Mental Breakdown of a Nation

In Europe

The second act of tragedy is about to begin.

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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.

Comments on the article “In Europe”

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"the fracturing of national states, the rise of anti-German hatred"
Anti-Germanism and blah blah blah is what we hear everyday from the political correct media. They tell us not to be 'anti-German' because we are all Europeans and we must stay united... Who has asked us if we want to become members of the European Union? None. Now the Germans want to impose their own order, their own work ethics... what does this means? This is cultural imperialism. It is fascism. I like the article apart from the con word "anti-Germanism". It is a fabrication aiming to batter our resistance. We don't believe it and we will never believe it. And now they say it is racism to disagree with Merkel's policies... If this is racism... so it be then.


As a Scandinavian, I can tell you that individuals in the North are not very structured or meticulous when it comes to work. On the contrary, I am shocked by Southern European (such as French) work mentality - they appear stressed out of their minds when they work, they work 10-12 hours a day, their boss is yelling at them, etc. It is bound to become tremendously inefficient and result in an incoherent mess of egos each pursuing their own direction. I don't get it. Relax, don't work more, work less, take more days off, enjoy your wonderful sunshine and nature, drink more beer, and develop an interest in ski jumping.


As a French, I can tell you my perspicacious scandivavian friend, that your understanding of french work mentality appear to me as very good and precise. Just to add arguments to your perception, french workers love to say they are overwhelmed with their work. I can hear it every day : "Sorry I have to much work, I can not come tonight ... " Sometimes, they are proud to say they are still at work at 10pm.
Inefficiency and mess of egos... is so true.

We are the world champions in antidepressants drugs consumption !

Just to moderate my words, not all french behave this way... And some pretend to be like that, just for the show...


Its not the fault of the Germans but a fatal flaw of how the EU is designed. Germany had the strongest economy and it was impossible for the Southern states to compete with such an economy where the standards are so dramatically different. The debt incurred by say Portugal, Spain and Greece are being payed for by German tax payers. The German benefit is in its exports which these other countries cannot compete with and which would turn around completely if the EU and its currency were to fall apart. I agree there was no referendum on the EU and that its an antidemocratic institution but the problems of economic inequity are inherent, not simply the fault of Germany which by the way has every right to 'demand' sacrifices if their own population has to sacrifice their own wealth on behalf of others after all the German people didn't create the crises nor are they the reason Greece and others are in debt. You would have to blame systemic problems, irresponsible governance such as they had (have) in Greece etc as they incurred debts from financial institutions they were unable to repay. You can also blame the financial institutions. But Germany? No.

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