Note from TIOJ: Following on from our last post about Paco Ortíz, here is the most recent communiqué from Gilbert Ghislain, who is mentioned in Ortíz’ final letter. Twenty-seven years ago, Ghislain was sentenced in France to eighteen years in prison for several bank robberies. After seven years behind bars, he managed to escape from prison by helicopter and land on Spanish soil, where he was eventually caught and sentenced for various crimes committed while he was a fugitive. In Spain, he experienced the full-on brutality of the newly-created FIES regime. Further sentences were leveled against him before he was recently extradited back to France under an international arrest warrant issued by the French government, at which point his lawyers expected his imminent release due to the fact that the warrant actually expired on November 5, 2010. However, Ghislain remains imprisoned thanks to a petition requesting that he serve 11 years of his original 18-year sentence.
Nothing new, except for the need to complain. I also need to communicate with the outside regarding the campaign that, I hope, is going to begin this month. I have a computer and I’m making good use of it. I even had a PlayStation. They’ve invented computer games—ultraviolent adventure or strategy games—and the guys spend their time shooting at virtual people and treasure-hunting. I also play, but I burnt out my PlayStation 15 days after I got it. It keeps you busy yet it’s absurd. They didn’t have them in Spain. The examining magistrate once allowed a PlayStation into the bunker at Picassent, and the compas no longer left the activity room. They tell me it’s not much different on the outside: in order to survive the everyday, each one creates their own little world. Basically, everyone is seeking a refuge to escape reality.
When I arrived in Spain 20 years ago, I had just escaped from a French prison. In the space of a few hours I jumped from one reality to another, leaving my compas in France. In Spain I would encounter other compas and other struggles. The most combative guys had created an association, but APRE was nothing political. The compas were looking to escape and along the way fight injustice. The only possible getaway was escape. It was the answer to everything that shaped imprisonment. It wasn’t conceptual, but it obliged you to fight the arbitrary, wherever it came from. The compas had distributed a communiqué among the different prisons explaining that no prisoner could judge another prisoner. The violence back then was different. APRE condemned acts of violence toward prisoners and warned that the Administration’s imposed violence would degenerate. I agreed with all that and more, since—prioritizing escape—on two occasions I even requested that riots not take place. That was before I myself sank into prison violence. Sixteen years later, when I left the QI, everyone was either dead or totally fucked up. In the yards, other generations had arrived and everything had changed.
The Spanish state had turned toward remaking its prisons. In fact, FIES was created not so much out of a need to address the legitimate demands posed by prisoners, rebellions, and escapes, as out of a need to lock away the most troublesome prisoners. That couldn’t be done with the APRE prisoners in the yards, and paradoxically, it was they who requested that the prisons finally be democratized. Thus, the most dehumanizing bunkers had to be built—real machines for destroying any hint of opposition. The same year that FIES was created, the Spanish state invested a colossal sum of several billion euros to begin what was then called the “Prison Rehabilitation and Construction Plan.” This was in 1991. The point was to make prisons more human, or at least bring them more into line with European conceptions regarding prison policy. Sixteen years later, when I left the QI, everything looked lovely but nothing was human anymore. Existential emptiness and misery had taken root in ultramodern prisons.
I arrived in France a few months ago. After 20 years away, I again find myself in a French prison, and I don’t know what mechanisms brought about such changes. I was completely isolated, and news was taking years to reach me. But although different in form, the changes were as radical as those in Spain.
In France, they haven’t gone to the trouble of rebuilding their prisons to make them more dignified. It’s the European country ranked second-to-last when it comes to human rights, especially those of prisoners. And that includes non-EU countries like Serbia. In last place is Moldova. The laws enacted get increasingly more repressive and excluding, without actually changing anything.
The new generations have arrived here as well, and emptiness has won. The old guard got out some time ago, after an entire life imprisoned in conditions as poor as those in the country next door. Prison is like a giant leech that, instead of feeding on blood, feeds on everything a man is made of. Even time dissolves, and I’m no longer conscious of its corrosive effects. Here time is distilled into countless droplets, and each second seems to last forever, to the point that time loses its meaning. Without any signposts to mark the stages of life, the days are as long as months, and the years as long as decades. That’s also prison, and as time passes, all of us are experiencing it more and more.
From Tokata (September 1, 2011):
Note from TIOJ: Our resistance is peopled with countless heroes who fight and die in obscurity. One of the purposes of This Is Our Job is to eradicate that obscurity by bringing their stories and voices to light. One such hero is Paco Ortíz.
Born in Antequera, but cosmopolitan, thrown into the world. His trade: repo man of surplus value, bank robber feared by the Civil Guard and other zombie hordes. To stop him, they once shot 114 bullets into the vehicle he was traveling in. By sheer luck, only one of the two people inside was injured. Paco, unscathed, heard the Civil Guard pricks coming, heard them ask: “And if we finish them off?” As well as a fighter, a strategist. The two successive Puerto I rebellions were coordinated by him and another outstanding Paco (nom de guerre: B——).
With a record of 117 “miscellaneous staff” taken hostage, who years later gave him a smattering of applause: “If we’re ever held hostage again, we hope it’s by you, since you’re a gentleman.” The truth is that they wanted to cut certain guards to pieces.
During an escape from Málaga, he took down a pig who had managed to lodge a bullet in the roof. That pistolero fucked up. If a gun is pointed at you, it’s best to not act like an imbecile. Another time, during a spectacular rebellion at Ocaña, the guard posts were attacked with Molotovs. One of the guards was hogtied. A pack of pigs got caught (with many guards taken hostage). The warden had to come negotiate and they almost trapped him as well.
Constant demands, hunger strikes, self-mutilations. Hundreds of formal complaints that went nowhere. Years and years of the special FIES regime without giving up the fight.
At fascist Valladolid they tried to gas them. Someone woke up at 2:30 a.m. and there was a hellishly toxic odor in the air. Thankfully he was able to wake his comrades, who made such a racket in the prison that the vile fascists couldn’t stay hidden. “No, you see, it appears some solvent fell into a heating duct.” Such bullshit.
He escaped from Cartagena by jumping off a 12-meter-high outer wall. He had no rope, and when he landed he fractured his ankle and most of his tibia. Nevertheless, he managed to escape and recover. Pity that such a serious injury would cause him pain for many years. Absolutely more stoic than a ghost, he never complained about it. Before his death, in an attempt to escape from Valencia, he managed to stick a “missile” (a rather large shiv used for self-mutilation and making demands) into his own heart during a rebellion there.
Finally, in deed and word he fought for freedom. A great comrade, friend to his friends, and very much enemy of “the enemy.”
Ideologically, he was in the ranks of the Idea.
He paid 23 years. Tired, alone, hopeless, he wrote to us, his comrades, apologizing and saying goodbye.* Another state crime.
I’M SURE THE EARTH IS BEING GENTLER WITH YOU, FRANCISCO ORTÍZ JIMÉNEZ!!
—José María Pirla Oliván, CP Albolote, M5
*Posthumous letter from Paco Ortíz:
Badajoz; July 18, 2003
I’ll try to make this letter short, concise, and above all posthumous. As most of you know, I have paid 20 consecutive years of prison, almost 17 of which were spent in either solitary confinement or, since 1991, under the FIES 1 RE regime. After a brief six-month interval of freedom during which I got married and my wife had an abortion, which led to our separation, I have currently been a prisoner for 3 years and 13 days, blatantly under the FIES regime from day one in Málaga, Alicante, Picassent, Huelva, Jaén, and right now Badajoz.
I am an anarchist, out there and in here, because I use reason, and that’s what I have fought for on the streets as well as in prison—to leave behind a grain of sand and change whatever I can about the current state of constant violation by a most fascist and savage capitalism. Due to circumstances (23 years in exterminating dungeons), my fight has been strongest in prison (even though on the streets I also struck a number of sabotage “blows” to the enemy, which I won’t get into because of a lack of space and to protect others).
In 20 years, there hasn’t been a single year of rebellion in which I didn’t directly intervene, in all aspects: ideology, strategy, and direct action. And as is well known, we kept an entire government in check for over a decade, despite brutal repression. But what’s happening now? After three years, the only one’s left out of so many are Claudio [Lavazza], Gilbert [Ghislain], and me, and they are literally silencing us. I’ve enjoyed a few small victories over those dogs, and I, Francisco Ortíz Jiménez, directly contributed to the firing of general directors from Central Prison Administration, wardens, big-shot guards at a number of prisons, and many subordinate employees. That said, nil opportunity for action, even though where I am there is harmony among the prisoners and we hit back here and there. All in all, 99% of prisoners—and I’m talking about FIES prisoners (although the rest are more or less the same)—are generally “asleep” thanks to daily does of pills, and against that it’s not worth the daily grind of educating them one at a time to stop taking the shit that keeps them passive. Asleep! Although they walk and talk. And it’s not worth it because if “Big Brother” sees you making progress, they transfer you, and then it’s back to square one. Rationally, in an intimately personal way, and without caring about the contrary opinions of absolutely anyone else (which opinions I’m not asking for), over the past few years I have come to the decision (I actually decided a long time ago) to cease existing. I tried to kill myself several times without “success,” and each time (I am completely healthy and strong, and I look fine, with no antibodies whatsoever—a young-looking 43-year-old) I left behind letters demanding freedom for terminally ill prisoners and an end to FIES and prisoner dispersion, as well as accusing Central Prison Administration and that whole gang of swine in blue—including the examining magistrates—of inducing suicide by action or omission (the therapy for each suicide attempt is punishment).
The prison—Madrid—tried to assert, I say, that I did what I did because I wasn’t in my right mind. They required that I be examined by an outside psychologist in Huelva, and then by a psychiatrist and a psychologist—both “experts”—at the hospital in Jaén. And the results were a real disappointment to them (I’m attaching the report, literally transcribed from the original). Whatever happens, I am going to die because I have decided to do so, freely and willingly. And I will do it not by chance, but with a grand overdose of the pills they give us. I know it won’t catch on, I hope, but I would love if people reflected on it even just a little bit. And in any case, I am not dying “alone” because “I want to” (I LOVE LIFE AND I WANT TO LIVE), but because I can’t live this way any longer—like a wild animal caged in what appear to be military secret service headquarters. Where the guard dogs, under orders from their superiors, flout their own laws as decreed by the suit-and-tie vipers who govern in the name of the usual crowd. Where they don’t acknowledge any dignity other then what you assert on your own, individually. Where most of the time you have no possible “defense” other than your Luciferian voice, which they smear you with to substantiate the wild animal that you are (I’m attaching four reports, four small examples of defending your dignity alone and facing the consequences with total integrity, which integrity, courage, and loyalty I NEVER lacked). In the end, I DIE for myself, for all my comrades, for the dignity of all human beings, and for a free world of AWAKE men and women, without prisons. I love you, compas.
Defiance! Insurrection! Anarchy, freedom, and dignity!
An embrace, as huge as it is anarchist.
For the first time in history, an informal organization—a federation of informal groups on a global level—has become flesh by bleeding and drawing blood.
This key document by certain Italian cells of the IAF/IRF has seemingly been given a further edit to make it more understandable in English. It is, of course, essential reading.
From Culmine (July 13, 2011):
On November 1, 2010, Panayiotis Argyrou was arrested in Athens alongside Gerasimos Tsakalos during the wave of incendiary package mailings initiated by the Fire Cells Conspiracy. Both comrades willingly admitted to their participation in the organization. Argyrou had been named in an October 2009 arrest warrant charging him with participation in the Fire Cells Conspiracy, and he was also awaiting trial for setting fire to a city bus.
On January 17, the first Fire Cells Conspiracy trial began—the so-called “Halandri case”—and Argyrou was one of the nine defendants. In protest against the trial conditions, he and three other defendants walked out of the courtroom at the end of January and never returned.
On July 19, the trial ended with the announcement of the verdicts and sentences. Argyrou was found guilty of forming a terrorist organization, manufacturing explosives, possessing explosives, and causing explosions at the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace, the home of former Interior Vice-Minister Panayiotis Hinofotis, and the home of PASOK ministers Louka Katseli and Gerasimos Arsenis. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison out of a total combined sentence of 77 years.
About two weeks before the trial ended, he released the following public statement:
The following is the political statement I intended to make at the Fire Cells Conspiracy Revolutionary Organization trial that began on January 17, 2011. Due to the way things unfolded, I decided not to participate in the proceedings and was thus tried in absentia. Nevertheless, I am still releasing this statement because I believe that revolutionary discourse shouldn’t just be limited to courthouse interference. In addition, my abstention from the trial wasn’t a passive act of silence, but a form of political intervention against the measures imposed by the law on political prisoners and those who show solidarity with them.
I have been locked up for the past several months as a prisoner of revolutionary war—a war that seethes relentlessly; a war between revolutionary forces and the decrepit, criminal, authoritarian society we live in; a war that will continue to seethe as long as there are active revolutionaries full of hatred for this world, full of the raging desire for its destruction, full of the passion for freedom; a war that I myself chose to take part in on the side of rebellion against everything that enslaves our conscience and devastates the very foundation of our existence as individuals.
The modern, now global, authoritarian-capitalist structure has reached the heights of an absolutist reality we supposedly must accept. The almighty Western capitalist democracies are moving east and legitimizing their contemporary crusades as the “war on terror.”
They are strengthening their empires, condemning millions of people in the so-called third world to a life of barbaric misery. Those who manage to flee such conditions by immigrating are packed together in the ghettos and shantytowns of the Western metropolises, where they seek their fortunes in environments and situations that are often hostile and dangerous to them. Police repression and fascist violence, as well as the racism they suffer and the poverty they live in, usually lead them to violence—a violence directed mainly against other oppressed people, whether or not they happen to be immigrants. Protecting the capitalist prosperity and well-being of native populations requires the creation of the modern metropolis-fortress. The military-police complex is modernizing and evolving to provide order and security, confronting the violence that happens within the same social class—violence among the poor—as well as the always considerable threat of the internal enemy.
At the same time, capitalism is spawning different industries everywhere, thereby carrying out the most brutal attack ever on nature. Field by field, it is destroying the entire surface of the planet in order to benefit various corporations and satisfy the consumerist instincts that contemporary lifestyle has instilled in the civilized people of economically developed countries.
In such a climate, life assumes its emptiest dimension. The feast of capitalist promises, materialist euphoria, and consumerist happiness; the behaviors and roles imposed on us as truths; the lifestyle; the wage-slavery exalted by technocratic think tanks in order to keep our hearts content—these are the defining features of that life.
Even as a student I was against that life. I became politically active within the anarchist movement and then gradually entered the wider revolutionary milieu. At first I took part in the student protests of 2005–2006 and the accompanying confrontations and disturbances. Later on, as part of my personal trajectory of political evolution, I participated in most of the anarchist movement’s open initiatives, among which were assemblies and committees that coordinated solidarity actions for imprisoned comrades. The student marches of 2006–2007 and the fierce clashes that took place then were the catalysts that personally influenced me as well as numerous other comrades with whom I was fortunate to later share many moments of genuine comradeship.
Over the course of several months, riots and the subsequent attacks on state and capitalist targets created a permanent state of tension, fervor, and unrest. The occupied schools, the people standing guard to defend against fascist attacks, the expectations for the next march, the plans for confronting the pigs—all these things comprised, or better yet tended toward, an intensely insurrectional situation. However, it all ultimately came to an end, almost quietly. The thousands of students abandoned the streets, pacified that their diplomas and careers weren’t in jeopardy, while the political party dogs and the hard-line bureaucratic Left took stock of the struggle at the voting booths, as usual.
As a result of my participation in that movement, I realized that without individual conscience, without a clear orientation toward freedom and revolution, the masses could only offer seasonal fireworks instead of social explosions—simply creating a cloud of dust that, once it settled, was more likely to cause confusion and defeatism than radicalization. Naturally, there were also those minorities that orchestrated wild instances of insurrection, turning them into flames that warmed our hatred for the existent. We had to keep those flames burning, reigniting them at every moment and every opportunity. And it was better to seek out those opportunities, to hunt them down, than to await them solely in the mass mobilizations of different social sectors or branches of employment, which were exclusively concerned with settling and solving their own problems without caring the least bit about what was happening around them.
Gradually, together with other comrades who shared the same concerns, we prioritized the issue of our imprisoned anarchist comrades. Those abductions had to permanently cost the social peace. Revolutionary action would make it clear, using every means, that the state’s isolation of revolutionaries in the galleys of democracy would not be permitted. That was our goal, and the intent of our struggle was to show that everything hostile to revolution deserved to be targeted and struck as an immediate response to each day of our comrades’ imprisonment, regardless of the reason for their arrest. Also among our objectives were the proposal of more widespread and pluralist thought and action, a more general approach to the issue of prisons, and the highlighting of enemy social behavior (apathy, indifference, broad fragmentation).
But more than anything, our goal was to view action as a nonstop revolutionary journey in opposition to the existent, and as an inseparable part of revolutionary war. Solidarity would thus assume vital importance, escape the shelter of complaint and protest, and acquire attacking characteristics that we would spread continually within an irreducible tension.
Because if we forget the prisoners of revolutionary war, we forget the war itself. To the contrary: we must avenge our imprisoned brothers and sisters, with the final goal always being their liberation from the hands of torturers and jailers.
However, I was possessed by the urge for direct action within a solidly organized political framework, as well as the desire for a consistent presence and potent intervention in social reality. These things ultimately led me to get organized via the Fire Cells Conspiracy Revolutionary Organization, which seemed to have a well-honed political conception and was dynamically making its presence known through an extended series of arsons. The group had specifically chosen to continue taking action using the same name, which I could tell was unusual for arson groups at the time. Yet it was consistent with the views I had developed on how direct action commandos should be structured and organized. In my opinion, a permanent name makes an organization and its political framework known to “the public,” which can then become interested in and eventually inspired by its actions and discourse. It also creates a historical continuity that yields coherence at the level of the organization itself as well as the level of the individuals it comprises over time, generating a wealth of experience from which to evolve the revolutionary discourse the organization wants to projectualize while increasing the visibility of a staunch minority that maintains a presence in the fortresses and trenches of revolutionary war.
Through our activity as the Fire Cells Conspiracy, we chose to create a permanent state of war, trouble the waters of normality, and foster a new urban guerrilla mentality. We felt that this guerrilla warfare needed to spread and become the method of struggle for those minorities that rejected the existent and chose the path of revolution and violent societal destruction, turning revolutionary action into a key position.
The new urban guerrilla warfare advances a generalized version of conspiratorial action, far removed from the fetishism of means and any unproductive regurgitation of armed struggle’s spectacular fixations. It espouses the organization of conspiratorial structures that continually attack the System’s bases, mechanisms, and administrative human resources in a polymorphy of attacking actions that include vandalism and arson, expropriation and robbery, sabotage and bombings, as well as political assassinations.
Urban guerrilla warfare has not been vanquished, because neither the years of captivity nor the murders of our comrades around the world can be pulverized by the grindstone of oblivion and the defective, purely mathematical logic that wishes to see the defeat of certain forms of rupture from the existent. No form of struggle or rupture can be historically or materially vanquished as long as free-thinking rebels of conscience are prepared to rot away in sinister dungeons or even sacrifice their own lives.
Revolution is war, and like each war it means the destruction of people and things. We will also surely lose comrades, and that will increase our hatred and rage, channeling them toward the destruction of Power and its system. We draw strength from each lost comrade’s hidden story, we are inspired by their lives and their work, and we methodically carry on with undiminished intensity. Therefore, nothing is over and no struggle has been lost. If achieving one’s final goals or not were measured only by victories and defeats, that what struggle could be said to have been won up to this point? Perhaps not a single one. Guerrilla warfare is another option within the struggle, another expression of revolutionary war. As the Fire Cells Conspiracy, that’s how we define the new urban guerrilla warfare—not because we want to contextualize it historically, but because we feel that what we are proposing is a new philosophy, a new framework, and a new redefinition of methodology. Because only from a permanent position of attack are we able to breathe through the organized suffocation we experience in this society, which reeks of silent death and the stench of resignation, submission, and betrayal. We refuse to live in the manner it has predetermined for us, we take our own lives into our own hands, and we sharpen revolutionary theory and praxis. Our proposal is to create a revolutionary anarchist front with self-organized antihierarchical direct action infrastructure that strikes and attacks by surprise—in short, an anarchist urban guerrilla warfare that has no desire to be a vanguard or steer the masses, the people, or society in some correct revolutionary direction.
Additionally, in my opinion, society is the creation of a broad complex of relationships that conform to prevailing political and cultural norms. In capitalist democracies, those relationships are authoritarian—they are relationships of exploitation. The capitalist fantasy trains society and is reproduced within it, constituting the institutional framework and basic pillar of domination. Consequently, society isn’t a sum total of a given people. Rather, it’s a reflection of political systems through institutions, values, standards, and behaviors. As such, viewed from a revolutionary perspective, it must be completely destroyed to the point where nothing is left to remind us of what came before.
It’s ludicrous to still think that most people who live under Power and exploitation are deceived and incapable of realizing the crimes of capitalism and Power. Each person’s individual choices determine what we are and what position we take in this world. As revolutionaries, we can’t generally ignore the individual responsibilities of all those who—whether through their silence and acceptance, their apathy and total indifference, or finally their active participation as law-abiding citizens in the service of Power—constitute an enormous barricade that impedes the storming of the heavens. And while those active participants certainly deserve to be targeted by revolutionary forces wherever they appear, the others also merit our direct, harsh critique regarding their attitude and the choices they make.
But that critique is not the same thing as the rupture we make from Domination. The two approaches are not equivalent. The act of condemning enemy behavior can’t be considered identical to that of attacking the system’s mechanisms and personnel. The distance between the two practices should be distinct.
I am deeply convinced that we are all mirror images of our choices, decisions, and actions. In my opinion, the theory that our social environment is the basic, fundamental, exclusive axis around which each of us forms our personality and characteristics constitutes a fatalistic interpretation of the human condition—a surplus of logic. Such transgressions lead to the arbitrary formulation of “historical truths” that appear to be indisputable prophecies (e.g., “society will advance toward revolution and the destruction of Power”).
If every issue is personal, and if resolving those issues satisfies us as individuals—whether because we determine that it’s in our interest or in accordance with our code of values (which pushes us to struggle, make sacrifices, or even offer up our own lives)—then anarchist revolution must certainly be the personal concern of each person who aspires to it (keeping in mind that each one who defines themselves as a revolutionary can’t have interests that diverge from, or a code of values contrary to, their revolutionary point of view).
Therefore, revolution is an existential struggle. Existential because we struggle to assert our existence in the face of every potential enemy of our goals, our aspirations, and our selves. In the face of everything that oppresses, dominates, and suffocates us. Existential because it’s not a matter of duty or obligation. It’s a matter of the very meaning of our lives: the absolute negation of the existent.
Each of our individual insurrections wouldn’t be enough to completely dismantle and destroy prevailing social relations and Power’s civilization. A prerequisite for that taking place would be the collaboration of individuals on a collective level—in other words, groups of people of conscience who want to collectivize their negations and conspire to take action against the system.
Revolutionaries don’t just aspire to an explosion of rage. They want to methodically use their rage against the complex of domination—without being a vanguard and without having followers—while opposing the fetishization of “we are many” and the persistent attachment to the opinion that “the multitude is the heart of the revolution and the quantity of people (not their quality) is its soul.”
Often, in order to focus that mass on diving into the flow of revolutionary history, the social position of the oppressed and exploited is arbitrarily hijacked simply because the oppressed and exploited are many. Their condition is moralized and revolution is presented as a need that is righteous and just. Society is thus defined as a victimized social body while the State becomes an absolutist abuser.
As a revolutionary individualist, I don’t accept that bipolar orientation. To me, revolution isn’t a battle between good and evil. It’s a struggle between those who reject the plague of authoritarianism and those who defend and revere it. I view each person of conscience as a revolutionary subject as long as they oppose their chains, love freedom, and hate all authoritarian pigs. It’s to those revolutionary subjects that I direct my call to become our accomplices in the cause of “revolutionary crime.” Only when more people join together, each one as a totally willing individual on the side of revolution and anarchy, will a subversive force appear that is capable of making social revolution—in other words, a daring transformation of political and social relationships. Otherwise, the insurrections that break out will continue to be revolutionary vanguards, which will never be able to even nudge the possibility of social transformation in an anarchist direction.
I set revolutionary action apart from its common interpretation, and I don’t care the least bit about the opinions of Power’s subjects. Rebellion will do them some good, if they ever get around to it. If they don’t realize that, then they will spend their entire lives crawling behind educated speakers and demagogues who massage their egos to make them feel in control. All the while, those very lives will be passing them by without them doing anything about it, without them taking any initiative to act. Our role as revolutionaries isn’t to flatter them, but to rub the naked truth in their faces. Let them make their own decisions about their lives. It’s better for us to tread our path without waiting for them, refusing to accept the blackmail and compulsions of this society.
The fact that most of my political positions and views corresponded to the political position and strategy of the Fire Cells Conspiracy Revolutionary Organization was the most important factor that drove me to join them, to join a collective that was structured antihierarchically, without divisions and roles—an anarchist collective. Within the organization, we fostered our own initiative and self-education in order to devise actions and forms of struggle whose framework was the continual evolution of revolutionary thought and praxis. We had many heated arguments about that framework, about how we could heat things up and become ever more dangerous to our enemies.
The result of these internal processes was the continual evolution of Fire Cells Conspiracy actions—an evolution that immediately posed new challenges, like the qualitative change in the targets of our attacks, the development of our technical methods, and our cooperation with other conspiratorial groups.
As has already been said, the Fire Cells Conspiracy organization truly attempted to determine the necessary attainable level of development for conspiratorial revolutionary groups. The Fire Cells Conspiracy didn’t make the shift to armed struggle in a single day. It proposed and undertook—openly and publicly—to heat things up and evolve different levels of revolutionary violence, without having a snobbish or disdainful attitude toward other forms of direct action. It restricted itself to a guerrilla network that could be construed as broad because the Fire Cells Conspiracy considered and still considers all expressions of revolutionary Violence to be urban guerrilla warfare—everything from window-smashing to executions. In the communiqué released after the arsons we carried out on February 11 and 12, 2009, which were dedicated to the unrepentant revolutionary urban guerrilla Dimitris Koufodinas, we said:
Urban guerrilla warfare is a perception, a mentality, a means of organized direct action. Armed struggle is one part, but only when it is free from dogmatism and fetishization. In addition, the revolutionary potential of each attack isn’t determined by the degree of violence or the methods used. Rather, the methods are determined by their effectiveness and the conscience of the people using them. If you want to destroy a luxury car dealership, you obviously won’t be shooting at the cars, and if you want to rob a bank, you won’t be going in armed with a Molotov cocktail.
During its evolution, the Fire Cells Conspiracy went from using incendiary devices to planting explosives. After one such bombing at the Kolonaki home of Louka Katseli (who is now a government minister) on September 23, 2009, the pigs raided an apartment in Halandri. However, it’s important to examine the events prior to the time period we’re talking about.
After December 2008, an extensive dynamic of direct action developed within the revolutionary milieu.
Many people who disrupted the peaceful days and nights of 2009—seeing that the uprising was losing its impetus, spirits were calming, and people were gradually returning to their homes—wanted to keep alive and spread the flame of revolt. A polymorphic subversive discourse accompanied attacks by guerrilla groups, each of which—for their own reasons and from their own viewpoint and perspective—ushered in a fierce new phase of urban guerrilla warfare. Arson and vandalism were on the menu, while bombings, armed attacks, and even executions enriched the intensification of violence. It was a mosaic representing the broadly combative and attacking wing of the revolutionary milieu. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the repressive machinery answered back, and its response signaled the beginning of the State’s and the police’s revenge. The prestige of those entities had been greatly diminished, accentuating the esteem and fear they once inspired, but their response was carried by the same wave as the heightened violence that preceded it.
The raid on the Halandri apartment was no ordinary operation. Many were captured and some are still in custody, while others took the murky path of clandestinity. The apartment was presented by the mass media, the snitches who serve it, and the pigs from the Antiterrorist Unit as a Fire Cells Conspiracy safe house. In actuality, it’s the family home of my comrade and brother Haris Hatzimichelakis, who lived there with his cousin. His aunt lived on the upper floor. In no way was it a safe house (which the persecuting authorities know only too well given the dozens of different fingerprints found during the search). The apartment was intentionally presented that way in order to blame an entire collection of people from a broad milieu of friends and comrades that has nothing to do with the Fire Cells Conspiracy Revolutionary Organization. Friends, acquaintances, relatives, as well as people who doubtless participated (and publicly said so) in the broad revolutionary anarchist milieu were targeted and charged in the context of a generalized campaign whose objective was to terrorize anyone possibly connected to my comrade Hatzimichelakis. The wide range of people who found themselves in the crosshairs of the persecuting authorities reflects the State’s zero tolerance of anyone suspected of negation directed against it, which became all too clear after it put prices on the heads of the three fugitive anarchists known as the “robbers in black.” The State’s appeal to its subjects’ basest, filthiest instincts—snitching and informing—in order to arrest revolutionaries whose photos it incessantly shows off reveals the panic that has seized the repressive organs confronting the internal enemy. But there will come a time when that garbage—which views itself as an honorable, respectable citizenry that snitches, collaborates with the authorities, and contributes to their work without hesitation (for a cash prize to invest in their miserable, insignificant existences or for five minutes of fame to satisfy their arrogant vanity)—will feel the payback on their own skin for the choices they made. They will feel it in the worst possible way.
So the police operation in Halandri has bunched together, specifically as hostages, quite a few people who were arrested after almost every attack by the Fire Cells Conspiracy organization. This is an attempt by the police to link more and more people to the group in a Machiavellian blackmail designed to stop the group from operating. As a revolutionary and a member of the Fire Cells Conspiracy, I owe it to those being charged without having any knowledge of, relationship, involvement, or contact with the organization, its structure, or its activities, to restore the truth in an open, public context. Members of the organization are the only ones who can openly, publicly, and proudly assume responsibility for belonging to it, without calculating the cost they will pay: all those long years ahead in democracy’s dungeons.
I myself, having a friendly but above all a comradely relationship with Haris Hatzimichelakis, was often in contact with him and spent time at his apartment. Knowing that my fingerprints were all over that apartment, and realizing that a range of criminal charges had been filed as a result of the pigs’ raid, in no way was I going to wait for my turn to come. Going underground was an obvious choice for me. I was thereby able to ensure not just that I would avoid having to negotiate my freedom in court, but also that I would be able to continue my armed struggle and urban guerrilla activities. Despite my disappearing on September 23, 2009—the day of the raid—the warrant for my arrest on charges pertaining to the case was only issued a short while later. That shows the manner and method in which the authorities are handling this case. They go around drawing names out of a hat as if this were a lottery and then signing arrest warrants after a few minor formalities. I’m clearly not going to suggest how they should correctly fulfill their duties, as that would entail my asking for the more efficient criminal prosecution of revolutionaries and those in struggle. Besides, there’s no question of whether the authorities did their jobs well. They did their jobs very well, just like they did in other cases in which friends, acquaintances, comrades, and relatives of arrestees were charged by the authorities on the basis of relationships they might have had. The goal of this strategy is to isolate revolutionaries and distance them from any relationships they maintain. Thus, anyone who dares come into contact with them also risks being charged with terrorism. While I was a fugitive, I realized that as difficult as it may be for a revolutionary to be apart from family, friends, and comrades, the project of actually living without a fixed name, address, or job, is nevertheless quite helpful. You become more flexible, unpredictable, and dangerous because you alone are dedicating yourself solely to your goal and the revolutionary cause, without worrying anymore about the legal ramifications of your decisions.
My experience of clandestinity was a stern test of my psychological endurance. You must continually confront your own limits, and you often need to exceed them. Now that I know the sensation of being hunted, I feel the need to send my greetings to all fugitive comrades, regardless of the reason why each has chosen to experience the trenches of clandestinity. I wish them better luck than my own.
I also want to say a few things about taking responsibility for declaring myself to be a proud member of the Fire Cells Conspiracy Revolutionary Organization. My attitude isn’t that of a holy martyr. I don’t want to spend many long years in prison, nor am I even flirting with the idea. My attitude is the result of a coherent political position, stance, and viewpoint on life and struggle.
I feel that the act of taking responsibility honors and strengthens the position, activity, and history of the organization I am a member of, as well as every other revolutionary organization if their members adopt the same attitude in similar circumstances. This political strategy demonstrates that urban guerrilla groups are not ghosts that appear out of the void to later disappear just as imperceptibly. Rather, they comprise people like me and many others—flesh-and-blood people with names, who don’t hesitate to take their responsibility when the time comes, without worrying about the consequences. This is how we demolish the legends and fantasies that have surrounded armed groups for so long, legends based on nonsense about “agents.” We demolish the similarly foolish and baseless arguments used by the Left, loyal to the regime, that all guerrillas are provocateurs. At the same time, the act of revolutionary urban guerrillas claiming their membership shows that such options of struggle are chosen by people who, as revolutionaries, simply do not waver when it comes to risking everything for freedom. Because what’s at stake is even greater. When the masks of anonymity fall, it becomes clear that such options can be appropriated by each one who expresses themselves as a revolutionary and a negator of the existent. The rest are nothing more than feeble excuses (made in hindsight) that promote revolutionary “inertia.”
Finally, the act of claiming membership leaves behind a wealth of experience and creates points of engagement with past and future elements that make up the revolutionary movement. There are comrades just like me who are inspired by the unyielding, proud attitude of prisoners of the revolutionary guerrilla war, and they aspire to eventually play a larger role in the intensification of that war.
In this era, the capitalist system is again facing another of its functional crises, which has to do with—what else?—the economy. But instead of reinforcing collective solidarity, resistance, and rebellion in opposition to the system, phenomena like discord, deregulation, and conservatism are being further cemented. Despite it becoming more and more obvious that access to everything the system so generously promised is no longer expedient, free-market mythology has nevertheless been rooted in social life’s prevailing consciences, relationships, and behaviors for years. Capitalism is still breathing through society’s lungs, while the culture of social Darwinism is now so well-consolidated that it has become the main ideology bubbling just below the surface. However, the system is always changing. The flexibility with which it assimilates and incorporates the changes it causes is the commitment to its perpetuity. The economic crisis, as a consequence of the system itself, arrived like a Christmas bonus—not for the scum that run our lives, but for those who were nourished for so long on the hopes they were being fed and for those who were keeping up a fantasy lifestyle, deliberately ignoring and avoiding any kind of rupture from domination. Now that the veil of the so-called free market is falling, their only reward for years of subjugation and voluntary slavery is to be tossed into the dustbin of history. Isn’t anyone getting angry? Capitalism again dons its iron mask. The mythology is bleached out and the hopes become images of a nightmare future. Yet even now, when the economic dictatorship is baring its sharpest teeth, there are still calls for “voting with your wallet.” An entire generation on the streets insists on protesting for their salaries, pensions, and benefits when the most precious thing they have stolen from us is our freedom and dignity. And even though the concessions that are now being taken away were conquered after wild social conflict (in which the most radical elements also took part), they ultimately wound up just being agreements that choked us, ensuring social peace and balance.
Therefore, if history teaches us anything, it’s to leave behind the begging for handouts that the bosses are perhaps pushing us toward, and instead assume a combative position to break our chains and take revenge against every authoritarian pig. May we once and for all leave behind the negotiations over the terms of our own slavery and instead assemble a firing squad that will take aim at all those who made the decision to dominate us.
May we take advantage of the crisis as an unsettling, destabilizing factor that contributes to the system’s mutation. Such variables can be fertile ground for the actions of revolutionary forces whose goal is to spread dissidence and hatred of the existent, sowing terror among the powerful and their subjects. Revolution is violent, harsh, and blood-soaked. It is fire and battle-axes. It is pain—pain for our friends, brothers, and sisters, but also pain for our enemies. It is vengeance for the life they have forced on us. It is a war in which many will be lost and many others will take their place.
I think it is our obligation, our duty as revolutionaries, to once again bring about revolutionary terrorism. To scatter and spread fear and terror in the enemy’s ranks, lashing out at its infrastructure and exterminating all the scum who have crucial positions or ranks within the system. To give back a bit of the terror they invoke for us day after day with their prisons and courts, their mass media and the spectacle it offers, their security forces and their society of control and surveillance—a bleak, persistent terror, as imminent as the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of those professional terrorists of Power and capitalism.
We have a duty to become agents of that terror, agents who operate conspiratorially, and our tools will be all manner of weapons, from dynamite to the bullets that will rip into the heads of our enemies. We will play the role of demolition workers and prepare the final ruin of this rotten world we live in. And if it so happens that we aren’t able to experience that destruction and see it with our own eyes, we will pass away knowing we did what we could and never lowered our heads.
You as judges and prosecutors are from the privileged class, which is a reference to the share of terror you will receive because you have had a dominant position within the system for so many years, inflicting your terror contained in the pages of the prosecuting indictments that sentence who knows how many people to those garbage dumps for the human spirit you call prisons. You, who so comfortably talk about sentences and punishments that devastate people, calm and composed as if it were a natural everyday activity. We have your names written and bullet-pointed on the lists of our enemies. Sooner or later we will also write judicial indictments, and they will be written with your own blood. We will at least have mercy and not make you feel the same horror you have sentenced so many people to. One at a time, that’s how we’ll put an end to each one of you. You filthy maggots, you servants of the most abominable class ever engendered by Power to legitimize its crimes and wash its hands of unpleasantness: prepare yourselves to live your entire lives on the alert. Prepare yourselves to meet the long arm of revolutionary justice.
As for myself, I fear nothing from you. I knew and know the consequences of my decisions and the path I chose to follow. I am not alone on that path. Many people are now rejecting your civilization and your system, devising their conspiratorial plans for future attacks, just like others did a long time before me. I’m not the least bit concerned about the basis for your charges, nor am I concerned about the sentence you’re going to inflict on me. Revolutionaries don’t worry or care about such things. As for the matter of which Fire Cells Conspiracy actions I took part in and which I didn’t, you’ll never learn that from me.
Comrades, facing us is the obligation to cultivate the terrain and create the preconditions that will bring us to a situation in which we won’t retreat or stray from the path, because we won’t be able to.
And may the word “vengeance” be written everywhere, because it is vengeance that we will take for our brothers and sisters—for the captivity and torture they have suffered, for all the murders committed by Power.
And may the flame that burns inside us burn everything around us.
We will not be at peace until our blades are dulled and drenched in the blood of our enemies, and the squares are filled with piles of their heads.
NOT A SINGLE STEP BACK.
WAR UNTIL THE END.
REVOLUTION FIRST AND FOREVER.
LONG LIVE THE INFORMAL ANARCHIST FEDERATION.
LONG LIVE THE INTERNATIONAL REVOLUTIONARY FRONT.
LONG LIVE THE FIRE CELLS CONSPIRACY REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION.
The warmest of greetings to all who—wherever you are, in whatever corner of the world—make the revolutionary cause your most important priority, whether inside or outside prison. From behind bars, I raise my fist as a pledge of struggle.
—Panayiotis Argyrou, Proud member of the Fire Cells Conspiracy Revolutionary Organization
In such situations anarchists can only take stock and seek to put into action elements of a projectuality that is already being elaborated and experimented in small agile groups. What is evident from this flash-point of insurrection is that the anarchist movement, for want of a better term, here in Britain, is largely inadequate as to be insignificant in terms of the attack and the capability to prepare a line of flight beyond the existent, let alone during a mass riot.
From a superb article on the recent uprising in the UK. Read the whole thing here.