Each conflict with power, even if it is partial or minor, contains the same pledge of revolutionary war within.
For a month-and-a-half, comrade Olga Economidou has been under a solitary confinement regimen because of her refusal to consent to a body cavity search. Leaving aside the guards’ ridiculous excuses, which are no longer capable of convincing even the most naive, it remains clear that the reason for as well as the goal of this sentence within a sentence is precisely the unyielding attitude of our comrade, whether demonstrated through her refusal of the humiliation of the body cavity search or through any other method. In short, all these days Olga has spent under permanent surveillance by a camera lens—in a place they crassly call a “reception area”—constitute nothing more than the state’s repressive response to her choice to maintain her political position and her combativeness inside the walls.
Far from any simplification about revenge, general and uncertain, we must keep in mind that each repressive practice (outside as well as inside the walls) is included and deployed as part of the broad repressive strategy of domination, even when it isn’t deliberately planned. The policy of multiform conflict relentlessly being applied within the framework of the social war, whether expressed at a collective or individual level, is reflected in every facet of both clashing sides, from the political costs (or profits) of its results to the precedents it creates.
Totalitarian systems are like figure skating: complex, technical, precise, and above all uncertain. Lying in wait beneath the fragile sheet of order is frigid chaos. And there are places where the ice is deceptively thin.
The environment inside the walls represents a time bomb with deactivated fail-safe mechanisms, perpetually ready to explode. The continuous psychological pressure originating from the conditions of imprisonment, which everyone bears at a certain level, can—when it doesn’t burst out among the prisoners themselves or depressurize self-destructively via heroin and psychopharmacologicals—become a destructive force with undesirable consequences for power (prisons have been burnt to the ground for apparently insignificant reasons). In order to maintain the fragile order within these conditions, zero tolerance in the face of any type of rebellion is necessary, naturally combined with different kinds of decompression valves. Given this double strategy of control and repression, the presence of people who don’t take the bait or fall into the trap—and who are simultaneously determined to cause a rupture with the mechanisms as well as the consciences inside prison—is considered extremely dangerous. When they spread, radical consciences and practices of rupture can produce the spark that blows apart apparent normality. Penitentiary institutions everywhere know all this very well, and they are therefore prepared to exhaust the harshness at their disposal wherever they can, with their primary target being the very symbolism that accompanies each negation.
Terrorists must not communicate among themselves. If a terrorist communicates with no one, he will die like a fish on dry land. If you dehydrate a terrorist, isolating him from his ideological and spiritual sources, then the revolutionary part of him—that is, his destructive side—dies.
Beginning in the 1970s, the special regimen of solitary confinement became the typical method for punishing those who politically opposed domination. Fighters from the entire spectrum of the revolutionary movement experienced this “civilized” torture with their own skin. In most bourgeois democratic regimes, maintaining a “democratic,” civilized, and “humane” mask is an organic part of the social mechanisms. Solitary confinement was thus understood to be the ideal instrument (because of its intangible nature, which allows appearances to be kept up, but also because of its effectiveness, scientifically proven by countless military experiments) for the elimination of internal enemies.
Beyond any exaggeration, it can now be said that solitary confinement embodies a collection of special punishment practices.
In Greece, the sentenced members of 17N are the only ones permanently under this special imprisonment regimen at the moment. However, solitary confinement, prolonged for months, typified a widely-used practice in the past (combined with beatings and other methods of torture), aimed at driving rebellious prisoners to physical and mental exhaustion. In recent years, the gradual transformation of prison control methods—by introducing so-called “benefits” via blackmail and by establishing heroin and psychopharmacological use on a massive scale—has led to a relative eclipse of such practices.
Much more than a simple regression, the recent reestablishment of prolonged solitary confinement represents an omen of how the groundwork is being laid for the creation of a repressive precedent and a “personalized sentence that guarantees order,” as it institutes the special imprisonment regimen as a permanent condition.
Along similar lines, not much time has passed since a former police chief’s proposals regarding, among other things, the transfer of everyone sentenced under the antiterrorist law to a special wing that was built at Larissa for the main purpose of “accommodating” the 17N prisoners.
It’s obvious that the side of domination is continually developing its repressive strategy in order to exploit our side’s fragmentation and the generalized climate of prevailing tension. In the face of such methods, it is necessary to mobilize our ranks—keeping the overall objectives of the enemy’s movements in plain sight—by creating a multiform revolutionary front that, far from a logic focused only on self-defense, will be in position to deliver the coup de grace to an already shaken social regime.
Those who negate do not apologize. If you ask again, they say no again. And nevertheless, they will be paying for that no—the correct answer—all their lives.
SOLIDARITY WITH OLGA ECONOMIDOU, WHO HAS BEEN IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR A MONTH-AND-A-HALF, CONFRONTING THE COST OF HER UNYIELDING POSITION.
—Rami Syrianos, Larissa Prison