If one looks into the etymology of the original Greek word, climax, it apparently refers to “propositions rising in effectiveness,” of a goal achieved through specific steps. The Oxford English Dictionary credits “popular ignorance” for making “high point” the meaning of climax, while Marie Stopes, a birth-control pioneer, turned it into a substitute for orgasm.
Some of the mainstream international media in English are already saying that there are “signs” that the size and number of protests “may” be declining, and this idea is advanced despite today’s nationwide general strike in Greece (source) — and this despite the fact that now school children have joined the demonstrations (see NEA από όλο τον Κόσμο, in English). Some may be seeing, or hoping, that “high point” has been reached, while no resolution nor any goal has yet been achieved — two meanings of climax in direct conflict with one another.
Rather than letting a popular momentum dictate the direction of events, the government of Kostas Karamanlis is choosing a Canadian route — refusing to succumb to popular anger and rejection, while threatening more image management, propaganda, and token appeals to justice. In the meantime, even the more conservative papers in Greece have been publishing editorials emphasizing that Greece, already difficult to govern, has now become impossible to govern, which is certainly an excellent sign of the vitality of Greek politics. It’s the easily governed ones that are most troubling.
While the government and the police continue to claim that they seek to “calm” the situation (the usual offensive pacification trope at work here, used both with children and savages), what has been reported by Greek bloggers and is now documented is that the Greek police have been employing skinheads to attack demonstrators and even arrest them. For photographs, see “Neo-Fascists side by side with police vandalising” (from: NEA από όλο τον Κόσμο). On the Greek Riots has reported this more than once already in the past two days. It’s also possible that the police could be using plainclothes members of their own ranks to instigate violence and to tarnish peaceful protesters, again in the same way that the police have admitted to doing in Canada, and similar to how the police infiltrated the opposition at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. These “tricks” are neither novel, unique, nor particularly imaginative.
All of these so-called “liberal democracies” in the West do not require much at all to reveal their authoritarian faces, to engage in brutality and repression, and to try to subvert opposition. What is also significant about the reality of liberal democracy being exposed across the globe is that it comes at precisely the same time that some of these Western powers try to defend their militarism abroad as efforts to guide nations toward democracy. Unable to learn it, live by it, and defend it at home, they rush to promote some paper thin veneer of democracy abroad. In both cases, at home and abroad, the dominant feature of liberal democracy that emerges into plain view is that it is little more than a broad range of techniques of heightened social control by the state, in service of the market.
Immanuel Wallerstein may have been correct in stating that we are entering a time of kairos, where even small actions produce large effects, in a context of rapid political and economic fluctuations. What comes next, he has argued, is a bifurcation point in the trajectory of world capitalism, where either capitalism collapses and is replaced by some different system, or we end up with a world that is not just multi-polar, but also multi-systemic. Given that Wallerstein produces regular blog-like commentaries of his own, we will see what he has to say about these events (check here).
In the meantime, one can find rapid on-the-spot updates from Greece at this twitter page (or type #griots), and check Global Voices Online for more roundups from bloggers, as well as the sites linked to above.