Populations on Target – book from Group against Detention Centers, Musaferat (Lesvos) and Initiative for Total Army Objection (Athens)

plh8usmoi-sto-stoxastro-june2016Preface to Populations on target

The story of the points of contact between Athens and Mytilene starts long ago enough, when both political groups of the current publication made the choice to build bridges between them in order to make the contents of their actions and refusals against authority and its individual manifestations, intersect. Although the groups seem to be «single thematic» – antimilitarism for the Initiative for Total Army Objection from Athens and struggle against detention centers for Musaferat from Lesvos – there is a common desire to confront the system that generates and nourishes oppression and exploitation within the context of economic and political organization produced by capitalism and the bourgeois state.

Guided by the process of building this resistance, against both militarism and anti-migration policies, our contact started in spring 2015, when it began to appear more clearly that the choice of the dominant groups concerning «the migration issue» would follow several bloody paths. It would also give particular emphasis to the increasing militarisation of the management of large populations, complying with the standards of the already initiated options for addressing social resistance and «internal enemies» in western societies, through modern security, repression and social control doctrines.

As a result of a fertile exchange of content, we met after May Day 2015 at Bineio Squat in Lesbos, expressing concerns about the military-police management of populations, using the example of migration and tracing self-organized, anti-institutional ways of resistance and struggle against barbarism and militarism. By then, Lesvos had already had an enduring and often macabre experience of the war against migrants and constituted for a long time a passage to Europe for those who have been sent outside the borders of their land due to western plundering itself, by means of war or not. At that period, we were talking about «organized deaths» and hundreds of dead at the water graves of the Mediterranean, our analyses were shedding light to the dark future of incarceration in concentration camps as a choice made by the dominant groups for the «surplus» migrants, our estimates were highlighting the key role that armies were expected to play in controlling migrants’ movement; but a year later, experience came to prove that no foreknowledge is as brutal as the events themselves, when produced by armies, nation-states and their borders.

During this past one year, state barbarism showed its «teeth» a lot of times, determined to stand relentless against border crossing by migrants who, in this way, challenge the core of the bourgeois civilization of the West. Fortress Europe showed once again its murderous arsenal, reconstituted itself without reserves and inflexibilities and entered a state of emergency in order to «preserve» the «democratic» ideals of «european civilization» from the advent of the «barbarians». With the usual tool of diffusion and magnification of fear in western metropolises, aiming at the elicitation of broader social consent against «jihadists/islamists/terrorists», but also with the appropriate background of the last attacks in Paris and Brussels, trench warfare in Near and Middle East and Africa, zones that have been paying for centuries the price of western atrocities on them, has moved to Europe. Armies in the streets of metropolises came once more to prove the obvious: that «peace» is an integral part of the military process.

In the canvas of this «peace», «humanism» was very easily incorporated, in relation to the irrevocably military/repressive management of the mass of migrant populations – in particular, of those segments that do not meet the standards for cheap labour in the service of capitalism. Migrants, having always been the «result» of battlefields, are once again caught in the vortex of international militaristic imperatives for their management, experiencing on their own skin the rawness of the false dilemma «humanism or barbarism», facing hermetically sealed borders, NATO and other military forces placed there for their deterrence.

Since last year, some things may have changed, but the policy of illegalizing migrants and the philosophy of extensive militarisation as a «necessity» to address the «threat from the East» remained the same. The present publication does not attempt another analysis of the famous «refugee crisis», that seemed to fall «from the sky down on our heads» over the past year, transforming not only the main political agenda and the human geography of the map of Greece, but also the map of resistance to this crisis. It pursues to open in public the debate about the results of this military/repressive management, to highlight what militarism really is, not as a deviant ideology of bourgeois civilization but as one of its structural parts, to track its institutional persistence to control and stifle sociopolitical resistance and reveal its ideological and material diffusion at the level of everyday life. To highlight the active role of the greek state in the implementation and dissemination of security ideology and its crucial position-attitude in geopolitical rivalries. To critically evaluate the experience of the example of Lesvos and the NGOation of solidarity on the island – with very few exceptions of self-organised stances – and convey this critique to the fields where solidarity and dignity are being collectively fought for.

Currently, Lesvos is probably in a standby mode, without the experience of «migrant waves» that lasted from summer 2015 to February and March 2016, when Macedonian borders were shut down and the agreement between EU and Turkey was signed. However, the neoliberal recipe of the famous «revolving door», that is the occasional opening and closing of the tap, still makes the island one of the most important passages to Europe, especially if the agreement between EU and Turkey collapses. During summer and autumn 2015, media eyes were turned to the beaches that demarcate the edge of Europe, but it was in the mainland that the sequel was about to unfold when the detention center of the island was to territorialize the philosophy of the state of exception, sometimes as an Authentication Center with «open gates» and sometimes as a Hot Spot incarcerating thousands of migrants.

At the same time, the «refugee crisis» moved from the border areas to the parks and squares of Athens, to be confined later at detention centers-prisons in many areas of the greek territory under the watchful eye of the army personnel. A new normality has emerged into our lives: life in the barracks as a model of population management. Piraeus, Elaionas, Elliniko, Schisto, Malakasa, Skaramagas, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Lamia, Karditsa, Volos. There – and elsewhere – «non-spaces» are set up, fences, internal borders and enclosures are demarcated, carrying humanism of the barracks to everyday life.

The brutality of the military-police management already produces its own spontaneous explosions, with dozens of big and small uprisings, protests, food abstentions and hunger strikes in most of these «infrastructures« (sic). Last year, we were thoughtfully tracing the possibility of common struggles against anti-migrant policies and militarism that pervades them, but now we are even more confident of our stance: Standing by the migrants, consciously foreigners, against the culture of individualisation, of capitalist and state barbarism, nations and nationalism, borders and enclosures. In common struggles, until the destruction of the last military camp.

Initiative for Total Army Objection (Athens)
Group against Detention Centers, Musaferat (Lesvos)


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