[Greek prisons] Nikos Romanos: Liberating Journeys of Attack

The following text is intended to be the continuation of a dialogue on the tools of anarchist insurgency and the ways of organizing ourselves; a dialogue that was initiated at an international anarchist encounter somewhere in the countryside of France and now continues from a prison cell in Greece.

The opinions expressed here are my own personal views, so it should be clear that they promote a particular position on the issue. However it is not desired to have one position prevail over all the others; what matters is how the various different, yet complementary, points of view communicate and interact with each other. In the face of an enemy that’s very flexible as regards the use and multitude of means and forms of attack, the diversity of considerations and practices on the part of anarchists is self-evident. Whichever different perspectives cannot be promoted dogmatically but rather based on a rationale of multifaceted attack.

First we need to talk about the very concept of organization, a word quite misunderstood in anarchist circles.

We face an enemy with complex and complicated functions. One of the main characteristics that make the enemy powerful is the constant evolution and organization of the social paranoia we are experiencing today: a technological, military, architectural, civil, industrial, economic, scientific organization. Every aspect of this world is being organized, constantly correcting its imperfections through an intelligent system which has a great number of servants.

In the face of this condition, whoever believes that one is able to fight without organization is naive to say the least.

“In 1972, the pigs mobilized 150,000 men to hunt the RAF, using television to involve the people in the manhunt, having the Federal Chancellor intervene, and centralizing all police forces in the hands of the BKA; this makes it clear that, already at that point, a numerically insignificant group of revolutionaries was all it took to set in motion all of the material and human resources of the State; it was already clear that the State’s monopoly of violence had material limits, that their forces could be exhausted, that if, on the tactical level, imperialism is a beast that devours humans, on the strategic level it is a paper tiger. It was clear that it is up to us whether the oppression continues, and it is also up to us to smash it.” (Ulrike Meinhof)

We can thus say that whoever does not organize himself/herself will turn into a harmless aggregation that will be assimilated to the alienation mechanisms of the existent sooner or later. They will lose the combative attributes that make them dangerous for the enemy and subsequently be deported from the field of antagonistic battle.

Conversely, whoever has decided to fight this system will need to organize their hatred, in order to become effective and dangerous. So, the discussion about ways of organizing ourselves, having attributes inherent in our anarchist values, begins somewhere at this point.

The dilemma then is whether we will organize ourselves through a central anarchist organization that will be the reference point for the anarchist movement, or in a decentralized and diffuse manner through anarchist affinity groups that will maintain their political autonomy both in terms of action and collective decisions.

As regards the centralizing mode of organization I will speak in general, instead of specific, terms about who, and how, have opted for it in Greece.

If you look at it historically, these two forms of organization have always existed but never coexisted. In the Spanish civil war, anarchists were organized at the central level to combat the fascists, and the same thing happened during other revolutionary attempts.

The same is the case with most urban guerrilla warfare organizations in the past decades that approached new comrades in the context of a particular political project, thus aiming to strengthen the organization instead of an armed diffusion, where the autonomy of each individuality opens up the possibility of creating chaotic fronts of attack.

This understanding of organizational ways should not be viewed separately from the social and political conditions of the time.

The combatants of those times studied their adversary with their own analytical tools, fought for freedom and paid the price with murders, harsh prison sentences, tortures, solitary confinement wards. Those among them who haven’t renounced their values make their own critical assessment of the experiences acquired through the years, experiences which obviously deserve careful study; but if we cling to that we are doomed. What matters is what we’re doing today, in the era we live in.

So, for me, the central organization and the revolutionary centralism are ghosts we need to banish from us.

Besides, an indication of this is the fact that all the remaining central anarchist organizations have simply kept the glorious hallmarks of those times, having sunk deep into reformism while they renounce direct action and rebellion in everyday life, and have nothing to do with something pertaining to combativeness. They refuse to understand the enormous changes at the social and political level, they refuse to talk about the edges of contemporary oppression, the advancement of science, the technological fascistization, the domination of multinationals, and merely trot ideologized theories about the conflict between capital and labour out, using terms that were written one hundred years ago, in another era of capitalism.

Worse still, they refuse to act, unable to understand that if they lived in the glorious past they reminisce about they would only be extras because they would never take any risks.

Now, as regards the revolutionary centralism within urban guerrilla groups, even though I understand the causes and effects behind such a choice, I disagree with that because I believe that our goal is not to walk all together according to a common political project-program but rather to diffuse our means and urge everyone to safeguard their autonomy, thus contributing to the creation of new perceptions and possibilities for the intensification of polymorphous anarchist action.

This is why I opt for the informal organization, which I consider more qualitative and effective for reasons I will explain later. The basic component that gives tangibility to the informal organization (and not only) is nothing other than direct action; otherwise, we would be just a bunch of charlatans with dissident rhetoric.

The most important thing for an anarchist is deciding to undertake action because, in this way, the individuality breaks through the fear inflicted by domination regarding the choice of revolutionary action; when you take action, you overcome inhibitory factors that lead you to inactivity, you take your life in both hands and acquire the ability to affect to a greater or lesser extent the circumstances that define your life. Undertaking action is the equivalent of reclaiming our life that was stolen from us, thus shaping the characteristics of a free human who fights to get rid of their shackles, their social commitments, on a daily basis, abolishing the authoritarian roles imposed on them and building a culture that gestates the quality of a new life, the life of an anarchist insurgent who inflicts open wounds from razors on the contemporary world.

After having made such a decision, comes experimentation. Anarchists shouldn’t have fixed positions; they’re constantly on the move because, without moving, they are driven to self-destruction by ideological dogmatism. They reconsider things, criticize themselves, and explore the collective experience to adapt it to the current historical data. They put their hearts on ice to withstand pain, and set fire to what’s left to wipe out the traces of their past “quiet” life. From this point forward, what counts is the struggle, but also vengeance, because whoever felt violence firsthand and did not seek revenge are worthy of their sufferings.

Let’s go back to the issue of practical experimentation, that is, action with many ways, many methods and many forms.

I believe that the organization of our destructive desires should be expressed through Action Networks of high distinctiveness, where everyone will be able to read one’s own words and works, get inspired, reflect, and act alongside us or fight against us. Being (communicatively) visible is part of our purpose to bring about the maximum degree of social polarization in order to clarify everyone’s role in the authoritarian edifice, and then pass from armed critique to a critique of arms.

In my opinion, the responsibility claim is what gives meaning to an action, leads it to your desired objectives, and explains to whoever is interested in breaking the vicious circle of oppression and passing on the offensive the motives and reasons that made you do it. Simply and clearly. In a world of generalized information overload and terrorism of virtual bombardments, no action can speak for itself unless the subjects-actors speak out about it.

The high level of distinctiveness that I mentioned above is related to both invariable insurgent names and acronyms; for me invariable names in insurgent actions are of particular importance because, in this way, your actions are linked to each other, stepping up their momentum at the same time.

Furthermore, your discourse takes on greater importance, as it is connected to the consistency of your action. You have the possibility to devise strategies of insurgent action making your overall rationale understood, creating a point of reference and issuing a challenge to action, thus exacerbating the revolutionary threat, breaking up the State’s monopoly on violence, as anarchists claim their share of violence to turn it against the enemy.

Turning now to the use of acronyms, it’s similarly useful on a more comprehensive level; their main importance is their contribution to recognizing resistance that is manifested without a centre, but instead horizontally and chaotically at the same time, depending on the choices of rebels.

I think that the existence of acronyms is also important as a propaganda tool. Translation networks can do the work of a messenger between insurgent groups regardless of whether or not the latter use an acronym. Nevertheless, the existence of one or more informal networks that use acronyms and recognize one another enhances the momentum of actions placing them within an overall context, rather than something fragmentary, and creates a solid (as to its existence, that is, continuous action) structure which is anarchist and insurrectionary at its root.

Instead of an epilogue

It is clear already that in the name of “citizen security” artificial social threats are constructed in a way to provide political alibi for committing the greatest state crimes, establishing more and more practices of control and surveillance, and toughening anti-terrorism laws. All this is aimed at enabling the privileged citizens of developed countries, who have been awarded this prestigious label, to feel safe while their statist protectors massively and indiscriminately sow death around them.

This is why I envision a belligerent condition in the urban centres where every day the rebels will organize plans for attacks, creating an asymmetric threat that will tear social cohesion and political stability to bits and sow insecurity in the reproduction centres of capitalism. The smooth flow of goods will no longer be taken for granted, and the representatives of oppression will live in fear.

We have nothing to wait for, so we organize ourselves and strike the society of capitalism; revolutionary actions shape the objective conditions, let’s multiply them.

Strength to all captive and fugitive comrades
Strength to the 4 anarchist hunger strikers in Mexico*

Nikos Romanos
Dikastiki Filaki Koridallou, Ε Pteryga, 18110 Koridallos, Athens, Greece

October 2014.

First published in the 3rd issue of Avalanche (November 2014).

* Transcription note: At the time of writing Fernando Bárcenas, Abraham Cortés Ávila, Carlos López Marín and Mario González, incarcerated in different Mexican prisons, were still on hunger strike. On October 17th, 2014, the comrades called off their strike. On October 31st, Mario was released from prison. Freedom for all!