[OPE-L:8539] Re: (Anti-terror hysteria in the USA and Europe)

From: jmilios@hol.gr
Date: Mon Mar 03 2003 - 07:41:02 EST

Dear Jerry,

The Bernadette Devlin McAliskey incident does not surprise me at all. 
On the night of Wednesday, February 12, 2003 the 58 years old Venios (Eugene) 
Angelopoulos, Professor of Mathematics at the National Technical University 
(Polytechnic) of Athens (NTUA) arrived at the JFK international airport of New 
York, to participate in a conference in honour of Aristides Baltas, a Marxist 
Professor of Philosophy at the NTUA. The Conference had been organized by the 
Department of Philosophy at NYU under the title "Philosophy as Politics" and 
was held at the Jurow Hall in NY on February 15, 2003. 
When he arrived at the airport, Venios (who since 1993 had traveled three times 
to the USA) was immediately detained by the immigration police and kept for 
more than four hours in a room, double-cuffed (in his arms and knees), waiting 
for an FBI agent to interrogate him on matters of terrorism. He was un-cuffed 
only when the agent arrived. At the beginning, the FBI agent asked him if he 
(Venios) is an "Anti-American" and then focused on Venios’s acquaintance, back 
in the period 1967-69 in Paris, with Alexandros Yotopoulos, a major defendant 
in the "17th of November" terrorist group (17N) case, whose trial began today 
(March 3, 2003) in Athens. They also took his fingerprints, to compare them, as 
they said, with the ones they had in their files. After denying any 
relationship with the 17N group, Venios was released and allowed to enter the 
US. Before releasing him, however, the FBI agent made clear to him, politely, 
that the US government could offer him a considerable amount of money, if he 
was willing to cooperate in the anti-terror campaign. He replied, "I do not 
have anything to sell" and left. The incident made a top story in most Greek 
newspapers and tvs, after Venios returned home and held an open interview to 
the press, in the presence of the rector of the NTUA. 
Venios had actively participated in the resistance against the Greek military 
dictatorship, 1967-74; however, he had never been arrested at that period (and 
of course not after the restoration of parliamentarism in 1974). He did not 
have any dealing or affair with the Greek or any other police or court. This 
has been his first and only case.

So, the only (and major) problem is not that the Americans cuffed and 
interrogated Professor Angelopoulos. The problem is why and how (by what means, 
based on what "legal" procedure etc.) Greek authorities have created a file of 
his as a "suspected terrorist" and have distributed this file to the "anti-
terror" agencies of foreign countries. This also seems to me that may be the 
case regarding Bernadette.
On this issue I can speak in detail only about Greece. However, there is ground 
for a certain generalization: Most governments in Europe have found the 9/11 
events as a good chance to put forward an "anti-terror" legislation and 
measures, which in the last instance attack the political rights of the labour 
movement and of left initiatives and organizations. This process has started 
even before the 9/11 and is most obvious in the case of Greece, especially 
after the arrest of 17N:

The anti-terror legislation has always been a matter of dispute between the 
Conservatives (the "New Democracy" party) and the Socialists (the PASOK party), 
and PASOK had ruled out the anti-terror laws of the Conservatives when it 
returned to power in 1993. However, in 2000 PASOK passed a new anti-terror 
bill, which was activated in 2002, after the arrest of the 17th of November 
(17N) group. 
This group has been, in the last 20 years, a small, secluded armed organization 
following a populist-nationalist ideology and executing either "national 
enemies" (American and Turkish diplomats), or "traitors" (industrialists 
breaking the laws on foreign direct investment, “corrupt” politicians and 
judges, etc.). It has portrayed itself as an "anti-imperialist" force, fighting 
for "national independence" and socialism, focusing on the struggle against 
American imperialism.
To my view, "anti-Americanism" (in Greece as in most cases, I think) is mostly 
nationalism, i.e. an ideology which is hostile to Marxism and the viewpoint of 
class struggle. Even in its "anti-imperialist" versions, nationalism 
substitutes the idea of class struggle with the idea of a "struggle between 
nations", with one's own country being conceived as the "innocent victim" of 
foreign powers (exactly in the way that the historiography of the ruling 
classes interprets their past failures in expansionist projects, etc.).
With the dislocation of the 17N, the government and the press have tried to put 
pressure on the Left, to convince it to denounce all forms of political 
violence that have ever taken place in History, or are probable to take place 
again in the future (any idea of violence as the "motive force" of historical 
evolution). Hopefully, the Left has resisted to these pressures. 
What is most peculiar in the new "war against terrorism" of the Greek state, is 
that for the first time since the civil war 1946-49, the government uses the 
press to launch a witch-hunt against dozens of left activists or resistance 
fighters during the junta period (1967-74). These people are being described by 
the press as terrorists, who are going to be arrested soon. Among those who 
have been accused by the press to be terrorists is also George Economakis, 
Professor of Economic Analysis at the University of Aegean and co-author with 
me and Dimitri Dimoulis of "Karl Marx and the Classics". According 
to "information" repeatedly published in certain newspapers since last 
November, he had been a member of 3 (!) terrorist groups (the 17N included). 
However, apart from the people already arrested as members of 17N, four others 
who have been detained for participation in an armed group called ELA, which 
though has been dissolved since 1995 and Yannis Serifis, a union leader to 
whose case I will refer below, no one has been indicted. The Lawyers’ Union of 
Athens as well as the Union for the Protection of Human Rights in Greece has 
repeatedly protested against these government tactics of using the press to 
denounce people with radical views as terrorists. Venios Angelopoulos had been 
described as a radical resistance fighter during the junta period in a book 
written by two journalists, who nowadays make a career be "revealing" 
Now the Serifis case: Several months after the first arrest of 17N members, the 
63 years old Yannis Serifis (YS), a leading figure of the Greek labour 
movement, was also arrested on charges of being a member of the group, on the 
basis of a testimony (which has though been later recalled) by his cousin 
Pavlos Serifis, who confessed that himself had been a former member of 17N. 
What makes the YS case obviously a police fabrication, is not only the lack of 
any evidence apart of his cousin’s, (now recalled), testimony [which is of no 
legal value, since (a) according to a traditional legal postulate of 
continental European law "a guilty person cannot name guilty anyone else", and 
(b) Pavlos Serifis now declares that this testimony was taken under extreme 
pressure], but also the fact that YS belongs to an absolutely different from 
the 17N political stream of the Left: YS could be described as an "anarcho-
communist", i.e. a communist fighting for "direct democracy" in the factory and 
in society, and opposing all forms of party- or group-organization of the Left, 
in favour of workers’ basis-group networks (acting openly, in order to 
practically "knead" the idea of socialist revolution and of workers’ power 
among the labouring classes). He had been once more brought to trial on charges 
of terrorism more than 20 years ago but had been found "not-guilty" by the 
jury. Ever since he has been a "customary suspect" for the police. In the early 
nineties he had become a union’s leader in the syndicate (trade union) of 
Public Transportation. (Anyone interested may seek information in English on 
the YS case in the site: http://www.yserifis.org/)
The arrest of YS created a vast reaction from nearly all parts of the Greek 
Left and from the labour movement (leading trade-unionists, whole workers’ 
Federations, citizens’ initiatives etc.). Even the former Minister of Justice 
of the PASOK governments (having served in office for many years), Evangelos 
Yannopoulos, has called the detention of YS "a crime against justice".  Under 
this pressure, Greek authorities have set free YS shortly after his arrest, 
stopping his "temporary detention" before trial, but they still accuse him of 
being a member of the 17N group. Negating all legal tradition in the country, 
they do not feel obliged to prove their accusations, but they call him to prove 
that he is not a 17N member!
The YS case, as well as the witch-hunting of Left activists by the press shows 
that the government makes use of the "war against terrorism" in order to 
proceed, in a "trial and error" way, against the Left and the labour movement 
and its rights, starting from (what the government evaluates as) the 
politically "most vulnerable" parts of the revolutionary Left. It seems to me, 
that the "war against terror" may not always be successful, in its effort to 
target the labour movement and the Left, when it faces the joint opposition of 
left forces and the labour movement.



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