Greek intellectuals: A revolution without them

The Olive Tree - Photo by Katerina Moutsatsou

A few weeks ago, Russell Brand stirred the pot with a manifesto and an interview. His claims were applauded by millions of people around the world, and slammed by a large herd of – guess who – mainstream media commentators. Even though British, he voiced the thoughts and outrage of citizens worldwide regardless of nationality, who ‘coincidentally’ – or not – happen to experience the same sh*t in their own country. Brand’s message was a simple one: “Your political system is dead. People want Democracy. Let’s get on with the revolution.” As expected, the ones fiercely attacking him, in lack of real arguments and serving your usual political, economic or media interests, pointed at the person rather than the idea, with ad hominem attacks such as “He’s an actor”, “He’s a junkie”, “He did it to promote himself and his career.”…. Er, no. Russell Brand spoke the f*cking Truth, and Truth hurts – your specific interests that is.

As a Greek who experiences far worse problems in my country, and sees the people’s lives being crushed around me, I suddenly had this unrealistic longing: I wish Russell Brand was Greek…  I wish Almodovar was Greek! : “Mr. Rajoy, I am part of that silent majority who didn’t protest on September 25th [2012], and I’m imploring you not to distort or appropriate my silence”, said Pedro Almodovar in a public letter addressed to the Spanish Prime Minister. Nationality of course, shouldn’t and doesn’t matter. Regardless of their citizenship, ordinary people all have the same desire to live decent lives and be left alone to get on with it. It is the political, civil servant, banking, and religious globalist elites who feel the need to ruin our otherwise content existence. Still, it is within the cradle of your own country that you start voicing your struggle before you eventually join the world’s.

So, after having been targeted and humiliated internationally for four years, one would expect a sound ‘Greek voice’ to emerge in order to spread the word about the most violent, tyrannical war that has been imposed on the people of Greece and which is getting more fierce by the day. Godard once said quoting Orson Welles: If  one […] “wants to be called an artist,  [one] must respect this rule: Any true moral standards imply a fierce resistance to tyranny.” Who could be that, for Greece? Which Greek intellectual, artist, or personality with enough international appeal, or charisma, or both, in or outside Greece, could be out there ‘campaigning’ on behalf of the people of Greece? 

On June first, 2011, thirty-two Greek ‘intellectuals and people of science’, collectively signed a ‘manifesto’ in Greek entitled “DARE!” Oh, don’t get fooled. It wasn’t supportive of the Greek people, quite the contrary. These ‘intellectuals’, members of a larger group of internal production destined for internal consumption, are the typical products of a system intended to protect and to serve the very system that feeds them. In their so-called ‘manifesto’, they tell the Greek people how to basically stick it up their a*se, and get on with the memorandum. This was not the exact wording of course. They weren’t even addressing the letter to the Greek people! They were addressing it to the politicians. But that was exactly the point: as the Greek expression goes, “beat the saddle, and the horse will listen.” Current finance minister, Yannis Stournaras’s name was also among the signatories even if one has the right to clearly doubt his level of wits, let alone his intellectuality. Βut isn’t that a detail, when you are appointed to serve EU neo-totalitarianism.

What’s even more striking is that, the ‘Intellectuals’ distributed their ‘manifesto’ to the Greek mainstream media, right at the time when one of the biggest spontaneous people’s movements worldwide, the ‘Aganaktismeni’ (‘The Outraged’) was already happening in the streets of Athens, and was spreading nation-wide: for weeks, every day, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, united, above and beyond any political party, gathered peacefully in front of the Greek parliament, and other main squares across the country to protest the harsh austerity measures being voted against them – the movement of the ‘Aganaktismeni’, together with the earlier ‘Indignados’ movement of Spain, both contributed to inspiring the ‘Occupy’ movement months later.

The ‘intellectuals and people of science’ though, labeled these voices as ‘populist’, and were quick to dismiss them: the best way to conceal one’s ulterior motives is to end a discussion derogatorily. The ‘thirty-two’ proved to be not only out of touch, clueless, and arrogant, but also unenlightened. What those people really represent though, is usually known to ordinary Greeks. In Greece, there has hardly been any space available for artists, intellectuals or entertainers refusing to belong to some tribe of sorts. The ‘Pseudo-intellectuals’, as some people prefer to call them, are famous for having always been close to the establishment so as to grab any subsidy, contribution, or award available to them by the Greek state – It’s not the Greek State, it’s the European Union stupid! So the ‘pseudo-argument’ found in their ‘manifesto’ is in a way, rather honest from their own point of view: “The country needs a leadership of responsibility and national reconstruction which, with the help of our European partners, will do what’s necessary for our salvation.” Their salvation, true… not the Greek people’s. As for the European partners’ ‘help’, the Greek people have been overdosed and want no more thank you.

Almost three years later, the ‘thirty-two intellectuals’ are rather silent, or are busy giving self-centered interviews using their good-old nonsensical intellectual jargon. The trouble is, they could not help Greece even if they wanted to. It’s a matter of conscience… you can’t do it if you don’t have one. And if some of them happen to voice their concern through their intellectual activity – is it that they changed their mind? - they still act as if they never signed anything in the first place. 

So is that it? Is that all we have as a country to ‘represent’ us? After another spontaneous “there is no one really” that comes to mind – at least to my mind – a couple of names that pop up are again dismissed very quickly. Those have either given up publicly, or do not have the strength to undertake such a task. While digging deeper, and researching – yes, one gets to the point to really research, if one wants to be fair – about who has been or could be sound on what is going on, things get all the more disappointing.

There are world renowned Greeks living outside of Greece, for God’s sake! Some are world famous, work in Hollywood or hold key positions and could have the power to… Wait. Let’s forget about the successful Greek-Americans of Hollywood. Let’s forget about America altogether. Although not impossible, it’s quite hard to find someone who has a clear idea about what is really going on back in the ‘fatherland’. Let’s go back to world renowned Greeks living in Europe. Filmmaker Costa-Gavras, and Byzantinologist Eleni Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, eventually come to mind. Could they be that voice?

“When Greeks are being wronged it’s a disgrace to keep quiet”, says Mrs Ahrweiler, also urging “Greeks who live abroad never to forget that they are Greeks”. It’s true that Mrs Ahrweiler has been quite vocal in regards to Greece’s situation. Yet one of her recurrent beliefs seems to be that “Greeks are deeply divided”, and that half of the Greeks hate the other half: “When a Frenchman is asked what he wants most of all in the world, he says: the loveliest woman. A German asked […] answers: the finest gun. The Englishman […] the best football, while the Greek […] replies: that my neighbor’s donkey should die.” Regardless of how much truth there is or isn’t in this argument in today’s Greece – as if Greece were the only country with inherent divides, or as if the divides are meant to be eternal and do not evolve –  one should not contribute to adding publicly more stereotypes in the long list of stereotypes that have already been granted to the Greek people. If still today, she too has not picked up on what is really going on, not only in Greece but in the entire world, there isn’t much hope she ever will. By stating publicly such arguments – that Greeks are ‘know-it-alls, ‘egotistical’, ‘selfish’ – one may run the risk to expose not the Greek people and their alleged ‘weaknesses’, but one’s self. Mrs Ahrweiler has made an incredible name for herself in her field worldwide – or at least in Europe. But it takes a different kind of idiosyncrasy and inner culture to capture the soul of  your own people and the soul of a specific era. Besides, it’s not only about Greece really… It’s not even only about the Greek people. It’s about the ‘idea of Greece’ and why it still matters today: Eleutheria. Demokratia.

As for our political filmmaker par excellence, and truly nice man, Mr Gavras, when asked recently: [fast forward to 40:12] “What is the solution for Greece to free herself from the banksters, IMF, EU, and her corrupt politicians?” He answered: “A filmmaker doesn’t have solutions, he has questions and that’s all. The solutions have to be found from the politicians and the people who we vote for, and also the European Community and others. I don’t have the solution.” Mr Gavras also stated that he wants to make a movie on the Greek crisis. And although no one can deny his timeless, infinite contribution to the world through his political films, by the time a new movie of his comes out, it might just be too late for Greece.

Noam Chomsky stated in 1967 that “IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies” (his emphasis), and that has been truly lacking in the case of Greece. Yet a silent Greek majority both in Greece and outside is coming together slowly but surely, creating one voice of its own. The mainstream voices of the EU media trash, and the voices that propagate the idea of a deeply divided people lose territory to this collective ‘Greek voice’ that’s emerging anew. Sound and clear, it’s got whatever it takes to bring about change. The revolution has no, needs no, intellectual representation… just a deep soul.

About the author:
katmouts

Author: katmouts

Katerina Moutsatsos is a Greek actress, writer, and producer. Her political animation series "Sara and Mara" is published by the Greek newspaper "Eleftherotypia".

Other recent posts by katmouts: View author page and all posts by katmouts
2 Comments
  1. Crystalia Patouli 12 months ago

    Σ. Δημητρίου: Μοναδική ιστορική έξοδος από την
    παγκόσμια κρίση η ανατροπή

    L’unique sortie historique de la crise
    mondiale est le renversement du monde

    The only historical feasible way
    to get out of the crisis: the turnover of the system

    http://afigisizois.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/%CF%83-%CE%B4%CE%B7%CE%BC%CE%B7%CF%84%CF%81%CE%AF%CE%BF%CF%85-%CE%BC%CE%BF%CE%BD%CE%B1%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AE-%CE%B9%CF%83%CF%84%CE%BF%CF%81%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AE-%CE%AD%CE%BE%CE%BF%CE%B4%CE%BF%CF%82/

  2. Zi 12 months ago

    I never actually thought that the greek intellectuals care much about other people and the society! They rather live in closed cycles and care about those.

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