Saturday, 5 November 2011

The method behind George’s madness

One of the most striking moments in Giorgos Papandreou’s vote of confidence apologia last night was his effort to justify the proposed bailout referendum on the grounds that it represented, in his mind, an attempt to change the way politics is done in Greece, to move the country from its ‘Byzantine tradition’ of murky deals done behind closed doors without the involvement of the citizenry to the ‘Athenian tradition’ of direct democracy.

Now, of course, one could argue that it’s a funny time for Papandreou to have decided that he wants to be Pericles and we won’t go into his sincerity and the other, colder political calculations that contributed to the ill-fated referendum plan; but if we consider the prime minister’s ‘Athens-Byzantium’ dichotomy alongside the RIEAS analysis – which emphasises the influence of the Scandinavian democratic model on Papandreou – and this piece by Anthony Barnett – which reminds us of Papandreou, the man behind the Symi symposia – then we begin to see that there is a certain method to George’s madness.

2 comments:

Hermes said...

The suggestion that Papandreou is some sort of honest and transparent operater has to be one of the most absurd things I have read so far. How many secret meetings have there been with Turkey? Over 10 in the last 12 months. How much are we told? Nothing but vague pronouncements. Where is Papandreou's honesty and transparency in this instance?

Stupid newspapers like The Guardian and Open Democracy easily swallow these myths because they are of the same ilk as Papandreou.

Ironically, the most Byzantine politics can be found in ancient Athens itself. The idea that the ancient Greeks were the Swedes of the ancient world is the sort of clap trap Northern Europeans peddle to separate ancient Greece from modern Greeks and make themselves their progeny. It is an utterly racist project.

John Akritas said...

Just saying, H, how Papandreou sees himself, trying to make sense of what was going on his head with the referendum. Direct democracy is quite the vogue on the left at the moment – with all the Occupy Wall, Occupy the Stock Exchange movements and so on.