The Sunken are Invisible

Nikos Xydakis

The crisis has revealed a lot that was hidden, latent, silenced within the corpus of society.
Elements that buried or partly forgotten, seemingly outdated by constant progress showed their scary face. Poverty, helplessness, contempt, humiliation, class discrimination driving a rift between the haves and have-nots, the capable and the weak, the still-afloat and the sunken. These elements, these life conditions took people in the crisis by surprise, as they inevitably changed track, or were forced off field, out of town, out of society. And gradually, the discourse on the consequences of the crisis and its effect on the lives of people, changed. Any arguments on social cohesion, the welfare state, the social contract and fundamental rights guaranteed by democracy were swept aside.  All was supplanted by a kind of obsessive, resentful social Darwinism, incriminating the weak and their justified anger.
May 2010: «The unemployed, during a time of crisis, is a sinking person; whoever can hold on to their wages, even with moral and existential discounts, has more chances of being spared. But what does it mean to be “saved” from the crisis? What kind of a man will the “saved” one be, when all around him corpses are falling? Will personal survival, fair and instinctive, be enough to save one as a wholesome person, but also as a rational and moral man? How does the “saved” one know that it will not be his turn to sink next? Most probably: many will sink, few will float.» (Yet no-one survives on their own.)
June 2011: «Greece is divided between those who will be saved, even at a loss, and those who will sink. You can feel the material and mental division now, not just contemplate it. It is the offspring of distress, inequality and injustice... The increasing stringency of life brings self-pity, frustration, envy and malice. As long as prosperity, real or feigned, was shared by everyone, leaving its crumbs here and there, it covered all conflicts and put all thoughts and feelings to sleep. Now that prosperity is disorderly retreating, it uncovers the sore nerve of resentment, and leaves a bitter taste.»
Autumn 2013: the bankrupt, the unemployed, the helpless and the sunken are banished from the conversations of the “saved”. They do not want to hear about the pain or difficulty of others; they doubt all information, facts, whomever brings up the issue; they change the subject, or stay silent. They become blatantly hostile: the poor produce their own poverty, their wretched misery, and everyone is responsible for their fate. Some people theorize that bankruptcy and the memorandum are not to blame for the crisis, because the crisis always existed, just like neo-nazism; destitution and the extreme right have a genomic substrate, they are latent habits that manifest themselves now due to a low aesthetic literacy.
The saved ones would prefer for the sunken and the poor to be invisible.«Hannah Arendt reminds us of the words of John Adams:  humanity is not paying any attention to the poor wandering in the darkness. 'They do not disapprove, they do not censor, they do blame him; they simply don't see him.'» (Myriam Revault d' Allonnes, The Compassionate Man.)
In "Democracy in America" Alexis de Tocqueville, ​​identifies the difference between a democratic and an aristocratic society in, among others, the feeling of compassion and community within the human race. He finds in one of Madame de Sévigné’s famous letters the paradoxical coexistence of cruelty and compassion.  Madame de Sévigné playfully describes the atrocities during the repression of a popular rising in Bretagne; Tocqueville comments: «It would be wrong to think that Madame de Sévigné, writing these lines, was a selfish and brutal creature: she loved her children passionately and showed particular sensitivity towards the sorrows of her friends: and reading her one foresees the she treated her servants and subordinates with clemency and goodness. Yet Madame de Sévigné could not understand with clarity what it meant for someone to suffer when one was not noble.»
The three and a half years of bankruptcy, of the poor and the unemployed, leverage the democratic society to its subversion or transformation: either, for the sunken, in a neo-nazi escape to the political or, for the saved, in the slippage toward Madame de Sévigné’s aristorcratic community. 
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