At a time when one in two young Greeks is unemployed, when 25,000 homeless wander in the streets of Athens, when 30% of the population has fallen under the poverty line, when thousands of families are forced to give up their children for fear of them dying from hunger or cold, when the new poor and refugees fight over garbage in landfills, the “saviors” of Greece, under the pretext that the Greeks “haven’t done enough yet,” have imposed a new bailout program that will double the lethal dose. A program that abolishes labor laws and reduces the poor to extreme misery, all while eliminating the middle classes from the scene.
The goal cannot be to “rescue” Greece : on this point all economists worthy of the name agree. They are buying time to save creditors while leading the country to deferred bankruptcy. But above all, Greece is being made into a laboratory for social change that afterwards will be exported throughout all Europe. The model being tested on the Greeks is that of a society without public services, where schools, hospitals and clinics fall into ruin, where healthcare becomes the privilege of the rich, where vulnerable populations are doomed to a programmed elimination, and where those still employed are condemned to the extreme forms of pauperization and precariousness.
Dave Brown, The Independent
But in order for this neoliberal offensive to achieve its ends, it must establish a system that “economizes” on the most basic democratic rights. Under the banner of saviors, we are now witnessing in Europe the rise of a government of technocrats who pay no heed to popular sovereignty. This is a turning point in parliamentary systems, where the “representatives of the people” give carte blanche to experts and bankers, abdicating their own decision-making power. A kind of parliamentary coup d’état, which also makes use of a powerful repressive apparatus in the face of popular protests. Once the deputies have ratified the convention dictated by the troika (the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund), in diametrical opposition to the mandate they received, a power without democratic legitimacy will have dictated the future of the country for the next thirty or forty years.
Meanwhile the EU is preparing to establish an escrow account that will dispense aid to Greece uniquely in order to service its debt. The revenues of the country should be consecrated with “absolute priority” to the repayment of its creditors, and, if necessary, paid directly to the account managed by the European Union. The agreement stipulates that any new bonds shall be governed by English law, and involve material guarantees ; disputes will be adjudicated by the courts of Luxembourg, and Greece waives in advance any right of appeal against claims determined by its creditors. To complete this picture, privatizations are assigned to a fund managed by the troika, in which shall be deposited the titles to public goods. In short : widespread looting, the trademark of financial capitalism which is offered here a stunning institutional sanctification. To the extent that sellers and buyers sit on the same side of the table, we have little doubt that this business of privatization will be a real feast for the takers.
All the measures taken so far have only dug the Greeks deeper into debt and, with the help of rescuers who lend at exorbitant rates, the sovereign debt has today literally exploded, approaching 170% of GDP and rising, while in 2009 it represented no more than 120%. It is likely that the slew of rescue plans—each one presented as the “ultimate”—had no other purpose than to further weaken the position of Greece so that, deprived of any opportunity to itself propose the terms of a restructuring, it is reduced to capitulating to its creditors under the blackmail of “disaster or austerity.”
The artificial and coercive worsening of the debt problem has been used as a weapon to assault an entire society. Our words are here chosen carefully : if we use military terms, it is because what is happening is indeed a war conducted by means of finance, politics and law, a class war against society as a whole. And the booty that the financial class must seize from the “enemy” is social gains and democratic rights, and ultimately the very possibility of a human life. The lives of those who do not consume or produce enough with regard to profit maximization strategies should no longer be preserved.
Thus, the weakness of a country caught between limitless speculation and devastating bailout programs, becomes the backdoor through which emerges a new social model conforming to the dictates of neoliberal fundamentalism. A model for all of Europe and perhaps beyond. This is what is really at stake, and that is why the defense of the Greek people cannot be reduced to a gesture of solidarity or abstract humanity : the future of democracy and the fate of European peoples hangs in the balance. Everywhere the “pressing necessity” of a “painful but salutary” austerity is presented as the only way to escape a fate like the Greeks, while leading us straight there.
In the face of this attack against society, and before the destruction of the last pockets of democracy, we call on our fellow citizens, our French and European friends to speak up loudly and clearly. We must not allow experts and politicians to monopolize the discourse. Can we remain indifferent before the fact that at the demand of German and French leaders Greece is now banned from elections ? The stigmatization and the systematic denigration of a European people—does this not deserve a response ? Is it possible not to raise one’s voice against the institutional assassination of the Greek people ? And can we remain silent before the coercive installation of a system that outlaws the very idea of social solidarity ?
We are at the point of no return. It is urgent to fight the battle of numbers and the war of words to counter the ultra-liberal rhetoric of fear and misinformation. There is an urgent need to deconstruct the morality tales that obscure the actual processes at work in society. And it has become more than urgent to demystify the racist insistence on the “specificity of the Greeks” that makes the supposedly national character of a people (lazy and cunning at turns) the root cause of a crisis that in reality is global. What matters today are not particularities, real or imagined, but what is common : the fate of a people that will affect all others.
Numerous technical solutions have been proposed to overcome the alternative “either the destruction of society or else bankruptcy” (which effectively means, as we see today, “destruction and bankruptcy”). All must be brought to the table as elements of reflection for the construction of another Europe. But first we must denounce the crime, and bring to light the deplorable situation in which the Greek people find themselves thanks to “rescue packages” designed by and for speculators and creditors. At a time when a movement of support is being forged around the world, when the Internet buzzes with initiatives of solidarity, will French intellectuals be the last to raise their voices for Greece ? Without further delay, we must multiply articles, media interventions, debates, petitions, demonstrations. All initiatives are welcome, all initiatives are urgent.
As for us, this is what we propose : to form as quickly as possible a European Committee of intellectuals and artists in solidarity with the Greek people who resist. If not us, who ? If not now, when ?
Vicky SKOUMBI ‚aletheia‘, Athens Michel SURYA, ‚Lignes‘, Paris Dimitris VERGETIS, Athens
And : Daniel ALVARO, Alain BADIOU, Jean-Christophe BAILLY, Étienne BALIBAR, Fernanda BERNARDO, Barbara CASSIN, Bruno CLÉMENT, Danièle COHEN-LEVINAS, Yannick COURTEL, Claire DENIS, Georges DIDI-HUBERMANN, Roberto ESPOSITO, Francesca ISIDORI, Pierre-Philippe JANDIN, Jérôme LÈBRE, Jean-Clet MARTIN, Jean-Luc NANCY, Jacques RANCIÈRE, Judith REVEL ; Elisabeth RIGAL ; Jacob ROGOZINSKI, Avital RONELL, Hugo SANTIAGO, Beppe SEBASTE, Michèle SINAPI, Enzo TRAVERSO, Frieder Otto WOLF
Translation into English by Anastazia Golemi
To see the list of all signatories and to add you signature, please go to this page