The Serpent’s Egg hatchlings in Greece’s postmodern Great Depression

The Greek economist, Yanis Varoufakis, writes: It will prove George Papandreou’s ugliest legacy: that his last-minute childish maneuvering to maximise his waning hold on power (while negotiating his eviction from the PM’s job), has brought into the new ‘national unity’ government four self-declared racists (some of whom are neo-Fascists and one a neo-Nazi of some renown). It is also wildly ironic: for Mr Papandreou’s best quality has traditionally been his ardent cosmopolitanism, his demonstrated anti-nationalism, a genuine commitment to minorities and a deep seated intolerance of racism. Alas, such is the lure of power, it seems, that the entry into the new government of one minister and three junior ministers representing LAOS (a small ultra-right wing party) was cynically judged as a smaller price to pay than handing more control of the new regime to Mr Papandreou’s political opponents in the two major parties – his own PASOK and New Democracy, the conservative opposition.

To non-Greeks watching breathlessly the swearing into government of the serpent’s egg latest hatchlings, these news from Greece will surely resonate terribly. As they should! For yet again a Great Depression has given fascism another twirl. And while Greece is small and ought to be irrelevant, its past has spawned great perils for the world at large. Lest we forget, the Cold War did not begin in the streets of Berlin but in the alleys of Athens back in December 1944. Greece was also one of the first countries to have established a fully fledged fascist regime after the Crash of 1929: the Metaxas dictatorship in 1936. More recently, a CIA-backed coup brought Greek fascists in power six years before General Pinochet rolled his tanks against the Presidential palace in Santiago, quite obviously inspired by the ‘success’ of his Greek brethren. Nowadays, with Greece leading the chorus of Europe’s headlong dive into a new recession, and a renewed disintegration complete with racial overtones (Germans loathing the Greeks and vice versa), it is time for the world to take note. Feeling the irony of Papandreou’s tragic end will simply not do. Progressives around the world must remain vigilant. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “The Serpent’s Egg hatchlings in Greece’s postmodern Great Depression

  1. Internationalist

    The comparison between the euro and the gold standard at the end of the article is both tendencious and inept, but it’s an excellent article nonetheless.

    Obviously, there’s nothing new in the rise of the far right in the so-called West and in Europe in particular. The likes of Jörg Haider or Geert Wilders were walking in the halls of power (were “salon-capable” or “salon-usable”, as the fortunate German expression goes) well before the crisis struck.

    A popular explanation among pseudo-leftists is that we’ve gone too far with all that international (or European) stuff. The underlying, unspoken assumption is that the far right’s response is an overreaction, regrettable but ultimately understandable. This kind of explanation became very popular during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The only problem in that case was that the communities in question had been sharing the land since Ottoman times at least, before Western-style nationalism decreed what was contra natura and what not.

    In our case, the anxieties of XXI-century man cannot simply be ascribed to what triggers them (the EU, immigration or whatnot). We’re the bastard, misshapen sons of Humanism and the Enlightenment, clinging to notions of independence where we should strive to become more acutely aware of our interdependence. In order to shape such interdependence politically, that is.

    Quite naturally, fantasies of independence breed fantasies of superiority. It is hard not to read the musings of the pseudo-leftist “philo-nationalists” you have been linking to, Krugman for instance, without recoiling at the palpable sense that the gentlemen in question regard themselves as worldly and sophisticated, in just the right measure. The culmination of the Humanist, enlightened tradition they are the bastard scions of, in short.

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