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Class War For Idiots / November 22, 2011
By Mark Ames

This article is cross-posted on Naked Capitalism.

A friend of mine sent me this link claiming that UC Davis chancellor “Chemical” Linda Katehi, whose crackdown on peaceful university students shocked America, played a role in allowing Greece security forces to raid university campuses for the first time since the junta was overthrown in 1974. (H/T: Crooked Timber) I’ve checked this out with our friend in Athens, reporter Kostas Kallergis (who runs the local blog “When The Crisis Hits The Fan”), and he confirmed it–Linda Katehi really is the worst of all possible chancellors imaginable, the worst for us, and the worst for her native Greece.

First, some background: Last week, The eXiled published two pieces on Greece’s doomed struggle against global financial institutions—an article on how the EU and Western bankers essentially overthrew the nearly-uppity government of prime minister George Papandreou, and replaced it with a banker-friendly “technocratic” government that includes real-life, no-bullshit neo-Nazis and fascists from the LAOS party, fascists with a banker-friendly fetish for imposing austerity measures. One of those fascists, Makis “Hammer” Voridis, spent his early 20s “hammering” non-fascist students for sport. Voridis was booted out of Athens University law school after ax-bashing fellow law students who didn’t share his fascist ideology. Today, Mikaes Voridis is the Minister for Infrastructure in the “technocratic” government. Imagine Lt. John Pike in leather and an 80s hairdo, carrying a homemade ax rather than a pepper spray weapon, and you have Makis “Hammer” Voridis.

We also published a powerful and necessary history primer by Greek journalist Kostas Kallergis on the almost-holy significance of the date November 17 in contemporary Greek history. On that day in 1973, pro-democracy students at the Athens Polytechnic university were crushed by tanks and soldiers sent in by the ruling junta dictatorship, which collapsed less than a year later, returning democracy to Greece. With CIA backing, the generals in the junta overthrew Greece’s democracy in 1967, jailed and tortured suspected leftists (meaning students and union leaders), and even went the extra-weird-fascist mile by banning the Beatles, mini-skirts, long hair, along with Mark Twain and Sophocles. The student rebellion at the Polytechnic, and its martyrdom, became the symbol for Greeks of their fight against fascism and tyranny, something like the briefcase man at Tiananmen Square, or the slaughtered rebels of the Boston Tea Party Massacre.

That is why, as soon as the junta was overthrown and democracy restored in 1974, Greece immediately banned the presence of army, police or state security forces on university campuses. This so-called “university asylum” law turned Greece’s university campuses into cop-free zones of “political asylum,” where no one could interfere in the students’ rights to dissent against the government.

Athens Polytechnic uprising against junta: Try to find Linda Katehi in this photo

Today, thanks in part to UC Davis chancellor “Chemical” Linda Katehi, Greek university campuses are no longer protected from state security forces. She helped undo her native country’s “university asylum” laws just in time for the latest austerity measures to kick in. Incredibly, Katehi attacked university campus freedom despite the fact that she was once a student at the very center of Greece’s anti-junta, pro-democracy rebellion–although what she was doing there, if anything at all, no one really knows.

Here’s the sordid back-story: Linda Katehi was born in Athens in 1954 and got her undergraduate degree at the famous Athens Polytechnic. She just happened to be the right age to be a student at the Polytechnic university on the very day, November 17, 1973, when the junta sent in tanks and soldiers to crush her fellow pro-democracy students. It was only after democracy was restored in 1974–and Greek university campuses were turned into police-free “asylum zones”–that Linda Katehi eventually moved to the USA, earning her PhD at UCLA.

Earlier this year, Linda Katehi served on an “International Committee On Higher Education In Greece,” along with a handful of American, European and Asian academics. The ostensible goal was to “reform” Greece’s university system. The real problem, from the real powers behind the scenes (banksters and the EU), was how to get Greece under control as the austerity-screws tightened. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that squeezing more money from Greece’s beleaguered citizens would mean clamping down on Greece’s democracy and doing something about those pesky Greek university students. And that meant taking away the universities’ “amnesty” protection, in place for nearly four decades, so that no one, nowhere, would be safe from police truncheons, gas, or bullets.

Thanks to the EU, bankers, and UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi, university freedom for Greece’s students has taken a huge, dark step backwards.

Here you can read a translation of the report co-authored by UC Davis’ Linda Katehi–the report which brought about the end of Greece’s “university asylum” law.What’s particularly disturbing is that Linda Katehi was the only Greek on that commission. Presumably that would give her a certain amount of extra sway–both because of her inside knowledge, and because of her moral authority among the other non-Greek committee members. And yet, Linda Katehi signed off on a report that provided the rationale for repealing Greece’s long-standing “university asylum” law. She basically helped undo the very heart and soul of Greece’s pro-democracy uprising against the junta.

And perfect timing too, now that one of Greece’s most notorious pro-junta fascists is a member of the new austerity government.

Popular Greek cyber-graphic: “Bread. Education. Freedom*”

One more thing: Kallergis did a search in the Greek language of Linda Katehi’s interviews to see what she had to say about her experience at the Polytechnic in 1973, what she remembered of it, and how it affected her. What he found was troubling to say the least.

The interview in Greek with Linda Katehi can be found here at this American Greek site. Our man in Athens, Kostas Kallergis, picked out two specific questions about November 17, 1973, and Linda Katehi’s answers–if you can call these answers. Here are the questions and answers, with Kallergis’ translations and comments, which he provided to The eXiled:

Σπουδάσατε σε περίοδο έντονης πόλωσης στην πολιτική στην Ελλάδα και πολλοί συμφοιτητές σας δεν έμειναν αδρανείς. Εσείς αναμειχθήκατε στα πολιτικά πράγματα;

-Φυσικά, όπως όλοι άλλωστε. Πως να σε αφήσουν αδιάφορο όλες αυτές οι αναταραχές;

Q: “You studied during a very politically polarized period in Greece and many of your fellow students did not stay still/dormant. Did you get involved in the political developments?”

Linda Katehi: “Of course, as everybody else. How could that upheavel leave you indifferent?”

Kallergis comments: “Katehi is offered an opportunity to give an account of her political activities of that time, and yet she only replies with a vague, very general answer. It seems very odd.”

Second question:

Δραστηριοποιείστε πολιτικά;

-Ποτέ δεν έχω αναμειχθεί στα πολιτικά.

Q: Are you involved in politics now?

Linda Katehi: I have never been involved in politics.

Kallergis comments: “I guess you can see the contradiction… they are both from the same single interview.”

She’s the right goon for the right time: As Yasha Levine reported two years ago, UC students have been battling against rapacious austerity measures jacking up their fees in order to pay back Wall Street bankers who bet and lost UC pension funds. That’s a big reason why UC students are fed up and Going Occupy. And “Chemical” Katehi’s answer is the sort of answer banksters like hearing: Stomp out dissent and squeeze every last drop of juice out of them that you can.

You always expect your monsters to look like monsters and talk like monsters; but the best, most effective vehicles for evil are always these anti-matter humans, these hollow voids, the “nothing person” that the great Russian writer Yuri Trifonov described so mercilessly and perfectly in House on the Embankment.

For more on “Chemical” Linda Katehi, watch this stunning silent protest by UC Davis students (H/T Lee Fang):

Also, watch Linda Katehi telling ABC’s Good Morning America that she refuses to resign, claiming, “The university needs me.”

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Indeed, just like Greece. How can anyone live without you people.

Would you like to know more? Read Mark Ames’ article “Austerity & Fascism in Greece: The Real 1-Percent Doctrine.” Also read Kostas Kallergis’ article “November 17: Why This Day Is So Important For Greeks.”

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

Click the cover & buy the book!


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Add your own

  • 1. First Amendment Fan  |  November 22nd, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I’m a UC Davis alumni. Here’s two things the authorities don’t want you to know about UCD: 1) From Friday afternoon to Monday morning that Quad is a ghost town. Nobody is there, and there’s nothing to do. If Occupy was protesting there over the weekend it wouldn’t interrupt anything or inconvenience anyone. Why? Because budget cuts have completely closed the campus on weekends. 2) The only reason Occupy was attacked was because they were saying mean things about UC fee hikes ($20,000 a year by 2015–Google it.) Hippies have been camping on that Quad for decades without facing militarized goon forces. It’s called Earth Day. Also, I hung out there until the very late hours of the morning many times and nobody said a peep.

  • 2. Theseus  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 12:52 am

    I’m pretending like I don’t understand this. hopefully this will bother you.

  • 3. bighead  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 2:35 am

    “slaughtered rebels of the Boston Tea Party”

    Huh? Did I miss something in my high school history class?

    Oh, bos

  • 4. Lev  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Fantastic article!

    Food for thought:

    I would venture to argue that our only obi-wan-kenoby-hope is to make the technocratic-oligarchic elites SCARED.

    So, why not randomly choose a warning example – for example this walking void of a woman – and just keep pressuring her, only her, month after month, non-stop, at least untill she loses her job or goes crazy or something.

    (Or the swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, the fanatical nazi-feminist, who is after Julian Assange and is thus working as an useful idiot for the reactionary bastards.)

    And how about a similar operation on an institutional level?

    Why not randomly pick some smallish lobbying firm, small enough to fail – say the one that was hired to smear OWS – and just keep on harrasing and smearing them, just non stop. Block their e-mails, fax, phones, distribute leaflets that higlight their nasty deeds, talk to people who know them, find the skeletons in their closets etc etc.

    It would still be more human than what would’ve happened to them in the olden days. If you can take down the feudal lord, take down his lackey. That should make him feel slightly uncomfortable.

  • 5. Ozinator  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Damn! I too read the Crooked Timber piece and have been checking here and elsewhere to see if anyone had answered what she did on campus back then. Though the silent vessel thing in conjunction with what she actually recently did to Greece and UC Davis is enough to hate and shame this person, I’d think getting some evidence on her at that school would be great.

    Whenever you see an expat from a place where the people just made things uncomfortable for their fascists, it’s a good guess what they were about.

    Maybe look into her parents?

  • 6. Ozinator  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 5:31 am

    this only says that her dad played in a navy band and her mom was a stay at home mom before starting a business—maybe not odd but the article earlier made it sound so amazing that she went to college given her so humble beginnings

    “Katehi, 55, spent her childhood in Paloukia at a time when people in the small, working-class town had few expectations for their children, especially the girls. Becoming a university chancellor is a far cry from anything she or her parents could ever have imagined”.–So here they replace parents with her town. She also works in for no reason how her parents aren’t computer savvy. I smell bullshit

  • 7. Internationalist  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Brussels and Frankfurt have been taken over by corrupt arseholes. Just like Washington. However, to ask for the breakup of the eurozone and by extension the EU is the Yoorpean equivalent of teatard blather about “states rights”.

    Political fragmentation, in Europe and elsewhere, is the hand-maiden of reckless economic globalisation. “Populist nationalism” is a fucking chimera. I understand that having a mancrush on Gerry Adams is useful to stay in Dolan’s good graces, but the sad fact of the matter is that he would as willing to turn a “sovereign” Ireland into a slightly larger version of the Cayman Islands as the next Irish establishment cocksucker.

    “National independence” leads to “national greatness”, national greatness requires social dumping and competitive de-regulation to keep them investors happy.

    No offence to our Greek friends, but the real story is happening in Germany. There is a small but highly influential neoliberal element within the German establishment that regards the objectionable, punitive, intolerable adjustment the PIGS (charming name) are forced to go through as a useful means to an end…the end being the breakup of the euro area. To the enemies of labour in Germany and Europe in general, nothing would be sweeter than the replacement of the EU by a sort of „EFTA“ (European Free Trade Agreement), and the conversion of Germany’s (former) EU partners into what, after a collapse of their re-introduced national currencies, would be effectively reservoirs of cheap labour with a hunger for financial “innovation” and the aforementioned competitive de-regulation and fiscal dumping, and more than willing to subject their assets to a firesale in exchange for „harder“ monies.

    Such are the enemies of the euro, the clueless “leftist” philo-nationalists and the radical free-marketeers. The latter group happens to know exactly what it wants.

    You should drop the hipster buffoon who writes irrelevant shite for you on what’s going on in Germany, and start some serious research on the neolibs who want to destroy the euro while pretending to defend its solidity. Two solid tips: look up the names “Hans Werner Sinn”, and “Hans-Olaf Henkel”.

  • 8. Internationalist  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 6:14 am

    BTW, riddle me this: why do the Koch brothers fucking hate the EU?

  • 9. Whyawannknow  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Mark, that’s “slaughtered rebels of the Boston MASSACRE”, not of the Boston Tea Party. The tea dump had no body count.

    Crispus Attucks and the rest were shot in a different incident, only tea involved was whatever the lobster backs spilled while grabbing their muskets.

  • 10. vortexgods  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 6:35 am

    “You always expect your monsters to look like monsters and talk like monsters; but the best, most effective vehicles for evil are always these anti-matter humans, these hollow voids, the “nothing person” that the great Russian writer Yuri Trifonov described so mercilessly and perfectly in House on the Embankment.”

    Hmm… this describes Katehi perfectly, but I also get an image of Barack Obama in my head when I read it….

  • 11. Trevor  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Why the hell do people go through this predictable cycle of radical youth to conservative fogey? It can’t just be the comfort and security of being established, I know plenty of people who don’t have that and they’re still reactionary dweebs.

  • 12. Lev  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 11:38 am

    @ Trevor: Because it takes them 30 years to find out that the ideas they got all worked up with were pretty lame, self righteous and trivial. Then they want some easy way out of that existential crisis and merely turn the trivial bs on its head. Well, a turd is a turd, no matter how you position it. The most obvious example of this is libertarianism. It’s just hippie babble turned on its head.

  • 13. John  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I don’t see where in the report there is a call to end Greece’s “University asylum law.” Where is that?

    All in tall, the report’s recommendations strike me as positive things.

    What am I missing here? Where are the evil recommendations?

  • 14. Duarte Guerreiro  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Treason season continues. It seems it doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you are willing to take those 30 pieces of silver, the oligarchy will make sure you are given a comfortable seat.

    Reminds me of our very own traitor, EU Commissioner Barroso, who was one of those ultra left wing hipster revolutionaries during the Carnation Revolution after the communists did all the heavy lifting and then promptly turned neoliberal when the winds changed. Got himself elected on a deficit scare back when the Euro was already fucking everything up and then promptly fled mid-term to head the Commission, leaving one of his party hacks in charge, unelected.

    To live to see them suffer. Morte aos traidores.

  • 15. Urda  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Yeah but the problem is a large amount of Greeks continue to trust the leadership,even though it was obvious that it cared more about looking good in American and European eyes then it did about protecting the Greeks who lived in Greece.

    I remember reading articles in yahoo and other news source,talking about the “seething” politicians just waiting for the Prime minister to cross a line on austerity and then revolt against the EU and the IMF.

    It is all bs,Greece has some independent leaders but they are not socialists and they are not anywhere near the top.It is a system,where those who work with foreign interests stay in power or get promoted to somewhere outside of Greece and those who oppose them get dropped.

    What is amazing to me,was the blind trust so many Greeks had in their leftist leaders….even the die-hard communist supporters at one point made a ring around parliament to protect it from protesters.

    It is a culture that will blame Albanians,Germans and Turks years before they start calling their leaders to task for the State of their country….it wasn’t till 2011 that most Greeks realized their PM was not qualified to run their country.

  • 16. my talkative ringpiece  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I wouldn’t piss on the UC system if it were on fire. Universities in the US are like the Catholic Church in …. some really Catholic country. Holy. Untouchable. And utterly evil and venal and corrupt. What a racket! Students going $50k into debt and ending up stocking shelves at the local Mart or selling socks at a flea market anyway, hell, most churches only want you to tithe 10% not sign your life away.

  • 17. Dammerung  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    It was said that Syrians would fight to the last Egyptian against Israel in the six day war.

    So Greeks will spend to the last Deutschmark.

  • 18. Miguel  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    @13 The part where the report recommends ‘The politicization of the campuses – and specifically the politicization of students – represents a beyond-reasonable involvement in the political process. This is contributing to an accelerated degradation of higher education.’ Frankly I have no idea what this has to do with ‘quality of education’.

  • 19. boson  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    @7: but German neoliberals could achieve these goals by keeping the periphery countries WITHIN the euro and forcing them to carry out harsh austerity measures, resulting in “internal devaluation” (falling wages etc.).
    breaking up the euro would be too risky for them

  • 20. Antonis Zervas  |  November 24th, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Hi, I am a troll. I will pretend that you don’t know what you’re talking about even though I know that your conclusions are drawn from a local Greek reporter as well as a professor of business at the University of Athens, who happened to be the Deputy Minister of Education (you linked to him in your site). Nevertheless, as a troll I will try to cast doubt on your article, in the hopes that others unfamiliar with Greece will not be so sure about your conclusions. Ready? Here is my troll comment:

    You completely confused about the situation in Greek universities. Coupling it to Katehi is convenient to a VERY SUPERFICIAL analysis. The greek universities have become centers of paralysis with the political parties intervening into their administration for reasons ranging from the hiring of cleaners to who passes the annual exams all the way to selection of the presidents. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!? POLITICAL PARTIES DECIDING WHO THE CLEANING LADIES ARE! DOES THAT PROVE THAT TANKS NEED TO BE IN THE UNIVERSITIES OR WHAT? [H/T: MY BOSS HERE AT THE TROLL AGENCY] The recent reforms is a faint hope for improvement. Maybe you need to work a little bit harder and dig a little bit below the surface…

  • 21. John  |  November 24th, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Hi, I wrote above:

    “I don’t see where in the report there is a call to end Greece’s “University asylum law.” Where is that?

    “All in all, the report’s recommendations strike me as positive things.

    “What am I missing here? Where are the evil recommendations?”

    Seriously, could whoever wrote this direct me to the part of the report where there is anything relevant to ending the “University asylum law.”?

    I’m not writing this to be snotty. I actually am on the faculty of UC Davis and predisposed to believe all sorts of bad things about the administration. But I don’t see how the report your present supports your major thesis. In fact, the report seems to me a fairly platitudinous and innocuous statement advising sound administrative practices for a university. So what am I missing?


    What she did do was provide ammunition and political cover for it in the report co-authored by her. Far from tainting coverage of the UC Davis story, it provides context for understanding her disposition in it.

    “Greek university campuses are not secure. While the Constitution allows University leaders to protect campuses against elements that seek political instability, Rectors have been reluctant to exercise their rights and responsibilities, and to make decisions needed in order to keep faculty, staff and students safe. As a result, University leaders and faculty have not been able to be good stewards of the facilities they have been entrusted with by the public.

    The politicization of the campuses – and specifically the politicization of students – represents a beyond-reasonable involvement in the political process. This is contributing to an accelerated degradation of higher education.”

    This was used specifically to legitimize government crackdown on anti-austerity protesters. Katehi owns a piece of that and her contribution provides context for her disposition towards students at UC Davis.

    Further context can be drawn from her role as a member of the National Security Education Advisory Board. The statute creating it outlines a benign sounding program of scholarship for people interested in national security careers:

    The FBI has a very different perspective on it, as a tool for counter-intel and surveillance:

  • 22. John  |  November 24th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Thanks Mr. Almight Exiled Censor. I’ll check it out!

  • 23. Internationalist  |  November 24th, 2011 at 10:36 am

    “@7: but German neoliberals could achieve these goals by keeping the periphery countries WITHIN the euro and forcing them to carry out harsh austerity measures, resulting in “internal devaluation” (falling wages etc.).
    breaking up the euro would be too risky for them.”

    That assumes that keeping the periphery within the euro on an austerity diet can be done forever. It cannot. Austerity deepens the hole the periphery is in. Greece is insolvent, and if the financiers keep up their shenanigans unopposed and the austerity buttfuck continues the liquidity crisis Italy or Spain are in will turn into an insolvency crisis too. Heck, there’s already a run on German bunds, too, which should be a wake-up call for the establishment of a genuinely federal foundation for the EU but which the neolibs are selling as the smell of PIGS stinking up the cleanliness of the old D-Mark.

    There’s no downside to the destruction of the EU for the neo-liberals. Who gives a fuck about a decade-long depression when you can turn back the clock a whole century in one fell swoop? The EU, even though it can be taken over by neolibs just like a national government, is not a neo-liberal institution at its core, no matter what the pseudo-leftist philo-nationalist chumps may say. There’s a reason why Fox News, the Kochs, Vaclav Klaus, Megan McArdle or the whole fucking Tory establishment do their part to spread the “Brussels bureaucracy” meme, it’s because the EU is about establishing common standards of economic activity for its members. The neo-liberal way is to let them one-up each other in the de-regulatory stakes to get the crumbs falling off the global investment table. And fight for the crumbs they will if this implodes. In a sovereign, independent way, of course.

    In short, the neoliberals in Northern Europe (for the likes of the Dutch are happy to tag along; did I mention that Geert Wilders is commissioning a study on whether scrapping the euro would be good for Holland?) are displaying a level of recklessness that puts the Tea Party Congress to shame. It’s only that the cliché-addicted imbeciles in the Anglo media are all too happy to lap up stories about the poor traumatised Jerry squares with their quaint fears of hyperinflation. Alternatively, the EU is presented as some sort of fourth Reich of whatever, as if the neolibs gave a shit for the Vaterland and thought of anything other than fucking labour in the jacksie.

  • 24. Internationalist  |  November 24th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    On the falling wages thing: wages in the periphery have already been falling with respect to German wages due to the austerity. But why settle for simple wage deflation when you can combine it with the massacre in the currency markets that would ensue in the wake of the end of the euro? Think of all the nifty toys you could buy in Spain exchanging neo-marks for worthless neo-pesetas, think of the look of horror in the face of the union representative from IG Metall (Rhein-Neckar branch) when you tell him the toys include a new dirt-cheap factory in Cádiz you’re filling up with temp workers (formerly of “indignado” persuasion).

    Nope, the “populist-nationalist” hipsters are definitely not thinking this through.

  • 25. boson  |  November 24th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    @23, 24: what you say is scary and it is a possibility, no question.
    however i think the prospect of a decade long depression is a bit too hairy for most northern neoliberals. apart from the fallout in sales from plunging demand on the periphery you could have unrest in germany as well. the radical left has a strong infrastructure there, with die linke, ver.di etc. this is kinda dormant for now, but that might change if the going gets rough.
    most germans at the moment are happy to go along with the establishment cause even the proles can ride the high waves of the export boom and enjoy some of its crumbs, but with a europe-wide recession (or depression) those german workers might change their mind.

    you could buy up spain etc. in euros too, if the austerity drive is hard enough to force down wages and asset prices.
    hell, german banks already own most of the banking system both in the southern and esp. in the eastern periphery of the EU.

  • 26. Internationalist  |  November 25th, 2011 at 11:35 am

    You keep on talking as if halfway outcomes were possible. “The euro may survive under a hardcore neoliberal austerity regime, without great cataclismic upheavals…” No. If this goes on like this, the euro ends, unless the whole institutional arrangement of the eurozone is reformed from the ground up. Eurobonds will be needed, common financial regulation (there’s been talk of a financial transactions tax and a “European Glass-Steagall” for example), a larger common budget for the eurozone at least, ECB intervention to inflate part of the debt and provide transitional liquidity and whatnot.

    As a Spaniard who’s been living in Germany for fifteen years and counting, I can say with some confidence I have a good handle on the state of the German public opinion.

    Believe you me, the German worker is scared shitless, has been in a state of more-or-less intermittent scared-shitlessness since the 90s. Up until the mid-noughties, the mainstream media did essentially nothing but spout propaganda about how “sclerotic”, uncompetitive and even downright backward the German welfare state and industry were. That found its echo in the Anglo press, of course (remember those editorials in the Economist and the NYT about “the sick man of Europe” or “the trouble with Germany”?), but the domestic onslaught was nothing short of relentless.

    After the country started performing comparatively well in the wake of the crisis, the free-market boosterism in the media was replaced by hubris. Underneath the vile rhetoric of outlets like “Bild”, however, the old fear is alive. The country’s gains in competitiveness were largely the result of draconian wage moderation, and once the fragile German upswing stops, it will time for another round of bitter “medicine”. If the euro goes to shit, the buttrape will be epic.

    The mug of that Hans-Olaf Henkel chap I’ve mentioned is a frequent sight at TV talkshows. Years ago he was a single-minded supporter of unfettering the invisible magic hand of the market. These days, he’s touring the country, telling folks their money has to be “rescued” from inflation and the eurozone broken up, in twain at least. He’s doing now the exact same thing he did then, serving the exact same interests.

    I’m not a big fan of Naomi Klein’s whole “Shock Doctrine” schtick. It’s certainly a shrewd way to package a much-needed criticism of capitalism, but not necessarily a grand unified theory of the neo-liberal operating procedure. All prissy caveats aside, though, if you want to see the mother of all “shocks”, wait for the end of the euro.

  • 27. Internationalist  |  November 25th, 2011 at 11:50 am

    As for the periphery…When the bargain-basement “Keynesians” of the world wax lyrical about the advantages of sovereign currencies, what they’re really talking about is dropping the “PIGS” into a kind of Ricardian quagmire. David Ricardo’s talk about free international trade was fine for its time, except for the trifling little detail that its prescriptions allowed the English to complete the Industrial Revolution (by producing textiles), while the Portuguese were supposed to specialise in remaining agrarian and poor (by selling wine). That’s why open international trade is basically only fair when it’s carried out among developed economies.

    Now, when a country like Greece that imports lots of higher value-added stuff from other countries devalues its currency, said stuff becomes expensive and is thus not suitable for the Greek to use in manufacturing stuff of their own. The Greek economy therefore tends to specialise in the business-as-usual lower value-added autochthonous stuff. This is borne out by empirical evidence: the drachma dropped to a fraction of its value with respect to the D-Mark between 1970 and the end of the century, and yet somehow the country failed to turn into a highly competitive powerhouse. The pound also lost 2/3 of its value with respect to the D-Mark in the same period, and yet the deindustrialisation of the UK proceeded apace, as related by that nice article in the Grauniad our gracious hosts have linked to on the sidebar to our right.

    One could make a T-Shirt saying, “I devalued my currency and all I got was being called a PIG”.

    But that’s generic talk about the dubious advantages of national currencies in generic good times. What we’re talking about here is the acrimonious end of a currency area in the largest economic block in the world, and the attendant demise of the political project (i.e. the EU) that led to it. When a glorified concern troll like Krugman talks about the “PIGS” (which he often describes with barely concealed condescension) being able to “regain their competitiveness”, he’s talking about an epochal asset grab on the part of his pals and peers and an orgy of wage arbitration.

    And, really, anybody who’s familiar with the Spanish addiction to temporal work, to name but one example, who thinks that the introduction of the neo-peseta wouldn’t exacerbate said addiction needs to tell me the name of their dealer because they’ve been smoking something very good.

  • 28. Internationalist  |  November 25th, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Speaking on the Krugman, he wrote a column for the NYT with the witty title “Legends of the Fail” in which he does his narcissistic Perfesser Liberal McWimpynerd thing, asking to start a Very Reasonable Discussion about the Objective Conclusions to be extracted from a potential eurozone meltdown. As if the right wing in Yoorp and Amerika won’t be given a huge rhetorical cudgel to bludgeon supporters of the welfare state model with, in the wake of the end of the euro. A liberal Genius Laureate thinking that his reason is what makes the world go round. Hahahaha.

    You know, if they were to be taken at face value such levels of out-of-touch inhuman wimpiness would be borderline saintly. Therefore, they shouldn’t be taken at face value.

  • 29. Internationalist  |  November 25th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    “critique of capitalism”,

    “inflate away the debt”,

    “temporary work”

    Egads, this shit is full of typos. Anyway, this just in…Standard & Poor’s has just downgraded Belgium. The “markets” have got their marching orders!

  • 30. boson  |  November 25th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    so what should we do then?

  • 31. boson  |  November 25th, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    “we”, as in European leftists.

  • 32. Internationalist  |  November 26th, 2011 at 6:34 am

    What do we do? We do what the 1% has been doing for yonks. We pool our efforts, we coordinate our rhetoric and our demands across national borders. On the rhetorical front, the critique of neo-liberalism must be all-encompassing. The demands on the other hand have to be specific: changing the ECB’s charter, eurobonds, larger EU budget, financial transactions tax, European Glass-Stegall, regulating CDS so hard they become as unexciting as pecuniary loss insurance, treating the utterances of Septic rating agencies as fucking diplomatic incidents, et cetera, et cetera. Bring industrial policies back, at the European level: I’m generally very sceptic of pouring public money into nascent industries that still have to find their feet in the real world, but solar cells are definitely better for Greece and Europe than the austerity hatchet job.

    We stop being afraid of democracy, and we put a European Constitution to the vote that’s worthy of the name, not the ill-named abortion of 2005 whose checkered history has done more harm than good. The text should enshrine the principles underlying all the above measures, reshape and rename the head of the European Commission as President of the European Union and stipulate that he or she be appointed solely by the directly-elected European Parliament. And we ask for a pan-European referendum to approve the thing. National referenda are a joke (and a tool of the hatchet-wielders) when the issues at stake affect everybody. National referenda may be held in parallel to the European one, but only to decide if the countries in question want to leave the EU if the result of the pan-European consultation is not to their liking. Asking the people is fine, but only if there are consequences.

    BTW, I had a chance to appreciate to what extent the left is rotten, rotten to the core when I had the hare-brained idea of joining the forums of Le Monde and Libération in 2005 to participate in the French constitutional referendum debate and found myself banging my head against a wall erected by Trotsko crypto-nationalist jerks. One thing though, nobody asked me what the fuck a Spic was doing in „their“ debate. A European public space exists already, it’s only the powers that be that want to keep it dormant.

    We frame the issues, aggressively. It is well-known that the British are staunch opponents of things like EU-wide working time limits and the financial transactions tax thing (Cameron had a meeting with Merkel lately, in which he basically said „we don’t hold you hostage with the prospect of a referendum in the UK if you promise not to tax your own financial sector“). Asking the brainwashed British public whether they want to „defend our national economy from the constant interference from Brussels bureaucrats“ as the Toryboys do is not quite the same thing as asking „do you want to be the overworked bitches of the City, now and evermore“.

    We open the constitutional text with a „Declaration of Inter-dependence“, in which we say „we’re all in this shit together“. We use the word „inter-dependence“ constantly, we wrench it from the hands of the neo-libs with their „inter-connected competitive global markets, there is no alternative“ blather.

    We become unabashed and unapologetic about the fact that A More Perfect Union is a prerequisite for a civilised, dignified future. We call the neo-libs traitors, and we laugh the crypto-nationalistic cool kidz of the „left“ out of the fucking room.

    And we develop some swagger. We scoff at the attempts of other major blocks to present themselves as „alternative models“. Putin and Medveded sitting like a bicephalous carrion bird atop Russia? The Chinese apparatus, putting everything in place so that if the rule of the Communist Party is ever challenged the army will be ready to be a „pillar of stability and patriotism“ and pull a smooth version of the „Egyptian rat-fuck“ on would-be Chinese democrats? The Amerikaner, in the terminal stages of Imperial Erectile Disfunction? They regard the EU with amused contempt because it’s not their idea. It’s glib, but it’s true.

    Most of all, we scoff at the „alternative model“ we have right at our door. We remind people constantly that not everybody has oil like Norway. That Switzerland is the proud home of secretive banksters, commodity speculators like Glencore and that their much-vaunted „direct democracy“ is a debased affair, a Hobbesian tyranny of the majority and not a democracy in any civilised sense of the term, where specific minorities get told they can’t build minarets. And we speak of the need to crack down on the tax havens like Andorra and Lichtenstein, hard.

    When, in the style of one of those War Nerd columns that Dolan writes to lure basement-dwelling fascists out of the woodwork, somebody acts like a Really Real Realist and says „nations endure“, we answer „I don’t give a fuck whether they endure, I care whether they can get the job done anymore.“

    We are seen together, networking like the 1%. The German Greens have recently invited Papandreou to give a speech for them at a party conference. The link’s here:

    Now, one may say that the guy is damaged goods, a scion of the very same oligarchy he lambasts who’s handed the keys of the house to a bunch of fascists and who’s being too apologetic to the Krauties even at this point. But he’s ticking all the right boxes in that speech, and on the lizard-brain level what we need to see right now on the telly is this, a Greek guy being given the elder statesman treatment by a whole assembly of Northron politicians.

    It’s a losing battle, obviously. I know one thing, however. When the disaster is complete and some wanker comes to me pretending that it vindicates his views, I’ll spit in his eye.

  • 33. DeeboCools  |  November 26th, 2011 at 6:48 am

    light yourselves on fire

  • 34. Internationalist  |  November 26th, 2011 at 7:20 am


  • 35. boson  |  November 26th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    one of the depressing things is how even in the periphery countries you have lots of workers (at least amongst the higher qualified) rallying behind the austerity drive and blaming unions, public sector workers, excessively generous pensions etc. for the crisis.
    just the other day i talked to some italians (research scientists working in california, at a UC campus) and they were all like “oh this new guy Monti will surely get the job done and cut pensions etc at last, he’s an EXPERT, i just hope the unions will be crushed too etc”
    the divide and conquer tactic seems to work great on the part of the 1%.

  • 36. Internationalist  |  November 27th, 2011 at 4:22 am

    Exactly. For example, the first round of austerity measures introduced by Zapatero led to a flight controllers’ strike, which was met with great hostility by the public.

    Public-sector jobs are almost by definition non-tradable, which means they’ve been less exposed to the rigours of globalisation than the rest, leading to resentment among the proles, the oligarch’s greatest ally. In the case of the Mediterranean countries, that have a comparatively less diverse economy than the rest of their European peers (as stated, that may have a fair deal to do with those wunnerful national currencies the inventors of the sobriquet “PIGS” are now praising to the skies), public sector unions have traditionally been quite prestigious, in a behold-the-countenance-of-the-state way, which adds to the resentment.

    We’re fucked, basically.

  • 37. Internationalist  |  November 27th, 2011 at 4:24 am

    “public sector jobs and unions…” Crap. Proofreading is your friend.

  • 38. elch  |  November 29th, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Can someone on the exiled staff please do one of your takedowns on the odious Michael Lewis?

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