My essay “We have gone bankrupt. The Greek crisis and the problem of community” has been published in issue 17 of Chronos magazine (September 2014). I learned about Chronos magazine a few months ago when they published the transcript of a public lecture Giorgio Agamben delivered in Athens, on November 16, 2013 (I wrote about it here). I’m grateful for the opportunity they have given me to publish my work in one of their issues. A special thanks to Stefanos Theodoridis for his generous help during the editing process.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief outline of the problem that inspired my article in the first place. In a letter to Christopher Isherwood written on July 1933, E. M. Forster recounts what the Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy once told him: “Never forget about the Greeks that we are bankrupt. That is the difference between us and the ancient Greeks, and my dear Forster, between us and yourselves.” In an essay he wrote in the early 1990s, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben argued that since the time of Cavafy’s remark, all the people of the Earth had gone bankrupt. Yet he concluded his essay with this enigmatic suggestion: “As the Alexandrian poet might say today with a smile: ‘Now, at last, we can understand one another, because you too have gone bankrupt.’”
My text offers an interpretation of Agamben’s riddle through the analysis of the current Greek debt crisis, which I understand as a paradigmatic expression of a worldwide coexistential crisis. In doing so, I develop my argument from the perspective of the concept of “community” as it was reexamined, in recent years, by the work of Jean-Luc Nancy.