Veröffentlicht am Juli 13th, 2015 | von Omar El Manfalouty


Republic of Citizens or Society of Producers?

Recent developments concerning the European Crisis have been both most severe and surprising. Surprising not because the fulfillment of some of the European Union’s demands could have been safely ruled out – in fact, negotiations in good faith rest on all parties’ readiness for significant compromise.
They are rather astonishing because they force us to radically reevaluate all those moves that had previously been considered tactical concessions or operational improvements rather than full-blown strategic retreats. The resignation of Yanis Varoufakis is but one example of recent events spectacularly illuminated by today’s defeat. Faced with the situation as it presents itself to us, one cannot help oneself but conclude that the Greek government has, in retrospect of course, acquitted itself most poorly; if agreement to the EU’s terms had not been its original intention, it clearly is incompetent. If, however, a return to austerity was the plan all along, it would be guilty of treason.
Only the people of Greece may issue a final verdict on this question, as their government is responsible only to them. In any event, this verdict’s content will be as irrelevant as Greece’s entire political sphere will be for the nation’s future. Obviously, there can be no democracy where the people are excluded from government. However, democracy also ceases to exist where government is denied to the people – it now has been substituted by rule.

Sad and disgusting as this bleak outlook may be, we of the political left do the people of Greece no favour if we mourn their dramatic loss. Solidarity, as opposed to pity, is no mere emotion – it manifests itself through political action; action not taken on behalf of but in concert with those at the receiving end of neoliberal hegemony on our continent.
To act successfully, we first need to realize that the defeat of our comrades in Greece is matched by our humiliation. It is only through our failure to dislodge a series of neoliberal German governments that the Greeks were forced into an untenable position. Their catastrophic rout while retreating from it lies at the feet of of French, Italian, but above all German Socialists, Social Democrats and progressive Liberals. This shameful state of our parties and the movements they should be representing needs to be accepted before we can start doing something about it.

Solidarity, like all actions for the sake of Social Justice which – unlike Criminal Justice – aims not at righting past wrongs but establishing a public realm where all, liberated from need, want and ignorance can enjoy their freedom. While it is perfectly true that today’s catastrophe undoes the liberation of the Greek people by reintroducing the tyrannies of need and want to them, we must equally remember that our own freedom also is in danger from today’s accord. Just as neither master nor servant are truly free, neither a victor nor the defeated are truly at peace, especially when they continue to inhabitate the same piece of land.

The Greek government’s unconditional surrender – just as the EU’s ideological insistence on it – thus threatens to unravel the one precondition to the establishment of a European Republic – the essential condition sine qua non of any republic: That all those who take part in the common affairs are willing to treat each other as equals, not inspite, but because of their manifold differences. We of the left, along with a surprising number of potential progressive allies have realized that this equality is the foundation of all political freedom.

If the victorious powers of today manage to turn that victory into long-term supremacy, the European Union might even keep some its constituent nations prosperous, but it will never become a realm of freedom. Some may be wealthy masters, some will be expropriated servants of this inflated yet sterile marketplace, but certainly nobody will be able call himself a citizen of a Union. Assuming the indivisibility of our continent, she will either be elevated to a republic of citizens or degenerate into a society of wealthy producers and poor consumers – no other result is possible. Therefore, inspite and because of today’s setbacks, let us redouble our efforts in solidarity to strive for the former outcome and remember one of Europe’s greatest Republicans who strikingly summed up why not all hope is lost (my, admittedly liberal translation):

“Authority is with the government, yet power is with the people.”

Über den/die Autor*in

1992 geboren studiere ich Rechtswissenschaften, Geschichte und Archäologie in Frankfurt. Seit 2013 bin ich Vorsitzender der Jusos Kreis Offenbach, seit 2014 Präsident des Bezirksarbeitsausschusses und engagiert im Kampf für eine gerechtere Bildungs-, eine konsequentere Rechts- und eine wertegeleitete Außenpolitik.

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