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Interview of a Greek Rebel

Anonymous: Philosophy Student, Male, 32

Are you an anarchist?

I am not an anarchist, but I am an educated person who won’t take it anymore. The anarchists, for their

own good are taking advantage of the rage of the people; though some are just doing this to smash

things, I respect that as a militant stance.

Do you recognise the mechanisms of the state?

I do not believe in the easy projection of Marxian categories in everyday life. Marxian categories are not

there any more and even when they were like in the ‘60s very few people (like Pasolini, an ultra leftist)

had the guts to say that the bourgeois were on the streets and the real proletarians were dressed in

police uniforms. But I would not say this for the present because even classes are not easily discernable.

How would you describe Greek society as it stands?

It’s like you’ve got shit under the carpet and the carpet is gone.

So the crisis has exposed weaknesses?

Yes. But this would be a crude way to describe it because what has been uncovered is a situation with

very recent causes that are all mixed up and thrown in one basket.

Regarding the recent causes behind the situation in Greece, many would answer that there are some

incredibly deep-rooted issues behind the Greek crisis that are not recent.

We all talk about these deep-rooted issues but nobody wants to really sit down and really discriminate

the different issues at stake here, such as global issues like the crisis and local ones like the way Greece

has been governed since the end of the military dictatorship in 1974. These are totally different issues.

The point is everyone is protesting against things that are deep-rooted, but they might not understand

that one of those deeply-rooted things is the protests themselves. People are enraged, but they are

protesting without knowing what they are protesting for; they are very confused, which is why I wouldn’t

call this a struggle – I would call this turbulence.

But despite its tumultuous history, it should be remembered that Greece is a very young country, not only

in its politics; its entire infrastructure is young.

Of course, but this shouldn’t be an alibi.

But at the same time it should not be ignored that Greece only really emerged as a working democracy

after the fall of the dictatorship and the abolition of its monarchy in ’74 (though it officially became

independent in 1832 when the Ottoman Empire recognised the nations’ independence after the Greek


Yes and no. But to go back to your first question, people who protest do not understand the issues at

stake here and one of the issues is to take responsibility into account. People use the fact that Greece is

young in the name of their own personal interests. It is a common truth that Modern Greece is a recent

nation (barely 200 years old) but when things go bad, these are just excuses.

What has the crisis revealed?

This crisis has exposed two sides of Greek society. On the good side, Greeks are rebellious and that’s not

bad. It’s good to demand things from your government.

Otherwise the government could take more liberties from them.

Yes, but in my point of view, this badly-governed people are in total confusion about what is wrong in

Greek society. It is rebellious and corrupt. That is the problem. But the worker is not to blame for the

instability of his country. Businesses thrive on that instability, governments thrive on it. The crisis is

mainly a financial one. Greece was always below the required EU standards but the EU kept giving us

loans because loaning and keeping someone perpetually in debt is great when money exists. But when

it doesn’t, that’s when things go wrong. The problem is not so much whether Greece is going to repay

a given sum but the effect this crisis produces on the Euro. The thing is that the EU knew all along that

Greece was not financially eligible – so a big responsibility weighs on what the politicians did with the

money, but also on the guys just below the government; the entrepreneurial entourage.

The entrepreneurial entourage?

The problem is not politicians and people, because there is a great gap between them. People march

towards the parliament wanting to talk to the politicians but it never happens. Instead you have

intermediate people; unions, consulates, municipalities, for example, who exist between the politicians

and the people. All these intermediate sectors between the government and the electorate are deeply

corrupted. These are the ones who politicians must mobilise when the elections come. There is a word for

these intermediates – kommatoskyla: party dogs.

So the animosity between the people and their government is rooted in the view that Greece’s

government is an incredibly corrupt political system that is infected right to its very core?

It is complicated. I think that our way to govern things has been heavily influenced by the institutions –

formal and informal – that we had during the Ottoman empire, through a sick conception of power and

lack of The Enlightenments’ political ideology, though we got Byzantium, and that’s not bad. There is also

the fact that we did not partake in the historical destiny of the major EU countries, we have no historical

sense of the re-invention of democracy, we are a very recent state and during our short life we have had

such a turbulent history. One has to seriously think why our nation was invented in the first place. The

most obvious answer is that the European powers wanted to overthrow the Ottoman Empire, so there is

a big bunch of issues there that a European does not know about Greece. But let us not touch the Greek

revolution. It is a highly complicated issue and a very dirty one; Greek intellectuals have tried to change

the image that we have of it but they are mostly underground. The foundation of the Modern Greek state

is something between a joke and a tragedy, but Greeks still think of it as Christmas.

What does this say about modern Greece?

What is Greece? Very few people know. It is ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Byzantium with tons

of Eastern influences, the Ottoman Empire with tons of Turkish influences, and suddenly after the

dictatorship Greece enters the EU. What do you expect? I hear it all the time abroad that Greece is

corrupted. But the point is not whether a country is corrupted or not. The point is what we mean by

corruption and what different levels of corruption we have because in my subjective point of view

corruption is everywhere in governments. If you have capitalism it’s necessary; how do you find the

power to get your party elected? I’m not a Marxist, but in capitalism, a capitalist state is necessarily

corrupted, though a liberal would say this is not corruption, this is a necessity. It is people free to pursue

their own interests.

Within this context, why is the media only presenting Greece within the contexts of the protests, strikes

and riots?

The media cannot represent the people and that is the problem. The majority of the people who are

protesting, and I’m not talking about anarchists or anti-authoritarians, are the same people voting for the

two dominant political parties. What happens is that the anarchists and anti-authoritarians are appealing

to the common sentiment of justice that the voters have. Maybe the media, which is to a large part

controlled by parties or by external interests, demonises this need for justice by the way they portray it.

Those people on the street are not fighting because they have no representation; they are symbolically

marching. Nationally, Greece as a liberal democracy has no alternatives. What can a Greek person

demand from their government? What do they want to demand? What are they demanding? Things

have to be distinguished. The national media is shit. Since my father is a journalist I can speak from some

experience here. Before the rise of privately owned television channels, people would ask questions; they

would question facts, events, and politicians. Then with the introduction of private television networks,

impartiality declined. As my father told me, though we cannot all be partial we must at least show that we

are impartial. Sometimes we have to ask questions that do not reflect our personal interests. The level of

political discourse in journalism went totally downhill after leaders of the terrorist organization November

17 were arrested and the organization disbanded in 2002. Impartiality completely died. I don’t know why

it happened, but I don’t want to imply any direct correlation here.

But after the fall of November 17 journalists stopped self-censoring their personal stances?

Yes and no. Because when November 17 disbanded not only did fear leave – which is ok – but also

impartiality, which is not ok. Losing impartiality in the press was a big moment and it does not have to do

with terrorism it has to do with very low and uneducated people. Suddenly big names in TV journalism

became outspoken in their political identity. From then on you could turn on the TV and know who was

supporting who. But they themselves should have the decency of pretending to be impartial. That is very

important. There is no journalist or politician that inspires ethos; nobody inspires ethos in the end.

Is this why the state is in such a state of crisis not only in terms of the economy, but politically and


I would say that people have been left with huge voids, not only politically. At the same time they are

afraid of being imaginative. And if I have to blame the institutions for something it is that they do not

allow innovation despite the fact that they seem to foster it because imagination is cost-effective. Ideally

this crisis could be a great chance for Greeks to innovate but a) they were always fatalists, b) they will

become even poorer and c) the institutions – both state and EU – won’t let them. But the trouble with

Greece is that there is nobody that will suggest another way. This is a universal issue; there are no

alternatives to liberal democracy that have the power to claim any other type of governance.

From: NP 15 (Forth-Coming). 

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