The following text is an excerpt from a longer intervention by Franco Berardi (Bifo), ahead of a conference planned by the Effimera journal in Milan, Italy. We are not planning on attending this conference, as we find both Bifo’s and Effimera’s approach very far away from our understanding of the world. It is clear, for example, that these people placed a lot of hope in Syriza, a tendency visible in many parts of the (disoriented) global Left which we never really comprehended. And we find this “sudden” realization of the failure equally surprising. [Or else, as a friend said: “Like what, gonna give up now bitches just cause your boys in government couldn’t do shit?”]. Furthermore, we have no time whatsoever for a narrative that explains and understands the european crisis management as a mere continuation of the geopolitical plan of Nazi Germany with different means, an utterly ridiculous notion that one can read (at their own risk) in the second (non-translated) part of Bifo’s original text. But what we did find attractive in this text was its description of loss and defeat, as well as the poignant way it destroys (their) illusions about the parliamentary Left. In this context, we thought it interesting to translate and publish it here, if nothing else then as a historical document that records how parts of the Left understand our predicament.
[…] The idea for a conference was born out of the endless flow of material towards the Effimera journal in the frantic days of July, after the referendum and before the “capitulation”. A conference seemed urgent to everyone, while in reality it was not. For a few days we believed that “action and will” will come back on stage, but this was merely an illusion. In reality, things developed towards the only possible direction, the financial-economic robot prevailed and society found no way out -no road that leads to autonomy.
After the referendum Tsipras realised (and in fact said openly) that neither he nor his comrades have the “special” knowledge/skills that are necessary to find a way out of the castle of the techno-linguistic binding provisions of governance. And they did not possess this knowledge for the simple reason that it does not exist. Can somone square the circle? Of course not, in the same way that one cannot possess the necessary knowledge to escape the vicious circle of debt. If you accept it [debt], you are dead. If you reject it, you are also dead.
And thus, without any haste, the conference will take place on October 3-4 in Milan, giving us a lot of time to think. What would be the topic? The horizon? I don’t have a specific proposal, nor a ready-made program to suggest, but I do believe that it would be for the best to build towards it without presupposing that “we will be able” to do something in the coming period. For the last 30 years every social conflict, every struggle against power, ends with our retreat, only in order to regroup a few meters further-back, hoping that we might finally hold through the next attack and maybe start a counter-attack. Please, stop. There will be no resistance or counter-attack. Let’s look at Syriza’s “capitulation” realistically. At an electoral level the immediate result of this capitulation is the collapse of any remaining credibility that the parliamentary Left had. Why should the Spanish or Italians vote for the Left after Syriza’s performance? Why align yourself with someone that will inevitably be defeated? Why should we aimlessly bother Schäuble when there is no Left alternative?
This is the first lesson of the bitter summer, if we want to understand what happened and not simply remain bitter. In between the day that 62% of the Greek people said no to the blackmail and Tsipras took off his jacket and said “you can have this too”, the last battle of the Left, in my opinion, was lost. It is possible that Tsipras called for the referendum hoping that he would lose it, so that he would then be mandated, through the vote, to recognize and accept the irreversible character of the financial-economic automatism. From then on, he was forced to betray the result of the ballot since the only alternative would be chaos, violence in the streets, a possible intervention of the police, with the well-known influence that Golden Dawn has inside…
Tsipras is a decent person, and this is the reason why Greeks support him, he is not a radical economist like Varoufakis. That explains his choice not to take the country towards a civil war, towards the direction that the criminals of the Eurogroup were pushing for. The defeat of Syriza is not the result of mistakes, nor is it a betrayal of some sort. It is simply the admittance that the domination of those who govern, that is the domination of the financial-economic abstraction over the reality of social life, does not allow for political changes. After the end of the Greek story, we will neither sabotage nor ridicule any attempts to re-awaken and re-activate the Left. But it is time to come to the realization that the Left’s ability to resist politically is nothing but a remnant that twitters ever so weakly.
Do we need a conference to come to these conclusions? Probably not. But in order to have a conference which is not mere rhetoric or pure self-pity, we need to reverse the standpoint from which we look at the whole situation. To abandon unambiguously the idea of resistance and of hope, and to consider as given the upcoming disastrous developments. For more honesty and a better understanding, I would propose the following title for the conference: how to survive and be happy in the forthcoming period of poverty, slavery and war. Such a title has two inter-connected consequences. On the one hand we are led to recognize that the social and psychological-educational conditions for resistance do not exist. So resistance does not resist. On the other hand, it becomes necessary to come up with a proposal for the production of a map of collective existential “escape routes” […]