Who am I, politically speaking?

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I spent a lifetime thinking that I should belong somewhere, that I should align myself with some ideology, some belief.

The left, indeed it’s radical expression seemed a suitable place to begin an exploration of the political space. I attended Socialist Worker meetings shortly after joining Essex University in 1997. They looked typical, even to my young eyes. They dreamed of a better society. I asked them whether a nuclear apocalypse would actually be a good starting point for a societal redrafting. They said yes, I never went back.

In 1999 I was visiting Athens Law School. Leftists galore. I had a KNE friend (communist party youth). She did things because the party said to. I also had a DAP (New Democracy Youth) girlfriend. She did things so that the party would get her a job. I stopped seeing both.

Years after I was researching for my PhD under the supervision of a Marxist critical theorist. I am eternally grateful to him for keeping me safe from Foucault. Marxism is one thing, meta-ethics quite another. I was looking into Russian legal transformations in post-communism. I wrote a critique of neoliberalism. Surely that pigeonholes me as a leftist intellectual?

After finishing the PhD I got a job (at a uni of course) and met some German guy in a pub who accused me of hypocrisy. I was writing lefty things, yet I lived a bourgeois lifestyle. I struggled to reconcile my fiery anti-neoliberal rhetoric with my wealthy lifestyle (turns out one job at the uni cannot make you rich, but 3 simultaneously create at least the appearance of wealth).

I came to this. I do not write lefty things from the perspective of a fictional proletarian. I argue against an unsustainable, vicious and inhumane capitalism because I do not want things to end badly for the proletariat and my own privileged offspring. I want a nicer pragmatic and sustainable capitalism. I ended up at the rational shore of lefty pretence: social democracy.

Who can best express the desire for a better, more equal society that is still wealthy and prosperous? I thought Syriza was the means to the end of a better deal with Europe in January 2015. I was wrong.

In the intellectual war of the referendum in the summer of 2015 I felt compelled to choose a side. I chose NAI and I am now forever separated from those who ‘officially’ express the left in Greece.

If I am a critical social democrat who cares about the life of Greeks now and the future of my country, who should I support?

I am not sure who I should vote for on September 20, but I know who I would not support. Not Mr Tsipras who betrayed my trust and hope through stupidity, ignorance and incompetence. Not Mr Lafazanes and Madame Zoi who express the worst of lefty populism we have seen in a while. Not Mr Papandreou who despite his grand name would not be able to run a beach canteen. Not the fascists of ANEL, the Nazis of Golden Dawn. Not KKE in all its magnificent irrelevance. Not Mr Leventis, entertaining though he is. Not the fringe left in its ‘people’s front of judea’ infighting.

I will have to pinch my nose and pick one of the rest.
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@iGlinavos

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14 thoughts on “Who am I, politically speaking?

  1. A dilemma with which I (and no doubt many others) are familiar. Perhaps it is better not to be anyone, politically speaking, and join the rest of us in no man’s land. Our objective could be to make sure that no one that desires power should get too comfortable in power. It is the threat of losing power that keeps these people on their mettle and periodically the electorate votes them out just to remind them that they are guests of the electorate and not their masters. That is the main function of Democracy. Unfortunately it cannot vote out the political class. Another bunch of fools is elected. It is dirty work but someone has to do it.

    I have long since resorted to voting tactically using a complex set of criteria to guide my each choice. I am no one, politically speaking. There is no political doctrine that applies over time and space. We must continuously negotiate and assess what is necessary at specific points in time and place. Tsipras has been disappointing (an understatement) but he may have still been the best available choice at the time and his election may yet prove to have been necessary. Who would have been a better choice? Your personal criticism of Tsipras is slightly unfair. He is a self-serving, power hungry, egotist and has acted rationally with respect to his character. He has been true to himself. You perhaps expected a statesman? In Greece? LoL. The joyous election of anyone is the triumph of hope over experience.

    What have you got against Foucault?

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  2. mikenetherlands says:

    I understand your struggle. At the moment I am trying to write a article about To Potami. Till now it is for me compleet unclear what they want. Yes, they are pro-Europe and leftist neo-liberal. That is nice. They want “solutions to their problems outside the parties’ stereotypes of the past.” I think that is what everybody wants. “What we are trying to do is to enable ordinary citizens to express their position.” In Dutch we call this “een open deur intrappen” (To break through an open door, there is no English equivalent.) Evangelos Meimarakis. The same story. Many, many words, no solutions. Take a coin, a coin toss, that wil be the best solution in my opinion.

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  3. I don’t remember the exact words but I understood Euclid’s message along these lines: “I’ve done the best I could, it’s now up to my people to get their act together, grab the opportunity and make the best of it.”

    I feel it represents pretty well what you stand for.

    By the way, every referendum should have four choices:

    (a) yes
    (b) no
    (c) I don’t understand the question
    (d) I do understand the question, but I don’t give an answer because it’s going to be twisted

    For the Greek one, I would have hesitated between (c) and (d).

    And let’s forget the “political” YV. He joined his comrades when they wanted their country back, fair enough, but he didn’t find it and got lost in the labyrinth of his own making. The official story may be different, but ultimately Danae saved the day when she wanted her husband back.

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  4. I’m afraid that social democracy (as a secular voice of reasoning) is loosing ground everywhere in north-west Europe. Even in the nordic countries, always a proud example what could be achieved thru social democracy, they seem to be on the defense.

    In my own country (Holland) they have become almost an irrelevance. After elections 39 seats in parliament, now polling 9.

    The problem, I think, is their believe that things for the good will only change if they are part of the government. Which in Holland would involve a coalition of parties.

    But most of the time social-democrats are only being used to keep organized labour in check. Our last social democratic PM was praised by the employers federation for just doing that. At present they form a coalition with the (neo) liberals and defending the proposals they were campaigning against during the election.

    Tsipras is certainly not the only one who tries to cling to power by doing the opposite of what he promised to do.

    So what should social democrats do? Well, first of all, accept that the majority of the electorate is conservative anyway and therefore you will spent most of your time in opposition.

    Secondly, try a bit of modesty. It’s the financial corporations that rule the world to-day and not the governments. So there is little room for maneuvering.

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    • mikenetherlands says:

      Sorry, what do you mean Pim? PASOK is social democratic, like our PVDA. PASOK and New Democracy were the ruling party’s for years and made the big mess. Both.
      The PASOK voters went to SYRIZA, PASOK faded away. ND kept his voters.

      Tsipras (SYRIZA) is radical left. (not social democratic) The battle now is between ND and SYRIZA. And it is to close to call. Are you talking about PASOK or about SYRIZA?

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      • I’m not talking parties but movements. Social Democrats versus Christian Democrats in Holland and Germany competing for power after the war.

        The SD vaguely based on Marx, the CD vaguely based on Christianity. Their views on social justice aren’t that different. It is mainly the means to achieve that they argue about.

        The more ideological inclined part of the SD electorate have left the movement and now support a more radical version. Die Linke in Germany, Socialist Party in Holland and Syriza in Greece.

        They represent a reasonable part of th electorate, but haven’t a chance in hell tot get a majority.

        In Greece, Syriza came close (thanks to the 50 seat bonus, but no other country has a similar kind of arrangement)

        In the UK (due to the election system) the struggle takes place within the Labour party.
        A more radical course will bring clarity, but won’t win you a election as the electorate as a whole will remain moderate anyway.

        So the situation to-day is that Social Democracy has lost it’s appeal to be a force for the good. In my view that is a more a sign of the time than anything else.

        The present day electorate demands instant satisfaction of what they perceive as their needs. Little consideration is given to people who may have different opinion. Facebook has given them a voice but they are mainly talking rubish.

        And present day politicians are inclined to promise anything to gain power. And that struggle for power is rather pathetic, because in to-days world (whether we like it or not) real power lies no longer with individual governments, but with the supra-national organizations and the financial interest that rule this world.

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      • mikenetherlands says:

        3)This crisis will end one day. Do you want the children of today to have the drachme when the are grown up? My advise to every Greek (grant)parent is, fight for the euro! Not for yourself, but for the next generations to come.

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      • Well, as far as the cost are concerned, they should of course have talked to Schäuble. After all, he offered debt relief after Greece had left the eurozone.

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