The Ideology of Far Left Populism in Greece: Blame, Victimhood and Revenge in the Discourse of Greek Anarchists

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Abstract

Populism has often been conceptualised as a ‘necessary evil’, a phenomenon that is at odds with core elements of representative democracy while also fulfilling a functional role. While the literature on populism has seen a healthy growth, new questions have emerged about the role of emotions in populist rhetoric and that rhetoric's role in the path to political violence. Furthermore, the literature on populism in Europe has predominantly focused on the discourse or electoral success of far right political parties using quantitative analyses. This article presents a qualitative analysis of far left populism in Greece, focusing on the discourse of anarchists during the riots of December 2008. Through an in-depth examination of 38 communiqués, leaflets and posters produced by groups taking part in the riots, the ideological basis of far left extremism is dissected, illustrating the links and logical pathways between blame, victimhood and violent revenge. It is argued that the emerging narrative constitutes a coherent populist ideology aiming to appropriate power, but also a distinct populist identity based on victimhood and anger, both of which challenge the notion that populism is compatible with democracy.

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