It’s so ironic that the biggest lesson in how to destroy democracy is being delivered to the world in the birthplace of democracy.
This is the real reason Greece is in trouble. I’m no academic – this is really easy. You won’t see similar accounts in the corporate media – because, well, it’s corporate.
I know that if you’re reading this, you probably have a good grasp of this already – I just wanted to document it in a few easy points. It’s an easy ‘cut-and-paste’ way to counter claims by corporate stooges that ungrateful Greece has refused a ‘rescue package’ or that they’ve ‘mismanaged their economy’ or been ‘irresponsible’.
I’ve only included links for points that are not common knowledge.
- Thatcher and Reagan deregulate the financial sector (let’s take the historical start-point as the birth of the neoliberal project – although of course we could go back further).
- Deregulated financial sector does what the hell it likes – for example sub-prime mortgages.
- Sub-prime mortgages get packaged and sold around the world as mortgage-backed securities – sounds secure, doesn’t it?
- Sounds even more secure when ratings agencies give these dodgy packages excellent ratings.
- Billionaire insiders become even richer by betting that these packages are going to explode – http://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-charged-with-fraud-over-paulson-cdo-trade-2010-04-16.
- Because of course they turn out to be worthless and the global economy crashes.
- Ordinary taxpayers everywhere have to pay to bail out corporate financial institutions. The Greek people, for example, had to pay 48 billion euros (around £30 billion) to recapitalise their banks – http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/1/greek-bailout-money-went-to-banks-not-greece.html.
- The corporate sector, via ratings agencies, downgrade national bonds, making their interest payments increase, making it more difficult for countries to pay them – http://fmwww.bc.edu/EC-P/wp841.pdf. This was particularly crippling for Greece – http://www.tradingeconomics.com/greece/government-bond-yield.
- The corporate sector, via the IMF and the ECB, loan Greece 110 billion euros, with the proviso that they accept a stringent austerity package.
- Further austerity measures force the Greek prime minister to resign, and ‘technocratic economist’ Lucas Papademos is ‘appointed’ to oversee more austerity measures. He was previously vice-president of the European Central Bank, and there was no election – http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/11/lucas-papademos-greece-prime-minister.
- Papademos privatises more Greek assets – i.e. takes anything profitable from the Greek people and sells it cheaply to the corporate sector (a typical part of any austerity package) http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304520804576341414080784514.
- The corporate media portrays the Greeks as ‘irresponsible’ and that the corporate sector is offering a ‘rescue package’.
The main points are that this crisis was initiated by pro-corporate politicians deregulating the financial sector at the behest of their corporate masters, who then took the opportunity to fraudulently offer sub-prime mortgages and package them up to sell them for vast amounts of profit – money that they still have. The fault lies with the corporate sector, not with the Greek government, and certainly not with the Greek people. Greece is a long way behind the US when it comes to debt and irresponsible borrowing.
Of course, it’s now the Greek people who will suffer – but they’ve shown that they prefer freedom to serfdom, and in time, maybe history will show this day to be the beginning of the end for the corporate empire. I hope so.
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's
1Dave Darby July 6th, 2015
Just re-read this and it sounds anti-Conservative/Republican parties – so I’d just like to take the opportunity to say that I’m anti-Democrat/Labour too – all bought and paid for just the same.
Of course when I say Reagan and Thatcher, it wasn’t their idea – I’m sure they hardly understood what was happening. They were just told by their advisers that it was another blow against socialism.
But it wasn’t just them. This one – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depository_Institutions_Deregulation_and_Monetary_Control_Act was introduced on Carter’s watch, and repeal of Glass-Seagall was on Clinton’s.
But by deregulation, I’m mainly talking about the Big Bang in 1986; brokering, research and trading – previously kept separate could then be combined under the banner of one organisation – let’s say, I don’t know, Goldman Sachs. That’s one of the most disastrous decisions ever taken.
2Peter Green July 6th, 2015
At least some people in this country have an idea of what really is going on over there, well all over the world really.
This article comes to mind; http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/07/05/greece-what-you-are-not-being-told-by-the-media/
3Dave Darby July 6th, 2015
Nice one. Want to blog about independent media – in fact it will be a new topic at some point.
4Shaun Chamberlin (@DarkOptimism) July 6th, 2015
Rather like this one too, from one of my all-time favourite writers:
5Andrew Rollinson July 7th, 2015
The Greek situation is like a punch in the nose to a bully, and the Greek people should be proud. Could this be the beginning of the end of the present system? I hope so.
All that “black hole” business is a far too hyperbolic and cryptic for me. Humanity needs people to write with clarity and more forums like this to disseminate the truth. For example, I want someone to tell me how the capitalists have made the world this why in easy to understand terms for my own sake, but surely also this would be one more step towards allowing the masses of people to understand and therefore see the corruption that exists and the futility of it all. I have asked many people who have written blogs such as cluborlov one the question of who is in credit, if everyone is in debt. All I get is the standard answer that the debt is imaginary, but this doesn’t satisfy me. Everyone can’t be in debt, it is illogical.
I can understand thermodynamics, enthalpy and entropy, but this economic gambling just seems ridiculous to me and so detached from real life. Thanks Dave for this article.
6Dave Darby July 7th, 2015
I can see why he’s a favourite. So many great writers, so little time.
7Dave Darby July 7th, 2015
Hi Andrew. I’m in the same boat as you – a non-economist trying to make sense of it all (actually I think it’s better to be a non-economist – at least then you might have a chance of understanding that the economy is a subset of the environment, not the other way round, and that perpetual growth is impossible). See here – http://lowimpactorg.wpengine.com/the-story-of-money-and-how-it-built-an-empire/ and here – http://lowimpactorg.wpengine.com/where-do-banks-get-the-money-for-mortgages-from/. It is imaginary, and banks are the creditors.
More input much appreciated.
Plus can you write us an article on thermodynamics, enthalpy and entropy?
8Andrew Rollinson July 7th, 2015
“Plus can you write us an article on thermodynamics, enthalpy and entropy?”
Ha ha. Certainly, I’ll add it to my list.
It would be a story of how on a big scale, Nature ensures that its energy budget is managed, and optimised always for Low Impact Living. It is also a story of how it is impossible to believe that you can get something for nothing. But, also that we are on an inevitable course towards complete disorder.
See what comes from collaborative thought?
Did you know also that the Second Law of Thermodynamics refutes evolutionary theory?
Let me put this together as a blog.
9Dave Darby July 7th, 2015
Yes, I always thought that evolution was the only anti-entropic force in the universe. Look forward to it.
10Neo-Pelagius July 7th, 2015
ἐὰν μή, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, ἢ οἱ φιλόσοφοι βασιλεύσωσιν ἐν [473δ] ταῖς πόλεσιν ἢ οἱ βασιλῆς τε νῦν λεγόμενοι καὶ δυνάσται φιλοσοφήσωσι γνησίως τε καὶ ἱκανῶς, καὶ τοῦτο εἰς ταὐτὸν συμπέσῃ, δύναμίς τε πολιτικὴ καὶ φιλοσοφία, τῶν δὲ νῦν πορευομένων χωρὶς ἐφ᾽ ἑκάτερον αἱ πολλαὶ φύσεις ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἀποκλεισθῶσιν, οὐκ ἔστι κακῶν παῦλα, ὦ φίλε Γλαύκων, ταῖς πόλεσι, δοκῶ δ᾽ οὐδὲ τῷ ἀνθρωπίνῳ γένει, [473ε] οὐδὲ αὕτη ἡ πολιτεία μή ποτε πρότερον φυῇ τε εἰς τὸ δυνατὸν καὶ φῶς ἡλίου ἴδῃ, ἣν νῦν λόγῳ διεληλύθαμεν. ἀλλὰ τοῦτό ἐστιν ὃ ἐμοὶ πάλαι ὄκνον ἐντίθησι λέγειν, ὁρῶντι ὡς πολὺ παρὰ δόξαν ῥηθήσεται: χαλεπὸν γὰρ ἰδεῖν ὅτι οὐκ ἂν ἄλλη τις εὐδαιμονήσειεν οὔτε ἰδίᾳ οὔτε δημοσίᾳ.
11Andrew Rollinson July 7th, 2015
I just found this:
“And I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property — until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered… The democracy will cease to exist….” — Thomas Jefferson, 1816
12Dave Darby July 7th, 2015
His concept of democracy didn’t include blacks, women or native Americans, but I suppose he was a man of his time. I agree with him there though.
13Andrew Rollinson July 7th, 2015
I’d actually never heard of him before! I’m not one for American history. The more I learn about history though is that these issues that we are facing are not new ones.
14Dave Darby July 7th, 2015
No – empires are ancient things. Let’s hope this is the last one.
15Dave Darby July 7th, 2015
Can anyone translate Greek, btw?
16Neo-Pelagius July 7th, 2015
Lol … “Unless,” said I, “either philosophers become kings4 [473d] in our states or those whom we now call our kings and rulers take to the pursuit of philosophy seriously and adequately, and there is a conjunction of these two things, political power and philosophic intelligence, while the motley horde of the natures who at present pursue either apart from the other are compulsorily excluded, there can be no cessation of troubles, dear Glaucon, for our states, nor, I fancy, for the human race either. Nor, until this happens, will this constitution which we have been expounding in theory [473e] ever be put into practice within the limits of possibility and see the light of the sun. But this is the thing that has made me so long shrink from speaking out, because I saw that it would be a very paradoxical saying.
It’s Plato’s Republic! Thanks to http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Plat.+Rep.+5.473&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0168
17Dave Darby July 7th, 2015
I’ve been saying that for a while – Plato’s philosopher kings idea is not a precursor to fascism, as Karl Popper says. Nonsense – of course the world would be a better place if philosophers were in charge – seekers of wisdom and the truth rather than seekers of money and power. People who have to be persuaded to lead, and are looking for no material reward.
I think there’s more to philosophy than intelligence though – I think it has to include compassion and integrity. And the only way that intelligence, compassion and integrity can be judged is by face-to-face contact.
Plato isn’t saying that philosophers should seize power in a coup, or be appointed. I believe they should be chosen from their peers to lead until we/they can work out a non-hierarchical, flat system that doesn’t need leaders at all.
One thing’s for sure, this current system can never be made sustainable or democratic.
18Neo-Pelagius July 7th, 2015
Karl Popper … they won’t be reading him in 2500 years!
19Neo-Pelagius July 7th, 2015
It’s funny that Plato’s arguments are directed against Thrasymachus who defends injustice as being more advantageous than injustice … an extension of his argument that what is right is what is in the interest of the stronger party!
“Tyranny is not a matter of minor theft and violence, but of wholesale plunder, sacred or profane, private or public. If you are caught committing such crimes in detail you are punished and disgraced: sacrilege, kidnapping, burglary, fraud, theft are the names we give to such petty forms of wrongdoing. But when a man succeeds in robbing the whole body of citizens and reducing them to slavery, they forget these ugly names and call him happy and fortunate, as do all others who hear of his unmitigated wrongdoing.” 344a-b.
20Neo-Pelagius July 7th, 2015
***injustice as being more advantageous than* justice
21Dave Darby July 7th, 2015
So fresh and relevant, after 2500 years – and I think you’re right, Popper will be forgotten in another 2500, but philosophy might still be considered ‘a series of footnotes to Plato’