October 22, 2013
It is historically proven that whenever the political authority lacks widespread credibility and social support, governments resort to the latest ideological weapon they have, which is the exertion of the doctrine “law and order”. Pollsters in Greece show that the government is gradually losing even the last ramparts of social support, and therefore trying to rise the flag of confrontation with the front opposition in the field of security. The leitmotif is that all political parties and opinion makers and journalists should “condemn violence from whichever its origin stems from”.
With reference to the judicial follow-up of the arrest of Golden Dawn’s MPs, the government has launched a political race which aims at eliminating any sign of political violence. Up here, everything seems fine. Leftist parties, not only in Greece but in Europe as well, usually adopt a quite ambiguous stance against phenomena of violence, being aligned with one of the most prominent feature of the Left globally: the right of resistance and the power to overthrow that political power that impedes the expression of the will of the masses. From the Communist Russia and the Revolution of 1917 up to the reversing protests against communist absolutism in the Eastern Europe of the 1960s and the oppressive communist-led state capitalism of China with the incidents of Tiananmen upsurge in 1989, the Left has always called for political and social violence as the means to exert sentiments of resent against an suppressive political power.
The front opposition party of SYRIZA has been in the middle of political turmoil regarding this issue, thus adopting an apologizing behavior. Behind this stance there is a strong explanation that stems from the fact that the government and the mainstream media have wholeheartedly supported the negation of any kind of violence and any other relevant ideology that stands against government’s ideological framework. In this respect, the government is trying to present the front opposition not as a political counterpart with different ideology and political platform, but as a party of restricted legitimacy, which balances between parliamentary democracy and anarchist activism. Therefore, the well-established notion against violence turns to take different dimensions by being focused on a struggle for the type of the desired political regime and, hence, giving the impression that in case SYRIZA comes into power, the outcome would be disastrous for the country.
From this perspective, the government is denying the principle of democratic change and the swift in power between the political parties. In practice, this argument suggests that the current policy exerted by the government is the one that is uniquely beneficial for the society and the prosperity of the county and any other alternatives or ideas should be vanquished and characterized as of imminent danger for stability and prosperity. But this very notion of absolutism is the one that might strongly lead to deeper divisions in the Greek society, and thus increase fractious and dangerous anomalies for regime stability.
Coming back to our departing point, political violence is not a norm that was infiltrated and imposed by some external power. The legislative corps is the elected power that elaborates the essence and interpretation of political violence, as well as the sanctions and kind of punishments for the breachers. These balances are subject to constant change, and the electorate is responsible for exerting additional checks and balances upon the political establishment. These balances vary and can be scaled from the call for elections up to the rise of political violence, protests, and strikes. There is no monolithic approach on the kind of pressure against the government, as there is no midterm evaluation of the efficiency of a certain policy. As we have consistently written in this blog, one of the most efficient manner of midterm evaluation for a government is the launch of a referendum which could focus on issues and policies of long-term concern. Nonetheless, such a development necessitates constitutional amendments and, I dare to say, conditions in Greece are not mature enough for that kind of compromise.
In addition, in the case of Greece, the traditional pillars of the political establishment have in large collapsed. The party of PASOK from double-digit rates of over 40% is now teetering between 4-6%, whereas New Democracy despite preserving a significant quantum, has long invested its survival around the notion that a possible shift in power for SYRIZA would prove to be chaotic for the country, thus behaving as the last dyke of stability in the country. This is a real conundrum no matter what.Dimitris Rapidis