FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Little Oedipus and the Troika

by

Whatever happened to Syriza? Was it a good party that came to a bad end or a bad party that came to a bad end? It’s the difference between tragedy and farce.

With 86 billion euro, the Eurogroup bought itself Greece. Last August, the Troika (the European Central Bank, the European Economic Council, and the International Monetary Fund) released10 billion euro for immediate use to recapitalize the banks. In the first week of December, the Greek parliament approved the “Stabilization Plan” for 2016 (153 votes in favor; 145 against), in order to secure 16 billion euro of the 26 billion total of the first tranche to be released upon successful “privatization” of Greek assets to the tune of 50 billion by the end of 2015.

The Greek parliament’s approved plan reduces public expenses by 5.7 billion euro (1,8 billion slashed from pensions; 500 million from defense) and increases taxes by 2 billion. In the next three years, 80% of the “rescue” plan of 86 billion euro will be disbursed to refinance the old debt (53%) and to recapitalize the banks (30%). The Greek government will be left with 10 billion euro to manage the state, while its investments for re-launching the economy will be mortgaged against the success of the so-called privatizations.

Thus, Greece’s sovereignty is burnt offerings. Additionally, its defense policies are subordinated to NATO’s, for Greece is virtually a US military base. This status quo enforced by a party elected with the promise of untying the Troika’s economic noose deserves a session with a psychologist, for it seems to have lost its mind.

Since we’re talking about Greece, we can begin with the Oedipus complex. Has Syriza’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, given up the idea of justice in return for appeasing the autocratic Fathers of financial Olympus in Brussels, Frankfurt, and Berlin? Has this impotence to cross the threshold of adolescence into manhood reduced him to a servile neoliberal errand boy?

If so, Alexei Tsipras has chosen opportunism over justice. Unlike Sophocles’ Oedipus, he has taken the priest-prophet Tiresias’s advice: don’t search for truth, knowledge, or justice because this quest will personally destroy you and your family. By contrast, Oedipus accuses Tiresias of treason, for it is treasonous to tell a ruler to put his self-interest before the interests of the people. The greatness of Oedipus rests with choosing to act for the greater good; the smallness of Tsipras in the opposite.

Alexei Tsipras should have learned from his Greek education that the Delphic Oracle’s injunction, “Know Thyself,” was the bedrock of justice. Self-knowledge means empathy. To know oneself is to know flawed humanity. Tsipras’ actions, however, suggest that he took all this high-minded literature as a crock—which is perfectly consistent with the amoral politics of our neoliberal age: selfishness is the greatest good. He took from Sophocles a pragmatic lesson that ambitious prime ministers do not meet the Troika at the crossroads of Brussels and slay it—unless they long to suicide their wives, pierce their own eyes with their wife’s broach, lose their premiership, and go groping about blind in the wilderness of exile, for the price of ending the Troika’s pestilence mowing down the people and their sheep.

Psychological interpretations of political events have their entertainment value. They are the preferred method of analysis for selecting the individual bad apple to save the cart. But Syriza’s cart, bubbling in Keynesian applesauce, flavored with the forlorn hope of returning socially responsible democracy to the European Union, shared Tsipras’ flawed political judgment. The time for a return to Keynesian economics is out of joint.

We live in a time of kleptocracy and naked autocracy by finance capital. This hegemony requires the forward thrust of global imperialist aggression. This onslaught cannot be “improved.” It is a run-away train two inches away from dragging humanity into the abyss. Trying to reverse its course by applying the rusted brakes of a kinder, gentler capitalism is delusional. Nor do we live in a time of peaceful capitalism: wartime chauvinism is rampant and rabid; the bleating appeal for reforms is drowned by the cacophony of mind-numbing lies and mind-abusive propaganda in officialdom and its media.

The European Union is led by a trust of financial monopolists. The Troika’s goal is domination, not equality and self-determination. It is denial of democracy and freedom; it is unequal development and subordination of periphery to center. In a word, monopoly financial capitalism is imperialist. Syriza’s now apparent failure to grasp the nature of this intractable authoritarianism thought it could deal with the Troika’s usurers on level political grounds. That was a fatal mistake. The Troika wrung Syriza’s political neck as neatly as if it were a chicken’s. Having thus neutralized political power, it annexed Greece economically. To update Rosa Luxemburg WW I-era famous quotation, we can only conclude that today “Greek social democracy is a putrid corpse.”

All eyes on Spain’s Podemos now after the elections of 20 December. Another farce?

Luciana Bohne is co-founder of Film Criticism, a journal of cinema studies, and teaches at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. She can be reached at: lbohne@edinboro.edu

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail