Professor Jan Blommaert: “Limits to Democracy”



good evening ladies and gentlemen dear honorary guests dear mr. ambassador dear friends and colleagues dear students it is a great honor and pleasure for me to introduce tonight's speaker professor youngbleaux Mott professor Lamont is a distinguished professor at Hellenic American universities ph.d program in applied linguistics here at the University of Hellenic Hellenic American University in its evans campus professor Blauman is also a professor of language culture and globalization at Tilburg University and the director of the Babylon Center there he is the world's most important social linguist and linguistic anthropologist of today he is also one of the rare breed of committed linguists which means he has looked at cases of inequality and injustice in particular he has examined processes of globalization and the type of linguistic social economic and cultural inequality these processes are responsible for tonight professor blow Matt as you can see on these lovely this lovely picture here will talk about limits to democracy a topic of high relevance for the world today for Europe and of course particularly for Greece ladies and gentlemen will you please welcome professor blah Mert with a round of applause so good evening mr. president your excellency ambassador good friends and students I mean getting an introduction like this is always slightly shall I say it throws me off balance in the sense that now I have to live up to expectations that are probably beyond me but just to fill you in on some details of where I come from yes there is the academic aspect of what I do and for me there is not really detached from activities in a civil sir sorry civil society in several places in the world as outlined by uliana very often and this involves work with heavily marginalized communities in Africa increasingly Asia as well and Europe even in my own street I we try to connect a world of knowledge which increasingly tends to be isolated in universities with the streets with the people who are active in social work also with the victims of marginalization and so on and in that sense it is easy for me and also very nice to come to Athens this is the third year that I do a lecture like this also the third year that I am active in the ph.d program and I've always you know spoken on related issues over the past two years I've given lectures that were basically labeled or named how we should speak about the crisis or how we speak about the crisis and how he should speak about the crisis well now it's another theme but deeply connected to that it's the limits of democracy in the previous two years the mood was relatively gloomy I mean the room was always nicely filled like now but the general sense that I had when when when opening up on these particular issues with you was a sense of almost despair it wasn't really despair I mean there was there was there was a spirit of of action an engagement commitment and so on but at the same time I had the impression that many of you felt that alternatives were there and when needed but they were really very far away all right you know that it would take ages before you know things would change well now since the last few weeks we have seen change or at least we have experienced a change it is evident that a government that has been in action for four weeks has not been able to change anything materially in society the poor are still poor the homeless are still homeless the rich are still rich an employment is there at exactly the same level as four weeks ago five weeks ago right and it will also take a while before those things will change at the same time all of you I think share the experience with media that the immaterial things have changed the atmosphere has changed all right the atmosphere has changed due to the change of government and also the activities the almost epic battles that we have seen over the past couple of weeks between the Greek government and the EU individual members of the EU we have new celebrities you see them here do you reckon you recognize you recognize the guy in the middle all right he's become the biggest rock star on earth over the past and I say 14 days all right that's the space in which he has become from an entirely unknown other than in very very small circles to somebody who is now reported on in every medium in the world in using labels and descriptions that are beyond belief and in fact my students since the beginning of this week have been examining exactly that how mr. varoufakis has been built in media here in Greece but also internationally into a sort of superhero all right somebody who can do everything except flying but he might learn to fly you know you never know it might be a matter of days actually before he can actually fly but you know this this is what I like to do I like to do bring signs to what is happening right now and use methods and methodologies in a way you know that we as academics not only are good in explaining what has already happened but also are good in explaining what is happening and in a way I mean I did not anticipate you know the the acute relevance of this particular topic today because I had decided as a number of months ago but at the same time you know this is very much about what has been unfolding over the past number of days literally hour by hour as we have been watching here and witnessing in in in every medium regular media the big media or small media at the marginal media the micro media everywhere right and you know so my my students have been working on exactly things like this trying to describe this analyze it understand what it comes from what it effectively doesn't so on Assam and I believe that they have had a very good you know time and for those of you who want to be active have nothing else to do over the weekend tomorrow morning 10 o'clock they give their group presentations you are very welcome sixth floor in the lecture room here everyone is invited so limits to democracy the first thing we need to do of course is ask a simple question what is democracy and what I'm giving here is just a number of relatively uncontroversial statements all right a definition if you wish of democracy but a very basic one when it goes back actually to the late 18th century the Age of Enlightenment you know the definition of a mature democracy at that time and in those days and still in a way we believe that a democracy is a system of governance all right in which all the interests that affect people ought to be within the orbit of agency of people so when I'm affected by the prices of fuel all right I should be able to decide or at least have a say in the control over the prices of fuel so that's an old idea of democracy that is the rule by the people on every issue that affects one's lives okay and it's the relative the uncontroversial in that sense another thing about it is that the interests of the people so the people must be able to articulate their own interests and should not be dependent on others in order to to define this interest it is down to the people to define their own interests and then also to articulate them through a system of representation because here's a system so you have the principle what is democracy in actual reality the system in which we live is a system in which we have elected governments so we have elections it's very good in nation-states and these governments are basically responsible for making sure that the fundamental rights and freedoms and interests of the people are being defended are being guaranteed and so on again nothing controversial here if you disagree you know you are in trouble not me another thing that we need to keep in mind for what follows is of course that we have elections and we assume rightly so that election results define the direction of society okay so if you vote for a new government it means that you expect a change in the way in which your society will be organized by that new new government and indeed I mean whenever we have elections every political party basically says that if you vote for me everything will be different alright there are no parties to say if you vote for me everything will say the same all right we will not change anything that's not what elections are about elections are really about redirecting society in new directions improving all sorts of things and so on it's not about status quo right remember that because you will see that it it it affects a number of things that that we say another thing that we need to keep in mind is of course a system again of nation state independence a state a state as the right basically to define and to decide what happens within the state we're all independent States sovereign state so a government has control over what happens in that country and when States collaborate they do that on the basis of negotiated consent and not interference so not violence but negotiated in the negotiation to fear ins Jesus I'm anticipating what I'm gonna say later bye-bye negotiated consensus okay so we agree we reach compromises and that's how we collaborate across States because the principle of Independence of you know story sovereignty is absolute it's a principle that we cannot violate and that comes the difficult thing I need to use this and see it works yeah so we have these principles we have these definitions and let's now look at a few a few examples of statements that have been made over the past couple of weeks and I'm not sure whether they are very readable but I mean I will say gloss it for you this is a statement from from from EU observers so I'm not not quoting marginal media here basically very mainstream media very respectable media and here but this is basically a report on reactions by minister German minister Chou blur on statements by mr. varoufakis by the but a Greek government represented by mr. Philo Farkas and basically shareable assess or at least he refers to somebody else but he endorses that view that it's not up to the Greek government to define the minimum wages in Greece okay yeah so and he actually says you know this should not be in an outcome of Elections all right you've chosen all the party you've elected another government but that should not have any let's say effect on the way in which we're gonna set minimum wages in Greece that is not your issue alone we need to decide all of that say together and then I don't know if you can read the very last sentence all right but here's an very interesting very interesting statement which is not very coherent so Sharples said it was an example of why the Eurogroup was completely unanimous on Greece Greece is a member of the Eurogroup and Greece disagree how can you be unanimous when somebody disagrees right but okay and so we see the camps there's the Eurogroup there's Greece and he Greece is a member of it you know it's the others who basically demand an impact on the volume of the minimum wage in Greece and that's an unusual move in the sense that you know we would assume that it's up to the Greek government to define national policy including labor policy but anyway it's an unusual thing you will see how it connects to a number of oddities this is an an element from Bloomberg also from last week the 17th and and again you know it describes the the back also to speak in Brussels and here the the interesting thing is the the way in which the EU demanded that the new government would not change what had been going under the previous one so in other words the EU basically expects election results not to have any any difference right no difference regard I'd say whether what do you vote left-wing or right-wing or you know the center no difference we need continuity and of course the Prime Minister the Greek Prime Minister disagrees he says you know they're expecting the impossible for us we won an election explicitly on the idea of change on the idea of discontinuity and they demand from us continue it so again an unusual move and it's not the only one here is somebody who is my Minister of Finance is it's not a great friend of mine anyway he said a few days earlier in a radio interview on the Belgian national radio to be sure I respect the result of the Greek elections because I'm a Democrat so it's fine that you elected series as great wonderful wonderful wonderful but there is another reality that Greece is part of a system of arrangements that need to be followed regardless of which government is in power okay so again whether you vote left all right doesn't really matter because Greece is within a system of arrangements simply needs to be continued now here's a little problem the Vanover felt or shall blur are elected okay their elected leaders but not in Greece all right fun over twelve is elected in Belgium Charlotte in Germany and they make statements about Greek arrangements and the way in which the Greek government ought to let's say act and and ought to develop a view and an implementation plan and so on and so on as if they were elected here but they're not so here's the problem of legitimacy and I will also return to that one it's not unusual and ambassador you must forgive me but your Prime Minister a man I respect highly I worked in this country a little bit earlier a couple of years ago and I don't know if you remember one of the previous governments at one point so we had the implementation plan and he wasn't happy with it and he considered a referendum all right so he said well maybe we do a referendum in Greece and see whether the the Greek population is happy with it or not very very soon all all sorts of leaders from other nation states in your Member States of the EU were very quick to say hey you know Greece should not do that and here is a statement by the prime minister of the Netherlands in his local Parliament in in the mark on this issue and he basically said that he will do everything he will do everything in order to make that referendum impossible right now here again you know mr. Rooter is elected in the Netherlands not in Greece so I don't actually see how he has leverage in order to prevent a referendum the more so that a referendum is an eminently democratic instrument is a very old instrument of direct the state of direct democracy right so what's wrong with a referendum what's wrong with asking the people whether they agree or not well here was the prime minister of another country saying that he would make sure that the greeks would not have that referendum all right all sorts of difficulties another one here so here's the Economist this is a sort of general stay again from a few years back it's a general thing about how the EU was about to handle the crisis the austerity issues all right the budget say crisis the stability of the euro and if you read it very clearly a sorry if you read it very quickly here so what it actually says is instead the eurozone would have to start moving through its greater pooling of sovereignty pooling of sovereignty very interesting words and sharing of liabilities what exactly does it mean pooling of sovereignty actually means reduction of sovereignty right by the elected leaders a reduction of the individual sovereignty of nation-states and a greater pooling meaning other bodies not elected in particular countries would have to have a say in what happens in this in this specific nation states like for instance Greece or Spain or Ireland and what have you so here a number of statements you know that are really quite strange in in the sense that we we begin to see and again recall the the definitions that are used in the beginning relatively uncontroversial definitions but if you if you now look at the statements that we reviewed in terms of the definitions that we use in the beginning we see a curious view on democracy all right involving very important issues of a fundamental I say element in democracy and within the EU which is the national sovereignty alright so we see that there are all sorts of people who believe that they have a right to interfere in the internal affairs of another nation state now if you read you know the the EU treaty and so on it's not all that clear but you know the the first articles of the EU treaty make it very very clear you know that that can only be done on the basis of mutual respect negotiation and so on not on the basis of say interference or on the basis of a set pressure there's no way you can do that and so here is a shady area a strange new discourse on democracy which also involves a number of statements on the scope of national governance so what can a national government actually do what is the scope of its agency now we know of course that an an important dome an umber of domains of what we do as individual nation states within these interstate systems like EU or NATO and so on is deliberated at a higher level it's transnational but we also see that in a number of instances it raises issues of legitimacy right are you elected here is not a stupid question right it is actually an important question so what rights do you have to speak on behalf or let's say instead of an elected government is not an easy question to answer and I would like to raise it because it has all sorts of implications you will see and so here's a question that I would like to engage with in what follows what are the real the not official you know but the real limits of democracy in a space like the EU and specifically then also with reference to the Greek situation okay because we see of course that officially there is no problem everyone respects the elections everyone respects democracy but in reality you also see that there are all sorts of strange unusual transgressions you know and things that can be seen as as interference in a way right or as even let's say pressure on national elected governments to give in to accept all sorts of things and what have you you already hear the echoes of mr. varoufakis I'm sure so this is not a new new discourse arriving to you okay how do we explain this where does this come from because it is unusual it is strange it is also debatable all right it has an origin and I've last year and year before this would be the real sort of center of my of my lecture here it was about how since 208 it existed before I mean this view was there before but since the crisis of 208 there seems to be a general consensus in the media the opinion makers the policy makers and so on also the international organizations democracy and economy are no longer the same thing all right that they live in independent worlds right so you have the economy and you have the democracy and they they they are different when it comes to the economy for instance we have a discourse in which the economy is basically seen as neutral right it is a fact right or a range of objective things okay it is value free so you just have to look at the figures okay don't make judgments about whether it's good or bad or you like it or not this value free all right it responds not to the laws of democracy but the universal laws that are basically defined by markets who are the markets all right by markets it is beyond individual agency it's a big thing you know that moves around in the world and I have no impact on it all right you have no impact on it so it is beyond individual agency it has its own rules so it's inevitable and it is not an intellectual domain and I will explain that it's not a domain in which you need to be an intellectual in order to have a debate because there are no debates why because there are theories there are universal laws right so you can you can raise all sorts of objections but you cannot change a universal law as a consequence the economy doesn't need a government a democratic government it needs management not by elected politicians who might be lawyers or who might be I don't know what surgeons might be professors of African linguistics okay no no it needs to be managed by experts and the experts of course are and I say the professional people in the economy bankers or entrepreneurs or you know that sort of highly qualified specialists ok now this leads to a view of democracy so if you he has a first limit so what is democracy then well democracy is everything but not the economy all right so a democracy has a way of affecting everything but not the economy because the economy has its own laws etc etc is what I just say described right these to live in independent world so there are basically two planets that obey different rules but there is a relationship between the two a relationship of dependence so they're not equals alright so they're not equivalent there is a relationship of dependence between the two and we can actually let's say visualize it in this way you have the economy you know the the facts the figures and you have the human beings in the democracy in the parliaments say now who are the markets the markets are rating bureaus for instance okay rating bureaus you're familiar with that ratings they're investors and shareholders and the real people right who are the agents in a democracy well the institutions democratic institutions national parliaments local councils and what-have-you there are what we call society all right as there are workers the unemployed the young and old male everyone all right so society is everyone so here we are these two live now in very different worlds but there is a relationship between the two and the relationship is one of dependence okay so if you need to make a choice between the two the most important one is the economy a couple of years ago I I was in a debate a big public debate a little bit like now with a previous Belgian Prime Minister Jean Luc dahana he's the guy who signed the Maastricht Treaty for Belgium right on behalf of Belgium an important man who has built his career he came from a trade union sort of background so he built his career let's say from civil society and his career was all about parliamentary democracy so he became a very important man through these two mechanisms now in this debate in the meantime he had retired as a politician he had become a banker so he had become the chairman of the board of a former state-owned Bank which was in deep trouble and during that debate all of a sudden he says we we need to have the boldness to question a system of democracy and I was what yes yes yes because democracies are way too slow billions of euros can be moved within nanoseconds from here to Singapore from there to Dubai and so on a song right and what can a democracy do well they can convene a parliamentary committee and an investigation called an investigation six months later there's a report maybe a new law and by that time you know it's a hundred and twenty years a billion that has shifted from here today we're way too slow and we must admit that a new government ought to think about ways in which the slowness of democracy might have might be replaced by the speed of management right so here's a former prime minister right a man whom I believed to be an almost Democrat or at least he had been an almost Democrat I I also I mean I had a very high opinion of the office and he says well there are at least two worlds and the democracy must be sacrificed when when they occur the economy demands it so the world's but not equal worlds and there's a clear relationship between the two that also explains why for instance in the context of the past few weeks leaders all over Europe expressed graver concerns about the response of the markets so we were really afraid about how the markets would react to a victory of syriza for instance but then the response of the people right so response of the people is one issue but a really important issue is response of the market and that's where you see the hierarchy the new hierarchy between these two bodies and I've outlined how they work it's not the end of the story that's actually would only halfway because here is a crisis environment we are landed with an economic huge problem you know the eurozone is in deep trouble there is there is increasing unemployment increasing utilization of society poverty marginalization what-have-you and it needs to be solved now how are we going to solve an economic issue well very simply by removing economic issues from within the orbit of democracy so we're taking it out of democratic governance and we're moving it into the world of management by experts right so we draw it all because because otherwise like the hammer set we will never be able to solve it at adequately right if the democracies do what they do the parliamentarians debate endlessly in six months I would have you it will never be solved so we need to take it out and make it a an object of management by let's say experts how well you you you you you do that for instance my control over the budget this is a stability the stability plan in you within the eurozone all right so the we we have a way in which national budgets now are being monitored by the EU and the EU again is not elected politicians but basically experts right at the troika okay another set of issues is well if we want to get the crisis solved we also need to do a lot of social engineering right because of course the economy is grafted on to society and all sorts of aspects of society need to be reordered so to speak in order to solve the the the the the economic problem right princess unemployment is inevitable so we need to lay off people we need to reduce the minimum wages we need to reduce the pensions we need to increase the costs of rent of social housing etcetera you know all sorts of of interventions need to be done in society basically social engineering we need to change the structure of society and the notion of structural reform right you know you can read that in almost every document structural reforms are necessary and those are reforms right so what we see effectively is and now looking back at effects that an economic problem is basically addressed by creating a social problem right or a range of very big social problems it's a clear upshot here in Greece but also elsewhere all right and this is what we call austerity right this is the recipe of austerity and it has been very clearly articulated not just by the Greek government but by several organizations all over Europe and also by several very prominent economists over the last number of years and then something happens in Greece I'm sure you were there right something happens were you there you were not you were not there don't lie I can see you and you know to a couple of new guys a group of new guys moves in something happens in Greece and a Greece needs to come into this battle about the the reduction of the effects of the crisis all right so we we need to get out of this economic issue and we're gonna do that in a particular way so here we are now what we have seen earlier the the the the isolation of the economy out of a democracy is base it was basically the end of an old notion which we call political economy a political economy was the way in which the economy was imagined since Adam Smith the economy was never autonomous the economy always had a higher function and a higher function was society it had to improve society and again this is in the European treaty right the terms that the European treaty says is a social market economy that will bring economic and social benefits right so there's a particular idea of the economy and of the role of the economy in a society now here what we have in the Greek alternative and the quotes around a ton of scare quotes that directly and actually citing it as an alternative what has been done by the Greek government by mr. varoufakis is he reduced the economic issue to a financial issue right so he reduced it to an issue of debt repayment rescheduling and so on so he narrowed it down in such a way that all of a sudden the economic issue one thing little thing is central a central sort of thing but maneuverable and on that thing he accepted the authority of the EU the troika which is now called the institutions and so on right so here we see a first intervention was what is the problem the definition of the problem narrow it down from economic to financial right financial and on that financial issue we accept the supervision of the EU and the other institutions who did that who are in charge of that right at the same time however he refused or the Greek government refused the social engineering so the implementation plans that had been supervised until now by the EU and by the troika right so he basically this sector that one package that we had seen in the earlier slide in which an economic issue would be addressed by a general reorganization of society no he narrowed it down he redefined it to a financial issue and then he said the way in which we will solve this financial issue is a matter for us to decide not for the unit for a troika for Greece to decide okay because those are modalities those are not the central issues is not a central se problem those are the modalities of implementation and it's well it is up to Greece to decide so he realized or there re-emphasized the independence of Greece the autonomy of the Greek sort of government to to arrange this to have a say in in this in this in this all these measures these hundreds of measures that needed to be taken right and in that sense he also emphasized the fact that the new government has the role of bringing a new plan which is of course very important for syriza and for the new government in general they need to be seen to bring change it was the explicit electoral agenda right we will change the way in which we address it okay so he did all of that in a sort of intellectual move by redefining the key problem which is no longer economic but financial and all the rest is implementation and that's down to us so we only accept interfere we only accept supervision at the level of money and only money right the reactions as you remember were well you know the reactions of of shock and displeasure the people felt very uncomfortable with that sort of idea because it was literally thinking outside of the box right this was a complete reversal of a mode of of operandi modus operandi that had been developed over the last number of years definitely since 208 to attend right so it was a way in which we did things and all of a sudden with one redefinition a government a weak government all right a weak one a victim you know system somebody who was in there on the wrong side of the deal all right says we're gonna do that in a different way and you remember the faces of the people who were directly addressed by these ideas they were not really happy with it sort of as a response one part of the response we've already heard it had the shape that we have seen before for instance our bloods idea you know that minimum wages are not just for Greece to the side all right no no we want to have and retain that impact on these actual measures why because where the is is wrong it's not just a financial issue he doesn't understand the economy because those financial issues have the bail they have an effect on almost everything like minimum wages are an ingredient of what is called the investment climate right the invested the investment climate effects the confidence of markets in Greece or in the euro in the euro zone or in Germany or in Italy or Spain all right so the trust of the faith of the markets would be damaged would be endangered as a consequence the argument was no no no this is an economic issue so these internal things are economic issues and as a consequence they belong to the EU at least a they should be to the EU to decide not just to Greece that was the battle that we have seen since last week and that basically ended last Tuesday which is only ladies and gentlemen three days ago that's how fast history goes so it may sounds as if I'm giving a history lesson or lecture well this is basically 72 hours ago right and that's how fast it goes and within in a very different universe already right now but that's how fast it goes now look at look at the fine print and so basically people like shalba said no no this is not for the Greeks to decide and then if you go through the documents of the past number of years all the things that apparently were not for the Greeks to decide was quite a bit all right here just listing a few things the size of civil service the education system structure of the education system financing structure of the education system health welfare infrastructure privatizations the pensions allowances benefits the fiscal system etc basically everything also the structure of the labor market the the range of the assets that the government had you know the public assets have to be privatized under specific sort of conditions and so on and so on so basically what we have seen is that all aspects of society appear in reality to be economic alright so yeah these two worlds and here's the economy and it behaves according to very different laws and if you start looking a little bit more closely all of this has entered in here and is no longer decided by a democratic government but by experts by economic experts so that was the sort of hocus-pocus that was resisted by the Greek as a government as a consequence you know since everything is economic everything is for experts to decide and very little is left for democratic elected governments outside is basically to decide so what we see is that of course officially in the rhetoric everyone respected the Democratic decision the election result and the independence of Greece the autonomy of the Greek government you know they still needed to go to Parliament and they still needed to have a vote a democratic vote and so on and so we respected but at the same time the government and not only the Greek government I mean we in our country are also facing with a very Greek style sort of austerity right now so it is exactly the same mechanism we see in a number of places in Europe the Greek government has in fact no sovereignty regarding most areas of governance right most areas of governance were basically defined by others and by the way I mean I don't know if you I know that my students have followed this very very closely over the past number of days but maybe the other people I don't know if you've seen the letter by Christine Lagarde ah you know the director of the IMF in response to the Greek the Greek proposal a letter to the eurozone it's a really interesting letter I mean I'm a discourse analysis so this is what I do it starts by saying well you know of course we welcome the Greek efforts that they have promised in the field of anti-fraud policy restructuration of the tax system and so on and the corruption absolutely great but at the same time the letter by Pharaoh Farkas is basically full of vague and general promises it lacks detail it likes detail on the restrictor ation of the labor market the fiscal crisis it likes detail so apparently detail ie fully drafted Bills have to be submitted to the IMF rather than to Parliament right and then the IMF will see whether they're okay this is the reality and this is a tradition that has clearly been established and Legarda complains about the fact that you know this is inadequate you know the letter by the Greek government is not enough it doesn't contain any detail so how can we say whether it is good or not those are just promises while of course response from the Greek say government well this varoufakis was we will bring the details to Parliament because that's where they belong the drafted bills will first go to Parliament and then to the IMF or to do you after four months you will have the opportunity to inspect so the Greek government in fact in reality had hardly any domain of agency anymore and again this was resisted why because all of these areas had been absorbed into the economy right they had been redefined as economic issues everything had become an economic issue right and of course as we have seen the economic issues are not ruled by elected leaders they are ruled by experts that ruled by the markets they are ruled by the universal laws of the economy right also governed by effects not by values so let's not be too ethical about it you know the brutal facts all right at some point I think it was yesterday or the day before yesterday my wife saw it there was an interview with a senior economic advisor to Angela Merkel on BBC right I haven't seen it myself so this is a secondhand sort of report but there was a question so the BBC reporter apparently didn't really like this this man right and it was a question like yeah but you know people are hungry in Greece people are sleeping out on the streets okay surely a government needs to do something about that and the answer was sure sure sure if they have the money for it right so no ethics no values sheer facts and figures right so this isn't value-free politics okay and it is a discourse that we have grown accustomed to and we stopped being King being affected by it I mean we stopped being shocked by it but at the same time when it is exposed now with an entirely different sort of discourse next to it it becomes really strange all right it becomes weird unusual as I said before now what is the role of the national government so okay you still have a national government it has very little actual say in what goes on in society what is the real role the real role is repression so you bring the right police are in the streets and you make sure that dissidents is is absent you are familiar with these images of course and isn't it interesting you know since four weeks you don't see right police anymore hardly any right police in the streets anymore not even last night when there was a riot a few blocks away from here right so this used to be the role or at least this was the preferred and selected role of governments all over Europe repression and you see that in Spain you have the famous gagging law in Spain so if you if you protest against these measures you are liable sorry likely to be severely punished all right so here's the key question and I'm gonna conclude until recently not too long ago we used to see the economy as an ingredient of society it was an element of society and it had to be rude politically okay so who organized the economy it was elected government and it had to be ruled not just on the basis of let's say facts but also on the basis of values like equity equality justice fairness and so on right so this is the old idea of the economy that we have still have and like to have what this many of us like to have this idea of the economy that the economy has a higher purpose a higher goal not just to make a number of people rich but to improve the state of societies it is also in the European treaty right now however over the past handful of years and this is the big shift since 208 it's exactly the opposite Society has been absorbed in the economy a society can no longer be rude ethically politically so these values are no longer important so if people are dying in the streets sorry you know if they have money they can feed them if they have no money too bad right note by the way so on the one hand you have a sort of anti ethical as a stands the one I described while at the same time especially in the media the discourse on Greece on Spain and other places is heavily moralized right it's heavily morass is about the Greeks being lazy being irresponsible right being being being being nasty all right being arrogant being bullies actually a very fracas was a bully in Brussels he called other other ministers stupid imagine a so a very moral discourse on the one hand while the bottom line is explicitly one without ethics purely driven by the facts by the figures by the statistics and so on and so on another thing that we see is that of course if you follow this logic the logic that I described it's an overfill band Shaolin and the others that elections really don't matter anymore right so the logic if we are simply to continue what has been decided a number of years ago why on earth would we vote why on earth would we vote for a particular party knowing that doesn't matter so here's a serious sort of mobilization issue for democracies in Europe what is the value of elections alright what is the real role of elections when the sort of general assumption is that regardless of who rules there will only be one mode of ruling right there will only be one model of governments serious issue are safe for for democracy while of course politics so the democratically elected governments and so on in terms of real scope are being reduced to repression all right surveillance repression and making sure you know that these transitions move on without I say too much violence instability and so on so this is an enormous reduction of what we believe is real politics and so here we are limits to democracy so what are the limits to democracy is my firm believe that this is the big issue again right we had lost it as a sort of idea as a sort of notion that was important we had basically stopped thinking about democracy as a system a structure a history a big story about our ourselves and about our societies we basically had dismissed it because we were relatively sure that everything was all right now over the past couple of weeks precisely because of these two discourses all of a sudden there's a new discourse right we begin to see clearly that the big issue now is the limits of democracy okay now here in Greece you guys have made a very important statement a very very important statement and I believe that the main effect I mean there will be forever debate over over whether last use day was a victory or defeat you know and frankly I don't care because I see that it has opened a space for debate all over Europe not about the level of minimum wage not about the role of the IMF or whether whether mr. Chhabra is a nice man or not those are not the issues is the really big things it's about justice it's about democracy and it's about what we the people have to say thank you very much

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