Dispatches from Greece Three: Notes from Two Months in Exarcheia

  • Posted on: 4 March 2017
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)
An account of living in a "black" squat in Exarcheia

“Come and get food, Motherfuckers!”

The call, in a slight accent, echoes down the marble steps of the squat—the daily common meal is ready. In many ways this call for food encapsulates the nature of squatting in Greece. There is a complex relationship between squatters, a familiarity born of a shared life and a shared enemy. There is also a challenge, and slight but perceptible pressure to maintain relentless social contestation, always working, pushing towards the Idea. The results can take multiple forms, actions, demos, art, theater. A number of the squatters use art as a weapon. They paint, they build installations, they alter and manipulate the urban environment--joyfully. They plot, they plan actions, they look for openings in the armor of the Social Enemy to strike and cause harm. They speak of love and hatred, with no embarrassment. There is camaraderie, days spent talking, laughing, shadow-boxing, spray-painting or wheat-pasting on the walls of the squat. One of my most profound memories is hearing laughter ringing through the building as the younger squatters horse around late at night. Finally there is a fierce and abiding loyalty—made of living, working, fighting together. I knew, once accepted into the squat, that whatever happened no one there would ever deliberately let harm come to me, and my Comrades knew that I was committed to them in the same manner. This, of all things, proves the worth of living in common, in Commune. Physical, emotional, spiritual safety in the world is a joke perpetrated directly by the Social Enemy—how much better do anarchists do it! Face to face, the commitment becomes real—a material thing, not some nightmare uniformed asshole threatening prison, parole and degradation. I’ll take the threat of several black clad figures in the middle of night acting on conscience to help a Comrade over a cop loaded with laws and punishments. Some of the squatters are guests, visiting from almost every point on Earth, though during my time--primarily Europe, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the USA. Others are long-term, mostly Greek, and the occasional American.

Almost everyone takes turns prepping food, and sitting an early morning defense shift, the only two real “chores” at the squat. Everything else is pretty much left to chance, cleaning the toilets, sweeping and mopping common areas, emptying ashtrays, occasionally standing outside on the street when things in Exarcheia get tense, and making tea or sweets for the Assembly. This arrangement overburdens some folks, and it underburdens others, which is the nature of non-coercive social relations. Something to be accepted, not denied, nor decried. It’s the way things are.

The squat I found myself in is considered one of the “blackest,” meaning that most of the explicitly political squatters are either anarchist individualists or nihilists. Other squats tend to be less black, more red—meaning anarcho-communist, syndicalist or some stripe of collectivist. Some of the finer points of theory are abandoned in favor of the nature of the relationships that the different squats and squatters have developed over the years. Perhaps an overstatement, but a balance of animosity and agreement reigns between the squats. Sometimes forming alliances, occasionally coming to blows. Which is one reason that the December 6th 2016 riot was so significant—where personal and political grudges were shelved in favor of an all-out coordinated effort at defending the community from police incursion. Even the authorities registered surprise in the main stream media after the night of rioting, going so far as to authorize a few patrols near Exarcheia Square by cops in armored jeeps. This presence was quickly curtailed, the authorities realizing that the provocation was hardly worth the potential backlash. In fact only one squat bowed out from the defense of Exarcheia—and it came under criticism for what was seen as a real inability to play well with others.

“Motherfuckers! I said food!”

The reminder, this time registered with some anger by the cook, is greeted with muted derision and groaning by the residents. It’s early by squatter’s time—1pm—and those left in the building are sleeping. I drag myself out of bed, force down a coffee and make a plate of food. It’s good-- potatoes, rice, salad and some kind of fried meat. Could be seafood—eel maybe.

I talked to the cook later that day and asked about the meat, she said,” Sheep cheeks and tongue…good right?”
I smiled and said,” Really good, thanks.”

Like the meal, living in commune is like that. The more you try new stuff, the better it gets.

category: 

Comments

Well at least he's talking about anarcho squatting instead of not-so-anarcho Leftist revolutionary politics OR East Bay circle jerk philosophy...

Is there any email I can use to contact pzs? I'm curious about one or two things about the current situation.

Speaking of which, I urge him, like any other outsider, to be extra careful with the Reds, and keep a safe distance from them, and anyone associated with them. There are macho authoritarian fucks in Exarkhia, so beware.

knowledge. paul@calpress.org. Hit me up.

How quaint, squatting in Greece resembles a cross between trench warfare without weapons and waiting at the end of a soup line.

warfare" here is weaponless...please refer to my discussion of the Exarcheia Molotov, etc. in my piece on the December 6th riot.

Has anyone *gasp*,,,ever told you that in the 21st Century, Molotovs aren't weapons, they are acts of Post-Marxist pyromaniacal ressentiment?

this idiotic comment to some of the team members here in Athens. They all had a single question," Are there many anarchists like this asshole in the US?"

My reply? "No, just one or two..."

Is this better in the USA where it resembles 20 somethings making shitty folk punk and having high cholesterol at an early age because of a complete subsistence on ramen noodles?

Let me know curious to find out.

I can safely bet that "squatting" in your own area resembles full submission to a capitalist rat or -if you're lucky enough and obviously below 25 or got a really really big mouth- couchsurfing in hipster houses. And yes, waiting for the women to cook you something. How quaint!

Well you just threw your money away, or your baseball card collection or whatever you use for currency to place bets. I don't pay rent, I'm more literate than any hipster, and I cook my own meals. Squatting in my area is finding a cave or placing branches and leaves into a crude windbreak and lighting a fire. I only get occassional internet access from friends. But 4 walls in a tenement is equivalent to voluntary imprisonment or lack of imagination or both.

" I only get occassional internet access from friends. "

bwaaaaaahhaaaahhaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

Hey Paul! I spend some time in Athens, a little back and forth. Got any more talks coming up? Missed the one you just did...

You mean explicitly anti, or better yet, apolitical as anarchism/anarchy is a deviation away from the political. Anarchist black and ultimately anarch grey.

I actually saw a handful of Muhricans in the squats when I was there not so long ago and they definitely were the apolitical kind... rather naive young punkish hobos with a good heart. People like these are more needed... and less anarcho-leftist rock stars.

Is hardly naive though good hearts are always good along with less leftist politicos.

I never said "explicitly" apolitical, Professor Nitpick.

I would rather take something in the middle. Which I think Exarchia or rather anarchy in Greece is for the most part. It's really hard to be here for more than a few months, shit you don't even have to hang out in squats and realize the vast majority of crust punks, squatter hobos etc are not Greek.

Srsly, and partly in addition to 01:50, the peeps going to Athens expecting a squatter's paradise are in for a deception. So maybe El Errante should be more accountable to that regards, when he's promoting that "lifestyle"... as the occupied house where he's been included might not be able to take many more squatters. Or maybe, I don't know.

It's mostly still a struggle to (re)build... you can't count on the small crowd of catwalk anarcho-yuppies and hipsters in their private squats to do anything other than taking part in a few occasional riots.

Oh yeah, also on occasions there's those BBQs full of meat that some Greek squatters will do... Yikes.

If anyone still just wanna have fun in the anarcho-punk lifestyle, they'd rather stick to Barcelona or in the several milieus across Italy, France, in London -where there's a major anarchist occupations struggle these days... look out for "ANAL London" for instance- and a few places in Switzerland. Athens is brutal and quite distasteful, architecturally and socially. Exarkhia feels like a tiny island of counterculture in a sea of consumerism.

I had way more fun trolling the rich Greek elite in Glyfada/Voula, and I still assert that this length of tram by the seaside is the area that crusty anarchists should have been parasiting... instead of much-needed abandoned buildings in Exarkhia that they appear to keep for themselves and their lil buddies.

Hence, if anyone's going down to Exarkhia you'd better be having some honest intent, especially in the field of bringing truly anarchist perspectives of human relations. Gender anarchy-wise.... migrant support infrastructure is also still much needed, and there's been also a long-felt need for a bicycle workshop.

tldr: If you aren't into any practical anarchy at home or motivated to do it abroad, just fuck off some place else, you don't HAVE to be in there. Plane tickets to BCN, London or Paris are way cheaper...

So much misinformation, so little time. The squats in France are either appeliste or apolitical. Most are gone. The most active anarchist city, Nantes, needs no squats, it has the ZAD a few kilometers away. I just spent several months there. ANAL is about manifestation, not long-term squatting. The idea of opening a bike shop in Athens is laughable--no one rides here but rich poseurs, kind of like the author of the above comment. The streets are too narrow, the traffic too aggressive, and bikes are either old and broken or new and expensive. A sea of consumerism? You do know that the Greek economy is now ranked worse than Brazil, right? Go where you want to, but use some verifiable info, not the raving of a lunatic sequestered in UVY8b8some Midwestern basement.

"The squats in France are either appeliste or apolitical. Most are gone."

Clearly you have spent, like, 2+ years going in every part of France to make such a bold statement, right. And nowhere is there anything wrong with apolitical squats, if this is where you were getting. They're always the best, most lively places. As for the appelistes, they're nothing else than a result of social anarchism both becoming big in the past 10 years, and failing at the same time to gain the social appeal they were seeking, so they had to syndicate themselves with the commie elite of Tarnac. I'd rather call them social APPEALists.

"no one rides here but rich poseurs, kind of like the author of the above comment."

You mean like those rich poseurs behind Nosotros? lol

But sure, yeah... true proletarian comrades ride really fast in city centers, with noisy, stinky motor vehicles. No time to waste with silly pedals... And they also eat meat, not like those silly vegans.

For the industry and stuuuf! Hasta la revolucion siempre, companeros!

they contribute nothing. Appelistes mean the latest wave of Blanquism, look it up, you may learn something. As for you--game over dunsel-- mom has the ham sandwiches in a half hour. Don't expect any future response from me.

Verdad? Pendejo!!

ever. You mentioned a squat by name. Never do that. Hope the folks don't find our. Long memories, short fuses. Way to go asshole

I lol'd hard...

Nosotros is not "any squat".

It's a very special squat, for a very important, distinguished crowd, or shall I say... gentry. Which may include YOU, pzs.

(but really I'd be lauging even harder if I'd find out that you've been staying at Nosotros, and writing your war reports from there... not that writing these comments from my alienation is any better; just different, you know)

"A sea of consumerism? You do know that the Greek economy is now ranked worse than Brazil, right?"

Yeah, a sea of consumerism. Like all those neighborhoods outside of Exarkhia where you've never ventured, coz there's probably some sort of ideological gate around this neighborhood preventing you from doing so. Strangely the Anticapitalist walls of that small geographic triangle are considerably higher and thicker on Trikoupi, for some reason I can't get. Oh wait... that must be that trendy yuppie capitalist neighborhood that lies beyond.

But don't think of the Beyoooond, comrade! Keep your mind in that misery hole. It is all that exists. That, and the IMF economic flow charts.

HaHaHaHaaaaa EVERYTHING in the known universe which doesn't declare blind adoration and support for a Bookchinist revival is apolitical, and you resemble an elderly jetsetting public relations anarcho-pinup guy Hahahahaaaa

PS I dont expect any reply from you.

I never reply to idiots like you.

And you avoid answering questions, like, isn't throwing Molotovs an obsolete tactic in the 21st century? What's so stupid about this query, isn't there some truth in the light of recent figures detailing collateral damage from both sides? Don't answer, hide under your ideological blanket, I understand you have to maintain an aggressive persona to continue as the pinup guy for the revolutionary industry.

I'm anon and don't desire to be associated with this LeWay troll, who's giving legit criticism a bad name, almost 24/7.

I'll have to be quick the boss has popped out, its the only time I can access the office computer,,,,,I'll just have you know I'm probably the most anarchistic individualist, you're new here are you not, I'm not a troll, I'm a realist compassionate existentialist nihilist and say things how they appear to me in the big ugly picture which is the modern industrial capitalist State, so excuse meeeee sunshine,,,,,,,,,,,I'm against this US-THEM binary, you know, its like the Walking Dead script, on and on over and over, "Let's go out and chop some heads off, then go home and enjoy some comraderie, then going out again chopping more heads off, back to the squat making whoopeeand love, more head cutting etc etc into eternity over and over with identity issues fleshing out the killing scenes,,,,,booooring

Different commenter, definitely not new here. You're a sack of hot air, endlessly bleeding out a wet, farting noise.

Nosotros squat, which is the building seen on that picture, is the most ridiculous place in Exarkhia. It's been run for years -if not always- by a crowd of clique-ish social anarchists, who've maintained a "private squat" policy, of including only squatters co-opted by their network, or celebrities, who usually turn out to be foreign trust-fund kids, hipsters, anarchist rock stars (like, you know...), spies and other do-nothings. So if you're outside of their "hacker elite" network of posers and in need for a squat, place to find free food or clothes, even if elsewhere in the neighborhood, good luck asking them without being laughed at.

On the second floor they got a café/diner that's always visited by the most liberal yuppie crowd of tourists, international students and local Greek leftists. I've seen statist organizations from other countries doing lectures there.

There's a few good stuff they do, still, like throwing nice parties and their regular meals to refugees, but really I could get all that at my local liberal university campus.

I'm telling ya... if pzs is really there, that says a lot about the guy.

USA to trash any squat in Athens is bad enough. They have no legal right to occupy building, but do, and invite repression in every moment. Something unknown in your Mom's living room--where you are right now. Indeed the whole "scene" in the USA lacks what you lack--stones. The willingness to court disaster in order to make a better world. That hesitation is unknown in Exarcheia, as it should be worldwide. Yet the commenters on @news and pose as areal contestation...please! If LeWay were a real threat he'd be in jail, as opposed to worrying about whether his boss is watching. And no, I don't stay at Nosotros--they're pretty red--even by Greek standards. As I said in the article in I'm in one of the blackest squats in Exarcheia. Go figure.

"The willingness to court disaster in order to make a better world."

to make a better world. wow. where have i heard that before?

better in whose eyes? yeah, exactly. only those who claim to know (explicitly or implicitly) what "a better world" is - which implies knowing what is best for everyone. they're known by me as authoritarians, and they permeate both the left and the right.

That's hilariously depressing! What an epic failure of logic and you're so proud of yourself too! Any attempt to exercise personal agency that meaningfully impacts the world makes you "authoritarian". Wow … you're completely screwed before you ever set foot outside the door. Guess you'd better stay at home, typing, hey?

Yes yes that's right... Support the status quo with the almighty "Do Nothing" principle, or else you're an authoritarian. Cops and other reactionaries are actually the greatest anarchists coz you know they're helping defend the world against those who wanna make it better. Case closed.

Make Muhrica better world again,,,,,,,,,,Sound familiar?

I made the brief comment about how most squatters are foreign etc. But jesus, the dude arguing with Errante sounds like they got burnt hard here. Reminds me of a certain trust fund anarcho tourist who might be the most annoying human being on earth. One of those people that makes me run far away from other USA folks here. Look, complaining about meat, no fucking bike coop (LMFAO) and a "sea of consumerism" is like some sort of bizarro world. It sounds like tbh, they couldn't handle it, at all. Sounds like the type of person who was spoon fed from inception and didn't get their ass patted in Exarchia. Sorry dawg, welcome to a city.

What do they want vegan souvlaki?

get that shooting the messenger under the belt isn't very clever, but that part about Nosotros is kinda true, even if hyperbolic. Beware of falling into a logic of "Us vs Them" spook, with a Good and Bad side people are thrown into.

It does suck that most of the criticism or questionning of ethics here comes from trolls who're just talking out of their asses. Especially that complete troll LeWay...who's indeed helpng the very Left he claims to be despising, by being a travesty of those being critical of them.

Kind of true if you just boil it down to more left than anti-politics and where a lot of international students hang out. You stand in one spot in Exarchia and walk in one direction and get to a different place ran by a you name it political sect whether anarchist or communist.

Now that I re-read these comments I am 100% sure they are made by a trust fund (and i mean rich as fuck family) anarchist from a certain city in California. Who got burned here because tbh, they fucking suck. Who knew that in a place with thousands of anarchists/anti-authoritarians who can choose who to associate with they didn't want anything to do with someone who is fucking abrasive and annoying! Who could have guessed it! Who knew that bossing people around doesn't get you anything outside of meat, feminist and bike coop guilt in the USA.

Anyhow, yes. It sucks that conversations like these get over run by idiots wherein productive things could be talked about. Like the interesting politcal mix and structure of Exarchia and why people should visit (and not be douchebags)

Seconding 01:54... Exarkhia has got a way interesting political (and apol) diversity, full of frictions and contradictions that sometimes may be constructive, and that would be great to map sociologically, as far as security culture goes.

Still that's exactly NOT what El Errante has been doing here... rather pompously depicting Exarkhia as, like, some rather homogenous anarchist commune, in sheer rupture with capital, that's all fighting in the same direction. Maybe, for better-informed insight, he should have a few chats with the old anarchist dude who's got an impressive multi-lingual library in the neighborhood?

Of course nobody has The Truth on anything, but some people have been around there long enough to give you some more historical perspective of the area. Like, you know... there's been years of much bigger and energetic anarchist activity over there, beyond just occasional riots and that lil "Saturday Night Fever" at Polytechniou. For once, the latter used to be starting out from another spot in Exarkhia... much closer to Kolonaki.

Just sayin... over-inflated revolutionary rhetoric and representations are a thing. They aren't always as productive as you'd think.

"complaining about meat, no fucking bike coop (LMFAO) and a "sea of consumerism" is like some sort of bizarro world."

You know how from a distance that makes you sound reactionary as fuck? What else are you after... "femwhinists"?

The squat in the photo, some of its members are very close to the syriza regime. Very very close. In exarchia lately there have been many americans last few months. general feeling here is that they are cia guests of syriza. Nothing is as it seems here in exarchia.

Homeland Security Investigations troll we can all judge how scared the Trump regime is about US visitors to Exarcheia. The photo includes more than one squat, and Nosotros is associated with, among other groups, void network, a hard core group of nihilists. CIA guests of Syriza? Try again, and for the @news moderators--in Greece we were waiting for this troll. IPN should be banned, or even better, exposed.

so you just slipped up and admitted that @news logs IP addresses. classy. funny how you protest so much about what you deem to be 'troll comments' anybody else would not dignify them with a response unless there is some truth in it?

it's pretty obvious they're recording them to some degree as they've already handed a bunch of IP-based bans. this is a wordpress theme so the IP of each comment is provided by default to admins, that's just how WP works. the question of "logging" is superfluous because if AN isn't doing this, interested third parties, like wordpress, easily can.

How do you know @news has "already handed IP based bans"? Are you in the collective?

accessing it via certain IPs on the Tor network

1) This is drupal, not WP
2) Drupal also stores IPs
3) We use a plugin to drop the IPs from the DB every 30 minutes
4) Any server can still determine what IPs are connected to it. We block IPs (via iptables) after a certain number of connections are made (20 by default).

"void network, a hard core group of nihilists"

LOLWUT? Then you go on trying to sound all serious and even dramatic? I almost lol'd off my chair, really!

I am the CIA guest of Syriza. I have come to study the anarchist movement closely in order to write up my dossier on the feasibility of new luxury condos and Syriza offices above the hip ice cream shop on Benaki.

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