Tag Archives | Greece

Slavoj Žižek: The Courage of Hopelessness

Andrew McCoubrey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Andrew McCoubrey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Slavoj Žižek writes at the New Statesman:

The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that “thought is the courage of hopelessness” – an insight which is especially pertinent for our historical moment when even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us thinking to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction. There is no better example of the need for such courage than Greece today.

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Anti-austerity: Violent Protest and the Rolling Thunder

With anti-austerity protests breaking out in Greece, and her government in the midst of aggressive reshuffling, we are reminded of how necessary revolutionary violence is to pure ground-swell democracy. It is the political over-pour of mass frustration, the inevitable pressure release-valve of the underclass and economically damaged. While it can’t easily be characterised by such terms as good or justified, it is at least understandable in its appearance at such times – as the only available reaction the powerless have left to use once democracy has failed them. Fear the desperate animal so cornered.

It is possible to see, through the eyes of Greece’s vulnerable and downtrodden, that economic scarcity and austerity are the natural enemies of social justice, and that extreme neoliberal ideology exists in direct conflict with the collective spirit, with the actionable soul of democracy and her common-good offspring.… Read the rest

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The Eurozone Crisis: Neoliberal Economic Terrorism

"Alexis Tsipras on Subversive Festival" by Robert Crc - Subversive festival media. Licensed under FAL via Wikimedia Commons.

Alexis Tsipras on Subversive Festival” by Robert Crc – Subversive festival media. Licensed under FAL via Wikimedia Commons.

During the ongoing negotiations and humiliations of the Eurozone crisis, it has been surreal to hear repeated concerns by the EU about Greece’s apparent untrustworthiness. When the word manipulation is used in this context, by diplomats and global creditors, it loses all power of meaning. The pot calling the kettle black. One EU diplomat suggested frustration and fatigue, stating they were the victims of “five months of manipulation” at the hands of Greece. Perhaps they would prefer to live through five years of crippling austerity measures.

It is hard to take such concerns seriously, especially in the face of the cruelty and maneuvering by the Troika et al. Before they talk so freely of manipulation and wrongdoings, they would do well to consider the reality of life among austerity, unemployment and poverty.… Read the rest

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Further Notes From Greece: Compromise and Capitulation

With the deadline fast approaching for an embattled and financially desperate Greece, Alexis Tsipras and his left-right coalition rallied and tabled a bail-out and reform proposal to the European creditors Thursday evening. Saturday morning saw the government of Greece, by a large majority, accept and back the proposal for negotiations in the coming days. In comes the desperate proposal, in come the compromises and capitulations.

Photo: Philly boy92 (CC)

Photo: Philly boy92 (CC)

Five months of stalemate and bluff have led to this weekend and, after everything that’s happened, it’s not surprising that Tsipras has finally been beaten into submission, made malleable enough to seek the reinstatement of austerity to his damaged and struggling country in the hope of debt restructuring and further bailout. It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing. Politics is the grinding wheel of disappointment.

Even when one is the wielder of great power and influence, political negotiation can be difficult and laced with traps, but when vulnerable, in a position of weakness and without any recognisable leverage, it becomes virtually impossible without compromising your position or appealing to humanitarian compassion.… Read the rest

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A Salute to Yanis Varoufakis: the People’s Poet-Padre

"Yanis-Varoufakis-Berlin-2015-02-05" by Jörg Rüger - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Yanis-Varoufakis-Berlin-2015-02-05” by Jörg Rüger – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The news pours steady and constant in the aftermath of Greece’s referendum. Clattering down the wires comes word of Yanis Varoufakis’ resignation in an act of sacrifice and solidarity usually unheard of in modern politics. From the pages of his personal blog comes a statement which includes yet another example of his characteristically laconic and acerbic one-liners – “I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.” With every new news-story and post-resignation report his mystique is further intensified and increased. Is it too much to suggest the carving of his legend in the bedrock of every liberal-heart?

His use of language confounds or delights – depending on your bias – it’s terse-poetic, incisive and completely foreign to the dry and drab world of political economics. Outside of any easily defined archetype or political anatomy, he appears so starkly different from the opposite players that juxtaposition is inevitable.… Read the rest

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Piketty on National Debt: “Germany has never repaid.”

Via Daily Kos:

In a blistering interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit, Piketty [the famed French economist and author of the best-seller, Capital in the Twenty‑First Century] blasts Germany and it’s history of repayment of debt over the years, and it’s attitudes toward its fellow EU neighbor, Greece. In brief, he tells the interviewer in no uncertain terms that Germany never repaid their loans; yet they hold others to a higher standard of responsibility.

ZEIT: But shouldn’t they repay their debts?

Piketty: My book recounts the history of income and wealth, including that of nations. What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them.

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Notes from the Greek Crisis: the collective spirit

Screen shot 2015-07-09 at 1.36.33 PM

It is hard sometimes in this modern age, to wake up and continue living without the weight of accumulated worry seeming too heavy to carry. Another day full of dread – complete with the cranial pressures of global news. Another day full of sorrow – worn thin by the liquid demands of human existence.

The world woke up this morning – Monday morning here in the Southern hemisphere – to face the reality of Greece’s resounding referendum. It took a while to sink in – ‘No’ to more austerity measures, ‘No’ to more troika bully tactics. And while we know it’s not that simple – as nothing gets wrapped up so easily without more trouble to follow – it still counts as a piece of old-fashioned magic, something not seen for so long we’ve forgotten what to call it. Sometimes a gift comes wrapped in a problem.

There is so much to say about the state of our global realities that it often pours out in streams, uncontrollable and chaotic, and without any clear signifying thread.… Read the rest

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Apuleius Translated

English: Illustration from The Golden Ass. Cha...

English: Illustration from The Golden Ass. Charitë embraces her lover while Lucius, within the cave, looks on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

How to be an ass by knowing too little of context, or how nuance can make the difference.

via Harvard Review

 I’ve been looking at asses. More specifically, I have been weighing Sarah Ruden’s 2011 translation of The Golden Ass of Apuleius against the one I grew up with and have been sitting on all my life, Robert Graves’s 1951 version.

Strictly speaking, “The Golden Ass” isn’t the book’s proper name. More sedately known as Metamorphoses, written by the North African writer Lucius Apuleius in the second century CE, this work, often regarded as a proto-novel, follows the adventures of a young man perhaps not coincidentally named Lucius who trespasses trivially on occult secrets and—you’ll have to read for yourself how this is done—becomes the first, but not the last, to make an ass of himself.

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Greek Scientists Create Robot Octopus, Hasten Doom of Planet Earth

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 10.03.37 AMRobot octopus? Wonder how long it seeks revenge for all of its grilled brethren?

Via Scientific American:

Researchers in Greece, however, have made a robot octopus that can propel itself through the water using only its eight arms.

Their prototype, announced earlier this summer, has mastered a handful of different swim strokes—including some even the octopus itself can’t pull off.

The robot octopus, initially outfitted with stiff limbs, can move all of its arms in and out in unison, slowly propelling the body along in the water. It can also perform a straight-armed technique in which each arm moves in and out independently

It has eight arms to hold you… and squeeze the life out of you.

 

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