“Getting Away with Murder”

EDITORIAL, 9 Jun 2015

#379 | Johan Galtung

is the title of Susan George’s (as usual) brilliant analysis of the banking situation after the US banking 9/11, the 2008 crash (published by Transnational Institute in Amsterdam). If the West had freedom of the press the analysis by a leading expert on these matters, and her suggestions for remedies, would have been on media everywhere with detailed interviews. But, alas.

Picking one point among many: the operation of the European Central Bank to extend credits; at a generous 1%. In a Union of 28 states, we might imagine, directly to member states with problems. Not at all, directly to banks, from them to states; at, for instance, 6%. In other words, the more miserable the situation in a country, the more will banks and their top boards, CEOs and some functionaries be thriving. This is EU oligarchs feeding EU oligarchs, not direct credit to states to cover pensions and salaries of civil servants (yes, there are still servants around, and many of them are civil).

At the same time most, not all, of the problems in the GIPSI countries–Greece-Italy-Portugal-Spain-Ireland–can be traced to their oligarchs having enriched themselves at the expensive of the rest. Protected by their media, in Greece by media fighting Syriza and Tsipras, let alone his brilliant finance minister–among other things simply too bright for the ECB-IMF-EU. The commentariate focus on what they understand, leather jacket, motorbike, no tie, not on his important words. What a shame, what a disgrace to EU public, to democracy; transforming it into oligarchy. Bancocracy.

All of this adds up to non-oligarchs paying for the misdeeds of oligarchs. The Greek government is falling short on a June payment, refusing to squeeze poor people further; seen by filtered media as a maneuver to placate left wing opposition. Have people writing like that ever considered placating an empty stomach?

How about confiscating a high percentage of oligarch bank accounts, cutting Greek military expenses by a third, or a half after doing what Russia and China did in the mid-90s, quickly solving problems with Turkey? How about the churches practicing their Christianity, following Jesus in his admonition to the rich to give it to the poor? How about having an international conscience tribunal–based on a Greek national commission–getting deeply into the legality of the few hundreds or thousands contracting debts to be paid by the innocent millions under the pretext that the sovereign state serve as a mechanism for transferring the debt burden from rich to poor? At some point some Greeks have signed for some credit benefiting the few–how about making them pay? Or at least making the point clearly?

They have a word for what they do: Rule of Law. The argument is that the debts, the debits, were contracted legally. True. The argument is that Greece, being a democracy, can decide within the Rule of Law how to repay the debt. Legally true. But morally, ethically politically? And what does it tell us about Rule of Law? Rule of Lawyers, rather? Rule of the best paid lawyers?

Grexit is on the horizon, by push and/or pull. The Eurasian Economic Community with Chinese money flowing to Greece through the shared Orthodox Christian solidarity with Russia is on the horizon. So are the obvious counter-measures–a repetition of the CIA 1967 coup in Athens, or the 1944 English invasion of Greece–to prevent Greece from curtailing the military, thereby de facto leaving NATO. Russia holds many cards in this imbroglio, stupidly excluded from the obvious body for solutions, G8 that became G7 because of what the Russians did to Crimea–so similar to what the Albanians did to Kosova.

There are other possibilities: slowing down the repayment, lowering the rates, forgiving some parts. Nevertheless, the creditors think they cannot afford it, being themselves in dire straits.

The media should show us the gap between an average Greek oligarch and an average Greek jobless youth, seeking comfort from unemployed parents living with the grandparent with pensions cut. More than ever the old rule holds: do not listen to economists talking about GNP growth–high or low, positive or negative–unable to produce the figures for equality growth–high or low, positive or negative. They are now tasting their own recipe for “development”: low growth with negative equality growth. Any learning process?

So, what do the media write, talk, show? FIFA and a Swiss macho paying the US Afghanistan game of resigning with honor, knowing you are done for, but have a surge, be re-elected first, then withdraw. The stuff belongs to the Sports pages–for long no longer about sports but about finance, anyhow. Hence, next to the finance pages, and next to obituaries–for sports. Only useful as news if the morale of the story is visible: what capitalism, investment, buying and selling players, paying for cheating has done to sports, it may also do to science and universities, investing in brilliance, buying and selling, paying for cheating to be on top of academic excellence. Or has done to art, investing in paintings. And societas, investing in them, like Germany in Greece, pushing Germany up and GIPSI down. Or out, Grexit.

There was a thwarted effort to let Africa be developed Africans, by Gaddafi and many others, from the bottom. Greek politics will sooner or later be focused on having Greeks develop Greece, from the bottom. There will be efforts to reconquer football, for fun, being its own reward; from the bottom. Boys, and now also girls, finding a ball and some little field. And to reconquer arts from the greedy claws of the market; l’art pour l’art; le sport pour le sport.

Like reconquering New Orleans by direct food marketing from producers to consumers (The Nation, 23/30-03-15). So will the others. And maybe with some Orthodox Christian optimism, not sado-masochism.

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Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Jun 2015.

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4 Responses to ““Getting Away with Murder””

  1. […] This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 June 2015:  TRANSCEND Media Service – TMS: “Getting Away with Murder” […]

  2. Zeki Ergas says:

    I think everything should start with the indispensable precondition, the moral imperative of limiting wealth and income – and having a livable minimum income for everyone. Wealth and income without limit is an absurdity. There is nothing without limit in this world: happiness, pain, joy sadness, even life itself have limits. The only thing that is infinite, as Einstein has said, is human stupidity – and, I might ass, human cruelty. The Universe might be infinite, but that is something that we don’t and will never understand, despite the declarations of the space scientists and industrialists. So, the existence of billionaires that can afford – to give but one example, to buy yachts that cost $ 500 million, or more, is an absurdity, and an insult to human intelligence. Billions can only be used to buy power and influence, and to have extraordinary privileges. The oligarchs are responsible for turning so-called democracies into oligarchies or plutocracies. Democracies in form, but oligarchies in substance, is what we have in the U.S. which has succeeded to destroy the middle class that WAS the very definition of the American dream and system. The dream has turned into a nightmare. That’s the reality. The fiction is all those fake and meaningless statistics about GDP growth, employment going up, and the quality of life improving. The truth is that there are no statistics about the quality of life, about happiness, not even about welfare, like in the Scandinavian countries. The narrative is all empty and meaningless, and it will continue to be so until there is systemic change and new qualitative values are created, the ‘revaluation of values’ dear to Nietzsche. In the meantime I propose $ 20 million as upper limit for wealth, and $ 1 million for income – after tax. And a ppp (purchasing power parity) income of $ 20,000 for all. It’s a matter of human dignity after all.

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