In Europe

The second act of tragedy is about to begin.

NIGHT STREET BY FLOSV ON FLICKR

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The first act of the European tragedy is over: debt has taken the central place in the material constitution of the Eurozone, ushering in the triumphant dismantling of democracy and the impoverishment of social life.

What are the maxims of the Financial diktat? Destroy life – urge on the collapse of the structures of civil life – in order to save the banking system. Meanwhile, new data from the EU shows that countries that have most ruthlessly cut their budgets in the name of austerity have seen their overall debt loads increase as a share of the economy. This provides crystal clear evidence that deep government budget cuts at a time of economic recession are permanently destroying any chance of economic recovery. Debt increase and recession are feeding each other, as resources and money shift from society towards the financial class.

The second act of the European tragedy now begins: the fracturing of national states, the rise of anti-German hatred, the growth of fascist parties in Greece, Italy, Hungary, Finland and elsewhere.

From the bankanization – submission of Europe to the interests of the banking system – to the balkanization: proliferation of nationalist and ethnic conflicts leading to the specter of continental civil war. The black hole of financial abstraction is swallowing social resources and destroying the productive potency of the general intellect while the social civilization is invested and corroded by the metastases of the financial cancer.

It is now clear that economic expansion is over and will never come back. Un-growth is no longer a moral or political choice that we can accept or refuse. In Europe Un-growth is a given, a consequence of the global redistribution of the division of labor, and the exhaustion of natural resources. If our future is synonymous with Growth, our future is dead.

But we should be able to change our expectations … to disentangle our notions of the good life from the capitalist expectation of never-ending Growth … to imagine a future outside of progress.

The financial dictatorship is cutting salaries and increasing work-time. But, by growing unemployment and spreading recession, they also make it possible for us to transform Un-growth into an enrichment of life and our collective pleasure. A huge wave of protest is on the horizon but the traditional forms of activism have exposed their ineffectiveness: demonstrations, strikes, peaceful protests are ineffective because financial power now derives from disembodied dynamics which are untouchable by the physical bodies of our movement.

Only organized withdrawal, only massive insolvency can defuse the financial attack, and this requires solidarity. And solidarity can only be based on empathy.

How can we recreate solidarity in an era when precariousness has transformed us into de-personalized fragments of time isolated by our loneliness?

In a world where competition has become the universal form of social relation, rediscovering solidarity amidst social breakdown is the first step towards the recomposition of the social insurrection.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi is an Italian philosopher of revolutionary politics and mass media. He was an important figure in the 1970s Autonomista movement in Italy. His most recent book is The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance.