The United States, and Union Square, has had a long history with anarchy, though not as long as the Greeks — they named it. Despite what the dictionary may say, anarchy is not simply nihilism, anomie, or the total absence of rules, but rather an anti-authoritarian movement in favor of autonomous communities operating on principles of mutual aid, voluntary association and direct action.
Exarchia, where the latest reported riots began, has been a center of Greek anarchy since the mid 19th century. It is home to students, artists and intellectuals as well as political radicals. Since the 1967 US-backed military coup, which collapsed in the mid 1970s, Greek anarchist groups have been increasingly violent.
Although the events of the last several days are news to me, it is nothing new to Greeks. There were riots following this year’s November 17 commemoration, as there are most years. The Greeks are exuberant in their politics.
Let’s wish them the best as they sort through this most recent tragedy.
(Photograph courtesy of The Library of Congress)
UPDATE (2/22/10): Next Left has a post marking the death of Colin Ward, “the leading anarchist thinker and writer of post-war Britain,” who died on February 11, 2010.”