“Distinction Directice”: which one for Greece?

Written by Panagiotis Karkatsoulis on .

directriceTranslated by Sevi Charalampopoulou

Going back to the systemic conceptualization of Niklas Luhmann’s “code” we encounter its re-signification, not as a whole of symbols and instructions, but as a “guiding dichotomy”. The “Code” has a dual character which allows us to equate it with the communicative meanings on their whole. For example, the dual code “fair-unfair” allows the comprehension of the interesting for the system of law acts, as does the code “payments-no payments” for the system of finances.

The code is created through a process of emancipation and development of the social system. Before a social system conquers the code that allows it to define itself, it can limit the communicative meanings being addressed to it, based on alien defining dichotomies which create a fake consciousness to it. The aim of this notification is to show an implementation of the dual code and the defining dichotomies in the case of Greece.

1) the political dichotomy

The recovery of the country from the tragic position, to which it has been reduced after its bankruptcy, constitutes the object of two political groups, the “reformers” and the “anti-reformers”. Those two fight, not only for the reasons of the phenomenon, but also for the suggestions concerning the exit from the crisis. They rarely fight for the way/method of comprehending the problem and finding alternative solutions. Although they have the same way of thought, as we are going to show thereinafter, it is still a fact that their controversy unites on both sides those who are interested in the political facts, almost on their whole.

According to the reformers, the changes that should have taken place in the decades of their governance identify with the obviously mistaken choices of the lenders, which also include the notorious Memoranda. Therefore, to be a reformer means to agree to what I am told/ dictated. To be approved by the population however, they (must) show some discomfort, some questioning concerning the prescripts of the lenders and of course, refuse to skillfully criticize what they have already accepted. This group is constantly accusing the anti-reformers for successive attacks against them. The group of the anti-reformers includes collectively all those who criticize, question and oppose both to the correctness of the solutions and to the choices of the government.

However, what makes the reform of the lenders and their native representatives remain a categorical imperative, whereas it has been repeatedly accused for being wrong not only on its whole, but also on its parts? The answer is, I suppose, the cohesion of the suggestions on the one hand (as all of them obey a rationale of “economic development”, which identifies with a monetarist economic policy) and the political support being offered to them on the other, even if they have proved to be wrong (with the ad absurdum argument that the admission of the errors would have much more serious political effects). But the main reason why the failed memorandum agenda remains in action is the lack of another coherent suggestion from the side of Greece. Such a suggestion should not function as the rival awe of any other, but constitute the suggestion that best suits Greece.

2: A methodological dichotomy

The skillfully encouraged by the political elites distinction between “memorandumers” and “antimemorandumers” treats the supporters of the Troika and the Memoranda as identical to the West (and therefore the west rationalism), regarding automatically those who disagree as being out of the West- and thus out of the rationalist way of thinking/ acting. This dichotomy is particularly supplied by the self- appointed and other-appointed (non) Greeks, specialists, Media and other rubbish with obvious and sometimes latent purposes. All these try to annihilate any differentiation in the framework of the west-rationalist way of thinking treating circumstantial political decisions as identical to a methodological and interpretive monism. A feature of this distinction is the hyper-politicization of diversity so that the limits of “otherwise” (and the ability to act otherwise) are in a great extent restricted in the framework of the political choices of the EU.

It must be underlined, that the one side of this distinction, the “memorandumers” is advocated by all the mainstream specialists, including entire organizations (institutes, think tanks, international organizations e.t.c.) . Despite their verbal differentiations, it seems that they are following a coordinate policy on the Greek case and that the comprehension of the reforms is, if not identical to, on the same direction with very few differentiations: The horizontal policy of frugality that was implemented in the last four years is regarded as a one-way solution. Therefore the measures and acts that destroyed and dismantled the social formation of Greece are conceptualized as reforms. These “reforms” had actually been discarded both by the New Public Management and by the following participatory types of formation and public policy implementation- let alone by the theory and practice of the administrative reforms. The imposition of the political discourse, on the scientific, technical one, led in a methodological and operational retrogression of the social sciences of organization and administration. The predominance of the conservative political discourse on the scientific one reinforced the propagandistic and manipulated societies emanating from the Media, which need the “scientific” voices and opinions to legitimize their propaganda.

3: A cultural dichotomy

A third dichotomy which intersects horizontally the two preceding ones is the coalition of the reformers against the populists. The “multicolored” group of the populists, which is expanded to all the parties, is (seemingly) juxtaposed to the modernizers. This dichotomy aims at the creation of an aesthetic/ cultural category, which while being opposed to its other half, the reformers, is actually functioning as the “crutch” of this dichotomy. The populists constitute an alibi for the justification of their own withdrawals. There are many examples that prove the truth of these assertions: Taking the law/code ( 4172/2013 ) for the income taxation as the starting point, which a year after its enactment and its “conformation” to the relative memorandum obligation was modified on a percentage higher that 50%: 41 out of its 72 articles were changed but the governmental propaganda supports that these are just small changes of adjustment and that the discussion was focused on the “reformer” Secretary General of Public Revenues, who was “sacrificed” under the pressure of the populists. Exactly the same happened with another law-prerequisite, the law 4223/13 for the “independent real estate property tax”: Today, in July 2014, 41 out of 67 articles have been modified by the reformers themselves. We could also refer to “announced deaths”, like the unreasonable quota of the law 4250/2014 for the evaluation of the public servants or the “new” judging process of the Heads in the public sector with the creation of 33 new institutions, something which immediately makes the law inapplicable. The discussion however, does not focus on the data and the real incidents but to those fake reformers who set obstacles to the real reformers. The construction of idols in this case obeys the aesthetic core values. The reformers are cultured and well- mannered, they have acquired an education of the highest quality and adopt a particular social behavior, especially when they appear on the TV. The populists appear as brutal, almost ill-mannered, persons of dubious integrity and for sure, as enemies of the social progress and therefore, of the social interest. The rest of the old dichotomy “cosmopolitan” versus underdog could theoretically support its coarser version (in contrast to the one supported by the reformers theoriticians starting from N. Diamantouros and the following ones).

A defining dichotomy for Greece must stem from Greece.

The prevalent defining dichotomies that were mentioned are composed by two – unnatural, on first sight- ingredients/ categories of arguments and opinions that have been proved to be able to co- exist: The European monetarist perception on social progress and the Greek tradition of client relationships. The first one, as an ingredient of the dichotomy construction, has offered trivial prescriptions, obsolete methodologies and much hypocrisy, arbitrariness and social insensibility. The second one has contributed with tested solutions, the results of which are the exploitation- plundering- despoilment of the national capital for the sake of the personal interests of the client networks. By keeping the dichotomies that we mentioned in their quiver, as their basic means of blackmailing the tornmented, disorientated and divided Greek social Whole, they both try to consolidate their suzerainty through the creation of a self- comprehension of the Greeks, which legitimizes their dominant position.

None can predict how long the preceding dichotomies will carry on. What we know, is that unless a new dichotomy develops, that will inspire, coil and stimulate the Greeks, its space will be asserted by them. A new dichotomy however will not arise voluntarily, nor will it be vindicated if it constitutes, in any way, a product of manipulation. Only the reconsideration of the social formation (and its subjects) can result in a new dichotomy, able to guarantee viable solutions to face the multifaceted theoretical, financial, political and social crisis. This dichotomy is no other but the “hellenity versus non-hellenity” one. This dichotomy requires both painful efforts to reveal the inadequacy of the previous dichotomies and leaderships that will take on the task of its consolidation. In its longtime history, Hellenism has proved that it is capable to give birth to the hegemons that it needs. What is yet to be done, is hard and systematic work. In this effort there are not impermeable separators  among theoriticians, practicians, our own and others. Those who are working for the consolidation of another dichotomy, are also working on the consolidation of a national consciousness. And this is our common keystone and the gift in return of the effort.


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