Last night on the radio was a Roubini Global Economics staff member, Megan Green commenting on her Greek trip. Initially, the temptation when one hears the word “Roubini” is to change stations, but she tackled the subject surpisingly well, especially her viability analysis on what austerity really means and how it is a cheap recourse that avoids the difficult heavy lifting of structural reform in Greece. Structural reform being essentially trade barriers to protect a small coterie of wealthy Greeks from facing competition and discouraging foreign investment which could liberate or at least alleviate the serfdom to these new Greek gods of the ruling class.
Megan Green then went on to describe the dire situation of the elderly and poor on which austerity will fall hardest, predicting a class war/antagonism that will escalate from petty crime to perhaps outright violence against the haves and oligarchs. Although Greece is small, and Wall Street as Mark Blyth points out, is sucking the patient dry,the implications of Green’s comments bring us back to that lowest member of society in traditional industrial Europe: the ragpicker and it reminded myself of Danny Kaye in the Madwoman of Chaillot.
The ragpicker was seen by Walter Benjamin as that individual capable of finding the poetic and playful moment, the perceiver of the space where one could catch a glimpse of the utopian moment. Although Benjamin framed the study in hoary Marxism, the idea of recomposing bourgeois, elite, and even working class imagery within these scraps and leftovers, imbuing them with new meaning is something Greeks could be thinking about. Others have tied this figure, and here Chaplin’s Tramp comes into play, as a metaphor for the Wandering Jew punished for some imaginary sin. But more profoundly, Hieronyus Bosch saw the figure of the Wanders, or the Wayfarer,- he also referred to it as the prodigal son- as an individual on a spiritual quest unencumbered by material ambitions of a universal figure not culturally or nationally easily identified; a kind of boundary crosser.
With his jerky walk, the ragpicker expresses at the same time the infernal temporality of fetishism and the vigorously emerging temporality of anthropological materialism, cracking the homogeneous temporality of phantasmagoria. He goes through the reification and the modern myths that cover phantasmagoria up to differentials he catches a glimpse of at any moment. Under the auspices of phantasmagoria, he perceives reified bodies, and under reified bodies, he perceives a real historical experience. Under phantasmagoria’s horizontal temporality, he perceived fetishism’s cyclical temporality, and under the latter, he reveals the vertical temporality, constantly interrupted, of anthropological materialism….
…The ragpicker’s dislocated walk answers thus to jerks of the real life, and that is why he forms a sociology at each dislodged moment. Sociology, here is no longer the sociology of rationality, or of the interests of the actors, as in Weber, or the sociology of crystallized institutions, as in Durkheim, but, rather, the sociology of the conflict between these interests and these institutions. It is a sociology at the contact point between action and reification, a contact point by which, in a dialectical and unorthodox conception, society lives and transforms itself, a contact point crossed by collective imaginary, dreams and myths.Read More:http://anthropologicalmaterialism.hypotheses.org/707