Political Development

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Profession/ Current priorities

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[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Jan 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Liana Kanelli

Political Development

1. What made you decide to go into politics?
The Ocalan case due to the great popular reaction caused also by the attitude of the Greek government that ignored it or invoked it arbitrarily contributed to my involvement in politics. Immediately afterwards, the war in Yugoslavia affected me. Also the systematic monitoring of international news during the last decade and the understanding of the nightmarish dimensions of globalisation and the conception of the new era made an impact. I have tried to resist at a journalistic, social as well as at a personal level. I became conscious of the fact that politics, which I believed I would never be concerned with, was the only practical manner to resist this nightmare. For this reason, I was not invited to go to politics. I went over and knocked on doors; I said "Hello, here I am, what can I do?" I understood that you cannot change the world alone; therefore, the individual effort even if it was good as well as my conflicts in the media, had no result. Very often, I also found myself with the viewpoint that I come into conflict for subjective and financial reasons, something that is false. I could say that, every time that I had a conflict, I was losing from my income and from my prestige, instead of gaining. The journalists and the Mass Media interpreted my many moves and ideological conflicts with those owning the media arbitrarily. Thus, after the Ocalan case, there was no other way out than to take to the streets. Now I am an advocate of the view that states, "take the streets back". It seems that this was done much earlier than Seattle.
The first time, however, that I went into politics (1983-84 period) I had a major question: What fuel did the machines of the Third Reich use? Who sold it to them? And who profited from this? The answer, then, seemed to me to be naive and I did not say it in public easily. This, however, began to be confirmed at the beginning of the 1990s, when the tripartite alliance (USA, EU with Germany at the lead and Japan) was formed. During my whole life I was wondering as a Greek: Brother, don't we belong to the victors of the Second World War? Wasn't the Soviet state a victor? How did we find ourselves outside, whilst two greatly defeated and one victor were inside the tripartite alliance? And why is England, who also has oil and so many other things, outside the Euro-zone? Why should we surrender the most ancient currency of Europe to the Euro? This famous Nazi-American or American-Anglo-Saxon alliance was very well consolidated. You can only watch them at the ceremony of the new NATO doctrine in a Roman legions style, when they appeared like an old empire. You become conscious of the accumulation of capital the Cold War has brought to them and to what extent they have undermined the socialist regimes. Today, without any wars, or with local small wars, we have reached a point where they are again pals with those who, in the Second World War, counted 60 million dead.

2. Did/Do you have a role model?
Never in my life. There were people in politics, whom I admired for their stand. I could say effortlessly, since I was a child, they were Rosa Luxemburg and the determined and profound political stand of Victor Hugo in the Dreyfus case.

3. Have you been engaged in political grassroots activities before your involvement in party politics - e.g. in a citizens' rights, parents or other initiatives? What were important experiences you made?
If we consider this as politics, then I do not remember when I began. Very early. I remember that I participated in an anti-junta demonstration when I was a pupil at the American College (secondary education) before I finished it. I organised a change in the school's regulation which made school uniforms compulsory and which had been in force for about 100 years. Notably, I was persecuted in the school, and a couple of teachers, people of high morale, defended me. During the last year of the dictatorship (1973-74), I had just finished school, and began a programme in the state television, called "Today, twenty years ago", which was stopped by the junta when we spoke about Franco's dictatorship. Later on, during the 1973-75 period, I waged a huge campaign for the elimination of the stigma from those having Hansen's disease, as a member of a relevant society. I do not remember any more the number of such types of activities that I have participated in. In the "Doctors Without Frontiers", "SOS Racism", in European programmes where I have been awarded prizes, e.g. for breast cancer, in the campaign for the elimination of the stigma from the mentally ill. In general, I have participated in anything that combats racism and social stigmas. During the period of 1981-83, I joined the Party of Democratic Socialism (KO.DI.SO.) as a Central Committee member and stood as a candidate in the Euro-Parliament elections, on the ballot list's 15th place, not eligible, just symbolic. The issues of liberties were those which made me enter into politics. At the time, a major issue was the freedom of the Press and I also fought my great battles for it. It could have been the first time that some demonstration made a Greek Radio Television (state television) news director, Mr. Loucacos, resign. In 1981, PASOK formed a government for the first time and the question was "democracy or so-called democracy in the media?" We were entering in the phase of the mass media liberation. As for me, who knows things from the inside, one of the reasons for my first conflict with the establishment of the mass media, with the dominant class and ideology, in May of 1981, when they sacked me, was an interview I gave on how the television state system functions and how much it is controlled.

4. Where there disruptions in your political or in your personal life that have/had an impact on your career?
I stayed in the Party of Democratic Socialism (KO.DI.SO.) until 1989. When the co-government took office (New Democracy - unified Synaspismos) and KO.DI.SO. was absorbed by Synaspismos, I did not agree with the absorption and "went home". The break lasted until 1999, when my co-operation with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) began.

5. Did your objectives change during your political career?
I have followed a directly opposite course than Cohn-Bendit. During 1968-70, I was lucky, since the American College here welcomed all professors who were dismissed from Berkeley. Strawberries and blood: I have lived this situation at school. Perhaps it was there that my early political consciousness was formed. Those were dictatorship years, but the college was an unbelievably free place. I started out from a petit bourgeois home but, as the years went by, my course was always towards the left. From KO.DI.SO., now I am in the Communist Party. Therefore, my course is directly opposite. And, strangely enough, also directly disproportionate is the way we are seen, negatively or positively. Namely, at present, the so-called social-democracy of the third road and neo-liberalism which is prevailing in the socialist parties (corresponding to that which, in my opinion, has caused the First as well as the Second World War), see courses similar to Cohn-Bendit which go to the extent of saying "Bomb Yugoslavia", as absolutely acceptable by the European dominant class. Opposite courses such as mine are not acceptable.

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Party Affiliation

1. What was your motivation to join a political party?
Its positions. I was participating in the Greek Committee for International Peace. And on the basis of this capacity I stood as a candidate in the Euro-Election (1999) in co-operation with the C.P. I am not a member of the CPG; I am only co-operating with it. I considered, however, that if I had to choose a co-operation with a party from the present political spectrum in Greece, the most essentially resisting to the new order outlook is the CPG. Namely, to say it simply, what made me do it, was the present reply which I give to myself regarding the dilemma which is very old: "Socialism or barbarism?" And the reply is: Socialism. Like this, unvarnished.

2. Are you currently linking both your professional and your political career?
I try. I have some plans. I am fresh in the Parliament. We have just given our oath and I do not know if my plans will succeed. First, as a publisher of a political magazine, which in any case needs my personal supervision as a writer of the editorial and responsible for keeping the magazine on the same line, these two do not come into conflict with each other. The magazine does not have any different ideas than those which are professed by those who work at it. Regarding the television work, however, where I have spent most of my years, I do not know if I will be able to combine it or how. I have some ideas. What I wanted, as a journalist, to do with regard to the political work, is to get the general public to become aware - and this is one of my professional plans - of what is happening in the "abyss" which the Parliament is. Because it is an abyss. I do not think that something like this can be covered by the narrow parliamentary reportage which is mostly concerned with current issues and persons. Namely, to inform on the essential work which is done or the potentialities, on any opportunities which might exist even in this democratically injured bourgeois parliamentary regime, which, if they were known, perhaps people would care more. I will have a golden opportunity from October until June 2001, because this Parliament is a revisionary Parliament. Since it is possible that over 90 articles of the Constitution might change (and they will), there will be an increased interest also on the part of the media and on the part of the public, in order to become conscious where these changes lead and what kind of Constitution we will have. However, in a short time I have consolidated the conviction that the deficit of democracy in Parliament is huge.

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Profession/ Current priorities

1. Are you linking your professional career to your political work?
Because of the nature of my profession, it is impossible not to link them. Even if I were not linking them, the public would. It is the "privilege" of being well known with regard to your person, your activity and your position, and because of the expansion of the mass media.

2. What kind of qualifications do you have?
I have graduated from the Law School of the University of Athens and I have a license to practice as a lawyer. I have practised law for four years. On the basis of the number of years I already have, I am already a higher court lawyer. As a journalist, I do not have any professional qualifications. On the contrary, I teach a private workshop for journalism at an Institute of Vocational Training. Also, I have Diplomas in English and in French and can speak the Italian language well, but have no Diploma.

3. What is the focus of your professional career?
In addition to working as a lawyer, I have worked as a journalist, a director at a radio station, and as a news director and production director at television stations. I have "opened up" business: I have opened up the first private channel, the first live radio programme, the first private radio station. I have been a master of ceremonies for all of them at their beginnings. I do not remember how many first times there have been. One at every major change in the profession. I have been created for opening up businesses and not for closing them down. At the present, I am a publisher and making the magazine.

3. In which areas do you see your special competencies? What are your political priorities?
International relations, communication, education and in the language.

4. Main fields of action?
I will participate in two basic committees in Parliament: the Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defence, and the Committee of Institutions and Transparency; also in the Committee for Education as an auxiliary. At this stage, my main field of action is the Balkan region and the development of a substantial friendship with its peoples. The resistance is an affair of many peoples and of one class: The contemporary proletariat has not as yet had the time to become conscious of the fact that it is the proletariat. Due to the technological development, it has escaped from the process of being grime-faced; for this reason, it has not become aware of the fact that insecurity and the direct attack against rights, has to do also with the endless queues of white collar workers who will be transformed into an intellectual proletariat, into a specialised proletariat, into a proletariat with a know-how, from one moment to the next. Thus, the first priority is the formation of an essential class-consciousness. With the new facts. I am impressed that everybody analyses and knows about the end of history, the future of technology, the future of world capitalism, the future of the globalised digital economy. Nobody discusses the 21st century communism. In my opinion, they do not discuss it, because they are afraid of it. Notably, I was reading the Wall Street Journal which was referring to Neanderthal man, calling Ken Livingstone who has become Mayor in London as "red Kenny". That's how they try to cast it away and to exorcise it. If, however, this digital, globalised, imperialist economy was not afraid, then they would not invent terms like world terrorism, again at will, and they would not expand world-wide the repressive mechanisms they are building. It is not possible not to be afraid of it, because they now start a new 21st century cold war: the new ballistic missiles, the US nuclear programmes, the stars programme, Russia's answer, the desire to stop China, are before us; the stirring up of religious passions, the fact that suddenly wandering kings with lost thrones in the Balkans have turned up. But I do not forget that in the European Union there are six countries with monarchy. I would like to know what some old left-wingers say who, in the 1960s, were maintaining that only queen Elizabeth and the queen in the deck of cards will be left at the end. And, suddenly, they "got teeth", and what is their aim? Will it be the great empires which will simply be economic empires and instead having the palace as their headquarters they will have a stock exchange? I do not know. But if we ever reach such a point, we will have again liberation movements, we will have again people taking to the streets and the slogan "take the streets back". Because it will be the only thing left. Six years ago, I had written an article in the "Rizospastis" (the CPG newspaper) - I had taken it from one newspaper to the next and it was the only newspaper which accepted it - which was saying that the next form of the revolution will be a short-circuit. A long time has gone by and I was proven correct.

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Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

1. Which objectives would you like to achieve through your political work?
The dissolution of the European Union in its present form, the annulment of the Economic and Monetary Union and the overthrow of the ruling class.

2. Which are your political priorities?
To stem the abolishment of a multitude of rights and the shrinking of Hellenism itself. However, to stem the abolishment of rights and vested interests is my first priority. I consider that it is also the great threat from globalisation, which uses seemingly democratic pretexts, which are very distant from true democracy. It is a joke even to discuss it; we live now in the year 2000 and the view that human beings should work for 8 hours, rest for 8 hours and do what they want for 8 hours, is not valid any more. In order to survive, what is valid now is the maxim, "your death is my life". You have to fight again, and start from the beginning if it is possible, for self-evident issues. Also, the content of Education. What education are we talking about at present? Everybody speaks for Internets, information, for a thousand and one things, and nobody mentions the qualitative aspect of Education, its essence, and its dissociation from work. Education should be cultivation, culture, and this is the origin of the term. It should be much deeper and essential; it should elevate the level of society as a whole and work should remain a right. The right to work does not exist any more. There are no pensions any more. Namely, the gap between the poor and the rich is becoming monstrous. Why does capital move freely and people do not? Why should refugees pass over a thousand and one waves in hell in order to move around, but the capital of Mr. such-and-such or Mr. so-and-so can go around the world seven times in one day, without asking anyone's permission? Namely, the same question comes back: "Socialism or barbarism?" Eh, well, Socialism! Moreover, this concern is not my concern alone. I think that I am a small unit among millions of people all over the world who said: "No more! So much for this! You are not going to take away even our pants! We will take them back!" Now, how will this be done? If civilisation has taken a step forward, it will achieve this with political means. And it will not allow world capitalism to drench mankind in blood in order to make profits. If we have not taken a step forward, again the primary position will be taken by blood. And finally it will be proven that not only this is not the end of history, but also perhaps history has not even begun. Or perhaps it has not begun to be written by the people with the intellectual, spiritual and creative capabilities and still is being made only by those who possess and use the media in order to obtain benefits. I am afraid that, for about 30 years, we will proceed with the same problems. The struggle for recovery of the vested interests now comes back and, since the mass of people is illiterate and has no access to technological means, the struggle becomes unbearably difficult, much more difficult than it was at the beginning of the previous century. Because, now, you have to fight for your right to have access to your DNA and not the insurance company, to which Mr. Blair assigned it in order to insure you depending on your DNA and your genetic specifications.

3. Did your objectives change during your political career?
Some facts have played a decisive role. I will give an example: I was discouraged as a citizen and angered by an invitation which I received as a publisher by the German Embassy last year to visit Germany on the occasion of the change of the capital. It was a programme for a conducted tour and for meeting with various publishers and, among them, I was invited too. I went to the German Embassy to fill in the application form. I was profoundly annoyed by two questions which I considered to be alarm-bells with regard to a shrinking of democratic liberties. The one question was, whether I believe in democracy and to be self-determined politically. I asked, "What do you mean, if I believe in democracy, what do you mean by democracy" and they were not able to give me an answer, they were just asking me to determine it. And I remember that I have grieved much the director of the press office, when I answered to him: "Put me down as an anarchist of capitalism". And the second question was pertaining to my hobbies and my activities outside my profession. I could not understand what was their relevance to my visit to Germany. There was none. I felt very bad. I was an officially invited publisher to go to the opening of the Reichstag and I was asked this kind of questions, I was flabbergasted. Then came the bombing of Yugoslavia and I sent them a paper and I said, "Since you are bombing, I do not want to come". And I did not go.

4. Do equal opportunities strategies in your opinion have an impact in your country in the promotion of women in decision-making- please specify?
I am against quotas. From an ideological point of view. I am in favour of equal opportunities economically and in legislation. In the area of equal opportunities, I think that Greece is a pioneer country since the early 1980s with regard to the changes in family law, but all these strategies are no more than a twaddle and a lie, in order to get women to go in and out of the production process on the basis of capitalism's needs. Whenever they are short of working hands, they take women out of their homes and the power of the media is such that no strategy can stand up, because they can annul it at any given moment. If you are outside the production, you cannot suddenly have access to decision-making. Then we proceed to rights of succession. These strategies, therefore, are made by those who control the production process as they think best. Moreover, when they want to annul them, they make up also a democratic alibi for them and, when a woman is elevated to a very high decision-making position, they get the mass media to slander her to such an extent that all the other women would get discouraged. I remember everything that has been said regarding Thatcher being an Iron Lady, and a little before that, regarding the absence of femininity, the nastiness and all the slandering of Golda Meir or Benazir Butto who, although an innovator, was always a target, because she had been elevated "by right of succession" - just to remember only three of them. I do not know to what extent we can speak of institutions, when the USA are ruling all over the planet and Mrs. Clinton is pushed forward as a senator in New York, so that she will not be unemployed after her husband's term. And we come to the Lewinski scandal, namely, what institutions can you promote? Does anybody here in Greece know what is the name of the woman Prime Minister of Norway? Namely, substantial gains of women, achieved in the most natural manner, elevated through the production process, are never projected as models. Quite the contrary. Of course, in the Scandinavian countries, where there are serious arrangements regarding women, I do not consider that women have been elevated as women. I think that Europe, or at least all those who want to remember, were dumbfounded by the programmes of genetic intervention and the lobotomies in the Scandinavian countries. Where were the women then? Therefore, have they been elevated as women or simply as feminine gender continuators of specific politics? For this reason I am against quotas. I believe that the elevation of women to decision-making is related to the equal participation in the production process and in Education. And it will come about naturally, by itself. What is the need for legislation, when the Ministry of Transportation and the Greek Telecommunications Organisation are being modernised and, within the building (I give this as an example) a huge gymnasium with the latest technology is constructed so that men and women will supposedly exercise their muscles, and there is no day care centre for the women to leave their children? And at the same time, you demand that women concern themselves with public affairs. Therefore, to build day care centres is not an arrangement for women; it has to do with the production process. And the reproduction process, in the last analysis. One could easily consider me as an anti-feminist. I am not. Do you propose that a quota be established which will stipulate a compulsory 30% participation in favour of women? And if these women are stupid? You will say, very many men are also stupid. So what? Will we be equated at the lowest level with the stupid ones? It is better to have one woman who will be worthwhile, than to have 45.

5. Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in conventional policy-making? What is it that keeps women from committing themselves to politics?
Mainly motherhood and the lie of the 20th and 21st century that it is a century, which cares for children. It does not care for children or for the young people. It simply has lowered the age target group of advertisements and consumerism. And from the moment that it does not have an essential interest for children, it is an indirect as well as a direct discrimination by conventional policy against women. Because women continue to have children and to raise them - and correctly so in my view, because nothing can substitute a mother - but for this, nothing facilitates them towards anything.

6. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome?
The fundamental prejudice that is dominant in Greece is that politics is for professional failures. I am successful in my professional area and, therefore, my occupation with politics was considered as a heretic and revolutionary action. Perhaps because I have consolidated the view that I never went after money. Everybody knows that the manner, the timing and the party with which I chose to go into politics, will deprive me of what is considered as natural for a woman of my age: To sit on the golden eggs made by a successful 25-year career. It was a real obstacle during the election campaign and afterwards. It was a prejudice that those who were making comments ex cathedram had and which was not shared by the ordinary people who, as opposed to them, believed that my participation in public affairs is selfless, since I had no need to do this. This is still my greatest problem. I never had a problem because I was a woman. Perhaps because I gave an effective and fatal answer to the first effort of a powerful editor-in-chief, when I first appeared on the television, when he said to me: "Look here, kid, I fuck and beat". I say to him, "For the second one I am sure, because you are much taller than I am. For the first one, you have to also get my own approval, and I won't give it to you". My problems have finished. I never had any. Perhaps because I have never mixed up my sentimental affairs with my professional affairs. This has saved me.

7. What obstacles have you had to overcome in your own career?
When I began my career there were no strategies. I have to say that any professional success I had in my field, was faced easier and better by men than by women colleagues. Men never obstructed me in my career.

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