Are you an anarchist?
No. Don’t be addicted to words; some people have an addiction to words because they need to belong somewhere. Some people see being an anarchist as a “profession” because they are defined by that and they adhere to it for their personal reasons, just like their counterparts do (no need to be a fanatic, must keep an open mind). This creates closed systems of interactions that have nothing to do with society – opposing sides just end up fighting each other, and the State uses this situation to its advantage. In our days it should be better avoiding saying that you’re an anarchist unless you want to put those around you in danger. Those shouting the most for freedom are those who don’t want it at all because they just shout and do nothing at all to improve themselves firstly and more importantly. A fight could break out in a bar, for example. The parties involved know why they are fighting - unless they are drunk, but the people watching don’t know the reasons behind the argument. Someone from the outside could easily use this image and manipulate it to suit their own ends.
Much in the same way people often blame local and international media for its coverage of the troubles in Greece?
Nowadays journalists are not doing any journalism at all. They are not searching for real answers and those who do end up jailed, killed, silenced, defamed or swept out of the way. Most of them go with their microphone or cameras and record what is happening without knowing what or why things are happening. The media is not objective at all; they represent one part and one part only because they are afraid to lose their jobs and their stability. Newspapers have lines – they represent parties. And they only use information when it is useful to them. Journalists in the most part reproduce the police or state version of events. This is not journalism.
Why is the Greek population so mistrustful of the media?
The media has betrayed the Greek people. When you have a rally and the media is calling you an anarchist, communist or leftist when you have nothing to do with those movements, you will learn to hate them. The term ‘anarchist’ today tends to be synonymous with "criminal activities".
And the media played its role in this definition?
Of course. In the ‘80s and ‘90s they employed the term anarchist, and today this has evolved into αντι εξουσιαστης – which translates into anti-authoritarian. It is a conversion of the meaning of anarchy and the label is becoming synonymous with terrorist; there have been many people jailed for this. But that doesn’t mean that anyone who is labelled in such a way is a terrorist. I find it really difficult to believe that some of the information being posted against some of these people accused of being terrorists is real. Take the 1995 Polytechnic arrest of 500 people protesting – some were anarchists but there were others who were not but were baptized anarchists by the media thus destroying their reputation, defaming them in society.
So anyone who protests is regarded as a terrorist by mainstream media and therefore by the State?
There have been many examples in history when mainstream society has labelled people as terrorists while others called them heroes – it depends on how you look at it. There are many things going on that, to the outside world you could call ‘anarchy’, but in reality, you just have many people thinking. The State is the people. We are society. The problem is some people, many of whom have become the rulers of Greece, do not care about society. This makes people angry. Do you think someone who earn enough money to live comfortably would be an anarchist? No, because he or she would have the means to live a decent life. All people want is recognition, love and decency. Even the politicians and the police want that, but do not recognize this right to others.
Greece has had two major families – Papandreou and Karamanlis - at the helm of the two leading parties since the 60s. How does this feed into the problems within Greek society?
This is not an issue isolated to Greece. But yes, in Greece you have three families; Mitsotakis, Karamanlis and Papandreou; and behind them you have other rich and powerful people. Some love Greece and you should keep that in mind; not all people with power are bad. But, as in other societies – there are people behind the government parties who thrive on economic interests.
Does this affect the local media coverage of social issues in Greece?
Greece has been in the turbulence of scandal since the ‘80s and people have to endure such scandals on a daily basis. I have never seen any country in the world with so many corruption scandals, and these are scandals that reach the highest levels of government.
But the problem with the scandals is that though reported in the media, they play out like dramas with no real conclusions as no one is ever held responsible?
Yes. It is a vicious circle.
So corrupt politicians are paraded on TV without facing any real consequences, making the corrupted politician a normal and accepted part of society?
Yes, because they have a lot of power and money. But it is not an accepted part of society. And at the end of the day, the people don’t have the guns and tear gas to put their objections more bluntly, while those with power have all the means to do so. Therefore people are afraid to go to jail or to die for justice. And I’m not talking about revolting. I’m talking about protesting for accountability and having to be exposed carcinogenic teargas just to have your opinions or objections heard. This is why most people who go to these protests cover their faces, with hoods or scarves – but covering the face has become a punishable offense.
And then when you get home you turn on the TV and you’re called an anarchist?
Yes. And you get angry.
Why is the media so inclined to label people as anarchist or anti-authoritarian?
There are people who plant trees, or those who simply react to an unjust moment or decision, not only by the government but in their daily lives and they have been stamped with the anarchist label. Because of the negative connotations of anarchism, many different political movements have been called anarchist. It is just a label. The Jews called Christ an anarchist; which he could have been if you deconstruct the word. But what is anarchism? It is a theory, right? I believe all political theories relate to parts of a person’s personality. It’s important to remember that political ideologies are first and foremost somebody else’s personal opinions. From Bakunin, Lenin or Trotsky and so on, so why should I follow them? My grandmother might have a better political understanding of things. Should she be a leader? The point is society defines how a theory will be validated. If it is accepted, it becomes a system.
In this case, anarchy is rejected by the media, and so any denial of state power could be seen as a criminal act and as such the strikes, the protests and any movement attempting to critique the political system could – and is - portrayed as ‘anarchist’ attempts at bringing down the government. But in reality aren’t the people protesting actually attempting to bring the government down?
No. They are trying to improve their lives; however, in this fight the government could be brought down. But even if the government is brought down another tyrannical government will emerge behind the benevolent mask of change. What the people want is to be heard by parliament but they have to stand up against the police, who, strangely enough the policemen also suffer from the same ailments the other citizens suffer as well. The people in Greece are afraid of its government and its police; they are afraid of being beaten, shot, jailed and manipulated because life is already hard as it is. Greece is a police state. It is normal to be afraid. So by saying that the police have guns and the people do not, I am not implying that people should arm themselves and start a civil war; far from it. But if you cannot defend yourself from teargas, you have to abide, so the people feel powerless.
Could the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt inspire people to attempt to bring down the Greek government?
There is no maturity in the Egyptian uprising. People are dying. How can this be mature? People have just had enough of something. What these uprisings have proven is that those who can really change something in society are the police and the military - and I’m not referring to a junta. Like the military in Egypt, they stepped aside because they know the reality. They didn’t use force to bring down Mubarak, nor to hold down the masses. They stepped out of the context and kept order where necessary. Maybe this is one of the first times the military is playing a protective role because they know if things go bad they will get really bad. This is positive since they have guns and are not using them. But a possible revolution in Greece will only bring more foreign multi-nationals into the country that care only for wealth and have no respect for the people or the environment whatsoever. Look what happened in Egypt; all the multi-nationals left, temporarily pausing their businesses, taking their staff away, thus giving what kind of support to the Egyptian people in their hour of need? Nothing. But in times of peace they want the Egyptians to buy their products and take the wealth out of the country to their home countries. Is this an honest relationship? Is this good commerce? That’s why the possibility of uprising is dangerous in Greece. In this context if people continue to behave as they are without getting to know themselves and what their true position is, things will get much worse.
Has democracy failed?
There is no democracy in our times, but we just use it because it contains the key word; demos, people. And people enjoy participating; it is one of our basic needs. But the demos is not participating in anything these days. As Lao Tzu says, when you have governance, it should be invisible because everything is done automatically when governance is just. When governance needs to manifest itself and show its power, it means something is wrong. In Greece, the State is visible everywhere from police presence to the media.
So in many ways, the people have no choice but to react.
Exactly. If I explain an orgasm to you, how can you feel it? It is the same for liberty. You must feel free to be free. You should fight for what you believe is right. But fighting has many faces, not just the violent fight – that is easy. It takes 9 months to bear a human being; it takes 9 seconds to kill one. Reconstruction takes longer than destruction.
From: NP 15 (forth-coming).