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Friday, 24 May 2013

(UPDATE) GREECE'S NEW FAR RIGHT - DRIVEN TO EXTREMES OR A FEW HANDOUTS SHORT OF A FASCIST?

Loyal readers may remember past posts in which I've referred to the European Values Survey of 2008 (see here and here).

2008 is an impossibly long time ago in Greece. But to me, this is an important study because, based on a large-ish, representative sample, it provides a snapshot of the values and beliefs of pre-austerity Greece, with an extensive focus on immigration, identity, politics and trust, combined with detailed personal information on interviewees and their background. In fact, you can check out the full questionnaire here.

It's a valuable tool for understanding what unseen undercurrents in Greek society may have anticipated the developments of the last few years, in particular the rise of Golden Dawn. Certainly, if you believe as I do, that austerity is not a necessary and sufficient condition for the mass emergence of fascism. Or at least if you believe in testing your hypotheses.

Which, of course, brings us to the heart of the matter. I've rarely spoken to anyone in Greece who didn't 'know' for a fact what led to the rise of GD.

To probe the matter further, I've finally managed to download the full dataset from here. It's available free of charge to people with a genuine, non-profit research interest, although unfortunately this does not extend to a licence to share the dataset with you on this website.

BEFORE WE MOVE ON - DEFINITIONS

It's hard to define fascism but here's a fantastic roundup of original, historical and contemporary uses. My working definition of a fascist is a person who believes, or acts as though they believed, all of the below:
  • That he/she is part of a group, the People, who are distinct from other human beings and bound by a common nature, history and destiny.
  • That the People have a metaphysical claim to particular natural or man-made resources, which is irrespective of conventional contracts and treaties.
  • That categorical truth is unattainable or irrelevant except in trivial things; rather the People are endowed with a collective narrative which is superior to those of other Peoples. 
  • That the People are, in their uncorrupted state, a cohesive, culturally and ideologically homogeneous group, and that deviations from this archetype are the product of corruption / perversion.
  • That the objective of the State is to embody the collective will of the People and protect the People from corruption and perversion.
  • That de facto power is sufficient to empower State officials to interpret the Will of the People
  • That maintaining power is the best proof of State officials' continued approval by the People.
  • That the ideal condition of the People is unanimity, and that unanimity is best expressed through universal compliance towards the State and acceptance of the People's narrative.
  • That individual rights are a concession of the collective (the State, on behalf of the People) and thus when unanimity is impossible, they will be superseded by the needs of the collective. 
  • That all conventions established by other Peoples should be used in the pursuit of the People's interest but not internalised.

FINDINGS

Part One of my analysis is essentially housekeeping - I look into the relevant data provided by the survey and summarise them into easy-to-process variables through factor analysis. The result is a short list of attitudes that determine, to a large extent, the Greek citizen's outlook towards life, politics and their fellow man. Even this preliminary stage is very interesting. Read my report into this stage here. Factor analysis tables are available here.

Yet even this exercise has something to teach us - the way concepts entwing in respondents' minds can help reveal underlying narratives that are not immediately apparent.

One of the most significant findings in this first stage of the study is that in Greece the discourse on the subject of institutions is almost completely buried under the rubble of the Greek Civil War: institutions are not seen as having value in themselves but rather as representing the 'establishment', the 'counter-establishment' or foreign power centres. This ultimately discredits all institutions.

Another significant finding is that Greece has no real liberal narrative - when it comes to politics there is the Big State narrative and the Social Market Economy narrative; there is also a broad narrative of faith in mankind, and a tension between internal and external attributions, which are common to all nations. That's mostly it.

Solidarity is a complex notion and in Greece (as well as most countries, I suspect) it comes in three flavours - a universal solidarity for mankind; a morally-driven solidarity towards the vulnerable; and a biologically-driven solidarity exclusively towards one's own family.

Finally, and regardless of the substantial and nuanced debate on the Greek work ethic, there is such as thing as an 'easy life' paradigm in Greece, or at least there was until 2008. But it's not the only one, nor is it the one that most influences Greek attitudes towards work. The dominant paradigm is towards self-fulfilment, followed by an alternative paradigm that focuses on good industrial relations and respect for employee rights.

For Part Two, I examined Greek attitudes towards immigration as expressed through a range of ten questions and tried to look at which attitudes out of the ones identified above are responsible for their views of immigrants. To ensure attitudes aren't actually acting as proxies for other variables (for instance, intolerance for age, or social liberalism for gender), I also threw in every demographic variable available through the EVS. To see which variables went into the analysis, you can download my output files for the analysis here and here.

I used CHAID analysis for this - not the pinnacle of science of course, but the easiest way of mapping a complex set of relationships and interactions. My decision trees can be downloaded as images from here and as a bonus I included an analysis of how people vote based on their attitudes.

Note that all models use unweighted data. In some, observations have been lost because not all participants responded to all of the questions involved in the model.

I will report on this analysis shortly. Watch this space.




4 comments:

  1. Classic bit of lefie hot air. As George Orwell said, “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable".

    And as Timothy Garton Ash put it (writing in The Guardian) “the label “fascism” has been hollowed-out to mean little more than “something the left hates at the moment”.

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    Replies
    1. I think you should read some of the documentation I've provided so far before citing 'hot air' Ralph.

      Oh and as for Golden Dawn? Well, call me a leftie but I think this picture, featuring their leader an a number of followers, clearly portrays a fascist salute:

      http://greece.greekreporter.com/files/golden-dawn_salute1.jpg

      I look forward to your response.

      Delete
  2. Fascism is defined in sundry dictionaries (Oxford, Chambers, etc) as a combination of different characteristics: restrictions on personal freedom, militarism, anti-communism, etc. As far as free speech goes the political left is much keener on restrictions on free speech than the political right.

    As to militarism, the Labour and Tory Parties did a military invasion of Iraq, whereas every other party (Lib Dems, BNP, Greens, etc) opposed in the invasion. So its clear who the “fascist parties” are in the UK.

    As to immigration, lefites like to describe anyone opposed to immigration as “fascist”. Unfortunately if one goes on the above definition, there is no very close connection between immigration and fascism. Of course, restricting immigration is a form of “restriction on personal freedom”, but it’s a perfectly reasonable one.

    As to pictures of people doing fascist salutes, that’s not a wise move on their part, but that does not prove they are fascist (one the above definition) any more than wearing a red rose (Labour Party symbol) proves one is a Labour supporter.

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    Replies
    1. Ralph,

      Golden Dawn ticks all of the boxes for the definition of fascism that you cite above. And I kind of think the fascist salutes in the picture do rather tie them to the ideology that made them into a trademark. Unless perhaps you think they believe they are Romans or are saluting sarcastically.

      Regarding your denunciation of Labour and the Tories, I think you're trying to pick a fight with someone else who's simply not here. I think you should give them a ring.

      Finally, although I completely agree that opposing immigration does not make one a fascist, or even racist, I'd like to hear how you define a 'perfectly reasonable' restriction on personal freedom.

      To me it's impossible to uphold liberty and yet defend the right of a sovereign to ban people from settling and making an honest living where they will. Of course that's not the only kind of immigration there is, but it's the one most explicitly banned.

      I think you'll find that once you've restricted a person's right to settle wherever they will on the basis of their country of birth, there are few types of personal freedoms you cannot take away using similar arguments. The fact that majorities in every country support such restrictions does not make them acceptable not to me anyway.

      Delete

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