The Catastrophic Management of Catastrophe

Neoliberalism is the chaotic theory of economic chaos,
the stupid exultation of social stupidity,
and the catastrophic political management of catastrophe.
~ Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN

The catastrophic management of catastrophe. If there is one line that describes the nature of neoliberal crisis management, that must be it. From Mexico and Latin America in 1982 to the South-East Asian crisis of 1997-’98, and from Turkey and Argentina in the early 2000s to the European debt crisis from 2010 onward — the most catastrophic thing about neoliberal crisis management is not only that it has a penchant to turn already catastrophic financial crises caused by runaway private speculation into an immense source of private gain for the same very financiers responsible for the catastrophe to begin with; but, even more nefariously, that it makes those catastrophes so much more catastrophic than they really need to be for almost everyone else.

… The neoliberal ethos can really be summarized in a straightforward principle: “privatize profits and socialize losses!” Or, perhaps more appropriately: “fuck everyone else!”

Read the full diabtribe by Jerome Roos here: Neoliberalism, or The Catastrophic Management of Catastrophe, ROAR Magazine

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Greece: Impossible Biographies, Golden Dawns

Many years before the first clouds of the crisis would hover over the Greek skies, amidst Greek society’s most glorious of moments and its most mundane of days, the lives and labour of migrants would be faced with their meticulous devaluation. For them, the crisis has by now come of age. Yet despite and against shallow journalistic interpretations, there is nothing humanitarian about it. This is because for them the crisis was from the upstart orchestrated politically, socially and militarily. In this way, the discourse about racism in crisis-ridden Greece merely obfuscates and comes in handy. For it obscures exactly how structural this devaluation had been for the development of the Greek state in itself, as well as for the self-perception of Greek society. Yet the crisis knows how to twist meanings too. Today, migrants are accused of the very decline of the Greek edifice. And within this twisted world, their devaluation takes on a more offensive and, at the same time, a more legitimate form. Impossible Biographies, as part of the research project The City at a Time of Crisis, bears witness to this offensive.

How is the rise of the Greek neo-Nazi movement Golden Dawn related to the structural crisis of global and EU neoliberalism?

nikos-michaloliakos-leader-of-greek-neonazi-party-golden-dawn

“It would be a mistake to think that the rise of Golden Dawn is a uniquely Greek problem. On the contrary, it is the seed that contains the destruction of the entire EU project. The responsibility for the rise of Golden Dawn reaches far outside the borders of Greece. To understand the rise of Golden Dawn we must look past the black-shirted thugs and simplistic ideology of racist nationalism to the genteel bankers and international financial speculators who are currently being allowed to brutalize entire populations in the search for profits. This story is not so different from what has happened before in other European countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal and even Germany where far-right extremists have ridden waves of popular anger to power. Golden Dawn proves that our fantasies of “post-nationalism” and “European integration” were premature. Economic and political inequality is still capable of producing violent paroxysms of ethnic nationalism. Until Europeans can learn to mitigate these effects of capitalism, they are bound to repeat its sad and painful history. Greece, which has always been the weakest of the Eurozone economies, is today the most extreme example of the effects of neoliberal austerity, but it is not unique. Unfortunately it is likely a harbinger of things to come.”

Christopher Lawrence, Greece’s Golden Dawn: A Wake-up Call for Europe, Truthout, 20 August 2013

The dangers of austerity and debtocracy

Eurozone Neoliberal Racovery Plan Bailouts Austerity Stagflation

Deespite the obvious failure of austerity (recently admitted even by the IMF regarding its role in the Greek debt crisis), the odious doctrine still dominates economic policy in Europe, resulting in crippling recession and high unemployment.

Mark Blyth, author of Austerity: the History of a Dangerous Idea, argues that not only has the policy of slashing state spending so far failed to repair the economy, it can never work. Policymakers must examine the evidence of austerity’s failure and not be afraid to change their minds before it’s too late.

Austerity is a zombie economic idea because it has been disproven time and again, but it just keeps coming.  Partly because the commonsense notion that “more debt doesn’t cure debt” remains seductive in its simplicity, and partly because it enables conservatives to try (once again) to run the detested welfare state out of town, it never seems to die. 

In sum, austerity is a dangerous idea for three reasons: it doesn’t work in practice, it relies on the poor paying for the mistakes of the rich, and it rests upon the absence of a rather large fallacy of composition that is all too present in the modern world.

Austerity is the penance – the virtuous pain after the immoral party – except it is not going to be a diet of pain that we shall all share.  Few of us were invited to the party, but we are all being asked to pay the bill.

The alternative to austerity? Stop doing it!

Which leads us to Debtocracy, a 2011 Greek documentary by Katerina Kitidi and Aris Hatzistefanou. The production team coined the word “debtocracy” (Greek “Χρεοκρατία”), defining it as the condition by which Greece found itself trapped in its debt. With the help of the theory of odious debt and the case studies of Argentina and Ecuador the film tries to point to an alternative solution to the austerity paradigm imposed by international creditors.