Updates from Greece

“I just came back from Syntagma due to a very unfortunate personal incident (I had otherwise planned to stay the night) and I have the following to report:

1) The people who came out today were literally in the hundreds of thousands; do not buy into the estimates that massively understate their numbers. At 8 p.m. the entire Syntagma square and all nearby streets were packed, which means approximately 100,000 people. Calculating the flows of people from 6 p.m. and given that people would constantly come and go, we are literally talking of hundreds of thousands – a participation that exceeded all expectations.

2) The nationalists faced a huge defeat. We are talking of an enormous crowd and in it there were three greek flags in total, a number that is smaller even than those at general strikes. And so, the scaremongering that this was a nationalist trap was unfounded. To the contrary!

3) Yes, the crowd was mixed, inexperienced and heterogeneous – but aren’t Athenians so? The fact that people with so different philosophies to one another coexisted is for me a huge victory. Perhaps for half these people this was their first or their second mobilisation. Once again, well done to them for taking to the streets, even if carrying their prejudice and bias.

4) The people FINALLY were insistent and would not leave. Even when I left there were quite a few people, and it was 3 a.m.!

5) The open assembly of Syntagma operated exceptionally well and openly, putting radical issues to the table. Indefinite strike, indefinite occupation of Syntagma, clear anti-fascist references. Elementary impromptu cleanup services worked as well, in line to the Tahrir square model! It was clear that the seed sown on February 23 has been fertilised and the much-craved occupation of Syntagma square has become a reality.

6) As an anarchist I pity all my comrades who snubbed, undermined and smeared today’s impromptu and leaderless mobilisation. Instead of joining in with these people and politically fermenting with them, they chose its snubbing and the easy elimitism against the “clueless and politically reactionary masses”. A great pity, but the space for immediate rectification still exists for all who can and want…

7) Finally, everything has began! The people took to the streets and would not leave. Syntagma has shown it can become an epicentre of social protest with radical characteristics and foremost social clash, just like many of us had dreamt on February 23. We have much to still face and huge hurdles to jump over, but today was an Historical day that no-one expected and everyone was pleasantly taken by surprise from. The social power of the internet was finally confirmed here, too.

In conclusion: take to Syntagma today, too, carrying the experiences of yesterday’s huge day!

Today, more of us and more determined, to the square!

Everything has began once again, and nothing remains the same!”

I just came back from Syntagma due to a very unfortunate personal incident (I had otherwise planned to stay the night) and I have the following to report:

1) The people who came out today were literally in the hundreds of thousands; do not buy into the estimates that massively understate their numbers. At 8 p.m. the entire Syntagma square and all nearby streets were packed, which means approximately 100,000 people. Calculating the flows of people from 6 p.m. and given that people would constantly come and go, we are literally talking of hundreds of thousands – a participation that exceeded all expectations.

2) The nationalists faced a huge defeat. We are talking of an enormous crowd and in it there were three greek flags in total, a number that is smaller even than those at general strikes. And so, the scaremongering that this was a nationalist trap was unfounded. To the contrary!

3) Yes, the crowd was mixed, inexperienced and heterogeneous – but aren’t Athenians so? The fact that people with so different philosophies to one another coexisted is for me a huge victory. Perhaps for half these people this was their first or their second mobilisation. Once again, well done to them for taking to the streets, even if carrying their prejudice and bias.

4) The people FINALLY were insistent and would not leave. Even when I left there were quite a few people, and it was 3 a.m.!

5) The open assembly of Syntagma operated exceptionally well and openly, putting radical issues to the table. Indefinite strike, indefinite occupation of Syntagma, clear anti-fascist references. Elementary impromptu cleanup services worked as well, in line to the Tahrir square model! It was clear that the seed sown on February 23 has been fertilised and the much-craved occupation of Syntagma square has become a reality.

6) As an anarchist I pity all my comrades who snubbed, undermined and smeared today’s impromptu and leaderless mobilisation. Instead of joining in with these people and politically fermenting with them, they chose its snubbing and the easy elimitism against the “clueless and politically reactionary masses”. A great pity, but the space for immediate rectification still exists for all who can and want…

7) Finally, everything has began! The people took to the streets and would not leave. Syntagma has shown it can become an epicentre of social protest with radical characteristics and foremost social clash, just like many of us had dreamt on February 23. We have much to still face and huge hurdles to jump over, but today was an Historical day that no-one expected and everyone was pleasantly taken by surprise from. The social power of the internet was finally confirmed here, too.

In conclusion: take to Syntagma today, too, carrying the experiences of yesterday’s huge day!

Today, more of us and more determined, to the square!

Everything has began once again, and nothing remains the same!”

Minutes from the Open Assembly of Syntagma Square, May 25 2011

More, thousands of people gathered in Syntagma and other squares across Greece today, too. An update along with fresh minutes will follow tomorrow.

The minutes of the first assembly at Syntagma square, on May 25th 2011, were uploaded on this website and they are not, of course “official” – there is no such thing in these procedures. For whatever it is worth, the the translator disagrees with many of the opinions recorded in these minutes. But this is precisely the enormous potentiality and opportunity opening up in front of us now: to co-exist and act together with people we could not previously do so. As if we ever needed a reminder of this, a popular revolt is not ideologically pure; it could never be.

These are the minutes of the open assembly of Real Democracy Now at Syntagma square. Minutes were taken between 10.00 pm and 01.00 am.

In total, in these hours, 83 people spoke – between them unemployed, students, workers in the private and public sector, journalists, artists, students, teachers and lecturers, homeless, housewives and many more. The minutes are recorded in chronological order of the speakers, without reference to their personal details, as they themselves would often not mention these. In many occasions, there were proposals to organise, in other instances there were shouts of agony, of denunciation, yet always opinions that were respected and articulated within a procedure of direct democracy.

The minutes of the Assembly [essentially this is a one-two sentence summary of peoples’ proposals, ideas and thoughts]

– To hold camp-sites in all open spaces across the country, to organise workgroups with a specific distribution of duties.

– We have the beauty on our side, against the vicious bankers and the evil politicians.

– Any politician who commits injustice, anyone not respecting the popular demand, must go to their homes or to prison.

– This is an open demonstration, a gathering that gives me the shivers.

– Their Democracy can guarantee neither Equality nor Justice.

– Let’s stay at Syntagma and decide, right here, how we are going to solve our problems.

– When the people, all of us, discuss with no fear, fear moves and crawls into them, up there, at the Parliament building.

– At this point, words in Greece lose their meaning. We say ELLAS (Greece) and they mean ELAS (Greek Police — untranslatable pun, trans.). We say laos (the people) and they mean LA.OS. (the far-right party, another untranslatable pun). We must give a push, to find the power for words to find their meaning again.

– We must keep Syntagma and all the streets around it closed off tonight, and every night until we find a solution.

– We should not be satisfied with being consumers or customers, we should be satisfied with being good and responsible citizens.

– the Cyclists, with their mobilisations and their [critical mass] bike marches, gained the right to mobilisation, they won their space. We should follow their example.

– We should realise our power and our common problems.

– We should tear down this plutocratic system of politics, we should bring it down with revolutionary force.

– We should look at this issue globally, of our robbed lives. We should connect with anything similar happening across the world.

– We should invite professors and law specialists to explain to us how we can get rid of the memorandum.

– We must organise cultural events, screenings and concerts at Syntagma and the camp-sites that we will organise.

– It is not only the politicians to blame, it is all of us with our individualistic behaviour.

– We must begin with our personal change, the change of ourselves. We must turn to the student friend, the worker friend and ask them to change their logic and their attitude. And we must all contribute in this.

– We must continue with consistency the revolts of the Arabic world. To lift ourselves above homelands and nations.

– The main problem in the basis of democracy is indifference. Indifference begins with consumerism. We must stop being indifferent.

– The system benefits the few and represses the many. We must hold assembly discussions in each neighbourhood.

– In Syntagma, tonight, I feel happy. Let’s make a good start by switching off our TV sets. And let’s start coordinating.

– We have realised and clearly demand that Democracy returns to its base, that is, to all of us. We want no symbols and no flags. And we must all displace ourselves from whatever comfortable spot we’ve thrown ourselves into, and start organising.

– We must start an information and coordination blog.

– We participate to the extent that we can in order to change our lives. To bring Democracy to the right position, the position of human life and dignity.

– In Pnyka, in ancient years, there were assemblies that would solidify Democracy. We must change our lives, change our History. In my company they changed, they employed unemployed people, offered them work.

– Everyone risking our future must go. We must keep the organising from below alive and strong.

– Tonight, all of our faces were lit with a smile. We all have an uplifting of our souls. Let’s keep that, and move on.

– Politicians must be punished and we must all fight for that punishment to happen.

– We should all have a gathering at 6pm every night and an assembly at 9 pm.

– There is fear in mass media of the establishment and politicians right now. Our gathering is huge, our assembly is huge. We must not allow them to incorporate us.

– We must start formulating demands. For politics to change, for the government to go, let’s co-shape our own proposals.

– To hell with the debt they’ve placed on us. Let’s turn grassroots assemblies into central political formulative tools of word and practice. Let’s resist fiercely.

– The Health system collapses, there are no more disposable materials, people in hospitals are in danger, they [politicians] are abandoning us.

– I only took the microphone to apologise to young people here, the many young people I see here, and to apologise for the country and for the political situation we are handing over to them.

– We must begin processes of self-organisation, to reinstate our relationship with politics. We must work for this fiercely, to build a better world.

– We must give power to all of us, the citizens, the artists, the simple people who took a deep breath today.

– Let’s exercise our right to disobedience, let’s call it out with passion and force. Let’s make History from the beginning.

– Democracy began from here, in Athens. Politics is not something bad. To improve it, let’s take it back into our own hands.

– Information and broadcast of what is happening here is an important step of information and coordination, let’s attempt it by all means possible.

– Let’s bring here some food, to make it through the many hours of the assembly – that could be the small important contribution by all of us who cannot make it here for many hours.

– The problems are common and they are what unites us. We should not allow for [political] banners, or whatever choices to divide us.

– People, do not be afraid. Remain calm – this is what I am going to pass on to my students, too. Know that economics is simple, they only became complicated by these predators.

– A victory will be for all young people to come to Syntagma.

– Self-organising is the only solution. The faster we realise the better for all of us.

– They have brought us to our knees with their agreements. The plutocrats, the Greek ship-owners don’t have the same rights with us. We produce their wealth, our wealth. Let’s take it back into our own hands.

– The debt has brought our lives to their knees.

– The Spanish people gave us the idea and the set-off. We must co-ordinate with the rest of the debt-ridden South, we must mobilise. The Spanish people have shown us the way.

– What we are living through concerns us all, the Spanish, the Irish, all the people. One box of food must become many, we must coordinate, all the lawyers, the economists, the students, to contribute all that we have with our knowledge – but most importantly, to pass on the message, to pass on the flame of what happened here to our families, our colleagues.

– Life is valuable for all of us.

– Young people, take your lives into your own hands. They are taking us back into the conditions of the Middle Ages and slavery. Today’s struggle is a struggle against barbarism.

– Politics is many tools at the same time. One of these is the co-ordination with other revolted. At this moment, in Spain, they are screening in huge screens what is happening here.

– For the moment we are many. We have to start thinking as one, or to put it in another way: all for one, one for all.

– It would be very nice, while I’m speaking, to have a interpretor for the sign language, for deaf people.

– It will be a huge moment when we escape the trap they’ve thrown us into. From today on, we are re-negotiating the balance of power in greek society and the greek political scene, which at the moment balances in favour of the government.

– They are cutting away social and political victories that are centuries-old. They are cutting away hopes that we must regain.

– We must overturn balances of political and social power.

– A good step of socialisation and discussion would be to bring out here, in public space, all our activities that would take place in our private spaces.

– They slander civil servants, teachers, lecturers, doctors. Justice is not the 500 hundred euro [salaries]. They deprive us of dignity.

– Politics is everyone’s matter. Society has defaulted. We must change that.

– My generation is approximately fifty-years old, in Parliament, and I apologise for all it has lead to you and for what you suffer.

– I am 24 years old, I am fed up, tired, of people speaking with -isms and with a boring language. I want something to change, taking into account and recognising our own responsibilities, too.

– We are here to discover real Democracy.

– Let’s start by addressing each other as if we were siblings.

– The aim is to live with dignity and with our heads up high. To rise up against ridicule. We are not legitimating any Memorandum.

– Greece is at the edge of the cliff and the money of the country is already abroad. They robbed us, and continue to do so.

– They feed us with equality in social deprivation. We must fight for equality in social uplifting.

– The first thing required would be to know why we do what we are doing here. [To be able to say] I have AIDS or cancer, [or] that I am homeless and not ashamed to say so. We all need the power to know why we are doing this tonight.

– There is no act that is more timely, with such a deep political meaning than taking our lives into our own hands.

– We must all become servants and accountable to the people.

– We must act to defend the Constitution and Greece, just like the Constitution’s 12th article reads.

– This is where we are forming the new, political force and break away from fear and misery.

– The message of the revolt must spread everywhere. We must work for the common “we”. All unemployed must mobilise and organise.

– Nothing works without our own hands. General strikes everywhere, all of us must turn into a single fist.

– We must become a virus and spread everywhere.

– There are media conglomerate owners such as Kouris, who owes money all over, and [yet] terrorise and blackmail their workers.

– The taxation system is not the same for ship-owners, for those who have and those who have not. Equal rights and responsibilities for all.

– It is wrong to believe that it is our fault too, to turn the knife against us. Unity, solidarity and drafting of all of us in a common fight.

– They are selling off energy, they gain huge wealth with their bribing.

– We must start with structures of self-organising, with a communal kitchen, some artistic events, find producers to give us their produce. Syntagma square must become a prime example of struggle for the entire country.

– We must guard what is happening here. It is our own matter and must remain so.

– The youth come out with soul, faith, peacefully, not like in December 2008. We have all matured.

– The other day the far-rightists were stabbing and beating migrants, migrants from the countries that were the first to pave the way to the wave of revolt sweeping across the world.

– After the [anti-dictatorial naval mutiny of 1973 lead by the naval ship] Velos and the Polytechnic [uprising of 1973], this is the first act of direct Democracy and moral uplifting in Greece.

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2011/05/26/599-some-thoughts-by-an-anarchist-who-was-at-syntagma-square-in-athens-last-night/

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2011/05/27/600-minutes-from-the-open-assembly-of-syntagma-square-may-25-2011/

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