Σάββατο 12 Ιανουαρίου 2019

The reality of the Greek social formation

by Kostas Melas

Greece, seen as a whole, i.e. political system, society, economy and culture, has come to confront not only a two-dimensional reality, but also but also with clear specificities that allow relative autonomy of one another. The main reality consists of the international- European environment into which the Hellenic society lies integrated. The second reality concerns domestic developments which are clearly influenced by the first but also by the peculiarities of the Greek society itself.
We believe that the first reality constitutes a "new" historical era with clear characteristics that is increasingly being built into the international environment, making it the predominant current model. It is therefore appropriate to use the concept of "judgment" in a macroscopic way to describe the given reality.
In the second reality, it is more appropriate to use the concept of "crisis" with the more short-term dimension, with Hippocratic importance, given the enormous economic crisis that has hit the country. As is well known, an important concept in the field of Hippocratic medicine is the crisis, that is the moment in the disease progression where either the disease will prevail and the patient will succumb to death, or the opposite will happen and the patient will recover. After a crisis, there may be a recurrence and then another decisive judgment. According to this doctrine, crises tend to happen on critical days, supposed to be a specific time after the onset of treatment. If a crisis occurs in a day beyond the critical days, a relapse should be expected. Hippocrates consider that the clinical examination should be thorough and repeated, because the diseases are not static but progressive, the latter of which predetermines their outcome (resolution or crisis of the disease).
Based on the above, the global overview of both the basic characteristics of the so-called postmodern era and of the diachronic hard core of the grid of domestic social relations is a prerequisite for understanding what influenced the behavior of Greek society in the last thirty years.
I will begin with a brief description of the first reality (For a full description see: Κ. Μελάς, Το αφόρητο βουητό του κενού, Εκδόσεις Αγγελάκη 2017).
I will name this reality a time of postmodernity, differentiating it from the respective era of modernity and following the dominant tendency.
I could outline this situation as a replacement for behavior, whose main characteristic is "self-transcendence" with a behavioral style whose main characteristic is "self-realization".
The analysis of these concepts is presently unnecessary, but for reasons of basic understanding of our point of view, we can very briefly refer to them.

It is the imposition of the true or authentic Ego on the lower emotions. Here, self-discipline is at the forefront, with the aim of achieving internal and external goals, and subordinating daily activity to long-term goals. The virtue, in the sense of self-transcendence, has been based upon recognizing the traditional higher jurisdiction step of Speech, which should bridle the "animal" layers of existence. The bourgeois concept of personality combined both an objective - social and an objective - moral point of view, i.e. it emphasized on one hand the connection of the individual with the community through the profession, the family, the social class etc. and on the other hand the "character". Ethical evaluation presupposed the rational essence of the personality. In the bourgeois era, the Ego was characterized by the great passion, i.e. the willingness to give everything to a cause or purpose. The urban Ego, which was under the command of education (in the broad sense of shaping a multilateral and yet balanced character), was epo ipso and under the command of accumulation: education was just the accumulation of spiritual goods on the basis of a fixed property, a stable spiritual core, and demanded, like the accumulation of material goods, time and labor, as well as the integration of the individual goals and efforts into a great life plan.
Having previously described the meaning of self-transcendence, it is easier, at this point, to move forward and describe the meaning of self-realization.

It is easy to understand immediately that the first change concerns the conception of Ego. There is a new concept of Ego. "First of all, there is no longer the traditional uppermost level of jurisdiction of the Word, which ought to curb the" animal "layers of existence that, in the light of hedonistic priorities, are seen by sympathy and understanding because they are considered as bodies or conscientious pleasure. The Ego is no longer divided into upper and lower spheres, but is called upon to overcome the suffering of the old divisions and to taste as a living unity all of its conscientiousness, all its feelings and all its forces in their interaction"[1]. This need leads to the acquisition of interpretative progenitors from a psychological view whose interest focuses on the subjective criteria and intentions of individuals, departing from the criteria of the (objective) social - ethical view that prevailed in the bourgeois period. This becomes obvious if we consider that only a psychology-based approach can detect the diversity of the soul. The installed massive consumer environment offers an infinite number of choices to individuals, a treaty that imposes unlimited changes to its needs and desires. The individual loses his stable long-term orientation and is in a constant search for new "experiences" trying to achieve his self-realization. Together, all those criteria are lost, according to which he defined the goals of his life in the long historical course of his existence. This sense of man's unlimited mundaneability is characteristic of the mass-democratic era and its essential existential feature of self-realization. In postmodern culture, the space overtakes time, favoring the emergence of various narratives about the end of history. We are in the area of ​​the endless present. The subject in an attempt to self-exert his existence is exercised in a continuous marker, moving on the spot and vertically, like an exponential equation with a sure ending a catastrophic explosion.   
Changing the way we behave can be more understandable if we try to follow the way it manifests itself in most times of social life. The difference is obvious. For example:
The daily life of democratic societies today, democracy itself, how far away from the parliamentary democracy of the 1960s and 1970s, where with all the existing weaknesses (inherent or not) there was a continuous effort to strengthen and enlarge with the intermediate forms of democracy, the effort of citizen participation, the creation of the public household, public time, the safeguarding of civil, individual and social rights of the citizen. It is so difficult to see that what is called Western democracy (the established liberal - democratic representative parliamentary system) is no longer alive in the sense that Apostle Paul mentions. There is no agitation for life.
The repulsion of agitation is not a random act of political liberalism; it is the necessary condition of the myth of a social contract where mutual relations would take the form of transparent communication between societies. All this formation managed to give the impression that without confrontation things can be brought to a state of appeasement and reconciliation. The Enlightenment program, adopted, cheerful and optimistic, hastened not only to condemn power and violence, but to totally eliminate it from its ideological arsenal. Here is the result: the policy's decline in an unqualified process of validating market requirements.
Postmodern ultra-consuming western societies have the unique God of Money. The functions of money are their only coherent web. A fact that is evident primarily in the role of finance and finance as a basic "science" in the field of knowledge. The only God of modern societies is Money. The Blood of God offers the Blood that flows around us.
At the same time, if we add the existing presence of control mechanisms in the form of constantly increasing modern electronic monitoring tools, we will be faced with the dissolution of the privacy of people. The freedom of privacy has been invoked by the prisoners as an argument to dethrone the public space. The loss of private life is the result of the dissolution of public life.
In the era of post-modern mass-democracy, the choice of privatization means the adoption of standards of private authenticity, which are constantly and unceasingly spread by the "culture" industry. Zen, jogging, bodybuilding, natural nutrition, smoking ban, abstinence, multiculturalism, diversity, cosmetics for men, and everything else that multinationals are promoting in direct working with those who attempt to control privacy in indirect political ways. The retreat into privacy and the continuous attempt of self-realization does not only dissolve external objectivity, but with it disappears itself subjectivity transformed into an insignificant whimper, letting society continue its course. The need for collegiality and collegiality is "sine qua non" for any society.
More and more often, "exception situations" or "emergencies" are being introduced in the field of governance, which are imposed on societies in a completely authoritarian way as forms of sovereignty. What does this position mean for today's global political situation?
In our view, the state of exception or emergency has become or tends to become (in a lighter expression) an example of governance. While initially understood as something unusual, an exception, which could only apply for a limited period of time through its historical transformation, became today a normal form of government. Through this concept we can show the consequences of this change in relation to the state and the democracies we live in. The main feature of modern "democracies" and the grid of international relations is the strange relationship between existence and absence of law, between law and lawlessness. The state of exception establishes a hidden but fundamental relationship between existence and absence of law.
It is obvious that we are faced with a global state of emergency on the pretext of the war on terror, or the globalized economic model, which legitimizes ever more inhibitions of legitimate and other rights. The rule of law is potentially suspended. Life, "naked life," "sacred life" is increasingly "politicized", leading to situations that are just a bit away from totalitarianism. The first step in this direction is with the decision to give the pride to the private on the state as a result of claiming the enjoyment of naked life.
But the most striking and in a sense paradox, is the fact that Western people are "persuaded" about the need for these measures leading to a state of volition. The current European citizen tends slowly towards his exploitation. His psyche has been exhausted. Indeed, they accept with strange passivity the practices of their political leaderships. It is obvious and it is a strange but true fact that since the clan has publicly accepted that Mr. X is a great leader - as Kafka points out in "Josephine, the Singer" - the crowd will applaud him whatever he does, because they feel a strange commitment to the leader.
The fact that Western societies live in an era of an utter relinquishment is apparent from the non-acceptance of any positive Absolute. Unique candidates to become the Absolute are Negative Acts; the present fighting against the World Terrorism with a series of war interventions in the Middle East, yesterday the struggle against the "Empire of Evil" and the Integrative regimes with a hint of the parody of "human rights". At the altar of those Negative Acts people sacrifice all that was gained with the uprising of the Republic along with the development of industrial capitalism, the bourgeoisie and the dynamic coming into the forefront of the history of the constituted labor movement.

We now turn to the second point, which is about the reality of the Greek social formation.
Greece operates within the specific political - social - economic and cultural framework that exists in the so-called West, despite the particularities and peculiarities[2] it presents as a social formation. It is impossible to distinguish and display the specialist without the clear knowledge of the general in which the specialist lives and moves
For the last forty years in Greece, a social formation has formed, which through a complex system of relations is connected and embodied in a binding way in the international grids of power. In fact, we have to seriously think of Greece as a society facing the problems of the international environment, the later multinational internationalized capitalism and, in general, what is called post-modernity. This translates into a continuous effort to search for incentives that motivate individual or institutional subjects (always socially) to use the means they use to achieve the goals they have chosen.
Without wishing to tire you, I say that everything I mentioned earlier, which concerns the international environment in which our country is a part, obviously applies to it as well. The great picture - i.e. the general context in which almost all the countries of the world are moving - is, in senso lato, the main determinant of developments in Greece. We will not be prototyping by arguing that the ongoing global developments diffuse without much difficulty in the Greek society, and that they are to a great extent the substrate of domestic developments. Of course, they diffuse into a peculiar and peculiar society, engaging in "hybrid" forms, as is the case in the rest of the world's societies. The diachronic hard core of the grid of domestic social relations is, in ultima istanza, the ultimate framework for how to integrate international inputs.
However, Greece suffered as a consequence of the immediate economic policy pursued by the political leaderships within the euro area, adopting the projects channeled from the international environment by a severe economic crisis whose effects resemble those of a war. I will not refer to the financial results. These are known. I want to focus on the deeper effects that have affected the core of the social relations that govern the country.
The crisis in Greece showed cynically and brutally the real state of society. Stripping it from all the golden feathers that covered the terrible and frantic times of prosperity, it showed with absolute clarity all the ideologies of the postmodern approach.
Greek society is also in a state of general confusion, thus unable to recognize her. Rather, it is better not to recognize what it is. It is not only the dissolution of any collectivities (essentially and symbolically) and the prevalence of extreme individualism but it is more: the prevalence of a completely fragmented atomism that dazzles the individual, leading it to the search for a more extreme social, repulsive aesthetic and pernicious political, in order to get caught somewhere to find an excuse for survival.  
Can we really know what we are? We are not sure of this if society as such can. Existing factual evidence does not lead to this conclusion. More is confirmed the view that in states which lack sovereignty, such as the Greek state, and which is hardly to be transformed into a state of pariah, the people belong to a group of small passive shareholders, following the unwilling to react to political leaderships.
Their specific weakness leads them to the only process that allows them to hope for survival: to set up a fake confrontation between them, completely disregarding the consequences for society and the country. 
Contrary to those who had hoped that the profoundly multi-faceted crisis that is going through the country would lead to an elementary qualitative change in the behavior of the country's political parties, the crude reality justifies all those who dared to support that they will not only remain but it will also collapse to worse levels. Indeed, the behavior of political parties leads to painful thoughts that ultimately "there is no political party that does not go against the homeland" (Paul Valery, Spirit and Politics).
Sadly, no political party on this issue gives any explanation. Every party have their own dark spots, their hidden hide-and-seek and his unspoken dreams; their legacies of reckless things and promises. Those who have forgotten his plans and what others want to forget. They retire, in order to survive, all that they promise in order to secure their existence. They behave "populist" as long as they are out, but mostly when they are in power.
The constant effort of political parties to impose their will on the (domestic) rival on the one hand flatters them; on the other hand, it can ruin the country. Many times it happens to impose the will on opponents but other times it can be proven (or has been proved) fatally. The interests of the country must not be confused with the expectations of every political party. The fulfillment of their desires does not remove us from the misery or the loss of the country.
Politics is always based on the indifference of the majority of stakeholders (the silent majority as claimed by R. Nixon), without which there is no policy option. In this sense, we could argue that a structural element of politics is the art of preventing people from being involved in what concerns them. Nowadays, due to the important social processes and the changes that have taken place at all times of social development (political, economic, and cultural), it takes the following form: force people to decide on things they do not agree with.
Simply put, they are invited to participate in a process of validating already pre-decided solutions or carefully selected criteria for alternative proposals, but ending up with practically no result. The cultural DNA of the Hellenic political system is given. The same applies for the Hellenic society (Κ. Μελάς, Το αφόρητο βουητό του κενού). Any mutations are slow and agonizing. There are also attempts for violent mutations which, due primarily to technical features, lead to failures, further complicating the "modernization" of the country.
This process has been repeated since the founding of the Hellenic state and empirically proven (Κ. Μελάς Μικρά μαθήματα για την ελληνική οικονομία). Political parties continue to have the same behavior they have had since the founding of the Hellenic state, towards people, in order to present them either victories and triumphs, or dramatic conflicts and "complaints" against opponents.

[1] Κονδύλης, Π., Η Παρακμή του Αστικού Πολιτισμού, Θεμέλιο, Αθήνα, 1991, σ. 255
[2] Μελάς, K., Μικρά Μαθήματα για την Ελληνική Οικονομία, Εκδόσεις Πατάκη, Αθήνα, 2013.