Spaces of Autonomy: Self-Management and the Commons in Contemporary Greece

What you will read below is about the formation of a new revolutionary subject. If workers’ councils were the self-creation of the working class during moments of rebellion in the early 1900s or later in the 1950’s the current movement towards self-management that is taking place in Greece (and other countries) is something entirely novel that is expanding the practice of self-management where self-management in the sense of workers self-management is a moment of a self-managed community. Perhaps there is a certain affinity with aspects of the anarchist movement of Spain in the 20s and 30s.

We are not surprised that nothing  appears in the establishment media and most often in the so called socialist and communist media that does not privilege either to praise or to damn the neoliberal paradigm: pro or con: Neo-con or Krugman: free market or state intervention. All contestation is presented as a reaction to … not as self-creative activity. The nature of the spectacle always acts like a magician’s slight of hand: see what is going on in the street, in the barricade, in the burning car. What the media cannot hide, it tries to use as a cover. But underneath the cover, what so far remains hidden from the public view, is the social  creation of a new revolutionary subject in formation. When we say this we have in mind the many things that E.P. Thompson (we salute you old comrade even though you are now part of the dust of the universe!) in his seminal work The Making of the British Working Class. Only now a new revolutionary subject is emerging one whose motion in the words of the authors’ of the text that follows is “ to autonomy in the proper sense of the term: autonomy as setting the nomos (rule) that governs our existence.” Just so there are no misunderstandings: the dialectic of revolution includes among its moments both open street contestation, and creating and fostering a way of living, a community, which defies the rules and attitudes of the establishment.

Due to the size of the text itself (25 pages) it is reposted in its original pdf format together with an abstract introduction. Reposted from: Economics and the Commons Conference


Self-managing the commons in contemporary Greece – Alexandros Kioupkiolis and Theodoros Karyotis

A brief abstract:
In this text we set out to explore a number of contemporary instances of self-management as pursued in various fields of production in present-day Greece. Situated in a poorly industrialised country which is embedded in the information age of global capital, we construe production in the widest sense of the term, which extends from Fordist industrial production to the production of knowledge, information, social relations, subjectivities and culture. We then enquire into the paths that actual endeavours seek to chart in the provision of collective goods, moving in the gaps and the cracks of state control and capitalist rule.
The chapter begins with a brief historical survey of agricultural and industrial cooperative endeavours in modern Greece, which exposes the absence of a strong tradition in self-management and the miserable failure of an early statist approach to it. We then go on to describe how the political and economic crises of the early 21st century, in tandem with a chain of empowering experiences, such as the popular uprising of 2008 and the squares movement in 2011, have given rise to new political spaces and new collective subjects that are committed in principle to direct democracy, solidarity and self-organisation. It is within this context that we probe emerging experiments in self-management, such as a cooperatively-run restaurant in Athens and an emblematic social centre in Thessaloniki that has been promoting solidarity, cooperation and self-management over the last few years. Special attention is given to Vio.Me., the first venture in workers’ self-management of an occupied factory in this country, which has sparked the development of a wide solidarity movement.
We make the case that workplace self-direction today should not be envisaged in isolation from a wider paradigm of collective autonomy in the production of social relations, subjectivities and the commons. This investigation draws on the critical discussion around the ‘commons’ but does not evince any nostalgia for a pre-capitalist past, paying enhanced attention to the new internationalism, social networks, pluralism, creativity, incompletion and the agonistic attitudes which inform contemporary endeavours in collective self-rule.


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