essay

The Enemy Never Sleeps? Not Any More - Nowadays It Is Just Taking a Nap!

Robert Perišić

"The laziness became an ideological story so that we would not think about the system. In the past, everybody said that the enemy never sleeps. This is not the case nowadays. Nowadays the enemy is asleep far too often. He is taking a nap under a cypress tree, slowly sipping his uzo. The ideology of laziness has incidentally brought about a new kind of racism. And this ideological propaganda, as it always does, has taken root."



 

Once jokes were made about Montenegrins - "What is the Montenegrin record in the hundred meter dash?" You wait for a moment and reply - "Sixty meters!" Ha ha yes, you will a get a laugh from many but everybody basically knew the joke.

Then somebody comes along with the latest joke that has not been heard before by any one but it has the same punch line: "Montenegrins are lazy". That was also funny. Not exceedingly but still funny in its own ritualistic way. And no harm was done with this. Behind it was no economical thought and statistically-founded data. There was nothing particularly sarcastic – even a certain distorted sympathetic view emanated from these jokes and I even heard Montenegrins telling them themselves, just as good-for-nothings sometimes enjoy their own incorrigibleness.

Nowadays things look a bit different. I cannot precisely say how this is reflected in the production of jokes and their telling since there is no statistics. But one thing is true – I have not heard any new jokes about Montenegrins. Perhaps they eluded me, but all the same - in the meantime laziness has become a serious matter. That is, since the Greeks are supposedly lazy and other Southerners are not far from this label - and now the diligent and hardworking Europe has to pay the price and settle their debts. The question therefore is whether the topic of laziness still has its place in jokes without having the potential for insult or political accusations. After all, there is nothing funny in this - will anyone who reads neoliberal newspapers excessively protest against this: they should be spurred to work...

No, laziness is no longer a laughing matter. On the other hand, laziness has become a political topic; it has become an economical explanation - and I could say that any science that uses such explanations is a weak science. Laziness does not explain anything - the thing in question is the sheer manipulation of the supposed "mentality" that aims to avoid the real causes behind the crisis and decay of Europe's south.

After all, using pseudo-argumentation such as laziness can "explain" everything easily.

If, let us say, we pose the question of the economic inequality of women – that is, the fact that women are still underpaid on average in comparison to men with the same level of education - someone could justify this using some inherent female "characteristic". The honest chauvinist would simply say that women are "stupid" and that here lies the reason for it. This is the same type of primitive arguments used to explain the economic hardships of a nation by "laziness". In short, this is a very racist form of economical-social commentary. After all, we could conclude that if the Greeks are "lazy", then some other nation that is even worse off could be said to be "both stupid and lazy". Why shouldn’t we?

However, readers of newspapers in Croatia are generally convinced that the Greeks are lazy and that this is the origin of their economic hardships. As such they are, quite understandably, kind of parasites. This thesis can often be heard in the so-called "decent society", a society that presumably reads politically correct mainstream media.

Furthermore, it is difficult to believe that the Western media in the period of the European debt crisis spread the abbreviation "PIGS" or "PIIGS", which pertains to "related economies" – that is, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, with Ireland sometimes being added to provide the second I.

Therefore PIGS. Therefore: swine. This is where we have arrived in our economic analyses. This is the scope of the current political economy. It is interesting that this sharp-witted analytics was not directed the other way. To maybe make a play upon words or coming up with an abbreviation using the names of big banks or agencies for credit risk ratings.

It is quite interesting that ours is the era in which people left moneyless become swine – though I think that the true swine are somewhere else.

I noticed in our daily newspapers that Croatians are also suspected of being lazy. Never before did they write about this - but after the crisis struck, it cropped up rapidly. I googled and found many cases. An ex-politician and now a wealthy man says that "the Croatian nation is uneducated and lacks working habits." An industrious analyst from the KPMG house mentions that "Croatians do not work since the tourists will visit anyway".

The headline in Vjesnik runs: "Are we all lazy?" But when quoting reports from the World Bank, journalists are always forced to come to the same conclusion: "We spend too much, we work too little and if we are going to continue on this course we are on a path to destruction."

This is how it is then. If we fail we at least know why it happened. The problem is not in the system. The problem is not in "creative destruction" through privatization. The problem is not in neoliberal economic politics. The problem is not in the corruption that always accompanies privatization and is also the first to be suspected. The problem is not in monetary politics. The problem is not in bank colonization. The problem is not in the advice given by the World Bank. The problem is not in neoliberal capitalism. The problem is not deindustrialization. The problem is not in the way the international economy functions.

The problem is outside the system altogether. It is in mentality, in our genes. The problem is of a non-economical and non-political nature. The problem is DNA. Laziness. The problem is the people. And no help can be found for this. That is why we will not be able to blame anyone else but ourselves for our downfall. This is the function of these stories of laziness. So that we could not blame anyone. So that we would not accidently think that there is anything wrong with the system. That we would not demand changes and change anything in the process.

No, everything is OK. In Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy as well. Everything is OK, only the people are not.

Thus laziness became an ideological story so that we would not think about the system and urgency for change. In the past, everybody said that the enemy never sleeps. This is not the case nowadays. Nowadays the enemy is asleep far too often. He is taking a nap under a cypress tree, slowly sipping his uzo.

The ideology of laziness has incidentally brought about a new kind of racism.

And this ideological propaganda, as it always does, has taken root.

I spent this summer on the island of Vis and there was an old Golf parked on the macadam road. I do not know whose car it was but it had gathered dust from passing vehicles. One day I noticed the following writing in the dust on the back window: LAZY PIGS.

I stared, dumbfounded regardless of everything - how had this appeared here? Who writes such nonsense when on holiday? And who was this meant for?

In any case, this must have been written by someone who was persuaded that he is something better thanks to his or her culture. Somebody who despises lazy parasites coming from another "culture". This was written by someone who was offered racism instead of analysis of the crisis by the mainstream media.

And now let me list some facts: Eurostat's data show that the Greeks worked 44.3 hours per week before the crisis. The Germans, on the other hand, worked 41 hours per week. The average in the EU states is 41.7 hours.

Well, not to make any error, this text is not about how much anyone works. This is a text about propaganda. The thesis on the Greek laziness (or anyone's for that matter) is literally propagated with the ideological aim of avoiding bringing up questions about the causes of the crisis in the international economical-political system. Not to bring up questions about the ruling relations and neoliberal dogmas.

No, this thing is not about mentality. That's the joke.

 

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