Monday, 13 July 2015

The Crisis in Greece - Part I

What's so great about this piece is that it hints at both of the fundamental lessons the world should be learning right now. But both need to be made more explicit.

The first, which may never before have been taught on such a scale or with such clarity, is that contemporary orthodox economics is indeed a form of brain damage. The answer of the "experts", the "technocrats", the "serious men", is that the way to jump start the Greek economy is through a more intense version of the policies which Greece has, rigorously, implemented over the past several years, policies which have, undeniably, led to a major contraction of the Greek economy with no hope of a way out. Economics in the neo-classical tradition is the single greatest intellectual failure of the past 150 years. The entire discipline needs an urgent and dramatic overhaul.

The second, more important lesson, is that the German conservatives, the ones who are actually running the show, don't believe the "expert" judgment - they are engaged in an exercise of domination, something which now seems to be clear to all but the brain-damaged economists. Germany has become, under Merkel, another Neo-liberal State. This is not an ideology that believes in the virtues of the market place. It is an ideology that believes in promoting the interests of capital and subtly undermining (if possible) or openly crushing (if necessary) what threatens those interests. That is the story of the 2010-2012 bailout, which is what got us here - the fact that an orderly default, which was clearly the best (as well as the right) option, in addition to being what was demanded by the logic of an open and competitive marketplace, could not be seriously countenanced, because it was not in the interests of capital.

Why are people calling this a coup?

Because the European institutions have demanded an unprecedented surrender of fiscal sovereignty.

Because the European institutions want to approve "relevant draft legislation" for Greece before it appears in front of the Greek parliament.

Because the European institutions are giving the Greek parliament 48 hours to debate, deliberate over, and vote on this.

Having saved the creditors, the time has come to ensure that they aren't threatened again - to squeeze Greece, humiliate Greece, possibly destroy Greece, so that Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain don't get any ideas about someday refusing a 2012-style bail-out and upsetting the bond markets.

It is telling just how stupid and infantile one has to be to try to dodge all this. See, for a sterling example, here. Notice the complete lack of engagement with any of the three ways in which Europe is openly working to subvert Greek democracy. Notice the strawman which the argument has to center on, the absurd pretense that those worrying about the current place of democratic governance in the Eurozone are actually claiming that what democracy requires is that all of Europe go along with the recent Greek plebiscite. Finally, notice that, in the penultimate paragraph, the entire piece turns out to be nothing more than an attempt to make the utterly hopeless argument which, in the second paragraph, we are promised is not being made. But most importantly, notice the admonitions to "grow up" and "join the real world". This is the language of silencing legitimate dissent. This is the language of the very worst of the "serious men" - the ones who knowingly clothe a brute struggle for power in the shroud of an economic theory that only the brain-damaged believe, but which is too obscure for the average citizen to see through.

Don't listen to them anymore. The German government destroyed the idea of Europe this morning. The EU isn't worth saving at this price. The Greek parliament should vote this down and leave. Portugal should leave. Ireland should leave. Italy should leave. Spain should leave. Let Germany lose it's captive European market, let it's currency appreciate, let those two pillars of the German economy fall away while Southern Europe restores it's international competitiveness, and then let's see what happens to all this rhetoric of hard work and responsibility, let's see what happens to Merkel and Schaeuble.


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