Thursday, September 10, 2015

Encore, L' hero

Still my guy, Yanis (and the new Pope, of course – who called money "the devil's dung", I mean, seriously, this guy is cool, but that's for another day... Though the two of them should rule the world).  Below: powerful language, right on the money, from a recent speech to French citizens by the ever brilliant Yanis Varoufakis, the entire text of which may be found here.

Now wonder the financiers are so afraid of this guy.

"It is not true that our creditors are interested in getting their money back from the Greek state. Or that they want to see Greece reformed. If they were, they would have discussed seriously our proposals for restructuring Greece’s public debt in a manner ensuring that they get most of it back. But they could not care less. They instead insisted on our surrender. It was the only thing they cared about. They cared uniquely about one thing: To confirm Dr Schauble’s dictum that elections cannot be allowed to change anything in Europe. That democracy ends where insolvency begins. That proud nations facing debt issues must be condemned to a debt prison within which it is impossible to produce the wealth necessary to repay their debts and get out of jail. And so it is that Europe is turning from our common home to our shared iron cage."

.... whew!.... "shared iron cage" indeed.  Bernie Sanders could borrow that phrase when he talks to debt- ridden Americans, college students, their parents, and those who've lost everything because of greedy bankers, politicians, and loan sharks. Treat yourself to Yanis' entire speech, linked above. This is the kind of powerful, honest language we never see from leaders anymore. The kind of language that stirs a nation to take off the blinders, see problems clearly, and act to remedy them. (If you want to see a perfect example of the opposite, try the Steve Jobs documentary and iPhone users reactions to the Foxcomm worker revelations). The Greeks did, to the tune of 62%, before they were betrayed.  

Listening to a recent panel discussion (you can find many posts of Yanis' lectures, etc, here on his blog), I was gobsmacked to hear him describe the current economic argument among the euro countries in terms of Catholic versus Calvinist. Yes! thought I.  These terms perfectly encapsulate the political tensions among Americans, or, more accurately, between old school Repub/ Democrats and the new breed of neocon/neoliberals who occupy what the media refer to as the (formerly actual, now well right of) center.  The entire argument between the haves and have nots is absolutely religion based: the Catholic position being one of wealth that should be widely shared (late-arriving immigrants' cultural tradition), and the neo-Calvinists (early arrivals, stern, Puritan types, etc., now with a modern "I've got mine" twist), a philosophy rooted in the idea that you are poor because you're not among God's chosen, i.e., you're a sinner, not "saved" (by Southern standards) therefore, poor.  Therefore, irresponsible, can't be trusted with anything, especially money.

Once Reagan had everyone drinking from the "greed is good" trough, putting the ol' Christian notion that "greed is bad" to rest, the 90s Republican party kicked the neo-Calvinist ideal into high gear, The Bush team made it part of the "legitimate" political argument. Throw in a dose of Rovian stage direction and a few years of Faux News and you have a whole new idea of what it means to be a Christian.
So I get what Yanis means when he employs the Catholic versus Calvinist metaphor. And I think he's onto something there. I never could figure out why the neo-cons claimed ownership of the Bible as rationale for punishing women and the poor, when if Jesus was kind and loving and generous to and non-judgmental of anyone it was women and the poor. Not to mention "suffer the little children" and all. And does anyone really think a roaming philosopher who traveled around with twelve male devotees  would have a problem if one of that clan was gay?  Or, more likely, two? Gimmie a break. Jesus liked the gals... you could tell.  He loved children, he was most compassionate toward those who had nothing, most forgiving toward the fuckups, he said they'd all inherit the earth. That the last will be first. Not once did he ever mention or imply that financial success was the measure of a human being. In fact, isn't it more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle? (He sure had a way with a simile, didn't He?) And I seem to recall he didn't think much of money lenders either.... 

I've had it with all this neo-Calvinist crap. It's been nearly four decades of this baloney argument here in America. It is no sin to be poor. It can be one to be rich, depending on how you got there.

So, Bless you, Yanis. Yanis for President of the World!  Pay attention, folks. This guy ain't goin nowhere. He'll be back. (sigh....)

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