In such critical times like ours today, one expects worker and student revolts in France, in the birthplace of the political revolution of bourgeois capitalism; also there one awaits the return of the proletarian spirit of the French Communards who were 'storming the heavens' (Marx). One recollects the student revolts of the sixties, sees Molotov cocktails flying through the air and their explosive flaring up; one is looking everywhere to spot 'Danny the Red' behind the barricades in Paris.
Nowadays, who still talks about George Lukacs' "History and Class Consciousness" (1923), about the birthplace of the accumulation of capital, about the slave resistance and revolts, about Ancient Greece, about the fons et origo of the current Greek student, pupil and youth rebellion and its brutal suppression? Except Olympic pan et cirsenses, when last did news about contemporary Greece make world headlines for a week? How many US citizens know where Greece is situated, especially something essential about its history, about Miletus?
Except academic specialists and Marxists, who in the world knows that most of our current problems originated in Ancient Greece, in Miletus, in the "Ornament of Ionia" (Herodotus)? In Miletus the ideological seeds of 'superior' capitalist ruling class consciousness were sown, at the same time it was accompanied by the inculcation of an 'inferior' slave mentality.
In the current age of Orwellian global terrorism and treachery, Lukacs' friend of youth, the Marxist philosopher of scientific and philosophic hope, Ernst Bloch, reminded us that the only real effective weapon of self-defense that oppressed Man ever possessed was (and still is) his functioning brains, that is, the scientific activation of his philosophic capacity and its transformation into real possibilities and possible realities. When this formidable, creative, human weapon of mental self-defense constantly really begins to pass from one natural human brain to another, as truth and knowledge, then it starts to capture the class imagination of all workers, that is, at last, fundamental, militant thinking and thought become revolutionary actions, material forces and emancipatory praxis. The dialectics between scientific praxis and philosophic theory form multiple social processes, transhistoric totalities and total negations of authoritarian and totalitarian domination.
The whole changing process is the truth and the truth is always the changing whole. Our historic truth is the whole accumulation of capital, it is our true history.
Across the millennia precisely in the intellectual realm, via indoctrination, manipulation, education, culture, socialization, religion, ideology, lies and myths, the respective ruling classes, from Plato's 'Republic' to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" have launched a global war of ideas, a mental holocaust, a heinous crime against toiling humanity for which there is nearly no reparation.
Before we launch any 'conscientization' or "ideology" project we should be very clear that all ruling ideas are the ideas of our respective modern and ancient ruling classes. The same applies to language, culture and religion.
Reading and listening to the daily world news, to the ideological fabrications of the huge mass media, the official reports and ideological comments about the current student unrest in Europe, is tantamount to confusion, to not to understand head or tail of what is really going on in this world, is to know nearly nothing about capitalism, about history, that is, about millennia of accumulation of capital, profits and power, but also of fairy tales, myths, lies and hoaxes.
As mentioned before, we urgently need functioning brains, independent thinking and thought, praxical and theoretical logics, revolutionary science and emancipatory philosophy to capture what is happening on Wall Street, and why the current student and youth protests are flaring up all across Europe.
To accomplish this, we have to reactivate our social working class memory, which has been wiped out of official history, we have to reconquer our transhistoric anamnesis, to get rid of our political amnesia, to realize that we are still ancient Greek 'speaking tools' and not members of the ruling 'zoon politikon' class; finally, we have to eliminate impunity, to comprehend that there is no international amnesty for the butchers of the global working classes.
Now, to understand against what the Greek youth is protesting for millennia already, patiently accompany us on a brief historic retrospective voyage..
In the spirit of Spartacus, the revolutionary slave, the contemporary young rebelling chickens are coming home to roost.
What happened in France a few years ago, is now taking place in Greece, and it may occur tomorrow in the USA. Violence by State order, denominated fascism or Nazism, are not 'democratic' accidents, are not failures of Christian morality or civilization. Since the very ancient Greek inception of the early stages of the capitalist mode of production they were (and still are) intrinsic, essential features of master-slave relations, of expropriation, robbery, genocide, ostracism, crucifixion, exorcism, vandalism, terrorism, of competition, monopolization, concentration, recession, depression, wars and alienation.
With other rudimentary appearance forms, what is happening now in Greece occurred there already more than two thousand years ago: the bloody protests against the heinous exploitation and dehumanization of capital accumulation, euphemistically called human history. Hence we have to tackle the problem radically, to study and eliminate its main radix, to uproot a whole perverse capitalist system.
It all started in the ancient Greek city-states, in the slave-owning aristocratic or democratic poleis (πόλεις). Later it became cosmopolitan, metropolitan, globalization.
Miletus, a flourishing ancient Greek colony in Asia Minor (Turkey), was the birthplace of European, Western philosophy, of Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes, but it was also the real cradle of European culture and Western civilization, that is, of history, of the accumulation of capital, profits and ruling class power. Nearly anything of historic significance that happened thereafter, till this very day, concerns capital accumulation, profit mongering and maximization, class struggles and ruling class hegemony and military power.
Let us look at the above a little more in detail to understand what ab ovo was (and more than ever still is) threatening life on this planet. Never mind the sweet discourses, at no stage capitalist development was humane or humanist; it never served the class interests of the poor, of the 'speaking tools' (Aristotle) -- for them, as an exploited social class, 'good capitalism' was and remains a diabolical myth, an instrument of mind and thought control, of empty electoral promises.
In those days, when the "Wise Man" Thales of Miletus was still alive, aristos, the best, came from across the ocean, from the Mediterranean Sea; ariston men hydor, the best, the aristocratic, was water, it was not yet an arm of mass destruction, a hydrogen nuclear bomb to throw on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. It was that which gives birth to everything, and into which everything flows back again, into the accumulative arche, the profitable hyle, the hegemonic hystera, in a word, into money. Water became philosophically an exchange value, but not yet holy water, a patriarchal logos, a Platonic summum bonum, a bourgeois ratio, a capitalist world spirit, a Hegelian "Weltgeist".
Between the 8th and 5th Centuries B.C., Miletus had a rich, flourishing economy, was a busy sea-port, which reflected an enormous original primitive accumulation of capital in Asia Minor. From the harbor of the "Ornament of Ionia", the Milesian ships sailed in all directions in the Mediterranean region, a colossal merchant navy, protected by an invincible war fleet. They were fully laden with merchandise, with fabrics woven and dyed in its local industry, with decorated garments carpets and pottery. Its woollens were highly in demand in Athens and Southern Italy. The famous cloak of Antisthenes of Sybaris was produced in Ionia; its zones of exotic flowers and beautiful pictures was a Milesian masterpiece of embroidery in Oriental style. On all ancient Mediterranean markets Milesians were present. It seemed that this ancient wealth, pomp and glory would last forever.
What all this meant and implied, was explained in Karl Marx's "Das Kapital" under the section of the original accumulation of capital. But this inexorable capitalist destructive force of nature and society was not only economic, it influenced all spheres of class society. Then already, two and a half millennia ago, for the upper classes, Miletus was a flourishing consumer society, an ancient Beverly Hills, with a special Haute Couture. More significant, it was an ancient bellicose Pentagon, a mighty Greek colonial power. It conquered over 90 commercial cities from the Hellespont to the Black Sea (Euxine). Ionia was simply the Malibu and Hollywood of "high society" and "culture". About the opulent, decadent ruling classes, A. Jarde, a French scholar, gave us a vivid picture:
"Phocacea, Ephesos, and the other great towns of Ionia, peopled, like Miletus, by a busy throng of merchants, craftsmen, and sailors, were all the scene of the like activity and the like wealth. Everywhere there was the same taste for luxury, the same love of fine fabrics and rich jewels; everywhere there were the same banquets and festivals.
The courtesans of Ionia were models of elegance and culture, and all antiquity would marvel at the friend of Pericles, Milesian Aspasia."
Believe it or not, Ionia had its own Miss Cosmos beauty contests, its own "Irene Saez", the beloved courtesan "wife" of Pericles, Aspasia.
Xenophanes of Colophon vividly portrayed this wealthy class, whose honored members were strolling on the Agora "clad all in purple, with their hair beautifully dressed, shedding the perfume of subtle ointments." Of course, the waterfront workers and the slaves were not depicted by Xenophanes.
Not only was Miletus a sea-port, its wealth came from overseas, as mentioned before, it came from water, from the accumulation of exchange-values. It was the first Greek city-state to use coined money, as exchange value in trade. All merchandise could be exchanged across this medium. Furthermore, although no powerful priest caste existed, the upcoming, oligarchic, religious muff was already smelling in the early capitalist, mufty air.
The famous Temple of Apollo at Didyma was not only a "Vatican", that is, the shrine of worship for the whole region, it was also the Ionian "Bank of Ambrosia". The wealthy temple authorities minted coins, acted as employees of a type of "Central Bank"; they held deposits, and supervised the whole Mediterranean commercial business.
Another highly prized commodity was the sale or the possession of "speaking-tools", of slaves. Many of us, especially the current student and youth protesters would have been condemned to the category of 'speaking tools' in Ancient Greece. There was no color bar for slaves, the traders captured "barbarian" slaves in Asia Minor, even in northern Europe, and they were sold across Hellas. The slave-owning merchant and ship-owning classes of Miletus became so rich, that even the legendary wealthy King Croesus of Lydia came to their managers, "CEO's" and "billionaires" for funds. Ionia, especially Miletus, was certainly the most suitable birthplace of capitalism and of its ideological superstructure, of Western Philosophy. In commerce, coined money was the best exchange value; in philosophy, water was the best arche into which everything could be changed, "rechanged" and exchanged.
What happened to the Greek slave protesters of yester year?
Of course, not only is history the history of class struggles, also written and recorded history is mainly the history of the ruling classes, thus, we know very little about the ancient slave revolts, about the artisan and peasant unrest. We know practically nothing about the archaic revolutionary roots of Spartacus, Thomas Münzer, Danton, Robespierre, Babeuf, Blanqui, Bakunin, Marx, Simon Bolivar, Jose Marti, Lenin, Trotsky, Che, Castro, etc.
Permanently, social conflicts had haunted Miletus; they did not only involve the wealthy social classes, even more so, they shook the very foundations of ancient labor, of the "free" population, the slaves, the "wretched" of Ancient Greece. In their eternal wrath and sempiternal frustration, the latter social classes, mainly the exploited and tortured slaves, occasionally killed aristocratic wives and children; in revenge, in the style of the coming feudal Inquisition, the tyrannical, aristocratic or democratic rulers publicly burned the plebeian underdogs and "witches" alive on the market squares of Ionia.
Everywhere in the ancient Greek colonies such burning, living, "non-human" or "sub-human" torches were serving as horrendous warnings against any future attempts to change the status quo, the then slave-owning society, and in the coming European fraternity, the European Union.
Later this practice was continued in the Greco-Roman Empire, by means of crucifixion, in the "Third Reich" as gas chambers for "dirty, filthy Jews", and in the Vietnam War, as extermination of the "communist" Vietcong and currently of the extreme leftist, international "terrorists". The ancient Greek slave's hirrient death-cries, and the hesternal Spartacus sparks in agony, were destined to reach the contemporary colonial, neo-colonial and anti-imperialist emancipatory movements, to reach the current young Greek and Turkish protesters.
Especially after the Asian 'barbarian' invasions Miletus began to decline. It was following the Hegelian earthly path of all that comes into existence merits to pass away. It fell under successive occupations, ranging from the Byzantine to the Seljuk (14th century AD) and to the Ottoman (in 1400 AD). Even materially, Miletus faded into oblivion; its famous port became useless, was eventually destroyed by the river Maeander's silt. Finally, the ancient city was abandoned around 1600 AD. Once the famous big statue, the Miletus-Harbor Lion, proudly was guarding and guiding the merchant ships towards the 'Ornament of Ionia'; today it is covered with muddy water, as testimony of the rise and fall of capitalist imperialism, of the current global cess-pool of economic recession.
The history of Miletus is a fata morgana of what could happen to the "Statue of Liberty" and to United States global hegemony.
Therewith we have reached contemporary, metropolitan 'Hellas' again, the current European young protesters and brutal police terror. Meanwhile the time bomb is ticking for the USA and Europe too; any social catalyst could have nefarious effects.
The student, pupil and youth revolts acquired vast solidarity demonstrations outside Greek embassies and they are spreading across Europe and beyond. Already clashes with protesters have reached Rome, Madrid and Copenhagen. According to Reuters, there were demonstratioms in: Spain, Denmark and Italy, Moscow, New York, Italy and Cyprus. According to Reuters, protesters in Spain, Denmark and Italy "smashed shop windows, pelted police with bottles and attacked banks." 11 arrests in Spain and 62 in Copenhagen. Until now solidarity campaigns have been organized in 20 countries.
And, believe it or not, protests have also taken place in Turkey; the rebel spirits of Miletus are waking up, are multiplying themselves, are globalizing themselves.
In Berlin, on Tuesday, the day of the burial of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, killed by Greek cops last Saturday, solidarity demonstrations also took place. According to a leaflet distributed to the German public, the protesters related the student unrest to the current capitalist crisis, to the problems of accumulating capital and profits in the age of globalization and to its apocalyptic consequences:
"There are good reasons for the protests in Greece. They are a reaction to the economic crisis, unemployment, the destruction of social gains and precarious living and employment conditions. All of Greece is making a stand." http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/dec2008/berl-d12.shtml
Also it is clear that the protests have nothing to do with colonial looting or corporate rampage:
"It’s not just vandalism by some extremists, but has its roots in doubts and fears for the future—the complete lack of the social and economic means for a reasonable future."
Like in the 1960s these revolts of the youth will spread globally, because even in the USA a "reasonable future" is fading away. Look at this:
"The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of US workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week jumped 58,000 to a seasonally adjusted total of 573,000—the highest figure since November 1982."
Finally, placing the Greek student revolts in international historic focus, yes, the recession in the US is on the scalar waves, it is faster than anticipated by the leading economists. Many statistics and figures, although some are manipulated, indicate a dramatic decline in the American economy and although not reported by the mainstream mass media, a growing social uncertainty is becoming rife. A global recession on a scale not witnessed since 1929, is beginning to devour millions of workers, including thousands of members of the once opulent middle classes. However, the European imperialist grave-diggers are beginning to fall into their own capitalist quagmire; the international imperialist chain is threatening to break at various weak links.