A Greek friend was explaining to me the mood amongst the Athenian citizens these days. Their frustration and anger is best expressed like this “The Government borrowed all that money and now they want the people to pay”. Notice that there is no identification between the people and the government. Despite Athens being the birthplace of democracy there is no sense of this being a government “by the people, of the people, for the people”. The government is some other entity, separate from the people, licensed to play their political games somewhere else. This is a catataxic split . The government is on level two, arising from the citizens on level one but separate from them. The slogan of the anarchists puts it best : no matter who you vote for, it’s always The Government who gets into power.
The second strand of frustration is with the Germans, because somehow it’s all their fault. The popular belief amongst the Athenians is that the Germans are trying to destroy them, just like World War 2 all over again. But the Germans have their own problems. In Germany, there is another illustration of the catataxic spilt between the will of the people and the government. Chancellor Merkel won the backing for a Greek bailout by a huge majority in Bundestag this week. But at the same time, a German opinion poll shows 75% of the people oppose it. The elected representatives of the people (in all parties) do not seem to be reflecting the people’s will. That is Catataxis.