Yudit Kiss on the dictatorship of money: Reclaiming Europa

The common denominator of Greece's and Europe's (and the world's) problems is the uncontrolled power of business. Politics has become privatised. On behalf of ‘efficiency’ the defence of the common good was outsourced to business groups.. the result is unfolding in front of our eyes.

For several years now citizens of Europe have been watching astonished the hijacking of the European project that promised democracy, prosperity and solidarity. They have seen that national elections can be decided depending on which political party has the financial support of the most powerful business groups; that governments depend more on the evaluation of rating agencies than the judgement of their own people; that elected heads of state are removed from their position by a non-elected European Union leadership and replaced by “neutral technocrats”, who execute their instructions without asking unpleasant questions. They have seen that the fruits of decades of political struggle embodied in their national legislation, their labour code or environmental laws, have been unilaterally binned in the name of austerity. They have heard the German Minister of Finance declare that whatever people vote for in Athens, their government will have no right to change the terms of the financial aid package; they have seen their countries' leaders summoned to a EU meeting to sign a Fiscal Treaty that seriously limits their national governments' right to take economic and political decisions, a Treaty that is supposed to be valid "forever" as Angela Merkel put it. No wonder if those citizens of Europe who still care about what is happening in their continent, who are not completely overwhelmed by the ever harder struggle for everyday survival, have either turned their backs on politics and public life, or abandoned themselves to ephemeral earthly pleasures, witnessing these events with a gathering sense of discontent and outrage. 

It is in fact a "bastard voyage ". 

It has symbolic significance that Greece has become the sick horse of the European constellation, highlighting what is wrong with the political and economic model that prevails on our continent. The present Greek plight is the result of a corrupted national politics that has led to a systematic plundering of the country's resources for the benefit of a business and political elite that lives in tight symbiosis. Their example has been followed by many of their citizens who tried to benefit from the system in their modest way, from tax evasion to fighting to secure state jobs and creating a flourishing parallel economy; a population that after centuries of historical backwardness and a hectic twentieth century, traumatised by two world wars, a bloody civil war and two military dictatorships, was hurriedly ushered into a consumerist paradise, actively encouraged to spend money, brain-washed by a powerful propaganda machine, courtesy the business-controlled private & public media. 

The international financial groups that dedicate themselves to high-speed, high-level, high-risk speculation that can produce billions of dollars overnight, destroying en passant whole countries and productive branches, has also played a decisive role in triggering Greece's descent to hell and they keep benefiting from it. The irresponsibility of the European Union institutions that ‘did not notice’ that something was wrong with the Greek economy - a ‘negligence’ that highlights the profound structural problems of the Union's economic management - magnified these inherent problems to a critical extent. Once the Greek bubble burst, the EU has been enforcing on the country a ‘cure’ that instead of paving the way for consolidation, has led to a complete economic standstill and the pauperization of broad segments of the population, only further deepening the crisis. The problem of masses of illegal immigrants that the EU dumps on a completely unprepared Greek society is one more ingredient in this lethal cocktail. 
Last, but not least, the lack of feasible alternatives offered by credible political forces creates an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. To reassure their voters, prominent representatives of the world's political elite and their mainstream media keep repeating that "Greece is a special case" or "the Greeks just get what they deserve". Corruption, clientelism, opaque politics, tax evasion, inefficiency, soft budget constraints might have reached extreme levels in the country, but they are not a Hellenic speciality, far from it. Instead of demonising Greece or treating it as a special, contagious illness, Europe should look into the mirror Greece is holding up to it and begin to address the roots of the Greek conundrum, one by one.
The dictatorship of money: The common denominator of Greece's and Europe's (and the world's) problems is the uncontrolled power of business. Politics has become privatised. On behalf of ‘efficiency’ the defence of the common good was outsourced to business groups. With the result that is unfolding in front of our eyes... Read more:
Yudit Kiss is a Hungarian economist, based in Geneva, and author of several academic publications dealing with the post-Cold War economic transformations of Central Europe. Her articles of wider interest have been published by the Guardian, Lettre International, El Nacional, Nexos, Gazeta Wyborcza & Eurozine. 

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