From LQ 252
21st November 2012
The Unconscious in the Crisis
In Greece, the Golden Dawn of Racialism
by Réginald Blanchet
It is a sign of the times, in which an ill wind is blowing, bringing no good to the human beings that we are: On Friday the 16th of November, the American Ambassador published a warning to all American foreign nationals of African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern origin. It warns them of the risk of coming to Greece at a time when recurrent and particularly violent aggressions are perpetuated by members and partisans of the Chrissi Avgi (Golden Dawn) neo-Nazi party against immigrants and those who would be perceived as such. American pragmatism – once more confirmed – will not be seen to be at fault. The racialism of the neo-Nazi party, and its consequent racist politics, is now a confirmed fact. What is more, these politics are very popular. Last October, the electorate voting intention for this party was 14%, which means that the score has doubled in three months since the legislative elections in June. The score could reach 30% if things were to get worse1. According to the recent polls, the popularity of the extreme right-wing party would have already reached 50% amongst the police2.
We could well question ourselves about the causes of the adherence of public opinion to the racist arguments and practices put to work by Chrissi Avgi and its henchmen. They are multiple. But the question remains: Why is this political movement the promoter of violence against immigrants? Why does it make of this violence its insignia? It could be that we are mistaken in looking elsewhere than the fact of ethicised violence and its real cause. Chrissi Avgi has inscribed it in full letters in its program. “Blood, honour, Chrissi Avgi!” Such is its war cry. This is because it is very much a question of blood. In the phraseology of the discourse: “Purifying Hellenic blood” is washing it of filth. And in the direct actions that it leads to: Letting blood flow. What Pakistani or Afghan living in Athens will not shortly be wearing a scar from a razor cut given by a thug of the Golden Dawn. We could not define more clearly the motive of the racialist politics: The blood that pollutes is raised to the status of the κακόν to eradicate. This is the matter that has to be combated with full force, blood against blood. Here, violence imposes itself.
This politics of blood also has another side: the blood bank opened by the party to serve only nationals. The propaganda photo shows one of the eighteen neo-Nazi parliamentarians lying on a medical examination table, in a state of ecstasy to say the least, to give blood in order to help his kind decreed as being without blood. It is this parliamentarian, with Christ-like hair, who recently made headlines by policing identity papers in a market on the outskirts of Athens. At the head of a well-muscled gang, he illegally demanded to check the visas of foreign market-traders. When a visa was found to be invalid, these guardians of ethnic integrity simply destroyed the merchandise. The task accomplished, like a new Christ driving the merchants out of the temple, all usurers and profiteers, profaning a sacred place, the neo-Nazi prophet declared that he was going to perform his devotions at the church of the Madonna.
This holds up. We see in the blood the shameful object when it is of the Other, and the sacred object when it is designated to define the very being of the ethnic group. This is in concordance with the rising to the zenith of the object a concomitant to the decline of the Name-of-the-Father. Because the politics of blood, when in the position of the object a, artificially inscribes itself against the semblant of the collective, starting from the family. When blood ties are promoted to the first rank of social relationships they are always of the incestuous kind, if we are willing to admit that they contest the primacy of the paternal convention, its law of semblance and its fictitious character. This is the regime of the mafia where we know that behind the scenes it is the Madonna that makes the law, which is equivalent to a law that would be the “law of jouissance”.
Chrissi Avgi is no exception. It is wearing the mafia’s habit. However, the project is political, different from the economic endeavours which define the aims of the mafia. It now becomes necessary to distinguish between strategy and tactics.
Strategy is of an institutional order. It is a question of institutionalising violence as a mode of government. Without doubt, what will come next concurrently, to be added there and made use of, are the utilitarian and economic aims. Because – it is important to highlight this – it is not the illegalities, whether real or supposed, of immigrants that provoke the systematic violence that they encounter. On the contrary, it is violence wanted as such – blood obliges – that seizes the illegalities as an argument for its exercise. To reason differently leads to error. We saw this recently. Eminent political scientists had effectively predicted the fall of Chrissi Avgi at the legislative elections in June, on account of a particularly violent physical assault against a communist party parliamentarian perpetrated by the vice director of the neo-Nazi party. The scene was shown live on television. It went around the world. Our specialists, duped by their rationalism, declared that the neo-Nazi party showed its true bestial nature, and, as such, numerous disabused electors would be turned away. The contrary happened. The party gained four more points in their electoral score. The lesson is quite clear: Violence is sought by an increasing number of people as a politics for the treatment of contradictions. This is a violence that satisfies itself. The error of rationalism is to believe that violence serves rational ends, rational interests etc. This is not so. Violence is, in itself, its own satisfaction. It is blind and without hope. This is to say that when brought back to the body, it is the “enjoying substance” that is incarnated. It is deployed in the jouissance of the body of some by means of the bodies of others. This is another name for bio-politics.
Tactics is the way of the Good Samaritan. Its strength is found in protecting the weak against insecurity, rescuing the outcast, and slandering the profiteer’s oligarchy, traitors of the nation and Germanic Europe. It is, classically, the anti-capitalist rhetoric of modern populisms. Chrissi Avgi – needless to say – has come to the forefront in denunciating the politics of austerity which is making Greek blood flow (notably serial suicides). Samaritan tactics already want to incarnate an alternative power which is seeking to replace, state by state, a failing political system. This is pure strategy, consciously used as such. Like the Mafia, the ultra-nationalist movement is also politically cynical. It not certain that in the current state of things, the movement would have any other aim than instituting a state of civil war. The order that would result from this would evidently not be founded on anything other than extreme violence and its general exercise. This is what we are already witnessing, which is also openly promised by way of acts and slogans. It is the allegory built up from nothing but sculptured muscled bodies, thugs dressed in black on dawn raids, grouped together like squadrons of death, in the poorer areas inhabited by immigrants and their families. The healthy body, pure native blood, opposes itself to the teeming and invading substance of migrant bodies, veritable specular foil from which is detached the ideal image of an identity to defend. “Tell me who your enemy is and I’ll tell you who you are”, professes the leader of the neo-Nazi movement, nostalgic for the dictatorship of colonels and authorising himself on the basis of the concept of the political promoted by Carl Schmitt.
The golden dawn, which intends to align itself with a politics conceived in this way, announces itself through the current events for what it is. A mob of hired men, resorting to assault as an argument and to insults and death threats as intimidation measures, according to demagogic phraseology, for the phantasmagoria of ethnic purity and occasional charity aid, Chrissi Avgi is already a red dawn stained with “enemy blood”. It will not cease to extract blood from the bodies –today those of foreigners, tomorrow those of all classes and races mixed together, or almost– as being the enjoying substance itself. This is not antithetic with the ways of neo-liberal capitalism.
Translated by: Frances Coates-Ruet
1 Cf. Dina Kyriatidou, “Special Report: Greece’s far-right party goes on the offensive”. Reuters Agency, 12/12/12.
2 Cf. William Wheeler, “Europe’s New Facists”, The New York Times, 17/11/12.