Translation > Greece at the Heart of Europe (An open letter signed by Balibar, Stiegler & others)

On (the weekly online political magazine) there is an open letter of support to ‘the Greek people’ (published this morning) signed by a long list of notable public/intellectual figures, including Etienne Balibar,  Luc Boltanski, Michael Löwy, Gus Massiah, Jean-Claude Petit and Bernard Stiegler, amongst others.

The content is not (really) surprising, and it broadly reiterates much of the criticism of an austerity that is seen as imposed ‘technocratically’ by an unelected (or at least – not clearly democratically accountable in a way that is meaningful to this form of action) ruling class in a socialisation of debt to the extreme detriment of those worst off in society, and apparently to the benefit of those who instigated the economic/financial crisis in the first place.

What is perhaps mildly surprising is where this has been ‘published’, not in Le Monde for example. I am not entirely sure what can be read into this… the website is seen as a more accessible/ international venue(?), the papers won’t publish such a letter(?) – it is interesting, in any case (and regardless of whether you agree or not), that such critique of austerity rarely finds its way into wider public debates (at least in the UK anyway, and perhaps not in France either).

I offer below a rough translation of the letter (it is fairly short). The footnotes were in the original, although I’ve linked to the English version of the second footnote.

Greece at the heart of Europe

PETITION: The Greek people have not problem with Europe, they and us have a problem with the “European” power which is destroying Europe!

We do not believe that it is the Greek people who are guilty of doubling their public debt in less than ten years [1]. Nor do we believe that they should pay such a debt, which has been artificially inflated with the sacking of their human rights and the wrecking of their democracy.

For years the national and supranational powers that control the European Union have inflicted austerity coupled with “structural reforms” upon the Greeks which is ruining their economy and sinking them into increasing misery.

Today, in a burst of lucidity and dignity the Greek people have given an electoral majority to the radical left, distanced from the corruption and compromises of yesterday, forming a government with a mandate to push back against the dictates of the “Troika” (the IMF, ECB and European Commission) and to enact a policy of breaking with such criminal austerity.

The objective of the European ruling classes is not to force the Greeks to repay a debt that everyone knows cannot be repaid, the only function of which is to drain public funds into the banks, but rather to force the government of Alexis Tsipras and Syriza into capitulation. They do this in order to continue to strangle the Greek people, condemning them to forever begging loans that become only ever more expensive, and to demonstrate in the eyes of all of Europe that it is impossible to tackle the banks, to contest the absolute power of the ruling classes, or to open out an alternative to austerity…

It is unacceptable that those who claim to speak “on behalf of Europe” contrive to breach their most basic commitments in order to break the government appointed by the Greek people. Going so far as to yesterday “ban” implementing even minimal humanitarian measures (housing allowance, food aid, restoration of electricity)! Today the ruling classes require the Greek government to worsen the decline in pensions, to below the poverty threshold, to increase VAT on necessities, and they confirm that they are willing to bankrupt the country and expel them from the Eurozone, and thus eventually the European Union, at the risk of provoking a crisis with unpredictable consequences.

We support the Greek people in their mobilisation and their determination to roll back this despotic and reactionary operation.

The struggle of the Greek people is that of all European democrats and progressives. If there is eventual defeat, all of Europe will pay the price. Should there be a victory, however limited, all of Europe will reap the reward.

This is why it is necessary that the movements which in France and in Europe hope for a renewal of democracy affirmatively respond to the calls of Syriza to construct a European solidarity around Greece and the Greek people. The prospect of a referendum increases the urgency of such solidarity [2].

We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Greek people, for their fight is ours.

Antoine Artous, Etienne Balibar, Sophie Bessis, Jacques Bidet, Luc Boltanski, Gilles Bounoure, Marie-Pierre Bourcier, Claude Calame, Patrick Chamoiseau, Patrice Cohen Seat, Jean-Numa Ducange, Jean-Louis Fabiani, Michel Husson, Michael Löwy, Marie-José Malis, Jean-Louis Martinelli, Gus Massiah, Jean-Claude Petit, Philippe Pignarre, Michèle Riot-Sarcey, Pierre Salama, Denis Sieffert, Patrick Silberstein, Francis Sitel, Bernard Stiegler, Hervé Télémaque, Jacques Testart, Eleni Varikas, Pierre Zarka…

1. See: An Appeal for Support for Greek resistance and their Trust Commission on Public Debt:


ADDENDUM: Of course, having said that the argument contra austerity rarely appears in ‘mainstream’ media outlets there are some exceptions, not least economist Paul Krugman’s repeated denouncing of austerity through op-ed articles in left-leaning newspapers, such as in The Guardian (29/04/2015) and The New York Times (29/06/2015).

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