«Two Brotherless Peoples»: On the Constitutive Traumas of Class Struggle

by Akis Gavriilidis

Published in Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society (2008) 13, 143–162.




In this article, I use as a starting point a “social symptom” showing that Greek left patriots have mixed feelings towards Jews, whom they perceive as a threat but also as a model for imitation, on account of their universally accepted victim status. I consider that these feelings are linked to a specific subjectivity formation, which I term “radical nationalism” and I attribute to the specificities of 20th century Greek history: to the civil war during the 1940s, and the subsequent handling –or non handling– of the painful memories from this split in the national subject. Accordingly, in the first part I go through the genealogy of this subjectivity formation and its affective economy; but also, departing from this specific historical example, I try to draw some more general conclusions about social antagonism and the nature of the traumas in which it results–or really, in which it consists. Then, in the last part, I go back to a corpus of social discursive material –declarations, articles in newspapers, public rallies– and try to show how these illustrate my construction and in what sense they can be construed as efforts to suture the chasm of social antagonism.


Key words: nationalism; social groups; trauma; self-victimisation; enjoyment Συνέχεια


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