12 July 2015 — Lies, myths and misconceptions
It is easy to get captured within myths and misconceptions. It is easy to identify oneself as left and progressive and start seeing reality through constructs and systems instead for what it is. I have always struggled with ‘interpretive frameworks’, perhaps this is why I have been unsuccessful in being a ‘lefty’.
What is it we are trying to save in Greece by resisting European demands for ‘modernisation’? Oh, but they are undemocratic, they are being unreasonable, they are being neo-liberal, you may say. Lets take a moment to de-construct these accusations.
We are the ones asking them for money. We are the ones who have run our country to the ground and are now begging for help. We have decided to assert out democratic rights, you might say! Assert away, Schaeuble says, but with your own money. Democracy ends when you ask other people to pay for it. This sounds awful? I agree it sounds awful. My human rights and my ability to self-determine do not stop my rent from going up every year. Attempting to blame others for our troubles is silly at best and devious at worst. Sure, Syriza blames everyone but themselves and Greeks love seeing conspiracy theories everywhere. They do not envy us because we have the nicest beaches: We messed up.
But their demands are unreasonable! Yes they are, austerity is pro-cyclical, a high primary surplus does not help service an unmanageable debt burden because it entrenches recession. Fine I agree, I can read Varoufakis books and nod away while I am eating Egina pistachios. What have WE done to present a credible alternative? We talked and talked. There is nothing wrong with the Greek state? There is nothing wrong with the Greek economy? What has Tsipras done over the last 6 months to deal with a dysfunctional state that is weak yet pervasive, predatory yet subject to capture? What did Samaras, Papandreou, Karamanlis, Simitis, Mitsotakis, the Dad Papandreou and so on and so forth? It is fine to decry a bad solution, but lacking an alternative you have no solution. Is the medicine killing the patient? Well, Greece supposedly never dies, but it cannot persist in an eternal zombie state either.
But hang on, this is an attempt by the Europeans to remake Greece in their neoliberal image! Yes it is. This is the whole point of Germany now playing hardball. They have a particular potion of neoliberalism and ordoliberalism that they think is best for Europe, and having failed to convince the Eurozone to go there voluntarily, they are now trying to push the Eurozone in that direction. This is terrible. What is our alternative as a small, bankrupt nation but to follow? This is horribly sad and horribly undemocratic, but Greece needs to acknowledge it has FAILED. Our political and economic system has FAILED. Our culture has FAILED. This was not done to us by others. WE FAILED.
Do I not have pride as a Greek? How can I say these things? Isn’t this is exactly what the ‘expert’ Paul Mason means when he accuses people of being ‘nazi-collaborators’ (historical surrealism aside)? Fine ok, lets do pride. Lets have Zoi Kostantopoulou as PM, Lafazanis as Foreign Minister and Lapavitsas as Finance Minister. Let us envisage a future outside the Eurozone and the EU. Where we will have pride and dignity. Where we will also have no money, a standard of living akin to the 70s, alliances with unpleasant imperialist dictators. Is this your alternative? Or will Greece become a loving commune where everyone is poorer but happier? I am thinking North Korea of the Mediterranean is a more likely outcome of this option.
Take a moment to think this through. What is the alternative? What is the non-Euro, non-EU future for Greece. Blame me for having insufficient imagination, but I do not see one.