How an Example Should Be Made in Greece
In the 21st century, as has become known, the powers of capital are no longer looking for territorial conquests. What should they do with zones of economically scorched earth and superfluous populations? This does not mean that imperialism has died out. But it is no longer about national empires and zones of influence, but about the controllability of globalization as a crisis. The limits of capital valorization are to be redefined into limits of viability for the losing masses, the collapse of national economies into a controlled coexistence of credit-financed boom towns and abandoned slum regions.
The production of security for the residual businesses under these conditions requires ideological legitimation. It is a good thing that the dismissed and disinherited children of capital are not better people, but rather like to attack their fellow citizens instead of their impossible conditions of existence. Not the external but the internal war along ethnic and religious divisions became the conflict paradigm of a disintegrating world of states. The world police operations on the part of the powers of order of the capitalist center against the barbarians of the periphery could be justified with democratic idealism.
This picture was, of course, only a snapshot in the process of the gradual dissolution of the global order. At the latest, the global economic crisis since 2008 has once again fundamentally changed the situation. Now the limits of creditworthiness are being reached even in the Western centers themselves. Everywhere, debt crises are emerging there of a kind that had previously only flared up in the peripheral zones of the global market. Thus, a qualitatively different crisis management is on the agenda for the metropolises, shifting the emphasis from external to internal distress. In addition to unaccountable populations in the squalid backyards of world capital, their own middle classes must increasingly be targeted. The content-empty democratic formalism, which the God-fascists of various stripes have long since recognized as the shaping principle of their madness, asserts the valorization compulsion of capital as its “natural basis” (Marx) all the more when its inner barriers are erected. The capitalist lifeblood of money must no longer be turned off step by step to solely a marginalized new poor, but to also the majority of the metropolitan “people’s sovereign.”
This, of course, also points to a state of legitimacy emergency. While NATO bombed the Sharia in Libya with reference to democratic values, for the Western core zones of globalization only the practical constraint of the teetering financial system can take over the role of the combat bombers for the time being. The execution of this economic imperative in the name of democracy against the elementary vital interests of a majority of the formal “sovereign” seems to take place first in the EU, because here the monetary construct of the euro has already taken the contradiction to extremes and there is a supranational instance of intervention.
Greece has become a precedent under global crisis conditions qua de facto state bankruptcy. An uncontrolled execution would blow up not only the European financial system and exceed the consequences of the Lehman bankruptcy. Controlled execution, however, would only be possible if almost the entire Greek population were pushed below the subsistence level. Mass unemployment in new dimensions, impoverishment deep into the middle classes, collapse of medical care and public infrastructures will become reality. The Greek elites can no longer justify such a collection of capital logic on their own account. What is needed is crisis-imperialist intervention from the outside, claimed by a troika of the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF; now no longer against a poorhouse of the former Third World, but for the first time against a Western country.
The Merkel government has become a hardliner, speaking from the heart of the management, political and media class as well as the lowly master race in this country. With the assistance of the deputy sheriff Sarkozy, the systemic crisis is denied in order to appear as the self-appointed bailiff of the “automatic subject” (Marx). The Greeks, who have been dismissed as capitalistically untrustworthy, are not to be hooked up to Berlin Disneyland, but they are to be taken by the purse strings until they spit blood. There was even talk of a German savings commissioner for Greece, even though the EU majority spoke out against this with a residual sense of shame. The false gesture of superiority feeds on the FRG’s provisional position as a crisis winner, because German exports have profited from the expiring global government programs, from the devaluation of the euro precisely because of the debt crisis, and from the implementation of the homegrown low wage since Hartz IV. Suppressed is the fact that the Teutonic economic fairy tale has as its prerequisite not only its own debts but also those of others and must end with the evaporation of purchasing power in the European and global recession. Nevertheless, at least enough is known to make an example of Greece, which, if necessary, must also apply to Germany, in the hope of the historic social masochism of the German “sovereign,” which has always been unable to walk with civic goodness.
Greece also lends itself as an experimental field for the new democratic crisis management, because an isolated youth revolt with no prospects can serve as a sparring partner. It fits in well with the picture that the Greek state budget is being driven to zero socially, while the military budget almost doubled in 2012 compared to the previous year. The associated debts are also perceived favorably by the savings commissioners-to-be, because orders from Athens account for 15 percent of the sales of German arms manufacturers. Besides, in any case, the apparatus of the democratic state of emergency is also flexing its muscles militarily, which is only allowed to be as pseudo-self-reliant in this respect in Greece as it is to become in Afghanistan. If things really heat up, the state of emergency terror under German leadership could already show what it is capable of. The Assad regime may appear to be a wimp as soon as more than a slim Arab social product is at stake.
For the time being, the Greek political class will have to haggle a bit over its surrender terms and feign resistance in order to save its barely recognizable face. The electorate no longer knows what it should want anyway, and the entire party system is also wrapping itself up in exemplary fashion. The post-national crisis administrators approve of the nationalist upsurge, which can serve as an outlet all the more because it only processes the bankruptcy in a manner appropriate to the species, so to speak. The merely anti-German rage of the Greeks does not concern the German export chauvinists, because the pogrom that is due is really directed against Albanian and African refugees or other migrants, as has long been practically demonstrated, and not just in Greece. In this point, too, Germany, with its neo-Nazi serial killers spoiled by the democratic Stasi, certainly has pan-European leadership qualities to offer.
Originally published in Konkret 03/2012