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Defects and Beauty of Democracy

It’s well-known that the left-wing SYRIZA won the recent greek elections and managed to form a government with the far-right Independent Greeks (ANEL), a collaboration whose first traces were visible even in the previous elections of 2012. This collaboration is founded on anti-memorandum populism, with SYRIZA promising to the former voters of PASOK and ANEL, promising to the right-populist voters, that they will take back many of the measures voted for by the previous governments in collaboration with the IMF, the ECB, etc. One of the arguments put forth by SYRIZA in the recent negotiations in Europe is the “boogeyman” of the far right, waiting to take power in Greece. (The Nazis are the third party in the elections of 2015 and also don’t accept any of the agreements with the IMF, etc.)

With this nice trick, SYRIZA on the one hand negotiates the fact that it has a renewed mass support by the majority of Greeks and on the other hand eludes the criticism that they are already collaborating with a far right party in the greek government! This party (ANEL) actually, through its president and other cadres, proclaimed in the Greek parliament that Jews in Greece don’t pay taxes! Because in Greece anti-Semitism is such a good card to play, no one in the Greek media called out ANEL representatives or their partners in government i.e. SYRIZA. This comfortable situation was halted by the BBC. In a recent interview (31.01.2015) with Yanis Varoufakis, the BBC reporter asked him how he feels in a government with far right partners who make such statements. The awkward and quite frankly idiotic answer by Varoufakis – “It’s the beauty of democracy!”– didn’t appear too good on camera.

The ball was now on the field of ANEL. Two days later (2 February) ANEL put out an astounding announcement about the Holocaust Remembrance Day, one week after this day. This announcement in fact was much more extensive and much more ‘radical’ than any statement by any Greek party. There was even mention of the participation of Europe in the Holocaust but also social apathy and guilt of the Greeks: “We remember the treason by neighbours. We remember the rescue of many by few courageous people. We remember the barbarity of European civilization. We remember the apathy of people while other human beings were sent to die”. So, what the hell happened? Wasn’t it just a year ago that the same party had published the following announcement for the Holocaust Remembrance Day? : “The Holocaust is the pinnacle of horror that started with the genocide of the Christian natives of Anatolia. The recognition and education about the crimes of Kemal, Mussolini and Hitler is not just a historical obligation. Especially for us Greeks, it is an asset of freedom.”

In last years’ announcement, where the party had no one to apologise to for its’ beliefs, not only there was no recognition of the uniqueness of the genocide of the Jews, but the Holocaust was stated as the continuation of the genocide of Greek, Christian populations and Hitler was made the equivalent of Mussolini and Kemal Attaturk! In last years’ announcement not only there was no recognition of the Greeks as offenders but they were included in the more general category of victims. Big difference in one year, isn’t it? And indeed if someone searches the ANEL website, she will find 44 announcements about various holocausts but only 2 or 3 have to do with the Jewish one, as all the rest of course refer to “Greek holocausts”, cases of massacres of Greeks by Nazis, but massacres of Christian Greeks exclusively.

So, the political line of pin-pointing the ‘defects in democracy’ in Europe is clearly a handy ideological and rhetorical trick of our times. Greece as a state, aligning with its people – how else could it be? – puts its money on rabid anti-Germanism, comparisons of the Merkel government with the Nazis and trying to strike a sensitive spot in Europe. The US is a collaborator who just one year ago (21-22 February) supported politically and possibly financed a neo-Nazi coup d’etat in Ukraine. At the same time with the coup d’etat in Ukraine, SYRIZAs pre-election campaign was undermined with the ‘Karypidis case’. Karypidis was a link between ANEL-SYRIZA and he stated that the renaming and the change of function of the state TV station was a result of its submission to Jewish control. The new name of the station ‘NERIT’ is proof, said Karypidis, because the Jewish word ‘nerit’ denotes the Hanukkah candles, “a well-known antigreek celebration of Jews”. These last years’ stories are combined today with the emphasis on the ‘Jewish origin’ of tax evaders in Greece in mainstream newspapers like TA NEA, former foes of SYRIZA, who today (after the elections) have passed into a ‘post-revolutionary phase’. So, while the people continue to be fed with their beloved products (e.g. anti-Semitism, ethno-populist antigermanism,etc) as if there was no turnover for the previous right-wing government of Voridis and Samaras, the new government is selling “democracy” and “anti-goldendawnism” abroad.

This is not a paradox. On the one hand, the state, as an institution, but also the Greek state in its particular dimensions, has continuity. A change of government doesn’t alter the state, it just changes those who manage the wider social consent to the aims of this apparatus. On the other hand, the political managers and mediators know full well the people, their games, their ‘fixes’, their habits and the places where they hang out. When a people – “the people”, this is how they present themselves – is by 70-80% in support of its state (and the remaining 20% isn’t quite left-wing, they are just too dogmatically right-wing), then this state can move like a fish in a pond, or like a state in limitless national unity, we might say. The only ones who managed to break this climate for a while causing awkwardness are not some radical left in Greece, of course, but a question by a BBC reporter or a text by Le Monde, etc. This is the reason why we wish the continuation of Greece’s surveillance by every European institution, even the BBC, for at least another 100 years. As we usually say: Greece is nice, but, unfortunately, full of Greeks!

Antifa Negative • March 13, 2015

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