Text by anarchist prisoners T.Theofilou, R.Sirianos and S.Stratoulis
After the violation of an exit permit by Christodoulos Xiros, government and media thought this created the field for an explosion of oppressive brutality. Since Christodoulos Xiros gathers the identity of a “terrorist” as well as an escapee, the government raised two matters on its agenda. On one side, the anti-anarchic crusade with raids on dozens of houses, arrests and bounties on comrades with a long term aim the assimilation of the emergency state regime, the familiarization with the intensified surveillance and the internalization of fear within the anarchist movement. On the other, it reiterates the matter of restructuring the greek prisons, or in other words, privatizing them.
Just like after the mass escape of the 11 from Trikala prisons, the far-right siamese Athanasiou-Dendias, did not lose the opportunity to announce the creation of a super-high security prison that will house political prisoners, members of the so-called organized crime and disobedient prisoners, operating with a special correctional code. A correctional terror-law that will grant part of the control of the prisoners to the police, the communication with the outside world will be “limited” (if not abolished), mail will be controlled and exit permits will be cut.
The identity of the prisoner on its own places the person in a condition of exception, since it strips them of basic rights that are considered a given in urban democracy. These special adjustments come to worsen their position even more and demote them from a condition “outside space and time” they essentially are in, to a situation of almost non-existence. The situation of exception is generalized and authority seems to need the creation of exceptions upon exceptions.
These last months the media and government lose no opportunity to impose their agenda in relation with the restructuring of penal oppression generally and the punitive system especially. A restructuring that seeks the toughening of surveillance and oppression as well as their privatization. Therefore it would be naïve for someone to believe that this media campaign of slander against prisoners was a result of Xiros’ escape and not a plan that was put into action because of this incident, because very simply the privatization of greek prisons is foreseen by the memorandum.
These last years penal oppression generally and prison especially extend and deepen their role. The most important first step took place with article 187 concerning criminal organizations, which is not aimed at the so-called organized crime, but towards the larger part of offenders expanding the sentences, transforming misdemeanours into felonies, abolishing the jurors and widening the concept of the “evidence” as well as the crime, holding hundreds of prisoners in judicial captivity.
Penal oppression simultaneously widens the social targeting including the penal managing of parts of the fallen middle class, i.e. the white collar petty crimes and those in debt. Additionally it becomes also a tool for capitalists to get rid of each other, in the conditions of generalized cannibalism imposed by the systemic crisis and the restructuring of the domestic ruling class.
As penal oppression widens addressing a larger social range, the need of class adjustment of prisons also erupts. From the migrant detention centres that pile up “exotic beings” that can barely claim the identity of a human, since they are deprived of the necessary legal documents and their existence itself is considered a crime, up to the adjustment of farming prisons in a way so they can house economic offenders and those in debt, small and big Tsohatzopoulos’*. From GPS ankle tags and community service for misdemeanours, up to the super maximum security prisons for political prisoners, members of the so called organized crime and disobedient prisoners.
Penal oppression and the institution of prison adjust to the conditions of generalized systemic crisis. The grim statements of stuck-together far-right ministers Athanasiou-Dendias give us an idea of the importance and the purposes of the upcoming restructuring in this sector in Greece. A restructuring using as a pretext “smooth operation”, as it happens in every public sector that enters the target of privatizations. The greek state, with every opportunity shows its intentions to accomplish the transformation of penal oppression into a field of private profit. On one side it hopes that strictness will make oppression an effective tool that will gather around the ideologies of security and legality the most conservative parts of society and on the other will make it profitable by delivering it to private owners and transforming it into a field of pumping profit.
Neither the outsourcing of part of the security of immigration centres to private security companies, nor the fact that the surveillance of those with GPS tags will also be outsourced to private companies are irrelevant to the restructuring and privatization of prisons.
Prison is the paraplegic sibling of waged labour as far as capitalism is concerned. It is an institution that together with the relation of capital-waged labour must become something of the past.
The function of prison for capitalist society is a labyrinth and its importance is crucial and foundational. It mainly houses the most marginalized part of society, but its role is anything but marginal. It has many interpretations and many levels of analysis. It is on one side the space to hide, oppress, profitably manage, store, disarm and discipline the excess labour force. It is the space where anything considered as waste by economy is thrown for ever or for recycling. It is also the space where the undisciplined sub-proletariat assimilates hierarchy, discipline, mediation with authority and the practical operation of economy. Prison corrects, that is, it organizes offending vertically and around the interests of capital. It is the space where offending is utilized and absorbed by Capital at a social level as well as the level of economic function. It is the space where spontaneous offending and organized crime is felt out, the space where organized crime and blue collar offending is felt out and finally the place where all the above connect harmonically with the official white economy.
Prison as a crucial institution for the functioning of capitalism is coordinated with waged labour and the general economy. It is very important to not underestimated as a field of conflict, from the inside and the outside, in a continuous and a co-dependant relation. It is important and it is necessary to develop a movement against the institution of prison, not so much with existential terms any more, but mainly with political terms. A movement that will locate the connections of prison with the crisis of capital-waged labour and will connect the struggles against Capital with the struggles against prison. A movement against the institution of prison generally, and the restructuring-strictness-privatization of the institution especially,which will have as its long-term target the tearing down of every prison and as an immediate target to not allow the creation of special prisons, the abolishing for which many bloody struggles were given in the ’90s.
Which will show as a problem not the fact that someone got an exit permit and did not return, but that hundreds are deprived of the exit permits they are entitled to. Will show not that only 11 prisoners managed to escape one spring eve from a prison they had buried them in, but that every season thousands are buried alive in all prisons, holding cells and concentration camps around the country. That will show the contradiction of the malnourishment and the freezing of prisoners because of lack of funds, the same moment that massive sums are spent on buying and installing modern electronic means of surveillance. That will impose the obvious: that the problem is not that Christodoulos Xiros did not return from his exit permit, but that Savvas Xiros has not been released yet.
Now more than ever it is important to coordinate penal political prisoners, inside and outside the walls, in order for this resistance to the restructuring- strictness-privatization of prisons to open the way for their total destruction.