As the economic and political systems continue to crumble and collapse in Greece, a district in Athens is growing in strength and independence after large numbers of individuals began to keep the government out and empower their own community.
Although Exarchia is in the shadow of the country’s capital city, it has become a hotbed of freedom and mutual aid programs during a dark time for the whole country. Due to the rising freedom in the area, people from all over have begun to move in and help to build the community.
The mainstream media has demonized the community and has painted it as a stronghold for anarchists, drug dealers, criminals and homeless people, and the community has become understandably resistant to the mainstream media as a result. The media, the police, and government officials are not welcome in the territory and are rarely brave enough to pass through, knowing that the community is united and defiant in their resistant to the establishment.
Exarchia is one of the most common areas where people will resist police brutality with force, and it is also one of the most active areas of the country in terms of activism. The walls of the streets are covered with posters, writing and graffiti that is distinctly political and anti-state.
In 2008, police killed a young boy in Exarchia sparking massive protests and riots, and since that incident, police have avoided the area, knowing that they are not welcome.
There are a wide variety of cooperatives and independent social welfare and mutual aid organizations in Exarchia, including time banks and free health care services that are voluntarily funded without any taxation.
One thing that is most interesting about what we have witnessed so far is that the actual behavior of people in the midst of economic and societal collapse is nothing like the popular “every person for themselves” scenario that is often touted by mainstream thinkers who have a very cynical and distorted view of what is truly inside people’s hearts.
In these desperate situations where people’s compassion and ingenuity has been tested, communities have come together on their own accord, without any authority telling them what to do and they have worked side by side nonviolently, in mutually beneficial exchanges that made all parties involved better off.
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter-culture and the drug war.
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