[Transcript below video.]

I am honoured to be here, but ashamed that I don’t speak your language. So, let me begin: Late in his life, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, asked the famous question; ‘What does a woman want?’ Admitting the perplexity, when faced with the enigma of feminine sexuality. And a similar perplexity arises today; ‘What does Europe want?’

This is the question you, the Greek people are addressing Europe. Because you know what you want, you want this guy to be your next Prime Minister. Europe doesn’t know what it wants. The way European States and Media relates to what is going on now in Greece, is, I think, the best indicator of what kind of Europe they want. Is it the neo-liberal Europe, is it the Europe of isolationist states or maybe something different. Critics accuse SYRIZA of being a threat to the Euro, but SYRIZA is, on the contrary, the only chance for Europe. Far from being a threat. You are giving a chance to Europe to break out of its inertia to find a new way.

In his notes towards a definition of culture, the great conservative poet, T.S. Eliot, remarked the moments when the only choice is between heresy and non-belief. That is to say moments when the only way to keep a belief, to keep religion alive, is to perform a sectarian split from the main course.  This is what happens today with Europe; only a new heresy represented at this moment by SYRIZA, can save what is worth saving in the European legacy; Democracy, trusting people, egalitarian solidarity. The Europe that will win, if SYRIZA is out-maneuvered is a Europe with Asian values – and of course these Asian values have nothing to do with Asia, but with the clear and present tendency of contemporary capitalism to suspend democracy.  SYRIZA is said to lack the proper experience to govern. Yes, I agree, they lack the experience of how to bankrupt a country by cheating and stealing. You don’t have this experience. This brings us to the absurdity of the politics of the European establishment; they bring the preach of paying taxes, opposing Greek clientelism and they put all their hopes on the coalition of the two parties which brought to Greece this clientelism.

Christine Lagarde, recently said that she has more sympathy for the poor inhabitants of the Niger, than for Greeks, and she even advised the Greeks to help themselves by paying their taxes, which, as I found a few days ago, she doesn’t have to pay. Like all liberal humanitarians, she likes the impotent poor who behave like victims, evoke our sympathy and bring us to give charity.

But the problem with you Greeks is that you suffer, yes, but you are not passive victims, you resist, you fight, you do not want sympathy and charity, you want active solidarity. You want and you demand a mobilization, a support for your fight.  M.

So why does Brussels impose these measures on you? The true aim of these measures is not to save Greece, but of course to save the European banks.  These measures are not presented as decisions grounded in political choices, but as necessities imposed by neutral economic logic. Like, if we want to stabilize our economy, we simply have to swallow the bitter pill. Or, by tautological proverbial sayings, like you cannot spend more than you produce. Well, the American banks and United States as such, are a big proof, for decades, that you can spend more than you produce. To illustrate the mistake of austerity measures, Paul Krugman, often compares them to the medieval practice of bloodletting. A nice metaphor, which I think should be radicalized, further. The European financial doctors, themselves not sure about how this medicine works, are using you as test-rabbits, they are letting your blood, not the blood of their own countries. There is no bloodletting for the German and French banks. On the contrary, they are getting big transfusions.

So is SYRIZA, really, a group of dangerous extremists? No, SYRIZA is here to bring pragmatic common sense. To clear the mess created by others. It is those who impose austerity measures who are dangerous dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think that things can go on, indefinitely, the way they are just with some cosmetic changes. You are not dreamers; you are awakening from a dream, which is turning into a nightmare.  You are not destroying anything; you are reacting to how the system is gradually destroying itself. We all know the classic scene from cartoons, Tom and Jerry and so on: The cat reaches the precipice, but goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is no ground under its feet, then it only starts to fall down, when it looks down and notices that there is nothing. This is all you are doing. You are telling those in power, ‘Hey, look down!’ and they are falling down.

The political map of Greece is clear and exemplary; In the centre, I hope you noticed it, there is, that, one big party, one party, with two wings, left and right, PASOK and New Democracy. It’s like, you know, Cola, which is Coca and Pepsi, an indifferent choice. The true name of this party, if you bring PASOK and New Democracy together, should be something, I think, like NHMAD, New Hellenic Movement Against Democracy.

Of course, this big party claims that is for democracy, but I claim they are for decaffeinated democracy. Like, you know, coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, ice cream without sugar. They want democracy, but democracy where instead of making a choice, people just confirm what wise experts tell them to do. They want democratic dialogue? Yes, but, you know, like in the late Plato’s dialogues, where one guy talks all the time, and the other only says, every ten minutes, ‘By Zeus, so it is!’ And then, there is the exception. You, SYRIZA, the true miracle, radical left movement, which stepped out of the comfortable position of marginal resistance and courageously signalled your readiness to take power. This is why you have to be punished.

Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, and a senior researcher at the Institute for Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London. He has also been a visiting professor at more than 10 universities around the world. Žižek is the author of many books; his latest are Against the Double Blackmail and Disparities.

Tell us what you think...

%d bloggers like this: