For Leo: the Teacher, the Friend, the Comrade

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For Leo: the Teacher, the Friend, the Comrade

Michalis Spourdalakis

The news of his hospitalization came unexpectedly just a few weeks ago. When things became more difficult for him, Skype became the tool to carry out his “commitments.” You see, there was this conference on Socialism in the 21st century in January, organized by the Nicos Poulantzas Institute. His response to my awkward jokes, as well as our discussion about his interview about the American elections in the Greek newspaper Epohi and about his concerns regarding the condition of the Left in Greece helped to soften those first pangs of anxiety. Informing me of his diagnosis and treatment, through... Skype, was done with such stoicism and optimism, that it prevented the screen from conveying any alarm. Even COVID, which eventually put an abrupt end to his life, initially did not extinguish hope. You see, there was this certainty that “we will talk soon.”

Leo’s tragic end reminded us of the unpredictable and often gloomy whims of the end that each of us eventually face, but it also shocked those who knew him. Hard to accept. It is difficult to swallow that he, with his invincible passion for life, and his unwavering commitment and mobilization for the cause of the socialist perspective, is no longer with us. It is not so much the hundreds of statements, interventions, and stories that fill not only social media but also the mainstream media in many languages, but the number of people, who were stunned by the unexpected news, struck dumb by the shock.

I also belong to this last category. For many hours, my fingers have rested motionless on the keyboard; thoughts, images, and events running through my mind about the last four decades… Suspended, puzzled… How do I squeeze into one article forty-two years of acquaintance, apprenticeship, friendship, and companionship in the movement for socialist transformation? How can I include all his work, his contribution to the social sciences, his contribution to the Marxist tradition, his international and internationalist presence, his ties and passion for our country, our struggles and our culture, and finally to his life and his personality?

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