The political task proposed by the film—to build a coalition to repudiate the Greek debt—is built upon the argument that the debt is not actually “Greek” after all. It is instead the Greek-denominated share of a generalized indebtedness that has been cultivated by neoliberal policies on a Europe-wide scale. Seen in this light, there are really two campaigns: one against the debt, and one against the austerity plan. The first campaign cannot be defined by national coordinates because it refuses to see the problem in terms of an “external” debt that the “internal” polity has contracted and must pay off. It is a campaign against global economic arrangements as a whole. The second campaign, however, fights on the battlefield of national politics, hoping to reverse the government’s effort to define citizenship as a state of abyssal indebtedness. Expressed in local coordinates that can be translated everywhere, it affirms a set of non-negotiable demands for universal social provision. In answer to the question “who owes the debt?” the first campaign will answer “nobody!” (or, borrowing the ruse of Odysseus, “outis!”) while the second campaign will answer “everybody!” That is to say: the placards at solidarity rallies around the world should have a different slogan on each side: “Nobody is a Greek!” and “We are all Greeks!”
The political challenge is to refuse any kind of blending, compromise, or negotiation between these two positions. Without the categorical repudiation of the current debt—refusing not just its quantity, but its very form—it will not be possible construct a new social organization of indebtedness.
In the days since last week’s vote, the financial press has been pretty schizophrenic. Last Friday in the FT, Jeffrey Sachs hailed the vote by “the Greek people” (by which he means PASOK deputies) for the austerity plan. Others have scornfully argued that the whole charade is being carried out for the sake of German and French banks, buying time while they protect themselves against an inevitable default. As things are going now, Greece will get the worst of all worlds, adding injury to insult to injury: a draconian austerity plan, passed by an exhausted and discredited ruling party, accompanied by the rude ejection from the Eurozone.