THE DESTRUCTIVE FIRES ARE A STATE AND CAPITALISTIC CRIME
In the burning rubble and death left behind by the menace of “development”, the social rage towards the bankrupt world of authority is growing
The events we have witnessed during the last days in Athens are truly shocking and have cause grief and rage to everyone. The fire that broke out in many different places of the city left behind a carnage of dead people, thousands of hectares of burned forest, and devastated whole areas and settlements, leading to an immeasurable environmental and social destruction.
From the very first moment, the state and the media attempted to present it as a “national tragedy caused by an “asymmetrical threat” aiming to destabilize the political and social life, while turning this dreadful tragedy into a field of petty-political confrontation between the government and the opposition on the handling of its tragic results. Crying crocodile tears cannot, in any case, cover up the criminal responsibilities and anti-social role of state mechanisms. Just like in the case of the destructive floods in Mandra, and ten years before, in the murderous fires in Ileia and Euboea.
While for many decades, the state destroyed every form of social self-organization for the protection of the people against natural disasters, as generally, and then replaced it. And now, it is expressing its weakness and reluctance to deal with the consequences environmental and humanitarian destruction, a stance deeply rooted in its nature, structure and orientation, leaving society vulnerable to its harsh repercussions. An outrageous fact if considering the chronic underfunding of social care works (fire-preventing, flood preventing and anti-seismic protection work) in combination with the waste of state funds on military equipment, especially when it which has suffered by such catastrophic events so many times in the past.
These tragic and shocking events are neither unfortunate incidents nor a system’s deviation, but inescapable and escalating effects brought upon the environment and society by larger or smaller interests that derive from the State and support it. This is evident in the case of East Attika, which has been, for more than thirty years, the field of relentless speculative exploitation, because of the excessive pressure, promoted by the central state policies and the capital, for the continuous expansion of the metropolis of Athens. Moreover, it has been an “Eldorado” for the construction and real estate businesses, since it has been a premium residential district for the middle and upper classes and a profitable field for the development of tourism industry.
So, the emergence of hundreds of fires the last thirty years -throughout Mount Penteli and Mount Imittos, their foothills and the adjacent coastal areas- that have turned the forests into desserts in order to reclassify them to other land uses and finally to included them into the city plans, are not coincidental. In this context, the tragic events of the July 23rd 2018 could have occurred in many other cases in the past and it is possible to happen in the future. This deadly fire was just one out of hundreds which have broken out in the wider region, though this time it spread uncontrollably within a densely populated area.
At this point, it is important to note that the fire which broke out, despite how quickly it spread because of the strong west winds blowing in the area, is no “asymmetrical threat” as the prime minister shamelessly announced in order to justify the size of the human tragedy, imitating other ridiculous official statements made by a former minister in a previous disaster of 2007. Since the wind’s direction was stable, the way the fire spread was predictable and the area it burned down more or less limited.
The fire started in the foothills of Mount Penteli in an area of low vegetation as it had been recently burned down, it moved to the east, towards a forested area, burning the biggest part of the settlement of New Voutzas, leaving behind dead people dead, and moved through a densely forested area to the settlement of Mati towards the seashore. Along its course, Marathonos Avenue was the only potential firebreak to its course, where ground fire-fighting units could have intervened to halt the advancing of fire. From the very first moment it was obvious that if the fire was not stopped at this point, either due to the weakness of the state’s fire-fighting mechanism or because of the extreme weather conditions, it would proceed to an inhabited area, threatening thousands of human lives. Thus, it is inconceivable that, though, since early afternoon, it was known to the state officials about the fire was advancing towards inhabited areas with no possibility to block its course, since nothing similar has been ever before attempted from the ground, they made no attempt to evacuate the settlement or inform the residents, even till the very last moment. In addition, state mechanisms did not even try to mobilize sea vessels in order to rescue hundreds of people who fled to the coast to save their lives from the flames, but only hours later, when many people had already lost their lives.
All the elements that contributed to this tragedy, like the building planning, the lack of fire protection and evacuation plans for inhabited areas, the false managing of road traffic, the lack of forest protection e.t.c. as presented publicly indicate the inability and irresponsibility of the state mechanisms, their criminal cover-up of and entanglement with smaller or larger private interests. Beyond the failure of state plans and the even poorer execution by the officials, these devastating events point out in the most violent and profound way the deep anti-social nature of the state, which, in a moment of a tremendous social crisis, when thousands of human lives were in danger, it didn’t show any reflective ability and attitude to rescue them. On the contrary, its inertia increased the disorientation, the complacency and the inactivation of the residents and visitors facing the destruction, with tragic consequences. And it was because of the self-motivation and the solidarity that were developed between the people who faced the fire and all those who came to help that this tragedy did not get even bigger dimensions. The state remained from the very first moment a cold, distant observer of the human drama, oriented towards handling the political cost, covering-up and permuting of the responsibilities and controlling the rampant social rage for the burning rubble and death that the state-capitalistic conflagration of development is leaving behind.
In the case of Western Attika, the fire of the 23rd of July, which burned down a forested area and many houses in Kinetta and the adjacent settlements, luckily without any human victims, had profound causes. The site where the fire broke out in Geraneia Mountains and the area which was cremated, was already planned to become a mining site of bauxite by the Mutilinaios group of companies. The previous months, the Anonymous Mining Company DELFOI – DISTOMON A.M.E. had applied for permission to conduct research in a vast area in the Geraneia Mountains, which was rejected by the Regional council for environmental and social reasons, one of which being the fact that this was a forested area. It is a real war against nature and society, which is an essential part of the system, as the war that ravages many parts of the world.
Within the context of fierce class exploitation and attack towards the society and nature, the destruction by fires is a result of the criminal policies of the state and the capital, a result of the -murderous for the people and destructive for the environment- nature of the social, political and economic system, which in the name of “development” and profit, does not hesitate to destroy the mountains, lakes and rivers in order to transform them into industrial districts, to sink whole villages and devastate the health of the people, to turn settlements into waste dumps and to plunder the ecosystem. Thus, fires are a very common practice for the disdain and the destruction of the environment in order to exploit it later, through mining, casino, apartments and tourism… We should mention that today the restructuring of the political, economic system is characterized by unprecedented aggression against society and nature, which includes selling out the public natural resources and areas to the private capital that is carried out by the Greek state under the guardianship of E.U. and IMF.
At the same time, worldwide, the environmental destruction and dramatic climate changes point out the total bankruptcy of the political, social and cultural system which is founded on the social-class competition and aggression against nature and human societies. A very characteristic example is the case of the tragedy caused by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, with more than 1,800 dead, mostly poor colored people – many of whom were murdered during the police and military operations to control the city– and hundreds of thousands homeless people as a result of the state indifference and hostility towards them. As the Republican parliamentarian Richard Baker stated then in a cynical way; “We finally solved the issue of social housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” The state made good use of this destruction for the final displacement of the majority of the poor colored people from the city, and opened the way to its capitalistic development, restructuring and transformation, based on business activity and capital profitability. ‘’I believe that now, we can make a new start. This blank page gives us great opportunities” said Joseph Canizaro, a major contractor.
Likewise, the fire that burned down forests and settlements in Eastern Attika and led more than 90 people to their deaths, as well as the fire in Geraneia Mountains and Kinetta and many more cases like these, are for the state-capitalistic system “opportunities” of the exploitation, “utilization” and development of business activity.
In conclusion, the solutions for the defense of life, humanity and nature by the threatening devastation, destruction and death offered by the state-capitalistic system as inevitable consequences of “progress”, are not to be found within the system but in its destruction. The small but valuable struggles that occur today (from Lefkimmi in Corfu, Epirus and North east Chalkidiki to Agrafa and Acheloos) against the phenomena of total destruction which spreads death, pollutes the natural world and destroys local communities are barriers which prevent and stall it and defend all those that can be saved. However, these struggles must become points of awakening, deeper and conscious radical criticism and fight against the state and capitalism.
It is also very important to support all those in need and promote mutual aid as the most significant human value, and of social self-organization as a practice that overcomes the parasitical state, the antisocial institutions and the hypocritical behavior of all kinds of political elites.
SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE WHO WERE DEVASTATED BY THE FIRES IN ATTIKI
NO TRUST TO THE STATE AND ITS MECHANISMS
SOCIAL SELF-ORGANIZATION-SOLIDARITY IN EVERY ASPECT OF SOCIAL LIFE
RESISTANCE TO THE CRIMINAL STATE AND CAPITALIST DEVELOPMENT
AGAINST THE LOOTING OF NATURE, STRUGGLE FOR LIFE, LAND AND FREEDOM
Anarchist Political Organization – Federation of Collectives