Austerity in Greece a Remedy not a Penalty for Self-made Ills

By Con George-Kotzabasis September 23, 2016

My short reply to a political theorist of the Jurgen Habermas School of Critical Theory

It is rather surprising to see a votary of Jurgen Habermas in using an analytic blunted tool that leads to the false inference that malevolent Europeans wilfully imposed upon Greece austerity measures to punish it. The truth is, that these measures were saddled upon Greece as a result of a consumer’s binge and an exuberance of public spending, fuelled, by a profusion of borrowed funds which inevitably pushed Greece into the quagmire of bankruptcy. Austerity therefore and the economic structural changes imposed on the country were a remedy, not a penalty, for the self-inflicted ills that past government policies, mainly of Pasok, engendered.

My question is, why you have not mentioned anything of the pledges, that Kyriakos Mitsotakis had made in his speech at the Exhibition of Thessalonica last Saturday, with their great potential to pull Greece out of its long economic crisis. In my opinion, a government, under the strong and astute leadership of Mitsotakis, will pull Greece out of its immiseration—as the Samaras government was close in achieving. An immiseration that the totally inept Tsipras government is exacerbating, with its historically obsolete neo-Marxist fixations and panaceas.

Dangers Lurking in Having a Big Heart for Refugees of Muslim Origin

By Con George-Kotzabasis

It is most unwise to have a “big heart” for refugees indiscriminately as one might finish-up with no heart for refugees at all, as Europe has presently shown by closing its borders. This is because its foolish politicians never asked the crucial questions, i.e., what is the cultural and religious background of these refugees and whether they would be assimilable to Western culture.

Presently, the heart of Europe is mortally threatened by two great implacable foes: By the peaceful enemy of demographics and by the bellicose enemy of Islamist terror. Just two examples: In Holland, 33% of children under the age of fifteen are Muslim; in the welfare bliss of Norway, there are Muslim enclaves where indigenous Norwegians are persona non grata. And one must not delude oneself that Islamist terror is an ephemeral threat or a rivulet within the Muslim mainstream; on the contrary, it is a powerful current that determines the course of the mainstream. Thus European humanitarianism in an adolescent rush of romanticism, embraced its beloved refugees only to find out that it had embraced its own destroyer.

The great Islamist scholar Bernard Lewis, predicts, that if this sinister trend of demographics does not change, Europe will be Muslim in seventy years, if it is not destroyed first by suicidal fanatics.

Australia also faces the same predicament, perhaps even in a more exacerbated form. With 250 million Muslims on its north and a sizable and ever increasing Muslim Diaspora on its land, and the possibility in the near future of a military conflict with Indonesia, it would become a lethal fifth column. In such a situation, Australia will hardly be able to prevent its decapitation by the myrmidons of fanatic Islam.

A grandmother warned that one had to be very careful where one put his loyalty and his genetic organ. It is advisable that humanitarian policy-makers on open-door non-discriminatory migration take notice of this grandmotherly precept.

 

 

Marx and his Reincarnation Continue to be Hotbed of Gross Errata

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following is a very brief reply to professor of economics Kostas Lapavitsas, and former member of Parliament with the Party of Syriza, to his thesis, that Greece can achieve its national sovereignty only by going back to its own currency, i.e., the drachma, delivered at the Ithacan House, Melbourne, on April 15, 2016. The three first paragraphs were omitted from my response as I assumed regrettably wrongly, that the time allotted to the questioners at the meeting would be too short and hence I did not include them.

 Professor Lapavitsas, allow me to make a short comment before I come to my question, as at the start I want to point out what I believe to be the roots of your erroneous proposition.  

Dialectical materialism even in its modern reincarnation of neo-Marxism, which you espouse, is a hotbed of gross errata, not to say terata (monsters), and hence a fallacious doctrine.

Yet the ghost in the machine of Marxism, despite its irreparable breakdown, continues to churn-out apparitional panaceas for the ills of global capitalism. One such quack panacea is your own proposition.

My question is: Show us one country in the world hit by absolute poverty, which, your implied return to the drachma entails, that by adopting your proposal has achieved national sovereignty and kept it; If you cannot show us such a country, then your proposal is a mirage, a will-o’-the-wisp, an occult fancy.

But what is more worrisome is that you are asking the Greek people, after the botched Tsipras-Varoufakis experiment, to be also the guineapigs to your own theoretical experiment which has hardly better odds of success than the Varoufakian one.

National sovereignty is the result of prosperity not of poverty.

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Syriza: Merrymaking While in Opposition Follymaking While in Government

America celebrates The Fourth of July as the day of independence of a great nation; Greece remembers The Fifth of July as the day of ignominy and gross stupidity of an abject nation, fallen from its former illustrious and glorious history, that voted “No” in the referendum and thus opened the door to the exit of Greece from the European Union and its entrance to the drachma.

By Con George-Kotzabasis—July 07, 2015

On last Sunday’s Referendum on The Fifth of July, sixty-one percent of politically and economically illiterate, not to say ignorant, Greeks, voted a “proud” and “dignified” “No” to the EuroGroup’s proposals, thus putting a noose around the neck of the nation, and celebrated this victory by dancing frenetically and entranced in Syntagma Square Zorba dances as if by putting a noose around someone’s neck was a festive occasion. And they did this in the background of closed banks, pensioners mass queuing to get a small part of their pensions, depositors unable to get a preferential amount of cash from their accounts, businesses unable to make transit payments on the exchange of goods and services, tourism, the major export of Greece, decimated by tourist cancellations. All this therefore leading to a free fall of the economy with the prospect of leading the latter to a catastrophic end with innumerable business enterprises closing, the present level of unemployment rising from 1.5 million to three-to-four million, engendering shortages of food and medicines, and with the ghost of the returning drachma–and thus absolute poverty of the country–looming over the head of Greece. Not since the launching of the Sicilian Expedition in 415 B.C. by the fatal decision of the Athenian General Assembly, that according to the great historian Thucydides was the stupidest decision ever taken and which was the cause of the ignominious and irretrievably annihilating defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War, has a democracy, as has been shown in last Sunday’s referendum, taken such a ludicrously irrational and fatuous decision on such a crucial question as whether the country should stay within the European Union or not.

Syriza while in Opposition in a crescendo of populism, ‘caressing’ promises, and purported macho stand against the Troika whose Memorandum of austerity, which according to the emotional fulminations of Syriza was humiliating and offending the pride and dignity of Greeks and leading to no end to the economic crisis, promised to the Greek people that by negotiating implacably and strongly with its European partners it would extract an economically better and dignified deal from the latter that would lead the country out of the crisis.

Of course all this merrymaking of Syriza was vacuous and wishful thinking, topped by a mountain of shameful lies, and never had a chance of being realized; it was never grounded on pragmatism and was bound to crash, like a house of cards, at the first touch with reality. The Greek people, however, irate and disgusted with the austerity measures of the Samaras government, but oblivious of the fact that these necessary measures were pulling the country out of the crisis, as stated by serious economic analysts world-wide, ratings institutions such as Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s, as well as top-of-the-branch European politicians, were enraptured with the demagogy of Alexis Tsipras and became prone and willing to take a ride on the carousel of merrymaking provided by Syriza, that made by a magic wand hard things easy. Hence, on the 25th of January they elected the hardline left of Syriza in government.

Once in power Syriza revealed the inner lineaments of its nature and politics. It was a mixture of political immaturity, administrative incompetence, and hardline leftist ideology. A dangerous cocktail for anyone to hold in one’s hand at any time, especially when one steers among rocks the ship of state. This was illustrated by its two major players, Alexis Tsipras, and Yanis Varoufakis, respectively as prime and finance minister, who both of them, unlike God Who dares not to play dice, to paraphrase Einstein, gambled the fortune of the country in one throw of the dice and lost, as events showed down the track. But the hoodwinked politically innocent people along with the nipple-fed intellectuals aka “useful idiots,” to quote Lenin, still continued to throng as guests the merry party of Syriza in government and still believed the fairy tales of these two political spivs, Tsipras and Varoufakis, that by the strong stand of the Greek negotiators they would force their European counterparts to give in and provide Greece the tailor made program that was sewed up by these two spivs. The Europeans, of course, in their professionalism, would never accept the economically irrational and hare-brained demands of the Greek finance minister Varoufakis. Instead, they compelled the government, on the 20th of February, to sign and pledge itself to the implementation of the second Memorandum extant but which the government shilly shallied and refused to implement thus losing all trust and credibility in the eyes of the Europeans.

This is why the result of the Referendum has no impact in the thinking of the leaders of the European Union as they have lost all trust and have no confidence in the Tsipras government. On the contrary, as already seems likely, they will impose the most severe measures in the third coming Memorandum as an ironclad condition of Greece remaining in the Eurozone. Thus the trumpeted argument of the Tsipras government and its ministers that a “No” vote in the referendum would be a strong negotiating weapon, proved to be a paper sword in the hands of Tsipras, as is currently shown in his negotiations with his counterparts in the European Union.

The comedy of the rise of Syriza by the Aristophanean basket into the clouds of an ideal government is rapidly turning into an Aeschylean tragedy. The same audience that will joyfully be clapping the Aristophanean comedy will sorrowfully wailing and crying when it will be staged as an Aeschylean tragedy. Pride riding high always precedes the inevitable falling.

I rest on my oars: your turn now

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Greece: A Government of Contrived Smiles behind which Attempts to Hide Incompetence

By Con George-Kotzabasis–January 02, 2015

Not only the ideologically antiquated and totally irresponsible and hasty announcements of the ministers of the new government, that led to the collapse of the Greek stock exchange and the stratospheric rise of interest rates, but also their body language, as shown in their performance before TV cameras, exposed with ridicule their witless incompetence. The Minister of State, Nikos Pappas, interviewed on Mega TV, was trying in despair to evade and not to answer the questions of the two interviewers and to cover the poverty of his arguments behind endless contrived smiles.

More gravely, but also more comically, the Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis, in the press conference held in Athens last Friday with the head of the European Union (EU) Jeroen Dijssebloem, with tongue-in-cheek and with supercilious righteousness was elaborating with complacent fabricated smiles the ‘perfectly remedial’ counter proposals of the Tsipras Government that would end the crisis to the presumably destructive austerity program of the EU that according to the government was exacerbating it. A program however that aimed, and apparently was succeeding, as indeed did in Ireland and Portugal, in pulling Greece out of the crisis, as recent economic statistics were indicating and serious international commentators were averring. Varoufakis in his last answer to the question of a journalist, in a bravura theatrical performance, described the Troika, the representatives of the EU, the IMF, and the European Central Bank, as being “rotten in its foundations” and the Greek Government would not negotiate with it but only directly with the heads of these three institutions. Dijssebloem sitting next to the Greek minister listening to the translation from Greek to English had a look on his face as if he couldn’t believe his ears. Varoufakis on the other hand had lost all his pompous confidence and showed in his movements and facial expression that he was unsure whether he had said the right thing or not. Totally riveted in his self-doubt and diffidence he seemed like a little child that had lost its way. But the crown of thorns that was placed by Dijssebloem on the head of Varoufakis came when the latter proferred his hand to the former and receiving a contemptuous cold handshake and hearing in bafflement at the same time the head of the EU whispering to him that what he said “was a big mistake.” At the end of this grandiloquent thespian performance by the minister of finance, just before the curtains fell, Varoufakis’ body language showed the depth of his confusion and perplexity and his attempt to hide them behind contrived artificial smiles.

It is by such stuff and political buffoonery that the Tsipras Government will remedy all the ills that the ‘evil’ Troika brought to Greece. This government of a medley of Marxists, socialists, and anarcho-syndicalists posit a great danger to the country as it plans to implement the by now defunct nostrums of its ideology, such as the expansion of the public sector, the nationalization of banks, airlines, ports, and electric and water services, the unbridled extension of the State, a highly regulated business sector, hence, replanting all the poisonous seeds into the soil of Greece that brought a blighted crop of economic bankruptcy.

As to Syrizas’ stand toward to the EU and the IMF, it will either stiffen it and thus lead the country to tactless insolvency and back to the drachma, or it will blink before the sharp sighted Europeans and will be forced to renege, and reverse, all the bombastic promises it made to the people before the elections. Indeed, Syriza will pour so much water in its wine and make it so tasteless that will turn all the people, who so frivolously believed its false promises and lies and voted for it, into teetotallers.

When Syrizas’ charge of the light brigade against the European Union, ‘armoured’ with its chimerical infeasible proposals will be made ‘mincemeat’ by the descendants of the Knights of the North, the romantic riders of Syrizas’ leadership will be compelled to dismount their wistful ideological hobbyhorses for the sake of holding on to power. But the latter also will be an illusion. As the Tsipras Government has failed to convince the EU of the correctness and feasibility of its economic proposals, likewise it will fail to have the support of the Greek people for policies, which preordain, as the collapse of communism, the destruction of Greece.

On Wise Vote of Undecided Hangs Hope of Greece

The conjunction of dreaming and ruling generates tyranny. Michael Oakeshott

By Con George-Kotzabasis January 22, 2015

All the pre-voting polls show that the radical party of Syriza leads the liberal party of New Democracy by three to four percentage points up to this moment. This is because a sizable part of the electorate has been gravely wounded by the austerity measures of the Samaras’ government that were necessary for Greece’s economic resurgence, and therefore has been easily duped by the populist spurious promises of Syriza in its fixed-all campaign that will presumably pull out the country from the quagmire of austerity. If there is no reversal of this lead of Syriza in the next few days, then this party of neo-communists by taking power will throw the country into the vortex of economic destruction and bankruptcy, as a result of their barren, sinister, and deadly ideology, whose consequences will plunge Greeks into mass poverty and political enslavement for at least a generation.

This intransigent Marxist ideology is readily encapsulated in the  preannounced inflexible and inexorable hard stand of Syriza’s position toward the negotiators of the Troika, i.e., the lenders of Greece, by threatening to repudiate and shred basic tenets of the second Memorandum that had already being agreed by the Greek government and its European partners. The latter have made it limpidly distinct that any action by a future Greek government that would imperil fundamental clauses of the Memorandum, could lead to the cessation of funds going to Greece that are so vital for the economic stability and resurgence of the country, and indeed its survival. Hence any unyielding rigorous stand on the part of Syriza’s negotiators with the European Union would lead to the economic rigor mortis of the country. Therefore, the elections of Greece next Sunday are tragically Shakespearian, “to be or not to be.”

Is there a force that could prevent this tidal wave of Syriza from destroying the country? My answer is in the affirmative. It is the force of intelligence that is embodied in that part of the electorate that has not decided as yet for which party to vote next Sunday. The major part of this undecided part of the voters consists of former supporters of New Democracy who are grievously angered with the policies of the Samaras government but who nonetheless perceive the small improvement in the economic magnitudes that have been accomplished by these policies in the short span of two and a half years since New Democracy was elected. It is inconceivable to imagine that these voters will let fly the one bird that they have in their hand for the two birds in the bush promised by Syriza. Nor could one imagine that this middle class would cut their nose to spite their face and vote for the neo-communists. It is on the wise vote of the undecided part of the electorate that hangs the hope of Greece. The return of New Democracy into the government benches under the insuperably strong and astute leadership of Andonis Samaras will ensure that Greece will overcome all obstacles to its economic recovery. In times of severe crises only the strong and intelligent can indulge in hope.

The Gravitational Force that Pulled European Nations into a Black Hole

As the superb and strong statesmanship of Antonis Samaras is pulling decisively Greece out of its economic crisis, I’m republishing this piece that was written in the midst of 2012, for the readers of this blog.

Government intervention always wills the good and works the bad.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The European Union’s sovereign debt crisis was neither an act of fate nor an act of a free self-dependent man but an act of deluded ideology whose sails were blown by the long-lasting winds of government dirigisme, i.e., intervention, and welfare dependency. Once again it was the work, the social engineering, of the bien pensants in the form of a state directory of planning that would put a floor of security for the masses and protect them from falling into abject economic privation that was always, according to their thinking, the omnipresent and inevitable result of the unjust, harsh, and unequal regime of the capitalist competitive free market. The trouble was that this floor was made out of straw and at the first jump of an economic crisis–whose seeds were planted by government intervention,  loose monetary policy and low interest rates–would open a gaping hole through which this security would disappear and drown in a massive pool of unemployment and poverty.

The Eurozone’s one dimensional foundation of monetary union without banking and fiscal union could not sustain the European edifice in the long run with the differentiating regime of taxes, social benefits, and pensions that existed among its constituent states. The proliferation and prodigality of unsustainable Entitlement Economies, which have been the characteristics of the welfare states of Europe especially in the south, could not have been continued without cracking the economic underpinnings of the Eurozone. Also, the European Central Bank’s enabling of low risk premiums on interest rates of government debt, encouraged Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland to go on an orgy of borrowing and overspending. The inevitable outcome was a stampede of budget deficits that were unsustainable and the eventual loss of all credibility in the financial markets that the afflicted States would be able to pay back their debts and thus the shutting out of the latter from the global financial lending pool.

Since no private person would hazard to lend money to states lassoed in sovereign debt the only alternative left was for the richest countries in the Eurozone, such as Germany, to become the lenders and continue to finance the former for their economic survival. But such help would be given under very severe terms encapsulated in strict Memoranda to the receiving countries with the stipulation that the latter would adopt and implement stringent austerity measures that would decrease substantially government expenditure, would restructure and reform their economies making them more competitive, and privatizing public enterprises, whose inefficiency and lack of a diligent working ethos can only be sustained by a continuous expensive staple of government subsidies.

These austerity measures, however, whose formulators have been the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, the so called Troika, are forcefully rejected by the people of those countries who for decades have been inured to the social and economic comforts and benefits engendered by the reckless spending of their governments, and are refusing to accept any cuts to these benefits even when some are aware that the latter can no longer be provided since the governments’ coffers are empty and the convenience of funding these benefits by borrowing, as they have done in the past, is no longer available due to their nation’s sovereign debt. Moreover, these austerity measures initially had not being complemented with policies of economic development and thus led to the worsening of the economic conditions of those countries that adopted them, such as Greece, leading to unprecedented massive unemployment by the closure of large and small business enterprises and to the smashing of the middle class which is the cornerstone of free societies.

This situation is dangerously engendering the fragmentation of social cohesion in those countries and giving rise to political parties of the extreme right and left, coming out of the foam of waves of violent demonstrations that imminently threaten democracy. A latest illustration of this danger are the attacks by petrol bombs and other incendiary devices by hooded youths of anarchists and extreme leftists in Greece against the homes of outspoken journalists, offices of the governing coalition of New Democracy, Pasok, and the Democratic Left, and the burning of Bank’s ATMs. And of particular significance are the attacks on journalists, which are a blatant violation of free speech and a sinister attempt to intimidate them from expressing their opinion about events and criticizing politicians of Syriza, the official opposition, of whom obviously the fire carrying mobs are its ardent supporters.

This will be the tragic legacy of European big government and its ill-considered, indeed, destructive intervention in the processes of the free market that for at least two centuries have delivered prosperity and an unprecedented increase in the standard of living of the masses; as the socialist politicians from Francois Mitterand to Jaques Delors–the architects and enforcers of the European Monetary Union that forced Germany to succumb and pay the price of the unity of west and east Germany as demanded by France–and their present disciples of  etatisme are in the process of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, i.e., the unimpeded free market, and by doing so unconsciously and unwillingly are generating and  unleashing the brutal forces of fascism and leftist directorates of totalitarianism on the landscape of Europe.

To avoid this slide to the hell of totalitarianism only the rise of statesmen who “can act beneath heaven as if they were placed above it” is consummated. The fiscal and balance of payments crisis can only be remedied by substantial cuts in government spending and the euthanasia of big government, and by the privatization of debt ridden public enterprises–that are the last strongholds of obtuse and doctrinaire unions– and by the freeing of private enterprise to pursue profit by competition and entrepreneurial creativity and dynamism, respectively. These ‘bitter’ remedies can only be administered by statesmen of the calibre of Lee Kuan Yeu and Antonis Samaras. The latter, indeed, might not only be the progenitor of the Greek Renaissance but also the paradigmatic leader of other European politicians to imitate for their own European Renaissance. The Newtonian apple that will stop the European ‘discord’ that currently threatens the demise of the EU will fall to the gravitational force of such statesmanship.

Hic Rhodus hic salta