Freedom News

Impressions: A Normal Life, the memoir of Vassilis Palaiokostas

As Freedom Press launches its (first ever) crowdfunder to get the story of the Greek Robin Hood into print, George F waxes lyrical about the importance of telling tales of working class illegalism.

Freedom is aiming to publish the translated memoir this November, you can find out more about the project and pick up some exclusives like T-shirts and an accompanying short-run pamphlet at our crowdfunding site. Also known as The Uncatchable, over decades Palaiokostas robbed millions from banks and the disgustingly wealthy, giving most of it away to the poor. He has had a 1 million Euro bounty on his head since 2011 — and remains free.

There’s good reason people scream “geronimobefore jumping out a plane, “only live once” before downing a shot, “liberty or death” before charging into the fray. Nothing thrills more than the forbidden pleasure, the guilty secret, the emancipatory erotica, dirty joke, tall tales of the world turned upside down, giants slain by the stones of the meek, the collapsing into ashes of empires, or the reckless abandonment of all concern for self-preservation. Every one of us secretly yearns to scream no surrender, fuck it let’s go, then flip the tables and rewrite the rules. If they pull a knife, we pull the gun, if they rig the game we rob the croupier, if they set the rules we smash them and burn their temples and tax offices to the ground, unflinchingly dedicated to what we believe. Do it now, before they spin more lies and convince you the moment is not ripe for revolution. Fuck it, let’s dance, sneering to the gallows, defiant to the last, living testimony to implacable stubborn bastardness.

We need to pass on the peoples’ perspectives of inspiration and insurrection, Robin Hood and Boudicca, mischief and mythology, Loki and Eris, our own cautionary odysseys, fishing tales of oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-we’re-doing-it, Icarus’ blaze of glory rather than Orpheus’ glance back as he weakened at the last. We need our own epics of the weak growing strong, the impossible made manifest, the spark that would become an inferno, the pitchfork and the shotgun, dead presidents and burning plantations.

The definitive image of the insurrectionist struggle can seem as elusive as the getaway car, as joyous of the cop on fire, as clear-cut as the guillotined monarch, as direct as the shotgun raised in the face of the collaborator clerk. Across every scenario is the resonant commitment to the moment, to the embodiment of the politic of ecstatic liberation, of kamikaze defiance, of nihilistic do-or-die, now-or-never, go-hard-or-go-home, fuck-it-let’s-dance, hands-up-this-is-a-robbery. Let us be the same in word and deed as we loot back from our oppressors, as we spit shit as equals channeling ODB, riding to collect welfare cheques in his limousine, we mythologise the ethics of our struggle and transform our radical friends into legends. We must remember our history to understand our present, and create the future we want, telling these tales of terror and treason so we are not befuddled by glorification of the cop over bankrobber, judge over bombthrower, pimp over whore, exploitation over emancipation, the babble of the salesman and the bullshit of the advertiser. Let us invoke stories that drown out the command to behave through the exhortation to rebel, orgiastic Dyonisian delight over Apollonian organisation.

Let’s face it, no-one mourns those whose loyalty can be numbered in gold, whose allegiance can be measured in materials. Mercenaries and sellswords, privateers and turncoats, no-one rejoices in the snitch and the only good bailiff is a bailiff that’s dead.

One day as a lion, no future, their direct action speaks louder than words but more than anything the getaways, the victories, the red raw gung-ho audacity that flies in the face of capitalism and control’s leviathan of inevitability. Stories of those who dared to ask, and ran ran laughing down the beaches to the crashing waves of mythos, those who plundered the Mercedes Benz logos and wore them as medallions to debutante balls of the future, those who would match word and deed and break the bars of their cultural cage to pry open the palace doors and liberate the treasures within.

No-one can name a single good thing about security guards, and we’d forever rather be squatters than scabs.

We need our tales of heroic sacrifice, to tribute our martyred comrades, to channel fortitude and ruthless wrath as we pull the trigger on former friends, treacherous family, and every sentient human being who broke under capitalism’s yoke, seduced by the brassy smut of public relations and our innate idealism, plain cudgelled to the ground by the relentless futility and ubiquitous logic of obedience. The breath-taking audacity of the no-guts-no-glory liberty-or-death shit-or-get-off-the-pot archetype that runs so deep through anarchism, vilified by the privileged, exploited by vanguardists, monopolised by the State, and fetishised by those who have never quite tasted the acrid smoke of Molotov and CS gas. Ever autonomous, we seek to wax lyrical and representative of those who take up arms in self-defence against capitalism, ready to fight fire with fire and meet the State and its class traitor lackeys toe-to-toe in all-or-one commitment to the class war.

Perhaps most inspiring of all, a repeated motif in the ragged symphonies of our collective struggle, reminding us of Janis Zaklis, Alfredo Bonnano, Lucio Urtubia, Ulrike Meinhof, Anna Campbell, that every seized moment of triumph an individual achieves in defiance of the logic of submission is a stolen moment as we proceed inevitably towards total liberation.

The tales that are told are the tales that are tired, their narratives seeking only to placate and subdue the meek into passive acceptance of the hegemony. The story of Vassilis Paleokostas is another thread in the tapestry of our folkloric mythology, let us normalize what is possible within a life, recognise the mental slavery that binds us, and run guns blazing into liberatory oblivion.

Without practice, theory is academic, time to put down the pen and pickup the crowbar.


~ George F

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