[MGSA-L] Syriza vs. Xrisi Aygi column Του Νικου Χρυσολωρα

Dimitris Papanikolaou dimitris.papanikolaou at mod-langs.ox.ac.uk
Thu Sep 27 12:19:42 PDT 2012

Dear Dr Chrysoloras,

I am writing this in haste, and in the hope that others, better versed in political discourse theory, will take this on.
But I need to register that, as I understand it, many people would disagree with your neoliberal interpretation of Laclau's equivalential logics and chains, especially in the way you easily read them onto statements by Syriza. For one: saying that a democratically elected government has lost all power of decision and follows, like a puppet, mandates from non-elected technocrats or the shadowy 'daneistes', does NOT amount to creating an equivalential chain; it is analysis of political power and agency, and it does not (as equivalential chains do) propose a universal; instead it turns its critique towards the particular and the specific.
I don't want to get into further discussion of this or other slippages and confusions you make in this posting and in your original article. But let it be said that I find slightly problematic the way you confuse traditions and tactics of civil disobedience with an outright 'dispute of the legitimacy of the Constitution, the Government, and the Democratic regime in general'. To put it as tactfully as I can, I find excruciatingly dishonest the way that, based on your initial confusion of disobedience with 'anti-democracy', you then support an argument about the equivalence of Syriza and the fascist Crissi Avgi.

Now, what you are trying to do is perhaps to help in the establishment of a new equivalential logic, a Syriza/XA equivalential chain [and here, I believe, I used Laclau more advisedly]. You are not alone in doing that, this is true. What we need, therefore, to observe, on websites, newspaper columns, political discourse, is what kind of identity this new equivalential chain (syriza = XA) is being used to performatively introduce as its opposite. The identity of the 'rational', 'legitimate', 'docile' Greek subject ? Why now? What for ? Who by ? Who for ?

Be that as it may, I am also perplexed by your somehow outdated, and slighlty populist use of the term populism itself. Perhaps I could refer you to the recent work by Yannis Stavrakakis (in the Laclau tradition) for a subtler, more analytical, and certainly more sober reading of populism. [see also the recent conference in thessaloniki, http://www.democritics.net/anti-pop/
Ditto about your views on emotion and affect in the political sphere; perhaps update a little, also taking into account biopolitical frames and the need to resist them? in Greek the works of Athena Athanasiou could be of some initial help.
Of course, Nikolas Sevastakis has argued at length about the political agendas of the 'anti-populist' rhetoric in Greece during the recent crisis, and his articles can help perhaps frame our discussion here.

I hope this was helpful. Me syntrofikous xairetismous se olous


Dr Dimitris Papanikolaou
University Lecturer in Modern Greek Studies, Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford
47 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JF

Visiting Fellow (Fall 2012), Remarque Institute, NYU
Room 318, 53 Washington Sq. South, NY 10012
From: mgsa-l-bounces at uci.edu [mgsa-l-bounces at uci.edu] on behalf of Nikos Chrysoloras [nikos.chrysoloras at gmail.com]
Sent: 27 September 2012 09:31
To: mgsa-l at uci.edu
Subject: Re: [MGSA-L] Syriza vs. Xrisi Aygi column Του Νικου Χρυσολωρα

Dear colleagues,
I have been following your debate regarding my article with great interest. Allow me to respond to some of the points made here. Obviously, my article does not suggest that the content of SYRIZA's political discourse is in any way similar to Chrissi Avgi's discourse. But the structure is identical. They both use what Laclau and Mouffe (Laclau, E. & Mouffe C.,  Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, 2nd ed., (London: Verso Books, 2001 [1985]) call "the logic of equivalence". The logic of equivalence, as some of you may already know, constructs  a chain of equivalential identities among different elements that are seen as expressing a certain sameness”. In the case of SYRIZA's and Chrissi Avgi's populism, the political spectrum is simplified by the two populist discourses, to the extent that is perceived as being formed by two opposing camps: the people  and its “enemies”. In an interview with me (http://www.epohi.gr/portal/theoria/8424) Ernesto Laclau , the most important academic author on populism, argues that no matter its content, a discourse is populist to the extent that it refers to the “people” as a unified and undivided entity. The available space does not allow me to elaborate further, but for those who are interested, I suggest the book "On Populist Reason" by Laclau.
My point is that both parties are populist. But similarities do not stop there. They both dispute the legitimacy of the Constitution, the Government, and the Democratic regime in general. I will not refer to specific examples from Chrissi Avgi, since we all more or less know what this neo-fascist party supports. But I challenge those who dispute my argument to visit the website of SYRIZA and do a content analysis on its press releases. The press releases do not just state a strong disagreement with the current policies followed in Greece (that would be completely understandable), but dispute the democratic legitimation of the government. Terms like "genocide", "death contracts against the people" are habitually used, while the underlying logic of most of the arguments is that there is a "chain of equivalence" (again), between a foreign oppressor (the EU) and its local puppets (the Greek government). Now, we all know that all Greek governments of the past 38 years have been elected in office through legitimate and fair elections. We all know that Greek governments asked for the IMF/EU intervention. We all know that the Second Adjustment Program was approved last March by a 2/3 majority in the Greek parliament, and we all know that the tri-partite pro-European government in Athens enjoys the support of the majority of the parliament and received 48% of the vote in last June's elections. So why, oh why, SYRIZA doesn't just say "I strongly disagree", but argues that "you guys are not legitimate"? The difference is crucial!!
And finally, my third point. I use the term "democracy" in my Kathimerini article, in line with John Rawls' theory of justice. For those of us who are not political scientists, let me simplify things a bit. In a fair democratic society, we can all fight for our political views, as long as we all agree on the rules of our fight. If we don't agree on the rules, then democracy will fall apart. It's like playing a soccer game. Both teams do their best to beat the opponent, but the game cannot be played if the teams do not agree on what is a foul, what is a corner kick, if the players can use their hands, etc. SYRIZA consistently supports civil disobedience movements. Members of the party supported the restaurant owners on the island of Hydra who had beaten tax inspectors, because the latter ones tried to check if they issue receipts. Mr. Tsipras said that school teachers can be excused if they deliver private courses to their students, without issuing receipts. And SYRIZA supported the "I am not paying" movement in Greece. So if we can't agree that all citizens are obliged to pay taxes, then how the hell will democratic politics function in Greece?
Thank you for your patience,
Nikos Chrysoloras, PhD (London School of Economics)
EU Correspondent, Kathimerini daily,

On 27 September 2012 06:16, <mgsa-l-request at uci.edu<mailto:mgsa-l-request at uci.edu>> wrote:
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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Syriza vs. Xrisi Aygi column ??? ????? ?????????
      (athanasios grammenos)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: athanasios grammenos <athanasiosgrammenos at gmail.com<mailto:athanasiosgrammenos at gmail.com>>
To: Philip Hager <philip.hager at googlemail.com<mailto:philip.hager at googlemail.com>>
Cc: MGSA List <mgsa-l at uci.edu<mailto:mgsa-l at uci.edu>>, pn2005 at optusnet.com.au<mailto:pn2005 at optusnet.com.au>, "Grammenos, Dennis" <d-grammenos at neiu.edu<mailto:d-grammenos at neiu.edu>>
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:50:21 +0300
Subject: Re: [MGSA-L] Syriza vs. Xrisi Aygi column Του Νικου Χρυσολωρα
Dear Mr Hager,

Thank you for talking some time to read and think on the post I sent to the list.

Let me first make clear that I preferred not to escort the initial posting with any comment because I believe in every list member's ability to make his/her own conclusions. Besides, other members occasionally post only with a "fyi" or "to the members of the list" so I didn't want to be out of the spirit. My initiative was oriented only to enrich the public dialogue in this list on the emerging situation in Greece; not easy!

Then, allow me to say that your understanding of my reply is poor. First, nobody accused no one for being a "murderer". This is a risky and arbitrary conclusion of yours and I wish to keep distant. However, as I mentioned to my previous letter, when a political leader raise objections to the very application of the Constitution, or when by declaration of another party leader (Mrs Papariga of KKE) he is publicly linked to the "musketeers-koukouloforoi" (who are criminals whether you like it or not) then there is a very serious suspicion on his polity.

On your second point, I am sorry but I did not use the term "neoliberalism", and it is not polite trying either to interpret and characterize me or to charge me words that I did not use. For your own information though, let me -as a political scientist- to distinguish "neo-liberals" from "neo-cons", which is a common mistake made by the Greek radicals, too. Now, how you conclude from my last message, that "freedom of expression is (restricted to) the right to express the neoliberal consensus", this is your own issue.

In contrast, I said:
"Προσωπικά, δεν υιοθετώ καμία άποψη, προσπαθώ να κατανοήσω την φυσιογνωμία, την στρατηγική και το ήθος των πολιτικών κομμάτων, αποδέχομαι όμως το διαφορετικό ως βασική "συνιστώσα" διαλόγου και προσπαθώ να το χρησιμοποιήσω εποικοδομητικά". (=Personally, I do not adopt any of those views, I try to understand the identity, strategy and ethos of the political parties, however I accept the 'other' as a fundamental component of dialogue and I try to use it constructively").

On your conspiracy theory, that "of the Greek media propaganda against those who propose a different solution to the crisis" I will make no comments. Blaming someone of "witchcraft", is a step backwards. I remind you though that the huge majority of the Greek media belongs traditionally to the left wing and beyond "Kathimerini" and "To Vima", the rest are flirting with Drachma, "a different solution to the crisis", as you said.

Last, I want to thank our moderator for he allowed a fruitful conversation (of some fifteen posts) to develop. It shows that debating with different -even contending- views, can give us something important. Well done!

Εν ελευθερία

Στις 26 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012 2:53 μ.μ., ο χρήστης Philip Hager <philip.hager at googlemail.com<mailto:philip.hager at googlemail.com>> έγραψε:
Dear fellow list members,

Although I do think that all this discussion about the Χρυσολωράς article is really out of proportion, I could not resist responding: the previous respondant (Ath. Grammenos) wrote that some of syriza's components are not much different to the golden dawn and that this is commonplace knowledge within Greek society. Without meaning to be disrespectful to a fellow MGSAer I'd like to say that none of syriza's members is a verified murderer; articles such as the one in kathimerini (or many in kathimerini and other newspapers for that matter) are responsible for equating syriza with golden dawn; an axiom that then becomes commonsensical because of the Greek media propaganda against those who propose a different solution to the crisis (the golden dawn is not included here, because they do not propose a solution, but mass extermination).

Another thing I wanted to stress here is that the academic way of talking about things, does not reproduce newspaper articles without critically interrogating them and does not use opinions expressed in a newspaper as evidence. Moreover, the use of words such as democracy, freedom (of speech or other) seem to be used in a very particular (and thus limited) way by both Χρυσολωράς and Ath. Grammenos (in his latest contribution to this thread): in their understanding democracy is (restricted to) a political system where the absolute truth of neoliberalism must be the compass of all political parties (therefore anyone who against this kind of bourgeois/ liberal/representative democracy becomes an anti-democrat) and freedom of expression is (restricted to) the right to express the neoliberal consensus (therefore anyone who presents an opinion outside the neoliberal consensus is against the freedom of expression(!).

Athanasios Grammenos wrote of a return to the middle ages. Indeed neoliberal rationality constitutes exactly this: a return to the darkest pages of our history books.

Philip Hager

On 25 Sep 2012, at 18:28, athanasios grammenos wrote:

Δεν χωρούν πολλά λόγια όταν κάποιος "στάζει" ειρωνία. Είναι προφανές ότι κεντρίζεται από τον ελεύθερο διάλογο, την άλλη άποψη. Πάντως, η επιστήμη που δεν αφουγκράζεται την κοινωνία δεν είναι επιστήμη. Μπορεί λοιπόν οι "ανθρωπολόγοι" της λίστας να "ξενίστηκαν" από την προώθηση ενός τέτοιου κειμένου (αλήθεια, "ξενίστηκαν" ή "ενοχλήθηκαν") όμως ο Πολιτικός Επιστήμονας και ο Κοινωνιολόγος του μέλλοντος θα το βρουν πολύ χρήσιμο για να αντιληφθούν τις ζυμώσεις που γίνονται στην Ελλάδα σήμερα. Κρίμα που τόσοι πολλοί μιλούν για την Ελλάδα και τόσοι λίγοι καταλαβαίνουν τι συμβαίνει σ' αυτήν.

Ότι κάποιες συνιστώσες του ΣΥΡΙΖΑ λειτουργούν όπως και η Χρυσή Αυγή είναι κάτι που αποδέχεται πλέον ένα μεγάλο μέρος της ελληνικής κοινωνίας. Γιατί λοιπόν κάποιοι "σοκάρονται"; Γιατί δεν ακούν την κοινωνία! Ίσως γιατί κατοικούν πολύ μακριά, ίσως πάλι γιατί μέσα από την "επιστήμη" προσπαθούν να διαδώσουν πολιτικές θέσεις, κατά βάση κατατρεγμένες από τα ΕΑΜικά σύνδρομα. Έτσι εξηγείται ότι ανέχονται κάθε λογής άσχετη πληροφορία που κυκλοφορεί στην "λίστα" αλλά θίγονται μόνο όταν κάποιος εκφραστεί επικριτικά για την Ριζοσπαστική Αριστερά, ένα κόμμα που στις τάξεις της περιλαμβάνει αντιΕυρωπαϊστές, αντιΑμερικανούς, αντιΕβραίους (ναι, και όμως!), κομμουνιστές μέχρι αναρχικούς, που όλοι επιθυμούν την ανατροπή της αστικής δημοκρατίας. Ένα κόμμα που "χαϊδεύει τα αυτιά των κουκουλοφόρων". Ένα κόμμα που ο αρχηγός του έχει πει: "Οι νόμοι που ψηφίζονται από την Βουλή, θα ακυρώνονται από εμάς στο πεζοδρόμιο"! Τόση δημοκρατικότητα!

Να λοιπόν πόσα ερεθίσματα δίνει το άρθρο, όπως και τα κείμενα του Κασιμάτη στην ίδια εφημερίδα (αρκετά από τα οποία έχω στείλει κατά καιρούς) που ορισμένοι εδώ μέσα κάνουν ότι δεν αντιλαμβάνονται. Προσωπικά, δεν υιοθετώ καμία άποψη, προσπαθώ να κατανοήσω την φυσιογνωμία, την στρατηγική και το ήθος των πολιτικών κομμάτων, αποδέχομαι όμως το διαφορετικό ως βασική "συνιστώσα" διαλόγου και προσπαθώ να το χρησιμοποιήσω εποικοδομητικά. Φαίνεται όμως ότι δεν είναι το άρθρο καθαυτό που ενοχλεί, είναι η συγκεκριμένη άποψη. Κι αν σε μια "ακαδημαϊκή" λίστα δεν γίνονται δεκτές όλες οι (δημοκρατικές)  απόψεις, αν αποκλείονται κάποιες ετσιθελικά τότε μήπως αναβιώνει ο Μεσαίωνας; Πέρασε καιρός από τότε που έκαιγαν ανθρώπους στην πυρά!

Εν τέλει, κάτι μη χρήσιμο για έναν κλάδο ίσως είναι χρήσιμο για άλλες επιστήμες. Για όσους δεν μπορούν να αποδεχτούν την ελευθερία λόγου υπάρχουν δύο δρόμοι: ο πρώτος είναι να πολιτευτούν με την ΧΑ ή τον ΣΥΡΙΖΑ. Ο δεύτερος να επιλέξουν μια εναλλακτική απασχόληση.

Κλείνω με μια φράση του σπουδαιότερου σύγχρονου Έλληνα Πολιτικού Επιστήμονα κ. Στάθη Καλύβα (από την "Καθημερινή", για τους καχύποπτους):
"Ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ του 2012 είναι το ΠΑΣΟΚ του 1981. Το ΠΑΣΟΚ του 2012 είναι η ΕΔΗΚ του 1977. Και ο Σαμαράς του 2012 ετοιμάζεται να υποδυθεί τον ρόλο του Γεωργίου Ράλλη το 1981. Στον ρόλο της «Αυριανής», τα μπλογκ. Ο Τσίπρας αναβιώνει τον Ανδρέα, στο πιο νέο και πιο αμόρφωτο και επαρχιώτικο. Υπόσχεται την ελπίδα, την ανατροπή και την ευημερία. Μιλάει για εθνική ανεξαρτησία και λαϊκή κυριαρχία. Υπόσχεται ταυτόχρονα την ευημερία του ευρώ και την άρση της λιτότητας: λεφτά υπάρχουν. Οι αντίπαλοί του θα επισημάνουν τη δημαγωγία και τους κινδύνους, αλλά ποιος τους ακούει;"

Further reading
Η μόνη απάντηση στην πολιτική βία

Κάντο όπως το ΚΚΕ

2012 - 1981, deja vu

Εν ελευθερία

2012/9/24 Grammenos, Dennis <d-grammenos at neiu.edu<mailto:d-grammenos at neiu.edu>>
I thought the Nikos Chrysoloras piece in question was an "op-ed."  It sure sounds like that. I wouldn't go as far as to baptize it "journalistic analysis" though whatever that may be in this age of blogging.  As for the "news" and "information" it purportedly provides (valid or otherwise) I had to re-read it to make sure that I hadn't miss anything.  I hadn't. No "news" there, just recycled equivalencies for the least common denominator, verging on a type of discursive mud-slinging that has always been common fodder for Greece's embedded "journalists".

Does it have a place on MGSA-L? Thankfully it was just a link to it for those who care to waste their time reading it.

And, I did waste my time! What a syllogistic mess:) One walks away with the equation SYRIZA=Xrusa Auga.  Wow.

Giasas paidia,

Dennis Grammenos

From: mgsa-l-bounces at uci.edu<mailto:mgsa-l-bounces at uci.edu> [mgsa-l-bounces at uci.edu<mailto:mgsa-l-bounces at uci.edu>] On Behalf Of Aristide Caratzas [acaratzas at gmail.com<mailto:acaratzas at gmail.com>]
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 1:37 AM
To: MGSA List
Cc: Neni Panourgia
Subject: Re: [MGSA-L] Syriza vs. Xrisi Aygi column Του Νικου Χρυσολωρα

Actually, the posting in question has everything to do with Modern Greek Studies, it is a journalistic analysis, and it provides [unpleasant but valid] news and information.

Censorship has no place on an academic list like ours.

Aristide Caratzas

On Sep 24, 2012, at 1:22 AM, Neni Panourgia wrote:

This posting has no place on this list as it has nothing to do with
Modern Greek Studies, it is not an academic analysis, and is it not a
piece of news or information.


On 9/23/2012 3:50 PM, Roland Moore wrote:
A subscriber to this list sent this link to a Kathimerini column.  For those subscribers who wish to follow recent showdowns between supporters of Syriza and Xrysi Augi...

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: athanasios grammenos <athanasiosgrammenos at gmail.com<mailto:athanasiosgrammenos at gmail.com>>

    Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2012 10:18:59 +0300
    Subject: Αλέξης Τσίπρας, όπως Μιτ Ρόμνεϊ
    Αλέξης Τσίπρας, όπως Μιτ Ρόμνεϊ

    Του Νικου Χρυσολωρα

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