Greeks seem to enjoy rioting. As I write this, there have been recent riots regarding their nation’s potential bankruptcy and issues that go along with it that I can’t begin to entirely understand. This book covers one such example and records the experience by speaking with individuals involved. It starts with some history of Greece and previous riots. It gets into an explanation of the events surrounding the December 2008 revolts seventy-four pages in. To put it simply, the police killed a young anarchist and it caused thousands to mobilize in direct action against the police and government. Many businesses were destroyed and many people injured in the resulting riots. The riots, however, were most likely more than just an outpouring against the police for the death of a teenager.
And this book seeks to explore those feelings with a wide range of folks. The stories are rough—taken from interviews—and occasionally translated poorly. But the perspectives are vast: stories from immigrants, anarchists from various cities throughout Greece, shop owners, and students are all included. There are also communiqués from an assortment of groups and some essays from the editors. And in that sense, it is an important piece of history in documenting the struggle and reaction by this group of individuals who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Underneath these narratives, however, are bigger issues that remain unanswered: what is the point of violence in protest? Is it effective? What is the next step beyond street protest and violence? Are there other means of achieving goals than that path? Even some of the voices in the book question the use of violence, but many of those interviewed seemed to think it was necessary. I have real concerns about violence as a means of protest. Many of the issues for the protestors—whether they realize it or not—go much deeper than the murder of a teenager, as senseless and wrong as such an act is. There are economic and social issues, as well, that seemed to be the cause of much of the angst by protestors. The murder was just the spark that set it off.
All that being said, I still find this book to be important. Not only does it show the history of the times, but also perhaps more importantly, it shows that there is power in organizing behind such events as these and it is through that organization and solidarity that hopefully some change might occur. –Kurt Morris (AK Press, 67 4-A 23rd St., Oakland, CA 94612)