“To love one another may require a leap of faith. The outcome though constitutes an act of birth for humanity. It also signifies the inevitable transition from the instinct of survival to morality.” - Zigmunt Bauman
The Depression Era project is not just about the current crisis. It is also a projection, a mental image of our future, of the future of Europe. Massive unemployment and poverty, the rising of fascism, state violence and corruption, the tearing of Europe’s social fabric are only a few of the dire facts of our times. Current European policies do not relieve these problems. On the contrary, the humanitarian crisis is deepening, and so do inequalities, the welfare state is about to die. People feel unable to influence politics, or their own life for that matter. Once glorified, globalization is now clearly perceived by many as a threat; an enormous and impersonal power order that serves various Deep State elites, while bringing the rest to the ground. A state of depression is to be found not only in economies, but in people’s minds as well.
So in a way, the Depression Era project is a state of mind, that of our era, and it states something before the facts. It takes the local and turns it universal, it is our here and now, and a projection of a future that feels dark and frightening. It does not only talk about death, but perhaps, by talking about endings, poses the question of life and presses on the necessity of having to create new possibilities, to change course of action. Meanwhile, we need to keep constantly reminding ourselves: talking about progress and growth using discursive frameworks that have already failed – philosophical and economic models describing global money and markets - is a dead-end. By clearly demonstrating that dead-end, we are pressing for a new opening. In that sense, the word “crisis” needs to be carefully used. It is dangerous to merely address it as some sort of system impairment, which needs to quickly be fixed, in order to return to a previous status quo. It should be seen more as a failure. Not just a crack, but a complete breakage. Where we stand free of old “bonds”, ready to think about where to go from here. After all, the Greek word’s initial meaning is “judgment”: taking a moral stance.
We feel obligated to take a stance. To create an open, public medium, through which people can tell their stories in a fundamentally immediate way. Perhaps we can create a new kind of public discourse, free and truly social. We are envisioning a world of health and equality, social coherence, fairness and protection of the weak. Where people think and act in humanitarian versus financial terms. And thus, in the end, we can perhaps re-imagine “a new universality against the forced universality of globalization, the forced universality of money and power”, as Alain Badiou would say. We may be unable at this point to clearly signify this second thesis, but we are well on our way by exposing the catastrophe which the first thesis has brought us to.
And this is now our only sensible relation to the world. This is what is left for us to own. Ruins, depression, fear and hope. Take a good look at our broken leg.
“The Crisis is History; it acquires meaning only if seen through its cracks and ruins, especially by its human victims, who are looking forward to a rupture, a redemptive discontinuation, in order to balance themselves in the new track to come. This, indeed, may be called hope.“ **
* Some of the ideas presented here were formulated in response to Alain Badiou’s “Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art”, Lacanian Ink 23, The Wooster Press, May 2004
** Nikos Xydakis, Searching for a New Track, Kathimerini, 16/02/2014.