Home > Uncategorized > Syriza’s win is the beginning of the end for the Eurozone’s long nightmare

Syriza’s win is the beginning of the end for the Eurozone’s long nightmare

from Mark Weisbrot

Everyone seems to agree that Syriza’s big victory in Greece is a milestone for Europe, which has been plagued by mass unemployment and a failure to really recover from the financial crisis and world recession of 2008-09.  But what kind of a milestone will it be? We can get some ideas from focusing on a few key issues, especially economic policy, which remain surrounded by much confusion in the public debate.

Alexis Tsipras himself, the charismatic 40-year old leader of Syriza who has become the country’s youngest prime minister in 150 years, declared on Sunday that “Democracy will return to Greece.” This was mostly overlooked as mere political rhetoric, but it was actually a concise political statement that goes to the core of not only Greece’s but the eurozone’s main problem. All we need to do is compare the recovery of the United States – which was the epicenter of the earthquake that shook the world economy in 2008 and 2009 – and that of Europe, to see what a difference democracy makes.

Even the very limited-accountability, Wall Street-dominated, mass-disenfranchisement form of democracy that prevails in the U.S. proved vastly superior to the economic autocracy of the eurozone. Although the Great Recession was our worst downturn since the Great Depression, it lasted just 18 months before the recovery began. The eurozone had a recession of similar length, but then lapsed into another one in 2011 and has only recently begun a sluggish recovery. As a result, unemployment in the region stands at 11.5 percent, more than twice that of the United States (5.6 percent).

The difference is due to economic policy: macroeconomic (fiscal and monetary) policy in particular. We got a modest stimulus; they got budget tightening in the weakest economies of the eurozone. We got the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) beginning in 2008; the European Central Bank (ECB) did not announce QE until last week. The people making the macroeconomic policy decisions in the U.S. had at least some – to varying degrees – accountability to an electorate. But in the eurozone, more than 20 governments fell and yet for years the destructive policies decided by the unelected European authorities – the European Commission, the ECB, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – marched forward. Perhaps nowhere in the eurozone have these policies failed more miserably than in Greece.

The election of Syriza is the biggest breakthrough yet in the painfully slow-motion process of the eurozone populations reclaiming their democracy on fundamental economic policy issues, which had been delegated to unelected European officials.  François Hollande was elected on an anti-austerity backlash in 2012, but he didn’t deliver. Now it is Tsipras’ turn.

Syriza has certain advantages due to the passage of time. First, the fiscal austerity that Greece signed on to is pretty much done. The IMF’s “cyclically adjusted primary government budget balance” is a simple measure to look at how much the government is tightening its budget during a year. This adjusts the budget deficit or surplus for fluctuations due to the business cycle, and excludes interest rates, in order to isolate the impact of government policy changes on spending and revenues. If we look at Greece, the tightening of this balance – i.e. the “fiscal austerity” – in 2014 was just 0.3 percent of GDP, from 5.7 to 6.0 percent of GDP. In the three years prior, the adjustment had been 3.2 percent of GDP (2012-13), 3.8 percent of GDP (2011-12), and 5 percent of GDP (2010-11).

This explains why the economy finally began to grow, at 0.6 percent of GDP, in 2014. It was not because the austerity “worked,” as some now disingenuously claim, but because it basically came to an end.

Greece has also completed the economic adjustment that its punishers have put forth as a main object of austerity. Its current account (mostly trade) is in surplus – imports have fallen by 36 percent since 2008, one of the largest adjustments in the world.  Its primary (excluding interest) government budget balance is also in surplus. No one can credibly argue that Greece is living beyond its means.

But the recovery is still too weak, slow, and fragile to take the country out of the mass unemployment that the European authorities have unnecessarily inflicted on Greece. The IMF projects nearly 16 percent unemployment in 2018 and almost all of its projections since 2010 have been decidedly overly-optimistic. Unemployment is currently at 25.8 percent, and nearly double that for youth.

To bring the country to full or even reasonable levels of employment, the new government will have to enact a fiscal stimulus. Tsipras also proposes to roll back some of the regressive changes implemented during the past few years, such as restoring the minimum wage cuts and lost collective bargaining rights. He also wants to re-negotiate the country’s oversized debt, which is currently over 170 percent of GDP. It was just 115 percent of GDP in May 2010 when the first IMF agreement was signed and many of us warned that austerity was the road to hell.

The people have spoken, a government has been formed, and now the ball is in the court of the European authorities. They will have to decide whether they won enough, in terms of restructuring the eurozone economies to chip away at the welfare state, reduce labor’s bargaining power, cut health care spending (by 40 percent in Greece), and construct a more unequal society. It is a dilemma for them, because if they give in to Syriza, Spain could be next. The left Podemos party, which rose from its founding to lead the polls in just the past year with a program similar to Syriza’s, could benefit greatly from a successful Syriza administration. Spain’s economy is more than six times the size of Greece’s.

On the other hand, if the European authorities refuse to bargain with Syriza, there is a risk that Greece ends up outside of the euro. Contrary to popular belief, the European authorities do not fear a Greek exit because it could cause a serious financial crisis of the euro. Like the Federal Reserve of the United States, the ECB can create money, and has all the firepower it needs in order to make sure that a Greek exit would not cause serious damage to the eurozone financial system. It demonstrated that in July 2012 when ECB President Mario Draghi put an end to two years of financial crisis, and doubts about the survival of the euro itself, by merely stating he would do “whatever it takes” to defend the euro.

The real fear is Greece might leave and – after an initial crisis and capital fight – recover much more quickly than the rest of the eurozone, prompting other governments to also want to leave the euro. Bluff and bluster fill the financial press at the moment, but the smarter people in Brussels and Frankfurt understand this reality, and will want to make some concessions to the new government in Greece. Either way, this is the beginning of the end of the eurozone’s long nightmare.

στην ελληνική γλώσσα | en español

  1. blocke
    February 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    The analysis suffers from one fatal flaw: the assumption that the US is more of a democracy than Europe. No matter what happens in American democracy, you’ll never have the take-over in American politics that Syriza represents in Europe, because there is no social-democratic left in the US that has a chance ever of coming to power in US politics like Syrza’s and other left wing social democrats do in Europe. It won’t be easy, since the oligarchs are tenacious in Europe, but there is a chance for socially participative democracy in Europe; none in the USA.

    • Helge Nome
      February 6, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Yes. The ruling “elite” (or so they think) here in North America views the population as a herd of sheep that can be easily manipulated by means of the “Left vs Right” paradigm.
      However, George Orwell’s “Proles” are smarter than they think, which speaks to their own limitations.

    • Ack Nice
      February 6, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      That great experiment in Democracy known as the First USA Republic is DEAD. Don’t anybody let the twitching corpse go on fooling you.

      I will never understand why people still speak of Democracy as if it exists when Democracy is *by definition* impossible where concentration of wealthpower exists – which is everywhere on this sacred bluegreen garden harbor we call Earth.

      Democracy means people-rule, means people having the power to rule themselves. If you have rights but not the power to access/exercise those rights, you have no rights.

      Money is power. Giga-concentrated wealth is giga-concentrated power. Equals NO Democracy, equals the people without power to even contend to rule themselves. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – and – power CONNECTS and absolute power CONNECTS absolutely. Governors in US congress have publically stated that a fraction few people rule them! Yet the world’s wealthpower giants continue their plunderall project – grinding this planet and working families beneath the wheels of their unnecessary, fear-rooted juggernaut, making advantage and taking advantage to commit constant legal theft. Not because we need to give our rightful earnings away to wealthpower giants to make money work for commerce – nothing could be further from the truth – but because the wealthpower giants have everybody buffaloed into believing the unrealistic, unsurvivable polar opposite of the truth!

      There is NO *reason* to allow wealthpower giants on this planet.
      There is EVERY *reason* NOT to.

      There is no *reason* to allow any human to withdraw more from the pool of wealth than the utter maximum it is possible for her to put into the pool by her own sacrifice to working.
      There is every *reason* to justly limit personal fortunes to the maximum contribution physically possible.

      You can’t HAVE ‘just a little’ economic inequality, Earth People! Don’t let the sub-rational economists’ rationalizations go on fooling you, World. You are either cold and wet in the freezing sea or you are on land getting warm and dry – you are either whispering the madness of ‘a little more, just a little more for me for my hour’s work than he gets for the same unit of work’ or you are saying ‘get what I give, no more and no less’. Inequality is injustice is not your Pal! Siding with that mad ‘just a little more for me’ is certain ruination of your own and your descendants’ happiness, safety, prosperity, survival … quality of life!

    • Helge Nome
      February 6, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      The ancient Greeks had a supreme contempt for democracy spilling beyond the bounds of their own little oligarchical circle. Within that circle, some degree of “democracy” was practiced, but not outside, where George Orwell’s (Eric Blair) Proles live. And nothing has changed.
      Change can only come about if the fog inside the minds of the Proles lift.

    • Hepion
      February 9, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      The EU level “democracy” is sad joke. Nobody knows what happens in Brussels (media does not report, at least here), nobody understands because they speak foreign language, nobody cares as evident by really poor voting attendance, and these people have power without oversight and have the audacity to call EU democracy.

      Democracy means that people elect its leaders so that the will of the people can happen, not that the minority elects the leaders so that the minority’s will will happen.

  2. Ack Nice
    February 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Is Syriza still adamantly promising to prevent TTIP with its vote? If so, is the real fear that Greece WON’T exit the Eurozone?

    (personal note, I’ve been acutely unwell all this year, bad flu and pneumonia and long, slow recovery hence I’ve lost track) – – Anybody here know of any other Eurozone countries pledged to stop TTIP? Thanks in advance for bringing me up to speed if you know.

  3. Ton Notermans
    February 6, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    An end to austerity would be most welcome of course, but I am not sure if Tsirpas is the end of the long Euro nightmare. You argue that Greece needs fiscal stimulus. First of all I do not see how they would be able to finance this unless the Troika agrees on a Marshall Plan and that would seem out of the question. Second, fiscal stimulus only makes sense if it sparks an upturn in private investment, otherwise one would just be looking at growing deficits and debts again. I am not sure if fiscal stimulus might do that because Greece has suffered massive real appreciations since entering the Euro and many firms have been destroyed under austerity so much of the fiscal stimulus might go on exports. Devaluation in combination with debt default and in industrial policy might make more sense than fiscal stimulus. And, finally, while I would wholeheartedly agree that the austerity policy was essentially in attempt by the North West European creditors to get their money back, even at the cost of destroying an entire country, one should not forget that Greece does and did suffer from a very fragmented policy, and massive corruption and tax evasion. Tsirpas wants to have ago at the oligarchs and I hope he succeeds, but there is a risk that Greece without the constraint of the Euro would turn into a state unable to handle its internal distributional conflicts.

    • Vigilant
      February 6, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      If whole EU would do it together, multipliers would do the work and jobless rate would start to decline. It just aint gonna work, if 1 or 2 countries are gonna do the stimulus. It must be whole EU together, but Germany wants to get structural reforms done, so they aint gonna allow it to happen.

      Anyway this is all Germany’s fault. They have huge surplus and not enough wage raises. Just read somewhere that Germany’s surplus is bigger than China’s. Beggar thy neighbor.

      In our system there must be creditors and debtors. Now Germany is the creditor and they are making debtors do what they want. Keynes tried to solve this back in old days, but people didnt really pick up his ideas. Its same with euro zone now, than what it was with gold standard back then.

      Whole EU project is mostly geopolitical anyway, so they aint really care about the people. We are just proxy for Russia.

      Greetings from the country, which have longest border in EU with Russia – 1300 kms… Finland.

    • Alcofribas
      February 7, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Don’t you think that Greece has 2 problems to deal with : 1- to install tax justice (common people pay taxes but the maritime companies or orthodox church don’t)
      2- the same as everybody inside the euro zone, that is a money without State territory ?

      Certainly are USA a far too manichean country, but they got a huge advantage on EU : they can do things like Medicare or regulate finance with their SEC. Even when the act very timidly in that way, they are not obliged to give huge gifts to private commercial banks.

      Certainly greek debt has to be haircuted, by a way or another (a 100 years delay for payment has the same effect) : Varoufakis’ proposal to link creditors’ interests to greek GDP’s growth is clever.

  4. graccibros
    February 6, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Well, Mark Weisbot is sensing some early spring breezes that I’m not seeing where I live, where it is still early February on the calendar page and outside as well. I hope he is right, but I think it is too good to be true. If concessions are finally made to Greece, I doubt they will be of a scale large enough to pull the nation out of depression. And back in the good old USA, what many citizens feel in their economic gut is quite different from the economic academic center, as the voting results (and labor participation rates) in November of 2014 showed. A whole lot of surplus people know they are expendable, all hail “efficient US labor markets.” And the 28 million in the service sector working for under $9.89 per hour, what do you have to say to them Mark: why is your demand so weak?

  5. Vigilant
    February 6, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Well… Euro zone aint gonna work before somebody does something for this gold standard problem. Common currency and different fiscal policy aint gonna work. Mr. Varoufakis from Syriza have few ideas, how it might work.


  6. Ack Nice
    February 6, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    On lifting the fog from everybody’s minds

    “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” – Albert Einstein

    Please keep that quote in mind as you read this.

    From the time before the United States of America was officially born, the farmers and workers and tradesmen and miners and suffragettes and abolitionists and all manner of societal muckrakers fought and struggled and petitioned and sacrificed and died – to guarantee one another’s rights. They acted in ways that eventually forced their government to recognize those rights we did inherit – never full rights and never equally accessible by all, mind you – but nevertheless many important rights – rights we’ve done a lousy job of protecting due to our vanishing vigilance.

    I argue for something different, more radical, and, I believe, easier.

    Instead of fighting giants, outlaw their formation. We don’t need wealthpowerful giants to have society….in fact we have to get RID of wealthpower giantism in order to have good government and best society. The wealthpowerful that be have to spend so much time infighting for power (like lions around a carcass), that they don’t have time and energy to rule sensibly – (eg all topsoil will be gone in under 100 years).

    I’m talking about the *removal* of that which lovers of truth, love, kindness, justice, peace, security and good sense *think* they have to fight against.

    Implicit in a fight for rights is an acceptance of the necessity, rightness, and/or inevitability of that fight, without our investigating whether wealthpower is necessary, inevitable, or good even for the wealthpower giants. If it can be shown that wealthpower is much less happiness for the wealthpowerful, then there can be unanimity about the goal and therefore a change.

    Many are saying lets fight against tyranny, cruelty, madness…and therefore they are making success much smaller, more intermittent, impermanent, subject to constant erosion by the continuing presence of wealthpower. 99% are underpaid, so 99% (plus the ones open to rationality among the 1% who are overpaid) can be convinced…meaning the ratio of the 2 sides favors sanity, meaning a good chance of winning the war with barely a fight and winning it permanently.

    I argue that there is no need for tyrants, for extreme concentration of wealthpower for society, and that all people of sense can come to see that the State has worked well when tyranny was impossible, ie when leaders were natural leaders…not merely rich and powerful…and that the thing to aim for is society and leadership without wealthpower. Every empire was strong though young and small… with leaders distinguished by leadership qualities and not by wealthpower …and every empire tore itself apart and fell with wealthpower at the helm instead of genuine leadership.

    So I argue that we ought to be aiming for not courage and hope to fight the powers that be, which must be endless and dangerous, very partially successful, and subject to hope fatigue – and which will wrongly convince people of the inevitability of the endlessness of the struggle between right and might and therefore convince people life is at best less worth living than it can be. If it is true that extreme wealth is bad – very bad – for the rich as well as the poor …if the large majority can be convinced of it, it will die without a fight or without a terribly costly fight. Even tyrants cannot go around naked in public – even tyrants consult public opinion and have to work around it.

    I argue that wealthpower is

    1] always unjust, is always other-earned over US $3million – the result of movement of value [money] from earners to non-earners, which happens even without human agency…just by the essential nature of transaction – the 2 things exchanged cannot be of equal value, cannot and do not represent equal amounts of contribution to society through work – especially since in most transactions people are trying to pull outlays and returns as far apart as possible – therefore every transaction contains a unilateral transfer of value in return for nothing – on top of a fair exchange – no robbery….and that over trillions of transactions, this drop of inequity becomes an ocean of inequity increasing with every transaction. (in a nonprofit org everyone gets paid so what are profits?) It is hard to beg a dollar but easy to get $11 for something for which the total costs are $10 [not that I’m going to argue for dropping the profit system – it is not necessary or desirable – the theft is best countered for at the macromacro level]

    2] is always tyrannous

    3] is a diminution of happiness, of quality of life, for the wealthpowerful as well as for the underpaid/overworked – and that therefore there is in fact no one to fight – just all to convince that they already agree. There are at present few or none who would react to getting $1 billion as to getting a poisonous snake – but this is the truth, that keeping other-earned wealth is keeping what bites and kills you, and everyone already agrees [in some parts of their complex and self-contradictory selves] – so we only need to make people consistent with that part of themselves. Therefore no force is required. Getting people to see that inequity equals greatly diminished happiness for ALL is what is needed and what is possible.

    In short what many say is: we CAN successfully fight giants. I say that if the simple truth were seen [the obvious is the hardest to see] NO one accessible to sense would want to BE a giant. Everyone would cooperate to diminish inequity. There would be no enemy, no fight.

    One difficulty is that this concept is super-macro-economic – it is a big-picture view – it is visible only to those who can see big, and many are the voices that witness to the failure of human intelligence to see the big picture. Those who see part of the picture are asleep. Small things are easier for people to see.

    If what I say is true, there is a far greater hope than we have known…so much greater that it is hard to get people to hope it is true, sufficiently to get them to look at it and check it out. The far greater hope [and it is not visionary, pie-in-the-sky, utopian of any of the other putdowns or put-offs people who are greatly weakened by the historical nightmare and endless daily string of injustices, disasters, horrors and shames put forward] is that people can see that by limiting individual wealthpower to the maximum that an individual can work [contribute value to society by work] in a lifetime, or even to twice the maximum, that one can limit the size of giants…of selfishness, myopia, callousness, indifference, murderousness…to greatly reduce the size of fights and thus increase the success rate enormously and reduce the cost in human life [cost of time spent fighting for rights, as well as the cost of actual deaths].

    The strength of the argument is in the argument that wealthpower inequity is very bad for the wealthy/powerful. It is already clear that it is very bad for the poor/powerless.

    We must see that it is just as very bad for the wealthpower giants;

    1] because the conflict it generates has already escalated weaponry to extinction-of-species point, to the death of every living thing, the death of society, the death of wealthpower ….with one sooner-or-later inevitable nuclear accident. Even without this totally compelling argument, there are strong arguments against wealthpower.

    2] the wealthy/powerful (w/p) pollute their environment with a great majority of people with resentment [righteous], hatred, poor health, poor education, prey to demagogues, with toughness from the deadly struggle for existence among the poor that makes mafias which unstoppably rise to the top of the heap and endlessly challenge and take over from the w/p. The w/p, instead of living on a prairie among friendly neighbors, live up a tree in a swamp full of crocodiles [French plutocracy guillotined, ceausescu shot etc., etc.]. Extremes are brief. The greater the w/p, the greater the attacks on it, the briefer the stay [rags to riches to rags in 3 generations…as many enemies as servants]. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown…Beggars fear no robbers…etc – ie w/p is brief, dangerous [it is the rich who tremble in revolutions] the w/p spend all their lives wasted protecting themselves [hostile takeovers, rockefellers with electric fences, bomb- and bulletproof cars, staying cut off from the world, avoiding dangerous areas, isolated, cut off from the fun of the tribe [which must be tough considering how gregarious human nature is] [the paranoia of stalin – amusingly portrayed in ‘first circle’ solzhenitsyn] – the greater the w/p, the greater the poverty, the greater the toughness generated to get up from poverty – the poorest are toughest and therefore conquer in time all the richer, necessarily softer social levels above them – sicilian poverty + 50 years = mafia bigger than top 5 corporations – every most extreme poverty is generating a mafia tougher than all softer levels above – so it’s tough at the top.

    If you fight against w/p, you say implicitly that w/p is good, because you say implicitly: it is not true that w/p is bad for the w/p, but good, so the only thing we can do is fight them. fighting against them, you say that fighting is right, necessary, good, is effective – so they are reinforced in their own fighting.

    But this will lead only to a new w/p taking over. The striking at the root revolution is to [learn and] show that w/p is bad – if it is true that w/p is bad for the w/p as well, then it is a pity to waste the arguments that will bring converts to your side. As I say, until a majority are clear that w/p is bad, as bad as a poisonous snake, there is no change: the revolution will be hijacked or sabotaged by the winners of it who are not clear that w/p is bad for the w/p! (as the communist revolution was said to have been hijacked 5 months after the revolution). They who fight for freedom from being slaves themselves, but do not destroy the mis-knowledge that generates the master-slave system – they are merely fighting for freedom from slavery/oppression/injustice/exploitation/humiliation/being used, but still carrying the seed of the master-slave system because they have not learned w/p is bad. The mindset remains “the landlords oppress the peasants, may I be a landlord” – it never changes to “the landlords oppress the peasants, let there be an end to having landlords and peasants!” – and so what steps into the vacuum left by the destruction of the old order is the next set of thugs, not the people, who are the weakest in aggression, greed and cunning.

    The interesting thing [intellectually] and one of the heartening things, is that everyone in the world already agrees. It’s just that everyone is conditioned to think in master-slave terms, brainwashed by history almost 100% free from examples of anything else.

    Proof that everyone already believes: Propose as a good idea that 80% of income-receivers have 90% of their income given to 0.1% of the remainder. [the 0.1% will get an average of $7210 an hour, the 19.9% will get average $10 an hr, the 80% get average $1 an hr]. Everyone will say that this is a supremely dumb idea, with no benefits …that no government would ever propose such an idea, and would be quickly driven out if they did. Everyone will agree, on a little reflection, that such a scheme would require huge police/army forces to keep law and order, that the 80% would always be rebelling, rioting, assassinating, that the 0.1% would be under endless attack and inevitably sooner-or-later fall under the endless pressure of attack, that the middle class on $10 would have a lot of trouble too, that oppression would come from above and attack from below as the deprived and enslaved try to get up [why punishment for theft has to be so severe and cruel in iniquitous states…eg middle east or 18th century england] …that the conflict weaponry cruelty secretpolice disappearances etc will escalate until equity or extinction – population going to ??billion and topsoil going to zero in next 100 years – ie huge vandal/goth type migrations fighting over remaining shrinking topsoil areas.

    Then you can point out that planet earth is in the same state, in greater degree. 80% are on from 1 cent to $1 an hour, 99% are on less than US $10 an hr, and 1% are on from $10 to $10,000,000 [!!!] an hour.

    Extinction [given the inevitability of nuclear accident, the escalation of conflict inevitable with even non-increasing inequity, and that 1/60th of the present bombs are enough to blanket the whole globe in smoke for long enough to kill everything] looks to be due in 30 years, plus or minus 30 years. The future is approaching at the rate of one second per second – humans have little time to stop being so soft on injustice angora kittens are jealous.

    Because the leadership is usurped by the w/p struggle [lions where the carcass is – fighting more intense where the w/p is greatest, corporate infighting, rival mafias, drug-lords etc.] nothing is being done to stop the topsoil being lost at 1% per annum.

    So I am saying that fighting for rights [from giants] IS the master-slave system, and those who fight for rights are, without being conscious they are, in the same club with mafias and triads that rise from oppression and forget to stop at equity [getting as much as you earn] and plough on to the misery of w/p [unfortunately, inequity is self-accelerating – you cannot have moderate inequity – the more that people are pushed down, the faster and further they rise – economic/political life is a waterbed]

    Nothing in excess. Maximum satisfaction [what the rolling stones can’t get] comes from moderation. Extremes are vices.

    If we get first the vision beyond the brainwashing of history, if we get the vision of moderation, the vision that self-earned money is very very good, and other-earned money is very very bad because it means escalation of conflict to extinction [tomorrow], that there is no insulation from misery, that misery is extremely contagious and flies on the fastest planes [SARS, AIDS] and inequity is a rough ocean, and crests on that ocean are no better that troughs, that a master is as miserable as his slaves in fact (albeit not in superficial view)…………….only in this new vision will there be a genuine revolution.

    Everyone can learn. Each one teach 2. The grassroots, word-of-mouth, no-leader, no organization approach is needed because the w/p will inhibit it [control media, bomb headquarters, infiltrate and subvert and co-opt organisations, etc]…but elephants can’t catch fleas. Change the understanding of 5 billion of working age first (get the human herd’s Bellweathers clear and thus on board to begin with, then watch the herd instinct begin to work FOR us), then there is a very small, slight enemy – and, bloodless revolution. And lasting peace on earth for the first time.

  7. davetaylor1
    February 7, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Ack, I am amazed how many words you have been able to put together in the 4 hrs 42 minutes between your two contributions. It could take me a week to write that much! As for content, as usual I agree with you: here especially on Einstein, the risk of extinction, top-soil destruction and (“If we get first the vision beyond the brainwashing of history, if we get the vision of moderation, the vision that self-earned money is very very good, and other-earned money is very very bad … “) the hopeful possibility of doing what is needed: ” Change the understanding of 5 billion of working age first … then watch the herd instinct begin to work FOR us)”.

    I am less sanguine about “lasting peace on earth”, since every generation has to be taught anew to grow out of selfishness and into seeing the wisdom of moderation and I suggest) allowing conductors or leaders of the human orchestra to do their job, harmonise the contributions and timing of its different instruments and not allow the instrumentalists to compete in a competitve free market of being heard, turning music into cacophony.

    But in what way do you propose to “change the understanding”? Understanding is the right word: I think it is an issue not of of motivation but of growing up. Learning to tell the difference between right and wrong; how to make things work and how to put them right when they go wrong (as they do); how to curb “animal spirits” to become able to replace domination of by cooperation with others; something our age of “positive science” has forgotten: how to read empathically as well as literally and critically (this applying even to mathematics: can you see why someone might draw a Euclid straight line on a balloon, then blow it up?): that a theoretical map or model of the world doesn’t tell you what is in the world, if you know what you are looking for, it tells you where to look to see the reality.

    On which note I will go to the start of this in Mark Weisbrot’s original article. Again I am very appreciative of his comments about dominance of the EU by the unelected (not forgetting tthat hese, including the IMF and World Bank, are largely American). I am less sanguine about his interpretation of employment recovery in the US. From what I hear, once-productive states in the US have been raped just as surely as countries like Greece and Ireland have been raped in the EU. As for his employment figures, it seems to me the statistics on which these are based seem to me just as dodgy as those for voting in elections. To say the winners won 40% of the vote vastly overstates the reality if only 50% were on the electorial register.

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