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(en) Greece: The general social, political and economic situation in Greece and the Greek anarchist movement

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 15 Apr 2005 11:05:59 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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After the collapse of the so-called "existing socialism", in most countries of
the world capitalism inaugurated a series of promises together with some cries
about the "end of history" and so on. But as none of the then dreams of
capitalism went as wished, we have already entered in a new phase where the
capitalist sovereignty is manufacturing a new consent, via ideologico-political
promotion, on the one hand, of so-called security and "anti-terrorism" and the
acceptance, on the other hand, by all people - if it is possible - of a social
consensus that has been created and continues to be created with capitalist
production. Thus, we see everywhere the so-called welfare state shrinking and
disappearing, mass political parties losing the reason for their existence and
everything being moved into the arena of merchandising, everything for sale.


In Greece this situation is being attempted to be built and solidified with
some particular "national" terms. And we say particular "national", because
despite the general tendency of capitalism for globalisation, the particular
capitalist arrangement of the country continues to de dependent on state help
to conserve and further the maximisation of its profits. So, Greek capital it
is not a non-existent identity. It is, of course, dependent on the central
financial powers of the European Union and those of the USA, but this
dependance - especially over the last decade - has brought Greek capital into a
more beneficial position with regard to the other economies in the Balkan area,
where it already plays an important role.

During recent years a complete Americanisation of political life in Greece has
been attempted and almost achieved via the almost absolute yoking of the
country to the chariot of American "anti-terrorism" - on the side of the USA -
and the essential participation of the country in the wars in the Balkans and
in Asia, and for this the clear and natural responsibility lies with the former
"socialist" government of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement). At the same
time, the country, through the clammy mass media had been drawn into a kind of
official "informantry" with an attempt to transform a large number of people
into informers, on the occasion of the "break" of the armed marxist-patriotic
organisations of "November 17" and ELA (Revolutionary Peoples’ Struggle), after
the requirement and with the guidance of American intelligence and other
similar services.

With the government of PASOK in power for almost 20 years after 1981 (with the
exception of the interval between 1989 and 1993), the effort to passivise Greek
society was the number one objective. Thus, we reached a point where the
complete Americanisation, dependance at the same time on the European Union,
the new big National Idealisms such as the success of the Olympic Games in 2004
and the establishment of strict "anti-terrorism" were considered as renewal,
hope and prospect, that with the recently-fabricated illusory arguments for a
supposed "participatory democracy" have changed Greek social and political life
in recent years at a high level.

To show how the nature of capitalist sovereignty in Greece has changed at a
high level it appeared also from all the backstage for the change of leadership
- and supposedly of policy - in PASOK in 2004. It was attempted impress on the
majority of the population that the changeover between Kostas Simitis and
Georgios Papandreou in the leadership was enough by itself to bring about a
change of policy in favour of the population. This was something, of course,
that for another time, had been proved a lie. Now it seems that "Nea
Dimokratia" (New Democracy), the right-wing conservative party, with its leader
and now prime minister Kostas Karamanlis, which won the last (March 2004)
elections, is the selected choice of the American and European sovereignty in
order to promote their interests better in Greece and the wider Mediterranean
and Balkan area.

Also with the electoral victory of the right-wing conservative party, the
existence and consolidation of a bipartisan system in Greece was once again
confirmed, despite the fact that the traditional Stalinist Communist Party of
Greece (KKE) managed to increase its vote slightly and still maintains a
somehow powerful force within the trade unions.


The Greek economy depends on international capital, American but mainly
European. The former PASOK government and especially the former prime minister
K. Simitis, as a real supporter and protector of European capital and its
interests (and especially German), managed to include Greece in those
country-members of the European Union which fully associated economically
amongst themselves (ONE), but this became possible only after mass
privatisations, a direct sell-out of the public sector, ferocious violations of
even the most basic democratic rights which had been won after long and usually
bloody struggles, an almost total revision of the whole system of social
security and wages. To achieve this, the former government had the help of the
then opposition and now government of Nea Dimokratia, which, on the one hand,
appeared to be close to the working class and the people’s interests, but on
the other hand, in the background, was loyal to the extreme liberalism of the
market as it is, promoted further cuts in wages, benefits, social security
etc., something that it is already doing now that it is in government.

But the biggest fraud in contemporary history took place in 1999 through the
Athens Stock Exchange. Through this fraud, the money of thousands of people was
stolen even through government advertising before the elections of 2000,
telling the people that if they invested their money in the Stock Exchange then
all their financial problems would be solved! But one sunny morning the Stock
Exchange "collapsed" and the people’s money ended up in the pockets or in the
bank accounts of executives or other close friends of the then government. None
of those responsible have ever been held to task for this fraud.

Apart from this, we also had the introduction of the Euro in Greece in 2001,
something which created lots of problems and now half of the Greeks owe money
to the other half and all together in the State, banks or private loan and
other similar institutions. Despite the important role of Greek capital in the
Balkan area, the Greek economy is one of the last in the European Union in
terms of development, although there was some recovery in the last year mainly
because of the preparations and investment for the Olympic Games. But almost
everyone was expecting worse days to come after the Olympics.

An important ally of the former "socialist" government was the controlled trade
unions, especially those who lean towards the former ruling party, PASOK. The
General Confederation of the Workers of Greece (GSEE) stuck to the union
sectors of the four biggest political parties (Nea Dimokratia, PASOK, the
Communist Party and the Coalition of the Left) and was unable during these
years to even organise a successful 24-hour strike; the only thing it does is
praise each government. Almost every president of the GSEE becomes a member of
parliament afterwards.


Over recent years, one of the biggest social struggles was the struggle of
unappointed teachers for the ASEP (High Council for Personnel Selection) in
1998, when the then government wanted to "make an order" in the appointment of
teachers mainly in secondary education, but which, in reality, wanted to set
the terms of the whole case supposedly through of the introduction of a system
of "meritocracy" in their appointment. This pushed not only the concerned but
also wider social groups into revolt and there were also in some cases wild
clashes with the police forces. Leftist and anarchist groups also participated,
bringing their own mark to the struggle and that’s how the clashes with the
repressive forces happened. Of course, the reformists and their allies finally
managed to extinguish the revolutionary flame which was lit during the
mobilisations. But responsibility belongs also to the leftist groups and
anarchists who remained only for the clashes with the police and did not manage
to form a total platform of demands with which they could push forward the
whole struggle. If these demands had been adopted by the majority of teachers
then the left and the anarchists could have been protagonists in the struggle
of this section of the workers.

The struggle against reforms in the social security system (1999) was another
serious struggle against the government's plans. The government, in accordance
with its economical and financial policy towards the country’s incorporation
into the European Monetary Union (EMU), introduced legislation to increase the
pension age and other similar "radical" reforms of the whole system which was
met with rage by almost the entire population. But again the reformist parties
and trade unions, especially those who lean towards PASOK and the Communist
Party (KKE), managed to extinguish every revolutionary tendency and hope and
led the mobilisations onto a path which was brought no danger to the regime.

We had also the struggle of local communities against the destruction of their
local natural and ecological environments (since 2002) because of the
construction of stadiums, freeways and other works for the Olympics Games. We
must particularly mention the struggle of the locals of Makrygiani-Filopappou
(areas almost in the centre of Athens) and the struggle of the locals in
Argyroupoli and Ilioupoli (south-eastern suburbs of Athens) against the
expansion of the DEI (the state electricity supplier, which wanted to expand
its establishment there in order to cope with the demand for electricity during
the Olympics). In these struggles, especially the one against the DEI,
anarchist groups participated from the very start, forming an autonomous local
resistance committee beyond and outside any political party control or

In 2003 and 2004 one of the main issues that the various leftist groups and
anarchists focussed on was direct resistance to the Olympic Games. Central,
local and regional demonstrations were called, and also propaganda material was
printed and distributed widely. These manifestations had one aim for a
significant section of the anarchists: to destroy the competitive, commercial
and nationalistic spirit of the Olympic Games. One of the central slogans was
"Let’s destroy the Olympic Games in the country where they were born". But once
again there was no total perspective, giving the impression that the only ones
against the Olympics were the anarchists and some lefties, and not other
broader sections of the population.


The migrants are another important issue in Greece over recent years. At the
moment roughly over a million migrants live and work in Greece. Most of them
come from neighbouring Albania (more than 600,000), but also from other Balkan
countries such as Bulgaria and Romania. There are also thousands from the
countries of the former USSR, especially from Georgia, Ukraine and Russia, and
also from Poland. In addition, there are lots of Filippinos, Pakistanis,
Iraqis, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Egyptians, Sudanese, Sri Lankans, Indians and
others. Only a few of them legally live and worke in Greece, as only in the
last two years have there been attempts by the State to register them and to
give them "green cards" for residency and work.

The vast majority of migrants work in the hardest and dirtiest jobs, where
Greeks do not want to work, in various small factories and small businesses.
Many migrant women are servants or do similar jobs. Thousands of migrants also
worked in workshops for the Olympic Games. A significant number of women,
mainly from the former USSR, are particularly oppressed because they have been
forced by underworld networks to work as prostitutes.

It is unnecessary to say that the myth about foreign delinquency, the
unemployment which has been created by the presence of foreigners and in
general racism against migrants, are theories and practices which are popular
in Greek society during recent years. This was also contributed to by the
almost complete absence of a State immigration policy and the brutal and
barbaric confrontation by the police and other repressive forces against the
migrants and also the stance of the unions which is identical with the racism,
especially those which are controlled mainly by the KKE (Communist Party). In
the detention camps spread throughout Greece where migrants who have tried to
enter Greece "illegally" are detained, living conditions are very poor.
Deportations are also a daily phenomenon.

There are some leftist groups and publications which are pre-occupied with this
issue and with their aid, for some years now in the big towns, there have been
cultural migrant centres or info centres operating, where various
demonstrations are organised, legal and other information provided, activities
against deportations held, Greek language classes etc. As well as anarchist
groups working with the migrants and a wide range of publications such posters,
leaflets etc are also in languages other than Greek. But these interventions
are not so specific and with a perspective and these political forces, the
anarchists included, do not yet have a more specific project of political
action, nor the necessary reflections to achieve even limited results in this
sector. Most of the times these forces are running behind of events.

On their part, the migrants themselves, or at least some of them, have started
organising. Filippino women servants formed a union several years ago called
KASAPI and recently the same was done by some Albanians and workers of other
nationalities. Also, Albanian workers have organised and participated in
strikes, mainly in agricultural workshops in rural areas.



Before we say anything about anarchist communist tendencies, groups and similar
organisational attempts in Greece, we consider it necessary to give a short
retrospective history.

Greek anarchism first appeared during the last quarter of the 19th century as a
result of the then unfavourable economic and social conditions of poverty,
distress and the dependance of the country on European capital, but also as a
result of the importing of revolutionary and radical ideas from the European
area. But despite the generous and proud attempts by some individual activists
and a few very small groups, mainly in the western Pelopponese and in Athens
from 1890 on, it was not possible for any particular tendency to appear and for
the most part the beliefs of the individuals and groups involved reflected an
ideological mixture including almost everything, from beliefs about individual
terrorism to a fully undefined synthesis of anarcho-romanticist and
anarcho-workerist ideas, in which some christian-social and other ideas were
also involved. Only between 1896-1898 and 1916-1925 were there some more or
less anarcho-syndicalist groups which tried to intervene in the unions of the
time and the working-class struggle.

>From the mid-‘20s and until the popular uprising against the dictatorship at
the Polytechnic School in Athens in November 1973, apart from some rare and
individual cases of activists, there was no organised anarchist activity in
Greece. Very simply, anarchists were a rarity. The main reason for this was the
almost complete domination of Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism within the
working-class movement as a result of the Bolshevik coup in Russia and also of
the succesfully repressive and opportunistic policy of the Communist Party of
Greece (KKE), which after the end of the Second World War and the German
occupation participated initially in the government and found itself just one
step from the total seizure of power. But there are also some other determining
reasons: the existence of an atrocious dictatorial regime (1936-1941), the war
and the German occupation (1941-1945), the civil war (1947-1949), the
American-backed police and terroristic State regime (in the ‘50s) and mass
migration to the USA, Canada, Australia etc. Only during 1963-1965 did some
radical ideas amongst the left wing of the popular movement of the time start
to reappear but a new military dictatorship came (1967-1974) and added its
contribution to the whole situation.


Before we say anything about the reappearance of anarchist ideas and activities
in Greece after 1973, we must clear up - to avoid any misunderstanding - that,
at least typically, anarchist communism and Greece are incompatible. Because
apart from some small groups - which although they tried to do something, never
managed to create a tradition and a perspective and for which we will talk
about later - it has been nothing else. Of course in Greece, and until today,
there are lots of anarchists who refer to communism or anarchist communism, but
they do not do it frequently, because they do not want any confusion with the
Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which was always very critical and violent
towards anarchists. Besides - to give an example - this was the reason that the
anarchist Editions "Diethnis Vivliothiki" ("International Library") - which was
active since almost 1972 - when they published books and magazines, in their
translations of the various articles, where there was the word "communism" they
replaced it with the word "anti-authoritarianism". (This was really bad since
organisations as "Movement Communiste" for example, not only were authoritarian
but also were not anarchist or libertarian...)

SINCE 1973:

Since November 1973 (a small anarchist group participated in the uprising in
the Polytechnic School), but basically since 1974, after the fall of the
military dictatorship, and during the ‘70s some anarchist groups appeared. But
again we had no crystallisation of a particular tendency and what dominated was
a mixture of ideas and practices influenced by the Situationists, May ’68, the
counter-culture movements of the ‘60s, together with a mixture of beliefs from
almost all historical tendencies of anarchism. The biggest majority of those
involved were university and high school students and really few workers. Some
groups tried to be more specific, such as the "Omada Symvouliakon Anarxikon"
(Group of Council Anarchists) and the "Omada Anarxosyndikaliston" (Group of
Anarchosyndicalists), which apart from some leaflets, small pamphlets and some
activities did not leave us any other tradition or perspective.

We must note that with the fall of the dictatorship and almost until the end of
‘70s there were very few anarchists who participated in the attempts to create
an autonomous workers' current through the formation of base unions in the
factories and a few wildcat strikes. But, the KKE managed to destroy these
attempts through its extremely powerful structures of the time.

In 1982-1983, there was an attempt to form an anarchist federation of
synthesis, but it was mostly an attempt at critisism and theory rather than
something practical with a perspective for the future.

Until then, the "Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists"
had not been translated into Greek with only the first reaction by Errico
Malatesta being translated and published in the first issue (Winter 1981) of
the anarchist magazine "Mavros Ilios" (Black Sun) under the title "Ena Anarxiko
Programma" (An Anarchist Programme).

During the ‘80s, some anarchist communist groups were formed and tried to
create a say. The most notable of them was the "Omada Anarxokommouniston Neas
Smyrnis" (Group of Anarcho-communists of Nea Smyrni - an almost inner suburb in
south-central Athens), which co-operated with the anarchist bookshop
"Eleftheros Typos" (Free Press) and others in producing the magazine "Anarxos"
(Anarchos). This group published lots of leaflets and participated in many
activities in its area and in central Athens. Ideologically, they referred to
the anarchist communism of Peter Kropotkin and the ideas of Murray Bookchin.

The magazine "Anarxos" in its second issue also declared a clear anarchist
communist position and stance. The magazine published five issues between
November 1983 and December 1986.

In November 1987 some of the "Anarxos" participants, together with some "Omada
Anarxokommouniston Neas Smyrnis" members and others, started the publication of
a bulletin called "Ektropi" (Diversion) with the sub-title "For the liberation
of desire. For an anarcho-communist perspective". But only one issue was

In 1986, another group appeared - the "Anarxokommounistikos Pyrinas Ano
Liosion" (Anarcho-communist Cell of Ano Liosia, a really poor working-class
suburb in the west of Athens). Basically, this cell consisted of three
brothers, who worked in the construction industry and had previously had
contacts with or were members of the Communist Party (KKE). Initially, this
cell published a small photocopied bulletin called "Aftonomi Drasi" (Autonomous
Action) and at the same time published leaflets, posters etc. Later they
co-operated with an anarchist (but not anarchist communist) circle from Pireaus
and all together published "Aftonomi Drasi" as a magazine with a better
appearance. This magazine had five issues in the period 1988-1991.

At this time another small group of smaller range and importance was the
"Anarxokommounistiki Omada 'Irida'" (Anarcho-communist Group "Iris") - from the
northern suburbs of Athens - but except for two small statements it left us
with almost no written documents or other elements about its activities.

>From March 1989 to December 1990, a comrade who participated in the "Omada
Anarxokommouniston Neas Smyrnis", "Anarxos" and "Ektropi" (his initials are
S.K.), published four issues of a bulletin called "Parekklisi se mia
Anarxokommounistiki Prooptiki" (Deviation in an Anarcho-communist Perspective).
In April 1991, the same comrade together with three other ex-members of the
"Omada Anarxokommouniston Neas Smyrnis" formed a new group called "Omada
Anarxokommouniston-Koinotiston Neas Smyrnis" (Group of
Anarchocommunists-Communalists of Nea Smyrni) and they started the publication
of the bulletin "Gia mia Anarxokommounistiki kai Koinotistiki Koinoniki
Armonia" (For an Anarchocommunist-Communalistic Social Harmony), mostly known
to us as just "Koinoniki Armonia" ("Social Harmony"). However, in August 1992
this comrade resigned from the group which almost at the same time broke up,
but today S.K. still publishes the bulletin "Koinoniki Armonia" by himself, so
far publishing 26 issues. The same comrade has translated and published in
separate pamphlets articles by Kropotkin, Bakunin, Berneri, Magon, Cleaver and
others (16 pamphlets up to now) in the series with the name "Epoikodomitikes
Katedafiseis" (Contructive Demolitions).

Shortly before the publication of "Koinoniki Armonia" a magazine called "Ta
Paidia tis Galarias" (The Children of the Gallery) published by two comrades
who previously had close ties with the two anarcho-communist groups of Nea
Smyrni. Production of the magazine is still going on (10 issues so far) and
ideologically represents a mixture of anarchist communism and council
communism. They have also published some other documents (some of them in
English), participated and still participate in a number of social struggles
and maintain contacts with groups and publications from other countries.
Parallel to these publications, in the ‘90s a left communist circle appeared
with the name "Anexelegkta Proletariaka Stoixeia" (Uncontrolled Proletarian
Elements). They published the magazine "Tyflopontikas" (Mole) and last year the
magazine "Kommounismos" (Communism).

In 2002, the publishers of "Koinoniki Armonia", "Ta Paidia tis Galarias", one
of the editors of the university student magazine "Undercurrents" from
Brighton, UK (who was from Greece) and some others, created an editorial group
called "Kokkino Nima" (Red Thread), publishing initially the book by G. Dauve
(J. Barrot) "Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement", then a book
under the title "Anarxokommounismos. I dierevnish tou mellontos sto paron"
(Anarcho-communism. The future’s investigation into the present) which is a
compilation of anarchist communist articles by Kropotkin, Cleaver, Alain Pencan
and a third book about the collective Kolinko from Germany.

(Addresses: "Koinoniki Armonia", P.O. BOX 76148, Nea Smyrni 171 10, Athens,
Greece and "Ta Paidia tis Galarias"/"Kokkino Nima", P.O. BOX 76149, Nea Smyrni
171 10, Athens, Greece, email kokkino@otenet.gr .)


Parallel to the groups and publications mentioned above, during the last three
years in Greece some other groups and movements have appeared which, amongst
others, refer somehow to anarchist communist, council communist and other
similar ideas. These groups are:

* "Eleftheriaki Protovoulia Peiraia" (Libertarian Initiative of Pireaus). This
is just one comrade who hosts this remarkable collection of mostly anarchist
communist documents in Greek (but he has not appeared over the last 6 months)
at http://www.geocities.com/redblackflag . Email: redblackflag@yahoo.gr .

* The website http://vrahokipos.stedana.gr and email vrahokipos@riseup.net with
a really good collection of documents in Greek.

* The magazine "Eftopia" (means "good locality" or something similar) (P.O. BOX
72086, Ilioupoli 163 10, Athens, Greece) which mostly refers to communalist

* The groups "Provokatores tou Isyxou Ypnou" (Provocateurs of the Calm Sleep)
and "Esoterikos Exthros" (Internal Enemy) from Thessalonika, which amalgamated
at the start of 2004 into one group under the name "Tristero". They publish two
magazines, "Nea Topologia" (New Topology) and "Anares" and they have a really
good website at http://www.tristero.gr email tristero@tristero.gr and

But despite their serious beliefs and frequent references to anarchist
communism and other similar ideas, these groups have not occupied themselves
with the historical document, the " Organizational Platform of the General
Union of Anarchists" and they cannot be intentified as clearly

In 2002, one of the undersigned (Dimitri or James Sotros) translated for the
very first time the "Organizational Platform of the General Union of
Anarchists" into Greek, but did not publish it immediately. In 2003, he sent it
in some close comrades and friends by email and it began to be known in some
close anarchist circles in Greece. In August of the same year, he started
co-operation with a comrade from Pireaus and they decided to publish it as a
separate pamphlet with a preface written by the second comrade. But during this
procedure news became known of the formation of the "Omospondia Anarxikon of
Dytiki Ellada" (OADE - Federation of Anarchists of Western Greece), members of
whom had independently translated the "Platform" together with all the
reactions and the responses by Malatesta, Makhno, Arshinov and others. This
actually became a book published in March 2004.

OADE was formed in the middle of 2003 and consists of anarchist groups and
individuals from towns in western Greece sush as Nafpaktos, Distomo, Patras,
Agrinio, Astakos, Arta and Ioannina. They also have contacts in Athens and
other places. Most of its members live in Agrinio, Patras and Ioannina. In
Ioannina, the members of OADE form a group called "Xeironomia" (Gesture) which
is an anarchist university student group and local section of the
"Antiexousiastiki Kinisi" (Antiauthoritarian Movement). (This scheme is the
continuation of the Antiauthoritarian Movement Salonica 2003, which was an
anarchist co-ordination project between some Greek anarchists to organise the
actions against the European Union Summit in June 2003 in Thessalonika. Now it
is a country-wide co-ordination project and publishes the monthly newspaper
"Vavylonia", Babylon).

For the OADE, the term "western Greece" does not represent any narrow
geographical criterion but only the decision for the anarchists who live, work,
study etc. in this area of Greece to organize themselves. The OADE has already
started its interventions mainly at a local level, that is, where its members
live, work and study. It has published a long leaflet which it used in its
intervention in the struggle of the locals of Astakos against the fish-farming
industry, which is destroying the area economically, socially and
environmentally, an intervention which was successful, since many locals
accepted this action positively. The leaflets published by OADE so far are
written in an understandable, simple language.

The members of the OADE in Agrinio initially opened an office there and the
members in Patras started the formation of an anarchist archive and also
started publishing a local bulletin called "Mavra Grammata" (Black Letters).
The office of the OADE is now in Patras, where the contact section is located.
(Postal address: P.O. BOX 1333, Central Post Office, 26001, Patras, Greece).

The OADE does not yet have its own magazine, but members from various towns
publish the magazine "Contact" (P.O. BOX 93, Agrinio 301 00, Greece
contact_agr@pathfinder.gr) (This magazine was first published in Agrinio four
years ago).

Also, we must say a few words about the "Eleftheriaki Syndikalistiki Enosi"
(ESE - Libertarian Syndicalist Union) which formed in Autumn 2003 in Athens. It
is an anarcho-syndicalist organisation with the ambition raising some important
issues among the Greek working-class movement. At the moment the organisation
consists of small groups in Athens, Paros, Rhodes and Trikala and tries to
maintain contacts with similar organisations from other countries. But it seems
that it is more sympathetic to the international ILS-SIL initiative
(International Libertarian Solidarity). Some of its members are sympathetic to
the "Platform". For contact there are the emails ese_union@yahoo.gr and
redblackflag@hotmail.gr .

Generally speaking, this is the background and the current situation of
anarchist organisational attempts in Greece. We do not know how and if the
OADE, the ESE and the other groups and publications will complete their aims.
However, what is sure is that some issues have already arisen and something has
started to move. Time, but also the particular initiatives and interventions by
these groups, will tell...

Spyros Fragos, OADE (Greece) member
James Sotros, OADE international relations and Melbourne ACG member

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