Composer lashes out at America
The famous composer Mikis Theodorakis is angry and he is showing it. He has never been one to keep his opinions secret, even if it turns out to be at his own expense. However, never eager to give interviews, he only speaks out when he has something to say. In this interview with Kathimerini last week, he had a lot to say. Many people are saying that the history of the 21st century began on September 11, 2001. Do you agree that the world is changing? September 11 was no doubt a great shock but I can’t say that it changed the world. Perhaps things are different for the USA, since this is the first time it has been attacked on its own territory. That fact has created a sense of fear and insecurity around the world, where people were wondering how that giant, which is armed to the teeth, would react, considering the language used by President Bush in the first hours of the panic. They had to blow off steam somehow. And that’s what they did. But this accumulation of bodies is not worthy of the myth of the sole superpower. Was the thirst for revenge worth killing all those starving people who have suffered so much from the barbarity of the Taleban regime, only to become the latest victims of those who traveled over 30,000 miles from home, allegedly to punish the Taleban? I hope that as time cools the Americans’ passions they will begin to see things more logically, as they did during the Vietnam War. The problem remains, however, as to when the rest of us will begin to react coolly, rationally and above all, justly. Who, in your opinion, is the demon of our times? Socialism has been defeated, and along with it every thought of social, global, international solidarity with those who are different or weak. When society closed its doors to solidarity, it opened another to the rule of the powerful, extending from the simplest of relationships right to the top, to the USA, not as a nation, of course, but as a doctrine served by other leaders. This is undoubtedly our current demon, because it turns the modern world into an endless jungle. Perhaps humanity needs its demons. In history there have often been periods in which a demon reigned supreme. We have to accept that human societies have developed at their own pace, with their own achievements, and their own failures under various demons. Unfortunately, people have not been able to rid themselves of their protectors. What does bin Laden represent, in your opinion? The bin Ladens of this world are nothing but the poisonous antibodies arising from the unnatural conditions experienced by billions of people under the demonic hegemony of the powerful, for whom injustice is the first and last Virtue. Whoever is not with us is with the terrorists, according to the American president. This is incorrectly put and subject to several interpretations. Osama bin Laden, as well as the Taleban, were created by US policy. It isn’t the first time something like this has happened. How many terrorist regimes have been set up from scratch around the world in order to annihilate innocent civilians? Wasn’t our own junta a purely terrorist regime? Someone has to eventually tell President Bush that it was his country that trained the terrorists in modern electric shock torture to be used against the defenders of freedom and democracy in our country. Does anyone not know with whom the Americans were allied at that time? None other than the terrorists who were trampling on entire peoples. On how many occasions have the Americans cooperated with terrorists? As long as they were striking at other peoples. The difference between us is that we have never been with terrorists and we have always condemned, and we still condemn, terrorism in all its forms. When President Bush asks us all to help wipe out the specific terrorist organization that killed so many people in Manhattan, of course we agree, but who is asking us? Even before they had recovered from the initial shock, they had found the guilty party. They had found the answers to all the burning questions and, without asking anyone, they sent off aircraft carriers, destroyers, bombers, missiles, commandos and bombs to arrest, at most, about 100 people! The leaders of Al Qaeda. If it is possible to believe them, that is. We see the results every night on the news. Humble homes, schools, hospitals, warehouses and above all innocent children and women, dead and injured with absolutely no access to medical care. The long caravans heading out of the hellfire into nothing but a slow death in the cold, without food, water or medicines. Who can explain the reason for so much misery wrought upon so many, mostly women and children, in the hundreds of thousands? Western intellectuals appear to be divided. On the one hand, there are those who speak of a blind anti-Americanism and then there are others who say that terrorism is the USA’s latest excuse to consolidate its hegemony. The rich countries of Europe have a thousand and one reasons to be America’s good children. After all, their economies are an integral part of the aggressive American economy that divides the world into favored and non-favored nations, into developed and developing nations, rich and poor, in other words, victims and aggressors. I have said this before. Greece has never been with the aggressors. On the contrary, it has often been a victim, and that is why, although it is good to be in a rich man’s club, it is also dangerous to believe that we will ever be like them. The bombardment of unarmed civilians in Afghanistan is a repeat of what happened in Yugoslavia. We are the only European people that said, and are saying, almost unanimously, NO! The Americans as well as the Europeans should ask themselves the reasons for this unbridled hatred, why so many young people would commit suicide, taking with them so many thousands of innocent people. And it isn’t over yet. Young terrorists, just as full of hate as their predecessors, are spreading panic and death with biological warfare. What should we say? That this was the first time a people have been attacked? And forbid any mention of similar or worse blind attacks on other innocent peoples? Why? Because the Americans are the one and only chosen people? Or because these are the first and only terrorists in world history? That is the real meaning of racism. If I say that the Americans have killed millions of innocent people in the East and West, then they accuse me of equating things that are not the same. I heard the argument that when unarmed civilians are killed en masse by societies and states then it is legitimate. So it is not the result but the means that is important. But that is the way to justify what have been the greatest crimes against humanity so far. What else was the Third Reich but a state? The brutal truth today is that America is reaping what it has been sowing for more than the last half century all around the world from inside its own territory, which is no longer impregnable. But that is not for me to say. What is certain is that the bin Ladens of the world could never exist if these huge inequalities did not exist. The sole responsibility for this lies with the USA and its European allies. Greek interests vis-a-vis Europe Anti-Americanism in Greece has almost become a cause for war, politically and socially. Where does all this come from? It would be unfair to say that the Greek people do not like the Americans. Exactly the opposite is true. The vast majority of Greeks are very favorably disposed toward Americans, many millions of whom are of Greek origin. That is why we feel sympathy for the great suffering brought about by the recent tragedy. I would add here that, for some decades now, large numbers of Americans have been undergoing a process of brainwashing aimed at distorting events and keeping them uninformed about the policies being implemented by their leadership at the expense of foreign peoples. Just the other day I heard a distinguished American journalist say on television that the government was concealing the truth about Afghanistan, making public only selected news items. Those of us who lived through World War II and saw the great contribution made by the USA to the victory against Fascism, felt a great sense of disappointment after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as we found no way to justify that terrible crime against innocents. Unfortunately, from that time on, we have been counting bodies, always unarmed civilians, in the hundreds of thousands, culminating in the 3 million victims in Vietnam. They tell us that America is the home of freedom and respect for human rights. Perhaps that is true in their own country, although even that is doubtful now. However, their international practices in every sector – economic, political, military – show that the American authorities have only one god – their own interests, and they are prepared to do anything to defend them. As for us, among other things, they imposed a seven-year military dictatorship on us and were mainly to blame for the loss of 40 percent of Cyprus and 100,000 refugees. Isn’t that enough? Do you think Europe is taking advantage of the historic opportunity that many believe is being offered it to become an independent power? I talked about Europe earlier. I would like to believe that the interests of European peoples will lead them to seek new policies in the direction of disengaging themselves from the hegemony of the United States of America. If that ever does happen, I think that Europe’s historic role should be to consolidate peace which should include a more just distribution of global wealth, the abolition of unacceptable inequalities between the peoples of the world, a limit to the unaccountability of the USA and the abolition of the Americans’ main tool for manipulating Europe, in the form of NATO. What about the stance of the Greek government and political party leaders? During the crisis in Yugoslavia I had said, when asked about the discrepancy between the government’s position and public opinion, that we were a people with two policies. That could not last for long without resulting in a national schism. Those who have chosen to govern should realize that nothing is easy and that at some point they will have to pull the poker out of the fire. During times of tension and national crisis, such as now, I do not think it is logical or proper to give advice – unless one has the comprehensive view that the government is supposed to have – and, especially, when one bears none of the responsibility. I believe that our politicians in general, and in government in particular, are responsible people, but I reserve the right to to express my views and my opposition within the bounds of the constitution. In the final analysis, everything depends on the Greek people. If, for example, they come to the demonstration in Syntagma Square on November 8 to express their opposition to the American strikes against Afghanistan, if they make their presence felt. The more vocally and visibly they do that, the more the government will take notice. I hope the same will take place in Europe, and, why not, in America. What, in your opinion, is the biggest casualty of the war so far? The people, power, the truth, individual rights, the self-sufficiency of cultures or something else?