Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Go Greeks!

With the utter failure of democracy to (1) rein in financial markets worldwide thus generating an ongoing economic catastrophe or to (2) force the perpetrators of these financial shenaningans to share in the burdens of repairing the damage, only direct action is left. Bravo to the people of Greece for pouring into the streets Egyptian-style and refusing to allow their country to be swallowed up by the banker squids.

It has been evident even to a casual outside observer such as myself without the benefit of a PhD in economics that the Greek economy could never escape from the country’s insane debt. This crushing burden, roughly similar to the permanent debt peonage forced on black sharecroppers in the post-bellum South, was built up through a combination of local fecklessness and international collusion by French, German and British banks aided, need we add, by the scam-artistry of Goldman Sachs.

In his annals of Alexander the Great’s conquests around the Mediterranean and beyond, Arrian relates how the invading Macedonian hordes would lay siege to a resisting city, slaughter its defenders and carry off its treasures. That’s pretty much what the European Central Bank has in mind for Greece today—its latest ‘solution’ to the debt trap is for virtually any Greek public asset of value to be sold off to privateers, all while no bondholder forfeits a single centime. If that doesn’t pay the bills, perhaps the ECB could arrange for surviving Greeks to be sold into slavery.

We have seen this all before. Latin America was forced into a similar process of wealth transfer through debt, which only ended when the endless extraction became untenable and destabilizing. The process included lengthy and complex negotiations in which all parties, including creditors, had to agree to give up something. But the European Union, whose 27 members cannot decide what size table to sit around, shows no signs of finding its way toward a solution of this sort.

The banksters raise a great hue and cry about the horrors of default—that Greece simply declare itself incapable of paying out on its sovereign bonds—but this outcome seems to me highly desirable to inject a bracing dose of reality into the conversation, even or especially if it collapses a French bank or two. There is much talk of a Lehman Brothers-style crisis, a meltdown and all the rest, and in a highly leveraged, unregulated financial system run by devious gangsters, severe instability is always a possibility.

But the alternative is to allow the obscenely wealthy to keep shifting the burden of their incompetence onto the state (i.e. taxpayers) indefinitely while any gains accrue only to them. Elections, which result in a back-and-forth between members of the political class all in thrall to these banker gangs, are irrelevant. It’s time for the pitchforks, come what may.

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