The greek version of the text below was distributed in the occupied Economics University of Athens (and elsewhere, I imagine) in the first week of the revolt. The photo is from Athens yesterday, posted on Indymedia. At first sight the image and the text might seem to clash — yet this is one good reason why I wanted to put them together… Do hold in mind that Greece has no historical memory of May 1968 as such; at the time when France was looking under the paving stones, Greece was entering military rule.
On The Greek Riots, December 26th, 2008.
Barricade and history
Notes on the intensification of bourgeois antagonism
The violent clash is first and foremost a clash within the latent level of the enactment and the assignment of meaning to space and time. It is the clash between the objective structure (the dog) with its knowledge and practice-based assignments of meaning (the dog’s tail), some assignments critiquing the conditions of objectification of these very structures “arming the tail with teeth so that it can bite the dog”.
Every social class tries to use or transform the space of the city for its own gain. In this way we see the inscribing, in an elliptic trajectory, of a tradition of the oppressed: some tradition that holds the barricade as its visible material expression. The barricade represents on a spatial level what already exists in the social: the rupture with the assignment of meaning to the city as a unit that is supposedly whole and equal. A rupture with a definition of society as a permanent union of equals. From the part of sovereignty, it is this very unity of space that guarantees its continuation in time. The verge-esque state of the barricade reveals the radical division of the urban space. This division seems no longer solid, functional, inescapable — and becomes the main component of unity instead. It becomes a (national) unity (an ideologically constructed identity) that is divided. The propositional rupture of the social fabric comes to confirm the theoretical observation of a process of social change. The theory and practice of the oppressed come together in a materially effective cosmology. It is this very practice that accelerates the rhythm of the flow of historical time and it is this theory that conceptualises this acceleration.
The historical genealogy of the contemporary process of gentrification of “deprived” areas can be traced to the “strategic embellishment” of cities. Same like then, the contemporary target is met in its duality: 1) The prevention of possible revolts or their effective dealing with the literal flattening of their epicenters and 2) the production of a space with no properties: of a city with no memory. Capital, in its tight embracing of urban practice, turns towards this speculative field during periods of underdevelopment of other traditionally more profiteering fields of investment activity. On the other side (that is, the side of the oppressed), its hereditary nature is reflected upon the urban geography of struggle. Topographies of clashes are soaked with historical memory; the past is a field of non-accomplished opportunities and capacities and our dead comrades are potentially vindicated in the historical future.
The dominant ideology perceives the capitalist model to be insurmountable, natural, eternal: the arrow of history is circular and thus the future is a recycling of the past. And since the past, as a sum of results, has nothing to show other than temporary elements of freedom, we can easily set things straight — seen, as they are, from the viewpoint of an inunequivocal evolution heading to the theological telos of progress. An End, in other words, in the sense of a conclusion and a goal since what is targeted is not that which becomes but that which is repeated. This understanding is the metaphysical carrot and we are the mules pulling the carriage of the bi-historical king richards — being, at the same time, the carriage’s last wheel.
What overshadows the meaning of modality in the activity of the philosophy of history is the pragmatic definition of truth. The conception, that is, of truth as a result.
In our attempt to reach the utopia of freedom we see that freedom is a concept that one cannot easily define yet everyone can understand.