tales from the greek communist underground

I am happy to say that after 35 years of political rivalry, the Greek Marxist-Lenninist Communist Party (M-L CP) and the Greek Lennininst-Marxist Communist Part (L-M CP) have merged to one, now titled M-L CP (L-M).

This brings to my memory another amazing event from the greek underground communist scene, which during the 80s had nearly become an urban political myth among the comrades.

In late 70s, just a few years after the fall of the greek military junta, revolutionary left reached its heyday. Part of this self excitatory movement was a tiny Maoist Communist Party which didn’t involve more than 5 or 6 persons, the majority of which university students including some intellectuals too. This party had strong political and – as retrospectively proved- emotional affinities with a specific group of Chinese comrades members of the then central committee of the Chinese Communist Party. To note that none of the Chinese comrades had any idea about the existence of their Greek admirers. One day, one of the Greek comrades heard the terrible news that some Chinese comrades of that group had a minor argument about something which to them appeared an enormous issue, probably exaggerated by the huge distance between Athens and Beijing and certainly confounded by the overwhelming awe of this long distance one way relationship. Greek comrades felt obligated to transfer this argument some thousand kilometres away. They themselves caught up in an argument which inevitably and expectedly resulted in the splitting of this much promising revolutionary party.

Oh yes, here’s a great one taken from the crosswords of the 6 monthly journal of a tiny Greek Stalinist Communist Party, again back in the 80s:

This was never made by Joseph Stalin.7 letters.

The answer: Mistake

So I guess following the above, this short scene from the Monty Python’s famous film can only be rather too passée.

instead of shouting out

With only few exceptions which traditionally confirm the rule, the so much renowned Greek culture hasn’t offered as much these past decades, contrary to the grandiose perception commonly shared among the modern indigenous Greeks. Modern poetry, I am happy to say, is one of these exceptions, and can be probably the only thing that a Greek migrant should bring with in their hastily packed suitcase.

Celebrating the World Poetry Day I would just like to share my sheer passion for one of the most important -but paradoxically less known to the English speaking audience- Greek poets. Manolis Anagnostakis.

Manolis Anagnostakis (10 March 1925 – 23 June 2005) was a Greek poet and critic at the forefront of the Marxist and existentialist poetry movements arising during and after the Greek Civil War in the late 1940s. Anagnostakis was a leader amongst his contemporaries and influenced the generation of poets immediately after him. His poems have been honored in Greeceʹs national awards and arranged and sung by contemporary musicians. In spite of his accomplishments, Philip Ramp notes that Anagnostakis ʺis the least known, to an English speaking audience, of the major Greek poets of his generation.ʺ

Anagnostakis’ poetry is not pessimistic. Though its tone is sombre, though its verses often flirt with despair, in its innermost core there glows a light that looks more like the gleam of dawn rather than the dim glimmer of dusk. This light pervades his poetic work with an existential hue. Rather than being just an ideological poet, Anagnostakis is an existential poet, and this trait means that he strongly diverges from the category of political poets. As a result, he leans more towards the existential poets of his generation. (source)

Here are two of my most favourite of his poems. Even if they were written decades ago, Ι only have to succumb to their timelessness to feel modern before I utterly realise that a dead country is only that one who has forgotten of its poets.

O ΝΕΚΡΟΣ – THE DEAD MAN
The first telegrams began to arrive
The newspaper presses ground to a halt and waited
Orders were given to the proper authorities.
But the dead man would not die on the appointed hour.
All wore black ties
Rehearsed broken‐hearted postures before their mirrors
The first lamentations began to be heard. the grievous laudations.
But the dead man would not die on the appointed hour.
Finally the hours dragged into days
Those dreadful days of waiting
His friends began to protest
Closed their offices, stopped all payments
Their children wandered in the streets like outcasts.
They watched flowers withering.
But the dead man would not die on the appointed hour.
(So many many things never foreseen
So many incalculable consequences, so many sacrifices,
To what responsible person can you protest, where can you shout?)
And the dead man would not die on the appointed hour.

==========================================

Η ΑΠΟΦΑΣΗ – THE DECISION
Are you for or against?
At least answer Yes or No.
Youʹve thought the problem over
Iʹm certain of course itʹs troubled you
All things in life trouble us
Children women insects
Noxious plants wasted hours
Difficult passions rotten teeth Mediocre films.
And this no doubt troubles you.
Well then, speak out like a responsible person.
At least with a Yes or a No.
The decision is up to you.
We donʹt ask you naturally to give up
Your activities to interrupt your life
Your favorite newspapers your discussions
At the barber shop your Sundays at the ball park.
One word only. Well then, go ahead:
Are you for or against?
Think it over carefully. I shall wait.

This post is titled by another of Anagnostakis’ poems.

next to resist instead of next to suffer

Associates from Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK have begun to connect my Greek origins to well-informed questions about what is happening in Greece and how the situation will evolve. Just before I give them my answers (and to let off some steam at the same time) I can’t help noticing the contradictory nature of their consequent responses: “We are next” English-speaking people respond; “We are next” the others respond too (despite my constant remarks that I speak little of their language) and then they all stand in silence, staring into vacancy as if they were trying to picture an abstract future in their homeland. Sadly they can’t alleviate my sorrows; I actually function more as a mirror on which their insecurity and feelings of awkwardness are reflected, together with a secret hope that they will irregardless escape Greek misery.

 

In a final effort to gain some succour from our communication, I repeat their words “We are next” focusing on the necessity of reversing the negative charge on these words. If people really feel that they are next, I try to convince them that they should be “next to resist” instead of “next to suffer”. But then I realise that this viewpoint does have the desirable relieving effect, however not on them, just on me.
I need to insist, though. Besides being a token of the most prominent export product of Greece, i.e. the scientific proletariat, I also have to become the carrier of what Greece now is morally obligated to export; Resistance. The Greek problem is an international problem, but resistance is not yet similarly internationalized. Globalization of resistance seems the only obvious way to starting getting rid of the problem itself and also of its creators (those who now try to convince us that they are the solution).

 

 

The first signs of dispersion of the Greek spirit of resistance has started becoming visible now, even in the UK. Universities, which face continuous cuts in funds, human resources and science departments, mention the Greek people in their protests, campaigns and debates. Not Greek suffering, but the Greeks’ resistance! This must be continued! The massive demos in the streets of Greek cities, the general strikes, the occupations, the highlighted and symbolic storming of the Acropolis by Greek workers, all these are not just a cause of sensation but the source of inspiration and repetition (well, you don’t need to occupy the Acropolis!)

Eight years after the 2004 Summer Olympics, Greeks can safely say it out loud again: “The whole world is watching”. This time, let them show the world something that will really help it improve.

initially posted on 16.5.10, here

they’re back

Image

The sound effect of capturing the picture above instantly attracted the attention of this lovely young lady sitting next to me on the train, a freshly waken commuter, English in her origins, who raised her eyes from the morning newspaper and as if responding to an implicit obligation she tried  to make the connection. She then looked at me and smiled. I looked at her as well and as I was sensing her confirming her initial assumption with the help of my racial characteristics, I wondered whether I had actually managed to project to her this emotional confusion I found myself in first thing  that morning.
“It seems they are back”, I said to her with an accent and hopelessly abandoned the idea that she could understand this connotation which leads to a well known 1948 Greek film (depicting the horror of nazis returning to a country devastated by poverty and civil war).
“You have a beautiful country”, she replied, welcoming my accent and refreshing the start of the day.
I said nothing. And the silence that followed did not help at all …

all english to me

This is the first post of a Greek blogger living in London who has decided to share his thoughts and experiences in English. There is nothing of interest in this post other than the humble information of how this blog is going to be like.

Most of the posts will be adaptations of the original ones from my Greek – written blog that can be of interest for the English speaking reader. This blog can be found here. Its thematology consists of mainly political issues from everyday life with a clear anti-capitalistic/antifascist orientation.

I do believe that sharing experiences and thoughts derived from a former wealthy EU country which has now politically, economically, socially and morally collapsed might be useful for people who fear that their precious and prosperous country currently enjoying its incredible wealth might be next in line for the dubious and dark future.

I certainly lack of a personal style in my English writings but I guess this is another issue of no interest at all.

Thanks for reading this and please don’t hesitate to respond if you feel like it.