by Akis Gavriilidis
Being in Greece the days during and after the last elections, and reading most of the comments written about them abroad, (but also some written within Greece), gives me a feeling of uncanniness, of a discrepancy; to the point that I wonder if these texts are really talking about the same event I have just experienced.
I guess this should come as no surprise, since the situation we are living is extremely multi-faceted and unprecedented, and the models we have at our disposal in order to conceive it and account for it are inadequate. So in this text I am not pretending to give «the real truth» or «the full image» as opposed to a «falsification»; I will just try to provide one additional vantage point from where to read this complexity.
In view of the outcome of the elections, many commentators seem to express a sense of despair for what they perceive as «a macabre affair, conducted in the funeral of Europe’s first radical Left government in a generation». Others, not willing to give up to pessimism, try to delve into the Read More
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 Read More
1. The radicalisation of the Greek society exceeds all the formal social and political dynamics that have burst into the central political scene in the context of the two rounds of the Greek parliamentary elections (May 6 and June 17). The electoral results are overshadowed, in many respects, by the social forces and antagonisms that continue to push existing parliamentary politics to its limits.
The last gasp of the old political system was the attempt to strip off the electoral campaign from these antagonisms. The attempt has been ‘successful’, but only within the horizon of the short-term reduction of their electoral losses that seems impossible to sustain for much longer. In both elections, there was no political party campaigning with a pro-memorandum agenda (apart from some fringe neo-liberal parties (practically sponsored by media and corporate conglomerates) who didn’t even manage to reach the threshold of 3% of the votes in order to elect MPs. All the parties of the old establishment shifted towards a ‘re-negotiation of the memorandum’ platform that was supposed to neutralise the ‘politics of the nullification of the memorandum’ proposed by Syriza. The electoral dilemma was then set as one between ‘responsible multilateral negotiations’ with our European partners and a politics of unilateralism (that would automatically jeopardise Greece’s Euro membership according to the anti-Syriza bloc), but all within the framework of ‘the memorandum is not sustainable’ discourse. Along these lines, the ruling parties pursued a strategy of re-nationalisation, calling for national unity ‘to change the memorandum in the best we can’, and castigated Syriza for being the obstacle to the re-institution of this national unity. Read More