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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Who Represents the Political Center of Greece?

"It leaves me wondering whether there was ever really a political centre to hold. Some will rightly blame an overdose of austerity for killing off the traditional parties that claimed to represent this middle. But the truth is that the parties of the supposed centre never represented an economically sane, export oriented pro-business or liberal outlook. They were patronage networks that flirted with opposing ideologies while following the same statist, inward looking model."
 

11 comments:

  1. As usual I cannot read FT-articles. I do not (cannot) buy a subscription.
    My thoughts about "political center" are there anyway, but within another meaning of "center".


    Once Greece was for me the color white, much white of houses, intense light, special blue also, on doors, chairs, tables, and women, older women, dressed in black, very common, but beautiful and strong!. It is a cherished memory.

    Now Greece is for me a big room with many seats, organized in a half circle, with in the most central part world famous Zoe. She is the center of all who are present, who are all more or less shouting around loud, louder, endlessly, gesturing, emotional, creating a cacophony of voices, too often even at the same time. Talking is the main activity of the Greek politicians. They love to hear their own voice, only their own voice.

    HOW is it possible to be a GOVERNING group while there is so much to be learned from and with each other, while being in a κακοφωνία (kakophōnía), from κακός (kakós, “bad”) + φωνή (phōnḗ, “sound”), and there is no time for that?

    An excellent football team has learned how to play together, how to cooperate, communicate, to be able to win, to make their goals.
    I like football coaches, because they are calm, diplomatic, wise, know their team, and are true leaders. I like their philosophies. One of these philosophies is that it is so incredible difficult to create a national team for European or World Championships out of so many different teams: because they do not KNOW each other and have to learn that, in a very short time. If this government was a footall team, Tsipras would not have be chosen because he does not have the capacities. He is a bad coach. Very bad. Excellent coaches do not talk so much either.

    The same story about musicians of symphony orchestras. WHY has the Dutch Concertgebouw Orchestra the best sound of all? Because it has built up a tradition in a how to keep the unique sound. The musicians know the sound, they learned to listen to, as the most exquisite one. They have grown as a new member in an old orchestra, and continue the tradition.

    Politics are not different in fact, but the problem is that each one has an own opinion (sound, harmonious or not) and all what is built up in some years, can be destroyed in three months by another party with other "politicians", as we are witnessing now.

    It will never work in this way. Therefore the role of the president in Greece could be so much more important. He has to be the center, the coach, the conductor, one who has the real insight and wisdom, the true knowledge, upper hand, who knows how to create a harmonious polyphony out of the disharmonious cacophony.
    Cacophony is chaos. Chaos is governing Greece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not agree that the Concertgebouw has the best sound of any orchestra. The world's best orchestras have tended to be in the East -- such as the Moscow Phil and the Czech Phil. The Berlin Phil has a rather lush sound, and is very professional but not always so inspiring: Karajan did much to damage it. I have always admired the Vienna Phil, most especially for Austrian and German music. The LSO, LPO and Philharmonia used to be wonderful (in the pre-neoliberal period) and may be good examples of how market forces destroy tradition and irreplaceable quality.

      Politics also has traditions, and you have wasted thousands of words here complaining about the Greek political traditions so obviously you know something about them. Clientelist behaviour has been there since 1832, and was practised by the Bavarian and Danish monarchs. That is Greek history and culture.

      In such a culture, there is no historical meaning of left and right as class conflict. The only meaning is either going back to the Civil War (God forbid) or to socio-economic relations with political parties. Pasok is now finished, so the Left is represented by Syriza.

      I really do not know what Veremis is going on about, other than improving the environment for his business activity. Obviously, that is his right, and it is good that some people are setting up healthy new businesses in Greece. However, a businessman does not represent society; his views are not those of everyone; and his interests do not coincide with those of everyone. He is not a politician, and could not be one.

      The role of the president in Greece is decorative ans ceremonial, which is why they usually choose old men who have nothing to say. In fact, only those democracies with a strong presidential role do otherwise -- such as France and the USA. It is not normal in Europe for a president to try to run the country any more than for the Queen of England to start interfering in the economy.

      Delete
  2. "But the truth is that the parties of the supposed centre never represented an economically sane, export oriented pro-business or liberal outlook"

    Correct. It was all just varying clienteles. Pasok "services" the unionised workers and public sector, ND the self-employed and farmers.

    Where "servicing" means: protecting them from competition, keeping regulation haphazard.

    Good article.

    PS.
    antoinette, you can read, perfectly legally, ft articles without a subscription. You just have to visit the article from google, not by clicking the links. Try this

    1. Copy a sentence from the article that is quoted to your clipboard.
    2. paste it into the search-box in google.
    3. To be absolutely certain that the first "hit" from google is the article you want, add this to the search "site:ft.com" (without inverted commas).
    4. click on the link, and there's the article.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Mr. Kastner,

    I as well can not read the article, but there is a political party of the center. It is Vasilis Leventis Party. organization of center.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_Centrists

    He party actually did very well and got 1,80% of the last election votes. He got more votes in perifery of Evangelos Venizelos in Thessaloniki. He is not showcased on media often but now he is being shown. I have followed him through Utube and he has a good political position. It is clearly central. People did not give him much attention as he had a satyrical program some many years ago and he would curse every major political leader and the mistakes they would make.

    He has made many predictions pre crisis what was to come and he has very good plan to get out of the crisis something similar the, "after ten years Greece" article you have mentioned.

    Actually he is quite logical.

    Sincerely,

    V

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds great but I doubt that 1,80% will get him anywhere...

      Delete
    2. Don't forget Syriza once upon a time was also 1,7% Alavanos original party, then got into parliment with 3% and in 3 years went to 21%, followed by 35% win.

      Nothing is impossible in Greece. Media showcasing is the core. If they give him real air space he will make parliment next time.

      Greece really need a true centralistic view.

      Sincerely,

      V

      Delete
  4. Could you provide us with username and password?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The standard work-around for restricted articles, which I also use, is:

      1. Type the article's title into Google, and
      2. Select the answer which comes from the original source.

      It doesn't always work but it works most of the time.

      Delete
    2. Below is a more detailed instruction which an Anonymous posted to a previous article:

      PS.
      antoinette, you can read, perfectly legally, ft articles without a subscription. You just have to visit the article from google, not by clicking the links. Try this

      1. Copy a sentence from the article that is quoted to your clipboard.
      2. paste it into the search-box in google.
      3. To be absolutely certain that the first "hit" from google is the article you want, add this to the search "site:ft.com" (without inverted commas).
      4. click on the link, and there's the article.

      Delete
  5. Only in a "Greek" blog can discussions of political stance end up with classification of music in pre- and present- neoliberalism. Next we are going to have neo-colonial music as well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. To Antoinette:
    As-I_fly_out_of Athens_on_a_spring_afternoon I_can’t_escape_the_thought that, in_my_lifetime, my country_has_never_had_it so_bad. The_prolonged_crisis_has cost_us_a_quarter_of our_GDP, the_state_is rapidly_running_out_of_money and_Greece’s_isolation_grows_by the_day. Greece_is_perilously_close to_losing_its_European_path. And with_it_our_connection_to the_liberal_values_and_prosperity that_it_promised.

    Amid_the_nationalistic rhetoric_in_Athens, voices_from the_real_economy, the_internationally-minded people_and_businesses_whose_exports and_services_offer_the_only lasting_hope_of_recovery, go unheeded. It-brings_WB_Yeats_to mind:_“The_centre_cannot_hold .... the best_lack_all_conviction, while the_worst_are_full_of passionate_intensity.”
    My-vantage_point_has been_at_odds_with_the Greek_depression. Upstream, the_mobile_commerce company_I_co-founded, has_tripled its_revenues_and_headcount_in the_past_three_years. We-have built_a_global_business_that develops_software_in_Athens_and exports_it_to_42_countries, with_nine_offices_around_the world.
    Our_team, with_an_average age_of_29, gives_the lie_to_the_stereotypes_that abound_of_Greek_professionals_— by_turns_lazy, inward_looking or_living_in_the_past. Instead, they_are_determined, adaptable_and competitive.
    The_turbulence_and_uncertainty_they experience_beyond_the_workplace_has brought_out_the_best_in them_and_enabled_us_to create_a_truly_international_company. This in_turn_has_liberated_us from_the_parochialism_and_claustrophobia of_national_decline.
    Alas, it_is not_enough_to_congratulate_my team_for_escaping_the_Greek crisis. Doing_well_in_a_country that_is_collapsing_is_almost as_depressing_as_failing_yourself. There is_no_insulating_divide_between business_and_politics.

    It-leaves_me wondering_whether_there_was_ever really_a_political_centre_to hold...
    Their_collapse, hastened_by mistakes_inside_and_outside_Greece, has_not_left_us_needing to_rally_the_internationally_minded political_centre_so_much_as build_one_from_scratch. This_is slow_and_painful_work, which may_not_be_completed_in time_to_rescue_us_from populists_and_zealots_who_disdain the_real_economy_and_globalisation.

    Your average_middle-class_liberal_employed_in the_private_sector_is_simply not_trained_to_take_to the_streets, occupy_parliament_or shout_down_their_opponents. While_the activist_parties_on_the_far left_and_right_rehearsed_at rallies, fought_with_riot_police and_conducted_sit-ins_at_universities, we_literally_minded_our_own business. Somehow_mollified_by_the_thought that_these_political_theatrics_would fade_in_importance_as_our inevitable_European_future_eventually_became a_reality.
    The_price_my_generation of_professionals_may_pay_for being_so_disengaged_from_all things_political_will_be_to end_up_strangers_in_our own_country. Under-represented_in_every_aspect of_public_life, wondering_where all_the_sensible_middle-class_people have_gone. People_like_the_ones we_employ_at_Upstream.
    Centrist_values they_had_always_lived_by, most_notably_the_pursuit_of excellence_and_meritocracy, are_now in_doubt. Many_young, educated_Greeks who_want_jobs_and_a future_beyond_the_embrace_of the_state, start_to_feel they_must_leave_to_achieve these_things.

    As-I_land_in London, I_am_reminded_that Greece_is_not_alone_in being_threatened_by_populists_and nationalists. But_business_breeds_global_citizens who_bring_markets_ever_closer together. As-the_international_business_arena grows_in_importance_it_is right_to_assert_itself_as a_voice_of_reason_in the_political_sphere. The_louder_it becomes_the_harder_it_will be_to_hear_the_colourful local_bullies.
    My-experience_has_been that_the_entrepreneurial_spirit_can shine_through_despite_political_failure. Beyond the_sheer_determination_to_create and_progress, maintaining_a_global perspective_has_been_the_most important_ingredient_in_our_expansion. There is_no_stronger_antidote_to the_irrational, isolationist_politics_that have_engulfed_my_country_than a_critical_mass_of_people who_truly_see_potential_in a_globalised_world.

    ReplyDelete