Democracy Being a Free Good Endangers its Existence

By Con George-Kotzabasis 

Breathing democratic freedom is neither easy nor free; it entails both rights and obligations and most importantly knowledge of current fundamental issues. But in most democracies their constituents tend to uphold and demand more their rights than their obligations, and more deplorably, a sizable number of them exercise their rights in a state of ignorance. This imbalance, however, between rights and obligations, as well as lack of knowledge of the real issues, puts in jeopardy the functioning of a politically just and economically productive democracy, and indeed endangers its existence as a form of government.

Moreover, it makes its voters who are uninformed of the points at issue captive to populist slogans and to that everlasting traducer of democracy, identified by Aristotle, demagogy, that appeals to the hopes and fears of the electors and by propagandistic lies and false promises opens the doors of power to demagogues. This is exemplified by two recent political events in our times: Alexis Tsipras and his party of Syriza winning the elections in Greece on a wave of populism and unprecedented lies and false promises in the political history of the country, and of the plebiscite of the UK, whose two leaders of Brexit, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, with a farrago of lies and dire fictions were able to hoodwink a major part of the populace to vote for the exit of Britain from the European Union. On a smaller scale this also has happened in the Australian elections, when the Labor Party by its scare campaign that the Liberal Coalition would privatize Medicare, succeeded in convincing a large part of the electorate of this fictitious threat with the result of Liberals losing so many seats that brought the country on the edge of a hang parliament.

How can one remedy the weaknesses of democracy and protect its constituents from becoming victims to populism and to demagogy with catastrophic results to the well-being of society and to its continued economic prosperity? Some people believe that the answer lies in bringing cultural and ethical changes among the people that would make them immune to this toxic virus of populist-demagogy; and thus leading gradually to the cashiering and inexorable dismissal of all demagogic and populist leaders from the domain of politics. The difficulty and danger of such a solution however is that cultural change is a slow process and during its gestation and vicissitudes in a long run may in the meantime unhinge democracy from its door of freedom, by the actions of feckless, inept, and irresponsible politicians, and incarcerate it within the dungeon of dictatorship. A safer and faster solution would be to enact radical changes to the electoral voting system by suspending in certain circumstances temporarily parts of the electorate from voting.

On what principle could one suggest such an unequal voting system that would discriminate so deliberately between social groups in the ambience of democracy, and which group would be the unequal part in the democratic process? The guiding principle of the first part of the question must explicitly aim to the continued viability and stability of a democratic system, in the context of which, the economic well-being of society depends and guarantees the further expansion of wealth that renders to the people a wide choice where to employ their talents and skills that would push their living standard onto higher plateaus and make their lives congenial to their desires. The second part, i.e., the social group that would be unequally treated, would be identified as that part that depends on welfare for its living and as a ‘debtor’ client of the government easily succumbs to populist slogans and rabble rousing; also, due to its low educational level and lack of interest in important matters, it deprives it from having adequate knowledge of the issues involved and hence is completely unqualified to make a sober judgment on these issues. It is mainly this social group that brings to power demagogues and millenarian ideologues that imperil the stability of the polity and its economic system. And, indeed, ironically pits this same social group into absolute poverty, and in turn destabilizes democracy itself, as it has happened with the political rise of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela; where its people after a contrived false prosperity are presently hunting dogs and cats to feed themselves. The same has happened with the Marxist Alexis Tsipras in Greece, where the pauperization of many of its ordinary people is exacerbated every day and has reached unprecedented high levels under his totally inept, ideologically barren and irresponsible government.

The enactment of this radical legislation would specifically suspend from the right to vote any person who had been on social welfare or unemployed for more than a year, and only with his/her ceasing on being on welfare or unemployed his/her right to vote would be restored. Such legislation would not only strengthen and secure the viability of democracy and the prosperity of its economic system, but would also deprive populist demagogues and political parties of a constituency upon whose existence they depend. Moreover, it would substantially reduce the spending of the welfare state and make it less precarious to the fiscal policy of the state and hence to the well-being of the country. This radical enactment takes a leaf from the cradle of democracy in classical Greece, Athenian democracy. The latter disenfranchised and suspended from voting citizens who had failed to pay a debt to the polis. Likewise, in a modern democracy people who were in debt for their living to the government, that is on welfare, would be suspended from casting a vote.

Needless to say, such a radical proposal, to occur in the ambit of the ‘spoils’ of the welfare state that has spoiled at least two generations of people by our carefree and stand at ease democracy, will not be easy to implement as it will rouse all the wrath and opposition of the ‘progressive’ bien pensants and the ‘good fellows’ of the dole. It will require extraordinarily strong and sagacious political leadership tha will unite parliamentary opposition parties into a gigantic wave that relentlessly will sweep away this ‘progressivist’ praetorian guard of the human rights, without responsibilities, of the dole takers, and throw this defiance of the sanctimonious goody-goodies into the dust bin of history.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What to Do with ISIS Challenge to International Law

By Con George-Kotzabasis July 28, 2016

The following was my short contribution to a Seminar held in the Law School of Melbourne University, on July 28, 2016, with the theme “The Jihadist Challenge to International Law…,” whose main speakers were two professors of International law of Harvard and Yale Universities respectively.

 The Jihadist challenge to the ‘mountain’ of International Law must not give birth to a ‘mouse’ that will be at the mercy of the cat’s paw, of humanitarian lawyers. It must be taken off their gentle hands and must be handled by judicious and realist legislators, who are fully aware that this is no mere challenge to International Law but an existential threat to Western civilization. Lawgivers therefore must enact the harsh laws that will protect this civilization.

If the Jihadists are prepared to fight with the laws of the jungle, then they must also be prepared to suffer the whole hog of these laws. They must not expect that they will be protected by the humane laws of the West.

Finally, it is a great fallacy to believe that non-intervention or non-resistance by the West will touch the souls of these fanatics. On the contrary, it will strengthen their belief that the West is weak and they will attack it more ferociously and murderously. And indeed, in their wild chase of the chimerical seventy-two virgins they will not hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction against the West.

 

How the Good Intentions of a Left-Wing Economist Lead to Bad Results

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 19, 2016

The following is an unconsummated reply to professor Andrew Leigh’s lecture with the title, “Markets Monopolies and Moguls…” held at Melbourne University, on May 19, 2016. This was due to the chairman’s instruction that only a sprinkle of questions would follow the end of the presentation and there would be no debate

I’m overly distrustful of people who use scarecrows, in this case the “mogul” Richard Pratt, to make their argument. Moreover, it is a term associated with sinister practices and easily tantalizes and incites the feelings of the crowd to purge the evildoers. But more dismally it is wrong in your case, as it is an exercise in a fallacy of composition: Just because there are few rotten apples in the cart it does not mean that all apples are rotten. The unprecedented prosperity of capitalism was not engendered by rottenness but by the creative, innovative, and dynamic spirit of entrepreneurship.

The great economic historian, Fernand Braudel, depicts the shifts of capitalist centres and their entrepreneurial moguls, from Venice, Genoa, Antwerp, Amsterdam, London, to New York, spreading boundless prosperity to these metropolises and their environs by means of the ceaseless division of labour, international trade and the capitalist dynamic ethos of entrepreneurial creation. It was the sun-king of entrepreneurial capitalism that had pulled millions of people out of the sunless caves of poverty into the sunlit vistas of capitalist plenitude, heightening their standard of living, for the first time in history, on ever-higher plateaus.

(The scientific writer, Arthur Koestler, contends that the great discoveries of science were motivated by ambition, competition, and vanity, which happen also to be the inherent characteristics of capitalist moguls.)

You have mentioned a lot of negatives about “bigness” and market concentration but not the fact that they rather have a short life since there is no blockage of entry in a competitive economy to other entrepreneurs into these concentrated areas. One example, the entry of the innovative entrepreneur ALDI into the food-chain services and its reduction of the prices of its products in comparison to other chains, not only attracted many consumers to its stores but also forced the other two major super markets of COLES and WOOLWORTH to reduce their prices at the feel of the competitive pinch of the newcomer. Competition does not discriminate between big and small but it equally affects both.

But to deal with your argument that inequality should be a major consideration in competition policy, and regulating mergers and prices would be beneficial to the consumer. The competitive market in itself, without the need of regulation, spreads its cheaper products to an ever-greater number of consumers and therefore decreases inequality. The competition of Telstra and Optus is an example. The same applies to iPods. Ride a train, a bus, or a tram and you will see even the lower classes fully equipped with these cheaper gadgets of a competitive technology and once again the line of inequality is lowered down for the less wealthy consumer.

It is not the business of government to regulate mergers and pricing. This is the bailiwick of entrepreneurs who decide if such a merger will be profitable, whether it will be able to compete with an already established corporation producing the same product, and setting its price on such a level that it will attract consumers to buy its product en masse. Furthermore, as far as the regulation is close to the estimates and interests of the entrepreneurs it is superfluous; and as far as it is distanced from these estimates and interests, it is destructive. No businessman will invest his money in a venture where profit is unattainable. Hence, your regulation, that aborts the setting-up of a merger that would produce cheaper products for the consumer, by depriving the latter from having these goods, increases the inequality of the mass consumer. Not surprisingly, as often happens, good intentions lead to bad results.

Therefore, your proposal of government dirigisme as a panacea in regards to competition and regulation is inutile, fanciful, and fallacious, and more perniciously may turn out to be a destructive force.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

 

 

Marx and his Reincarnation Continue to be Hotbed of Gross Errata

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following is a very brief reply to professor of economics Kostas Lapavitsas, and former member of Parliament with the Party of Syriza, to his thesis, that Greece can achieve its national sovereignty only by going back to its own currency, i.e., the drachma, delivered at the Ithacan House, Melbourne, on April 15, 2016. The three first paragraphs were omitted from my response as I assumed regrettably wrongly, that the time allotted to the questioners at the meeting would be too short and hence I did not include them.

 

Professor Lapavitsas, allow me to make a short comment before I come to my question, as at the start I want to point out what I believe to be the roots of your erroneous proposition.  

Dialectical materialism even in its modern reincarnation of neo-Marxism, which you espouse, is a hotbed of gross errata, not to say terata (monsters), and hence a fallacious doctrine.

Yet the ghost in the machine of Marxism, despite its irreparable breakdown, continues to churn-out apparitional panaceas for the ills of global capitalism. One such quack panacea is your own proposition.

My question is: Show us one country in the world hit by absolute poverty, which, your implied return to the drachma entails, that by adopting your proposal has achieved national sovereignty and kept it; If you cannot show us such a country, then your proposal is a mirage, a will-o’-the-wisp, an occult fancy.

But what is more worrisome is that you are asking the Greek people, after the botched Tsipras-Varoufakis experiment, to be also the guineapigs to your own theoretical experiment which has hardly better odds of success than the Varoufakian one.

National sovereignty is the result of prosperity not of poverty.

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Suspicion of Muslim Women Hidden Behind Veil of Victimisation

The following is a would be reply to Dr. Shakira Hussein’s talk at Readings in Carlton, on March 15, 2016, with the title “From Victims to Suspects”…, which I was not allowed by the chairperson to elaborate, as she considered my questions hostile and uninteresting towards Muslim women.    

In the mad world of the Taliban, ISIS, and suicidal Islamist terror, it is not difficult for sane people to become “paranoiacs”.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

You are attempting to hide suspicion behind the veil of victimisation whose presumed agent is Islamophobia. The real agent, however, is your own religion that classifies women in comparison to men as second–rate beings.

As long as Muslim women cannot attain true femininity and banish the burqa and the hijab, symbols of their absolute bondage to Muslim male supremacy and its sex morals, they will have a cloud of suspicion hanging over them. As most Muslim men, if not open supporters of Jihad, are at least justifying the actions of Jihadists, since they believe unswervingly that all actions, no matter how atrocious, against the Great Satan America and all other Western Nations that are in league with it and are responsible for all the ills that have been fallen upon Muslim countries, are justifiable. A very thin line separates justification from Jihad and it takes only one step to be on the other side. And since Muslim women are submissive and docile to their men, they have to abide to the beliefs and actions of the latter. Hence, potentially, they can become active participants in this Holy War against the West. Hence, there are solid grounds for suspicion.

Only Muslim women who have the moral and intellectual fortitude, like the brave and great Somalian, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to renounce and liberate themselves from the rigid tenets of the Koran can remove the shadow of suspicion that are enshrouded in. And no professed adherence to Multiculturalism and human rights can bail out either Muslim men or women from this suspicion. What human rights would the devotees of the Koran give to the offspring of Satan? And don’t reply to me with the platitude that you can make distinctions among the people of the Western world. For how can you distinguish good infidels from bad infidels?

Open Letter to former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis

Open Letter to Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis

By Con George-Kotzabasis November 27, 2015

 

A few days ago, Reuters ranked the Tsipras government as the worst ever government of all times amongst the developed and Western world. It was this government that you served with overweening pride and engendered, by your unprecedented irresponsibility in the annals of politics and quack economic policies as its finance minister, this historically ignominious rank in which Reuters placed Greece.

Strutting, in an extraordinary theatrical performance, the European corridors of power clad in the mournful colours of a mortician with a red ribbon around your neck symbolising that you were no run-of-the-mill mortician but a proletarian one (It was this red ribbon that within the short span of six months would strangle economically both the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in Greece) who had come to slay and bury the “Minotaur” of capitalist exploitation and save the peoples of Greece, and indeed, of Europe, from the grisly and greedy fangs of their exploiters. But in an ironic twist of fate, after the guffaws for your thespian performance on the stage of Europe by your European confreres and the kick-out from the economic portfolio by your comrades for your total failure as finance minister, you have finished-up not as a saviour of Greece and Europe but as a slaughtering gladiator. Killing the beasts of capitalism in your global performance of panem et circenses before an audience of bienpensants and nipple-fed intellectuals, AKA the lost generation, who have learnt nothing from recent history and who lack the spiritual and moral fortitude to free themselves from their childish obsession of the socialist nirvana.

 

The Tsipras Government’s performance since its ascension to power on January 25 can be described by its three basic characteristics, infantilism, naiveté, and insouciant irresponsibility, which, as its finance minister, you embodied to the highest degree. Don’t expect to be treated kindly, at least by me, for the most unkind cut you inflicted upon the Greek people. Within the short time of six months you managed to destroy the economy by closing the banks and bringing in capital controls, and nipping in the bud the positive results of the Samaras Government that slowly but decisively were pulling the country out of the crisis. For the first time after the long economic stagnancy and recession, growth was recorded to be 0.8% and expected to be 2.5%-2.9 of GDP for the years 2014 and 2015 respectively, according to the IMF; also, unemployment was prevented from rising to 35%, as was predicted by eminent analysts, and indeed, had fallen by 2%, from 26% to 24% by the end of 2014. And all these heartening results happened within two and a half years under the prime ministership of Antonis Samaras. But you, like a revengeful immortal Olympian god, full of envy of these mortal achievements of the Samaras Government destroyed them with ambrosial delight. Your ludicrously eccentric policies and your barren and inflexible arrogant stand in your negotiations with the European Union brought the country back into recession and you capped this with a bill to Greece of an extra 90 billion to be paid to its creditors, which would come from the pockets of future Greek taxpayers. This was your enviable success story in contrast to the real success story of Samaras.

And yet blind and callous before this stupendous calamity that you delivered upon Greece, you proudly and insensitively claim to be “sitting on top of the world.” (I would add in your first word “sitting,” an h, so to make it a better fit to your ravishing pleasure: It must have been a relishing sensation to you, almost an aphrodisiacal one, defecating on “top of the world”.) You should be instead sitting in a dock charged with high treason for the great hurt and harm you afflicted, with such insouciant irresponsibility, upon the ordinary people, whom with unheard hypocrisy you claim to represent. And no wonder that your European confreres were not listening to the bullshit you were emitting in your negotiations with them on the Memorandum, and their justifiable rebuke of your crank economic policies delivered to them in the form of lectures, in an aura of omniscience.

You claim to be a “liberal Marxist.” But you seem to be oblivious of the dismal fact that “Marxism” with any epithet before it, is “a skull that will never smile again,” to quote the ex-Marxist Polish philosopher, Leszek Kolakowski. You are not a denizen of the real world but a denizen of the phantasmagorical world of Marxism whose legacy left behind not the Eden of Marx’s polytropos, many-sided, man, fishing in the morning, playing the flute in the evening, and writing poetry at night, but the police state of the NKVD, Gulag Archipelagos and Killing Fields.

In a footnote of the history of the twentieth-first century you will be described as a crank economist, a cowardly chicken gamester–taking risks not with your own but with other people’s money– and intellectual highjacker, who filched the writings of Marx and Keynes for the purpose of making your hybrid mulish economic doctrine, on whose back, as finance minister, you carried Greece to perfidious treasonable economic and political destruction.

Alas, after your pernicious mischiefs and gross offences toward the Greek people, you stand between the ferryman to Hades, Charon, and the butt of Aristophanes. Whom of the two would you choose, an afterlife of torture in the underworld for your ill deeds or a present life of ridicule in this world?

 

   

Syriza: Merrymaking While in Opposition Follymaking While in Government

America celebrates The Fourth of July as the day of independence of a great nation; Greece remembers The Fifth of July as the day of ignominy and gross stupidity of an abject nation, fallen from its former illustrious and glorious history, that voted “No” in the referendum and thus opened the door to the exit of Greece from the European Union and its entrance to the drachma.

By Con George-Kotzabasis—July 07, 2015

On last Sunday’s Referendum on The Fifth of July, sixty-one percent of politically and economically illiterate, not to say ignorant, Greeks, voted a “proud” and “dignified” “No” to the EuroGroup’s proposals, thus putting a noose around the neck of the nation, and celebrated this victory by dancing frenetically and entranced in Syntagma Square Zorba dances as if by putting a noose around someone’s neck was a festive occasion. And they did this in the background of closed banks, pensioners mass queuing to get a small part of their pensions, depositors unable to get a preferential amount of cash from their accounts, businesses unable to make transit payments on the exchange of goods and services, tourism, the major export of Greece, decimated by tourist cancellations. All this therefore leading to a free fall of the economy with the prospect of leading the latter to a catastrophic end with innumerable business enterprises closing, the present level of unemployment rising from 1.5 million to three-to-four million, engendering shortages of food and medicines, and with the ghost of the returning drachma–and thus absolute poverty of the country–looming over the head of Greece. Not since the launching of the Sicilian Expedition in 415 B.C. by the fatal decision of the Athenian General Assembly, that according to the great historian Thucydides was the stupidest decision ever taken and which was the cause of the ignominious and irretrievably annihilating defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War, has a democracy, as has been shown in last Sunday’s referendum, taken such a ludicrously irrational and fatuous decision on such a crucial question as whether the country should stay within the European Union or not.

Syriza while in Opposition in a crescendo of populism, ‘caressing’ promises, and purported macho stand against the Troika whose Memorandum of austerity, which according to the emotional fulminations of Syriza was humiliating and offending the pride and dignity of Greeks and leading to no end to the economic crisis, promised to the Greek people that by negotiating implacably and strongly with its European partners it would extract an economically better and dignified deal from the latter that would lead the country out of the crisis.

Of course all this merrymaking of Syriza was vacuous and wishful thinking, topped by a mountain of shameful lies, and never had a chance of being realized; it was never grounded on pragmatism and was bound to crash, like a house of cards, at the first touch with reality. The Greek people, however, irate and disgusted with the austerity measures of the Samaras government, but oblivious of the fact that these necessary measures were pulling the country out of the crisis, as stated by serious economic analysts world-wide, ratings institutions such as Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s, as well as top-of-the-branch European politicians, were enraptured with the demagogy of Alexis Tsipras and became prone and willing to take a ride on the carousel of merrymaking provided by Syriza, that made by a magic wand hard things easy. Hence, on the 25th of January they elected the hardline left of Syriza in government.

Once in power Syriza revealed the inner lineaments of its nature and politics. It was a mixture of political immaturity, administrative incompetence, and hardline leftist ideology. A dangerous cocktail for anyone to hold in one’s hand at any time, especially when one steers among rocks the ship of state. This was illustrated by its two major players, Alexis Tsipras, and Yanis Varoufakis, respectively as prime and finance minister, who both of them, unlike God Who dares not to play dice, to paraphrase Einstein, gambled the fortune of the country in one throw of the dice and lost, as events showed down the track. But the hoodwinked politically innocent people along with the nipple-fed intellectuals aka “useful idiots,” to quote Lenin, still continued to throng as guests the merry party of Syriza in government and still believed the fairy tales of these two political spivs, Tsipras and Varoufakis, that by the strong stand of the Greek negotiators they would force their European counterparts to give in and provide Greece the tailor made program that was sewed up by these two spivs. The Europeans, of course, in their professionalism, would never accept the economically irrational and hare-brained demands of the Greek finance minister Varoufakis. Instead, they compelled the government, on the 20th of February, to sign and pledge itself to the implementation of the second Memorandum extant but which the government shilly shallied and refused to implement thus losing all trust and credibility in the eyes of the Europeans.

This is why the result of the Referendum has no impact in the thinking of the leaders of the European Union as they have lost all trust and have no confidence in the Tsipras government. On the contrary, as already seems likely, they will impose the most severe measures in the third coming Memorandum as an ironclad condition of Greece remaining in the Eurozone. Thus the trumpeted argument of the Tsipras government and its ministers that a “No” vote in the referendum would be a strong negotiating weapon, proved to be a paper sword in the hands of Tsipras, as is currently shown in his negotiations with his counterparts in the European Union.

The comedy of the rise of Syriza by the Aristophanean basket into the clouds of an ideal government is rapidly turning into an Aeschylean tragedy. The same audience that will joyfully be clapping the Aristophanean comedy will sorrowfully wailing and crying when it will be staged as an Aeschylean tragedy. Pride riding high always precedes the inevitable falling.

I rest on my oars: your turn now

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