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EP PODCASTSXML

June 17, 2011

The Athenian Zephyr

William Blake's The Minotaur (cropped)Neoliberal bankers wants to turn the Greek public into chattel. The Greek public objects. It's a theoretically long-predicted fork in the road for the European Union: either Greece defaults (it could have been any one of certain member states) and the European debt crisis spreads — possibly/probably leading to the collapse of the Euro — or the EU moves toward closer political integration. Nobody knows what will happen but it's clear that procrastination won't solve the dilemma, not for Greece, nor for those next on the menu at the bankers' banquet. To talk about the Greek crisis from a neo-Marxist perspective I turned to Dr. Richard Wolff, who very sensibly observes that neoliberal theories won't cut the mustard. Total runtime forty eight minutes. Ça suffit comme ça...

Listen

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Comments


Thanks for that interview. I could listen to that guy for hours. Clear, concise and thoughtful dialogue as always. He must be a hell of a teacher. Please do have him on again soon, as things in Europe, and at home, will continue to worsen rapidly and some timely insight from a well rounded, learned mind would be a blessing.

Every day our airways are filled with economic pap delivered by bullshit dilettantes.

What a joy to be able to listen to your show.

Bravo

[Thanks, Mike! g.]

The fiscal imbalance between the shrinking tax burden of the wealthiest elements of society and the ever-expanding expenses of the government is an important part of the problem. However, I wonder if it is actually a secondary manifestation of the class war waged by the plutocracy against the rest of the population.

Would the key issue not be the structure of government financing itself? Why do national governments have to borrow money from private financiers and pay interest on such loans? Why can't the state order its central bank to emit sovereign credit at zero-percent interest for national development? After all, that was the case in many Western countries until a few decades ago.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loi_n%C2%B073-7_du_3_janvier_1973_sur_la_Banque_de_France#Justifications

In short, the primary reason for the fiscal crisis of the Western world is that in both North America and Europe, national finances are burdened by ever-growing interest payments to private banking cartels.

Apparently for the US, yearly interest payments on the national debt are comparable to yearly Medicare spending.

http://useconomy.about.com/od/fiscalpolicy/p/US_Debt.htm

In other Western states with more "normal" levels of military spending, servicing the national debt surpasses military spending.

For the UK...
http://www.debtbombshell.com/public-spending.htm

For France...
http://www.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/dossiers/dette-deficits-publics/dette-publique-multipliee.shtml

If one focuses on the problem of not taxing the rich enough without also addressing the issue of private control of national debt, one merely feeds what remains of entrepreneurial capitalism into the jaws of finance capitalism.

Marx swallowed the liberal view of the world lock, stock and barrel... See Karl Polanyi´s The Great Transformation... He suffered from the same bourgeois turn of mind he scorned the bourgeoisie for, the enslavement of the subject to the object...materialism...

Simone Weil took note in her loving critique of his philosophy as well.

George: I for one would be fascinated by a discussion of the politically correct economic mindset you and Dr. Wolff touched on at the end of this interview.

I am interested in it as an example of peoples' capacity to be both very learned and very foolish — Erasmus called these people wise fools.

Another excellent example of this was medicine, where it was apparently 1920 before doctors helped more people than they hurt. Yet for centuries they had been making a very good living advising people on a vital aspect of existence.

I second David's motion.

It would be interesting to hear how the study of "political economy", that which approached economic issues holistically in the context of human society, turned into mere "economics", a purportedly value-free discipline that tried to ape physics.

Value-free economics became an ideological sledgehammer used to batter away relentlessly at the range of political possibilities. The court economists basically told the politicians "This vast expanse of collective activity is too important to be infringed upon by anyone but us (...and those who fund our institutes) ...Therefore, leave us to "grow" the economy and then you can fight each other over how to spend the revenues that the oligarchies controlling the economy... I mean "collective intelligence of the market" ...condescend to bequeath to you."

I'd sign a petition for Dr. Wolff's promotion to lecturer of the administration's "tools."

Just plain makes sense to me.

Of Course: Those tools are fools and apparently have no ear for good advice and would learn nothing.

One very important distinction that Dr Wolff fails to make is that there is a fundamental difference between being a currency issuer and a currency user. The Greek govt is a user of euros. The US and the UK are issuers of their currencies. A default can never be forced on a currency issuer — if a default occurs it will be purely political, like this game with the US debt ceiling.

I haven't yet listened to your most recent podcast with Marshall Auerback, but he knows and writes about this distinction elsewhere.

[We didn't make a big deal out of it, but Rick understands that a complete Greek default automatically implies a return to the Drachma. The situation in Greece, btw, being slightly different than Argentina was, as Argentina still had its own currency went it went off its peg to the dollar. g.]

Hi George,

I enjoyed your interview with Richard Wolff and hope you will have him on often.

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