The following text is an English language translation of a talk given via phone by imprisoned Conspiracy of Cells of Fire member Christos Tsakalos at an event that was held recently at a self-managed hangout space in Karditsa.
“Good evening comrades (…) I will begin with a phrase I had read somewhere and says ‘it is at the difficult time of repression, where we prove the level of our consciousness.’
Alfredo Cospito’s pamphlet “The source of victimization” is not only interesting from a historical perspective, as it describes the situation and degradation of the anarchist movement, after the carnage of P. Fontana. It has a special interest because, unfortunately, it is largely reflecting the mentality of victimization that is widespread in the Greek anarchist milieu.
But let’s consider things from the beginning …
Speaking of the urban guerrilla in the years after the junta, the focal point was the murder of Christos Kassimis, member of E.L.A. (Epanastatikos Laikos Agonas – revolutionary people’s struggle) in 1977, in a gunfight with cops at the facilities of the german company A.E.G. In Renti area, during the placement of incendiary bombs. Following comes the arrest of Giannis Seriffis, who talks about being framed up by the prosecuting authorities due to his ideas. From 1977 and for many years the vast majority of those arrested either for ‘terrorist’ activity, or conflicts in demonstrations, followed the advocacy line of the “frame-up”.
In simple words, “I have nothing to do with it, I’m persecuted for my ideas, I was passing by…” (…)
This victimized defense line, usually faced the grace of the judges and most of the arrested were soon released.
In 1995 amongst the -up or down-500 detainees of the occupated Polytechnic school, only 100- 120 declared anarchists, while most of the others in their apologies sayed they were trapped or they went to lay a wreath of flowers…
In 1998 the anarchist Nikos Maziotis gets arrested for putting a bomb at the ministry of development and claims the responsibility. . His attitude activates a militant solidarity, expressed apart from public interventions (posters, gatherings, etc.) with a series of almost daily arson attacks (especially on luxury cars). Within a few months there are more than 100 arsons.
This creates a tingling sensation in the hitherto official vanguards of solidarity (left networks and personalities’ composed solidarity committees), which (solidarity) seems to be out of the so far known pattern of the triptych ‘usual suspect- frame up- innocent’.
The reason is simple. In previous times, the victimized attitude of those prosecuted gave ground to the advocacy line of ‘persecution of ideas’, ‘repression of rights’, ‘targeting of the usual suspects’, etc.
This promoted much more the logic of denouncing the ‘authoritarian state’, instead of the conflict and the attack against it. In the following years, most of those arrested returned to the advocacy line of framing up…
In 2002 we had the arrests concerning the 17N (November 17). The snitching, the telltale testimonies and cooperation with the cops by the majority of those arrested are a black page in the history of revolutionary violence.
The only one who salvages the memory and the action of the organization is Dimitris Koufodinas, who takes on the political responsibility. The same goes also for Christos Tsigaridas following the arrests for E.L.A. – (Revolutionary People’s Struggle). (…)
Victimization though, is a plague widespreading to many aspects of the milieu. If I remember well, in 2005 there was an outburst of fascist gang attacks that season against comrades, hangouts and squats…
Of course these provocations have not been unanswered and apart from public actions (anti-fascist march) several attacks were organized, sending facsists to the hospital. Yet in the realm of public discourse in most of the posters, in many texts, the victmized display of the half truth was projected.
I clearly remember the poster of a well known collective that was on the streets were there was a list of all the fascist attacks and no reference to aggressive moves from our part. Generally, the prevailing aesthetics of public discourse was that ‘the fascists kill’…but there was nothing said for the dynamic responses they had received…
All this was part of the mentality of building a victimized profile reminiscent of the Christian logic, dictating that the weak have the moral advantage for the activation of social sympathy.
At the same time, however, we have some cases of arrests in the act (bank robbery, attempted arson of Palaio Faliro Municipal Police vehicles) that those arrested claimed responsibility. (…) In 2010 we have the responsibility claim of three members of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and three members of the Revolutionary Struggle. A claim that is not restricted to any particular action, eg someone caught in the act, but an overall claim and support of armed organizations.
At first, the political responsibility claim had the support of the majority of the milieu, since it was a clear indication of continuing the struggle despite the penal consequences and the years pending on for our comrades.
Very soon, however, there was numbness within the movement, by a part of it which started clearly showing its preference for the persecuted ones who followed the frame-up line.
Soon, the slogans concerning prosecutions due to political beliefs etc, dominated again.
Similarly, some others characterised the choice to claim political responsibility as a martyr’s attitude …
At the courts that followed, of both the CCF and the E.A. there was a dividing line between those who claimed the responsibility and those who followed a different line of advocacy.
Here it is important that I explain what ‘political responsibility’ signifies.
Claiming political responsibility is not a heroic act, but instead an act of consistency with all that one supports when having made the choice of the anarchist urban guerrilla.
It is inconsistent while preaching through your actions and words a war until the end, at the moment of arrest to present oneself as victimized. The responsibility claim is a double message.
A message to the state, that prisons do not subdue the revolutionaries and a signal to the comrades that the struggle goes on whatever the cost.
The responsibility claim is a signal to young anarchists to support themselves too the anarchist urban guerrilla, including however a reminder that the road to revolution is rough , so if we choose it we must lift the weight.
It is the moral advantage we have against their laws and prosecutions, it‘s the choice not to betray our values and ourselves in return for a favorable sentence. (…)
This doesn’t mean that the state does not sets people up. The victimised mentality though of several anarchists who present themselves as a permanent victim of a frame-up, sweeps the real frame-ups too. Here I recall the case of someone getting arrested by secret police in Thessaloniki while in ambush close to a private security vehicle, carrying a bag with the incendiary device ready and he stated that his was prosecuted for his anarchist ideas and has nothing to do with the arson attempt.
In short, the expansion of the use of frame-up, outpread the germ of questioning the honesty in all cases of anarchists. It’s like the fairy tale with the liar shepherd. Everyone now questions the sincerity of an anarchist getting arrested and saying he has nothing to do with the the case as subconsciously everyone thinks that ‘many anarchists pretend being irrelevant…’
So in cases of a real frame-up, the reflexes of the milieu are rusty enough, as there is a lack of credibility. One could now ask ‘so the responsibility claim is the only dignified attitude?’
No, it is not the only, but it’s certainly the most clearly aggressive attitude towards the state.
Besides, responsibility claim is neither a contract nor a lifelong medal we carry. Everyone of us is judged every day, and depending on our attitude we honor or delete the fihgting choice we once made.
I do not believe in the …”anarcho-meter”, but I think that we must defend some things…
First of all, in anarchist armed organizations there are some value codes, some principles also some agreements.
One of them is the attitude that of the comrades of the organization in case of arrest.
Of course, theory often differs from practice. When everything goes well in an organization, everyone is at the forefront…But you can see who someone is, by watching how one honors his/her choices when in difficulty and not at ease…
So when a group has talked and agreed on the issue of responsibility claim, if someoneone backs off after the arrest, at that moment the agreement, the principles, the ideas, the organization and oneself are betrayed…
However I wouldn’t consider it as a problem, if someone didn’t lift the weight and chose to remain silent without taking responsibility, but making it clear that he/she doesn’t want support from the anarchist milieu. But I think it dishonest if on one hand one pretends being a super fighter , covered behind vague anarchist verbalism, while on the other hand complains that there ‘s been victimization through a frame-up.
In fact, by claiming responsibility you can unite theory with practice. You reverse the terms of a capture’s defeat and transform them into another open battlefield …
Because after all, when at war with the state, there is no middle ground … either an enemy of authority or someone compromised … because the matter is not if you get arrested, but if you surrender internally (…) ”