Thursday, 26 February 2009

A New Political Subject?

Three new reports on the Greek revolts, an excellent account in the Guardian(!) and two reports in the latest RP (not yet up on the website). In all cases the writers agree that the struggle is as much against precarity as against state violence, that a new 'transversal' political subjectivity has emerged outside and against the usual coordinates of mediation, and the difficult struggle to articulate that subjectivity against the political channels which, it appears, are thoroughly corrupted. A key question is the way in which the revolt depends on contextual specificities - the history of repression and violence, the precarity of the €700 generation, the failures of the Greek state, the strength of political resistance - and how much it might be generalisable. This was obviously the fear in France, although it's depressing to say not in the UK (which certainly has seen a wave of occupations).

Most unexpected of all was the occupation of a call centre operated by the Altec telecoms group by employees threatened with redundancy without compensation. Altec was part of the recent break-up into the private sector of Greece's formerly state-run telecommunications system.

"There was a complete lack of political culture in the place," says Giorgos Sotiropoulos, who worked as part of the technical support team. "A call centre is as alienated as you can get. It's insidious. You're pitched against your co-worker by the fact that the supervisor is counting how many sales you make in how many calls and minutes. So it really mattered that it was a call centre we occupied, because the kind of enemy this insurrection in Greece is fighting is typified by this work. The enemy is amorphous, it is virtual, and that makes fighting it far more challenging than fighting a junta of colonels. Our enemy is a society which offers procedural freedom, and perceived freedom, but no physical, substantive freedom. But this situation is not irreversible, and we demonstrate this by finding a way of being free through uprising.
(From the Ed Vuillamy and Helena Smith piece in the Guardian, my italics)

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