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March 15, 2013

Tribalism and postpartisanship: competing visions of the state of nature?

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Written by: DW

By David Wisner

These are interesting times for the analysis of European politics, from a hung Parliament in the UK, to the rise and fall of the Pirate Party in Germany, to the triumph of M5S in Italy, to the surge of Golden Dawn in Greece. What does it mean?

Perhaps there will be a reshuffling and recasting of a certain status quo, which may be happening with Syriza in the Greek Parliament, poised as they are to replace Pasok as the principal left-wing party in Greece. Perhaps the classic partisan cleavages have been rent asunder, despite the prevalence of a classic leftist, populist critique of neo-liberalism throughout Europe. Perhaps we face a time of unprecedented instability, as in post-Berlusconi Italy.

Maybe we are getting back to basics.

One of Politis’ readers had this to say on a social media site about an article in the newly launched English daily EnetEnglish, relative to efforts by Golden Dawn MPs and supporters to reverse a recently passed law liberalizing citizenship rights for Greece-born children of immigrants. “Tribal loyalty… becomes more valuable if you live in a jungle. That’s why poor, nasty, brutish and short is the direction Greece is heading these days.” With the grand narrative of the post-junta period all but a dead letter, it would appear, if our gentle reader is right, that we are headed toward a Hobbesian perpetual civil war as the new normal in Greek life.

Sort of a return to “escape from New York,” with a similar b-rated cheapness, although the outcome will be much sadder.

Over in Italy, today saw the triumphant, post-partisan, neo-populist entry of newly elected M5S MPs on the political stage. Arriving via public transport (we might recall that former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis still takes public transportation himself) or bicycle, seeking to dine with the plebs on their own nickle, and refusing to sit in the traditional range of seats allotted them within the plenary chamber, one of their number proclaimed, “Neither right nor left, but above (and beyond).” Shades of Locke, or utopian foolishness?

Given the paucity of serious rethinking across the classic right-left divide, it is not surprising that the more advanced elements of what we persist in calling the radical fringe are seizing the spotlight with their assessment of and prescriptions for the ills of contemporary European society. The question is whether theirs is a constructive, post-modern vision for a future social order, or a battle cry among heathens set on destroying their rival tribes.

 

 






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