I first came across this book in a social centre in Exarchia, Athens. I was so excited to find it. As an academic involved in 'the movement' in the UK, I felt very much an outsider to the movement in Athens, where I had recently moved. The book seemed like a tool that I could use to make sense of one of the most remarkable and exciting events in recent Greek radical history, in the context of an antagonist movement I wanted to understand and feel part of.
I cite my aim in reading the book here because this is also one of the central aims of the editors in creating this dedicated, thoughtful and respectful collection. It's an ambitious aim, ambitiously executed by a collective that is building up a reputation in the movement for high quality and consistent reportage and analysis of the anarchist reality in Greece.
The Athens revolt of December 2008 - that took place, intensely over several days, and less so over several weeks, after the police shooting of 15 year old Alexis Grigoropoulos in Exarchia (the self-proclaimed heart of the radical antagonist 'scene') - is the primary point of reference for this collection of nineteen texts. December is contextualised first in relation to the geography of Athens; then through a series of accounts and critiques of December itself; and finally in relation to the crisis. What does December and the crisis have to tell us about the potential for radical social change through revolt? What gave birth to the revolt and events that followed? What did these events make possible in return?
At the heart of the book the chapters dealing directly with the revolt of December provided some fascinating and emotive accounts of events. Subjectivity is a powerful currency here, and for me those accounts that tell stories and do this through exposing, reflecting on and facing the authors' own subjectivity, feel more faithful to events and their legacies. Yiannis Kallianos' story-telling (ch.8) and Hara Koukis' impressionistic account (ch.9) are notable here. The first posts on Athens IndyMedia following the shooting, recounted in the Metropolitan Sirens' texts on counter-information (ch.7), also left me with a strong sense of Athens during those days, of the explosion of possibilities and counter-power then. Yet in these accounts, as with many movement situated texts (written by those who understand better than any the emotional commitment involved in resistance) what is left unsaid is any acknowledgement of fear or...