Saturday 23 June 2012

Confused in Moderation.

Aristides Hatzis (professor of law and economics, University of Athens) published a piece at The Financial Times on the parallels between Greece and the Weimar Republic:
"Greece’s situation recalls the Weimar Republic. Violence (and its banalisation), hate, rage, polarisation, fear, despair and resignation. As for the police, it has already taken sides: neo-nazis won by a landslide in polling stations where officers were assigned to vote." (See here)
I agree with Hatzis' assessment: there are parallels between Greece and the Weimar Republic.

My previous post was precisely about this subject.

After sharing the same diagnostic, however, I have difficulty understanding Hatzis' prescription.

At one hand, the author states that New Democracy and PASOK are responsible for the "welfare populism, cronyism, statism and corruption [that] can describe the Greek political system for most of the period from 1981".

(I agree with this evaluation).

At the other hand, Hatzis says, "they [the Greek people] seem to be falling into the same trap again, by rewarding demagoguery, political opportunism and arrogant ignorance. Their knee-jerk reaction was to vote for parties such as Syriza, the rightwing nationalist and populist Independent Greeks and the Golden Dawn."

(Although my opinion here is besides the point, I find that to put Syriza and the Marxist left in general and Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn in the same bag is both unfair and misleading. The event Hatzis mentions symbolizes that difference: two left-wing women were victims of physical aggression by a neo-nazi swine, but the neo-nazi was not punished and was probably protected by the authorities).

So, if New Democracy/PASOK is unacceptable, and (in Hatzis' view) Syriza and the neo-nazis are both equally unacceptable, how on earth should the Greek people vote?

Or the denunciation of New Democracy/PASOK was made only for ritual purposes, and the intended but unspecified message is that the Greek people should keep voting for them, anyway?

If the readers haven't seen it yet, the incident Hatzis mentions is shown in the video below.

Dourou (from Syriza) is the blond woman at the top-right quarter of the screen, Kanelli (from KKE, Communist Party of Greece) is the dark-haired woman at the top-left and Kasidiaris (from Golden Dawn) is the young man, without tie, at the bottom-left.

The video includes an attempt at translation, plus a general description by the translator (to read it, you'll need to jump to its YouTube page):

Kasidiaris, who is allegedly "already facing earlier charges of theft and bodily harm from a separate incident" (see here), left the TV studios after the incident, to avoid arrest and went into hiding, to later sue Dourou and Kanelli, the two victims.

Contrary to expectations of a voters' backlash, Golden Dawn consolidated its gains in last week's elections. (See here)

If this incident tells me anything about Syriza, KKE and Golden Dawn it is that they are very different beasts. And that at the very least some Golden Dawn supporters appear to exhibit clearly criminal behaviour. I find it hard to believe that Hatzis doesn't seem to perceive the difference.

I guess what is evident to one, could be a complete surprise to another. You be the judge.

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