Speech of the General Secretary of KKE A. Papariga at the two-day scientific congress on Yiannis Ritsos: a century from his birth
CONGRESS HALL, PERISSOS
21-22 November 2009
We hold a two-day scientific congress on the communist poet, play writer and visual artist Yiannis Ritsos who was deeply conscious of the social mission of poetry and of art in general. On the man that expressed deeply, strongly, dynamically and emotionally in his own unprecedented way what we communists have supported for so many years.
We remember with utter respect and immeasurable emotion him who dedicated himself to the cause of socialist revolution and communist society. Him, who linked inextricably the part with the whole having a deeper intellectual and artistic perspective. We remember the intellectual of struggle who was inspired by social reality, visions and popular struggle. At the same time his meditation reached far beyond towards the future. In that sense, he is diachronic.
We deeply esteem the man who won with his sword the honoured title of the member of the Party in 1934 and up to his death; Yiannis Ritsos who was awarded the Lenin Prize.
We feel guilty of not having held such an event earlier. It would have been so different if our beloved comrade was alive and able to evaluate our interpretation and understanding of him, besides knowing how deeply we esteem and admire him.
Through this event, which we call scientific congress, we do not merely aspire to pay our dues to a man to whom we owe much since he generously gave everything to the party, the people, the Greek and world working class and peoples’ struggle.
We intend, and hope to achieve or at least approach a major goal of ours: To contribute to the appreciation, hence the wider understanding, of the whole of Yiannis Ritsos’ work, thought and deeds. To reveal Yiannis Ritsos as a whole, with no selectivity, no mutilation of his versatile work. His work along with his philosophical thoughts and pondering upon the universal questions of human existence, which we call existential, consists a diachronic great social, political, cultural and aesthetic reality. His existential quest has nothing to do with subjective sensitivity, with reclusion into the hard shell of the egocentric individual life. His personal agony, his perplex thought and psychology enriched his message; the clear but no shallow and hasty message of revolutionary optimism concerning the freeing of humanity from class exploitation and other forms of enslavement and physical, moral and psychological coercion.
Yiannis Ritsos was an incredibly (and may be unapproachably in the foreseeable future) profound and versatile communist. He had the ability to insist on his own methodology of defending the wronged, tortured and at the same time heroic people; his own methodology of approaching human psychology and agony - popular optimism.
Yiannis Ritsos revealed in the best and most comprehensive way the social character of art and especially of poetry, without even for an instant succumbing to the temptation of a simplistic mechanistic view or an ex cathedra indoctrination.
This is the true greatness of art, of poetry defending workers’, popular struggle and communist principles: It affects deeply, cultivating sensitivity to the utmost, turning one into a fervent, uncompromising and selfless fighter, into a genuine humanist. It influences and affects the life stance, but also the aesthetic perception and cultivation. Ritsos’ spontaneity and individuality were inextricably tied to partisanship. There was not a hint of complacent pretentiousness or submission to external pressure even more so to selfish aims.
Yiannis Ritsos, the man with the deep inner world, with so many abilities that it is hard to find in a single person, being in exile as a political prisoner and fighter of KKE lived and behaved as one amongst the many, although he was such an unusual person. He stood as a rock during the hardest personal moments, during persecutions and pressure. Not for a moment did he allow himself to be overwhelmed by fear, cowardice, doubt, questioning. He lived amongst us all the hardships of the struggle and of the party. He slapped the face of the class enemy by his stance in favour of the communist ideology. He did the same through his dynamic verse, his political prose, his unique aesthetic perception.
All of his marvelous personal characteristics and particularities, his inner necessities stemmed from the fact that he himself experienced the life of a worker, of a communist and sometimes lived the tragic experiences of the movement.
Yiannis Ritsos was for many years one of the many in exile in the living hell of Makronisos, Ai Stratis, Yura and Leros. Unrepentant and adamant, the more he lived the hardships of the struggle the deeper he reached the soul of the fighters. His quest of the diachronic problems of man, we do not get tired of repeating this, did not even for an instant take him away from the reality of a struggling life stance.
Yiannis Ritsos contributed by his innate talent to the clearing of the notion “partisan” (partisan communist artist, poetry, art) from all kinds of slandering, narrow-minded and mechanical approach.
His work provides brilliant proof that the ideological communist partisanship, partisanship has nothing to do with one-sidedness or fanaticism as even the well-meaning opponents claim. Moreover, fanaticism has nothing to do with ideological consistency. On the contrary, ideological consistency requires all the above mentioned. It requires deep and wide knowledge and observation, analysis of the developments, deep critical observation of the facts. All of his work, including the non evidently or purely political, provides proof that partisanship has no relation to the superficial perception of social reality and developments, with the dangerous preconceived stance hindering the critical and self-critical examination.
The ideological commitment and partisanship serving the liberation of the working class has nothing to do with the distorted image the enemy devises about KKE. Yiannis Ritsos has proved in practice that a communist artist and intellectual can evolve through his work and stance into a powerful factor of formation of revolutionary consciousness in periods of decline and temporary defeat of the movement as well as in periods of upraise that is at the threshold of a revolutionary change.
We will always esteem him. However, esteem does not suffice. It is significant for us and especially the youth to get to know him better, since young people live in the narrows of an education system that excludes the nurturing of a militant life stance and aesthetic cultivation. This education system raises wall not only against communist thought and philosophy, but also against every notion of progressive radicalism and dignity in opposing the various forms of pressure and dilemmas of class exploitation, imperialist ideology and policy.
YIANNIS RITSOS THANK YOU!