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How to turn 500.000 fascists into human beings in a month
May 8, 2012, 12:14 am
Filed under: Greece, people, social theory | Tags: , , , ,

I do not know whether the fiscal situation of greece was so severe that called for extreme measures. Apparently other european countries have similarly bad fiscal record yet they have not been directly blamed for compromising the stability of the euro, or at least as much as it happened in the case of greece.

I do not know whether greece’s situation and misery are simply a ploy by european elites trying to establish some kind of germanic neo-liberal order, so asymmetric and regionally diversified, in which the imperatives of monetary prudence and capitalist accumulation of a small chosen elite in the powerful european capitals will justify the pauperisation and exploitation of the disadvantaged masses.

I do not know whether greece’s socioeconomic organisation and culture are inherently antithetic to capitalist culture either. It sounds possible but it remains an assertion.

What I do know is that the greek people are being brought to their knees. What I also know is that decades of capitalism resulted not in better living standards and enlightenment but in consumerism and dumbing down. For how else can one explain the fact that almost half a million people voted for the greek fascist party?

Of course, an even more appropriate question would be “how can still be fascist parties”. Unfortunately, fascism still exists and so do its little siblings, namely racism, sexism and other negative -isms.  And I am afraid I am a little bit fascist, racist, sexist and homophobic. And how can I not be? Didn’t I grow up in a capitalist economy? Isn’t capitalism The bearer of all those -isms? Wasn’t it based on the premise that white people are better than others? Didn’t it help establish race as a basic organising principle of social life? Didn’t western white europeans on that premise subjugate, exploit, annihilate people of different cultures? Didn’t they juxtapose western european culture to theirs and assumed european as the high culture? Didn’t capitalism always praise the social construction of masculinity, as the fearless, wise, ruthless and violent?

They did. So why do we question the fact that 500.000 mis-educated beings who grew up in a racist, sexist, homophobic system turn to the party that represents the ideals that are already inculcated in them? Why didn’t they do so in the past? Because in the past there was no severe economic crisis so there was no reason to blame the immigrants. At the same time the foreign enemy that the EU or the IMF represent, are used to reinforce feelings of national identity, as the thing that ultimately binds all greeks together. But if racism, sexism, nationalism is more or less part of all of us, why didn’t more people vote for the fascist party? The answer is that thankfully most of us are aware of social inequality, injustice and human suffering and we try to challenge our stupidity. Now what about those 500.000?

Greece will probably have a month until the next round of elections to solve this problem. Can we hope that those voters will restore their lost humanity? I am afraid that if we hoped so we would mistakenly privilege agency over structure. Social action is situated in social relations, which means that if these people’s actions are encouraged by their social environment they are only likely to change if their social environment changes. Unfortunately, these things do not change overnight. An extensive social campaign aimed at devaluing violence and racism would be a super-ambitious and long-term plan too. Organising a cruise for the fascist party’s voters on the election day in order to keep them away from the ballot box is more realistic.  Of course, we could always hope that the poison dripping from the mouths of their leaders will eventually choke them.

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