GREECE: THE NEW EUROZONE COLONY
by Daycaf Magazine
GREECE: THE NEW EUROZONE COLONY
(POST) COLONIAL DISCOURSE:
In her recent book, Juridical Humanity postcolonial thinker Samera Esmeir examines the Liberal, Humanitarian, Positive Legal Project of British Colonial rule in Egypt, and its ability to construct the category of humanity—to provide the framework that constitutes what is good or bad for the colonized, and what bodies and behaviors are cast as (in)human. Esmeir argues that via the forces of interpellation positioned in Egyptian Colonially, the subject positions of humans were increasingly framed by law.
Speaking about the transformation of bodies into a category of juridical humanness, Esmeir suggests that:”The end of colonialism and the termination of its constellation of forces signal, in these accounts, the reentry of the colonized into Universal Humanity. When modern law endows itself with the power of humanization and declares that its absence signals dehumanization, modern law effectively binds the living to the powers of the state. No longer a condition a condition of birth, humanity began to emerge as a juridical category; the human became the effect of the work of law.”
Esmeir is arguing that Juridical Humanity is the category of humanness increasingly measured and constructed by law and legalistic frameworks of the state. Another presupposition is that a person is supposed to exist within a particular regime that is able to produce the discourse of violence and attach that to certain nonhuman actors.
Thus, being produced as human by colonizers is to be produced by a framework of laws that inscribes some bodies as good, rational and nonviolent, and others as irrational and less-than human.
One of the major political projects of the book is to affirm the shedding of the category of human. What happens to those who rebel from this human/inhuman, law and violence dialectics?
This radically important research Esmeir uncovers is also constitutive for the forms of political violence we see in the contemporary Egyptian climate, which, in part is a result of the replacement of local rulers and rules (sharia’h ) with a centralized bureaucratic sovereignty that never formulated Political Community, as an onto-political project.
The EU’s genesis story can be traced back to 1957, just after WWII, when six Western European countries, France, Wester Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy formulated the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC’s goals were to provide economic integration, which was crucial after the war, as most of Europe’s production infrastructures were destroyed.
In 1992, the nations that were a part of the then expanded ECC signed the Maastricht
Treaty, officially creating the European Union and the euro. This treaty also famously set limits on Sovereign debt, foreshadowing the troubles Greece would face 20 years down the road. In less than 50 years, the small trade association became one of the worlds most powerful economic and political alliances.
In 2000, Greece was accepted into the European Union, fifty years after the Economic frameworks were developed in the ECC, the EU’s largest and most centrally-organized political-economies, including Germany and France.
As Neoliberalism waxed, Greece was advised to expand its dependency on foreign loans.
For much of Greece’s recent (pre-Colonial) history, a very weak Centralized Government was far overshadowed by healthy and strong local and regional politics from craftspeople to General Assemblies in most cities, most universities, as public political forums which reflect the deep Democratic traditions which have their onto-genesis in Greece.
As the Global Economy collapses in 2008, the contractions on market and ill-advised loan debt positioned Greece as the scapegoat, one of the ‘weak economies” that would sink the EU.
AND THEN CAME AUSTERITY
The EU ask was for Greece to cut up deficit from €24.7bn (10.6% of GDP) in 2009 to just €5.2bn (2.4% of GDP) in 2011.
As is many socialist states, most Greeks were dependent on cash, infrastructures and incentives to flow in and out of the hands of the Government. When the EU attempted to force Greece to further cut pensions after the family income had already dropped 40%, and the jobless rate had soared to 27.6%, rioting of the working class took off like Greece had never seen.
Hundreds of thousands of pensioners alone have taken Sintagma Square almost every day since austerity.
Regarding the collapsing University system in Athens and across Greece, Stathis Efstathopoulos, the President of the Federation of University Teachers, wrote to the prime minister, “With great angst we have ascertained that with the government’s decision to place specialist and much valued administrative staff into the mobility scheme our universities are at risk of collapse. Even if we accept that we have a surplus of personnel we cannot, from one day to the next, operate with 40% less staff.”
As Greek Austerity sets in, the birthrate plummets almost 15%, youth unemployment skyrockets to and waves upon wave of dissent and political violence and dissent mark the situation in Greece.
Refugees and immigrants are the target of murders and intimidation by the newly elected Golden Dawn—Greece’s new Ultranationalist Fascist Party, which has gained 7% of Greece’s Parliament Seats.
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The Golden Dawn has sparked a back-and-forth of extreme violence between Leftists, Fascists and their supporters, the Greek Police. Young antifascists have been detained and brutalized by the Greek Police for their political opposition to the Golden Dawn.
Something I gathered from my experiences in Greece was that there really were no
Greek fat cats sitting on top of some Ponzi scheme, extracting wealth like they do on the US. Greece’s main problems were its robust middle class, wonderful free education program, its funding of the museums and archives that take care of Western Cultures oldest sites of Democracy, theater…
No, in fact, the only fat cats are the German banks sending Greece into a depression.
ON THE ONE HAND: GREECE AS A JURIDICAL COLONY OF THE EU
I would argue, more than these political crises, the paternalistic discourses of the Neoliberal EU talking heads is crucial for the transformations that Greece undergoes—becoming a Colony of the Eurozone.
Greece’s forced entry into the EU reflect Samera Esmeir’s understanding of a colonized subject position: as being able to be articulated, ontologically, as human, or as less than human. For Greece looses its status not only as a capable culture, but also, loses the ability to define itself, politically, economically, and also ontologically.
The Greeks become narrativized as irrational and subhuman. In part this occurs because of political violence that exists in Greece—which develops as a result of no other means of political legibility or recourse.
How does this narrative-producing capability of the EU and Neoliberalism position Greeks, juridically? What type of humanity have they lost, or gained? At the very least, Greeks lose the ability to position themselves within a human narrative.
ON THE OTHER HAND: AUTONOMY AND RESISTANCE
What does politics inject into the equation? What happens if we resist juridicality? What subject positions are reordered by the rupture with Humanitarian discourse?
These questions are in search for resistance with EU Liberal, Cosmopolitan Epistemology on a ontological grounds. Resisting is a thing Greeks have been doing, for a long time—from galvanizing of the political culture of Exarchia in Athens, the largest autonomously self-organized site of Prefigurative Politics in Greece, to the appearance of local, alternative forms of currency based on trading goods and services, as the paper Euro became harder to find.
Looking towards Manifestos and texts that situate us in an autonomist, anarchist, and separatist lens, such as those that respond to the assassination of Alexis Koulgas in 2008, We are an image from the Future stem from recent Greek resistance to the EU and its avatar, the Greek Police State, become the of examining a new formation of Political Community in resistance to the depoliticizing and colonizing project of Western Empire. What juridical interpellations as (in)humans are able to be ruptured via resisting the legalizing frameworks—via being living beings?
What political ontology do we create ? What forms of Politicized Mitsein (being-in-common) occur, rhetorically and lived?
A true revolutionary political rhetoric is one that undermines the legalistic and juridical frameworks on ontological grounds—those which frame our notion of what Being is. Orienting oneself towards commonness allows a radical rupturing from a rigid Individualizing Western ontology.