CASSIUS Did Cicero say any thing?
CASCA Ay, he spoke Greek.
CASSIUS To what effect?
CASCA (I don’t know)… but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me.
Julius Caesar, act 1, sc. 2
It was almost inevitable that the meteoric rise to fame of Syriza would prove “too rash, too sudden, too unadvised, too like the lightning that ceases to be, ere one can say, “it lightens.”(1)
But masses are notoriously impermeable to deduction and little solicitous about the suffrage of reason. Hope is the medicine of the downtrodden. It evolves into a seducing invitation to celebrate victory even against impending evidence of defeat. And the few who, before the recent Greek elections, suggested a reasoning based on simple observation, moderate sagacity and historic reference, could be quickly dismissed as professional nay-sayers or plainly ignorant.
There is no denying that the Syriza apparatchik handled the project superbly. Which, based on pre- and post-election evidence, was to pretend to be what they were not, to claim to want what they didn’t, and to promise what they couldn’t possibly deliver.
Still, they succeeded in an extraordinarily performance of brilliant politics.
Perhaps in unconscious imitation of Lincoln, the Syriza boys have proven masters of telling different things to different people.
It is universally believed that Lincoln wanted to liberate the slaves. But listen to what he said in a speech in 1854, when the question of slavery was raised. “My first impulse would be to free all slaves and send them to Liberia.” After this he listed all the objections that others would later make to him, should the slaves be liberated. From which the listener thought that Lincoln would have liked to free the slaves but could not. He then continues by providing the illusion of an answer by asking a question, “Free them and make them politically and socially our equals? Our own feelings would not admit of it, and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of whites will not.” Meaning that if he would, he couldn’t, and if he could, he wouldn’t.
No wonder that nothing Shakespeare ever invented equaled Lincoln’s invention of himself. And by inventing himself in this fashion, he invented the Americans after him. So says Gore Vidal and it is not a rhetorical exaggeration.
For example, as the readers well know, Gorbachev agreed to the re-unification of Germany, provided that NATO would not expand further towards the East. Asked how America could justify the breaking of the agreement, an influential Whitehouse spokesman (sorry I do not have the name at hand), said that the agreement was only verbal, and verbal agreements have no value.
Inference; in politics honor is for the birds and down the toilet. Which explains, among related exploits, Clinton’s “I never had sex with that woman” and Colin Powell holding a vial full of milk, selling it to Congress as Saddam Hussein’s “chemical weapons of mass destruction.”
Equally, America was and has remained a profoundly racist society that pretends not to be. Further exacerbated by the cleverly camouflaged class-struggle in reverse. Therefore an Obama is needed to disguise the American reality from the American people, just as a Syriza is needed to disguise the Greek reality from the Greek people.
But I digress. Prior to the elections, Syriza circulated the rumor that Greece was prepared to leave the Euro. But in Brussels they committed themselves to maintain it. Same thing with the European Union. There was even a running rumor that Greece would leave NATO, while officially Syriza promised America that they wouldn’t.
However, as proof of courage, defiance and independence, Syriza objected to the added sanctions against Russia. Except that the objection was not to the sanctions, but to the fact that Greece had not been consulted. Which was true, but only because the sanctions were decided during the transition from the previous to the new Syriza government.
Besides, well in advance of the elections, the new Syriza leader went in pilgrimage to the command center in Washington and to the most important capitals of the European colonies.
During a presentation in Washington DC, at the Brookings Institute, one of the organizations behind regime changes and orange revolutions, Tsipra said, “I hope I’ve convinced you that we are not as dangerous as some think (…).Who wants to scare you, will tell you that if our party comes to power, we will sever our agreements with the European Union and the IMF and will bring the country out of the euro, [but] our goal is to save the country and keep it in the eurozone.”
Shortly later, at the London School of Economics he reassured the audience that Syriza had no intention to break with the euro or renege on the debt.
Now, setting aside the intricate nomenclature, the meanings and the interpretations of the terms in the vocabulary of financial engineering, one thing is simple to understand.
Without control on their own currencies, states cannot print money. Therefore they cannot devalue a currency that is not theirs, when needed. Consequently, the weight of any accumulated debt falls on the shoulders of the less affluent, accused of being too prodigal. Though it is comical to think that the “average Greek poor” has “spent beyond his means”, according to euro-central terminology. Still, he must be punished by increasing his poverty and by denying the services which is (was) the function of government to provide.
Nevertheless, having (predictably), lost the battle for the important, Syriza is winning the battle for the irrelevant, on the glittering stage of the society of the spectacle, thanks to tabloid stardom.
For, in the society of the spectacle, media and tabloid stars are representations of living human beings, distilling the essence of banality into images of roles, played out in the phantasy of readers and TV watchers.
Celebrities, political or otherwise, are idealized incarnations of the inaccessible results of day-to-day labor. They actually mimic the longed-for byproducts of ordinary toil, and project them above it, so that they appear as its goal. The byproducts are power and leisure. – the power to decide and the leisure to consume, unchallenged objectives of an unquestioned ideology.
In turn, the glitter of stardom and spectacle masks the global domination of banality. In the instance, the historical legacy of Syriza may well be a prime minister with a tieless shirt and a shirt outside the trousers, worn by the minister of finance.
However, not everything is lost. Mostly due to its function and word-sound, the “Troika” – that is, the conglomeration of three banks controlling the European monetary system – has a generally negative assonance in European languages. And it has left a very nasty taste among those who, thanks to the Troika, have lost their job, home and means of existence. But with a measure that would make Orwell proud, Syriza has decreed that henceforth the Troika will be called “The Institutions.”
To conclude, no special clairvoyance was needed to predict the outcome of the tragi-comedy called Syriza, even without the evidence briefly described above. Prediction not due to uninformed and thoughtless pessimism, but to the reality of a well-proven and established principle.
Namely, it is naive to demand of the rich and privileged to fight for the poor and destitute. There is an unspoken expectation among the electorate – based on I know not what – that among some politicians, nobility of soul will prevail on the nobility of the wallet. But, during the last millennium, only St. Francis and Fidel Castro come to mind, as specimens of the kind. There may have been others, but less in number than the fingers in one hand.
Consequently, the various political minstrels of the “left” are but marionettes on the stage of the society of the spectacle. Already rich and privileged, and paid emoluments that the average Greek (but not only), may not see in his whole lifetime, they roam across capitals at taxpayers’ expense, to feel important and to promote the vanity of the vanity fair.
In the end, I believe they are crypto-nazis, and in a sense, more dangerous than the bullies with the swastikas – because it is this “left” that leads inevitably to fascism.
Recently, I was clearing a drawer of article cutouts, from several years ago – and I came across an in-flight magazine. The cover featured two London girls in miniskirt, and the caption said, “When even the dolly-birds talk about buying kruger-rands, it’s time to dump them.”
The analogy may be somewhat transversal, but the moral is the same. For, when even Obama praises Syriza, it’s high time for the Greeks to protect a part of their anatomy, which I will forbear to mention, out of my inviolable respect for the ladies.
PS. Almost in confirmation of the exchange of the important with the irrelevant, masked as a spectacle, I list here the link to a “rap” opn Syriza. It requires no further explanation.
(1) Romeo and Juliet
In the play. Brutus, Cassius and Casca discuss the events of the day and what happened at the Capitol
What a great piece, Jimmie! The bit about Lincoln is a real eye-opener! I notice that you did not mention Chavez. Finally, is it all about power corrupting, whether left, right or centre? That leaves us in a hopeless state, isn’t it? Our politicians, perhaps with the exception of those who fought for our country’s independence, are all there to serve the interests of the rich. The way that you have brought in Shakespeare and taken off, on his pun on “Greek” is quite something. Congratulations.
Thank you Melanie. Chavez, of course, is in the top 10. But in the context of the argument, Chavez did not come from the privileged. Fidel Castro’s family was prosperous and well positioned. St. Francis’ father was a very wealthy merchant with a thriving trransnational business with France. This is why he called his son Francis – and was vehemently opposed to the path Francis had taken.
At last! Someone who understands Lincoln!
You mean “at last I’ve finally run across someone with insights into Lincoln and America not part of the bourgeois “narrative ” ..NOTE: Ruling class hucksters adore “post modernism” because is denies the possibility of objective historical truth in favor of competing “narratives”
“Therefore an Obama is needed to disguise the American reality from the American people, just as a Syriza is needed to disguise the Greek reality from the Greek people.”
My thoughts exactly. I have thought since I became aware of what they were up to, that Syriza was the same strategy deployed among different scenery. Much of what’s happening in Europe and the US is the same kind of thing.