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Alain Badiou, et al., "Save the Greeks From Their Saviors!"

Save the Greeks from their Saviors!
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell

[February 22, 2012. Translation into English by Anastazia Golemi.]

At a time when one Greek youth is unemployed. Where 25,000 homeless wander the streets of Athens. Where 30% of the population has fallen under the poverty line and where millions of families are forced to place their children in the care of someone else in order for them not to die of hunger or cold, where refugees and the new poor compete for trashcans at the public dump, the “saviors” of Greece, under the pretext that “Greece is not trying hard enough”, impose a new aid plan that doubles the lethal administered dose. A plan that abolishes the right to work and reduces the poor to the most extreme misery, at the same time as it makes the middle class disappear.

The goal is not about “saving” Greece. All economists worthy of this name agree on this point. It’s about gaining time in order to save the creditors at the same time it leads the country into deferred collapse. Above all it’s about making a laboratory of social change out of Greece that, in a second generation, will spread throughout all of Europe. The model experimented upon Greece is one where public social services, schools, hospitals, and dispensaries fall into ruin, where health becomes the privilege of the rich, and where vulnerable populations are doomed to a programmed elimination while those who work are condemned to the most extreme conditions of impoverishment and precarity.

But in order for this neo-liberalist offensive to achieve its ends, it is necessary to install a regime established an economy of the most basic democratic rights. Under the injunction of saviors, we see throughout Europe technocratic governments installing themselves with disregard for popular sovereignty. This is a turning point in the parliamentary system where we see the “representatives of the people” giving carte blanche to the experts and bankers, abdicating their supposed decisional power –A kind of parliamentary coup d’etat, which also uses an amplified arsenal against popular protest. Thus, when members have ratified the convention dictated by the troika (the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund), diametrically opposed to the mandate for which they had received power, without any democratic legitimacy, it will have committed to the future of the country for thirty or forty years.

Meanwhile the EU is preparing to establish an account which would be paid directly to aid Greece but only so that it is used for servicing the debt. The revenue of the country should be the "absolute priority" devoted to repay creditors, and, if necessary, paid directly to the account managed by the European Union. The agreement stipulates that any new bond issued under it shall be governed by English law, which involves material guarantees, so that disputes will be adjudicated by the courts of Luxembourg, having Greece waive in advance any rights to appeal against an entry determined by its creditors. To complete the picture, privatization is assigned to a fund managed by the troika, where the title deeds of public goods shall be placed. In short, it is the widespread looting, characteristic of financial capitalism which here offers itself a really beautiful institutional consecration. To the extent that sellers and buyers sit on the same side of the table, we have no doubt that this enterprise of privatization is a real treat for the buyers. But all the measures taken so far have only dug Greece into deeper sovereign debt. With the help of rescuers who lend at exorbitant rates, it has literally exploded into free fall in approaching 170% of GDP, while in 2009 it represented more than 120%. It is likely that this cohort of rescuers - whenever presented as "final" - had no other purpose than to weaken further still the position of Greece so that, deprived of any opportunity to propose itself the terms of a restructuring, is reduced to yield to all its creditors under the blackmail of "the disaster or austerity."

The worsening of the artificial and coercive debt problem was used as a weapon to attack an entire society. It is proper that we speak here of terms related to the military: we are indeed dealing with a war conducted by means of finance, politics and law, a class war against society as a whole. And the spoils that the financial class wrestles away from the "enemy", are the social benefits and democratic rights, but ultimately it is the very possibility of a human life that is taken. The lives of those who do or do not consume enough in terms of profit maximization strategies, should be no longer be preserved.

Thus, the weakness of a country caught between speculation and endless devastating bailouts, is the backdoor through which a new social model erupts conforming to the requirements of neoliberal fundamentalism. A model destined for all Europe and maybe elsewhere. This is the real issue and why defending the Greek people can not be reduced to a gesture of solidarity or abstract humanity: the future of democracy and the fate of European nations are in question. Everywhere the "pressing necessity" of "painful but salutary" austerity will be presented to us as the means to escape the fate of Greece, while it really leads us right into the middle of it.

Up against this attack against society, faced with the destruction of the last pockets of democracy, we call our fellow citizens, our French and European friends to speak loudly. Do not leave the monopoly on speaking to the experts and politicians. Can we remain indifferent to the fact the German and French leaders in particular have requested Greece to be banned from elections? Does the systematic stigmatization and bashing of a European people not deserve a response? Is it possible not to raise ones voice against the institutional assasination of the Greek people? And can we remain silent in front of the establishment of a forced march towards 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 ultra-liberal rhetoric of fear and misinformation. There is urgent need to deconstruct the moral lessons that obscure the actual process at work in society. It becomes more than urgent to demystify the racist insistence on the " Greek specificity " that allegedly is the supposed national character of a people (laziness and cunning at will) the root cause of a crisis in global reality. What matters today is not the specifics, wheher they are real or imaginary, but the common: the fate of a people that will affect all others.

Numerous technical solutions have been proposed to overcome the alternative of "either the destruction of the society or bankruptcy" (which we see today really means "and the destruction and bankruptcy" of the company). Everything must be brought to the table as food for thought for the construction of another Europe. But first you must report the crime, bring to light the situation in which the Greek people is because of "rescue packages" designed by and for speculators and creditors. When a movement of support is woven around the world, where Internet networks buzz with initiatives of solidarity, are French intellectuals the last to raise their voices for Greece? Without further delay, multiply articles, media appearances, debates, petitions, demonstrations. For any initiative is welcome, any initiative is urgent.

As for us, this is what we propose: quickly move towards the formation of a European community of intellectuals and artists in solidarity with the Greek people in resistance. If we can’t do this, then who will? If we don’t do this now, then when?

Vicky Skoumbi, Editor-in-Chief of the journal, “Alètheia”, Athens, Michel Surya, director of the journal «Lignes», Paris, Dimitris Vergetis, director of the journal, “Alètheia”, Athens. And : Daniel Alvara, Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Etienne Balibar, Fernanda Bernardo, Barbara Cassin, Bruno Clément, Danielle Cohen- Levinas, Yannick Courtel, Claire Denis, Georges Didi-Huberman, Roberto Esposito, Francesca Isidori, Pierre-Philippe Jandin, Jérôme Lèbre, Jean-Clet Martin, Jean- Luc Nancy, Jacques Rancière, Judith Revel, Elisabeth Rigal, Jacob Rogozinski, Hugo Santiago, Beppe Sebaste, Michèle Sinapi, Enzo Traverso.