Some of the readers of this blog may have wondered why I still haven’t written anything on the rise of the “national socialist” party in my country (Greece). Why I haven’t reported their hate-activism and their “miniature” pogroms, along with the extreme tolerance shown to them by the Greek society, the media, the political and the judicial system. Of course I am shocked and stupefied. And I could go on for pages analyzing the situation, both to myself and to the readers of this blog. Like most Greek or foreign posts on the subject, I could talk about the history of extreme conservatism in modern Greece, how it remained well alive under the guise of materialistic values that the former governments and the media invested into the social body. And I would menton the negligence of the left, the provocative stance of the police and an inherent racism that has been sleepwalking around the European continent for decades and has been violently woken up in Greece, not simply with the advent of the financial crisis but mostly through the way it is being dealt with.
But every time I try to explain the phenomenon in such terms, either to myself or to friends, I feel at great unease. Everything sounds second-handed: already known, already seen, a replay of memories not lived, a rerun of some of the cheapest moments in the history of my country. My tone becomes ex-post apologetic, in the sense that, in the final analysis, I am providing excuses in the guise of explanations. And worst of all: while every part of my account does indeed hold and is in fact true –on the whole it remains banal, trivial and ineffective.
For such explanations always imply given positionings. And it is the positioning, rather than the content of such an account, that is suspicious (potentially at least as much as fascism itself), as it implies a very specific structure of utterance: a) A Greek addressing readers from some other country who, in one way or another, display feelings of sympathy towards what is happening in some faraway land; b) some of them happen to be fellow European citizens, whose countries might soon face the same danger; c) while a complex multi-national European government can be partly located in Brussels, the rise of fascism is located in one of its nation-members; d) while I can vaguely appeal to “Brussels” for the relaxation of austerity measures that I consider responsible for the phenomenon, I am nonetheless inclined (as a citizen of my country) to assume responsibility for something that takes place in my country, through its political system, within a localized society that has its own peculiar history.
In short: as the effects of otherwise multi-national decisions are being localized in nation-states, the limits of political action are also confined into countries and states. A situation that well allows for local protests against local (national) governments –but almost in principle excludes the possibility of protesting as a European against an elite of indirectly elected technocrats. Within a union of nations, the privilege of transcending your nationality is mostly reserved to those who govern. And the only space for a political action that transcends nationality is mainly confined to institutions such as the European Parliament or the ECB. Beyond the worn-out myth of the Lumières, the only thing that unites European citizens is nothing but an economic motive.
Within such a peculiar framework where the dream of federalism is essentially backed up by economic incentives and liberalist policies, where political-constitutional unification is presented as an accessory to the financial (see fiscal) unification, the concept of a European political subject (be it a class or not) is excluded. The conservation of national characteristics, under the alibi of cultural pluralism, essentially blocks any possibility of a bottom-up constitution (let alone emergence) of any such political entity. When at the same time a centralized European governance becomes more powerful than ever.
Hence, by alarming the reader about the rise of nationalist socialism in a given European state, I cannot but evoke a reaction that lately has become increasingly common: the transformation of political vigilance into a spectacle (to watch Tahir Square and dream of 1789; to witness the rise of fascism in a European country and think about the decline of of the Weimar Republic; or, if Greek, to relive the possibility of a new junta. It is so ironic to think that fascism, once the aestheticization of politics (Benjamin), has now turned into a spectacle sponsored by liberal –oh, too liberal- democracies.
And all this be keeping it local. In the here and now of a society faced with the bully of fascism, with the leaders of the European Union “worrying” about a situation that politically is rather convenient: at the end of the day, memorandums are way preferable to fascism. And from the financial dilemma “drachma or euro” we have now passed to the political question “fascism or democracy.” And finally to “Europe or non-Europe” (as if E.U. is unimaginable on a radically different basis).
As much as I am appalled by fascism, I am much worried about phenomena such as the re-election of a pro-memorandum government in Greece, or the liberals’ win in the Netherlands elections. What I consider dangerous (as well as disgusting) is the transformation of European university departments into “think tanks” that expertise in social engineering, continuously promoting updated forms of indirect, “main invisible” steering methods applied to citizens that remain silent and obedient, but essentially intolerant and envious.
Quite recently I browsed through a research project run by a European research center. It focused on creating “compliance” tactics in favor of E.U. implementation in different member-states. My conclusion was simply: we are not reliving the decline of the Weimar Republic.
We are deep into Cold War.