Human Type of Crisis 1: The Indebted
“suppose that we are happy”
Albert Camus – 1942
Negri and Hardt, quite successfully, have identified four types of people created by the neo-liberal economic crisis.
The first type is the Indebted. It is the man who has a lot of debt and is controlled by his/her debts. In USA the indebted as a human type appeared in the 1960s. Because of his debts, man is afraid of losing his job and unable to pay his debts. He constantly works, he feels stressed, guilty and unhappy because he thinks he is responsible for his debts and thus bears full responsibility. Unfortunate and involuntary, he is submerged in misery and isolation.
He does not think that he is not responsible for this situation, but the economic system that, by precarious and low-paid jobs, forces him to borrow even to cover his basic survival needs. He has become a slave. Even in capitalist terms, the relationship “I pay you a salary, I give you work” has been abolished. Now the employee is burdened with the business cost.
How many of us have not heard that wages are not paid when the employer has not been paid by his own supplier? Thus, the employee’s salary is directly related to the obligations but not to the employer’s profits. It is what the people say “in poverty together but in riches apart”. Of course, with the complete dissolution of the labor relations caused by the imposed memorandum obligations, the employer, even when paid by his supplier, does not pay or pay employees late (according to a survey by MARC for the Attica area, employees are paid late), taking advantage of the dominant impunity.
Even when they talk about productivity, they actually conceal the existence of real productivity. Everyone talks about staying in the workplace. The more hours someone stays in the workplace the better, of course, under these circumstances, personal life disappears.
Hardt and Negri mention: “A new form of poor emerges that not only includes the unemployed and precarious employees with disaffected part-time work but also the salaried employees and the bankrupt layers of the so-called middle class. Their poverty is mainly characterized by debt chains. The growing debt generalization marks, nowadays, a return to slavery that resembles other eras.”
Therefore, a class of new poor serfs who constantly work to repay their debts which are never paid off. Even the “tourists” I have mentioned in my text “Tourists and Punks” who can still consume and live with anxiety because they fear of becoming “punks” and try to hide this anxiety by ignoring the punks and pretending they simply do not exist, as the tax measures intensify, many of them will quickly enter the class of the new-poor.
I will conclude by agreeing with Hardt and Negri that the new serf in order to expel his slavery must first understand that he is a slave and that he will live in a life of lasting slavery. This understanding will also be the first step for his release.