The feminist political philosopher Eleni Varikas insists that I put the appellation “democratic” in quotation marks when I refer to this period. I do want to insist, however, that, however rigged, forced, and disingenuous the elections that produced those governments were, there was an insistence on the performativity of the rule of law, on the constant iteration and reiteration of the discourse of legality as producing legal order, that is of primary importance to my project overall. I am trying to show that the performance of the legal speech act, the invocation of law at the very moment the same law was being broken, was the ground on which the violation and abuse of civil and human rights took place at that time.
The mid-sixties, before the junta, witnessed a tentative attempt by the Left to initiate a coherent, cogent, and systematic account of the Left and the actions taken by the Greek state (of Right-wing or Centrist leanings) to suppress it. Apart from Foivos Grigoriadis's To Andártiko (the first book mentioned in this study), Nikos Margaris's History of Makrónisos, published in 1963, was such an attempt, as were two books by Spyros Linardatos on the Metaxas dictatorship. During the junta, Constantine Tsoucalas's The Greek Tragedy, published in London in 1969, was the first attempt to provide a cohesive narrative of political developments in Greece from the inception of the modern Greek state to the dictatorship of 1967 while delineating the measures that were taken by the state to eliminate all critical political discourse.
What such attempts were trying to do was to put in writing, to bring up to the level of public discourse, indeed, to make public and discursive something that the whole of Greece was experiencing as private and unspeakable: the reality and the specter of all those who had spent anything from two or three to twenty-two or twenty-three years in prison, in the army, in concentration camps, in exile, or in plain fear. These were attempts to explain the fear that permeated the air, despite the “democratic” government in place, the whispers and the silences, the circuitous explanations about why someone who held a university degree and was fully qualified to teach, work at a bank, or in the public sector was, instead, employed at a small factory, selling books from door to door, surviving by giving private lessons, being a private accountant, or renting a small hole in the wall, off the beaten track of downtown, selling souvlaki and gyro sandwiches. Obviously the Right wing was oblivious to (and, occasionally, even ignorant of) all this, seated comfortably in the seat of the right and the correct, content in its satisfaction that this only happened elsewhere, to other people, to “the others,” who had been asking for it. Thus all discussion was stifled; the cards were drawn, East was East and West was West, and that was the way it would be.