Thursday, February 23, 2012
Alain Badiou on the Greek Crisis
Alain Badiou is a French Philosopher and activist. For more on Badiou see this article. The full article titled "Save the Greeks from their Saviors". The article is translated from French into English. There seem to be a few glitches but it is still quite readable on the whole.
Badiou starts by noting the high unemployment in Greece and other features caused by the austerity measures. There are 25,000 homeless in Athens alone. A full thirty per cent of Greeks now live below the poverty line. Under these conditions the saviors of Greece claim that the Greeks are not trying hard enough.
The solution is to increase the dose of austerity. The right to work is abolished through eliminating jobs. The plan makes the poor even poorer and eliminates much of the middle class.
Badiou sees Greece as a model but its not about saving Greece. It is about allowing time to save creditors. NOTE: The creditors however get only a fraction of their investment back! The model is of bleeding public services so that public social services, schools, etc. fall into ruin. Only the rich will be able to access health care and workers will face worse working conditions and ever more precarious job security.
In order for the neo-liberal offensive to carry out this model democracy must be jettisoned. Technocratic government is installed without regard for popular sovereignty. When the former Prime Minister Papandreou dared to suggest there should be a referendum on austerity measures he was forced to resign. He is now replaced by an unelected technocrat. But even that is not enough as Badiou points out.
Badiou sees the Greek situation as one where politicians give a blank check to financial experts and bankers. They give up any power to decide on their own.
The deal negotiated with the Troika will involve an EU account that will be paid directly to Greece but only for servicing debt. Greek revenue will be mandated as having as the first priority payment of the debt. In fact Greek accounts will in effect be managed to make debt payment by law the main priority. As Badiou notes the privatization requirements will be a great boon for buyers.
Badiou notes that with the help of the rescuers the debt has gone into free fall now reaching 170 per cent of GDP. In 2009 it was 120 per cent. This further weakening has created a situation where Greece cannot resist its creditors and feels forced to yield to what he calls the blackmail of austerity.
Badiou portrays the situation in Greece as a war being conducted by finance, politics and law. This is a war in which the financial class takes from the enemy the social benefits and democratic rights of society. A new social model is being developed in which the needs of finance capital triumph over all else
The model will be replicated throughout Europe with austerity measures being seen as painful but necessary and ultimately healthy as restoring countries to being competitive.
In the face of what is happening people must speak up in defense of basic democratic rights and social solidarity. The neo-liberal climate of fear must be countered. While Badiou does not suggest positive solutions to the Greek crisis he notes that the first order of business should be to show solidarity with the Greek people in resisting what is being imposed upon them.