A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on June 13, 2013, at the Labour Center of Thessaloniki in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Recently, following a steady pace, a new series of social struggles has emerged in Greece: struggles based on direct democracy and horizontal organizational forms. These struggles share an aversion to the traditional left politics, while on the same time they are considered as social movements opposing state administration and neoliberalism. Square occupations, local assemblies, cooperatives against the privatization of the water, producers-consumers movements, factories occupation under workers control have come to light while the crisis is going deeper. Even if these struggles affect only a handful of the "victims" of the crisis, those involved in them want to fulfill their needs and at the same time overcome old forms of politics by creating new ones. Have new types of struggles really appeared? If yes, is it desirable to replace the previous ones? Do these struggles have an anticapitalistic content? How people involved imagine the escalation and continuation of these struggles? How is the Left related to and influence them? Can solidarity fill in the gap between politics "from above" and politics "from below"?
1) Kostas Nikolaou, member of PROSKALO (initiative for social and solidarity economy) and of Initiative 136 (union of Non-Profit Water Cooperatives of the Municipalities of the Thessaloniki: http://www.136.gr/article/citizens-bid-control-thessalonikis-water).
2) Christos Manoukas, member of KEHA (movement for workers' emancipation and self-management) and of solidarity committee of Vio.Me. factory.
3) Dimitris, worker of Vio.Me. self-managed factory (http://www.viome.org/)
4) Iraklis Christoforidis, member of OKDE (greek section of the 4th International, http://www.okde.gr/)
1) Which is the role, in your opinion, of the political organizations in relation to social struggles? Is there a difference between political and social struggles according to their conception and the way they are being conducted?
2) Is the politicization of these struggles a desirable goal? How can this goal be achieved?
3) How do you conceive solidarity as a political goal for social initiatives? Is solidarity always radical or can it be conservative as well? Is there a "tension" between solidarity and critical political consciousness?
4) Some social struggles, especially under tough economic and social circumstances, may express the interests of a group of people at the expense of general social interests. How can this relationship between the part and the whole be expressed in a fertile way? What does it mean to characterize a struggle with limited participation as radical?
5) Do the social struggles that have emerged share a new form and a new content? Do these struggles continue past struggles in Greece or abroad? Are they part of a broader national or international movement, and if yes, which is it?
6) Can there be a common basis on which all these struggles be united and radicalized? If yes, how can this common basis be combined with the obvious local characteristics of the struggles? Is there an antagonistic relationship between local and broader scale of the struggles?
7) Who is the real enemy of these struggles? Do they have explicitly or implicitly anticapitalistic goal? How can these goals be achieved in a local or a national level in the midst of an international economy?
8) Do these struggles have a prefigurative character (do they partly substantiate some of the aspects of a free future society)? Is this character compatible with the necessity for fulfilling the basic needs of those involved in social struggles?
9) Do the alternative economic initiatives wish to compete and replace the existing dominant economy (with its massive industrial and technological forms or financial forms etc.)? Is this a conscious choice of departing from past movement whose ambition was to socialize the existing economy?
A panel discussion with audience Q&A on the problematic forms of anti-capitalism today, held on May 30th at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH).
Transcribed in Platypus Review #53
“After the failure of the 1960s New Left, the underlying despair with regard to the real efficacy of political will, of political agency, in a historical situation of heightened helplessness, became a self-constitution as outsider, as other, rather than an instrument of transformation. Focused on the bureaucratic stasis of the Fordist, late 20th Century world, the Left echoed the destruction of that world by the dynamics of capital: neoliberalism and globalization.
The idea of a fundamental transformation became bracketed and, instead, was replaced by the more ambiguous notion of ‘resistance.’ The notion of resistance, however, says little about the nature of that which is being resisted, or of the politics of the resistance involved.
‘Resistance’ is rarely based on a reflexive analysis of possibilities for fundamental change that are both generated and suppressed by the dynamic heteronomous order of capital. ‘Resistance’ is an undialectical category that does not grasp its own conditions of possibility; it fails to grasp the dynamic historical context of capital and its reconstitution of possibilities for both domination and emancipation, of which the ‘resisters’ do not recognize that that they are a part.”
— Moishe Postone, “History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism” (Public Culture¸ 18.1: 2006)
Reform, revolution, resistance: what kind of weight do these categories hold for the Left today? How are they used, to where do they point, and what is their history? Join the Platypus Affiliated Society for a discussion concerning a question that has renewed immediacy in light of the #Occupy movement.
1) Nikolas Sevastakis, associate professor at the School of Political Science of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
2) Thodoris Karyotis, member of direct democracy and cooperative movements
3) Aris Tsioumas, member of KEHA (Kinisi Ergatikis Hirafetisis kai Autoorganosis, i.e. Movement for Labour Emancipation and Selforganisation)
4) Costas Gousis, member of NAR, component of the anticapitalist coalition ANTARSYA