The stakes are high, but still too low
Call from Beyond Europe for the transnational Camp in Chalkidiki – 18th-25th August 2015
OXI to capitalism! From the moment it was announced the referendum in Greece seemed to hold great symbolic meaning, something that was confirmed by both the result and the reactions that followed: The ‘no’ was not solely against the granting of another loan with the usual reform conditions of the EU. It was also the voice of the people against the supposed lack of alternatives to the European policy German dominated austerity . The Greek OXI also reflects the crisis of legitimacy that neoliberal capitalism has faced in Europe since the beginning of the economic crisis. Even if the increasingly visible social contradictions can’t be covered up by ideology that easily anymore, the idea of a liberated society is not getting closer in any way. The antiauthoritarian movements are speechless and trapped in their own scenes and issues or, at best, local struggles, whilst still facing a vast countervailing power . What needs to be done now is to overcome the silence after the failure of the anti-globalization movement. What we need to do is to push organizing forward, deepen our networking and plan our mobilizations against Capitalism and its impositions all over Europe.
The Camp in Chalkidiki is a step in this direction. It is not the first coming together of Beyond Europe as a trans-European alliance, but we want to come to an understanding of our social relations in the current situation, we want to find common ground and work out our differences. We wish to address not only our comrades organized in Beyond Europe, but all the antiauthoritarian movements and networks of Europe.
Why Chalkidiki? Why Greece?
In the beheaded mountains and the now naked forests of the North-eastern Chalkidiki, in the area of Skouries, one will find one of the biggest “development projects” [sic] in the history of modern Greece. In Skouries and in Greece, it is not only the story of the rich, rulers and oppressors that is written, but also that of the poor, the weak and the oppressed. Our presence in Chalkidiki is a further attempt to step up and broaden our transnational discussion on anticapitalism and ecology. But one dimension is already clear: We fight to overthrow the capitalist system and its authoritarian structures, the dominant means of production that lead to the exploitation of people. We seek to create self-organized and decentralized social and political structures, so that the production of goods meet people’s needs, and show the way out of capitalist domination and beyond the state and nation. We meet here, to show our solidarity to the local struggles in Greece and in Chalkidiki, but also to learn from them.
Plan A? Plan B? Plan C!
Contrary to the propaganda in most parts of Europe, a “Grexit” was never seriously debated by the Greek government. What it really wanted to change was the form in which profit was generated in Greece. Plan A, decided in Berlin and executed in Brussels, was one of tough austerity and budget consolidation at the expense of wage earners, small business owners, the unemployed, pensioners and the precarious. However, the new Greek government and its supporters had a plan B in mind. Accordingly, they wanted to make the rich and the equity owners pay up. A little bit of redistribution from top to bottom rather than vice versa (with, of course, unchanged capitalist business at its basis). This left social democratic course may at first hedge-in immediate impoverishment and stem humanitarian disasters (such as the collapse of the public health system in Greece) – and thus is more desirable than the neoliberal dictates of plan A, but it is still far from enough. Because this Plan B is no more than a mixture of nostalgia for past decades, including a strong welfare state, and a lack of vision beyond the status quo. “Beyond Europe” was never about a fairer, kinder or more flowery capitalism, but about its abolition. A crisis that was produced by the capitalist system itself should not be overcome by restoring its previous state, but by fighting its cause: capitalism. “For an Antiauthoritarian Europe beyond the state, nation and capital” is therefore not an ultra-radical demand, but the only reasonable and “sustainable” solution to the current madness and its constant repetition. At our antinational camp we want to face the question of how we, together, can extend the “No to neo-liberalism” by the Greeks to a Europe-wide “No to capitalism”.
Anti-authoritarian movement instead of national unity
As complex as the “Oxi” of the Greek population was, as much it has been exploited immediately after the referendum on July 5, no one asks the social movements, that partly produced it, whether they agree with this interpretation. Once again, a great illusion becomes clear, even if only in passing: the illusion that elections and referenda could lead to the enforcement of the alleged interests of the population. Neither the great “No” nor the bad deal in the weeks after that can hide this fact. The referendum not only had a class character, but also a nationalist one – which became the important “playing card” of national unity for Tsipras and his government. This is also the instrument that makes it possible to foist a package of 13 billion on his own people one week after the “Oxi”. In such situations, the pressure of social movements is particularly necessary because the “Oxi” should not only be for one day, but must be a permanent serious opposition. The much-touted alternative to Syriza is, like any other leftist alternative, just not imaginable without social movements. Let’s not forget how Syriza developed from a small splinter party to the strongest political party in Greece within a short time: the party took advantage of the situation of a mobilized society to promote themselves as a political force. Greek society was mobilized by movements and initiatives that took the reins in their own hands and tried to go beyond institutionalized defense and local struggles through the unifying perspectives of self-organization and social transformation. But what do these rapid events in recent weeks and months mean for European-wide solidarity with the Greek movements? Does the new Greek government gamble away the trust placed in them, if it attaches no meaning to the dialectic of movement and government? Or should we have been mistaken in the Greek project and must draw other conclusions now, because a gagged Greek Government with a good heart just remains to execute “real” (i.e. neo-liberal) politics? We want to have exactly this discussion at the camp, in exchange with the local anti-goldmine movement and their experiences, in theory and practice.
In addition: We need to draw the balance after six years of crisis conflicts, fighting in the spheres of production and reproduction, for our rights, against work pressure and exclusion and against Fortress Europe. What about emancipatory ideas and their dissemination and relations with left-wing parties from the perspective of the anti-authoritarian movement? We do not have a master plan for the overthrow of this society. The ideology of “No Alternatives” was able to prevail in Europe partly because there was no opposition. There are questions such as what the anti-authoritarian forces in Europe have to offer – besides the reformist projects – that we want to discuss at the camp together.
The “forced break” for international networking after the collapse of the anti-globalization movement has to come to an end. The first steps have already been taken, with the Beyond Europe Camp we want to go even further in that direction. We want to talk about the way this society is organized and we want to work out a basis for collective actions against it. The camp offers the opportunity to strengthen transnational contacts and thus to initiate a communication process between movements of different countries. We need a long-term and open discussion about common perspectives on practice. This understanding of a practical anti-national internationalism must be an integral part of the offensive of the antiauthoritarian left. Again, the result cannot simply be the next European Forum or some loosely networked solidarity actions. It takes a return to politics, but at the same time a departure from classical politics.