In democracy two negations can't be equivalent to one affirmation, part B

In democracy two negations can't be equivalent to one affirmation, part B
Flickr © Simon Baddeley

In the first part we mentioned that freedom confinement and activity of antidemocratic organisations is allowed in democracy, but... in this second section of the text I attempt to explain the first part of the argument and elaborate on several ''buts''.




Democracy is resilient in principle. It seeks to balance human rights with the general interest. In order to protect society's common interest and/or democratic freedoms and rights of each member, it permits other rights and freedoms to be restrained, to the extent necessary. The key word here is necessity, that is the the quality of freedom restriction; according to jurists, this term refers to the well known proportionality principle. So at first, (every) Golden Dawn's freedom is allowed to be limited when it is necessary so as other freedoms, personal rights and society's interest to be protected as well. In a few words, democracy is neither static nor monochromatic. It is primarily a process of everyday assessment, a difficult balance game between opposing interests, opinions, views, ideas and choice of the appropriate grey tone each time. The values being in the ideological core of democracy, such as freedom, can be limited if necessary.


At this point however, we reach the ''buts''. The transition from the abstract level of the aforementioned principle to the legalization of specific measures and means of confronting (every) Golden Dawn, is far from being a simple matter. So, let's see a few ''buts''.


First ''but'' : what is indispensable, apart from the weighing of objectives and measures criteria, it contains another kind of balance between opposite objectives and values being on their base. The first part is easy. What is appropriate/necessary requires an answer for achieving a goal. If for example it is necessary to get into my neighbour's house in order to free myself from a burning building then, I will be allowed to do so even if I violate my private sphere this way. There is still a second level that is more ''essential''. That is, in this example besides the ''mechanical'' dimension of the weighing we are called upon giving priority to opposing values, to life/health against the private sphere. In this example the assessment involves values prioritization.

Running the risk of being misuderstood Golden Dawn is not fascist neither because of the well known tv station slap incident nor the ''calling to arms'' of its ''troops'' as an audience in its representative's trial. The events themselves can be variously marked as offending behavior and even plain vagrancy



In other words, the process of choosing how to behave towards Golden Dawn  is highly political having strong ideological charge. To be more specific, it is worth witnessing the distinctively interesting debate which was inititated, occasioned by Golden Dawn and the constraint of free speech in case of utterance due to hatred.


Those giving priority to the princple of free speech are opposed to the limitations, while those who attach more importance to the prohibition of racial discriminations and racism tackling, they think that in a democracy freedom of speech deserves to be sacrificed on the altar of elimination of these phenomena.


So, the first ''but'' consists in the realisation coming from all of us who want to deal with extremism regarding the extent to which the debate is so much politically charged; this does not mean that some deprive themselves of democratic considerations or that they are less democratic than the others. Certainly, if there is a lesson to be learned, occasioned by the conversation on how to face Golden Dawn, that is that we understand how deeply and ideologically colored the choice of the appropriate means, history or religious education teaching at school, the denial of criminalizing the Holocaust and its punishment are, because of hatred; In a few words, the specification of democracy's boundaries. We realise -still being an underdeveloped democracy, admittedly and somehow rapidly- that weighing is a tricky process, constantly bringing up the issue of where the line is set, what kind of society we long to have, how we define democracy with its boundaries and value-based priorities. Democracy is primarily a process and especially a dialectical one.


Second ''but'': the realisation of the ideological nature concerning the way of dealing with the phenomenon of Golden Dawn leads us as a society to another conclusion. If we adopt certain measures, such as the restraint of free speech, free gathering, the right of teaching according to parental beliefs or even the position of an outlaw party, these measures might extremely harm  a series of other organisations, individuals and institutions in the greek society.


I do not wish to enter the discussion of the two opposite poles and the logic of comparisons and offsets regarding the extent to which for example, church's speech against homosexuals is more obscurantist needing restrictions compared to that of Golden Dawn concerning immigrants or whether the use of violence and compulsion in greek political life has got color as well. I am interested in emphasizing that whatever measure is taken (whose toleration will have a large amount of ideological charge regarding what democracy is and what its limits are, according to the first ''but'' of my argument) can not be applied on the double standard reasoning. A state that inconsistently implements its laws, straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel reacting to ''Mr.Alexis'' although tolerating thousands of things, relies on conventions and misses the essence and in fact overturns itself giving food for everyting that feeds into the anti-systemic vote, states arguments to those who are considered to be the solution of a hypocritical, rotten system. The shrinking of democratic rights would be both ineffective and a pity due to selectivity and hypocrisy in relation to their implementation; Instead of the intended outcomes, it results in being morally ''legitimate'' through the eyes of every extremist's common sense.


Third ''but'': talking about hypocrisy and double standard, unfortunately I notice another trend that potentially undermines  the effectiveness of every means of reaction in a democracy opposed to fascism. Even though the words are abstarct and their exact determination is difficult, they have meaning. Their ''abundant'' use and magnification of their notional spectrum do not function well although they are made with the best of intentions or hide a justified indignation inside them. On the contrary, they debase words making them lose their meaning. To put it differently, (running the risk of being misuderstood), Golden Dawn is not fascist neither because of the well known tv station slap incident nor the ''calling to arms'' of its ''troops'' as an audience in its representative's trial. The events themselves can be variously marked as offending behavior and even plain vagrancy. They are not necessarily a characteristic of fascist behavior. If someone isolates them from the general ideology and territory of the ''culprits'', they themselves could be equally attached to a series of other persons and organisations; from bad-tempered people on tv pannels to football fans who apply pressure whenever the future of their team is on the hands of a jurisdictional authority. All these do not constitute fascism; likewise the logic of double standard is no good for democracy, demading precision  and continuity regarding the use of means, it is similarly harmed by effortless conclusions based on labels, generalisations and aphorisms.


Besides, when it is about time for the above-mentioned weighting of the necessity concerning the rights cofinement, democracy allows- and in fact mandates- that the overall impression, the ''context'' of a situation should be taken into account. The word subhuman itself may not mean anything, however when it goes with an ethno-racial segregation ideology, nazism praise, institutions replacement, self-redress, chekings by civilians regarding who has got residence permit or works legally, then the lips that uttered this word give absolute meaning to it and this is called fascism.


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