The Reactionaries Take Greece

It looks like the Greeks have decided to bugger the world by voting in Syriza. I don’t know enough about Greek politics to know if they can govern alone. According to news reports, they are just shy of a majority so they need partners to form a government. Presumably they can find a few small parties to give them the seats they need, but that’s just my guess. The AP says they won 149 of 300 seats in parliament. Looking at the WSJ chart, it appears the communists got 15 seats so they will probably join Syriza in a coalition of the crazy to run Greece.

I would assume that average Greeks will now pull the rest of their money from the banks and stop paying their taxes. The Greek banks are on the knife’s edge due to the quiet bank run leading up to the election. All of them have reportedly applied for emergency liquidity from the ECB. The noises coming from Yanis Varoufakis, the incoming Finance Minister, suggest Alexis Tsipras is spoiling for a fight that creates chaos. It is an axiom of radical politics that crisis creates opportunities.

The crisis they seek now is with Europe. Reading the international news tells me the first step is to break out of the spending restraints placed on Greece by the troika. That should force a confrontation with the rest of Europe, particularly Germany. If not, then the next step will be to demand a restructuring of current debt. Syriza seems to think the Germans would rather be bled dry than let the Greeks walk. That’s the way to bet, given the way European politicians have turned themselves into pretzels in order to keep the project afloat.

The fascinating thing to me is that Alexis Tsipras is basically the young version of every current European leader. The typical Eurocrat was saying all the same stuff, when they were young, as Tsipras is saying today. It’s like time has folded on itself and the Eurocrats are now fighting their juvenile selves over a project they would have opposed in their youth. That should work to the advantage of the geezers, but so far the advantage seems to be with the young radicals.

The other thing of interest to me is what happens elsewhere with their radical parties. In a healthy social democracy, the main parties represent the core of the nation. What we’re seeing all over the West is the main parties are losing support from the core as they defend the privileges of the elites over all else. The people will have their tribune, so eventually a fringe party finds a way to make its case to the disaffected core. That’s what has happened in Greece and is in process throughout Europe.

The future is not written so there is still time for the more stable countries of Europe to reform and maybe what’s happening in Greece will be the wake up call they need. I’m not terribly optimistic about that possibility.  The main parties of Europe are now built on the idea of a single Europe with open immigration, a single economy and a single political class, independent of the people. I don’t think people realize just how radical the idea of Europe is in the history of man. There’s never been anything like it and the mainstream parties are all married to it.

That’s what brings me back to the irony of the young radicals facing off with the old radicals. Europe has been stuck in this endless loop for two centuries now. Each generation comes along with their plan to prove Rousseau right. When they inevitably fail, the next generation gets their shot to show the old fools how it is done. Alexis Tsipras talks like a college professor circa 1968 or 1848.

The endless loop of feudalism was eventually broken by the Black Plague. As an economic system it could not survive the massive disruptions brought by the plague so something else had to fill the void. But that was an economic arrangement, not an ideological one. It took the massive devastation of central Europe in The Thirty Years War to discredit the idea of a universal European church.

Rousseau-ism has proven to be much more resilient and adaptive. Christianity eventually broke on the wheel of science. Rousseau-ism keeps mutating. The European project is a radical adaptation of fascism – transnational fascism, but it is still the same old songs, just sung to different tunes. In one of life’s ironies, Syriza is reactionary, a demand to return to old school Rousseau-ism of a century ago.

My sense is we have entered a new phase. This will be marked by the slow bleeding of the core in order to buy off the fringe. The core is intellectually and spiritually exhausted. Success within the core is about managing decline. There’s no man on a horse riding in to reform and reinvigorate the core. Like a once rich family selling off the furniture to pays their debts, the core of Europe will keep printing and borrowing to pay off the fringe. Until they can’t do it anymore.

3 thoughts on “The Reactionaries Take Greece

  1. The longer I look at Tsipras (can’t quite help it these days, even though it’s a pain in the neck) the more I get the impression that he is a very narcissistic character. This perpetual glow, this basking in attention, this enjoyment of his own excitement and flamboyant rhetoric.

    The Greeks have it coming, and it’s 90 + x per cent their own fault.

  2. One of the joys (?) of living in Europe is that there are so many shades of opinion squashed into very small space. As an Englishman, I tend to take a slightly jaundiced view of the frantic goings-on on the continental mainland but the cChannel ale isn’t as wide or as deep as I would like it to be. Oh well…. In the meantime while it is entertaining to watch all these political shades try to forge alliances and compromises, the over-riding pleasure is seeing the way socialism pops up in different hats and pretends all the previous failures and miserable alliances have never happened before.

    The media here has got giddy the way lefties do excitedly talking about a ‘revolution’ in Greece just because there are a lot of young(ish) people out on the streets of Athens waving flags and shouting from the top of cars because their man almost won a majority and can now pick and choose the running dogs with whom he and his lot can make friends.

    But, as always, it is the socialist (or Nationalsozialismus, if you prefer) cause that seems to be the reason the young keep getting on the streets for a party as if all this will work. I have no doubt the Greeks are tired of austerity and think waving flag will change things, but there is no money other than what they must repay and even if they got their wish and the massive bail-out of Euros is cancelled they still don’t have any money. But, thanks to the pleasures of democracy, they haven’t been told this.

    In the cafes of Athens they may well be planning over drinks how to spend all the money that had been unjustly denied them, but like so much of Europe there is only the Germans who are paying to keep them afloat.

    As I like to say, the Germans showed once they can march in and do what they want on mainland Europe, and Greece perhaps ought to recognise that while the present Deutschland divisions come with collar and ties, they will come.

    Still, you can’t blame an excitable people who like the idea of socialism to solve all their problems. there has to be some reason to keep the flags under the bed, because they don’t keep you dry when the rainy weather comes.

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