Political categories — however plausible they look on paper — quickly dissolve into senseless noise when applied to modern historical reality, unless they foreground populism as the critical discriminating factor. Furthermore, populism is for all practical purposes already national populism, irrespective of ideological commitments to the contrary, since super-national popular constituencies exist only in the feverish brains of Utopian intellectuals. The Syriza victory in Greece is making all of this extraordinarily graphic:
Ushering in the new era, Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister-designate, announced that he would not be sworn in, as tradition dictates, in the presence of Archbishop Iernonymos but would instead take the oath of office in a civil ceremony. At 40, he becomes the country’s youngest premier in modern times. […] The leftist, who surprised Greeks by speedily agreeing to share power with the populist rightwing Independent Greeks party, Anel, is expected to be handed a mandate by president Karolos Papoulias to form a government later on Monday. Earlier, Panos Kammenos, Anel’s rumbustious leader, emerged from talks with Tsipras lasting an hour saying the two politicians had successfully formed a coalition. […] “I want to say, simply, that from this moment, there is a government,” Kammenos told reporters gathered outside Syriza’s headquarters. […] “The Independent Greeks party will give a vote of confidence to the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister will go to the president and … the cabinet makeup will be announced by the prime minister. The aim for all Greeks is to embark on a new day, with full sovereignty.”
This is our position today with regard to Europe: only a new “heresy” (represented at this moment by Syriza), a split from the European Union by Greece, can save what is worth saving in the European legacy: democracy, trust in people, egalitarian solidarity.
That’s what the Left means. Construct your ideological spectrum accordingly.
Mainstream, but sane:
Of course, politics is about emotion as much as reality. And here, socialism has one advantage in its favor: easy populism.
Socialism has one huge advantage: People are idiots.
… and while I’m slumming it at NRO, here‘s Andrew Stuttaford:
Fun fact No. 1: One of the two sons of Syriza’s leader was given the middle name “Ernesto” in honor of the murderer better known as Ernesto “Che” Guevara. […] Fun fact No. 2: The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn probably came in third with 6 percent or so. […] I, for one, continue to be grateful that the single currency has proved to be such a bulwark against extremism.
ADDED: Childish incomprehension from the Left (of which we will be seeing a great deal): “… Last but not least, while Mr. Kammenos and his sovereigntyist right-wing ANEL party [Independent Greeks] are certainly a lesser evil compared to formations like To Potami (whose stated goal was to force Syriza to stay within the narrow boundaries set by the EU and the Memorandums), they are nonetheless an evil. Their participation in the government, even with just one minister, would symbolise the end of the idea of an ‘anti-austerity government of the Left’. Moreover, this is a party of the Right, one that is particularly concerned to protect the ‘hard core’ of the state apparatus (it will be important to keep a watchful eye over whatever cabinet portfolio it might get). It will be no surprise if its first demands are for the ministry of defence or public order, though it seems that it will not get them.” (Relevant predictions from Jim.)