At the same time, the Greek government and establishment media adopted two strategies to persuade people about the necessity and inevitability of the wholesale destruction of the post-war social contract. The first was to present the neo-liberal diagnosis and recipe as the only available ‘truth’, a matter of scientific objectivity. This is the only possible way to cope with the crisis that plagued the country like a huge natural catastrophe detached from its history, causes, agents and context. Understanding the problem, discussing alternatives (exit from the eurozone, default and re-structuring, holding a referendum on the stability plan and re-negotiating it) were peremptorily dismissed as ignorant or naïve. Even in Britain, the cradle of neo-liberal idolatry, a large number of senior economists argue that the worst thing to do in a recession is to cut public spending.
The attempt to cow people before the mystical knowledge of ‘experts’ and disqualify alternatives was followed by a strategy of normalisation of the extreme. It was the poor man’s the politics of fear. Greeks were offered the choice between the Scylla of a ‘natural disaster and the Charybdis of collective punishment. Unless the measures are adopted and executed with ‘military discipline’, Greeks are told, salaries will not be paid, savings will be lost, the world will come to an end. Fear is fused with a complex of guilt and, at the same time, accompanied by a paroxysmal patriotism, which rhetorically attacks the foreign ‘agents’ of our travails while adopting all their commands. As we know from the past, when capitalism and patriotism diverge, the ‘super-patriotic’ elites always choose capitalism.
This unprecedented image propagated in Greece and repeated in the West is an attempt to justify the destruction of the social state and the radical undermining of Greek sovereignty as a prelude of a wider attack on the working people of Europe. Greece is used by the EU and the ‘markets’ to teach European governments a lesson: destroy your welfare state or go bankrupt. Yet the European political and economic elites have chosen the wrong people for ritual sacrifice. Greeks will not accept becoming a permanent IMF protectorate or the absurdly unfair terms it demands.
The general strike and the huge demonstration in Athens on May 5 marked the beginning of the fight-back. Large sections of the population, traditionally voting for the two ruling parties, are increasingly detached from the political system. PASOK, the ruling party, sees the discontent rising among its lines, reaching even its own MPs, while many of its disenfranchised cadres/trade unionists take active part in the struggle. Social disgust at the elites is changing from passive disengagement into active political force. The term ‘legitimation crisis’ describes the massive loss of trust in the (always fragile) social contract, which can no longer mobilise popular assent to a balance of power so palpably and unfairly stacked against the interests of the majority. This is happening right now.
The Western media have been worrying that the Greek economic ‘disease’ will spread to the rest of the Eurozone and the world starting with the ‘pigs’ (this debate has been laced with unprecedented racism and orientalism). The commentariat has now realized that the euro may be at risk and perhaps even the Union itself. What they had not predicted was that what is at risk additionally is the anodyne post-politics that has dominated Europe in the last twenty years.
The aim of this website is to state loud and clear that there is an alternative to the catastrophic measures of neoliberal capitalism. A pluralistic and rich analysis of the crisis and the appropriate political and social response has been developing in Greece but has not been heard much outside the country. We will try to disseminate to Europe and the world the views of the Greek radical left movement. Working with all shades of left opinion, we will commission, translate and promote news, views and commentary explaining and advancing alternative strategies, theories and campaigns. The state of emergency and the fight-back in Greece is the immediate spur for this initiative. We aspire however to develop a portal where radical voices from Europe and further afield can read, debate and collaborate in constructing a new Left for the 21st century. Please join us.
You can contact Greek Left Review for comments, suggestions or any other kind of information: greekleftreview at gmail.com