By Chris Spannos at Jun 06, 2009
The past four blogs have been mostly coverage of the B-Fest anti-authoritarian festival here in Athens, Greece. And although I and others from Z were invited here for the festival, which ended last Sunday, the main purpose was to learn about what is happening here in Greece after last Decembers social uprising and to make long-term contacts. So far these purposes have been very successful. We have been conducting numerous daily interviews and meetings with diverse people and groups.
Last Tuesday we went to the island of Aegina where we met with one of the world's leading scholars and journalists on the murder of George Polk. The name may sound familiar to you as the "Polk Award," named after George, is given every year to those honored in the field of journalism by the Long Island University in New York. George Polk was an U.S. journalist killed in May 1948 during the Greek civil war. He was found dead, floating in the Greek port of Salonika, shot point-blank in the back of the head and with his hands and feet tied, after trying to arrange a meeting with the communist resistance. It is widely believed that the U.S. had Polk murdered for trying to meet with the communist leader Markos.
Long-time ZWriter Nikos Raptis (pictured below) took us to the home of the above mentioned Greek journalist, who was instrumental in covering Polk's murder from the very beginning. To quote a 2005 ZNet commentary written by Nikos:
In 1948, the year of Polk's murder, the US was putting the foundations of the post-World War Two phase of the Cold War. Polk "was the first victim of the Cold War", as I.F. Stone, a great and honest American, said at the time. Greece was under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1944. In December 1944, the British (with the assistance of the US Air Force) attacked the Greek Resistance army, their ally against the Nazis, to prevent the victory of the Left in the coming elections and the formation of a government by the Greek Left. The British forced the Resistance army to disarm and then with the help of the Greek rightists and the former Greek collaborators of the Nazis they started executing and torturing the members of the Resistance or any Greek that was not "with us" ("us" being the British and the Americans) by the tens of thousands.
Raptis wrote that Polk's writings defended U.S. intervention in Greece at the time, however, they were also critical of the U.S. policy of violence against the revolt.
Above, left to right: Michael Albert, Nikos Raptis, and Lydia Sargent
One of the things that stands out in my visit here is the long history of Greek resistance and revolt both against internal and external repressive forces. This rebellious history spans generations, and walking around Athens during the European Union elections, where there is intense campaigning going on by all the parties---KKE (Stalinists), PASOK (neo-liberals), New Democratic Party (Rightists), SYRZIA (Left Coalition), etc., and spending most of our time with anti-authoritarians, anarchists, anarcho-communists, social ecologists, autonomists, and Castoriadian's---it is obvious that serious politics is always above the surface here. As we were told by a friend last night, and this was said in different ways by others we've spoken to over the past week and a half, since last December's uprising, the anarchists and anti-authoritarians are recognized by the other political groups and those non-political too. Although there are serious personal and political differences between them, as well as lots in common, all are aware of the anarchist presence in the streets when they can call for a rally and get more people to march and engage in militant actions than many of the existing Left parties.