Yesterday’s vote of a law establishing ‘university police’ in Greece marked a new low: perhaps the most remarkably symbolic of authoritarian acts for the most right-wing of governments since – at least – the Colonels’ 1967-1973 junta. Of course, this Greek government is neither alone nor even at any kind of forefront: it is, simply, the local facet, the regional variant in a tendency that is at least as global as the UK government’s promise to punish quarantine breaches with ten years imprisonment; Hong Kong’s repeal of the Basic Law; curfews imposed the world other at the ease of a decree and announced in the swiftness of a tweet.
While we remain fortified in our private residences (those privileged enough to have them, anyway) these consecutive insta-decrees push the public into the eerie silence of the domestic. This is the absolute conflation: the public and private become one and the same: the public picks the silence of the private, and the private takes on the rights-stripping transparency of the public.
And at the same time, any prior distinction between the branches of the state and government appear to vanish, as they turn into one another: the educational branch is now one and the same with the policing one; and this very conflation seems to signal, now more than ever, that sovereignty is flattening itself out; it is morphing into an ever-present, ever-watching, ever-controlling form. Is this everywhere-ness a sign of strength or weakness? At first glance it could denote total control. But at a time when the subjects of resistance themselves are remarkably absent, hidden from view behind quarantine decrees and night-time curfews, the university police law and its kind are responding to a non-threat, or better, to a future-potential threat. There is, to put it mildly, a sense of unease coming from the echelons of power, something of an uncalled bet: things are going to get messy, fast.
Sovereign power in the Greek territory is getting into position for the conflicts ahead. And as it does, ironically enough, the harmonious coexistence between its facets is laying itself bare for everyone to see: the police is the university and the university is the police. There is not an iota of a threshold left between the branches of government and the mechanisms, including education, that pertain to its perpetuation. But this tiny space in-between, now gone, was also the system’s security valve. And for any system to operate without a security valve is a very dangerous thing indeed.