The Anarchist Battle to Hold Athens’ Strefi Hill, Exarchia

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Tourists flocking to Greece, who stop in Athens to have a look, usually head straight for the Acropolis to see the bare Parthenon, with the British Museum thieves holding half the marbles, or they go in tourist areas like the Plaka.

They are looking for an authentic Greece which they will not find there, although the majesty and wonder of the Acropolis may still endure even after people leave this planet after destroying it with climate change and their greed.

The heart of a country or a city is not in its neighborhoods like Disneyland or Las Vegas with plastic trinkets and fridge magnets or pretty coffee mugs or T-shirts and souvenirs.

It’s more often in places like Exarchia in Athens, a haven of anarchism of course, but also a place where working-class people mingle with artists and poets and walk past small independent publishing houses and , despite the ubiquitous graffiti, this is where people can see how People Direct.

This is about to change with the preliminary works underway to build a new metro station, which is certainly needed as it is a hike to Exarchia Square from the Omonia Square station.

However, the anarchists and many locals don’t want it under their beloved plaza where you won’t find chain stores or chain cafes or chain merchandise, but small independent shops of the kind that once populated the small towns and the United States. cities.

Opponents argue passionately and with great legitimacy that a metro will ironically make it easier for tourists to get to Exarchia – it will also make it more convenient for those who live there – and that it will change the character of the neighborhood.

They have about as much chance of stopping him as Spartacus did against the Roman legions, although there is precedent: opponents of a planned metro stop in Athens’ populated Agia Paraskevi district stopped one, and now regret it.

This is one of those cases where both sides can claim to be on the safe side because Exarchia needs a tube station, although the naysayers want it down the hill near the tourist attraction of the National Archaeological Museum and the Technical University of Athens, as long as this is not the case. near them.

They and the anarchists whose sport is frequent battles with riot police that happen so often it seems there’s a Gentleman’s Agreement to trade tear gas in exchange for throwing firebombs want their neighborhood remains largely uncrowded.

It has that sort of bohemian character associated with the 1950s Beat movement in the United States that made Greenwich Square a hangout for anti-establishment types, although it was eventually “discovered” by outsiders.

Foreign investors are particularly keen to pick up run-down buildings and retrofit them for rent, like the short-term platforms on Airbnb that empty neighborhoods of residents for tourists and drive up rents.

This, of course, changes the area from what people want to see to what they want to avoid, but then it’s too late because Starbuck will replace a real old Greek coffee shop that doesn’t look like a cookie-cutter architect .

Exarchia – as is the nearby hill of Strefi where violent protesters are trying to stop a plan to turn the poorly maintained, filthy and criminal hideout into a useful area of ​​safe hiking trails and playgrounds and a place of respite – is a symbol for revolutionaries.

Not the real ones, but those who are stone throwers, not provocateurs: they want to regress, not progress and try to keep Exarchia and Strefi as enclaves for ideas that died before they were born.

The goal is to make Exarchia and Strefi Hill better, not worse, as they have been under their influence, and that’s how they like it because it gives them a perpetual cause of nothingness. They want nothing, they hope for nothing, but they are imprisoned and want company. This is the goal of misery.

These are the same people who burned Exarchia almost to the ground in two weeks of 2008 riots sparked by an auxiliary policeman firing a shot that killed 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a tragedy that gave them a martyr for other uses.

They again resort to violence, against the working-class subway construction crews they and their cheerleaders, Looney Left SYRIZA, claim to support, and attack the Strefi Hill surveyors. This is their modus operandi: against everything.

If left to them, both places would remain as they are: inaccessible, dirty and graffiti-covered places, which find charm and character replaced by the motives of the fake revolutionaries who attack the banks – except where they keep their own money.

They are pension-seeking rebels who go after the state, private corporations and imaginary enemies but want benefits – can anarchists have libraries, roads, schools and post offices ?

They want to be 18 for life while the adults around them try to act their age and – the best of them – seek to make life better for themselves, their children and future generations for, as the ancient Athenian oath for young people said: “to hand down this city not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it has been handed down to us.

They can’t be in power to govern their ideals because they don’t want government, although if they’re having a conference don’t miss their molotov cocktails at receptions – but get out of the hotel before it’s over , before they blow it up.

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