“Capitalism is a failure, a failure, a failure!”

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interview to Tasos Tsakiroglou of “Efimerida ton syndakton” 14-15 December 2013 http://efsyn.gr 

Downloadable version (.doc)

-You have stated that our “no” to the old world will not hold, unless we create a new world “here and now”. How could we do such a thing without a concrete plan, a political alternative proposal?

We have many different concrete plans, many different alternative proposals. Is there any reason why we should reduce them to just one?

-Do you think that the “cracks in the system” have grown enough to constitute a real challenge to capitalism?

We often feel that what we are doing is hopeless, without any effect. But then how do we understand the enormous and increasing repression against our protests and our experiments, not just in Greece, but in all the world? Maybe we are much more of a challenge to them than we realise.

-“The austerity measures do not just impose poverty, they cut the wings of hope”. How can we retrieve hope and survive in a sea of depression?

Perhaps a crisis is like a contraction during labour: the terrible pain that a woman feels before giving birth. And perhaps it is not: maybe there is no baby there to be born, or maybe the baby is already dead, and the pain is nothing but pain. And perhaps it depends on us. Perhaps it depends on us to create the baby, or, better, many babies. And it is difficult, because we do not know if any of the babies will survive. That is what millions of people are trying to do, in Greece and throughout the world: to give birth to a world of new worlds, without having any magic formula, without having a textbook to tell us how to do it. What else can we do? Give in to them, to the government, to the troika, to capital? That would be to close the curtains on humanity, announce aloud that we have agreed to our collective suicide.

In William Blake’s poem “The Song of Los”, the Kings of Asia react to the revolutions in Europe by telling their Councellors “To cut off the bread from the city/ That the remnant may learn to obey,/ That the pride of the heart may fail,/ That the lust of the eyes may be quench’d,/ That the delicate ear in its infancy/ May be dull’d, and the nostrils clos’d up,/ To teach mortal worms the path/ That leads from the gates of the Grave.” The Kings of Asia are Capital, their Councellors are the Troika, and the struggle in Greece is for the pride of the heart and the lust of the eyes and delicacy of the ear and the opening of the nostrils.

-What’s the real prospect of structures of mutual support by the people that have been excluded from the labour system (unemployed etc)? Can they be transformed into embryonic forms of a different society as you claim?

Capitalism is a failure, a failure, a failure! That is the cry that resounds throughout the world. For a large part of the world’s population (and an increasing part of the population of Europe), capitalism cannot provide a basic structure for survival. This failure brings misery and desperation for millions. If they are not to die (and many do), they have to find alternative ways of surviving – by family solidarity, support of friends or community, cultivating their own food, stealing, begging, developing forms of production outside the capitalist system (sometimes called the solidarity economy) – very often a mixture of some or all of these. There is almost certainly no going back to a “normal” capitalism of full employment, no possibility of creating a friendlier capitalism. It is better to assume that capitalism has failed and we have to build something new. We have to find ways of making the structures of support the basis of that new society, rather than the begging and criminal violence. We must communise.

-Do you think that the present crisis is comparable to previous ones, like that in 1929, or you rather consider it as something much worst? Explain it.

The crisis of 1929 was eventually solved by the slaughter of about 100 million people. I think a solution to the present crisis would perhaps be much more drastic, and quite possibly there is no solution within capitalism, just permanent crisis. Greece is a very important testing ground to see what capital is capable of achieving. The struggles there are crucial for the whole world.

-As we have see it, rage can easily become a nationalist, even fascist rage. In Greece we’ ve the rise of Golden Dawn, which is targeting immigrants. How can we transform this justifiable rage into an effective activity of resistance?

Yes, rage is in the air in all the world and growing in intensity. How can we channel it towards a dignified rage (as the Zapatistas put it) rather than a fascist rage? I don’t know. By listening, arguing, respecting, assembling, by shining in the dark, being attractive, attracting: above all not by killing, not by adopting fascist methods.

– “The state is the movement of the incorporation of alternatives”. As we fight cuts in state services with alternative visions of social provision, how can we resist this process?

I think that it can only be by fighting all the time to retain control of whatever it is that we are doing. Perhaps the key is to think of our movement as a process of communising based in the creation and re-creation of communal decision-making through assemblies. This means a form of organisation incompatible with the state, since the state is a process of excluding people from the determination of their own lives.

And if I may add a general comment. Your questions are terrific. I feel that they reflect the experience of the struggles of Greece over the last few years. But the problem with an interview is that the questions look for answers. And sometimes there are no answers to be given. Sometimes the only answers are more questions, the questions that are being forged in the struggles, of which you in Greece are at the centre. Sometimes all we can do is look in the sky and see the utopian star and say “that is the direction that we have to go in, because there is no choice”. But to go in that direction we have to hack through the jungle, and hack and hack and hack, and experiment and find ways forward and sometimes not, and look to our friends and ask and learn. Asking we walk, as the Zapatistas put it, but all answers are questions.

My thanks to Katerina Nasioka.