(originally published Friday, 24 August 2012)
In Europe, after a seemingly pleasant summer break, the familiar realisation resurfaces: ‘the austerity of ponzi-financio-bailoutism’, is trampling Greece.
This solution continues unashamedly as ideological necessity, as does the force used to impose it. Like a black glove around a parched throat, Debt is used as a weapon at the disposal of capital. Financialism is the instrument of choice to transfer wealth from a mass to an elite. To those who invented the problem it now falls to enact a solution. Of course, it is not just in Greece, and it is not just now, that this is, and has been, happening. However, the post-2008 world is such glaring example of bailoutism.
Bailoutism has two forms:
1. the direct transfer of public money into private hands, (‘lawful’ transfers to banks, e.g. US, Australia, etc), and
2. the imposition of Debt, via the fractioning and recirculating of ‘financial instruments’, as a way of extracting payment – of public money into private hands, (e.g. from the periphery of Europe).
Essentially these two forms are the same, and they certainly achieve the same result. The passage of time only further exposes the nature of the crime. The audacity with which the elite demand payment for their self-inflated toxic financial ‘products’ is both astounding and apparent. What legitimacy authorises this demand?
One can never under-estimate the nature of a shock. Slavoj Zizek, following on from Naomi Klein1 tells us that, “while crises shake people out of their complacency, forcing them to question the fundamentals of their lives, the most spontaneous first reaction is panic, which leads to a “return to the basics”: the basic premises of the ruling ideology, far from being in doubt, are even more violently reasserted.”2
The imperative of capital is clearly the ruling ideology, and is in this way reinforced. The question then becomes, ‘when does the panic period end’? When do we have enough distance from the shock to seek a way out of the malaise? Must we wait for another Varoufakian minotaur to be satiated?3 Or is this simply ‘a phase’ to be endured until we can return to ‘normal’?
In the last seventy years, black gloves have often grabbed at the throat of Greece. The grip of this most recent glove lurches out from an arm born and raised in infamy in New York, tended to in London, and brought to maturity in Frankfurt, now reaching into Athens. This arm has grown a leg for Europe, that kicks the can, not only perpetually down the road, but whose boot keeps stamping out tar to extend the road.
So again today we hear4 that Greece might still need to default, that the measures aren’t working, that 50% youth unemployment is barely tenable; perpetuating the myth that the Greeks are themselves to blame, and that they must must still adhere to the medicine being worse than the cure.
This song is still a hit after three years, a testament to the power of ideology. Let’s not forget that a glove hides a real hand, not an invisible one, inside.
- 1.Klein, Naomi 2007, The Shock Doctrine, Penguin, London.
- 2.Zizek, Slavoj 2009, First as Tragedy then as Farce, Verso, London, p18.
- 3.In his book, The Global Minotaur, 2011, Yanis Varoufakis uses he metaphor of the minotaur to illuminate the nature of the historical appetite of US financialism, the drawing to itself of global capital, and the path leading to the crash of 2008.
4. ABC TV, The Business, 23/8/2012, Australia