Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Europe's First Marxist Conservative Party?

/ right / versus / left /
This article needs some explanation. It is an attack by Takis Michas in the Wall Street Journal / Europe, against the conservative government, on the grounds of them being supportive of the continuation of the "Last Marxist State" in Europe, meaning Greece - a shock to the local Communist party, I assure you, which failed to detect the Soviet-era inspiration behind the latest economic policies of the Karamanlis government.

Michas is among the leading neoliberal / libertarian intellectuals in Greece, a rather tiny minority, with reasonably good access to the Greek press (especially the financial press). Michas is certainly the most serious (certainly the better read) of the group, with a Trotskyite (I think - leftist anyway) background. This heterogeneous group, headed by the two most prominent proponents of a hard-core neoliberal order in Greece (elected to parliament under the PASOK banner), has made a pact with the Socialists. They seem to share more common ground with PASOK, than they do with the (populist-right leaning) New Democracy Party. In fact, the quote used by Michas, namely that [Greece is] "the last remaining state of existing socialism in Europe", comes from Former EU Commissioner and leading PASOK (Socialist that is) member Anna Diamantopoulou, a rising star of the socialist party - with more in common herself with Friedrich Hayek than with anything resembling socialist thought. This rapprochement is taking place on firm neoliberal grounds. The neoliberals are truthful when they say that they haven't moved a centimeter from where they always stood - and that it's the Socialists who have come over to their ideological positions.

Given that, as I mentioned in a previous post, the current government is bent on continuing the previous government's austerity policies (which in one form or another have been going on for 20 years in Greece), working time flexibility anti-labour laws, and vast transfers of wealth from the poorer to the rich, a Greek observer might be stunned at the rather improbable claim, and be weary of its timing. A non-Greek observer with a casual or non-existent knowledge of Greek politics and economy (especially your average WSJ reader), might be expected to nod his head wearily and mumble something about these backward Greeks. The intended audience, however, of this bewildering claim, is, most probably, the current government. It's a notice, possibly, that they should shape up and start acting as they are expected to - and fast.

I must mention that Michas miscounts state participation in the Greek economy which, he claims, controls "over 60% of the country's GDP"... Unless he's using some non-obvious method of measurement (closer to 50%). Also that his article is more cheerleading, (preaching in fact to a converted audience) than analysis.

Finally, note that Michas is reported as "writing a book on Noam Chomsky's economic theories". This should be interesting, because I had no idea that Noam has any body of work that can be meaningfully described as an "Economic theory", and Michas, unlike the overwhelming majority of NC's critics, seems to actually have read (parts at least) of what Chomsky has really written.

I eagerly await.

Link from the very active Greek libertarian group blog e-roosters


S G said...

"austerity policies (which in one form or another have been going on for 20 years in Greece), working time flexibility anti-labour laws, and vast transfers of wealth from the poorer to the rich"

I challenge you to prove even one of these claims.

austerity in the last 20 years? austerity meaning pay-rises lower than inflation? Forget about it.

Transfers from the poor to the rich? I happen to have studied the income distribution in Greece and there is no such thing as you claim... check this figure, source is the national income survey of ESYE (greek statistics agency).

S G said...

sorry if I sounded aggressive in the previous comment :-)

talos said...

No problem S_G, I enjoy "agressive" (when to the point)... This however is an old thread... I posted a reply in your blog where I explain that you make too much of too little!