Saturday, April 25, 2015

Varoufakis and I are wrong, and James Petras makes a mistake

Painting by Aafke Steenhuis
Varoufakis and I are wrong in talking about "the" economy as if there exists something like "the" economy, at the national, international or local level. What does exist is a society, or a community, in which the economic aspect is just one aspect next to the cultural, social, psychological, social philosophical, political, military, ecological aspects, at the various levels. These levels include the regional level such as the European Union or Communty which, unfortunately, is now less a community than before neoliberal dogmas and the euro were adopted. The political-economic dogmas of neoliberalism have pervaded European and national institutions, in particular the ministries of finance and the central banks, but also other institutions such as universities, media and the IMF.

That's why Greece has such difficulty in coming to an agreements with its creditors.

The reason Varoufakis and I have been speaking about "the" economy is that it is common practice to do so. How many books did I publish that carry the term "the" economy in their title? Many, as you can see in this list of Fondad publications:

Now the other part of the title of this post: "James Petras makes a mistake".

In another blog of mine, in Spanish, I wrote that I had read a depressing interview with James Petras about Syriza. In Petras' view Syriza is a bunch of corrupt politicians, just like its predecessor Pasok. In my Spanish post I wrote:

"What broke me last evening, to put it in dramatic terms, is an interview I read with James Petras, a reknown North-American sociologist of Greek origin whom I got to know when he stayed a couple of days at our houseboat. What Petras says in this interview is depressing. "If you follow his view, there is nothing left, no alternative, no hope,'' I told my wife when we went to bed.

Briefly, what Petras says is that Syriza is the same corrupt party shit
as Pasok.  

The left (as Petras' view shows) has always had difficulty in uniting. The Unidad Popular in Chile and SYRIZA in Greece are the exceptions, who both have made it into getting the "power" to form a government. But to govern a country really is something else. In general, only the right has the power to govern really (to do what it has promised and not has promised). Do I have to explain myself better? If necessary, I will do so in a future post." 

Later, I added a postscriptum to my Spanish blog post: 

"I think I have to explain a little better why I was so much disappointed with the action of James Petras to speak in such negative terms about Syriza and Varoufakis. That's what I referred to when I said that the left has difficulty in uniting, in joining forces. I referred to James Petras, a leftist thinker who seeks to discredit Syriza, presenting himself on the other had as a "real" leftist. I do not like Petras' action, and given his popularity, I like it even less. Is it clear what I think?" 

To finish this post, and coming back to the error of talking about "the" economy, did I make that point sufficiently clear? If not, I will read first what I've written about it several years ago -- see eg my 2009 speech, "Why should we have listened better to Robert Triffin?", and my 2011 speech, "Better Global Financial Governance – The Need for Reforming the System and Abandoning Free Market Ideology"  -- and then elaborate a bit more.

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