Greece: The Virtual Cow Is Dead

George Handlery about the week that was. Promises, reality and terror. Oppressive liberators. The lawfulness of revolutions that ultimately fail their supporters. Prophets in error and the light-tower of the present’s failures. What if we encourage our civil servants to strike permanently?

1. After having penned what began as an abstract principle, an insight emerged. Current occurrences in Iran’s internal politics fit handily the generalization that is presented below. Radical movements like to assure their followers that, once they have power, they will realize the perfect society. Doing so implies a break with history’s pattern. A trivial consequence is the inclination to make the moment of the take-over into Year One of the New Era. (As did the French Revolution of 1789.) After its dawn, all will live for a higher end and do so in the bliss of freedom while enjoying material plenty.

The promise begins by projecting an idealized and exaggerated picture of the perfect future on the inevitably inferior present. The resulting comparison of a reality with a dream must be unfavorable for “what is”. This on-paper failure makes the pursuit of the fantasy into an object of mobilization that has the taking of power as its purpose. In the case that such a movement can prevail, the originally promised paradise mutes into a handicap. The widening gap between the reality-bound achievement and the exuberant promise will create dissatisfaction. To control the grumbling, respectively to bridge the indicated gap, institutionalized violence will be needed. For this reason, once in power, millennial movements typically resort to institutions of terror such as the SS, the KGB, or, to use the contemporary example created in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards. It is thought provoking that, albeit exploiting different ideologies, the same story is constantly being repeated with only a slight change in the coloring of the components.


2. Supposedly, revolutionaries recruit the unruly of the underclass. Actually, they appeal, mainly to those who feel destined to become leaders – and who are frustrated because, supposedly, society ignores them. This group is determined to smash the privileges of others. Once victorious, the same revolutionary activists turn “conservative”. This happens by virtue of the fact that their success converts them into a privileged group. From then on, their justification of unfreedom practiced to their advantage will be that the torch of the revolution has been passed to them. Therefore, the flame of a justice that recognizes those previously overlooked and shunted, must be kept lit.


3. The real test of the quality of an idea is not its message during the time when its advocates struggle for power. Nor is it a valid test of the abstract logical and fabric of a teaching that in whose name a group has managed to grab power after the overthrow of the previous system. Prevailing over competitors does not demonstrate correctness either. Nor does the claim hold water that, since the advocates of the new are able to stay in power, their message is proven to be sound.

The real and generally failed test is, whether, after having taken control, the guiding and legitimizing idea of the new rulers will continue to have in its core a resemblance to its original tenets. Questions arise. Will the model fit the praxis? What happens with the doubters? In the probable case that unplanned inadequacies and problems emerge; how will those be treated that dare to call attention to these?

The Glorious Revolution (1688) has passed this test. The “American Revolution” did so with excellence. Which is why the (“young”) American system happens to be, well after the 200th birthday, the world’s oldest. Not all this can be pretended about the record of most other revolutions that tended to continue authoritarian rule with altered goals and under a new flag.


4. Marx might have been a bad economist. Everything he said confirms that he was, as it is to be expected, even from prophets, limited by the perspectives of his time. The resulting, and today barefooted-appearing views contradict the essentials of contemporary information and its accepted analysis. Albeit a shrewd observer of some phenomena of his time, by extrapolating his findings, Marx nevertheless misread History’s laws. Furthermore, as a sociologist he misunderstood the nature and function of classes. Nevertheless, Marx had formulated the latent prejudices of his time and, more significantly, of unsuccessful individuals and societies of the future. Unintended, the man went on to create an intellectual justification for modern and leftist oriented dictatorships that flourish today. Having accomplished this no mean feat, his idea, after numerous revisions – Lenin, Stalin, “Social Democrats” and the current socialists of the Third World come to mind – continue to be one of the moving forces of our time.


5. Greece has, unnoticed by those in charge of uncovering such matters, become an economic basket case. Only a step from the abyss of official, meaning in this case cover-up resistant bankruptcy, did the collapse receive official attention. Long before that, the country became a virtual cow. All those with connections to the political right and the left could milk it while no one was put in charge of feeding the beast. It is in the nature of the animal that the group that belonged to the beneficiaries of mismanagement was the expanding gang of state employees. No wonder, since one of the easy ways to pay people off is to hand them a bureaucratic job. Preferably a demanding one, which requires that you show up on payday.


6. At present, Europe cannot afford to bail out the Greeks unconditionally of the hole in which redistributionary communalism has cast them. Accordingly, corrective measures are being forced upon Athens. This writer does not think that the promised adjustments will be carried out. Hither deficits were also hidden by fraudulent government statistics. The inclination of the beneficiaries of mistaken policies to cover up their tracks is unlikely to be corrected just because they had been caught. The message of discovery is likely to be that the tricks need to be improved.


7. If bad jokes entertain you then you will find the news amusing. After the Greek government announced intended savings with the implied cut of activities and salary reductions – actually no more automatic raises – the state’s employees went on strike. It is telling of the conditions in which we find ourselves, respectively of the situation toward which we are heading that, such strikes can be effective. There is an innovative way of looking at the conditions created by the refusal of state employees to work, or more realistically, regarding their reluctance to continue their usual activities.

Just imagine this scenario. In this phantasm, the bureaucrats refuse to work. At first, the good people abandoned by their guides are flabbergasted. Who will proof their planned activities? Who shall authorize what they would like to do? How does one get something started without going first to an office for a stamp? Once the paralysis wore of it is discovered that the “people” functions very well without the regulating supervisors of otherwise automatically performed activities. Not only that, the land runs better than it has before the strike. Having discovered this, society could start to celebrate a discovery. Amazingly, most of the denied services have not created a breakdown. More than that, not being missed suggests that these “services” are not essential for the functioning of society. The public that pays its “public servants” for expensive activities that artificially limit what would, if left alone, function very well, is like driving a car whose hand-break is released. Everything works better than it did with the brakes on a tad. The state, if it would not be a captive of its hirelings, would only need to say that, for the duration of the strike, the permits one had to wait for are automatically granted, the stamps required on documents are considered unnecessary and that, to celebrate the improvement of efficiency, a further unpaid extension of the work stoppage is granted. Sort of to reward the subjects for their good behavior. As a bonus, taxes are reduced and by re-introducing the office holders into the work force the need to import people to do what previously the natives have refused to carry out becomes unnecessary.


The Virtual Cow



1–2. Orwell’s The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, contained within Nineteen Eighty–Four, is very instructive in this regard. The peasant risings in medieval Europe were led not by peasants or the lower class, but by disaffected members of the middle. Radical revolutions tend to feature the middle class replacing the high by using the low…


4. Marx rightly called attention to the injustices of his time. Unfortunately, he wrongly ascribed blame to the middle/merchant class, when in fact the bourgeoisie were operating within aristocratic rules, even if liberalism was eroding aristocratic power and privilege. Aristocrats were largely responsible for the enclosures and creating the vast labor pool necessary for rapid industrialization.


5. Goldman Sachs certainly noted Greece’s peril; they helped Athens cook the books.


6. Apparently, the Greek PM doesn’t want a bailout, just European solidarity (eyes roll).


7. I wish that the public sector strikes are beneficial to Greece. Unfortunately, Greece is inefficient at the best of times, and Greek civil servants are not exactly known for stepping up to the plate. My sympathies are for Greek small business owners, whose voices are drowned about by the corruption of big business and big government.