Monday, October 24, 2011

Greek Mythology

Marshall Auerback and Rob Parenteau do a great job demolishing the myth that the Greeks are in economic trouble because they are a bunch of lazy, profligate bums. With neoliberal capitalism in a state of severe crisis, we are increasingly treated with the silly stereotypes that seem to pass for economic analysis in much of the mainstream media and in elite political discourse.

People in the developing world would find none of this surprising, as they have long been characterized as lazy, corrupt, uncooperative, prone to authoritarianism, overly emotional, etc., and these stereotypes have been used to justify brutal neoliberal "reforms" in countries across the globe.

Now, with the Eurozone in trouble, the Greeks, Italians, Spaniards and others are being blamed for crashing the system through their bad "Mediterranean" habits. The result is that neoliberal capitalism and its wealthy supporters are left off the hook while ordinary people must suffer brutal austerity. This is not a just system.


  1. Excellent article, John. Thanks for linking it!

    A friend of mine living in Finland noted there has been a lot of public ire raised at the Greek demonstrations, because they assume (based on the EU- and IMF-biased official news sources) that the Greeks are simply demanding more credit (and the Finnish government is lining up to essentially take the hit). I think this article shows that this is not necessarily even close to the case, given that the fiscal situation is not necessarily a function even of the vestigial Greek welfare state.

  2. Hello Matthew,

    Thanks for the comment! It is really amazing how blame for the crisis went from the financial industry to "bloated welfare states." The mainstream media certainly had a hand in this.

  3. Good find. A very important point was made about how the corrupt bargain was made between the plutocrats and the military. I guess all that was in the way to prevent this collaboration was King Constantine II. This is why the Regime of Colonels abolished the monarchy in a sham plebiscite. This is why the Greeks made a critical error abolishing the monarchy in their own plebiscite. The plutocrats were the real winners with the formation of the Hellenic Republic.

  4. Hi CA,

    Thanks for the comment. For the plutocrats, monarchs are only good as long as they are useful, which usually means reducing them to a mere symbolic head of state.