A Fake Image
About the Fraud of the Void Network and their American Friend
The social revolt of December 2008, triggered, among other things, an increased interest abroad about the struggles in Greece. For this reason, there were a number of collective and individual initiatives to write and translate relevant texts. But not all of those initiatives were based in fair and unselfish ways, ways appropriate between comrades, and I am obliged to refer to one such case which I personally had to face.
A few months after December, in April 2009, a person from the US named “Peter” approached me, asking me for an interview about December, in order to include it in a publication which would be in English, containing texts and interviews by other groups and individuals as well. Although I am not used to such things and I was hesitant, eventually I was convinced to talk to this American about some things he wanted to hear from me, believing that participating in a collection of texts about December I would contribute to counter-information for comrades and other interested people abroad about the struggle in Greece. A factor that played a role in my decision was that I trusted the judgement of a person who had introduced me to the American, presenting him as a comrade, and that this person had also given him an interview about the Polytechnic occupation in December. And I made the decision to participate in this collection when, after asking the obvious question “who is going to publish the book”, the American said that it would be AK Press, which I know as an anti-antiauthoritarian publishing collective. Unfortunately, as it was proved later, it was wrong of me to leave my initial reservations behind by taking into account what others were doing with the American, while he deceived me when saying that the book would be an AK Press publication, since that was only half the truth.
I met the American three times in the squatted space of struggle where I participate and there were also two other comrades present during our meetings, translating our conversation, as he didn’t speak Greek and I don’t speak English. In our first meeting he was writing down what I was saying and it took for a second meeting to complete the interview, which I signed as “Alkis”. Our third meeting took place later, after he informed me that suddenly he wanted to divide my text into two different parts because that would fit the chronological order of his book. I refused because he had never told me such a thing when the interview took place and my text was not meant to be divided in first and second part, so I replied that in that case it would be best if it weren’t published at all. This is why he asked to meet again and discuss it with me. During our discussion, in the presence of a comrade who was translating again, and despite my initial refusal and the reservations I had because he was changing what we had agreed on, I finally accepted to have my interview divided in two parts. But I could not imagine that there were others behind him, and exactly who these people were, as this was something that he concealed from me in order to obtain the text and get my approval to proceed with its publication.
Since then “Peter” left for America and we never saw him again. He sent an email with my text in English for proofreading, as I had asked him to, and later, in December 2009, he informed us that after many postponements the book would be published in February 2010, that my text was already being used on the internet –as a prepublication – and that he would immediately post us a copy of the book as soon as it was published.
The following May, when we asked what has happening with the book after all, he replied that he had sent copies to Athens, without saying to whom, and he had arranged that we receive them. In summer, not having received any book, we asked him to send it directly to our postal address. That is when he left us speechless, informing us that he had forwarded to the people who have the book the email we had sent him wondering what was happening. A few days later, we received another email by the American, giving us the phone number of a person from the Void Network in order for us to arrange how we could get the book in September! We couldn’t find any explanation for this farce of the American forwarding our emails to others and then sending us their phone numbers. We guessed that someone from the Void Network must have also given an interview and they were maybe friends with “Peter”, so he had probably sent the books to them to give to the rest of the people. But as we didn’t have any reason or mood to ask copies of the book from others, and were unable to establish an understanding with the American, we stopped communicating with him.
Eventually, from random information we learned that the book was indeed published in February and it had been presented in several US cities by “Peter” and people from the Void Network! Searching online, we found the relevant post on the AK Press website, where we saw the image of the cover of the book, “We Are an Image from the Future (The Greek Revolt of December 2008), edited by A.G. Schwarz, in which the Void Network was presented as co-editor, and below there was my text! Additionally, there was also the full name of a person from the Void Network, Tasos Sagris, who was presented as editor! I felt surprised as much as enraged for I had been deceived. By some common acquaintances I learned that this was the actual story with the Void Network, which was making –without my knowledge and against my will- a publication and presentations about the anarchist movement in Greece, using a text of mine as well; a text which they never asked me for and I never gave them. Finally, in August, we got the book to find out what it was about, after ordering it online from the US for 27$ .
Later I learned that the person who appeared as editor was approaching comrades of mine, professedly asking how we could arrange to meet because he wanted to give us a book. Of course, he knew from the beginning where he could find either me or other comrades if he really wanted to come, but obviously he couldn’t suddenly appear as the editor of the specific text that I had never given him and I had never been asked to give to him. I should repeat in that point that never did the American asked for an interview that would be co-edited by the Void Network, or mentioned anything relevant. The only time the Void Network was mentioned was during our first meeting, when the American asked us what do we think of that group, and since we had no reason to express our opinion to third persons we preferred not to discuss it. Understanding, obviously, that our opinion was not very positive, and in order to get the interview, he hid his intentions, exactly in the way that a sly little journalist would do in order to get his job done.
What I did was to first wait to see whether and when the American would appear again so that I could ask him first for an explanation, since he was the one who had asked for an interview, hiding from me with whom and how he was going to use it. But the American didn’t reappear and in the meanwhile the person appearing as editor had the nerve to approach me, saying that he wanted to give me the book with my text. As I told him, I wanted no book from him, because I hadn’t given him anything and consequently he had no right editing texts of mine. I also told him that if he and his friends were OK, they would have informed me of their intentions either from the beginning or during all the time that had passed from the moment the interview was taken until the publication, and he would have come immediately after the book was published, and not months later, as he did. Of course, he had nothing to reply when I asked how come he and his friends are presented as the editors of my interview when they are very well aware that they never asked me for such a thing, we never talked about it and I never gave them anything. And when I asked how come, besides the Void Network, he also appears with his full name in the role of the editor, he first replied, “but I’m the author!” He then came down to earth -because of the hilarity his statement had caused- and said he is the “editor”, still giving no answer to the question how he was found to pretend being the editor of a text of mine. Another member of the Void Network who was at the moment accompanying the editor and didn’t seem to understand very well what was going on, expressed his surprise –real or not, I don’t know- saying that it sounds as if I am accusing them of taking my text against my will; which is exactly what they did!
The whole conversation was pointless though, as the evasions, the wiles and the excuses of the editor who was claiming this was a misunderstanding could not change the fact that these individuals, although I had nothing to do with them and they were nowhere near my meetings with the American, had taken my text through him and used it to do their job in their performances about December abroad. I concluded that this is what they and their American friend were really interested in, and my text about December was particularly useful to them for this task of their self-promotion abroad.
I was also informed that my case was not the only one where the Void Network and their American friend had deceived someone in order to do their job. And maybe I should be happy that I didn’t have to face anything worse by those people, because in the case of another comrade they really went beyond any limit, as they used their notes to write two texts on his behalf and published them in the same book, signing them with his full name!
As far as I am concerned, given that the publication was an accomplished fact and I had to face such attitudes towards me, I didn’t have many choices. First I informed personally comrades about what had happened and how a text of mine is being used without my knowledge by the Void Network. Then, together with comrades, I published the text of the interview in Greek –The revolt of December is a result of social and political processes going back many years– in the Anarchist Bulletin of Counter Information and Action ‘Mavri Simaia’ (January 2011) and presented it in a political discussion (February 2011). And even though I would prefer to avoid something as unpleasant as having to deal with persons that were found in my way fraudulently appropriating a text of mine with audacity, it is however necessary to do it and expose this event in public, because otherwise my attitude could be misconceived as tolerance or be used as an alibi for those who cover them.
I want to make completely clear that what I really did was to give a text to an American who was presented to me as a comrade, in order to be published in a collection of texts about December by AK Press. Any other form of edition, publication, re-publication and presentation of this text with the participation of the Void Network is done against my will, and it is something that should stop and not be repeated. The necessary answers will be given personally as much as politically within the anarchist movement.