Lymberiou, Theodoros M. 2005. To Kommounistiko Kinema sten Hellada. Tomos A (The Communist Movement in Greece. Vol. A).. Athens: Papazeses.
Second, a number of measures were introduced to put the Idiônymon into effect as it was originally conceived. Lymberiou scornfully notes: “they [previous governments] thought they were going to manage the communists the way they had managed the brigands,” underlining the effectiveness of the new measures that the Metaxas government undertook Lymberiou 2005: 165). The persecutions of Metaxas were so brutal that they have become a synecdoche for political oppression and persecution. Retsinolado (castor oil) and the expression “they put ice on him [tou'valan pago]” have become metonymies for punishment and reprimand, respectively. Since the Idiônymon prosecuted ideas, Metaxas (through Maniadákis) sought to debunk ideas by introducing two measures: the “declarations of repentance [dēlôseis metanoias]” and the “certificates of social convictions [pistopoiētiká koinōnikôn phronēmátōn],” or certificats de civisme .
Obligatory Law 1075/1938, introduced by Maniadákis, set the legal framework and the specific procedure to be followed for the institution and extraction of the dēlôseis, although dēlôseis were being extracted long before there was a specific law about them. Over and above creating a legal platform that would have to be challenged in court, something absolutely impossible during the dictatorship, the law delineated the process through which the dēlôsis, having been extracted from the accused by any means whatsoever, would then be announced publicly through the press in the daily newspapers of Athens, through the press in the signer's place of origin and residence, and by the priest at the signer's parish. In this manner, the act of repentance would not remain an empty gesture of complicity between the state and the party member but would place the state in the position of intermediary agent between the repentant and his newly produced social context. The secrecy that had hitherto organized the daily life and social contacts of the Communist would be publicly repudiated, and the signatory would be publicly recognized as law-abiding, both “being safe and certain reasons for his dismissal from the Party, while he becomes useless and suspect of counterintelligence against them,” as Maniadákis noted in the explanatory memorandum that he circulated Lymberiou 2005: appendix).
The legalization of the dēlôseis was met with apprehension. It produced a number of reactions within government circles, where people asked the logical question: What would prevent the Party from directing its members to sign the dēlôseis so that they could be released and return to Party work? On February 8, 1938, the undersecretary for security (that is, Maniadákis himself) immediately drafted, issued, and circulated the aforementioned internal explanatory memorandum 18/106/2, “On the exact meaning of the dēlôseis metanoias submitted by the Communists,” which was sent to all general directors and prefects, the chiefs of the gendarmerie and the city police, the high commands of the gendarmerie, and the directors of the city police and the gendarmerie, and which sought to explain exactly what those documents were by presenting the position of the Communist Party toward them and the corresponding governmental position. Maniadákis explained that the Party had already formulated the position that under no circumstances should Party members sign the declarations, since it would be impossible afterward for the Party to be able to discern among those who signed as a strategic move, those who signed because they found themselves in a momentarily weak position, and those who signed because they had genuinely reconsidered their position. This reasoning by Maniadákis does not take into account the fact that the Party had indeed instructed a number of its members to sign the declarations so that they would be able to return to the Party, although he does concede that of the two thousand released repentant Communists the state had recaptured only four for having returned to Party activity.
Retsinolado is a concoction produced from the oil of the poisonous seeds of the bush Ricinus communis, commonly known in the United States as castor oil. Ricinus communis seeds contain the toxin ricin, which enters the intestinal wall and causes severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. If the victim survives the first three days, then death has been averted. Restinolado was administered via a funnel (not unlike what we see nowadays happening at fraternity parties during spring break, or the force-feeding of geese and ducks to produce fois gras). The person to whom it was administered was usually placed on a block of ice and left there for several days. See [Additional text N/A yet].
Certificats de civisme is the felicitous translation given by Stavros Papadopoulos (1967) for these certificates. The Greek term is koinonika phronemata, literally meaning “social thoughts,” what really constitutes the characteristic qualities of the citizen, of the person who is obliged to serve the civic sphere and be indebted to it for her existence as a social subject. Phronēsis is a term that has been deeply excavated by philosophy and, more recently, social science. In various works by Plato, phronēsis is presented as one of the four cardinal virtues, being a poetic (as in creating, constructing) force of human well-being, one that is cognizant of what is good and what is bad, one that allows the human to evaluate what can be done and what ought not to be done. In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, phronēsis correlates to age, but in either case, Plato's or Aristotle's, it transcends the meaning “knowledge.” Phronema (phronemata in the plural), then, becomes the nous, the mind, the disposition that combines desire, will, and intention and develops with the acquisition of knowledge and the accumulation of experience. Phronēsis then produces phronema, which in turn animates and organizes action, as it provides the context of knowledge, prudence, and will, which are the principles behind action. The certificates of political phronemata, then, sought to address this particularity in the constellation of political action in Greece, underlining questions of intent and desire. The certificates are not unlike, in their conception, the Certificates of Loyalty introduced in the United States with the 1940 Smith Act.
Voglis 2002 and Herzfeld 1998 argue that the dēlôseis metanoias are conceptualized along the lines of the Christian notion and practice of repentance. I do not disagree entirely with this analysis, but I think that something beyond Christian affect organized the logic of repentance for Maniadákis. He repeatedly brought up the strength of rational thought in the effort to rehabilitate the Leftists, claiming that if Communism could take Communists away from the nation, then nationalism could bring them back, so long as the conditions that made them turn to Communism in the first place were met (such as poverty and social inequality). See Lymberiou 2005; Anonymous 1937.
On phronēsis in the social sciences, see Flyvbjerg 2001, in which Flyvbjerg calls for the abandonment of a social science based on the epistemologies of the “objectivist” hard sciences, a turn away from the desire to be predictive, and a focus, instead, on “context, practice, experience, intuition, and practical wisdom,” all of which he reads as constitutive of Aristetelian phronēsis. See also Geertz 2001 for a review of Flyvbjerg.
The plant (castor oil plant), from which the concoction was produced. The plant grows wild everywhere in southern Greece, on road sides and in open fields. It is a sight as common as that of hemlock, although rarely recognized for what it is. Photograph by the author.
The poet Titos Patrikios, who had been sent to Makrónisos as a drafted soldier, mentioned that one thing that contributed to his not signing a declaration was the story of one of his uncles, who during the Metaxas period had been instructed by the Party to sign a declaration so that he could then be released and return to Party activity. This uncle was later accused by the Party for having signed the declaration, dismissed, and shunned. There are, obviously, no Party records on this practice, although some cases of high-ranking members who were directed to sign a declaration are well known (personal communication).