SYRIZA (and Podemos): “populist inclusion” or interruption of representation?

by Akis Gavriilidis

When it comes to describe and explain what SYRIZA stands for, in the discourse of mainstream media, analysts and politicians in the rest of Europe (occasionally in Greece as well), the term “populist” comes handy and figures prominently. The same epithet is also attached to Spain’s Podemos.

This description is of course a clear example of “how to do things with words”, since it “objectively” creates associations with such depreciatory labels as “nationalist/ anti-European”, even when these are not uttered. (A comparable, and more ambitious, re-signification effort has been lately undertaken, with success, concerning the term “radicalization”, which by now has been practically turned into a synonym of «adherence to Djihadism»).

To my knowledge, the most serious and interesting challenge to this linguistic politics has been the intervention of Yannis Stavrakakis, a political theorist formed in the tradition of the so called Essex school and a collaborator of Ernesto Laclau’s. For the past three or four years, Stavrakakis has been providing extensive and robust argumentation against the uni-dimensional stigmatizing use of “populism” and Συνέχεια

December 2008 Revolt,Multitude,Social Movements

Laissez faire, security, and liberalism: revisiting Greek December 2008

by Akis Gavriilidis

In December 2008, Athens became world news for the first time in recent years, for a reason that was soon overshadowed by the financial and debt crisis that came immediately after. I think it would be useful to revisit this event now, when it is not so loaded any more in terms of public attention and affect.

This reason was a totally unpredicted, contingent event: the pointless murder of a youngster by a policeman, which sparked a wave of massive and angry protests for several days in Athens –including in neighbourhoods where no demonstrations had ever taken place in living memory- as well as in all major Greek cities, and several minor ones. These consisted in mass rallies, mainly by equally young people with no previous experience in social protest, occupation of public buildings, “sieges” of police stations, but also considerable damage on private property and some looting of shops by the demonstrators and/ or others. The difficulty to tell a demonstrator from an “other” was precisely an important part of the whole picture, as no political or other body or organisation had made any official call for these protests. But this does not mean they were “spontaneous” in the usually pejorative sense that this term has in the left-wing tradition; many of these actions displayed a high degree of Συνέχεια

Droits de l'homme,exception,Multitude,Philosophie politique,Terrorisme,Violence

Les droits de l’homme comme règle et comme exception

Par Akis Gavriilidis

1. L’ «exclusion inclusive» du crime politique

La période pendant laquelle cet article est rédigé (juin/juillet 2003), et déjà pour plusieurs mois, l’actualité juridique et politique en Grèce est marquée par le procès de 19 personnes accusées comme membres de «17 novembre», une organisation terroriste (selon la terminologie officielle ; «de propagande armée» selon une dénomination probablement plus adéquate). Cette organisation d’extrême gauche a été active pour 25 années, pendant lesquelles elle avait tué 22 personnes, entre autres des anciens bourreaux de la dictature militaire et autres policiers, des industriels, des agents de la CIA, et de diplomates turcs, sans que la police ait pu en arrêter même un membre. Mais en été 2002 on a vu, l’une après l’autre, l’arrestation spectaculaire de ces 19 personnes, dont certaines nient toute implication et d’autres ont accepté puis révoqué leurs aveux, en soutenant qu’elles étaient dues à des «pressions», voire tortures, de la police, et que les autorités judiciaires leurs ont nié leurs droits à une assistance légale et une défense appropriée après leur arrestation et pendant l’examen.

L’évaluation de ces plaintes et le déroulement du procès en général n’est vraiment pas l’objet du présent article ; je vais plutôt relever un point précis, presqu’ un détail, qui présent un intérêt pour mon point de Συνέχεια

Autonomia,Debt,democracy,Disobedience,Multitude,Politics,Refusal,Social Movements,Space

Athens: Metropolitan Blockade – Real Democracy

Dimitris Papadopoulos, Vassilis Tsianos & Margarita Tsomou

Metropolitan blockade is when urban space turns against itself, blocks the movements and the connections that sustain it, only to mobilise space as a direct means for political action. Metropolitan blockades are today the chinks in the wall of established politics through which we can get a glimpse of the future. It was the blockade of Syntagma square in Athens in 2011, which gave birth to a new frame of time and space in Greek politics, where future was again at stake, where future took place instantly in the discourses and practices in people’s assemblies. The area of Syntagma square became a zone outside of representational political power and oligarchic democracy. From the perspective of established political power this turn of urban space against itself is conceived as process that creates Συνέχεια

agency,Crisis,Debt,Multitude,Politics,Social Movements

Greek referendum: Chaos – Our Own “Gun on The(ir) Table”

By Akis Gavriilidis & Sofia Lalopoulou

First publication: Law and Critique (2012, DOI: 10.1007/s10978-012-9110-0)

Mια πρώτη μορφή του άρθρου αυτού είχε δημοσιευθεί στα ελληνικά εδώ


In October 2011, George Papandreou, the then Greek Prime Minister, announced he was planning to hold a referendum in order for the Greek people to decide whether to agree to the bailout plan prepared by the International Monetary Fund, the Central European Bank and the European Commission. This intention was aborted due to intense pressure by Papandreou’s European partners, especially Germany and France. This interference clearly shows the problematic relationship between the so-called “markets” and national-popular sovereignty. This article raises the question why this interference happened in the first place, why the global markets felt such a big threat before the possibility of a vote taking place in a small country of 10 million inhabitants. And also, importantly, what this means in terms of potential for political agency by those who are usually considered be lacking such agency, as having “no other alternative” than to follow the one way course of neoliberalism.



cucarachas en la plaza Syntagma

Nelli Kambouri

Desde anteayer (28 de junio), vivimos como cucarachas en la plaza Syntagma. La policía griega nos rocía constantemente con productos químicos, independientemente de lo que hagamos o digamos, pero persistimos. Nos vamos un rato de Sintagma para recuperar la respiración y volvemos una y otra vez. Descansamos un poco y volvemos. Incluso antes de que empezaran a estallar los productos químicos, ayer por la mañana, estábamos, sin más, Συνέχεια

December 2008 Revolt,Multitude,Performativity,Social Movements

Neredi u Grčkoj 2008: performativno pojavljivanje mnoštva

Akis Gavrilidis

Prva greška koju moramo izbeći, pokušavajući da shvatimo nemire koji su potresli Grčku u decembru 2008, jeste da ih čitamo kao ’’slepo nasilje’’ ili ’’emotivni izliv mladih’’ bez političkih implikacija.

Ovaj pokret, iako je sigurno imao afektivnu stranu (ili, precizno, baš zbog toga), već je direktno i eminentno politički, u mnogo dubljem i širem smislu nego što je uobičajeno. Tačno je da pokret nije istakao nikakve specifične ‘’zahteve’’ (nekom drugom na Συνέχεια

December 2008 Revolt,Multitude,Performativity

Greek December 2008 riots: the performative emergence of the multitude

by Akis Gavriilidis

The first error we must avoid when trying to make sense of the riots that shook Greece in December 2008, is to read them as “blind violence” or as an “emotional outburst of the youth” without political implications.

This movement, although it certainly had an affective side, (or precisely because of that), is already directly and eminently political, in a much deeper and larger sense than the usual one. It is true that the movement did not submit any specific “demands” (to somebody else Συνέχεια