Thursday, 11 December 2008

The New Junta in Greece

Above is an interesting talk by Giorgos Karabelias from two weeks ago, which is remarkably prescient given what's been happening in Greece these last few days. As in my post yesterday – Castoriadis and Thucydides on the Greek riots – Karabelias would reject determinist theories of the events – i.e. Greek youth is unhappy with its lot, therefore it riots – and would want to know instead what kind of society has developed in Greece that has allowed the riots to take place and the state to be challenged in this way.

In his talk, Karabelias refers to the gaping holes left by the junta that ruled Greece from 1967-74. He says that since the junta Greece has moved from the extreme of repression to the other extreme of complete freedom, impunity and permissiveness.

The junta, Karabelias says, brought into disrepute a whole series of institutions and values in Greece, including that of national pride, to the extent that it is now more virtuous to burn the Greek flag than it is to be patriotic. Greece's armed forces were also discredited and undermined by the junta, to the extent that the Greek military is demoralised and incapable of fulfilling its basic mission, which is to protect the country.

Greece has gone, Karabelias says, from a totally repressed and disciplined society to one that is now completely lacking in restraint. Indeed, Karabelias says, the repression of the junta and the type of discipline it imposed gave birth to the permissive and unrestrained nature of contemporary Greek society.

Of course, Karabelias says, this new post-junta permissive society has not heralded a 'free' society. On the contrary, according to Karabelias, Greece is living under a New Junta, worse than the old military junta.

With the old, repressive junta, there was coherent, intelligent resistance – people meeting, reading, discussing; but nowadays, Karabelias argues – where it appears that everything is permitted and yet everything is predetermined – we sit in front of the television for five-six hours a day, being brainwashed, becoming increasingly atomised, abandoning social discourse and engagement in favour of Big Brother – which consists of television, journalists, politicians, the system of power, the owners of the mass media, large economic interests, all intertwined, who have imposed a dictatorship – a velvet dictatorship – worse than the old dictatorship, because it has acquired the consent of the people.