Regarding the news coming out of Greece, it appears as though the brunt of the Euro crisis will be borne by none other than the Greeks, and not the various banking and governmental institutions who either explicitly or implicitly caused the Eurozone panic in the first place. Europe looks like it will finally move towards a solution – one that will involve the ECB and the IMF working together to invoke austerity measures on the Greek (and, I assume, the GIPS as a whole) populace.
Last week, the Greek prime minister started a panic amongst governmental and financial elites when he proposed that these austerity measures be put to a vote in Greece. The very thought of submitting important things to discretion of the people enraged the aristocracy of the continent, and lo and behold, prime minister Papandreou has bowed out. Since then, the ironic quips about Greece rejecting democracy have been nothing but ubiquitous.
What’s most enlightening about all this, however, is not that it’s happening in Greece, the motherland of democracy, but that there has been a full disclosure: salvation of the capitalist system in Europe must happen against democracy. Many of our favorite philosophers have made the point that the ill-fated, historically-conditioned marriage between capitalism and democracy has been showing signs of an internal breakdown, but never has this phenomenon been so clear as it was during the aforementioned panic of this last week. The very thought of putting these measures to a democratic vote evoked outrage among those-in-the-know. And this is not to say that they were wrong. Far from it. The Greeks would have most certainly rejected the proposal, and may have possibly gone down the road of Argentina or Iceland and accepted a messy default. Saving the current capitalist relations necessitates that the shaodwy figures of the troika play the role of the master, dictating the roles to be played and distributing the chores amongst the servants. Again, what is enlightening is that none of this has been hidden in the cloak of ideology. It’s all out in the open: democracy antagonizes capitalism.
On the one hand, so-called “capitalism with asian values” is both too far away and too fundamentally necessary to western production to be of concern for western thinkers. It’s is a cloak of suppression. One the other hand, the relation between democracy and capitalism in the United States is just as tenuous, but is so drenched in the jargon of American nationalism, liberty and freedom foremost among them, as to be all but invisible to those who are exploited by it. It’s is a cloak of repression. What’s so disturbingly refreshing about the situation in Greece is that neither of these barriers hold any sway. We all know that the almost-mythical “original capitalist accumulation” was an affront to developed notions of democracy, but never have we seen the process set on a stage right before our eyes, the various actors playing their parts in full identification with their roles, without a hint of transcendent distance.