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Commentary Nicos Mouzelis One of the main arguments in George Andreopoulos' very interesting paper is that one should view the 1909 coup and the subsequent rise of the Liberal-Venizelist party not so much in economic, class terms— but primarily in terms of political and ideological developments. More specifically, what is crucial for understanding the rise of Greek liberalism is the fact that at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th irredentism constituted the major medium linking rulers with ruled. This linkage was broken by a series of connected events (bankruptcy, the defeat in the 1897 Greco-Turkish war, the imposition of the International Financial Commission) which accentuated the political contradiction between people and the state and created a power vacuum leading to the military intervention and the subsequent rise of Venizelos' Liberal Party. The Liberal Party managed to reestablish an hegemonic project linking rulers and ruled by articulating, in a novel fashion, irredentist themes and aspirations with domestic socio-economic reforms (the latter being subordinated to the former). What I find very fruitful in Andreopoulos' analysis is its rigorous anti-reductionist orientation. Its radical rejection of analyses which, in a facile manner, reduce the autonomy of the politico-ideological sphere and explain the complex developments leading to the rise of Greek liberalism in purely class terms (rise of the "bourgeoisie," interclass conflicts between state bourgeoisie and commercial bourgeoisie, etc.). For the author, class struggles and contradictions are relevant, but not as important as struggles and contradictions within the political and ideological spheres proper—these spheres portraying an autonomy and dynamic of their own. What is problematic in Andreopoulos' analysis is the attempt to analyze developments in the non-economic institutional spheres in terms of the people-power bloc contradiction, as this concept was developed in Ernesto Laclau's Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory. As Andreopoulos himself acknowledges, both the concepts of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 7, 1989. 225 226 Nicos Mouzelis "people" and the "power bloc" are extremely elusive and all inclusive and as such they cannot adequately take into account the enormous complexities of evolving political struggles and contradictions. For Andreopoulos, "the fact that they are inclusive concepts necessitates further empirical research to break them up into their constituent elements and thus overcome their elusiveness." I do not think that the problem is as simple as that. Empirical research is no substitute for the elaboration of a theoretically coherent conceptual framework which can enable the student to look in a systematic, albeit empirically open-ended manner, at the functioning, structure and development of the polity and its complex inter-relationships with the economy and the rest of society. Moreover, apart from the fact that Laclau himself, in his subsequent work, has renounced as essentialist and over-deterministic the Althusserian framework underlying his Idelogy and Politics in Marxist Theory—it seems to me that the way in which Andreopoulos uses the categories proposed by Laclau limits his focus in some fundamental ways. To give one example: The 1909 military coup cannot be explained simply in terms of the shattering of irredentism provoked by such events as the defeat of the 1897 war and the like. For a more adequate explanation one should have to use a framework which points to long-term processes of market, state and city expansion which, toward the end of the 19th century have, in a variety of ways undermined a restrictive mode of oligarchic rule based on the manipulation of the male universal suffrage system by a handful of notable families. It is the articulation of such long-term structural tendencies with the more conjunctural events mentioned by Andreopoulos that can explain more fully the creation of a power vacuum and the accentuation of the political contradictions which led to military intervention and the rise of Greek liberalism. THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 225-226
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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