The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that “thought is the courage of hopelessness” – an insight which is especially pertinent for our historical moment when even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us thinking to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction. There is no better example of the need for such courage than Greece today.
The double U-turn that took the Greek crisis in July 2015 cannot but appear as a step not just from tragedy to comedy but, as Stathis Kouvelakis noted in Jacobin magazine, from tragedy full of comic reversals directly into a theatre of the absurd – is there any other way to characterise the extraordinary reversal of one extreme into its opposite that would bedazzle even the most speculative Hegelian philosopher? Tired of the endless negotiations with the EU executives in which one humiliation followed another, Syriza called for a referendum on Sunday July 5 asking the Greek people if they support or reject the EU proposal of new austerity measures. Although the government itself clearly stated that it supported No, the result was a surprise: the overwhelming majority of more than 61 per cent voted No to European blackmail. Rumors began to circulate that the result – victory for the government – was a bad surprise for Alexis Tsipras himself who secretly hope that the government would lose, so that a defeat will allow him to save face in surrendering to the EU demands (“we have to respect the voters’ voice”). However, literally the morning after, Tsipras announced that Greece was ready to resume the negotiations, and days later Greece negotiated a EU proposal which is basically the same as what the voters rejected (in some details even harsher) – in short, he acted as if the government has lost, not won, the referendum. As Kouvelakis wrote: