Sunday, June 17, 2012

Writing Greece Off

I think it was Ian Welsh who proposed to write off any people who failed to vote correctly and wound up with a Rightist government that made economic matters worse rather than improving things. Ah yes, here it is:

May 31 -- My Sympathy Is About Out

If the Irish vote in a referendum for austerity, then they deserve what they get.  Current polls are showing Greeks will probably vote for pro-austerity parties as well, if so, again, my sympathy will be out.  Democracy is about getting what you vote for, if countries vote for austerity, then they deserve it.

Well, that's putting it succinctly, isn't it?

The Irish did so vote. So did the Portuguese long ago. So did the Spanish. And now, so have the Greeks.

The Italians might have balked, but the Eurozone headed off that calamity by installing one of their own as PM, without a vote of the people. They tried the same trick in Greece, but it didn't quite work the first time around; now, apparently, there's little doubt.

Of course, we could go on about election fraud if we wanted to, and to the fact that SYRIZA came in a very creditable second. The Socialists, on the other hand, have been thoroughly discredited and look to become a rump or fringe party no matter.

The reason why? Of course, it's simple: the Socialists sold the People out. This has been happening all over Europe, and so rightist parties are surging. Think of what Tony Blair did to the Labour Party. Much the same has been happening everywhere.

The United States has never had a viable Socialist Party at the polls, and neither of our major political parties are even remotely Socialist. As I've said many times, Barack Obama's policies -- especially his economic policies -- are as if he is channeling Herbert Hoover, and I'm not the only one who says so. Yet he is accused of raging Marxism. It's absurd. But in the context of our own political firmament, understanding that the Democrats are what passes for a political "left" -- although there is nothing remotely leftist about them -- the Democrats are in the position of the sell-out Socialists of Europe, and the problem is that there is no... reasonable... political alternative there or here. The only alternative party capable of governing is the more rightist party.

The Greek "New Democracy" Party is not the fascists, at least not outwardly. Nor is SYRIZA the communists outwardly. So the Greek election results are not a huge break from the past or even a particularly portentous one. Instead, the Greeks have voted to continue with the current austerity policies but under somewhat harsher conditions for the People, much as the Spanish and Portuguese and Irish did.

That is if these election results are actually unfudged. We don't know. Also in Europe there are a number of competing parties and elections can be "won" on far less than a majority of the vote -- as was the case here. I was watching the official announcement of New Democracy's victory live this afternoon, and it was clear from the graphics, even though I neither read nor understand Greek worth mentioning, that ND "won" with less than 30% of the vote. SYRIZA was at 27.1%. PASOK (the Socialists) was 12.3%. The Nazis and the Communists each got around 7%. What's called the Independents weren't much more than that.

Even from an aggregate/coalition standpoint, there is no majority for a particular way forward, and to me, that's natural in a severe crisis situation. That's why so often nations in crisis turn to Leaders or leave themselves open to the blandishments of Leaders. The People on their own don't know what to do or more to the point, they don't see a way to proceed without a Leader in the vanguard.

One of the things about SYRIZA's candidate, Alexis Tsipris, was that he said that he wasn't ready to govern in any case. The honesty that he displayed all through the campaign apparently appealed greatly to the Greek People, but they weren't convinced -- as I wasn't -- that if he were to become the Prime Minister that he would... survive either politically or physically.

I predicted, for example, that if SYRIZA won a majority that a German-led coup would intervene to protect the bankers and their interests no matter what. No doubt the Greek People were more than a little aware of the potentials given the heavy propaganda from Berlin and Brussels and the open threats being made against the Greek People if they didn't vote the right way to please the banks and bankers. I expected that if SYRIZA won, Tsipris would be first against the wall, and that he would go willingly and would make quite a dramatic spectacle of it. But that would not have done a damn thing to make things better for the Greek People -- at least in the short term. Oh, but the Drama!

So. It's going to get worse. And I imagine Frau Merkel did a little dance to celebrate.

It isn't so much a matter of breaking the stranglehold of the Rightists and their sponsors and owners. As we've seen, in Europe, the Socialists are owned by the same banking interests. Going from one to the other keeps the People on the same dismal trajectory. Alternative political parties don't necessarily have the answer either.

The problem, as I see it, is that the "answer" -- such as there is one -- to government capture by the bankers and their cohorts is that it doesn't lie in elections and political parties. The answer lies outside a corrupt and potentially irredeemable system, which is one of the reasons why I find David Graeber's anarchist arguments so persuasive. He doesn't necessarily say pull down the system and install your own version; he says work around and sidestep it. Make it irrelevant.

I don't know that it can be done successfully on a large scale, though religious communities suggest it very much can. In fact, in some of the evangelicals/fundamentalists of today we have models for how to create parallel institutions and societies that are long lasting and serve parallel functions to those of government. It can be done, and American history is rife with examples.

So I don't agree with Ian's notion of writing off Peoples who vote the wrong way when they're given the opportunity -- as the Greek People were -- to vote something else again, something arguably better. They may or may not regret today's vote, but they are balancing enormous psychological pressures as well as economic catastrophe no matter what they do. Mitigating it to the extent possible seems to have been on their minds just as much as the need to find another way.

"Not as bad as those who have betrayed you" seems to be the universal declaration of the rightist parties like New Democracy.

"Not as bad as those who have betrayed you."

What a world.

What a world.

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