Issue 12: 2004

Issue 12
(Spring 2004)


National-populism in Western Europe: an ambivalent phenomenon
Yannis Papadopoulos

This article considers the success of conservative national-populist parties in several West European countries as an ambivalent phenomenon. Based on a study of the ideological, organisational, and sociological characteristics of these parties, it identifies two basic antinomies they are subject to. The combination of an anti-elitistic criticism emphasising the oligarchic nature of contemporary democratic systems with proposals for selective measures of solidarity that imply social exclusions, and proposals for democratisation that are accompanied by hierarchical internal structures and authoritarian social values hostile to the respect of differences. The article also assesses the impact of institutional factors and of the political context on the resonance of national-populism. It concludes on the limitations of populist influence, on the `boomerang' effects of electoral over-promising by anti-establishment parties when they come to power, and on the support by these parties of the democratic nature of the regime in spite of their distrust vis-a-vis representation. As a result, the systemic danger that contemporary national-populism entails cannot be assimilated to the destabilising role of extreme-right movements in the interwar period.

Politics and passions. The stakes of democracy
Chantal Mouffe

During the last decade or so political theory has been dominated by the idea that the antagonistic model of politics, as well as the opposition between left and right, have been superseded by processes of consensual politics, especially in Western democracies. This standpoint, which is characteristic of the work of U. Beck, A. Giddens, and others, builds on the conceptualisation of a second or reflexive modernity, which is supposed to move beyond the friend-enemy opposition (C. Schmitt), typical of the industrial societies of the first modernity. What they highlight is a sub-politics model that focuses on dealing with contemporary life-and-death problems. However, oppositions and antagonisms continue to exist in contemporary societies, and this realisation should lead to the development of an agonistic politics registering the plurality of ideas, interests and identities, and creating a dynamic public sphere able to sustain political projects representing the desires of the people.

Political culture, political parties and democracy in the Andean region
H.C.F. Mansilla

The article examines the relationship among political culture, political parties and democracy in the Andean region. Political culture is produced by the osmosis of traditional credos and indigenous ways of life on the one hand and the (heavily) autocratic Spanish culture of arab-islamic and catholic heritage. This culture comprises values and attitudes that reach deep in the native culture, with contemporary values of modern civilizations. This `simultaneousness' of different cultures in the same region is hindering the modernization of the political and party systems, which is manifested by the return to traditionalist attitudes and behaviour whenever progress is made in the adoption of liberal principles and democratic procedures. The role of the elites is very important in recognizing the complicated links of the contemporary with the traditional culture. Conservative values survive, hidden under a revolutionary cloak, seeming progressive and anti-conformist. The same intellectuals, who at one time were foreseeing the redemption of the peoples with the socialist revolution, now believe that liberal modernization and free market rules will transform Latin America into a `Far West'.

Populism and Ressentiment. A contribution of the (political) sociology of emotions
Nicolas Demertzis

As a political phenomenon, populism has been considerably studied in comparative politics and political sociology. Particular attention was given to its structural, ideological and discursive aspects but very little, not to say any, to its emotional bases. In Greece populism was thoroughly debated at the turn of the '90s mainly, as a consequence of Papandreou's `populist decade'. Recently, however, some academic interest is directed to it. After discussing the relevance of emotions in the understanding of populism, the paper looks at the Greek case through a political sociology of emotion perspective using principally Max Scheler's phenomenology of ressentiment. It argues that the rise of the Greek Socialists (PASOK) was buttressed, if not driven, by an array of emotions typical of populations undergoing rapid upward social mobility: repressed vindictiveness and vengeance, spite, envy and ressentiment. PASOK was heavily supported by new middle strata with origins to the defeated of the civil war (1946-49). Although they were more or less integrated socially and economically, until mid '70s they were politically marginalized and dominated. As an effect, according to the authors' hypothesis, for more than twenty years they were resentful against the post civil war `establishment'. This ressentiment came from the conflict between desire (political inclusion and full fledged citizenship) and impotence (political losers with repressed vindictiveness) and served as the social psychological basis for the nurturing of Greek populism in the 1980s. Its anti-intellectualism and exaltation of the `people] are examples of the transvaluation of social hierarchies, which according to Scheler is produced by long standing ressentiment. Surely, throughout this period (1950-1974) envy and spite were also evident and going occasionally hand in hand with ressentiment which was, nevertheless, a widely widespread emotion among the less privileged part of the population. As soon as PASOK took office in 1981 and middle strata found themselves integrated into political system, ressentiment gave place to vengeance precisely because it could be released and acted out publicly.

Populism and the national issues
Andreas Stergiou

Populism has become a part of the Greek political vocabulary during the 1980s and it has come to represent notions of national issues. In this extremely hazy field, populist discourse and attitudes linked quickly with hard-shell opinions about the country's relations with its neighbours and allies, as well as other political questions that have remained unanswered for decades. After a series of political changes in the 1990s, populism had become synonymous to anti-European and anti-Western feelings. The mass media intentionally or not projected populism as the rival to the rising `modernisation]. This fact hindered a true and substantial discourse, offering an alibi to the `wave of modernisation' and various pro-European intellectuals, who put forth ideas that were not always typical of the rationalism they were supposed to serve. Recent developments in world politics along with their impact on the Greek public opinion woke up the nationalist reflexes of left-wing parties and intellectuals, who had been worn off by the sterilised anti-Europeanism of the 1980s and the collapse of the much advertised potential ally, the Eastern Bloc. In the new political and economical context, the appeal of internationalism, which defined the discourse of the Left until then, had become unseasonable. The new `popular' strategy to approach those who would feel marginalized in the new environment entailed a readjustment of the nation's political positions. This strategy proved to be very successful as the continuous interventions by the USA and NATO in several countries offered the necessary justification for the dynamic re-emergence of the Left, providing a much larger audience than its real strength. However, this success called for a great ideological price.

Antinomies of formalism: Laclau's theorisation of populism and Greek religious populism
Yannis Stavrakakis

The work of Ernesto Laclau constitutes one of the most common references in almost every discussion on populism. The first aim of this paper is to present the main theoretical and analytical parameters of his discursive approach, which still retains its relevance. Special emphasis is given to Laclau's relevant texts from the late 1970s, as well as to the ways in which his subsequent work can benefit the analysis of populist discourse. The importance of this approach is further illustrated, in the second part of this text, through the analysis of a concrete empirical case: the recent politicisation of the discourse of the Church of Greece and Archbishop Christodoulos. Finally, the concluding part of this essay is devoted to a discussion of Laclau's more recent work on populism, in which we witness a further strengthening of the formalist character of his approach. While Laclau's account marks an important advance in the conceptualisation of this elusive category, his recent views may reveal the ultimate limits of a formalist approach to this important political phenomenon.

The electoral sociology of the radical right-wing vote
Vassiliki Georgiadou

The article analyses the sociology of the radical right-wing vote: which social- demographic and occupational groups vote for the radical and populist right-wing parties and how they shape their party preference. It also considers the preconditions for the expression of a `negative vote' in favor of the radical right-wing parties. We argue that voters with organizational bonds and ideological identifications with antechamber-groups of the left (trade unions) or social-cultural milieus of the right (churches) are less vulnerable to the electoral appeal of the radical right. A main feature of the radical right, in the postwar era, is its `catchall' performance: radical right-wing parties are apt to collect votes both from the right and the left. This is the result of a kind of authentic populism expressed by the radical right-wing parties. The radical right accommodates and melts together heterogeneous ideological and political perceptions. This `complex alchemy' of the radical right constitutes a `trap' for the mainstream parties: by imitating its political discourse and adopting its policies, mainstream parties ease the way for the radical right-wing parties to penetrate electoral groups which have lost their party identification, both in the traditional right and the left, and to impose the issues of the radical right to the public debate.

Four answers on populism - An Interview
Ernesto Laclau

Populism becomes a typical political answer whenever dislocations prevail in society which cannot be managed through the normal institutional channels. Populism creates a space of equivalent popular identities, a place where all differences are cancelled. Equivalential populistic logics are not confined to particular points of the ideological spectrum. We can have a populism of the Right but clearly also one of the Left. If the Left does not provide the alternative social imaginary in which they could be inscribed, the latter could be provided by the Right, as is already happening in several countries of Western Europe.

Terrorism and about terrorism
Effi Lambropoulou
(introduction, translation, editing)

The round table centres on terrorism and the subsequent issues arising from the 11th September attack, in 2001. In addition, it deals with general questions on urban guerrilla activities. This is of special concern for Greece, in light of the arrests of 17N and ELA group members (2002, 2003) <196>the former having recently been convicted. Professor Dr. Raffaele De Giorgi (Italy, Argentina), Prof. Dr. Winfried Hassemer (Vice President of the Supreme Court of Germany), Prof. Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kunz (Switzerland), Professor Dr. Nikos Paraskevopoulos (Greece), Ms. Sina Reichmann (MA, Germany) and Prof. Dr. Sebastian Scheerer (Germany) participated on the panel. A brief analysis of the topics, by way of introduction, is given by Associate Prof. Dr. Effi Lambropoulou, the initiator of this discussion who also carried out translations and editing. The participants discuss terrorist activity development, composition and character with reference to the past and relations with political crime. A sketch is also given of the possible conditions leading to such a process, along with an outline of the situation in the participants' countries in the 1970s and 1980s which motivated people to such actions. Focus is given to the implications law enforcement has on human rights, a fair trial and group radicalization. The consequences of the globalization of governance on terrorism are considered before the final theme, which initially motivated this roundtable discussion, to wit, the role of the penal and social sciences in this new era.

The perpetual game of differences
Ioanna Tsivakou

Two theses proposed by Ulrich Beck led to the writing of this article: the first concerns the inadequacy of the codified binary differences (developed during the past years by various social thinkers) to explain the operations of social systems; the second deals with the need to replace the traditional sociological approaches based on binary oppositions with a more flexible and pluralistic one guided by the principle of complementarity. In proposing that `difference' is a relation that articulates axiomatically complementarity, the study moves on to a theoretical review of the notion of difference both from the perspective of 2nd order Cybernetics and the Luhmann's theory of social systems. After commenting critically on the advantages and disadvantages of systems approach, and showing agreement with Beck's critique of the mono-dimensional character of Luhmann's binary coding, it proposes the following argument: instead of rejecting differences (a rather impossible task), the sociological analysis should direct itself to observe the multiple differences which intertwined harmoniously in valued axes could offer to the social systems the necessary elements for their differentiation and reproduction. Finally, in proposing discursive practices as the medium for social systems, the paper suggests that such practices are also the locus for the appearance of the observers <196>namely, those capable of making choices. It could be that discursive practices operate on the basis of differences, but one can also see that, because such practices include the human need for collaboration and sociability, they allow enough space for the human will to enter into the game of differences.

Goethe and Hegel
Gustav Auernheimer

This article is dedicated to two thinkers who personify the culmination of the German classic period: Goethe in literature and Hegel in philosophy. The introduction deals with their reception in Greece, while the main part describes the German perception of these thinkers during the 19th century, as well as the personal relationship between them. It also offers a comparison of their work in three domains: the relation of subject and object, the understanding of nature and the role of language. If an understanding on the central subject of the nature was possible despite all the differences between Goethe and Hegel, this was due to the fact that neither wished to be a natural scientist in the modern sense of the term. They have reviewed issues that have much in common with the motives of current ecological movements, criticizing for instance the scientific evaluation of human interventions in nature.

The prose of Thanassis Valtinos. Postmodernism and the historiographical issue
Dimitris Paivanas

Valtinos (1932- ) is one of the most controversial authors of the post-war period whose prose has more than once challenged narrative conventions in fiction and dominant views on Greek history, politics and culture. Commentators have maintained an ambiguous attitude towards his writings whose underlying causes have not been sufficiently explored to date but they are related to issues of literary aesthetics and interpretations of recent events in contemporary historiography. Since the first publication of his The descent of the nine (1963), Valtinos intervened dynamically in both fields of literary aesthetics and historiographical discourse. The author continued to intervene in a similar fashion after 1974, but the ideological concerns arising from a close reading of his works remain largely unexplored to date. In this paper I argue, that a less biased interpretation of the author's works and their correlation with postmodernist concerns has been largely deferred locally by the ideological climate of '70s and '80s populism, by the gradual domination of leftist historiography, and by the local critical establishment which has been more than reticent in its assimilation and implementation of postmodernist methods in the critical reading of literary prose.