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We are everywhere and we are one another

by Deborah Frieze on August 2, 2011

This morning I woke up to this email from Sarah Whiteley, one of the stewards of Axladtisa-Avatakia, the learning community in Greece that I wrote about in Walk Out Walk On.

You might have heard… but two nights ago, Syntagma Square was stormed by the riot police—and now the tent village is not there. People were evicted and some arrested.

Yet, the People’s Council still gathered last night—and continued to rock the cradle of democracy.

Hundreds of thousands of Greek citizens have occupied Syntagma Square in Athens for 60 days in protest of their government’s austerity measures. Now the Square has been cleared—as has Tahrir Square in Egypt, where armored tanks and riot police rolled in last night.

Are we witnessing the repression and subsequent dissolution of yet another people’s movement? Or is something else being born?

This past Saturday, the Syntagma Square activists released a statement in response to the eviction, and I couldn’t help but notice echoes of Zapatismo, that philosophy of resistance that emerged from the indigenous peoples of Chiapas, Mexico—a resistance that has survived nearly two decades of persecution. Their land and culture are so vastly different, and yet, I find something universal in the language and rhythm of these Greeks and Zapatistas.

“We are the millions of society set against a handful of a corrupt and subservient minority who try to pretend they have strength by using the police, mercenaries of the power elite,” say the Greeks.

“For the powers that be, known internationally by the term ‘neoliberalism’, we did not count, we did not produce, we did not buy, we did not sell. We were a cipher in the accounts of big capital,” say the Zapatistas.

“The square is all of us, thousands of ordinary people who stand up to a cynical, antipopular, antidemocratic, corrupt economic and political status quo,” say the Greeks.

“You can see we are simple and ordinary men and women… You can see we are who we are so we can stop being who we are to become the you, who we are,” say the Zapatistas.

“There are tens of squares now all over Athens, with their own general assemblies, hundreds of squares all over Greece. We are in every neighborhood, along with every citizen of this country,” say the Greeks.

“Behind [our black mask] we are the same simple and ordinary men and women, who are repeated in all races, painted in all colors, speak in all languages and live in all places,” say the Zapatistas.

“We are everywhere,” say the Greeks.

“We are everywhere,” say the Zapatistas.

What might the world look like if we truly recognized that we are everywhere and we are one another?

Perhaps we still have something to learn from the Zapatistas.