From a country where personal identity and achievement don’t count anymore, Alexandros gives us an insight into issues that might swap over to many European… (non-)workers.
by William Franck
Alexandros Kastrinakis, Thessaloniki
(this interview took place one year ago!)
So, what do you think this interview is about?
I believe it should be an interview about our lives. An interview which could focus on people and societies, and hopefully would attract people’s interest on behalf of their lives, and their future.
What was the nicest event in your working life you remember of?
The nicest event coming in my mind is the fact of receiving a job, a payment for my work, an acceptance of my professional skills. So, into my mind would come the realization of my research labor…
Every event was emblematic until some years ago, but these are slowly drifting away. It is a question of personal dilemma, drifting memory as time goes by, and the environmental conditions changes so fast that one has not even the time to fully realize it… staying here and try, try even harder or leave! Having to decide whether to stay here and probably witness the destruction of most possibilities of working conditions. The system is just trying to protect its traditional nepotism.
What was your child’s dream, in meaning of work…?
My dream was to become a historian, since the age of six, after reading the Iliad for kids. Well, history and books are part of family tradition. This was a long story, with many emotional moments, heroism, mourning, tragedy, love, inspiration, tragic ends. I remember I loved the long descriptions of people and all these names, every name… every human and hero was presented with his skills… long descriptions of personal identity and achievements. The antagonism between Gods was nice too….especially when they took part in order to end a battle or change the course of it, or look after their protégé.
“Family tradition”… is there any half-god (demi-dieu) in your family’s history…
“Demi-dieu”….nice word, well for a kid’s eyes, my grandfathers, as they were partisans and had interesting stories. My cretan grandfather was a man of few words and, I would add, of clear visions, he preserved kindness and harshness together….One could find his figure in old type literature… He had participated in the partisan war, had hidden some important officials during the 2nd world war… and had to do his military service during the civil war which followed. He was neither an appassionato ideologist, nor was he impressed by parties easily… The later life was harsh for him! Most impressive of all, was the fact that, in the 80is when the government wanted to give pensions for partisans he didn’t accept it!
My other grandfather was a captain at the free communist army “ELLAS” and was condemned and executed by the state in front of my father’s eyes in 1949. Another long and tragic story as so many in war and post-war Eastern Europe….
There is a tradition of struggle… is there a kind of loop, historically speaking…
I would say it is more a question of “appartenance” into a group, meaning a political group or “family” which controls the state or its vital features. In this case, work and working conditions can be associated with the “appartenance” to such group. I would say it’s not about being extreme right or a partisan. Partisans or extreme identities can be of any political ideology. If you go through the last four millennia, so to speak (based on the existence of the Greek language), you can see some moments of great Gods. People of unimaginable sacrifice for the good of the society. These moments are counterbalanced by long historical times of betrayal.
Would you call it Greek drama?
You could say that too. Indeed those great heroes are often betrayed by their own people or by generations which included many traitors. This could be a nice historical research or even a cultural presentation-theme.
What would be these “traitors’s” energies?
Their personal Ego, the love of power or the preservation of their family bondages and family/personal career and wealth. The Iliad shows often the missing point of “Pan Metror Ariston”, moderation and “Gnothi sayton”, know yourself “nosce te ipsum”. This is a country where personal realization can hardly be brought forth, right now. Moderation as a means in political life and achievements….The elite which controls this country (including all major parties left and right) and the behavioral identity they have for decades brought forth, limits personal freedom as a means of personal realization for someone, as a scientist or as a member of this society or as a poet or artist in general. If you want to be someone you have to “play by the rules”. The rules are dictated by an oligarchic approach of politics and society (which can be found in the mentality of both left and right or in the corrupt high levels of the trade union’s system).
What do you make your living out of?
I make it by what I can… when approximately two millions are unemployed in a country of eleven millions. And approximately one million already have left (with a great number of elders too)….. Everybody can imagine….I and others do whatever we can….In fact, I probably will leave the country too. Translations were useful in the last years for me personally but this cannot become a long time job nowadays. I am a historian, a researcher, but researchers are not needed here, unless you cooperate with the system, which might provide some kind of options. By cooperation with the system, I mean a political party (whether left or right) or some kind of relation with another type of influential group.
Have you experienced fear, anger, fury at work in the past?
I experience a great anxiety as a social scientist and to the extent of my possibilities the limits or the incapacity to assist the society and fulfill the obligations of a scientist. For that purpose I created and worked on the short documentary related to the actual crisis. Having been with other people and among other people organized into various socially involved groups, I found out that the society was caught unprepared and is being demolished in a fastness and vastness an ice-berg breaks down in July…
The crisis has destroyed most other possibilities, a part of the fact that the envisioned policies by the troika and their local collaborators have brought the local market and private sector to its knees. As local collaborators, I intend the governments of the last four years and the political system that backs them. Furthermore although the system keeps the core of the state untouched, it tries to destroy bit by bit even pieces of this core.
For instance universities are closing down. As the national radio and television broadcasting (ERT) did… And faculties, hospitals and important branches of the state apparatus redimensionned. Bringing back the country in the conditions of the early fifties (the early fifties was a period of absolute control and absolute destitute for many people destitute period). By closing down the ERT, the political elite just expressed its allegiance to the oligarchic power in the country, which is present in private TV.
What would you do in your daytime, if you had a guaranteed income, and wouldn’t have to work anymore?
Well in my case, I would be much more socially involved, as new ideas and social groups are spreading and as the society is being torn apart….it is a war against time…..in order to make sure that things do not turn nasty in the country as so often in its history (to mention only the twentieth century). Politics is our human condition and nature and in order to see some change or different mentality views you need to embrace the society….
use this link for the documentary:
Do you feel free to talk the way you want to, is there any danger… consequence?
Consequences for sure… even the fact of having produced my documentary….I wouldn’t think of danger….they don’t need to wipe us out or imprison us in some remote Island of the Aegean Sea. They have used more subtle ways… They have used the social dismantling of the society… This is a general problem found in western societies, and by reading this you could try to prevent it from happening in your countries…
Some examples are:
The control of the core of the state by different political groups which use the mechanisms of high level syndicalism in order to control the masses and especially employees in vital state’s structures, organizations and establishments.
The use of intelligentsia in whatever terms and ways suits the purposes of these oligarchic political groups and their foreign allies.
The use of the nomenclatura through money, positions and career opportunities in order to elude the public and the ranks of the middle class workers and employees (especially in the state mechanism).
The use of an extreme consumerism as a means to an end for the society in order to achieve disinterest, degrade its understanding, nullify its level of education and capabilities and achieve a long term dysfunctional society
The use of a Mass Media industry which destabilizes the self-preservation instinct of an entire society, by disinforming and confusing and which presents its own interests as the “raison d’être” of the whole society.
The use of the legal foundations of the country in order to assure no possibility of trials for political misdeeds and corruption of government officials and high ranking officials. This is possible through the control of the higher levels of the judiciary system and by the long-term changes in the constitution and other laws made possible throughout the late 80is and the 90is.
The use of the European Union as a means for political control. The money, the prestige and the pressure by the European Union has been used for internal conditioning or for political influence from abroad.
These are just a few ways of modern control. More examples can be given in order to understand the mechanism of the crisis and the troika ways of handling and effects. Yet most disturbing of all would be the fact that in the macro history of this culture (based in its language for four thousand years now) there has never been a more educated and well-prepared, trained generation in a massive scale as those today between the age of 40-70. And yet conditioned by our modern world, this generation seems to have somehow accepted its downfall and the destruction of future generations. This should be a warning for other countries and societies, a historical example for you to take into consideration and be aware of…as to some possible effects of our modern society…
So you would say, there is a point of no return? What is your plan?
There are many and different plans…..as conditions deteriorate in different countries. I can tell you for sure, that I will continue working on documentaries as a modern way of approaching people and sharing history and information with them….History is patriae pater of all sciences as we would be almost nothing without it and almost no change, improvement of continuity would be possible without it and the knowledge it provides….In our time we see a clear abuse of history as such in order to misinform and manipulate the people……In this “mental war” documentaries can play a major role as a modern way of sharing and understanding.
Furthermore history overcomes death, as it allows for all kind of human creativity to be passed on and thrive.
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