10 outubro 2011

Mikis Theodorakis e a violência nas ruas de Atenas - The gratuitous violence in the streets of Athens

The gratuitous violence in the streets of Athens inspired Mikis Theodorakis to write the following text, which appeared in TA NEA on 18th December 2008. 


During national, social and ideological struggles, hate is inevitable, it bursts out spontaneously. It should at least be channelled in the right direction.

I observe today that the students’ hatred is heading down a one-way street with the police at its end and I believe this is preventing them from seeking out the real conditions in which they have been put in the situation they are in today, at school and in society. They should instead be discovering the true causes, revealing the real guilty parties and the genuine reasons for everything that’s going on around them and around us all, for everything that is happening to our country and humanity in general. It thus appears as if certain people had put blinkers on them, in order to direct their anger towards a group of our fellow-citizens, the police, who, when they do not function correctly, are merely pawns of the System. And of course it is the System that is responsible for education and everything concerning the functioning of society, the State and its services.

And I would like to mention the example of the generation of “1-1-4”, whose declared objective for education was 15% of the State budget; this means young people of that time had seen that the main cause of the disastrous situation of our education system was an economic one.

From that point on, despite the completely fascist mindset of the Greek police and the fact that the instances of violence, compared with today, were a thousand times more numerous, with more serious consequences (the hospitals were full of young people who’d been victims of police violence), the young avant-garde of that time, essentially students, had a clear, global vision of things and saw through to the heart of the matter. Thus with “1-1-4”, they set themselves as their first duty the defence of the Constitution, meaning the defence of freedom, democracy and individual rights. They struck at the heart of reactionary power (throne, police state, American influence). They fought for Cyprus and struggled in vast numbers for peace. They had their eyes on horizons open to everything that was going on, even outside the country. They were complete, free beings, despite the existence at that time, like today, of malign “centres” who attempted to put brakes on their anger and direct it into a single channel serving their own aims. In a word: to disorientate them, as is happening today.

And to go back a little further: we, the youth of the National Resistance and the Civil War, were facing gendarmes and police armed with weapons that vomited collective death. And yet, we still had the strength of heart and mind to see that in some cases, those who today are contemptuously referred to as “the fuzz” were children as we were, driven by the storm of events to commit actions they had no wish to commit. We did not make generalisations. On the contrary, we were still able to see, even in the most critical situations, that they were not all alike and that the real guilty party was those in power who had succeeded in turning brother against brother, caught up in their nets steeped in blood and hatred. And some still had the strength before being murdered to cry out to the firing squad: “Brothers, we are dying for your happiness as well!”

I was moved to write this text by a TV programme showing boys and girls of 15-16 who were all saying exactly the same things, as if an invisible force had turned their anger, their hatred and their thinking towards a single object – and that at a time of great complexity, when the world has shrunk and where the world outside and the world inside are mixed up and all the threads are tangled up together. How can we get to the CAUSE of the trouble in this way? And how, if we do not know the genuine causes of the crisis, can we find the necessary solutions?

To return to recent events: the violent death of a child is a great tragedy. First of all for his mother, his father, his brothers, but also for all young people, for our society as a whole. His killer is a policeman. But that does not mean that today’s policemen are all brutes. Not only is this not true but it is unjust to claim it is. And the author of these lines knows only too well what that means: “Police”.

It is for this reason we should avoid generalisations, for that is how we lead young people down false paths. We hide the forest of reality from them behind the trees of fictitious reality.

I would like to address young people of today and say: Close your ears to the slavering flattery of those who are really trying to misdirect your anger and your energy towards false objectives, by turning you away from the real goals. It’s in THEIR interests that we kill each other by turning against each other. The objective is obviously not the owner of the shop in central Athens, working to earn his bread, his medicine and his children’s education – like your parents … During the “Iouliana” (the events of July 1965), one of the most turbulent periods in our history, young people took to the streets in their tens of thousands but never did we have the least catastrophe, although we had two deaths, Lambrakis and Petroulas, who were killed fighting for a better future. We defended our struggle and that’s why nothing went wrong, we did not let anything happen that could sully our fight.

And at the same time, that generation was creative. Never perhaps in our modern-day history did we have so many works in so many areas of creativity: poetry, literature, music and in all fields of the arts. These creations became combat weapons for young people, thanks to those who fought and created.

Tear off the hoods of the hooded ones. Do not allow them to sully your struggle. What do those “hoods” mean? The real militant and revolutionary is neither ashamed nor frightened to show his face. Do not let them sully the memory of Alexander by linking his face and his name to images of horror. That would be killing him a second time.

Open up paths. Resist the easy alternatives they insidiously place before you in an attempt to deceive you, claiming they are your own choices. Take your lives into your own hands and move on forward.

In a positive and creative spirit,

Mikis Theodorakis 

Translated from the Greek by Iraklis Galanakis.
Adapted by Guy Wagner
English Translation by Ariel Wagner-Parker


Alexandre Grigoropoulos is the young boy who was shot to death by police, sparking off the events that have plunged Greece into chaos.

"1-1-4" was the slogan of the Events of July 1965, when King Constantin II had thrown out George Papandreou of his functions as Prime Minister. Article 114 of the Hellenic Constitution placed this under the special protection of the people, so "Ena-Ena-Tessera" became the symbol of rallying against the reactionary apparatus of the State (see aboveTheodorakis's comment).


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