Greece up­heaval

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

In the not-so-tec­tonic shift to­wards world cor­po­ratism, fault lineXs seem to arise at an in­creas­ing pace. When they do, the usual po­lar­ized ad­vo­cates rear up. A rel­a­tively new breed of econ­o­mists and observers – from Canada’s Naomi Klein to France’s Thomas Piketty – paint a bleak pic­ture of the fu­ture un­der un­reined money in­ter­ests, a world of stark eco­nomic in­equal­ity and weak­ened state sovereignty.

Apol­o­gists in the other camp rage against that vi­sion, at­tribut­ing it to left-wing, so­cial­ist-com­mu­nist pro­pa­ganda.

No one seems to no­tice that the goal­posts have moved. That the failed ex­per­i­ments of 20th-cen­tury com­mu­nism have long since with­ered away.

Few of the peo­ple who op­pose the cur­rent world eco­nomic or­der would en­dorse in its place ar­chaic Marx­ist-Lenin­ist poli­cies. Klein her­self in­sists she be­lieves in a mixed econ­omy, cap­i­tal­ism com­bined with gov­ern­ment con­trols and so­cial ser­vices. And in fact, ev­ery so-called cap­i­tal­ist regime in the world falls some­where within this spec­trum.

Strictly so­cial­ist coun­tries stand lit­tle chance against the steady march of regime change de­manded by or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund.

Right now, Greece is in the spotlight for its re­fusal to im­ple­ment aus­tere eco­nomic poli­cies. On Sun­day, cit­i­zens will vote on a bailout pack­age that comes with what most see as a fi­nal chance to stay within the Euro­pean fold.

If it re­fuses, the coun­try will in­evitably go bank­rupt and be thrown to the wolves.

Naomi Klein has held Greece up as a prime ex­am­ple of The Shock Doc­trine in ac­tion. Her 2008 book of the same name ar­gues that mo­ments of cat­a­strophic up­heaval, from nat­u­ral dis­as­ter to eco­nomic col­lapse, are ex­ploited by far-right forces to im­pose rad­i­cal free mar­ket poli­cies in the re­gions af­fected. In an April 2013 in­ter­view with the Greek online news agency EnetEnglish, Klein noted how the cur­rent cri­sis re­flects re­al­i­ties she’s seen be­fore.

“What I’ve been fol­low­ing re­cently is the sell-off of nat­u­ral re­sources for min­ing and drilling,” she said. “That’s the next fron­tier of how this is go­ing to play out. … This is a whole other level of us­ing aus­ter­ity and debt to force coun­tries to sell off their min­ing and drilling rights for fire sale prices.”

The coun­try’s na­tional psy­che also comes into play.

“Greeks have this par­tic­u­lar fear that’s be­ing ex­ploited … the fear of be­com­ing a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, be­com­ing a Third World coun­try,” she said. “And I think in Greece there’s al­ways been this sense of hang­ing on to Europe by a thread. And the threat is hav­ing that thread cut.”

As of Fri­day, polls in Greece in­di­cated a vir­tual tie on the ref­er­en­dum ques­tion. It is a coun­try on the verge of a ma­jor turn­ing point – one that could turn ugly if the rift pre­cip­i­tates the rise of in­creas­ingly rad­i­cal­ized fac­tions.

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