See Herzfeld 1982a on the Délesi Affair. For a very nuanced analysis of the issue of social brigandage in Greece and its relationship to the tradition of agrarian revolt and the development of the nationalist state see Damianakos 2005. On the impact that brigandage continued to have in the development of policing and the establishment of the gendarmerie see Mazower 1997. On the question of brigandage as political act see Hobsbawm 1965.
Chapter 1. 1963–2008: History, Microhistory, Metahistory, Ethnography
The civil war (emphýlios) in Greece, which followed the Second World War and lasted from 1946 to 1949, provided a pretext for the systematic use of camps by Greek governments starting in 1947. The camps both exploded and expanded an already-existing concept of exile that had been used under the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas, from 1936 to 1941, and that had been prepared for through small-scale exiles and a number of legislative gestures by the parliamentary democratic governments of the mid 1920s, specifically, the Papanastasiou government of 1924. All this, in turn, rested on the 1871 Law Concerning Brigandage and the Prosecution of Their Relatives. This law provided the death penalty for brigands and the ektopise of their families and “everyone suspected of providing coverage” for them. The law was introduced as a means of managing the problem of brigands in the countryside, especially after the Délesi Affair, when a group of English travelers were taken hostage by a group of brigands, who demanded ransom. The government refused, and the hostages were executed. Later the brigands were captured, tried, and executed, and their heads were publicly displayed.
The law remained intact and was not amended until the democratic government of Anastasios Papanastasiou introduced a Legislative Decree (Nomothetikó Diátagma), the 19–21 April/1924, whereby it decreed the institution of Committees of Public Security. These committees were charged with the administration of ektopismós by first identifying the suspicious elements in a community and then deciding on a place and duration of exile. The dictatorship of Pangalos (1925–26) introduced an amendment to this law (article 2, paragraph 7) whereby the 1871 Law Concerning Brigandage was specifically applied to the persecution and prosecution of the Communist Party. It amended the provision for the ektopismós of “everyone suspected of harboring brigands” to simply “everyone suspected [pantós hypóptou].” Both 19–21 April/1924 and Pangalos's amendment retained the principle of administrative ektopismós, effected by the Committees of Public Security without intervention by the court system. A new law, however, Law 4229/1929, which came to be known as Idiônymon and which was introduced in Parliament by a well-known liberal democratic parliamentarian, Eleutherios Venizelos, shifted the weight of the production of the dangerous person from the executive (the Committees) to the legislative (the courts). The law, without mentioning Communism or Marxism specifically (thus allowing the broadest interpretation of its articles), decreed that those ideas that have at their basis the violent overturn of the political system constitute a danger “to the quiet [dia ten hēsyhian]” of the citizens and ought to be “preemptively prosecuted [prolēptikê diōxis],” since the pursuit of their objectives by any means (not only violent attempts to change of the political system, but also nonviolent means, such as the development, dissemination, and application of theories and ideas) constituted a unique crime (an Idiônymon crime, a crime that had no parallel, no precedent, no affinity to any other), punishable by imprisonment and ektopismós . The Idiônymon cancelled the already-existing administrative ektopismós and turned the process over to the court system, introducing judicial ektopismós. (This was presumably a more democratic measure, since a court decision theoretically allowed for a process of appeal through the legal system, although such appeals were rarely heard. Even when they were, the decision of the committees was rarely changed.) Law 5174/1931 reinstated the Bill of Law of 1926 and reinstituted the Committees of Public Security, and the Bill of Law of 12–16 July/1932 decreed the ektopismós of those harboring brigands (lēstotróphoi) and all those resisting Law 4229 (the Idiônymon).
Ektopisis, or ektopismós, has been translated into English as “banishment.” See Voglis 2002 on the institution of ektopismós during the civil war, and Kenna 2001 for an example of ektopismós prior to the civil war, specifically, the islands of Anafi. Many other places were used before the civil war for ektopismós: the islands of Folegandros, Aghios Efstratios, and Gavdos; also Katouna and Kalpaki. In the latter, prisoners were forced to water wooden electricity poles “until they sprout leaves,” a form of torture that is not immediately recognizable as such but is homologous to the equally humiliating question that white voting officials used to pose to blacks who tried to register to vote before the Civil Rights Act of 1963: “How many bubbles are there in a bar of soap?” The impossibility of an answer, like the impossibility of the task of watering a wooden electricity pole, added insult and humiliation as part of the process of exclusion from the social body. Later on, on Makrónisos, prisoners were asked to catch flies and present them to the authorities.
Banishment has often been conflated with exile, denoting the physical removal of the exiled to another place but giving special emphasis to the fact that she is banished from her familiar surroundings, her environment, and her friends and relatives. I prefer, however, to leave the term untranslated, while I acknowledge that ektopismós is not coterminous with exile—the common term for that is exoria—so as to retain the emphasis on place, topos. Ek-topismós is literally the removal of an individual from her physical and thematic context, and it was effected for a set period of time (although it could always be extended at the discretion of the local security committee). In addition, it was taxonomized into two different protocols, which eventually became intertwined:
(a) Judicial ektopismós (Dikastike ektopisis), a measure added onto a legal sentence and effected after the end of a prison term at a place determined by the court as part of the sentence. This was reserved for counterfeiting, animal theft and animal killing, use of narcotics, contraband activities, espionage, evading the tax on alcohol, and (of most interest to us), for transgressions of the Third Resolution and of Law 509/1947, which delineated security measures taken to safeguard the state, the form of government, and social stability. It was conceived as a precautionary measure to avert new crimes.
(b) Administrative ektopismos (Dioiketike ektopisis), a precautionary measure taken by the local security committees against those suspected of possibly engaging in illegal acts in the future against public order and security. The security committee decided not only the length of the exile but also how long the exiled would be considered dangerous.
A number of laws established ektopismós as an administrative measure, such as the 1871 Law Concerning Brigandage, Law 19/4/1924, which established the committees of public security, Law 98/1946 on ektopismós of the families of military deserters, etc. Law 51/1947 added a number of restrictive provisions that delineated the specific living conditions of the exiled. The writer of the entry on ektopismós in the 1964 edition of the Papyros-Larrousse encyclopedia did not fail to note that “ektopismós, either as a sentence or as an administrative measure, is dangerous, judging from its results; in no way does it act as a precaution, but it destroys the exiled both socially and professionally. Especially as an administrative measure, where the exiled is deprived of the securities of the legal process, it often acquires a character that is opposed to the founding principles of modern law… as it stands against Article 5 of the international Convention of Rome.”
Ektopismós was a remnant from antiquity, both Greek and Roman (hyperória: “beyond the borders”), where it was reserved for serious crimes, especially those against the security of the state. Whereas exoria constituted a sentence for a crime already committed, ektopismós was a purely precautionary measure. The ektopisménoi (“the exiled,” ektopisthéntes in the linguistic purist version, kathareuousa, used at the time) were not only removed from a specific place, the one that constituted them as political and social beings, but they were moved to another place, always remote and minimally accessible, and always with strict orders not to come into contact with the native population (where it existed), so that the physical body of the exiled citizen would be effectively desocialized and depoliticized. Ektopismoi were effected at a number of places, mainly remote islands in the Aegean, with Agios Efstratios (Ai- Stratis), Anafi, and Gavdos among the principal ones. Ai-Stratis and Anafi were used again as places of exile during the civil war and afterward. Gavdos became famous during the trial of 17N because two of the main persons who were charged as operatives of the organization, Dimitris Koufondinas and Angeliki Sotiropoulou, used to take their vacations there.
Ektopismós is the official term used by the state in legislation and in sentencing, whereas exoria comes from common parlance. The latter focuses not on topos but on limits and borders. A common locution using exoria is the phrase zoun sten exoria tou Adam (“they live in Adam's exile”), used to refer to someone who lives far away from what is understood as a neighborhood, or a context. The locution, with its reference to the exile from Paradise, also underlines the undesirability of the situation, the fact that exoria is not undertaken voluntarily but is, rather, an act of punishment located within the power (pouvoir, not puissance) of the sovereign for an act of insubordination, of questioning the arbitrariness of the law (and the legislator). The noun exoria is produced from the locution ektos orion. Oria denotes the limits (physical, conceptual, imaginary, or phantasmatic) of a place, an action, or a thought; in legal terms, it indicates the displacement of a person outside national borders. The exorisménoi (exoristhéntes in kathareuousa) were sent outside the limits of their context, outside the confines of their existence, and they never did so willingly.
The Greek notion of exile is close to the articulation Edward Said has given us in his “Reflections on Exile”: the “unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home,” whose “essential sadness can never be surmounted” (2000 : 173). Exile should thus be distinguished from both self-exile and the condition of a refugee. Self-exile is ultimately a matter of agency (keeping in mind, constantly, the impossibility of true choice as a paradigm for action), where the self-exiled “takes the road of exile”(as the Greek expression is) as an alternative to annihilation, whether physical or political. A refugee is part of a massive and rapid forced exodus to a location that is not only alien and undetermined but also physically outside the national boundaries of his homeland. My position here is both linguistically and conceptually stricter than the one proposed by Liisa Malkki, who blurs the exile and the refugee in the case of the Hutu in Burundi (Malkki 1995).
The Argentinean term incile, as the opposite of exile, another judicial measure at the disposal of the state, is an interesting counterpoint. There the convicted is not allowed to leave his place, rather than being banished elsewhere. It is akin to the Greek kat'oikon periorismos (“home confinement”), except that in the Greek case the meaning is literal (one cannot leave one's house), whereas in the Argentinean case it applies to the country.
Here we can see local understandings of kinship (syggeneia) playing into the production of a local theory of danger. In Greece (as is evidenced in literature and ethnography) the family has always been thought of as the most intimate and private space in which the negotiation between the sovereign and the subject takes place. But it is also where the possibility of mobility becomes actualized, as family members engage in a simultaneous process of proximity (by performing the act of belonging) and distance (primarily through exogamy and migration, both internal and international) with regard to it. With this law, however, family and kinship collapse, denying any possibility of mobility from the family and treating kinship like a sort of unity of essence, a conceptual and analytical DNA for producing deviant, criminal, dangerous, and antisocial behavior. Certainly the law originally aimed to cut lines of support for brigands, but as it was taken up into the later legislative network, it came to invest kinship with almost metaphysical dimensions rather than operate pragmatically to contain crime.
I have translated literally the terminology for a form of legislation that seems to be unique to the Greek legal landscape. The executive branch can produce a decree (and order) that can then institute a law without being passed through the deliberative process of Parliament. It is not, strictly speaking, an executive order because it does produce a legal act within the juridical framework. See Alivizatos 1981.
The Greek term is Epitropai Demosias Asphaleias. Epitropes (noun, plural) is translated as “committees”; Demosias (adjective, feminine genitive) is translated as “public”; Asphaleias (noun, feminine genitive) can be translated as either “security” or “safety.” I have opted for “security,” for the following reasons. The term safety does not conjure up the official contours that the term security does (especially after 9/11 in the ominous U.S. Department of Homeland Security). But I also want to keep the genealogy of security, which can be traced back to the French Revolution.
Two constitutive events contributed to the construction of the Left in general, and the Communist Party in particular, as enemy and suspect. The first was the internationalist position that the Communist Party took against the First World War, and the second was the support for self-determination and sovereignty demanded by certain circles for the territories in Macedonia newly acquired as a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912 to 1913. If we keep in mind the fact that Franz Boas was censured by the American Anthropological Association in 1918 for taking a similarly internationalist approach toward the First World War (a censure that was not lifted until 2004), then the position of the Greek state acquires an international context.
Some of the main points in the Idiônymon (Law 4229/1929) bring out, as in a bas relief, the argument concerning the preemptive persecution of ideas and the process of constituting the category of the “dangerous person”:
For quite a while now, a minority that seeks the violent overthrow of the established social status quo by disseminating its principles and attracting followers, often through essays and underground means, has put in danger the security of society. The protection of society from the actions and methods of this minority is imperative. Such protection would not involve the prosecution of sociological, philosophical, or economic principles and ideas, because such an act would contradict the very bases of democracy, but it concerns ideas that, being based on the violent overthrow of the social system and (through that) on the imposition of a minority constitute a danger for the quiet of citizens.
To all this there has been added another dangerous class of people, who, obviously being instigated from abroad, support ideas regarding the separatism of certain areas of the country, using excuses related to those that support the overthrow of the social status quo. What is absent from our legislation is a precautionary prosecution of the preparation for such overthrow, which puts in daily danger the quiet and serenity of citizens.…
It would, however, be remiss [átopon] to let go unpersecuted an obvious gesture that, for the time being, is restrained to procuring followers but nonetheless will become dangerous for the security of the public. To this end, the submitted bill of law is restricted to the prosecution of the dissemination of such ideas of violent overthrow, because for the more serious cases the already-existing laws are adequate. Under this law, special harshness is reserved for those employed in the public sector, in any branch and at any rank, who, by being instruments of the State and managing its operations, place in grave danger the substance of society by participating in such a movement. To this end, their dismissal from their post is automatic in the event that they are convicted [of the crime of participation]. Their temporary dismissal, though, shall be based on the discretion of their local committee, in the event that their remand in custody is based on the suspicion of such involvement. …Because of the special nature of the crimes dealt with in this bill and the danger to public order that is often created by them, it has been deemed right to recognize explicitly the possibility of remand in custody in the case when there has not been a flagrante delicto arrest, and the District Attorney does not find it prudent to arrest by direct order on account of the need to collect of further evidence or for other reasons and the remand in custody, in the case of misdemeanors, cannot be effected without additional reasons according to the existing legislature, and for this particular reason to make impossible release upon bail, an act that would put in jeopardy the measures taken by the authorities in order to safeguard the quiet of citizens. . . .
Educators, even when they have not committed any act punishable by this law, who nevertheless engage in the propagation of Communist principles or insult the idea of the Homeland or the national symbols are irrevocably dismissed from their posts after the decision of their home committees.
As Voglis has noted (2002: 36), the Idiônymon inaugurated two measures that proved to be foundational for the later treatment of the Left in Greece. First, the law, although it did not make special provisions for political prisoners (therefore they were not exempt from forced labor, nor did they have any special allowances or treatments), made it explicit that they ought to be kept “in a special prison or in a special department of a prison,” thus opening the way for the special internment camps. Second, one of the provisions of the Idiônymon was that, if a prisoner petitioned for early release, the prisoner would have to declare that he or she had “repented” and would refrain from any further political activity, a measure that provided precedent for the eventual introduction of the dēlôseis metanoias of the Metaxas government.