(Athens, April 29th) — The most extensive antiauthoritarian network of our country [Greece] is preparing for a national meeting on May 8th-9th, inaugurating a special time period which will be as crucial for the progress of itself as for the future of the financial organization of our society. From the brochure that was published with the framework and the propositions of the movement – an obvious sign of maturity and self-confidence – one phrase was engraved in my mind: “… when rage will break out, nothing to be left unchanged.” That’s the challenge.
During times of disappointment and social crisis, the consciousness of society grows rapidly and searches for alternative solutions. Castoriadis has warned us: “But to be socially effective – this autonomous mass action cannot remain amorphous, fragmented and dispersed. It will find expression in patterns of action and forms of organization, in ways of doing things and ultimately in institutions which embody and reflect its purpose… If libertarian revolutionaries remain blissfully unaware of these problems and have not discussed or even envisaged them they can rest assured that others have.” (i) He also adds that in order to change the reality we must avoid the shortcomings of various types of “anarchist” or “spontaneist” fetishism, which in the belief that in the last resort working class consciousness will determine everything, takes little or no interest in the forms such consciousness should take.
It is obvious. In critical instances, society doesn’t have time to elaborate on newly minted solutions; on the contrary, it resorts desperately to the ready structures that have been already realized, even in limited extent, and to the political suggestions that might have been buried by dominating ideology, but never fully wiped out.
In one of my previous articles (Z-BABYLONIA, Sep. 2008) I wrote that one concrete, radical political vision favors the overthrow of the system, because it functions as connective material which will unite the people who struggle and, in the same time, provides to the broad masses of society what is needed in order to make the big step: something tangible, a sketchy plan of future organization. I confess that I missed a very simple truth in that article: when people don’t get definite answers to their problems, they get bored. People who have dedicated their lives in the movements face this situation, they see people coming in and out, engaging for just a while and pretty soon withdrawing back to their everyday routine. That’s the price of costless criticism.
Our future hides surprises. The invasion of the IMF into our economy will stir up the stagnant waters of our underdeveloped enjoyment. The correlations of bargaining power will subvert rapidly for the advantage of the already powerful and this will wake up many people. There are some historical moments, like these, which give the opportunity to the servants to reverse certain social conditions, but usually they don’t take advantage of them. Historical facts show us that the ebb tide of revolutionary activity led us repetitively back to a – slightly better – submission. C. Castoriadis explained that fact with an argument that goes pretty much like this: The revolutionary societies didn’t have a network of adequate structures in order to express their will and the revolutionaries themselves didn’t have a clue about how these structures could function and interact. In other words, didn’t bother to design a framework of operation in order to cope with the demands of crucial moments, instead they preferred to confine themselves to costless criticism, hoping that people will spontaneously and automatically create the institutions. The act of instituting, though, demands planning and vision, inoculation of our consciousnesses.
That applies too for the way we organize our economy. Obviously, society doesn’t split into base and superstructure, but we must never forget that economy is the sector that feeds us. People, even in revolutionary times, need to survive. Not at all accidentally, the warnings of Castoriadis are included in an essay where this great thinker is referring exactly to the economical content of socialism, suggesting even from 1957 a very concrete system of financial self-management based on direct democracy. It is very possible that in the field of economy will be created shortly the chances of overthrow and in this field will be required for us to express concrete alternative propositions and to make them come true.
The efforts for participatory agricultural “self institutions” and their linking with urban social centers for the distribution of goods (as the network of farmers with Nosotros/Botanical Garden) create antiauthoritarian micro economies which for sure will turn out to be essential, first of all, for our survival. Getting out of the Euro zone, the cessation of our debt payments, the participatory self management and self sufficiency, are the fourfold principles that not only will get us out from the impasse, but they will help us also to make the first steps in the uncharted area beyond the given borders of capitalism.
(i) C. Castoriadis, “Sur Ie Contenu du Socialisme,” issue 22 “Socialisme ou Barbarie,” 1957.
[Translated from Greek to English by the author.]