machinery of consumption of images and products. Rejecting to play the role either of a victim of exploitation by small or big bosses, or of the victimizer and collaborator in exploiting others; sickened as much by the submissive work ethic of the “poor but honest” worker as by the overambitious arrogance of the “successful careerist”; perceiving the entire complex of social relations as an alienated result of capitalist production, I decided to shift into individual action, throwing myself into the polymorphic revolutionary anarchist process, part of which is the refusal of work. The refusal of work can’t be a choice divorced from a more generalized rupture with Domination, and obviously this refusal isn’t necessarily defined by the means by which it is realized (i.e. a robbery). Raids on goods or money can easily degenerate into a job, with fixed hours and all the consequences that entails: the arrogance of being rich, the participation in consumerism, the fragmentation of time according to “work hours,” and the development of a (criminal) professional identity. Robbery, kidnapping, individual or collective expropriation of goods, sabotage, attacks on economic targets, collective living experiences, and give-away bazaars are all means that can be seen within the context of the overall refusal of the world of work, of production and consumption of images and products, to the degree that they bear an awareness that places them within the wider revolutionary struggle for individual and collective liberation.
As a part of this polymorphic movement, I now find myself imprisoned in the dungeons of Ioannina, paying the price for my conscious decisions. The only thing I regret is not doing more outside these walls.
Not one step back!
Rami Syrianos, Ioannina Penitentiary Center, April 2011
translation by crossing the rubicon