Updates from Greece — Economies against Capitalism

While resistance in Greece against the capitalist onslaught is still going strong, another side of the struggle, one that is less visible in the media, is emerging — we might say a positive moment in the dialectics of the revolution. Or as the anarchists of another era used to say, building the new society in the shell of the old. Below we have translated an announcement associated with the anti-authoritarian centre micropolis (A Social Space for Freedom),  in Thessaloniki. The focus is on food provision and it is an area that for revolutionaries in Western Countries (not just in Greece) needs to be addressed. In many places around the world, including cities in the USA there have been attempts to bring food provisioning to urban centres. For example, in California parking lots have been converted by destitute communities into gardens. We see the emergence of fair trade agriculture, local based agricultures, distribution cooperatives for food stuffs, but for the most part these practices remain either highly elitist undertakings of rather well to do strata of their societies, or purely "doing the right" undertaking, a sentiment based solidarity with people of exploited cultures (by Western and indigenous powers). What distinguishes the work of groups like micropolis is that these practices are developed and situated within a revolutionary project of overthrowing capitalism. A note on the translation: We are not professional translators. We hope we have remaind as faithful as possible to the original text, but as anyone who is familiar with the concept of translation knows it is hard to avoid coloring the translated text with the prejudices of the translator. Any conscious changes were done to faciltate the readability for an english audience.

The Social Market[1] of Thessaloniki: For an “OTHER” Economy

A proposal addressed to producers of ecological/organic agriculture, social structures for a solidarity economy, collectives, cooperatives, social spaces and assemblies

It is not possible to imagine any form of autonomy, i.e. an emancipation from the mechanisms of power and the state, if this form does not include forms of autonomy for food provisioning.

Autonomist Communities of Mexico

From inside the squares and the discussions that took place during the summer of last year[2] surged throughout the whole country, small structures and assemblies carrying  the spirit of direct democracy into everyday life. From within these conditions and the previous year’s festival of direct democracy[3] was born the idea to engage with the issue of food provisioning.  This lead to the creation of the Ex-consumer Cooperative Syndrofia[4]. We came up with this idea not simply to improve our personal situation but on the grounds that “There cannot be a realist proposal for direct democracy if first we do not show in practice forms of economic and social relations which reflect the world that they envision”. This idea precisely regards the social and solidarity economy as the material basis for direct democracy.

Syndrofia has been operating now for a year at the social space of mircropolis [5]in order to support the farmers and producers who cultivate and produce with natural means and to bring them in direct relation to the needs of the city. For most of the time we have been operating as a cooperative based on volunteer participation; and since May of 2012 we have evolved further by creating a shop collective. Syndrofia promotes for both members and those who are in its close proximity organic-cooperative-just, local food and products. We have already moved forward to having common meetings with our producers, so that we can work in common on arriving at prices, to pass on the knowledge, to talk together about methods of natural cultivation, and even take common actions.

At this point we have to take certain decisions for the upcoming year and to imagine how we want our future to be with respect to both people, structures, but also, if possible as a society. The transformation of capitalism in its evolution as the dominant ruler over life and people leaves no margin of doubt about the future. Work, health, learning, food, commerce, agriculture, social and customary relations, the human being as such are being swept under the advance of capital. Whatever does not produce profit, whatever is not harmonized to the rationality of statistics is being expunged from society. The “fourth world” is already here, a world of neo-serfs, i.e. citizens without any political identity, without any right and prospect for a future. A generalized degradation within the western world.

Hopes for a return to a former situation of “development and progress” are not only self-delusions but also fill us with disgust as there is nothing in this past of the “plastic style” worth returning to. We are searching for a life where people will be masters of production, of work and food provisioning, where societies will be autonomous in making their decisions, where dignity will be a result of work, of creation, of play, of virtue and not covers of emptiness, of a false consumerism and enrichment which dominate today.

A MARKET (for an Autonomous Social Economy)

The purpose of our proposal is to envisage and discuss with each other the way that an autonomous Market [6]part of a social economy could become feasible and self-reliant in our city. We should not forget that even if the structures and meetings/assemblies in which we exist and operate provide us with a satisfactory degree of socialization or self-satisfaction, nonetheless, it is our duty that this not be for us sufficient. We don’t do anything exclusively just for ourselves. Whatever we do we do it for all. And this “all” contains in the best possible sense ourselves. The question that is posed is this:

In what way is it possible to find ourselves in a co-federated community, with the existing structures of the social economy and direct democracy, and that we can create in common a Market which would secure solutions and perspectives for real problems which are relevant to the basic needs of the society: Food provisioning, work, welfare, health, education, housing and production –  without letting its existence dissipate in the demands of protesting or without exhausting itself as part of the struggle for survival. A federation that is not under the influence of political parties, and is free from any domination.  That is, in what way can we build between us, the terms and the dialogue, so that we do not become one more negation of the crisis but rather  a positive picture of the future which reproduces a life “that is worth living”; that will promote the culture of autonomy, that will be self-instituting[7] and will produce categorically and clearly the political demand for a self-governing society.

With the structures that interest us as a starting point, we can begin the making of a community engaged in dialogue and open to the whole city, while we propose simultaneously our political and also our practical capabilities. In this way we shape without negotiating and, from the very beginning, our revolutionary project (we do not  complement the dominant capitalist economy, but rather we want to free ourselves and overthrow it). At the same time, we are proposing also practical things which have a meaning that can be understood by the people at large and which are necessary and achievable by/for all of us.

We address ourselves openly and publicly to the festivals taking place in September:  the festival of direct democracy, to green wave[8], and the eco-celebration with the hope that these meetings will be occasions for the beginning of dialogue amongst all of us. We could have chosen to undertake an initiative whose content would be exactly this proposition. However, we choose not to.  Our city does not need one more “initiative” which more often splits rather than unifies. We will exhibit publicly our proposals and then we will wait. Our common awareness and common participation in the end will fracture the logics of the vanguard and the silence of our activisms. If this movement is to happen at all it must belong to all of us.

Practical capabilities of an Autonomous Social “Market”

  • Socially supported mutually supportive cultivations that would absorb all of production; this would be indicated  at the beginning of the new cultivation period through the “market” to the producers: With this “mutuality pact” the collaboration between countryside and town towards  a good and natural quality, towards methods of cultivation and towards the provision of food becomes a success and in the most immediate way. Simultaneously, the income of the producer is secured in a dignified manner for all of his/her production and is released from dependence on middlemen.
  • On structures and how to meet the needs of the Market for the self-reliance of its economy: Which means coordination and development of collectives, consumer cooperatives and stores for production/processing/distribution of food and goods, transportation, feeding, and provision of services to the whole of the city and the countryside. A self-sufficient autonomous market must be able to offer outlets  and to support in practice the producers at the periphery of the city giving the population of the city the capability to obtain a healthy and high quality diet. And especially that the population will be able to rid itself from the consumeristic dependence on  the super market. It is of significance that the current structures be empowered by mutual cooperation, exchange of know-how, experiences and mutual support. It is important that this process become a social event.
  • To institute an autonomous street/farmer’s market, once a month, each time in a different square and a different neighborhood.
  • The use of an alternative currency within the market together in parallel with the euro.
  • To promote eco-communities, relationships with and support of groups which want to de-urbanize and work on ecological/organic cultivations and which would have a cooperative and organic relation with the market
  • Collective housing for large scale living-together with the purpose of establishing cheap housing and mutual supportive shared living
  • A network for health and welfare, mutual aid fund, social health centres and autonomous daycares

All of the above constitute simple thoughts on what we are capable of. The future is built already today, either through our absence and against us or with our participation and for all.

The choice is ours.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


[1] The greek word for market in modern Greek is Agora. The word is still used often with reference or echoes to the ancient Athenian concept of public space and its relationship to the originary sense of democracy. So to use agora in the context of autonomy is to reclaim part of its original meaning.

 

[2] The summer of 2011 saw the culmination of the Movement of the Squares in Greece.

 

[3] This took place in 2010. Another festival took place in the beginning of September 2012: http://ablocfest.gr/?lang=en

 

[4] Syndrofia in greek means company as in company of friends. There is also the echo of Syndrofos – Comrade. It was best to only transliterate it given the nuance of meanings and that the english word company unless clearly distinguished may also mean business company.

 

[5] Mikropolis is an anti-authoritatian centre located in downtown Thessaloniki. http://micropolis-socialspace.blogspot.ca/. It contains a store, a daycare, a library, meeting spaces, performance space, a bar and much more. Don’t miss if you are visiting Thessaloniki.

 

[6] a market that exemplifies principles of autonomy (trans.)

 

[7] That it is aware itself that it is self-instituting (trans)

 

 

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