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Has Tsipras developed "double-think"? A Feeling of Helplessness

Translated Friday 24 July 2015, by Henry Crapo

In his much admired academic conferences, the historian Henri Guillemin would recall for us a sentence of dating from 1897, Maurice Barrès, master-mind of the nationalist right wing in France: "The first condition for social peace is that the poor possess the sentiment of their own powerlessness." This paradigm casts light on the the negociations undertaken by Alexis Tsipras. The citizens were called upon by their prime minister to express themselves, via a referendum, against the propositions of the European Union; these were rejected by 61% of those voting. In what followed, Tsipras accepted an agreement even more unfavorable to the Greek population. What is more, even while submitting to the dictates of the European Union, he declares: "I do not believe in this agreement. It is a bad agreement both for Greece and for Europe, but I had to sign it in order to avoid a catastrophe."

This capitulation does not put his image into question. "One can not reproach me for not having fought. I fought longer than anyone else." But he completely gave in to all the demands of the lenders. Tsipras here developed a system of double thinking, which consists of nullifying an announcement at the same time as proposing it, all the while maintaining what had been previously accepted as a given. Thus, the citizen should have the capacity to accept some elements that are in opposition to each other, without bringing up the contradiction between them. They thus carry two incompatible visions. The denial of contradiction between the two propositions eliminates all consciousness. The discourse thus has the effect of turning one to stone in the face of the all-powerful European institutions, and wraps one in a psychosis: No other policy is possible.

Retain simultaneously two opinions that cancel each other

George Orwell already described in 1984 the method of "doublethink", which consists of "simultaneously retaining two opinions that cancel each other out, while one knows they are contradictory, but believes both of them." He had already identified these "principles of enslavement", which deprive the individual of all capacity for resistance, which aim to erase in the individual "any memory of the existence of a possible desire for resistance."

The "politics of austerity" imposed in the country have already, in five years, lowered the GNP [1] by 27%, and even more so the level of livelihood of the population. The plan now imposed can only accentuate this tendency: austerity increased and the level of debt higher. Greece cannot face up to its engagements, so this will lead to further intervention. The exit of Greece from the euro as monetary unit will only be delayed. What is more, Greece loses the essence of what is left of its national sovereignty, since it must submit to reforms at the whim of European institutions. Which one is the "catastrophe": a new, rapid, and planned weakening of the country, or, on the other hand, leaving the euro, which would permit a default on the debt?

The attack against the desire for resistance in the population finds all its meaning not only in Greece, but in the entire European Union. Tsipras wanted to create what he considered a taboo, a "Grexit", leading to a dismantling of the euro zone. This was also a taboo for those on the other side of the debate. For the officials of the European Union, and principally for Germany, the European construction is destined to disappear into a future big North Atlantic market. The dissolution of the euro zone into the dollar zone can only take place at the price of a major setback in the standards of living and of liberties in Europe. The peoples of the European Union must consent to the dismantling of their acquisitions. The Greek experience leading to a feeling of powerlessness shows what’s really at stake.

[1Gross national product

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