The figure of Xeni: a politics of ideology in the Greek State
Posted by clandestina on 5 January 2015
Analysis on the situation of the “strangers” in Greece, contributed by a Clandestina blog reader
Greece has successfully created a reputation as an unwelcoming environment for asylum seekers at all levels of society and recast Greek citizens as victims. The success of the government and other right wing organisation such as the Golden Dawn has been to create a fantasy where the figure of the immigrant takes the form of a symptom of wider social issues. Although this construction does by no means appeal to all Greek citizens, it is a growing trend that can be seen to justify unofficial immigration policy and policing.
The images of Greek refugee camps are an extreme example of this split of opinion. While it shocked many people, it is believed by some that they were released, like the publicised torture images supposedly leaked from Guantanamo Bay, not to denounce brutality but to advertise it. It demonstrated an active government, who had discovered and could now display a unified and identifiable figure responsible for a variety condensed social antagonisms and frailties.
Yet the condensation of social problems into a identifiable figure is not sufficient to account for the way the immigrant captures desire that drives this politics. To understand its full force we must take into account the way xeni enters the framework of fantasy, in turn structuring a certain patriotic enjoyment or jouissance. For Slavoj Zizek defined as “a scenario filling out the empty space of a fundamental impossibility”, is easily applied to the domain of ideology. A basic social-ideological fantasy is often constructed as a vision of Society without antagonism of any sort. The most popular view in the past and still employed today is of Society as an organism, where all its different parts contribute to the operating of an harmonious whole according to their function.
Read the text: The figure of the “Xeni”