Slavoj Žižek: What options has the Greek government?

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– Cartoon by Paresh


Reading Slavoj Žižek: Thanks to the EU’s villainy, Greece is now under financial occupation – his latest entry on the New Statesman, brings me once again back to the bankruptcy of his dialectical vision. He tells us that the “problem Greece is confronting now is the one of the “Left governmentability”: the hard reality of what it means for the radical Left to govern in the world of global capital. What options has the government?” He mentions Yanis Varoufakis being accused of treason. He mentions Tariq Ali’s Diary: In Athens where Tariq reports the truth in the street back in July:

Conditions in Greece have been horrific: a quarter of a million Greeks applied for humanitarian relief to buy food and help with rent and electricity; the percentage of children living in poverty leaped from 23 per cent in 2008 to 40.5 per cent in 2014 and is now approaching 50 per cent. In March 2015 youth unemployment stood at 49.7 per cent, 300,000 people had no access to electricity and the Prolepsis Institute of Preventive Medicine found that 54 per cent of Greeks were undernourished. Pensions dropped by 27 per cent between 2011 and 2014. Syriza insisted that this constituted collective punishment, and that a new ‘deal’ was needed, one that aimed to bring some improvement to the conditions of everyday life.

Ali mentions Timothy Geithner, “the former US treasury secretary, who mentioned that the attitude of the European finance ministers at the start of the crisis was: ‘We’re going to teach the Greeks a lesson. They lied to us, they suck and they were profligate and took advantage of the whole thing and we’re going to crush them.’ Geithner says that in reply he told them, ‘You can put your foot on the neck of those guys if that’s what you want to do,’ but insisted that investors mustn’t be punished, which meant that the Germans had to underwrite a large chunk of the Greek debt.”

Zizek in his own post goes into his usual philosophical renditions about the Event – a philosophical notion he’s taken from Badiou and made his own, etc. But after a long an seemingly quizzical post that seems to beg the question rather than answer it Zizek offers a futile and somewhat belabored answer:

There is no clear a priori answer here, any decision can only be retroactively justified by its consequences. There is a risk that the Syriza capitulation will turn out to be just that and nothing more, enabling the full reintegration of Greece into EU as a humble bankrupt member, in the same way that there is a risk of Grexit turning into a large scale catastrophe. What one should fear is not only the prospect of the further suffering of the Greek people, but also the prospect of another fiasco which will discredit the Left for years to come, while the surviving Leftists will argue how their defeat proves yet again the perfidiousness of the capitalist system…

Žižek seems to worry less about the human suffering to the actual people of Greece – even though he mentions it as rhetorical gesture, and seems more concerned about the “image” of the Left if Syriza’s government ends in a fiasco, one that he assumes will turn the Left into an self-annihilating artifact of its own dark mythologies of capitalism and its bane. Maybe its time for the Left to give up the ghost and for someone or something else to take up the struggle. Obviously the Left is already passé, a thing of the past, a retroactive dream and utopia that saw its day but is now just a graveyard of lost hopes. Bury the hopes and get out of the grave. Time for people themselves to take up their own struggles and forget the bankrupt Left and their fizzled mythologies of redemption. Time for something else… a Great Refusal whose time has come? Maybe as simple as: “We refuse to work…”. How would the world react to a united Greece who refused to labor for the masters, who would rather help themselves and live or die free than be enslaved to generations of debt? Do you think, then that the oppressed around the planet might just wake up? Come to aid of these desperate people and truly begin a global revolution against the stupidity of a global system that is in the end nothing but a tyrant?

No use going over the post, read it yourself… Thanks to the EU’s villainy, Greece is now under financial occupation.

6 thoughts on “Slavoj Žižek: What options has the Greek government?

    • Tell the truth I’m not going to worry about the alternative until we do away with the problem we’re facing now. To look in the past and pretend that there is some past alternative to the problems we’re facing now with climate, oppression, technology, infrastructures failing, issues of race, gender, etc. etc. is to seek a system that would impose a “plan”… we’re in a time when we need something “new” not something “old” and defunct. We don’t need some well defined system, rather this one is going to have to be day by day struggles… We don’t need books, we need people working together to build something that has yet to be tried: living together, cooperating, building a civilization in which all people can exist without oppression. What form would it take? Definitely not some utopian map of the past…. something yet to be defined because we haven’t seen such a thing on a global scale before.

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      • I doubt a federation like that would ever come about among humans: we’re too aggressive and edgy … the most difficult thing in this world is for two people who have opposing views to compromise. That’s the state of the world: a world of struggle and difference – a world built on struggle rather than peace. Look around you: do you see anyone truly happy and at peace. Even those countries you pointed to have large issues of health care, education, and social issues. Most of the countries that appear to be running smoothly have oppressive aspects that are just not brought out from under the darkness. I don’t believe humans will have peace for a long time until they can learn to compromise and except certain real issues. Why do you see two types of being on this planet: why do we use terms like Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative, etc. because people are szygy – its been there from early human times. Democracy at least for a while brought aspects of it to bare in compromise. But hell look at our own history here in America or USA its just a bloody mess: civil wars, slavery, economic servitude, eugenics, racism, gender issues …. etc. It’s been nothing but a sort of half-baked experiment in freedom from the beginning, and now it seems to be falling apart at the seams due to a great sea change in technology and accelerating sociality across the planet. Without some kind of compromise among competiting segments this planet will end in chaos and war. That is if climate and other natural disasters don’t hit us first.

        What if we all sat down and wiped the debt of the planet in one day, redistributed the planets wealth in equitable form. We’d have a bloody civil war across the globe. People don’t want to cooperate, they want to either be left alone or to control others. When I read Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, etc. etc. I come to see humans as farcical animals who have still the jungle breath of their violent ascent… we’ve invented religion and morality to curtail this bloody animal. In our age we began an experiment by removing religion and morality and meaning… what the hell did you expect to happen. Read Dostoyevsky … nihilism is no fun, it’s a war among all against all. But then when we have militant religions around the planet the same thing happens too; or, at least when it is degraded into fanaticism. Will we survive the coming century? I hope so, but hey the world’s an iffy place – put 8 or 9 billion humans together in such a small planet don’t expect them all to be singing lullabies to each other. It isn’t going to happen.

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  1. Nietzsche had predicted all the ‘isms’ that would rise up post-religion and talked a lot about nihilism reigning for a time. We seem to be surrounded by the ‘Last Men’ Zarathustra warned about. To be continued…

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