The Tragedy of the Greek Debt Crisis: To Be Done With Judgment


  • Christina Banalopoulou University of Maryland



Since the first memorandum “agreement” between Greece and its international creditors in 2010, the “tragedy of the Greek debt crisis” has become one of the most popular narratives that frame Greece’s condition of indebtedness. Highlighting the interplay between appearances of “debt crisis” and notions of tragedy as its point of departure, this essay builds on Nietzsche’s thought and introduces a philosophy of tragedy that understands what appears to be a “debt crisis” as, in fact, a crisis of the creditor’s capacity to reproduce the non-resolvable power relations between them and their debtor. For Nietzsche, in order for the creditor to experiment with their debtor’s appropriation, the creditor stages a series of acts of judgment (??????) that introduce masks and appearances of their debtor’s redemption. In the comments that follow I make the case that Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari draw upon Nietzsche’s philosophy of tragedy in order to grasp the interdependencies between performances of evaluation, capitalistic modes of production and the production of infinite debt. Drawing upon Deleuze and Guattari’s readings of Nietzsche’s philosophy of tragedy and Maurizio Lazzarato’s works on Nietzsche and Deleuze and Guattari, I argue that what appears to be a “Greek debt crisis” is a crisis of credit’s capacity to extract profit from infinite debt. Connecting this theorization to the Greek situation, I look at the “YES” and “NO” demonstrations that occurred two days before the Greek bailout referendum of 2015. I contend that while the “YES” demonstration reenacted the infinitization of Greece’s indebtedness to its creditors the “NO” demonstration performed politics that exceed notions of judgment and debt.

Author Biography

Christina Banalopoulou, University of Maryland

Christina Banalopoulou recently defended her dissertation TragedyMachine(s): Performances of Power and Resistance in Indebted Greece at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA), a salsa dancer and a zumba insrtuctor.


Artaud, Antonin. 1947. To Have Done with the Judgement of God.

Castells, Manuel, ed. 2017. Europe's Crises. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1997. Essays Critical and Clinical. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.'

Deleuze, Gilles. 2006. Nietzsche and Philosophy. European Perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1994. What Is Philosophy? New York: Columbia University Press.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1983. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Galbraith, James K. 2016. Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 1994. Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-Form. Theory Out of Bounds, 4. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Lazzarato, Maurizio. 2015. Governing by Debt. Semiotext(e) Intervention Series, 17. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e)intervention. 2015. «Η Στιγμή της αμηχανίας». [January 2015]. YouTube video, 0:44. [January 2015].

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. (1872) 2003. The Birth of Tragedy. New York: Penguin Classics.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. (1887) 2013. On the Genealogy of Morals. Penguin Classics.

Phillips, Tony, ed. 2014. Europe on the Brink: Debt Crisis and Dissent in the European Periphery. London: Zed Books.

Sandbu, Martin E. 2015. Europe's Orphan: The Future of the Euro and the Politics of Debt. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Varoufakis, Yanis. 2016. And the Weak Suffer What They Must? Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future. New York: Nation Books.




How to Cite

Banalopoulou, Christina. 2018. “The Tragedy of the Greek Debt Crisis: To Be Done With Judgment”. Performance Philosophy 4 (1):9-24.