Yes, companeros...it's been a long time. And it is now time to vent. And vent I will. I traveled deep into the heart of the revolution at the European Social Forum in Athens in early May. I must be getting soft in my old age...although i understand the militant left, and was once a vocal leader in that movement during la revolucion in Cuba - I have seen the light.
The forum, which is usually painted both red and green, was overwhelmingly red in Greece. It became painfully obvious that the political and historical problems of the Balkans are very much unsolved. We have not moved on. The fascist, right wing government of Greece is countered by a violent anarchist movement. The forum itself was a creative and energetic show of resistance. Although i missed the greens and talk of sustainable living, non-violent resistance, environmental issues and general tree hugging, I found the socialist and communist movements to be filled with pain, anger but at the same time resolve and commitment.
The region is wrought with political prisoners, horrendous immigration policies, corrupt and violent police forces, and the lobby of the ultra capitalist yankee neo-liberal's always turns a blind eye to human rights once they find the political elite to enforce their economic model. So we took to the streets.
In similar fashion to Edinburgh for the G8 protests, we were, by and large, a mass of peaceful protesters. The police, as they did in Portland in 2002, had plans of their own and the corporate media to back their actions. A small group of anarchists....always decked out in black and masked, expressed their discontent with smashing some bank windows as they do. What bothers me about our anarchist brothers and sisters is that they always choose these peaceful forums to vent their rage - and hide amongst us when the police inevitably attack. Attack they did. With wanton disregard the police charged peaceful protesters, amongst us many children and elderly. They gassed us, beat us and herded us like cattle as we expressed our peaceful discontent with the repressive system they uphold.
At one moment the police succeeded in breaking the protest in two, hoping that we would simply disassemble and the protest would fall apart. They chased the anarchists, fair enough, who only numbered a few dozen in this crowd. We, however, numbered in the thousands. To the Greek police that did not matter. They charged again, tear gassing us again, beating us again and herding us....again. The protesters resisted the urge to run and peacefully disobeyed the order to disperse. Some yelled at the anarchist for constantly provoking the police in our midst. As i ran gasping for air from the tear gas, the police close behind us weilding riot sticks the somewhat panicked peaceniks were confronted by none other than the violent anarchists.
I understand rage. I understand the adrenaline and the fight or flight sensation. What i don't understand is what happened next. The often dramatic Italian pacifists continued to scream at the anarchists...and began calling them fascists. The anarchists, in a full sprint retreat from the encroaching police, stopped mid march and confronted the Italians. The rocks that had been hailed at the police just minutes earlier were now directed at the protesters!! I couldn't fucking believe it. An anarchist then lauched a rock into the Italians, who were literally 1 meter away. An old man dropped to the ground, blood poured from his head and he started to convulse immediately. Not a good sign. Tempers raged, some anarchists could not believe that this had happened where others were ready to give it ago with anyone that stood in their path of rage.
A panicked crowd gathered around our downed comrade. Frantic Italians charged at the ambulance that was attempting to pass. The paramedics were terrified not knowing what had happened and having mad Italians bashing on the windshield. They soon rolled up with a stretcher and the old man was wisked away. A pool of blood and pieces of his brain lay still in the street. No time to ponder, the police charge us again. Three more tear gas cartridges fired at us. The sting in the lungs and eyes is excruciating. Panic and mayhem. I wanted to stand in front of them, just stand and watch them charge us. Peacefully disregard their need for violence. But the army of riot ants surrounded us on all sides, still herding, still poisoning us with their chemical weapons.
The anarchists resumed hailing rocks and chunks of asphalt at the police. I wandered, struggling to see through my burning eyes, thinking of the old convulsing Italian. I have seen many dead comrades in Bosnia and Kosovo...and back in the day in Cuba, Bolivia, and the Congo.
But our fight today is a different one. It is a fight for our dignity. It is a fight for our planet. Our resources. Our health. The wars of yesteryear were fought over territory and ideology. The wars of today are fought for resources and markets. Their force and strength is our undying want to consume. To increase our buying power. To have what others have. What we need is no longer a factor. And our earth, nor our souls can sustain this.
It is when we say NO to corporate powers and their corporate monarchies that they loose their power. When we pay a bit more for a locally produced product. When we educate ourselves as to who owns what. When we understand that we have the power NOT to buy something. We have the power NOT to vote for someone. We have the power NOT to support the monster that is destroying us and our planet.
The real revolution is the evolution of the mind.