this life here and now
’(2006: 161, italics in the original). The most distressing fact aboutthe Greek case is that commentators, journalists, academics and both right- and left-wingscholars concur in arguing that the murder of the 15-year-old boy was the occasion forand not the greatest cause of the social explosion on the part of young people. Theyrefuse to accept that there is also ‘a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded’and ‘through this wound a man’s real man-hood’(Thoreau, 1960: 246). They appear notto understand that the murder of a child was the foremost reason for the breaking-out of the Greek revolt. For the functionaries of the neoliberal capitalist order, the everydaymurder of thousands of children is not a scandal. For them, feelings, sensitivity,conscience and human dignity are a scandal.Murders. Blood. Death. Children’s blood? ‘Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like’,as Marx (1970: 233) very vividly expressed it, ‘only lives by sucking living labour, andlives the more, the more labour it sucks’. Capital lives by sucking living child labour allover the world. Paraphrasing Marx, one could argue that a great deal of capital, whichappears today in the United States and Western Europe without any birth certiﬁcate, isthe capitalized blood of children in Africa, Asia and Latin America
.: 756). Though‘capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt’
.:760), the new capitalist world order and, more speciﬁcally, Western capitalist societieshave a very discriminating and selective relationship to death. Death, the death of children, occurs in remote and ‘exotic’ continents. It concerns children in Africa or themurdered street children in LatinAmerica. Images of tortured and dead young bodies donot concern ‘us’, the ‘Western and civilized’, but ‘them’, the ‘alien’, the people of another religion and colour, or the immigrants who live in the West. Death happenselsewhere, in a different world. For Castoriadis (2003a: 85), ‘the ultimate truth of contemporary western society is evidently to be found in the desperate and bewilderedﬂight before death, the attempt to cover over our mortality’. A thorny and unavoidablequestion arises: would the young people of Greece react in the same way if the murderedboy was a migrant, an ‘alien’?Young people in Greece grew up with the feeling that death has nothing to do withthem, that it does not affect them directly. Death relates to the ‘others’ insofar as it ispresented as a spectacle in the mass media and the movies; as a reality it concerns theelderly, their grandparents and parents. The violent death of 15-year-old AlexisGrigoropoulos, his murder by a policeman, disrupted the ‘right order’. Young peopleidentiﬁed with the murdered boy. Alexis was one of us, one of the Western citizens; hewas one of them, a young Greek. In theory, any of them could have been in his position,anyone could have been there. In their effort to understand the horriﬁc, insane andshocking murder they had to explicate it. They had to give a meaning toAlexis’s violentdeath. This process of understanding and explaining led them to question the ‘world’of the neoliberal society within which they live. The young people were well aware of thefact that the political and social system oppressed them hard and treated them unfairlyand hypocritically. But would it go so far as to kill them?Reﬂection on the murder, identiﬁcation with the murdered boy and the effort tounderstand set in motion the process of thinking and questioning. And ‘thought itself isalready a sign of resistance, the effort to keep oneself from being deceived any longer’(Horkheimer, 1978: 116). Not to be deceived once again. For them, thinking meant thenegation, the refusal of the existing social and political order. It meant comprehendingthe social reality, asking political questions, getting politicized. But in order to becomepolitical and to attempt to comprehend reality they had to go beyond the ‘facts’, to‘comprehend what things really are’and to reject ‘their mere factuality’(Marcuse, 1978:446). For once, they did not run away from death, but they stood out against those whocaused the death of the young boy. This in turn led them to connect this death with thedeath of their everyday life.Their inability to give a meaning to the violent death revealedthe difﬁculty they had in giving content and meaning to their life, their own world. Onthe other hand, this disclosed their difﬁculty and refusal to identify themselves with thedominant values of the neoliberal Greek society and brought to the fore the crisis of the
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International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 34.1© 2010 The Author. Journal Compilation © 2010 Joint Editors and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.