Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Background analysis IV: Governance during an economic war

The decision by Samaras to shut down ERT verifies what young people have been saying all along about the present crisis, namely that Europe has entered an 'economic war'. It is a war fought by invisible and mainly with financial means. And just as in any other war, it requires enemy pictures, but this time to legitimize harsh, equally one sided measures. In the case of ERT, the enemies made out are supposed to be the lazy, equally inefficient civil servants who enjoy special privileges and by extension, the trade unions who are alleged to block reforms just to protect these entrenched interests of those working at ERT.


Signs of economic war

Once an economic crisis overshadows everything else, no clear strategy can be made out any more, while those which supposed to be enacted upon, they become increasingly problematic, if not highly doubtful. By strategy is meant a conscious approach to resolve some outstanding issue, for instance, such as unemployment. That such a strategy exists, never mind works, can be disputed; it should not surprise since unemployment is on the increase throughout Europe. Also social-political reflections which upheld till now policy related measures, they prove to be too weak to hold up against what an all out economic war reinforces, namely another way of thinking. Practically many people end up rationalising why certain problems cannot be resolved and thus indicate the underlying reason for the crisis: sole acquiescence to a system rationality.

Due to political disenchantment and fragmentation, confusion reigns. No one is sure any more where the parties stand; usual political affiliations are put in doubt. While issues are obscured, it becomes ever more difficult to know on whose side to stand. Given the multi levels of decision making within a global economy, it is not easy to stay informed. Moreover transparency is lacking everywhere.

In the absence of good strategies, political vacuums are filled by imitations of strategies which have apparently worked successfully elsewhere. Likewise they take on a much more militant character - a first sign of having entered an economic war.

For instance, Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), the extreme right wing party in Greece, seems to have copied the strategy Hamas applied to gain power in the Gaza strip. Hamas went into the poor and neglected areas and while distributing food packages gave local residents a new sense of security. Its party members acted like the police even before they had gained through elections official power. Likewise Chrysi Avgi members started to enter so-called hot spots in Athens and took sides with frightened local residents who had been simply neglected by the established political parties. They helped old ladies across the street while starting to take militant actions against migrants who outnumbered often those left behind in poor dwellings. That strategy worked since they gained suddenly in popular support and made it into the Greek parliament in the June 2012 election. Thanks to its 18 elected deputies, the party receives substantial more resources. They are made available by the state to any party seated in parliament. Since then they have expanded their reach by opening up new offices while its officials continue to promote the party's profile. By inciting with deliberate actions further hate against migrants, they fuel above all this economic war and by the same token drive up the political costs of sustaining a democratic process. For 'most difficult to unlearn is learned hatred' (Brendan Kennelly).

The surge of extremism is all too natural. For once an economy breaks down, different groups shall struggle to gain access to the state since there resources are still available. Even if the state has come under severe pressure and needs to cut back in expenditures for all kinds of services, key ones like the police shall still be funded. Equally should be noted that many of the police support Chyrsi Avgi.

Once the crisis escalates into an outright economic war, tough fights erupt at various levels. Unfortunately the media will focus mainly on 'sensational news', i.e. when protests turn violent. Generally speaking, the media does not observe with a clear enough distinction as to what happens in the streets and not covered really well is what happens at night, especially in the hot spots of the city. There clashes can break out when the extreme Right chases migrants or groups belonging to the Roma and Anarchists assume self-appointed roles to guard the migrants against these kinds of attacks. Literally speaking, it comes down to street fights involving on both sides members giving chase on their motor cycles. Altogether they justify their actions by the absence of the state and explain it by the fact that the established political parties have been in power for too long and are, therefore, unwilling to undertake anything in these neglected areas.

Practically world wide security issues are being played out in neighbourhoods which undergo tremendous changes due to migration. Still, this phenomenon is not new. Andre Loeckx spoke already at the Fifth Seminar in 1994 about the fragmentation of the city. It sets in when those with higher income either move out or never into a certain district, so that those left behind feel lost and weak vis a vis those who move in. The latter are better networked and behave differently since from another cultural background.

Equally the shifts in population within and between cities and countries say something about mobility. If cultural needs are not met, they move on even though not everyone has the economic means to do that. As this has an impact on children as to which schools they attend and on the youth in terms of what socialization they go through, the chances they have make a crucial difference to what kind of social literacy they attain. Accordingly they will face very different opportunities and dangers. Given that society is a mixed bag of opportunities, there will be the few lucky ones who make it while many more shall be exposed to all kinds of short-comings, if not outright all kinds of violences. Parents will fear for their children while the youth shall estrange from established society. To resolve all that, a much deeper understanding of the importance of culture would be needed. It is made nearly impossible by a social acquiescence to an economic war. It will lead to a neglect of culture as peaceful alternative to an enforced development.

With the economy extending globally, other problems shall emerge. Here can be included as well the steady expansion of the EU. Hegel said already that the bourgeouisie society knows no other way to exist but by means of a steady expansion. In modern terms, it means a bank is only willing to extend credits to a firm if it expands since that is considered to be a healthy sign; by the same token, the company which tries to consolidate its achievements and sustain at a modest level its existence will not receive so readily financial support. As a result of expansion, the economic war not only intensifies as fights for rare resources pick up and threaten to become if not outright wars, then aggressive take-overs and massive appropriations. All along the local level shall be neglected and the financial system a race against time, in order to avoid default.

Forgotten in this drive towards a continuous expansion is the local level. The system rationality behind the drive reinforces merely the tendency towards a global level and fuels in turn the economic war. At the same time, it undermines trust in informal systems and therefore what people could experience within the range of their own senses. The latter encompasses many things, including a dialectic of trust and perception to be shared in a common language with others. It allows also for a kind of informal social control i.e. neighbours and local shop owners keeping an eye on what goes on in the streets. They accompany with their careful attentivity especially the children and youth when walking to or coming from school. At that level another kind of socialization and learning takes place, and explains why neighbourhood schools are of such a great importance. Economic rationality does away with that as if no social costs are incurred once removed.

In other words, local communities fulfil the function of keeping everyone safe much better than any formal security system, including police force and technical surveillance systems. But once global expansion begins to dominates, then the entire society becomes more abstract and anonymous. People will develop all kinds of fears since without a real contact to the neighbours the unknown increases. They cannot verify any more so easily what they see and hear on television. A sort of schizophrenia will come into existence with here the views developed in private and there, in society at large, just generalized viewpoints which do not seem to contradict the system rationality. It can explain already why fear and aggression predetermine the social structures which evolve in times of an all out economic war.

More and more such a society will be skewed wrongly towards an one sided security agenda dictated by over simplified slogans such as the 'war against terrorism'. Even if it is not clear who is the real enemy, it will dictate the means: ever greater use of technology to further surveillance. Since the agenda is set by governments in coalition with certain businesses, and this on their part due to a growing concerned as to what happens in the expanded territory and to trade, local cultural needs are completely forsaken.

To given in to such a security agenda is already by itself a prime mistake that politicians make. Rather they should let culture influence the security agenda. For even theatre can alter the acknowledgement of problems such as genocide if it happened in recent history, but out of fear of further repercussions has lead to a probition to talk about it in public. Moreover once only an abstract security systems as defined through use of modern technology dictates the perception of problems, the unsettling nature shall be a complete ignorance as to the consequences of such an abstract system. It will take time until a conscious link shall be made between what happens in Afghanistan and the killing of a British soldier in broad daylight in a London street.

No doubt, the local level shall make experiences with the violence which is inherent in such a deeply unsettling global setting. Consequently it would be crucial for the media to ensure that local news do get out and are heard. There is a need for human solidarity based on an awareness as to what is happening to other people. However, quite the contrary is the case in the media. For global newscasters have adopted quite another editorial line. They approach reporting as if the folks back home should be glad that they do not have to face the violence on the other side of the globe. This build-in thankfulness is included whenever something like breaking news happen and star journalists, after having parachuted in, report whatever is happening at this concrete place and at the moment. The newscasters suggest these live reports are not only authentic, but sufficient to know what is going on elsewhere, when in fact it is a mere superficial glance at what is happening. This editorial line is made evident by what is considered news worthy, namely such reports which fulfil the criterion of 'sensational news'.

As if not enough, localities shall suffer many other forms of neglect. It is brought about by a shift in priorities. While resources are needed to sustain the expansion, many areas shall be left behind. For instance, health care shall diminish precisely in areas where needs explode. Yet those affected by all kinds of sicknesses, they cannot afford any longer medical care. This neglect creates many new health problems. For instance in Greece, ever since 2009 and the start of austeriy measures, suicides have been on the increase. According to the latest report by ELSTAT, 1 245 Greeks killed themselves over a period 2009-11. Police reports state double the number.

With economic prospects dim, many think to immigrate, while others flee immediately by going abroad. It is an indication that they have no means to fight back or they believe no positive future awaits them. Still, those who stay and dig in, they try to find ways to overcome set-backs. It includes giving up their own apartment and moving in again with the parents - not easy for any young person striving for independence.

Despite that, the Troika continues to demand further austerity measures and, therefore, a cut back in services provided by the state. Among other things, privatization is continuously advised by the Troika as if 'the' solution for a state deeply in debt. National assets ought be sold, in order to bring in extra money. The ideology behind this drive brings the 'public' into disrepute and puts aside sound legislation designed to protect the environment. Externalized should be such public land like a precious shoreline in Rhodes, but which makes no sense at all since offered for sale at a dumping prize and besides public land offering to all access to the sea. Likewise wet lands are to be put up for sale. The latter have just been brought under a special environmental protection law. It was done with the purpose to adapt the EU 2000 water directive to the Mediterranean landscape. WWF experts point out these wetlands are an integral part of the eco system. They safeguard the land and filter the water which flows into the sea. So it makes no sense at all if put up for sale and thereby be given to new expansive real estate drives. Equally common resources such as water have come under consideration for such a privatization scheme. Here Bulgaria gives a negative example as to where all this leads to, namely to ever higher prices, until the average citizen cannot afford them any more. All of this does not make any sense. Rather it endangers the future lives on this planet. And as if this is not enough, ERT has come as a public media under attack. Even though an expression of an economic war, the European Commissions masks this by calling it 'reform' and thereby grants to the Greek government the Right to undermine its own public news services.


Technocratic governance

Once turmoils after turmoils follow, there is at first a loss of words. Everyone registers then only political competence, hightened tensions, massive protests, budgets out of control - all of this and more leads to but one conclusion that the government is no longer in control. It comes after repeated attempts have been made to urge some simple reforms e.g. end the tax invasion by improving the tax collection system. Further threats such as downgrading by the rating agencies, combined with the inability of the government to raise money on the financial markets to cover bugetary needs, raise the stakes. Something has to happen, in order to avoid a default. In terms of real fears, it matters no longer, if an orderly or disorderly default would follow. Once such horror scenarios can be envisioned, the various agencies of national and European governance panic at first, and then they kick into crisis mode.

Countless sessions lasting late into night come up with but one conclusion: the default has to be avoided at all costs. It becomes a consensus that an exit of Greece from the Eurozone is too haphazard to predict what it would mean for all financial markets. The plight for all is made further evident by the failure of the Greek politicians to keep their comitments. They fail to proceed with all the needed reforms. 

All the more reason then to give in to the one overriding need, namely to do everything possible so that austerity measures can be implemented. It boils down to an admittance of a political failure to see things through. No one admits, however, that the EU Commission failed to monitor the state budgets not only of Greece, but as well Spain, Portugal, and also in Italy and even in France and Germany. For no one kept the 3% rule as written in the treaty everyone signed up when the Euro zone was created. As everything depends then upon avoiding a currency crisis, not only banks and the financial sector are more involved than ever, but a peculiar thinking begins to take root in everybody's mind. It drives the decision makers of this collusion of financial interest to the conclusions, politicians are not reliable enough. Rather someone more competent is needed, someone who can deal with financial markets becoming highly unrestive. It marks the beginning of a technocratic type of governance.

When instead of an elected prime minister, a banker with no political experience is asked to take over the rudder of a ship drifting dangerously towards the financial cliffs, it signals that democracy shall be set aside. The move, even if only temporarily, is justified by the need to face a fully fledged economic crisis. Thereby an undeclared war is started especially against those who cannot defend themselves against these harsh measures.

In Greece, this was the case when the technocrat Papademos replaced the outgoing prime minister George Papandreou who stumbled because of his call for a referendum. In a fast moving economic war in which losses count differently to what can be gained in the short run, political measures conceived to manage the crisis have to be put immediately into practice and not be put to a vote, and especially not to a referendum. The technocratic set-up introduced by the Troika when bail-out agreements with Greece had to be reached, reduces by system rationality any prime minister of a country to be but the executor of already made decisions. So when Papandreou decided to ask the Greek voter, if they would agree to the bail-out package, it sent shock waves throughout Europe. The EU leaders had just agreed on a bail-out package for Greece, and this after a night long session in late 2011. Hence they expected nothing else but an 'automatic follow-up' or what Bush and Blair asked of Saddam Hussein, namely full compliance and co-operation. This is to say, autocratic rule apply at all times once things threaten to spin out of control. In an economic war, a crisis is one which can undermine the expansion drive since an attack on the confidence in the common currency. Indirectly, it would mean not all members states comply. As this can provoke not only a financial, but a huge economic and more so political crisis, it needs to be suppressed or rather be side-lined or marginalized.

The same happened in Italy when Monti took over the governmental reigns for a while. Interestingly enough, he was supported from all sides (European Commission, European Central Bank, German government etc.), and therefore every effort was made to make him look 'good', i.e. competent. Soon the media related narrative became that he was someone who is able to handle the crisis. In the end, he fell victim himself to this illusion that he was so much better that he would easily win at the election. Fortunately or unfortunately for him this proved to be not the case.

The replacement of politicians by technocrats was made so easily that it astonishes in terms of democratic self understanding or not prevailing in Europe. It underlines that in this phase of economic war fare, technocrats are preferred. Obviously they can follow through with technical procedures and thereby restore confidence of investors. This is especially the case once the system acquires again a note of reliability. The clear message of technocratic governance is that the system works once politicians no longer intervene. In that sense, many are ready to believe that due to their anti-politcal stance.

To justify autocratic rule either by a single technocrat who slips into the role of prime minister, although he has not been elected, or by an intricate elite making sure powerful interests are taken care of prior to anything else, something else has to take place. To justify this transition in type of governance, there has to be created a counter picture to this technocratic efficiency. In the media more and more the mood of anti-politics is enhanced by painting politicians into a corner out of which they cannot escape so easily. They are depicted as not merely debating endlessly but never come around to realise necessary reforms. Likewise similar developments shaped the fate of politician and political systems after 1929 and the stock market crisis. Jean Pierre Faye describes how people no longer wanted to hear debates, but see actions. The difference to today is that instead of actions, the systematic necessity is intensified that austerity measures are enacted upon. Even though people suffer the consequences in wage cuts, loss of pension and of jobs, a demonstration that the system rationality works, that is deemed to be a higher priority than personal lives. Coming into crisis mode means that once the economic war reaches the upper echelons of till then democratic elected governments, the pretence is suddenly over and drastic measures like the suspension of democratic governance is justified in the name of just efficiency - the key rationale of the entire system.

Thus while politicians may declare a war against state deficits, they do so by relinquishing any kind of political thinking to following just technocratic rules. It amounts to a self defeat and testifies a loss of trust in debates and human reasoning, in order to come to terms with outstanding issues and financial problems. A most worrying sign in all of this is a break down in political accountability and responsibility. It does not take place only in parliament, but seems to affect all who hold responsible posts, including directors of schools or museums. All seem to be gripped by the same model and strive to achieve efficiency no matter the human costs. Therefore they are ready to relinquish conscious decision making to technocratic procedures. By adopting this method without questioning it, they feel no responsibility for those who are put out of a job.

If culture is a search for truth, a work in progress would allow for finding humane solutions. Work would unfold and provide others with new opportunities. The latter does not qualify fully to be called innovation, but a learning by progress would certainly be a part of it or make cultural innovation possible. The latter includes a change in social relations, including doing away with pseudo hierarchies and therefore with some being paid tremendous high amounts while the rest have to be satisfied with a minimum wage. But without a chance to participate in an open learning process, no one shall know how opportunities are created and who will be able to fulfil the tasks ahead. Instead managers and evaluators follow a system rationality which excludes ever more people. It will have in no certain terms a massive and tremendous, indeed most negative impact upon people's lives.

People will be necessity have to down scale their living standard and life expectations. Likewise they will confront a society becoming increasingly deaf and blind as to their plight. Expressions linked to the system rationality show that the loss of a job is no longer communicated as an exceptional, equally 'negative' outcome for the person, but due to a common practice in times marked by this economic war an outcome marked as 'economic necessity'. This amounts to a complete reversal of the term 'economy'. In an economic war, economy is no longer perceived as a necessary measure to ensure everyone has a job and therefore the means to earn a livelihood. Rather all arguments end up being in favour of efficiency. Along that line the overriding importance is given to the need for the economy to become more competitive, and this at global scale - never mind what happens at local level and in the meantime to millions of people. If, for instance, in Spain 27% are said to be unemployed, and given the size of the Spanish population, it can be estimated how many people are affected by some deciding to merely expand and enter still further an economic war, and this in breach of all human and democratic values.

As some woman in Athens put it, she does not mind cutting short in some expenditures, but what she really resents is the lack of freedom to travel. Her statement reflects a growing discrepancy between what incomes people have and what it costs to move about. It is a Europe going back on its promise to guarantee the freedom of people to move. This freedom is as important as the freedom of expression, since travel means knowing what is going on in the world and a chance to make friends across all kinds of borders. The open borders and a common currency was meant to make that possible in Europe.

People experience the economic war as the ones who shall be the definite losers. Certainly they see themselves as having not the means to fight back. They know as well if they try to resist, they will get hurt in different ways. Set backs in human development and relationships should count as terrible losses. It will affect many lives and explains why many human potentials are not fully lived. This is because the first thing to be lost is creativity i.e. the unfolding of creative potentials as fore seen by the German constitution.

Interesting is to read in the Conservative newspaper Kathimerini the following editorial opinion as to what is needed apparently to resolve the crisis caused by the closure of ERT, and by extension what is the real reason for this crisis, namely an 'inefficient' civil service:

"The major problem currently faced by the country is not whether 2,000 or 3,000 civil servants will leave the public sector, but rather the disintegration of its management. Greece urgently needs public sector management which will be defined by discipline and professionalism, and one with a back-bone. The country needs technocrats in the ministries similar to the ones it used to employ in the past, public servants who knew how to deal with ever issue they were presented with. Ministries need to have a specific structure and each and every member of staff must have a job description, while all should undergo evaluation." (Kathimerini, July 2, 2013 as part of the English edition of the International Herald Tribune).

Needless to say, such an endorsement to technocratic management is highly naive and fails to realize that people fail to work together due to quite other reasons. If there is no recognition given of capable people, why should competence flourish? And if conflicts can be resolved by everyone becoming capable to mediate, then all the artifical conflicts due to different interpretations of the law have to be approached differently. For there is an intended system behind the rationality being proposed in the name of efficiency, and that is to do without mediation. It would mean literally confronting the other with a dogmatic interpretation of the law as if this is a fact. Without such a mediation, the system would exert only pressure and lead to violence or immediate threat thereof if the order to be disciplined is not followed. What horror that would mean if it became reality. It was once realized in Germany under Hitler. For once such a threat determines reality, the absence of conscious governance shall be felt immediately. Instead of acting according to legally bounded decisions, everything shall be reduced to economic necessity. And blamed shall be the ones who do not follow through on this command to further the system rationality. Critical analysis shall be suspended and everything not working will be explained by one key term: 'bureaucacy'. The term shall be used to explain everything and nothing.

Overlooked shall be, for example, the difference between the political debate about passing a law in parliament and the need to adapt this passed law, so that it can become an administrative act, in order to be applied in society at large. If that difference is not made, and regularly this is the case, responsible governance is negated. Austerity meansures will, therefore, not be enacted upon but become only crude measures since only those will be affected to whom the state has direct and indirect access: wage and pension cuts of civil servants and increase in taxes. Neither makes sense since the reduction of consumers means no one will be able to do any honest business in a free market. There will not be sufficient buyers. Instread business will be forced to do business with the only client still having some money, namely the state. Business will crowd out the ordinary citizen since now a fight for rare resources. In the end, the deal will only intertwine business and the political administration of money flows, or rather technocratic governance will oversee both state expenditures and how money flows are regulated. In either case it amounts to a blind establishment of a coercive logic which leaves no alternatives. This is how autocratic rule is imposed and felt at daily basis.

There is no human compassion in such a system. The human being is simply identified as disturbance or source of error. Everything is done, therefore, to reinforce autocratic rule by such technical mandates which give no longer any voice to the human being. The need to uphold the illusion of a perfect reliable system being in place makes up the task of the media. Once reduced to that strategy, it no longer corresponds with the lived reality of people. Instead the images shall be constantly presented in virtual terms - at the exclusion of any validation possibility with reality. There is no reference to a possibility to say 'no' to this nonsense of having to follow exclusively a system rationality applicable only at global scale. Like any airport, these systems function according to both implicit and explicit rules. Once mastered, then anyone can use them. Insofar as individuality is concerned, it makes no difference whatsoever if someone shows up and claims some cultural difference. Getting the ticket and bordering the plane is almost the same procedure for everyone except for minor exceptions, may that be first class customers or else people with special needs.

Technocratic ruler-ship is the consequence of anti-politics (a negation of political responsibility to bring about good governance) leading to a loss of public legitimacy of parliamentary democracy.


The loss of public legitimacy

Technocratic governance follows business practices which are being conducted mainly behind closed doors. They become only then visible when going openly against public interest as in the case of closure of ERT.

The contrived reasoning behind such a shut-down is quite revealing. In the name of efficiency, not only public confidence in the public media is undermined. Paradoxically the government shoots itself in the foot by closing down the very public channel it needs to announce its policy measures, in order to gain public legitimacy.

Naturally a difference can be made even when working inside the system, namely by going public - provided there exists still a public sphere. Indeed, the working of a democracy presupposes an independent press which does report about the different viewpoints and follows up news, so that everyone is better informed about the controversy between locals who do not wish, for example, the gold mining operation to go ahead and the owners of the mining company who are supported, so it seems, by politicians in Athens.

But going public is connected with a high risk, especially so if both national and private interests are involved. Someone like Snowden can easily be labelled as a traitor, even though he revealed how far the US government has extended its surveillance techniques not only into the private lives of everyone, but also into the offices of the EU in Washington. The real issue is the violation of privacy made possible by a distortion as to what is in the interest of the general public. The latter should not to be mistaken with so-called security needs, although it can be interpreted by the US or any other government as needed in the fight against terrorism. It underlines how in an economic war, in conjunction with a war against terrorism, can give the pretext to govern by dubious means. If reduced to control everything, it reminds of the Fascist state having eyes to see everything. This false justification leads to an over extension of both state and private powers. By making full use of the new capacities of the latest technology, it goes way beyond democratic self governance.

Usually when powers are abused, governments start to feel insecure. They make decisions which go against public interest. Knowing it can jeopardize everything, efforts are made to cover up. But once ethical principles have been breached, politicians risk to become highly inconsistent, itself a cultural failure since then without self critical reflection. They will be unable to end the economic war and instead drive it to further extremes.

Already Jürgen Habermas noted in his review of 'publicness' what happened, for example, in the Renaissance. While citizens could decide collectively which artist was to create the house of their guild, those dealing with money withdrew behind closed doors. The question of what is then still visible from the outside, and yet a trap when perceived from the inside, this was shown by Giotto. He depicted a church claiming Jesus was not born in a barn but inside the church - a false legitimacy of its power. Giotto showed also a cross dangling from a wire on the outside wall of the church facing the masses coming towards it. From behind the cross was a cheap thing, but for the masses it was so impressive that they showed their devotion to the church. Symbols of power have this inherent capacity to attract all kinds of projections to the benefit of the institution.

Politicians attain power by knowing how to use symbols which can energize the masses, and then direct them. That manipulative use gives them the power. Unfortunately the individual which made an appearance in the Renaissance disappeared in a mass of loyal followers all going obediently sooner or later not only to church, but also to war.

Something similar took place when Occupy Wall Street gave more credit and power to the bankers than what they really have. Unfortunately that creates an overarching awe for those who supposed to be in power. Always projections upon institutions verify the general assumption that banks control society. Even if a fiction, it makes that power more real and therefore into an agent which can negate the demand for a change in that ratio 99 to 1%.


As if not people, but only numbers count

The economic war is waged by means of numbers and making use of the new media in a most arbitrary, often violent way to launch new, equally fake strategies to overcome the obstacles in the real world.

Children and youth are especially vulnerable because they have not developed as of yet a cultural filter and, therefore, are more readily exposed to highly suggestive, equally violent images on television. The phenomenon of 'cyber bullying' is become a part of this. Moreover studies show that these new forms of communication carry with them a high risk of isolating the individual. Young people end up eating all alone and while doing so watch alone some video. Rather than experiencing discussions at the dinner table, crucial for developing empathy for others, the new media tends to deprive them of important social experiences. They things which drive them against their immediate surrounding. Without dialogue with parents and no socialization through friends, they end up without feelings for reality. A strange fear sets in. It can create invisible walls. The individual fells unable to go outside. Without any social contact, a silent panic can set in. To escape self isolation and to overcome these invisible walls, a special motive is needed. By imitation heroic deeds are assumed to bring about the necessary motivation. This imitation is wrong from the start since designed to overpower the individual and everyone else. Usually it ends tragically by going on a shooting spree to avenge oneself for this loss of self confidence.

Along with this fear of social isolation something else sets in: a fascination for and equally a horror about numbers. However, this way of counting successes and failures has become the norm. It sets free a dangerous energy e.g. an individual trying to kill as many innocent by-standers as possible for no longer individual deaths, but what counts are the number killed. This was the case in Newtown, USA where the victims were children. The perpetrator, only twenty years of age, tried apparently to see what high number he could attain before authorities would come and stop him. Later inquiries into his background revealed that he wanted apparently to outdo previous killers, including Breivik who killed 77 people in Norway.

This fascination for numbers can be attributed to what counts generally in an economic war in which content or human beings no longer matter. Certainly people do not wish to be robbed in the street or far worse lose their job; still they want to earn as much money as possible. An infinite wish for a financial utopia and a real fear to lose the job any time does create a highly explosive cocktail. It explains sudden out bursts of aggressiveness. For once intoxicated by this mix, everything seems abstract, remote and senseless. Living in the present seems impossible while the past is no longer remembered. It alters perception of what lies ahead nor there seems to exist a chance to alter the situation. Rather what counts are skills needed to escape the danger of losing the job without giving up too much. But too often real sacrifices are needed to stay on top of the game.

Perception as if nothing changes alters sense of time. Also what one experiences on the way no longer counts, but only the speed by which one can travel from A to B. How long does it take to get there, is the main question. Even plans for exhibitions are based on calculations how long one person can spend in front of an exhibit, so that 2000 people can see the exhibition within one hour. It may leave the individual 5 minutes per exhibit. Guides will intervene, if this does not happen. It subjugates cultural receptivity of experiences to an abstract system of calculations which pre-determines the moves of individuals in company of others.

Like the runner who differs from the one who walks, the faster he runs, the more the need to abstract from the immediate surrounding, in order to watch out for only gross obstacles. Altogether current system makes everything more abstract. In the end, no time is left to heed details. It allows control of movement in a negative sense. Like the jogger with measurements of heart beat, everything depends upon measurable outcomes. To control ever more refined evaluative tools are introduced while to be measurable everything has to be identifiable according to certain criteria. A qualitative assessment is added to induce some subjective understanding but really only numbers matter. No wonder when the claim is made that 'numbers never lie' - the best lie ever invented.

Basically the scale of any unit shall be defined in numeric terms. For instance, a museum will be asked to fire a third of its staff just to reach the target of a certain number of people who shall stay employed, as if only at that size and no other the unit can be efficient. How one arrived at that figure, no one can tell for sure! Naturally things can be calculated in terms of revenues coming in and costs incurred while taking spending priorities into account. But not said is that the crisis, due to loss of money, allows for a total revamping of the entire organization. Internally, flexibility is demanded from the staff, in order to proceed. Due to not knowing who shall be next to be fired, fear grips the entire staff. For sure, those not fired shall be disposed even more towards the new tasks. They will work more for less money. Externally, it helps to resolve the crisis by restoring the purchasing power the owners of capital had and want to retain. Purchasing power is not what is more profitable but what allows a command over human and natural resources. Accordingly new accounting procedures are developed. They set standards and use techniques which demand that everything must be measured, even if deemed to be unmeasurable e.g. happiness. In case of a museum visitor, satisfaction is measured in terms of 'psyche income'. By implication, if making an experience is something which can be earned, it has to be paid for. The EU Commission has given it a name: 'economy of experience'.

The ones made unemployed cannot mount any meaningful resistance against this new accounting procedure making them redundant. Compliance is the order of things. Even at general level, visitors cannot believe what is happening in Greece for back home they believe no would take quietly a 40% wage cut and 20% tax increase, altogether a 60% loss in purchasing power. They still think in terms of what is normal in Canada. They have yet to realize how effective is the threat to become unemployed and therefore to be without means of social integration. In short, austerity measures leave almost all speechless, and many without work.

Practically the situation at ERT is made far worse, since the official talk is only about reducing 2 700 employees to 1000 or 2000. Completely blended out is the fact that this is a public media which exists due to a prime value premise of democracy.

Any reduction of reality to losses and gains, or sheer numbers reminds of how generals judged in First World. They counted how many soldiers were needed to move the trenches five meters forward, and if 7000 died in the process, it was still counted as a success, if the rest succeeded in fulfilling that order.

Something similar is evoked by Samaras when he argues 2 700 people at ERT are simply too many, and only when scaled down to 1000, then the broadcasting unit would it be efficient. He and his finance minister even claim this would bring in 100 Million in savings. They only forgot to mention what it costs, if ERT would be completely shut down and then re-started. Moreover a loss of revenues is being incurred since 11th of June because ERT covers no longer certain key events. One interesting aspect should also be mentioned, namely that ERT did not owe the state one Euro. In short, the inefficiency accusation is a clear distortion of reality.

The evaluators are key persons within the sytem. They are the ones who establish the magic numbers according to which decisions are made as to who makes it, who not. Their methods drives the decision makers to ever further extremes. Since now only outcome orientated, and results have to be shown (visible), content and an invisible learning process shall be ignored. That is deliberate since quality factors or what is not measurable should not determine the outcome. Their evaluation techniques will exclude learning out of experience and show no interest in further qualification. By excluding an open ended learning process which could have another outcome than expected or aimed for, that matters in terms what else is negated by such a system of control through evaluation techniques.

Waht the quantitative orientation overlooks in the case of a museum or an institution like ERT is the need for the entire staff to be engaged and to work well together. An indiction thereof is whether or not everyone communicates well with the other. Such a quality of experience will not count in the eyes of the quantitative orientated evaluators. Rather they will use pseudo quality criteria to measure as well the unmeasurable.

Likewise in journalism and especially in the case of a public media, other responsibilities will define the tasks, one of them being the need to get to the right sources of information and to be sure about them. Going around the corner is more important than following a strict line from A to B. Linear thinking which does away with all human factors and therefore as well resistance will not do, but that is precisely what the technocratic system stands for when reference is made to efficiency as the overriding criterion.

Unfortunately the media itself is trapped in a similar way. It tends to highlight how many were killed, although the number itself does not say very much. Even when the death toll in Syria exceeds by now the 100 000, every number is still very abstract and far removed from any real sense for life and human pain. However, the fascination for numbers reflects in part as to what an economic war amounts to – literally a fight for numbers, as if they make a vast difference. Apparently economy success (whether now in a negative or positive sense does not make much of a difference) can only be expressed through concrete numbers e.g. so many cars have been produced, this amount of profits made and an economic growth of 4% reached etc. Yet what the 4% really stands for, no one seems to know.

The same applies to the sheer figures when state deficits are mentioned. People got dizzy upon hearing the sums involved after the bank of the Lehman Brothers crashed in 2008 and the economic crisis began to unravel.  Once the housing bubble burst Spain looked as an economy extremely vulnerable although just before it was a booming region. Likewise in Greece over consumption prepared the ground for the collapse. Too many homes and even airports were constructed, even though there was really no need for them. The inflation of numbers in the abstract made it enticing to join the outburst into an endless spending spree. Then one thing leads to the next. More income meant all of a sudden one could afford a yacht or even a private jet. The extravagance extended itself into the virtual world, or as someone put marketing turned into bewitching the customer to buy things he did not know till then he needed, in order to feel not just satisfied, but extremely happy.


Centralized governance amidst conflicts and heightened tensions 

Technocratic orientated ruler-ship will leave large segments of society be exposed to 'invisible violence' as direct outcome of how the economic war is waged. A lot more of that will take place in the virtual instead of the real world. But it will affect the lives of everyone, in particular of children and youth, more profoundly than previous techniques designed to invade private spaces and to shape the minds, so that they are prepared for what lies ahead. For that purpose war like images are being constantly reproduced to keep everyone in such a state of mind as if the entire world is at war.

Needless to say, an economic war has its own price with the distinction that it is not the famous 'invisible hand' of Adam Smith which sets it, but rather a coalition of interests ranging from banks to rating agencies via the Central Bank and back to the politicians who are elected to make sure democracy fails to limit the power of those coming dangerously close to no one being able to challenge since too powerful.

While inward investments are desired, politics has to establish a way to go forward without inflicting too much or if possible any damage at all. Yet costs and damages can be established quite differently by opposing views. Take, for example, the controversy around a gold mining venture in Northern Greece. It threatens to have serious impacts upon the environment. The owners of the Canadian firm want production costs be reduced from 18 to 12%, done best by altering the extracting method i.e. not building an earth mount around the entire area to prevent leaking of dangerous materials into the surrounding area. The trade off between the wish of the investors to ensure their investment returns and the environmental concern says it all. While the latter can hardly to be put into real figures, the owners stand to convince the politicians, if a clear profit is in sight, provided production costs can be lowered to 12%. The venture can be furthered juiced up by a vague promise that this will bring so many jobs. It is an opaque game with numbers. The real story is something else.

As a reminder, the state ought to take care of what is in public interest, and therefore should not serve private interests even though strangely enough Kant stated philsophy should advise politicians to make such laws which are good for business. However, the tax cut which President Bush initiated, is quite another story. It favoured the very rich and transformed the state budget from a surplus into a deficit. This was intended since the aim was to make the state dependent upon those with money and reversed thereby power relationships. Not the state but private owners with lots of money had the say in how society and the economy should be organized and be managed. It became a business deal which marginalised many and threatens to undermine not only the US but also the world economy. The deficit crisis is linked to that precarious situation being kept right now under control by simply printing more money and keeping interest rates low. 

Marx called it the 'Asiatic mode of production' to explain a tendency towards centralized governance. It is brought about due to the huge costs of technology which exceed individuals e.g. farmers when a case of constructing an irrigation system, and even the state, which has not the money to install such a technology. Hence the state is forced to borrow the money and does so by handing over land and other state assets to those who provide the money. This is how the landed aristrocacy was created.

In a modern economy this dependency upon technology has forced states to make huge investments needed for the build up of a complex infrastructure. Alone the name of Micro Soft and now Google along with other brand names indicates to what extent the knowledge economy has altered the determining factors. Most recently a project with the aim to build a 100Gbps internet network in order to deal with an 'explosion' in big data has been unveiled by the European Commission. The EC has joined forces with Japan to invest €18 million (£15.5 million) in six research projects aimed at allowing a much higher speed when data is being transferred. Given the huge sums of money involved, mega projects alter the conditions under which business is being conducted. No wonder when the European Commission reinforces a trend towards centralized governance, and thereby neglects SME's and the need for vital local economies. 

The neglect of the local level, and of small activities, antagonizes many since they feel to be no longer in control of their lives. They see these mega projects being decided upon, but draw false analogies when trying to understand in which world people live in. The exaggeration out of fear, along with a mix of radicalization and anti politics, will lead to wrong conclusions about what is still possible within the system. Once people believe there is little left what can be done, they tend to reject on the one hand outrightly the system, while on the other they will follow grudgingly whatever work can be done within the system. Inner reflections shall no longer correspond with outer, just as virtual worlds can shape the mind independent from what happens in reality. A favorite sign of resignation is the expression that everything is but an illusion. This loss of reality and correspondence between inner and outer worlds leaves the transsensivity for what takes place elsewhere, or what impact has one's own actions, outside any self critical reflection. Consequently attitudes presume they no longer care as if they can be as indifferent as the system is to them. In the end, they will lose out more than what they can afford while the system remains stable and unforgiving hard.

As any self critical understanding requires a human language, it matters how people speak i.e address each other. For once the border to the system has been crossed, a sudden death of a self conscious language is for sure. Instead the 'new speak' or EU jargon language will dominate. By excluding layers of experiences, it will not touch upon human pain nor allow for deeper insights into certainties of happiness. The latter exists as a love which can question power. By excluding love, human pain, honesty, empathy etc. this acquiesce to power will make the daily spoken language surreal and hard. Instead of being differentiated, false preconceptions will guide decisions in a wrong direction.

Likewise at political level, in order to still convince, official policy makers try to use a sales pitch like language of car sellers. If they are successful in terms of making good business possible, it will promote superficial commodities such as a shiny new car just bought by the neighbour. Then inevitably the next thing will happen. Someone else comes along with a screw driver since eager to make a first scratch on that car. It is the start of first a silent war, one hardly visible except for the owner of the car, but then will escalate into something more.

The wish to inflict some kind of damage has to be understood in philosophical terms. To remind, Hegel stated someone not working would inflict damage upon the state, since he does not contribute to the increase of the wealth of the nation. That kind of criminalization of the unemployed holds still today due to prevailing social prejudices and stereo-typical images. It leads to a war against the unemployed. (see article of Paul Krugman in Herald Tribune, 2.7.2013). Since the one with private property has only an identity, and gets support from the state, the one who scratches the car takes revenge for not having made it in society. He takes out his anger on something like a symbol of that other life he could not realize: the expensive car.

Other forms of revenge can fuel as well the economic war e.g. a woman who has no children of her own will can develop such a rage that she avenges herself by breaking into another family by enticing the man. Spyros Mercouris would add any sick person develops an exceptional charm which can deceive the other. And Carlos Fuentos would add at the start of war love is betrayed.

Similar skirmishes take place when house owners rage against graffiti artists or those who tag walls of houses facing the street and therefore public spaces - it is a kind of street war. Both sides tend to justify their extreme attitudes or actions. Since it takes place outside any sphere of dialogue, they confront impossible structures, and realize that a true life in a wrong structure is impossible (Adorno). The economic war makes things worse by strengthening the wrong structures. A failure to emancipate oneself from this negative determinant makes people be desperate and indignant.

Like in all wars, not only big battles count; rather small skirmishes can make a huge difference, see alone the accounts by Stefan Zweig in 'hours of humanity'. One lesson about how Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo was, for example, a general who followed strictly orders and therefore forgot to stay in contact with Napoleon when chasing the Prussian troops. It made a huge difference in the final end when the fresh Prussian troops re-entered suddenly the battle field.

Other odds can also flourish such as the Arab Spring. In Tunisia, the spark was a fruit seller burning himself to death out of protest against an unjust police interference into his small business. It changed the perception which had dominated till then. While those with money had sought more security behind walls, the impoverished ones did not know what they missed. Only after Gaddafi had fallen from power, many Libyans broke down those walls and saw for the first time these villas with swimming pools. They were amazed and realized all the time when living impoverished, wealth had been accumulated without them knowing or having a share in it. That adds a twist to such an economic war when the shocking ratio poor/rich is fully exposed and perceived as such.

Crucial to see is that stealing and destruction happens on both sides: those who make money, do so often off poorly paid labour, while the poor survive by adopting a variety of tricky ways. In either case making a living in an honest way proves to be most difficult and tends to promote all kinds of myths e.g. those who steal in super markets since without any money pretend to be like Robin Hood who did something against an unjust system and for the poor. Equally the rich prefer a myth tainting the unemployed as if just lazy. In either case, social jealousy and lack of empathy become the two sides of the same coin and furthers in turn human inequality i.e. while some can afford all luxury, others have not enough to feed their children. As this can spill over into the media and becomes a battle over images. In turn, it reflects how crucial are social perceptions i.e. if journalists are willing to expose injustices and editors do not toe the line out of fear this would stir up too much social unrest and political protest.

Someone can ask but why spend so much money on an expensive hotel room when sleeping underneath the trees and an open sky offers a much deeper experience of real holidays? But shorelines still free of any kind of construction have become rare. The expropriation of nature and land has driven everyone into false dependencies upon what is being offered, and that costs again money.

While images of the rich in conflict with each other flicker across the TV screens and convinces the poor that is not a desirable life, it does not put aside the need to earn money. Problematic is if money cannot be earned in a honest way, but is done by artificially induced means, e.g. gambling (along with all the corruptive influences for the Indians who run casinos). Moreover in an economic war new standards are set on how money can be earned e.g. by writing callous articles to degrade somebody or a firm, in order to undermine a potential competitor. It brings about closed markets in which only insiders can make money.

Since a war is fought as well by means of planting distractions in the social mind, highlighted are those who earn lots of money e.g. film stars or highly paid footballers. Behind that blending light is a carefully orchestrated mechanism which involves the media, sport agents, football club owners and last but not least the masses to ensure false heroes receive most of the money. Masses are literally electrified by being able to turn loose for at least two hours when watching a football match live. They can shout at free will. The down side is that at work they are more careful what they say, if not being outright silent while showing no solidarity, if another guy is deprived of his job for the wrong reasons. They fear only for their own job and take care not to get into trouble with management. It is mass acquiescence to the system and to those who seem to know how to stay in power.


Repression and violence

Clearly, the ousting of people from their jobs is hardly efficient. Moreover it is to be expected that people shall resist and react. It follows that further repression will limit the people's capacities to counter the austerity measures.

It would make far more sense if politicians would show a way out of the economic war. They could, as Noam Chomsky would put it, by not following the interests of the cooperations. Economically speaking, they would not give in to the corporations' constant demands for an overspending on what they can produce and provide. Rather politicians working in the interest of all people, would allow public participation to make possible good governance. It would create conditions by which the entire system could be altered, so that it works for and not against people.

Quite the opposite happens in an economic war. Then people risk to end up being the key enemy. In normal times, they are already the main target of consumer strategies. Come difficult times, and it may entail critical choices have to be made, so that whatever the outcome it will produce conflicts, then another reality of the state is revealed. That is especially the case when these consumers become suddenly active citizens who are not obedient enough to accept top-down imposed autocratic decisions and instead of staying silent, take to the street and demand that these decisions are reversed. Instead of enticements designed to animate the consumers, repression in full force shall be exerted by the state. Although a futile attempt for once the public truth is out, there is no way out of the need to allow a questioning of the decision, the distortion of political motives will be highly misleading. Just as Erdogan in Turkey showed himself to be unable to grasp the situation in June 2013,  and he did not hesitate to misname peaceful protesters as terrorists, generally politicians end up on the wrong side by justifying harsh police methods being deployed. Rather they should listen to what the power of the street entails insofar as it gives back the voice to the people.

It was anyhow foolish to follow the Milton Friedman theory about consumer behaviour depending solely on a life time income. How can people pay their monthly bill when without regular pay? Still all governments followed this path once tried out for the first time in Chile, namely the regulation of a life time income by merely manipulating the interest rate and thereby thinking governments need not to do anything else to influence consumer spending as prime motor of the economy.

What happened in Chile 1973 when Pinochet toppled Allende and installed a police state to make sure people are willing to pay the prize demanded of them, that was really a taste for things to come. Policy dictated by the Milton Friedman theory means more and more or less Western democracy have to resort in one way or another to the Chile model, since only such severe forms of control will make sure people swallow wage cuts and only protest, if at all symbolically against loss of Rights of wage earners.

In Greece, violence has been steadily on the increase with the state arming ever more the police. This has been especially the case after the eruption of the youth over the death of a fifteen year old boy. It was alleged that a policeman killed him. Once the news spread, the youth revolted against a corrupt system. That was on December 6th 2008, one year before the financial crisis was declared and quite another form of discipline imposed, namely a most negative kind.

That police force is needed to throw back any kind of protest which could up set the system, that has been demonstrated again in Turkey in June 2013. To see tear gas being used in narrow streets although a chemical weapon, that does send a chilling message down the spine.

Equally a strange feeling overcomes one when seeing images of the Greek police moving in the eve of 11th of June to the top of the mountain to make sure that no one else has any access any more to the frequency tower from which ERT could broadcast its programs. Once the shut down was enacted upon by ministerial decree, the TV screens not only of ERT, but of BBC, CNN, Deutsch Welle went black. In effect, those without any internet access are completely cut off from news, regardless whether local, regional, national or international. The cutting off of vital information is a part of that economic war fare. As a decision and method, it has nothing to do with democratic rule or respect for such things as the freedom of the press.

Unfortunately similar experiences are made now in Greece as in Egypt when the government in an attempt to control the social protest movement of the Arab spring tried to shut down the official outlets of the media. The movement resorted to the Internet, in order to continue to communicate. Still, as Roger Cohen would point out, Twitter and other forms like Facebook do not lend them easily to the type of communication needed to obtain legitimacy and official endorsement as sign of structured and binding decisions linked to interpretation of the law. That means as well the possibility of enforcing this law. Social movements erupt when certain self understood forms of doing things have been violated in an outrageous way. Still they do need to attain a sophisticated level of reflection, if they are to promote governance and can make decisions with the potential to become laws everyone has to abide to.


Nothing is normal

One thing stands out before anything else, namely while everything has the appearance of continuing as if normal, nothing is normal any more. At the same time, the truth is that nothing is more dangerous than to assume the abnormal to be the 'normal state of affairs'. It will distort the sense for what measures are needed to bring about a just society.

An irrational silence will rule in the streets and at home. While there is more noise than lovely sounds, and not only loud motorbikes drown out the call of the birds in the morning, the talk shows say a lot about nothing.

If there was already talk about the need to be 'politically correct' in recent decades, the new situation found to mark the beginning of the 21st century shall be defined among other things by 'cyber-war'. It is matched by new surveillance techniques. All are designed to penetrate even more so the private sphere of every citizen. The basic self understanding is that there is no privacy left, or if it still exists, it can be invaded at any given notice. The fact that it is over and again legitimized by governments as a way to prevent terrorist attacks, means in effect less security is produced by the wish to have more security. Alarms go off at night and wake up everyone in the neighbourhood just because the house owners opened the door the wrong way, or a soldier shoots by mistake a Jewish man about to pull out of his bag something he would have wanted to have while praying at the wall. These mistakes are no longer mere human errors; they are failures of the system since it induces ever more mistrust and naturally as well misgivings.

It is crucial to repeat that a direct outcome of this economic war is the increasing use of new surveillance and other techniques all based on mistrust of people, but all requiring a clear enemy picture if to be used effectively. In the absence of such clear information, the want for some kind of result is intensified. The negative down side of these techniques is their overuse as much as their over extension. The best example of that is the use of drones.

No wonder if there is an increase in traumas and paranoia like state of minds. While the contrast between the virtual and really lived worlds could not be greater, nothing truly uplifting seems to give people something to truly cherish. The Olympic Games may create for two weeks such an atmosphere and thereby explain why it is deemed to be such a huge success, even if it leaves in its wake the hosting city and country deeply in debt. Yet the hunger for such lucrative gains by hosting the Games underlines as well how treacherous is a system basing its assumption not only on everyone having a price, but on vanity.

But to come back to traumas, they reflect that people are going through extremely difficult situations at work, in the streets and at home. Yet if they look at television, they will see even sharper images of what they have been going through. For clearly most of the entertainment offered depicts a world at war of either the past, present or future with odd mixtures in terms of how the story is being told. Next to crime and sex, there seems to be most characteristic to show who is successful is also stronger, richer, more beautiful and enduring. All this shall make it ever more difficult to imagine another human self understanding. If prospects are that gloomy, then because all of this combination of factors lead no one to expect a quick exit from this economic warfare.

While people feel terrorized by all of this, the political terror acted out by radical groups becoming violent to the extreme will mean arbitrary killings of innocent people. In psycho-somatic terms severe health risks shall be swallowed more and more by the body. As said already, this is due to not dealing openly with the fears and related dangers, whether now real or just imagined. As openness is based on the philosophical premise to know not to know anything, it would run counter to a system ruling mainly by means of keeping up the illusion of knowing how to run things. This pretence is more often the result of having given in to technology both as a tool and as an organisational logic which has replaced any conscious theory of society, and is, therefore, constantly implemented at the exclusion of all human sentiments.

At the same time, the larger portion of the population is kept in the unknown. There is left only one certainty: an economic war. It has started, and yet at the same time, it has not. This situation is best described as living a kind of schizophrenia of peace and war. While entertainment continues on the one side of the street, on the other bombs go off. So it makes no longer sense to pretend things are normal, or could soon come back to normal, except that the neighbour has been made unemployed while the shop around the corner will close since after doing the calculation, the plus minus no longer adds up.

And then, almost unexpectedly, sudden violent outbursts light up the night sky like bush fires, whether now in the Middle East or else in midst of Boston during the marathon run or in Turkey and then in Brazil. However, they seem to burn out as quickly as they had started. Upon a closer examination this so called lull in the war. In the lull there can only be made out the fact that the economy has become a most difficult terrain to cross. Social communication itself has become a minefield of misunderstandings. The mines can go off at any time, and therefore start another round of war like engagements for the sake of profits at the expense of everything else. This is because in the end money seems to count more than human lives.

In an economic war, it seems as if humanity has gone out of breath. Those who have managed to stay still in the game, they aim to beat the system on its own terms. They are eager to display models of success but they are over time most difficult to come by and seem to fail increasingly so to convince. Despite Beckham having based, for instance, his successful image on a free kick with a curve, he too grows old and has to leave the pitching field. The same with the golf star Woods. Age catches up with all of them, since this economic war is fought with ever younger stars.

Consequently the reciprocal relationship to that type of economy can be observed on hand of those unfortunate children who are dragged into things as sex slaves, child soldiers or simple workers. They will never have the chance for a decent education. But by the same token, gifted children are trimmed by their parents to be already semi film stars by the time they are ten. Knowing how competitive the world is, no time is given to grow up by just playing outside, free from any interference. The over constructed world does not offer that kind of nature and setting where children could learn by playing by themselves.

For sure, the economic war deprives first of all future generations with a chance to grow up with peace in mind as a concrete concept and thereby can be furthered through human reasoning and dialogue. Consequently the world deprives itself of the kind of happiness only children experience and can convey with a simple smile. Unfortunately they can only do this as long as they remain unspoiled by the spoils of this economic warfare and are not dragged from an early age on into preparations for this kind of war.


Unforeseen consequences

Once people fear for their lives, stress, anxiety, worries etc. shall haunt them. It is a common trait in an economic crisis. Well known is that even the strongest is weak when without a penny in the pocket. Many other psycho-somatic phenomena will cause multiple health problems. It starts with heart problems but shall not ending there. A difficult to be diagnosed 'chronic fatigue syndrom' is affecting ever more people; once without any energy, they are unable to get up from bed. One prime reason for all these problems is that they are not faced openly, through discussions at home and at work, but instead are swallowed i.e. internalized. Politically speaking, it is called 'implosion'.

Like in any war, this economic one will have many unforeseen consequences. The decision to close down ERT highlights it in a particular strong way. Suddenly uncertainties have to be dealt with where before people went to work on a daily basis and had not only their routines to absolve, but a professional career mapped out as integral part of their future. Qualification to become a good journalist or editor is a painful process at times, and not something something self-understood or merely producable by having good political connections. So when all at once 2 700 people can be given notiice from moment to the next, the frightening aspect of arbitrary decisions reveals the ugly side of this economic war. To face the prospect to be out of work suddwenly, and where just the day before people laughed for they enjoyed what they know best to do, namely to broadcast programs and to give the news a definite voice and quality, that is too much to take at once. All the more is admirable on how the majority responded, namely with a quality of resistance. As this reflects equally the substance of an entire institution with a history of 87 years behind it, ERT cannot be supposed to cease existing from one moment to the next.

People do sense that more decisions like the one which has just hit ERT can be expected. Things have been bad since 2009, but worse is still to come. And since an undeclared war, these decisions can come at any time so that in effect ony the unexpected can be expected. Naturally it can break the best. If someone has worked for nearly 35 years and therefore is close to retirement, he expect at the very least for all the services rendered some decent pension. But this no longer guaranteed. pension. If people will go if not completely empty handed but now receive a much lower pension than ever expected, how will they live and face an uncertain future when growing old? Many will have a bitter after taste once forcefully retired. They will feel as if betrayed in one or another way and equally feel defeated. The inner emptiness says it all, namely to be without some dignity, a chance of self respect, for having achieved something in this short lived life full of so many hardships. Since the economic war has just started, many more shall emerge like wounded veterans but as Freud would say since not physically wounded, no one will see their pain and depression. Lack of perspective to live a fulfilled life robs them of any happiness worth remembering, and once without memories, there will be no imagination by which they could face this negative reality robbing them of any positive identity.

The consequences for people who have been hit hard and been robbed unexpectedly of their future expectations, they are tremendous. If nothing can be done to alter this sudden bad fate, while the decision itself was not only unexpected, but highly arbitrary, then people feel exposed to a kind of lawlessness. They feel unprotected and ever more so vulnerable. At the same time, laws are just as revoked as claimed to make possible these hard decisions. As in the case of ERT even when the highest court orders the public TV station to be back to full operation, the government does not oblige and instead insists its own decision is the only measure of legality, and this in accordance with all the cited reasons such as efficiency and need to reform the system.

By giving in to this technocratic way of ruling, it makes evident that the real basis for all decisions has become most arbitrary. Presumably Samaras wanted to set an example, or to demonstrate vis a vis the Troika that the Greek government will push through the required reforms – the Troika demands the release of up to 150 000 civil servants out of the current nearly one million. Yet if these decisions are made without any due consideration for the people who shall be hit the hardest, then they are bad ones. 

Good governance is made possible by politicians who realize in time they risks to be making major mistakes if they continue going down that road of still more austerity measures. Lately they have been questioned from many sides, and not only by Paul Krugman. Important is here already that the IMF has admitted of having made mistakes, insofar it did not anticipate the depth and extent of recession the austerity measures would cause in Greece, and elsewhere.

Naturally such an admittance comes too late for those who have lost their wages and pensions, if not also their homes. The latter is the case for once loans to the banks cannot be repaid in time and this on a regular basis, the banks will expropriate the homes. Expropriation is the down side in this economic war. Whenever new bills, often due unexpected health and other problems come in, the fear intensifies not to make it. This is because people find themselves trapped in a corner and one more push may be all what it takes to end up in sheer poverty - if not materially speaking, then definitely in terms of experience of life.

In 2013, the risk of homeless people is on the increase. This is because many find it impossible to pay back the loan they owe to the bank. Even if with still a regular, but largely reduced income from, lets say, 1 500 to 800 per month, they shall not be able pay back the loan, if that amounts to 700 Euros per month. In one case the person can only deal with these new circumstances as she has a second source of income. Together with her mother she manages a small hotel which brings in enough to avoid defaulting with the bank. Clearly even then the prospects are tight, if not grim, since it is never sure if the evaluators at her work place will demand that more people are sent into unemployment. The latter is but a fake externalizing of costs. While the institution saves money and can show a profit or at the very least balanced books, those on a limb are treated now like economists assumed in the past was free of any costs to private companies and therefore could be wasted i.e. polluted without consequences for the health of people.



Since Samaras personally has stated that nothing short of a complete obliteration of the entire station will do, his use of a totalitarian language reflects to what level governance is reduced, once having entered an economic war. In a statement to the Nea Democratic Party at the end of June, he threatened even that he will not tolerate much longer the 'illegal broadcast' by the ERT journalists via Internet. The threat can mean anything ranging from coercive to violent measures e.g. use of police force to clear the ERT building. Instead of giving recognition to outstanding journalist work being done to uphold the existence of a public media, he heightens thereby not only tensions but adopts a strategy which annihilates the others. Although as prime minister he should create an atmosphere in which fair negotiation can take place, he adopts an uncompromising position and reduces ever more the chances of finding a solution to which workers of ERT can agree. Rightly so they have rejected the recent proposal put forward for the new broadcasting unit as being too vague. A law proposing such a unit has been published in the parliamentary journal (4.7.2013).

Most perturbing is how the government has ignored the decision by the Highest Administrative Court stating that the broadcasting of ERT should be resumed immediately. Instead that decision by the court was been subjugated to an interpretation which seems to justify the position taken by the government. It demonstrates once again that any law and interpretation thereof can be ignored, if it does not suit one's own purpose. While some lawyers point out that government's position is justified insofar a court cannot order a government to make a decision i.e. let the broadcasting be resumed, it is quite another interpretation that the court's does not order but ruled instead that the shut down of ERT is not justifiable, as it has not legal basis for that and, therefore, broadcasting has to be resume immediately.

The hard stance taken by Samaras reflects his typical style of doing politics. It does not lead to good governance but more and more to failure. He may want to blame others why ERT could not be reformed, but as prime minister he has to make sure that his government safeguards the public media. It is best done by upholding the social dialogue with the employees of ERT and by having in place a forward looking media strategy. Only an agreement with all 2 700 employees of ERT will ensure that a good solution can be worked out under the condition, as the court stated, this is a real reform and not a mere punitive measure i.e. a political revenge being taken for the other side refusing to make any concessions e.g. the legal department of ERT not accepting the 1 million programme designed to favour someone related to Samaras.

Samaras leaves open what he understands under austerity measures. Just prior to the shut down he had declared in the presence of Juncker who had came for a visit to Athens before June 11th, that his government would cease to apply any further austerity measures. Yet with that one stroke by which he shut down ERT, he aimed to satisfy the demands of Troika and demonstrate his willingness to take a hard stance and reduce the number of civil servants. Vis a vis the Troika the government has pledged by 2014 that the number of civil servants who have left their jobs will reach 150 000.

Three aspects should be taken into consideration as framework of references when working out a solution for ERT:


Hatto Fischer

28.6.2013 (latest update: 5.7.2013)


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