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Re: <nettime> The Greek elections?
Brian Holmes on Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:40:46 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> The Greek elections?


   I agree with Felix. As I said before, we are now at the "political
   turn" of the this new Great Depression in Europe. And it's not just a
   few radicals who think that there are two forks in this road, one to
   the left, one to the right. Everyone thinks so. The disagreements are
   about the nature of the left-hand road, and the nature of the
   right-hand one.

   In Davos, Larry Summers, the grotesque eminence grise of the Democratic
   party's economic policy, could be heard critiquing Germany's obsession
   with austerity and calling instead for fiscally driven expansion, ie
   state spending beyond simple quantitative easing for the banks. Of
   course, that is what Syriza intends to do. Is it unusual that the US
   Democrats support an extreme-left policy? Summers is the author of a
   recent report on "Inclusive Democracy" which calls for Keynesian-style
   counter-cyclical spending, on the basis of the simple observation that
   the economy can't grow if no one has the money to buy its products.
   There is a difference, however, between the Democrats and Syriza. The
   latter is about to rally huge popular support in Europe for its
   stand-off against Germany. Whereas the Democrats have just suffered a
   major defeat in the mid-term elections, and now they have to face the
   prospect of the Koch brothers spending over 800 million dollars against
   them in the next election - which is more than any political party has
   spent on an election ever, period. The party of austerity is not
   exactly poor.

   But the two roads are not just economic, despite what Mr Summers, the
   Kochs and also the Merkel government would like us to believe. The
   apportionment of state spending entails a transformation of the
   relation between the citizen and the collectivity. Unlike Syriza, the
   Democrats do not intend to bring this relation publicly into question.
   They are therefore all too likely to generate zero popular enthusiasm,
   and lose to the right-wing option. What does it really entail?

   Again, I agree with Felix. We are not just talking about an economic
   plan. The only way to continue with the present predatory/oppressive
   relation between the citizen and the collectivity is to divert
   everyone's attention to the threat of an outside, or perhaps inside,
   enemy. What is presented as an economic pathway is a pathway toward
   militarization and war, in Europe as in North America. Under conditions
   of extreme alienation, where the citizen can no longer trust the state,
   war is the only viable force of discipline. It is the secret support
   structure of the austerity plan.

   When I arrived in Cologne on Sunday night, the taxi driver explained to
   his life to me. A taxi driver in Germany, he said, makes four euros an
   hour. A taxi driver in Turkey makes seven. A CEO in Germany make
   600,000 a year, he said. A worker in Germany makes fifteen to eighteen
   thousand. "I'm an architect," the taxi driver explained to me, "but I
   can't get a job in architecture so I have to drive this taxi." "Now the
   neo-Nazis protest on the street and say 'Foreigners out!'" he
   continued. "But one has family, one can't simply move." "I'm a slave,"
   he concluded. He seemed to me like a gentle but extremely frustrated
   human being. What are the forces that create the perception and
   sometimes the reality of the "inside enemy"? What are the forces that
   create the present surge of racism in Europe?

   On the one hand, they are the same as in the United States. Racism
   offers many opportunities for super-exploitation of racialized
   subjects, on the one hand by disempowering them, and on the other hand
   by offering them as scapegoats for super-exploited whites. This is
   happening all across Europe. However, there is still a specific
   difference between the US and Germany. The US elite constitutes a
   financial power that preys not only on its citizens but on its supposed
   allies, sowing chaos across the world. Germany is an industrial-export
   giant that drowns the rest of Europe in its products, while reserving
   the profits for its elites. In this way, Germany destroyed the
   economies of the southern European states.

   Larry Summers is hardly on the left. He has never sought to change the
   relationship between the citizen and the collectivity. His party is all
   too likely to lose to the party of war. By that I mean the forces
   leading to a militarization of daily life as well as fresh invasions
   and bombardments of foreign lands. That's what austerity leads to. The
   European oligarchy will join the party of war, to protect their own
   privileges. Perhaps even large numbers of people in Europe will join
   the party of war, to keep their heads in the sand, as the Americans
   have been doing for fifteen years and more. What's going on in Greece
   is important. Perhaps one indeed could say, "Only Syriza can save us
   now." But this would be wrong. To be saved, we all have to participate.
   We have to define the nature of the left-hand road.

   best, BH


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