The home­less mod­ern­iz­ers

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

There seems to be in­tense anx­i­ety within the mod­ern­iz­ing wing of the cen­ter-left in Greece even though many in­sist on talk­ing about hold­ing a con­struc­tive dis­cus­sion, oth­ers an­nounce moves, meet­ings are or­ga­nized, can­di­da­cies are de­clared and so on. Th­ese may be symp­toms of iso­la­tion and lone­li­ness that have pos­si­bly in­ten­si­fied be­cause of the sum­mer heat. The left has a par­tic­u­lar­ity, from its or­tho­dox side to its most mod­ern­iz­ing and Euro­cen­tric form. Its weak­ness is that it is in­cur­ably elit­ist. In all its forms, it is char­ac­ter­ized by the con­fi­dence it has that it is in­tel­lec­tu­ally su­pe­rior to the po­lit­i­cal ideas ex­pressed by its op­po­nents and the peo­ple, who it tries to en­lighten po­lit­i­cally and to ed­u­cate in cul­tural terms. As a re­sponse to the mis­er­able 1967-74 dic­ta­tor­ship of the colonels, dur­ing the first years of the post-junta era (known as the Me­tapo­litefsi) the left’s role was pre­dom­i­nantly in writ­ing, in the arts, in in­tel­lec­tual cir­cles, and in ter­tiary and sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion. But the per­for­mance of the left – the tra­di­tional as well as the con­tem­po­rary – at the polls dur­ing elec­tions was poor. They re­tained only a lim­ited “elit­ist” fol­low­ing. The PASOK of An­dreas Pa­pan­dreou took Greece’s left by storm, just as the pa­thetic fail­ure of at­tempts to Euro­peanize the coun- try cat­a­pulted Alexis Tsipras’s SYRIZA into power. Clearly pol­i­tics op­er­ates very dif­fer­ently on a prac­ti­cal, day-to-day level. To­day’s re­formist left, which is seek­ing a frame­work for co­op­er­a­tion and is strug­gling to cre­ate a com­mon ve­hi­cle, is essen­tially made up of the rem­nants of Costas Simi­tis’s ad­min­is­tra­tion who be­lieve they have tech­ni­cal know-how and deep in­sights about the Euro­pean sys­tem as well as height­ened cred­i­bil­ity. If all this were true, then Greece would not have fallen, or, at least, it would have re­cov­ered four years af­ter the cri­sis broke, given the seam­less co­op­er­a­tion be­tween PASOK and New Democ­racy from 2012 un­til the end of 2014, when all the re­formist el­e­ments the coun­try had to of­fer were de­ployed. In­stead, Tsipras, SYRIZA and the In­de­pen­dent Greeks came to power. The drama of to­day’s mod­ern­iz­ing left and the cen­ter-left is rem­i­nis­cent of the Cen­ter Union – of the 1960s – which grad­u­ally un­rav­eled in the early post-dic­ta­tor­ship era. There are two par­ties to­day. New Democ­racy and SYRIZA, and the re­formists of the Left have to choose be­tween them. But they won’t be­cause they are too self-ab­sorbed and it’s not cer­tain that they would wel­comed. Per­haps their time has passed.

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