[Marxism] Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 5 08:09:36 MDT 2013

In my one and only visit to Izmir to meet my wife’s relatives, we walked 
along the quay to see some of the picturesque city’s landmarks including 
the statue of Mustafa Kemal that looked toward the sea. My wife’s cousin 
Ceyda, the daughter of a General assigned to NATO and a rock-ribbed 
Kemalist, paused in front of the statue to inform me that this was where 
their war of independence was won. The quay, from which the city’s Greek 
population was literally driven into the sea, is as important a symbol 
of that country’s birth in the early 1920s as the Liberty Bell in 
Philadelphia is to an American.

Although I have been very critical of Toni Negri and Michael Hardt’s 
“Empire”, I am tempted to agree with their argument that the 
nation-state is a toxic formation when I think about Turkey’s origins 
over the mountains of Armenian, Greek and Kurdish skulls. Like the 
Native American corpses that are vomited up at the end of “Poltergeist”, 
that’s the chilling spectacle you get in the powerful documentary 
“Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City” that opens on April 
fifth at the Quad in New York. With previously unseen photographs and 
film footage, the city is revealed in both its cosmopolitan glory and 
the immolation in 1922 that changed the character of the city forever. 
Henceforth it would be referred to by its Turkish name—Izmir—just as 
Constantinople would be known as Istanbul.


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