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Athens, Pella, Thessaloniki and anywhere else

pt-2013-05-02_editorialCapitalists show us their teeth and we just laugh about it. We will always have a Manolada or a Pella situation[1]

In Athens a few days ago a 28-year old was killed by thumbs after beating. The reason was simple and clear, he asked for the unpaid salaries of his girlfriend and he was killed by the boss. Capitalists speaks more clearly and says that whoever wants salary will die. Of course the incident in Athens failed to mobilize anyone, and almost did not make an impression on anyone. Someone died because requested salary, so what?

Of course, what the TV channels are saying is the top of the iceberg. Is a way of decompression valve of the social rage and a general diffuse the situation. The media and disfiguring and de-class the events, stripping them off from their particular social context, ultimately make them seem as the “random” incidents, regardless of the social context and the specific social relations and balances that govern us all daily and led us to the events.The coments of the TV commentators and their reactions, both quantitatively and qualitatively, show us and define publicly the methods and the limit of exploitation. But under each decompression valve there is a whole pot boiling. The limit of exploitation then comes to be the human life of the Greek proletarian. Thousands of violent incidents to workers by employers are recorded daily in Athens and Thessaloniki but they never make to the public, they only go to the public if someone who is greek dies. All these workers, humiliated or beaten without their salaries, are giving up. And here starts the main discussion, about who ultimately defines this fucking line that only if is crossed things go public and are denounced?

The answer is simple: all of us who are in the capital relation, this line is defined by the class struggle. Our class reflexes are absent because as a class we are nonexistent. The working class in Greece is not there, and this is not meant in the sense that there are no workers or employees, but that there is no proletariat, ie workers who realize their place in the social-class-relations from a negative perspective, and as such contradictory structured subjects, they do something about it. The class in Greece as a general defetishized phenomenon has not happen yet. The limit therefore comes, as the dialectically balance between the two poles of capital relation(ie labor and capital). But these poles are not only contra-components within a contradictory unity(capital relation)-but also interrelated every minute and every moment through their contrast and at the same time their mutual dependence-this is the contradiction of the proletariat as the opposite side of the capital contradiction. So the limit is defined by us and defines us at the same time, and this limit in Greece is, that apart from the collective reflexes of the nation idea, or the charity culture or the sweet lost memory of the Keynesian state, there is nothing left. The proletariat reacts spasmodically, by “recycling” the same debris of capital fetishism it supposed to counter. The nation, the gender relation, the state, the law etc in the eyes of workers seem as the only way to limit their devaluation. So instead of a proletarian movement against the capital relation, we have the constitution of more separations between them by them than uniting.  The situation is rather tragic.

But the limit is clear and the state does not take long to support it. After the Bankruptcy Act., the flexible / insecure status of working relations was only the beginning. Now, the law came as a more formal recognition and protection by the state of the current conditions and tactics of capital accumulation: up to 3 months the employer is free by the state to owe wages without any legal punishment by the law. This move recognizes as necessary, and supports officially by the state, the practice that bosses use in this moment and recognizes them the right to do so (as the State and the law are been restructured more widely and deeply in these circumstances of accumulation during the capitalist crisis). So the state and capital try to pass the credit and dept (which is always an inherent characteristic and  condition of the capital and money intermediation) from the shoulders of the bosses in the shoulders of the workers. What happens when a capitalist asks for credit from a bank? as quite rightly says W.Bonefeld “it means that I(the capitalist) can not pump enough surplus value and get it to the market , so now you(the bank)will give me as much value (money) I need and i will give it back with interest.” As he says, and as is evident, the situation is precarious, no one knows if the capitalist will actually be able to do what he promised. Precarious situation for both the finance capital which gave the lown and the capitalist(who may end up owing money). Now in times of poverty for workers and for a part of local capital, the solution is simple and clear as the state puts it: “You(the capitalist) don’t need to be afraid for owing to the bank, you can take a breath, and you can owe to the workers. Anyway they have no labor movement, the working conditions are already insecure and flexible, and they are afraid. The huge mass of  reserve workers and only the promise of salary is sufficient enough to make them work“.

Of course this does not mean that we are heading to a situation where the labour force is totally worthless. The capital and the value presuppose and require their own generalized mediation, and therefore the labour power as a commodity, and every commodity has a price. All these mean just yet another nail in the coffin of the devaluation of labour power. Some let’s not rush to talk about possible “commons” among the most impoverished workers unable to reproduce themselves efficiently due to unpaid wage,so they transform themselves as “commoners” or as solidarity Traders of alternative economy or collectivist business! Although currently there is no movement, if the bosses seem confident that they can not pay three months salary but the worker will find somehow a way to live and reproduce itself, and of course he will swallow it’s sadness of not getting any salary and will show some understanding if that happens, then this is (also) because an entire movement withdrew from the class struggle, from class practices within the current contradictions and created a parallel, alternative semi-capitalism  “solidarity economy”, with vegetable gardens, with bazaars and generally an illusion that somewhere, there may be another world outside the capital relation.The central matter always in human history was the way we reproduce ourselves, and this is also the matter now. So why someone fight for a better salary with his union(these are hard stuff) and not go to an alternative solidarity store to get what necessary in a lower price, or if someone has some capital from his salaries why to continue being a proletarian when he can become a collectivist businessman? Here we do not claim that these structures of solidarity (this term here is an “umbrella” term but anyway ….) have no role and place in the competitive class movement as supporting ways to halt the devaluation of the proletarians. Sure they have. The problem is when they are considered something more than that, ie when they are considered revolutionary and anti-capitalist projects themselves as counter power to the power of capital [2]. Then the withdrawing from class antagonism towards a singular alternative capitalism dressed as “anti-capitalism” is inevitable. In Greece this is what happened. The movement (to some extent) committed suicide by becoming semi-capitalist, semi businessmen etc. Alternative solidarity networks contributed as a supplement to normal and peaceful devaluation of labour power ……

Probably bazaars and collectives are an image from the future which ultimately is the dialectical historical result of the current situation. But history is not a closed dialectic, a closed isolated system, but contains subjects, which to some extent made ​​their choices ….


[1] See also the very interesting article by Barikat.gr about the Manolada inscident and the older of ours on the situation of Archangel Pellas. The Manolada incident was an incident where 4 Pakistani strawberry workers were shot by their own land owners/employers, when they asked to get payed. The owners refused to pay them cause they were illegal immigrants. Many people then, said that the owners had connections with the ultra-nationalist party “Golden Dawn”

[2] Here, it is obvious that are criticized together collectivist alternative business, solidarity economy etc which may have several differences between them and clearly they are attributable to separate and distinct critique for each. But here they are criticized together not arbitrarily but because despite all their differences they have something in common in their ideological core: the notion that there is possible a parallel world outside of the capital, which is not subject to it, and perhaps this world acts as a counter force to capital. This notion is completely arbitrary. The capital separates human life only as forms, not in content. The content everywhere and always remains the value-form, even where it does not appear in the traditional way as a commodity or as money. Individuals in capitalism live separated lives in separate spheres of social practices but remain the same individuals .Value as social relationship and practice can not be partial, but exists as value only as a generalized relationship, it’s distinctive feature is, that value is established as a social generalization. Holding to the above we understand that the perception of both the commons, collectivist economy and solidarity economy can not work as counter force to capital within the capitalist society. Because if it was like this, then the first  anti-capitalist shelter would be the family, because by the first impression it is not subject to capital, cause between the members there are not commodity relations. But this is not true, the family with the gender roles etc works as unpaid reproduction of the commodity labour power and it’s survival depends on the ability to sell this commodity effectively. The commons and the solidarity economy is not more than fields and spacetimes within the capital social relations, where capital itself is not directly responsible for the reproduction of labour power, but indirectly, through the other pole of the capital relation, the workers. who socialize the costs of their reproduction among themselves.


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