THE EVENTS OF NOVEMBER 5, 2015: ISOLATED INCIDENTS OR SYMPTOMATIC OF THE GREEK CONJUNCTURE?

1. We know that on November 5, 2015, the Παμποντιακή Ομοσπονδία Ελλάδος
(the national federation representing Pontian Greeks) organized a mass
rally at Syntagma Square against the Syriza Minister of Education. The
Minister had denied that the government of the Young Turks had perpetrated
genocide against the Pontian people between 1916 and 1923.

2. Both the rally as such and the incidents that took place at Syntagma
Square need to be analyzed – the key question is: were these events merely
isolated incidents of little socio-political significance, or are they
deeply symptomatic of the present Greek conjuncture?

3. To begin with, we need say that the Pontian rally itself was “violent”
in its anti-Turkish sentiments: participants burnt the Turkish flag while
dancing around it. The discourse of the rally was itself as “violent” – for
instance, people were shouting: «Σκατά, σκατά στον τάφο του Κεμάλ» (“Shit,
Shit on Kemal’s grave”), «Τούρκοι θα πεθάνετε σε χώμα ελληνικό» (“Turks –
you shall die on Greek soil”), etc.

4. As importantly, the Pontian demonstrators were similarly “violent” in
their discourse against the Syriza Minister of Education, veritably
identifying him with their enemy – one of their basic slogans against him
went as follows: «Φίλη τουρκάκι, γιουσουφάκι» (“Filis – obsequious little
Turk”). The implication was that the Syriza government is itself as
obsequious to Turkish interests.

5. Generally speaking, we may say that the Pontian Greeks had felt insulted
by the Syriza government and were enraged by its Minister’s ideological
positions – the Pontian federation declared: «Η παραμονή του αρνητή του
χειρότερου Εγκλήματος κατά της Ανθρωπότητας στο Υπουργείο Παιδείας
προσβάλλει την ιστορική αλήθεια» (freely translated: “The fact that someone
who denies the worst Crime against Humanity remains in his post as Minister
of Education constitutes an insult to historical truth”).

6. The “violence” of the Pontian rally was of a symbolic nature. But we
know that, at the same time, we also had instances of actual physical
attacks against MP’s. These physical attacks were presented to the public
in a distorted manner by the dominant ideological apparatuses (the mass
media) – the aim of the latter being to present such instances of violence
as isolated phenomena of “barbarism” perpetrated by extremist elements
belonging to the political party of Golden Dawn.

7. We need to dwell on the real facts of the event. Those who participated
in the physical attacks of MP’s may be divided into at least three
groupings: (i) members, supporters, sympathizers or voters of Golden Dawn;
(ii) members, supporters, sympathizers or voters of ΕΠΑΜ; (iii) spontaneous
crowds of unknown “ideological” bearings (of both sexes and of different
age-groups).

8. The above groupings actively participated in the attacks. But,
importantly, we also had the passive acceptance of such attacks by the vast
majority of the demonstrators – there was no evidence of any internal
divisions within demonstrators as to whether it was proper or not to allow
things to happen as they did. (Had there been even an inkling of such
division, the mass media would, of course, have immediately brought it to
our attention).

9. Both the “ideological” diversity of the active participators and the
passive acceptance of the rest were purposively downplayed (or censored) by
the mass media.

10. That there was an “ideological” diversity amongst attackers is of
crucial importance – this means that the event cannot be dismissed as the
anti-social behavior of a few extremists. Such “diversity” has been fully
verified by one of the victims of the attacks – the New Democracy MP,
Miltiades Varvitsiotis – who said: «Δέχθηκα έναν προπηλακισμό από ανθρώπους
που προέρχονταν από όλα τα ιδεολογικά ρεύματα» (“I was heckled by people
who came from all the ideological currents”).

11. Whatever serious attempt at understanding the physical attacks on MP’s
presupposes an analysis of the sociological morphology of those who
participated in these attacks (whether actively or passively). We may begin
here with the case of the sympathizers of Golden Dawn. In their capacity as
voters (representing a sizeable 7% of Greeks), this social grouping
expresses a sturdy “NO” to the German-imposed “Memoranda”, and an even
sturdier “NO” to whatever threatens national issues. In essence, this
social grouping – as a wider socio-cultural phenomenon and not necessarily
as supporters of a political party – expresses a position that is beyond
all ideologies that emerged in the late-19th and early-20 th centuries. There is an important sense in which this position
is well beyond the traditional “Left”-“Right” divide (and this is
especially so as regards youth, a social category which in any case has
been cynical about political parties for a long time now). Further, this
grouping stands against the Greek Political Party System in toto, which has
always been ideologically organized around such “Left”-“Right” discourse.
Such discourse is seen as redundant, and the concomitant Political Party
System is seen as dangerous to national and popular interests. In that
specific sense, the spontaneous ideological discourse of this grouping has
deep and widespread roots within Greek middle class “deep society” (itself
characterized by what Stavros Lygeros – to whom we shall come back below –
refers to as «το εθνικό αίσθημα των ψηφοφόρων»). There are almost invisible
socio-cultural links between this grouping and popular middle class
consciousness – such links are definitely complex and as definitely
contradictory, but they are there.

12. Both the above grouping and the rest of the crowds that participated in
the attacks (ΕΠΑΜ supporters included) were characterized by a psychology
of “primitive” political rage that was highly reminiscent of the
«Αγανακτισμένοι» (“Indignados”/”the outraged”) of 2011-2012. The latter
“movement” was highly characteristic of the “deep society” of a besieged
middle class – at least 75% of the Greek population positively supported
this “movement” whether actively or passively (according to University of
Macedonia research findings). The events of November 5, 2015 constitute a
spasmodic upsurge of such instinctual political outburst as was expressed
in 2011-2012.

13. The dominant ideological apparatuses did not fail to observe the
similarities between the events of November 5 and the political behavior of
the «Αγανακτισμένοι» of 2011-2012. Consider the following representative
text: «Σε κάθε περίπτωση, αυτό που τελικά μένει είναι η ευκολία με την
οποία στήνονται δίκες και εμφύλιοι, η πρόβα επιστροφής στο σκηνικό των
“Αγανακτισμένων” με τις κρεμάλες και τα λάβαρα και η κατρακύλα σε ένα πεδίο
παρακμής και πολιτιστικής υστέρησης…» (“FREE SUNDAY”, 8.11.2015, p. 4). We
should note that the events of 2011-2012 and those of November 5 are fully
equated and both are stigmatized as “fascist”, “barbaric” and
“anti-democratic” (ibid). The implication is obvious: for the mass media,
“deep society” – i.e. the vast majority of Greek civil society – is
“proper” and “democratic” when it accepts the Political Party System (votes
and then watches the “System” on TV), and it is “fascist” and “barbaric”
when it actively doubts such “System”. The street language used by the mass
media to throw mud on the crowds of November 5 is the exact same as that
used to neutralize the «Αγανακτισμένους». The dominant ideological
apparatuses despise Greek “deep society” when its members break the rules
of the dominant EU/Germanic ideology of “political correctness”.

14. The sociological morphology of participants in 2011-2012 and those of
November 2015 is, we are saying, more or less the same. On the other hand,
we should add that there was one notable absentee in the events of November
5, that being the active supporters of the so-called “Left” Syriza, who are
themselves in any case in a state of ideological confusion and
organizational disarray (we shall have to come back to the question of
“Left” ideology vis-à-vis national issues).

15. Now, while the November 5 participants were more or less the same with
those of the «Αγανακτισμένοι», the purpose of these two social events was
essentially different. While the morphology of participants would remain
similar, the morphology of social consciousness and social demands would,
in the Pontian-instigated rally, undergo a major, though not absolute,
change.

16. To understand such a change, we need to divide the historical process
of developments within Greek civil society into three basic stages: The 1 st stage, from 2011 to 2012, was characterized by an overtly
economic consciousness of self-survival. The 2nd stage,
especially by 2014 to late-2015, was characterized by a cooptation of the
movement of the «Αγανακτισμένοι» by the Political Party System via Syriza.
The 3rd stage, a rudimentary spark of which emerged with the
November 5 events (and which may not raise its head again for a long time
ahead), is characterized by an overtly national consciousness. In the
latter stage, that which was placed in command was the question of national
survival. Of course, we do not mean to imply that the national issue was
completely ignored in the 1st stage – as we also do not mean to
suggest that the economic issue was completely forgotten in the rudimentary
appearance of the 3rd stage.

17. What we are suggesting is that the Pontian rally as such (and not
necessarily the physical attacks themselves) represents a turning-point in
the morphology of social consciousness and practices for the first time
since 2011. Here, we witnessed the mobilization of a section of Greek civil
society over a clearly national, not economic, question. Put otherwise,
social consciousness had moved from the question of economic
self-survivalism to the collective need to exhibit a patriotic élan vital.
What was at stake here was, not only one’s material well-being, but one’s
own collective identity as a nation. One could suggest that the November 5
rally constituted some form of a primary rehearsal, or a progenitive spark
of national consciousness, meant to re-establish such identity.

18. We know that the Greek nation-state (and the cohesive national
consciousness that must necessarily go with it) is currently under attack
by the forces of German State Nationalism and the economic interests which
that represents. The Pontian rally represented an attempt to move from a
position of defense to that of an “attack”, at least as regards its
anti-Turkish and anti-Syriza discourse. Such “attack” was compounded by the
physical attack on representatives of the Political Party System: the
inherent “primitiveness” of such political action – mere physical attacks –
is symptomatic of the inherent weakness of the middle classes to effect
grassroots self-organization (given, at least, their long-term dependence
on the Political Party System and its client-patron relationships). Yet
still, the “political moment” of November 5 expressed a symbolic “attack”
meant to salvage the dying nation-state.

19. It would be absolutely wrong to see these developments as a case merely
concerning the Pontian community alone. As had happened with the
«Αγανακτισμένοι» of 2011-2012, the sentiments expressed by the
demonstrators of November 5 must be seen in the light of generalized
sentiments rooted in “deep society” – an invisible network of nation
consciousness linked the active participators of the rally to significant
sections of civil society, whatever the ideological orientations of such
non-participators (and which can even cut across party political
sympathies). Keeping that in mind, this move from defensive defeatism to
counter-attack is fully explainable in sociological terms. Put briefly, we
may say that Greek civil society, having been completely defeated in its
economic struggles, now tries to re-find itself and its strength at another
terrain – viz. at the level of national struggles. Objectively speaking, it
has little choice but try to slip away from that terrain where it found
itself absolutely defeated (“Memorandum 3”) and re-form itself anew in a
terrain that promises a certain potential success (national identity). Of
course, this does not at all rule out the possibility of a regression to
the “economism” of the 1st stage. Such possible regression to a
primarily economic struggle would most probably yield further defeats while
a struggle based on national consciousness will be “waiting” on the
sidelines (history is never unilinear).

20. The November 5 move – which is a maneuver from the 1st stage
of the primarily economic struggle to that of the 3rd stage of a
primarily national consciousness (and which still remains embryonic) –
needs to be interpreted in very precise terms for the Greek case. The basic
point here is that such move was in fact a transition from action in the
economic terrain (in which trade unions and Syriza played a hegemonic role
following the dispersal of the «Αγανακτισμένοι») to action in the political
terrain.

21. To explain this latter point, we shall argue that, in the specific
Greek conjuncture, the content of political consciousness is ipso facto
that of national consciousness. This equation (political = national) is
expressive of the present conjuncture in a very special sense. We may say
that the “political instance” is the par excellence “national instance”,
given the threat posed to the Greek nation-state by the post-modern
colonialist policies of the German State. That such “equation” has not, at
least thus far, been the dominant phenomenon in the mobilizations of civil
society is certainly explainable – one needs to consider here the
socio-cultural history of the middle classes from the 1980’s and onwards
(“mass consumerism”, etc.), the dominant role of the Political Party System
which had subsumed whatever “political” within itself, etc. (In any case,
history has taught us that there is never some kind of a mechanical
one-to-one reflective relationship between objective conditions and
subjective practices). Which are these objective conditions?

22. German State Nationalism, using the structures of the EU, has been
launching a major attack on the nation-states of Europe, which have been
established on principles of national self-determination as originally set
out in the Treaty of Westphalia dating back to 1648. One of the first
victims of such an attack has been Greece (though we should not forget the
cases of Yugoslavia and Ukraine) – as such, fighting for the survival of
the Greek nation-state means fighting for nation-state parliamentary
democracy and resisting the imposition of autocratic colonialism. In that
sense, we may say that a national struggle would amount to a struggle for
national democracy, thus rendering such struggle essentially political in
nature.

23. In the given circumstances, any potentially national struggle
translates into a struggle against the Greek Political Party System as a
whole. This is precisely what the spontaneous physical attacks on MP’s in
the events of November 5 represented. The attacks on MP’s of the New
Democracy Party were at the same time attacks against both PASOK and
Syriza. All three political parties have said “YES” to German State
Nationalism. All three Parties fully subscribe to the EU/Germanic ideology
of a pro-immigrant “moralism” and “multiculturalism” meant to effect a
gradual withering away of the nation-states of Europe. Such
Germanic-inspired “moralism”, for instance, has been fully expressed by
Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration and prominent New
Democracy executive: he has advised the Greek people to “love” the more
than half a million immigrants that have entered Greece. Such “love”, of
course, is expected to go hand-in-hand with the acceptance of Memorandum
policies aimed at destroying those self-same potential “lovers” (both as a
nation and as a middle class, with the latter composing the “spine” of the
former).

24. But it was not only the physical attacks on MP’s that expressed a
denial of the Political Party System in the events of November 5. A central
slogan of the Pontian rally itself asserted: «ΟΙ ΠΕΝΤΑΡΟΔΕΚΑΡΕΣ ΠΟΥ ΣΑΣ
ΤΑΪΖΟΥΝ ΑΠΑΙΤΟΥΝ ΣΕΒΑΣΜΟ ΤΗΣ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑΣ ΤΟΥΣ». Freely interpreted, this
slogan suggested that although the State considers taxes paid by citizens
as mere “chickenfeed” (a statement made by the Minister of Education
himself), it was precisely such “chickenfeed” that feeds all politicians –
and it is now this “chickenfeed” that demands respect for its own history
(the Pontian genocide). In such way, the Pontian rally linked the problem
of over-taxation to that of a lack of respect for its national identity:
both issues were thrown in the face of all politicians, who are in any case
“fed” by the Greek people.

25. Other slogans further reduced all political parties to one and the same
thing – consider for instance the following: «ΣΑΝ ΝΕΟΣ ΠΑΠΑΝΔΡΕΟΥ/ ΣΑΝ
ΑΛΛΟΣ ΣΑΜΑΡΑΣ/ [Ο ΤΣΙΠΡΑΣ] ΑΠΕΔΕΙΞΕ ΑΛΟΙΜΟΝΟ ΚΙ ΕΚΕΙΝΟΣ/ ΠΩΣ ΗΤΑΝ ΜΑΣΚΑΡΑΣ»
(translated: “Like a new Papandreou/ Like another Samaras/ Tsipras has
proved that he too unfortunately/ Is a clown”).

26. Slogans further spoke of the forty years of “lies” that had been meted
out to the Greek people by all political parties, including the “Left
branch” of the Political Party System – in Greek, the slogan went as
follows: «ΣΑΡΑΝΤΑ ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΦΑΓΑΤΕ/ ΨΕΥΤΙΑ ΜΕ ΤΟ ΚΑΝΤΑΡΙ/ ΚΙ ΕΤΣΙ ΚΑΝΑΤΕ
ΠΡΩΘΥΠΟΥΡΓΟ/ ΤΟ ΑΡΙΣΤΕΡΟ ΚΛΩΝΑΡΙ».

27. Specifically as regards that “Left branch”, slogans pointed to its
“national nihilism” and to Syriza’s clear-cut alignment with EU/Germanic
policies on immigration and “multiculturalism”: «ΞΕΚΛΕΙΔΩΣΕ ΤΑ ΣΥΝΟΡΑ/
ΧΤΥΠΑΕΙ ΤΗ ΘΡΗΣΚΕΙΑ…» (translated: “Unlocked the boundaries/ Attacks our
religion”).

28. Ultimately, a key slogan raised what may perhaps be considered the
central political paradox of the present conjuncture: how is one to explain
that Greek people could possibly vote to power a political entity the
central nucleus of which (that 4%) had always shown a disregard (not to say
a repulsion) for the interests of the Greek middle classes, as also a total
abnegation of all things “national”? The point is that it was precisely
such abnegation of “nationhood” on the part of Syriza that would bring the
Pontian Greeks to the streets demanding a “respect” for such “nationhood”.
The paradox (which we have very briefly tried to explain by referring to
the three stages of historical developments starting 2011) was expressed as
follows in slogan-form: «ΓΙΑΤΙ ΚΛΑΙΤΕ ΒΡΕ ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ/ ΓΙΑΤΙ ΧΤΥΠΙΕΣΤΕ ΤΩΡΑ; /
ΔΕΝ ΒΛΕΠΑΤΕ, ΔΕ ΝΙΩΘΑΤΕ/ ΠΩΣ ΕΡΧΕΤΕ Η ΜΠΟΡΑ; » (the basic idea here being:
“why cry about what is happening to you now? Could you not see the storm
coming?”).

29. This very question had in fact been raised by a “Left-leaning” analyst
well prior to Syriza’s coming to power. In 2014, Stavros Lygeros would
write with respect to Syriza: «Επισήμως λέει κάποιες γενικολογίες για να
μην προκαλέσει το εθνικό αίσθημα των ψηφοφόρων. Από την άλλη όμως ανέχεται,
εάν δεν κλείνει το μάτι σ’ όσους… υποστηρίζουν τις κάθε είδους διεκδικήσεις
γειτόνων σε βάρος του Ελληνισμού… Είναι αυτοί που αποκαλούν το
τουρκοκυπριακό ψευδοκράτος “κράτος” και τη μουσουλμανική μειονότητα
“τουρκική”… Είναι αυτοί που χαρακτηρίζουν τις μονομερείς τουρκικές
διεκδικήσεις στην καλύτερη περίπτωση “ανταγωνισμό δύο εθνικισμών” και στη
χειρότερη “φαντασιώσεις των Ελλήνων εθνικιστών”. Είναι οι ίδιοι που ζητάνε
να μην εμποδίζεται η είσοδος παράνομων μεταναστών, αντιμετωπίζοντας την
Ελλάδα ως χώρο και όχι ως χώρα». And he concludes: «Θα πρόκειται για
πολιτικο-εκλογική αεροπειρατεία εάν οι πολίτες νομίζουν ότι ψηφίζουν
πατριώτες αριστερούς και τους προκύψουν εθνομηδενιστές». («ΕΠΙΚΑΙΡΑ»,
24/04-30/04/2014, 236Ο ΤΕΥΧΟΣ, p. 19).

30. The truth is that it is the whole of the Political Party System –
“Left”, “Right” and “Center” – that is characterized by a “national
nihilism”. This is so because such “System” is, in the last instance, under
the veritable control of German politico-economic colonialism. But it was
the coming to power of Syriza that placed the question of national
consciousness at center-stage, if only for one day, on that November 5,
2015. This Pontian-instigated event may certainly remain an isolated
“political moment”, but it secretes within itself an élan vital of national
consciousness which, if pressed to extremes, could burst out accordingly,
at least in the long-run.

31. On the other hand, we know that whatever national consciousness poised
against Germanic State Nationalism shall definitely find itself facing a
major political onslaught: the dominant ideological apparatuses (both
foreign and local) shall continue to stigmatize whatever relates to such
national consciousness as “fascistic”. They shall continue to further
relate such national consciousness to “racism”. Thereby, they shall try to
isolate whatever elements expressing such sentiments and relegate them to
“barbaric extremism”. To the extent that such attempts at isolation may not
be successful, the mass media will try to further divide Greeks between
those who are supposedly “European” and “civilized humanists” and those who
supposedly remain “barbaric” and “irrationalist anti-humanists” (we have,
in fact, seen strains of such ideological divisiveness already happening).

32. Above all, therefore, the struggle for the survival of the Greek
nation-state shall be an ideological (and therefore cultural) struggle. In
that, the Pontian rally constitutes an important “symbolic moment” deeply
expressive of the Greek conjuncture.

Panagiotis Tourikis (“Nikos Vlachos”), 18.11.2015.

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