THE DESTRUCTIVE FIRES ARE A STATE AND CAPITALISTIC CRIME
The events that we are watching the last days in Attiki are indeed shocking and they cause grief and rage to all people. The fires that broke out in many different places left behind a carnage of dead, thousands of burned decares of forest, while they tore down whole areas and settlements making the total cost of the environmental and social destruction immeasurable.
From the very first moment, the state and the media try to present the picture of a “national tragedy” that emerged from an “asymmetrical threat” which desires to destabilize the political and social life, by transforming at the same time this tragedy into a field of petty-political juxtapositions between the government and the opposition, based on the managerial issues. The crocodile tears cannot, in any case, cover up the criminal responsibilities of the state mechanism and its anti-social role. Just like in the case of the destructive floods in Mandra, and ten years before, in the murderous fires in Elia and Euboea.
The state for many decades destroyed every form of social self-organization against the elements of nature and generally. After that, it replaced it by expressing its inability, weakness or even its reluctance, because of its interests, to confront the consequences of its very nature, its structure and its orientation-, to confront the consequences of these destructions, natural or man-made, leaving the society vulnerable to their harsh repercussions. And at the same time when the continuous under-financing of works of social concern (fire-preventing, flood preventing, antiseismic work) in combination with the wastefulness of expenses on the GNP in military equipment, it can be characterized only as outrageous, especially in a country that has been affected many times and the threat and dangerousness are real and known.
The tragic events that shock us and fill us with grief but also rage are not unfortunate incidents or excesses of the system, but inescapable and more and more increasing consequences that are brought upon the natural world and the society by the big and small interests which derives from the system itself and of course they support it. More specifically the area of West Attiki has become for more than thirthy years a field of relentless speculative exploitation, because of the suffocating pressure for the continuous expansion of Athens that is promoted by the central state policies and the capital. Moreover, as a priviledged residential environment for the middle and upper classes and a profitable field for the development of tourist industry, it consists an “Eldorado” of the constructional, real estate and business capital.
So, it is no accident the hundreds of fires that have been broken out the last thirty years throughout Penteli and Ymittos, in the foothills of the mountains and the adjacent coastal areas, that have transformed huge forests into nothing in order to achieve their goals; to disafforest whole areas and transform them into spaces of various uses and development of all kinds of entrepreneurships and to include them gradually in the city planning. Under these circumstances the tragic events οf Monday 23 July 2018 could have happened in many other cases and it is possible that they will be repeated in the future. This murderous fire was nothing more than one more of the hundreds that have broken out in the area, which this time rose out of control in a densely populated forest area.
It is important to note here that the fire which broke out, despite the growth rate because of the strong west wind that blew in the area, is in no case an “assymetrical threat” as the prime minister declared with no shame, in order to justify the size of the human tragedy, imitating the ridiculous declaration of Polydoras in 2007 which spoke of “a general wind”. And that’s why the direction of the wind was stable and the one of the fires was predictable and the area that was burned more or less limited.
The fire started in the foothills of Penteli in an area of low vegetation as it has been burned again in the recent past, it went east in a forest area, burning the biggest part of the settlement N.Voutzas, leaving behind dead people and it went on to a dense forest area towards Mati and the beach. The only firewall in this route, where the ground means of fire fighting could intervene to halt the advancing of fire is the Marathonas Avenue. It was sure, from the very first moment of the fire that if it couldn’t be stopped in Marathonas Avenue, either because of the weakness of the state fire-fighting mechanism or because of extreme weather conditions, then it would continue in an inhabited forest area with many visitors, threatening thousands of human lives. That’s why it is inconceivable the fact that while from the early afternoon it was known to the state cells that the fire is developing in inhabited areas and that there is no way to halt its advance, as it didn’t attempt with fire-fighting means, the state cells didn’t make any attempt to evacuate the settlement Mati or to inform its residents, even at the very last moment, about what would happen. In addition, no attempt was made by the state mechanisms for an immediate mobilization of the waterborne transport in order to rescue hundreds of people who were driven to the sea to survive the fire. This only happened some hours later, when many people have lost their lives.
The various individual elements that completed the tragedy like the structure, the lack of planning fire-safety in an inhabited area and planning of evacuation and rescue, the false managing of the circulation, the lack of forest protection etc that have seen publicity prove the inability and irresponsibility of the state mechanisms, the criminal coverage that provide to the small or big private interests and their entanglement with them. However, despite all the failed plans of “emergency” of the state cells and the failure to execute them, the nightmarish events as they were occurred and described above, they point out in the most violent and profound way the deep anti-social nature of the state which in a moment of big social crisis, when thousands of human lives were in danger, it didn’t show any reflective ability and attitude to react for the information and rescue of so many people. On the contrary, its inertia increased the disorientation, the complacency and the inactivation of the residents and the visitors of the area in front of the facing destruction, with tragic consequences. And if this tragedy wasn’t bigger this is because of the self-motivation and the solidarity that were developed between the people who faced the fire and all those who came to help. The state was from the very first moment a cold, exterior observer of the human drama, oriented to the handling of the political cost of the events, the cover-up and permutation of responsibilities and the control of the rampant social rage for the burning rubble and the death that the state-capitalistic conflagration of development leaves behind.
In the case of West Attiki, the fire that broke out in 23/7, burning down a big forest area and many houses of the settlement of Kinetta and the adjacent settlements, luckily without any human victims, had profound causes. The spot that the fire broke out in Geraneia Mountains and the space that was cremated, is the space that is planned to become into a mining site of bauxite by the association of Mutilinaios. The previous months, the Anonymous Mining Company DELFOI – DISTOMON A.M.E. had applied for a license to do research in an area of 50,000 stremmas in the Geraneia Mountains, which was rejected by the local council for environmental and social reasons, one of them being the forestry character of the area.
It is a war against nature and society, which is an essential part of the system, as the war that ravages many areas in the world.
In an setting of fierce class exploitation and attack in the society and the nature, the destruction by fires is a result of the criminal policies of the state and the capital, a result of the nature – a murderous one for people and a destructive one for the natural world – of the social, political and economic system which in the name of “development” and profit does not hesitate to destroy mountains, lakes and rivers to transform them into industrial areas, to sink whole villages and diffuse cancer to the people, to make settlements into waste dumps, to plunder the ecosystem. In this strategy, the fires are a very common practice for the disdain and the destruction of the natural environment to exploit and capitalize it later, through mining, casino, apartments and tourism… We should mention that today the restructuring of the political,economical system is chatacterized byan unprecedented aggression against the society and the nature, a basic element of which is the gigantic operation of selling out the public natural resources and areas to the private capital that is carried out by the Greek state under the guardianship of E.U. and ECB.
At the same time, worldwide the environmental destruction and the dramatic climate changes point out the borderline place that the relationship between humans and nature has reached, a relationship based on dominance and exploitation, foreshadowing the even worse incidents in the coming years and also confirming the total bankruptcy of the whole political, social and cultural system that is found on the social-class competition and aggression against nature and societies. A very characteristic example is the case of the tragedy that was caused by the hurricane Katrina in N. Orleans in 2005, with more than 1800 dead people, mostly poor colored people – many of whom were murdered by the police and military operations for controlling the city – and hundreds of thousands homeless people as a result of the state indifference and hostility towards them. As the Republican parliamentarian Richard Baker declared then in a cynical way; “We finally untangled with the issue of social housing in N. Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did it.” So, the state made good use of this destruction for the final displacement of the largest number of the poor colored people of the city and it was a chance for the capitalistic development, the restructuring and transformation of the city, based on business activity and the profitability of the capital. ‘’I believe that now, we can start from the beginning. This blank page reserves us great opportunities” Joseph Canizaro, major contractor. In the same way, for the state-capitalistic system, the fire that burned an area of almost 12,000 stremmas of forest and settlements East Attiki, as well as the fire in Geraneia Mountains and in Kinetta and many more cases like these, are “opportunities” of exploitation, “utilization” and development of business activity.
In conclusion, the solutions for the defense of life, humanity and nature by the threatening devastation and the various ways of destruction and death that the state-capitalistic system has to offer and seem as inevitable consequences of “progress” are not to be found in the system but in its complete destruction before it entrains and ruins everything. The small but valuable struggles and resistances that occur today (from Lefkimmi in Corfu, Epirus and NE Chalkidiki to Agrafa and Acheloos) against the total destruction that pollutes the earth, the air and the water, burns the primaeval forests and disappears wildlife, while at the same time destroys the local societies, are bulwarks for prevention and the delay of this destruction and for the defense of all those that can be saved, such as mountains, forests, coasts, rivers, lakes, animals and birds. However, these struggles must also become points of a rupturive awakening and fields of deeper and conscious radical criticism and fight against the state and capitalism that sweep the human societies and the natural world.
It is also very important to support all those in need and the emerge of mutual aid as the most significant human value, the social self-organization as a practice that overcome the state, the antisocial institutions and hypocritical behavior of all kinds of political players.