The following text is an extract from the brochure ‘A Text of, and Interview with comrade Polykarpos Georgiadis’ (Greek original). The brochure includes an interview with the imprisoned fighter Polykarpos Georgiadis from October 27th, 2010, that he gave for the radio program ‘Cries from the prison cells’ on the self-organized radio station 98 FM (Athens). It also includes a text written by the comrade – which we chose to translate – on the subject of counter-information, with references to the revolutionary movement and the roles of the different means employed.
An old truism states that ‘knowledge is power’. Indeed knowledge is interrelated with all levels of power: knowledge as power, knowledge as authority, but also knowledge as revolution. Pythagoreans were great researchers and worshipers of knowledge, but they kept the results of their research within the inner circle of their own authoritative elite. Any Pythagorean who attempted to socialize and spread knowledge was considered a betrayer and his murder was soon planned. The Pythagoreans realized that knowledge can constitute a special instrument of power: the people should remain the victims of ignorance and superstition, in order to remain impassive and easily manipulated. They had to be excluded from any source of knowledge and information. Access to these sources was the reserve of a closed set of clergy.
Even in Athens in its ‘Golden Age’, known for its great tolerance, pioneering philosophers were hounded and their books publicly burned. Take the case of Protagoras, who questioned god’s existence (through agnosticism rather than direct atheism). Also in the pre-Gutenberg era, the burning of books was equivalent to the rejection of knowledge; an act that was exploited to the utmost by medieval Christianity (Paulinism to be more accurate).
Millions of scientific and philosophical books were lost forever, especially the books of the dissenters (Epicurus, Cynics, Sophists, etc.) The Papal ‘Index Librorum Prohibitorum’ (Index of Prohibited Books) contains approximately eight million book titles including the work of Descartes, Kant, Kepler, Laibach and many more.
However, the bourgeois revolution, by identifying the free movement of goods with the free movement of ideas, released great forces of knowledge and freed it from the control of the clergy. The outbreak of productive forces generated by capitalism were accompanied by a knowledge explosion (and thereby an information explosion). Nevertheless, the more knowledge and information become accessible, the more such knowledge and information is diffused through and by intermediate and manipulative institutions: schools, universities, mass media, semi-professional web journalism, etc.
The appropriation and revolutionary use of knowledge (not only scientific knowledge, but also counter-information, the exchange of experiences, collective memory, revolutionary theory, even recreation) is one of the most important tools that the revolutionary movement has at its disposal. Such prolific movement-led infrastructures have a great role to play: through book publishing, manifestations, self-education processes, webpages, radio stations, etc. These mediums not only generate counter-information, neither are they merely part of a process of accumulating knowledge or self-knowledge. They form part of an entire network of mediums and infrastructures composing a practical social movement that disrupts the status quo, causing both material and mental rapture within the class society. The social revolution does not concern an indeterminate future; an end time prophecy. The revolution won’t come suddenly; neither will a classless society land on capitalism. The revolution consists of a real tendency that develops within and against the existing society. It’s a social force that undermines existing social relations. The revolution won’t start some day in the future. The revolution is already present, and has been for a long time now…
However, every medium is not a secret fetish, nor hierarchically ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’. It’s part of a unified organic totality; that of the overall revolutionary project. We have to avoid the logic of the division of work within the movement: The habitué of a hangout, the theoretician, the rioter, the pacifist, the gas-bomber, the squatter, the terrorist, the radiobroadcaster, the illegalist, the rhetorician of the assembly, the audience member of the assembly, the editor, the reader, etc. When these figures become separated, when the medium becomes centralized and the form triumphs over content, then capitalism prevails once again within us and alienation stays carved on the body and the spirit of the revolutionary movement. When the logic of fetishization prevails, when the medium surpasses the cause and becomes a role in itself, when experience is separated by theory, when the act ceases to be a part of the unity of thought and action, that is when an idealistic and dualistic separation emerges, disguised within a revolutionary context. Then the system is revealed once again inside us. The alienating and alienated specialization is born and that concerns ALL means of struggle (until today we only spoke about ‘the experts of violence’ since this issue preoccupied the theory experts…).
But, we have to recognize that the division of labour within the movement reflects, up to a point, the social division of labour: ‘This division exists in all spheres of our society; it also exists in the revolutionary movement. It would be too idealistic to expect that the revolutionary movement would be “pure” as if it is not a product of our society. Inevitably, the revolutionary movement in the capitalist system, i.e. communism, bears the stigma of capitalism. This stigma, through division, can only be destroyed by the overall success of the revolution. Until then, we should fight. That is what characterizes our movement as much as makes it distinct from the rest of society’ (Gilles Dauvé, ‘Eclipse and Re-emergence of The Communist Movement’, Kokkino Nima editions).
De-alienation is not a project that concerns just the rest of society, but not us the ‘illuminated’ revolutionaries. Nor it is a project that begins just after the social revolution. On the contrary; it is a continuous, evolutionary procedure (both individual and collective) that has already begun. But it cannot be totally realized unless a classless society emerges. We have to reflect upon de-alienation in a dialectic manner, as a project in progress, not in a metaphysical way, but as something that either exists or does not exist at all.
The alienation caused by today’s social relations and the project of revolutionary de-alienation will continue to battle inside us until the social relations change; until the regime of indispensability is extinguished by the regime of freedom, until the state, the slavery of salary and the privatization of the means of production are destroyed, until the re-appropriation of the conditions of our existence.
The struggle for de-alienation also includes the struggle against the fetishization of the medium: revolutionary holism places a conjunctive ‘and’ where division posed a disjunctive ‘or’. One medium penetrates the other, just like the past, present and future of the revolution feed each other through the interpenetration of revolutionary memory, the revolution at the present time (‘here and now’), and our historical purpose (that of a classless society). Any disruption of the medium, just like any disruption of spatio-temporal continuity, is pure metaphysics.
In this context we should examine all the means at the disposal of the revolutionary cause, including the ‘circulation’ of knowledge-information, such as through self-organized radio stations. We must examine them not as isolated ‘islands of freedom’ but as means that jointly create an underground anti-authoritarian culture and form communities of struggle, resistance and solidarity. They create an additional part of a wider social movement that realizes the negative task of the destruction of current social degradation, as much as the positive task of the formation of new social relations based on solidarity; in other words, the formation of the new world of anarcho-communism from the old world’s entrails. This is a complex co-evolutionary project that proceeds beyond any armed or unarmed, violent or peaceful, theoretical or practical fetishism. Revolution means the people, not the means. The people are the ones who realize the revolution, by making their history, by creating social relations that are competitive to the existing ones, by transforming their own-selves, environment and society, by destroying what destroys them. This is a dialectical process: armed AND unarmed, violent AND pacifist, theoretical AND practical…
Corfu [Kerkyra] prisons