The evening before Mayday, there was a buzz in the air as people started making their preparations.
A local bar, K*Fox on the corner of Excharia Square had been re-occupied after being board up. Locals had prised off the sytex and removed the doors, and had control over the shutters. It was not a full time occupation, but one under which they had full control over access to the space and could open and close it as they saw fit. That evening a film was being shown which could only be described as 90 minutes of riot porn. The film detailed some of the resistance that had happened in Greece since the problems started in 2008, including the opening up K*Fox itself, overlaid with a heavy beat. One notable thing about the film was that at several points it had logos on screen extolling a “No Borders” position. Among ordinary Athenians, and even among the activists that I had spoken to there is considerable concern over immigration, it was therefore good to see a pro-internationalist perspective being presented. The place was heaving, with several hundred people inside watching the film and a considerable overspill outside.
Once the film was finished, it turned into a regular bar, with locals taking over bar duties, keeping an eye on the place and cleaning up afterwards before shuttering up for another time. It all seemed remarkably well organised, there were no “staff” as such, but I recognised some of the people taking on the duties as those who were frequently seen around the area and people took responsibility for keeping their workload to a minimum – returning glasses to the counter and joining in the wiping of tables once the evening was finished. At 11pm it shut up shop for another day.
Down near the town centre, Antarsya held a major rally with several hundred people. Well organised, with a sound system, lighting, a very solid information stall and many materials (which they are very precious over), it was very well organised. The crowd was peaceful but obviously fed up with the current situation. Antarsya is not participating in the elections to be held on Sunday, and in the crowd again there was a fatalism about the elections – that who ever gets elected, the politicians always win. Despite a major rally from an anti-capitalist organisation being held and streets being closed to accomodate it, other than ordinary uniformed police putting up and taking down the tape over the roads, only one solitary policeman, hanging back several feet from the edge of the crowd could be spotted.
The contrast between the two events was palpable. The crowd in K*Fox were relatively subdued as they watched scenes of significant violence played out on screens in front of them, burning roadblocks, missiles, and people being beaten by the police. Down at the Antarsya rally the crowd was much more animated with chants, flagwaving and cheers as the speakers rallied them from the podium. Both the anarachists who had taken over K*Fox and Antarsya have no faith in the political process and stay outside its boundaries and have considerable appeal in a country where democratic rule is proving a sham and the faith that people have in the political system is disappearing by the day.