Tag Archive | privatization

It was at the beginning of 1989 when the French academic Jacques Rupnik sat at his desk, in order to prepare a report on the state of the economic reforms in Mikhail Gorbatsov’s Soviet Union. The term that he used in describing the death rattle of the empire was “Catastroika”. In Yeltsin’s time, when Russia instituted maybe the biggest and least successful privatization experiment in the history of humanity, a group of Guardian reports assigned a different meaning to Rupnik’s term. “Catastroika” became synonym of the country’s complete destruction by market forces; the sell off of public property; and the steep deterioration of citizens’ living standards. Now, Catastroika’s unit of measurement was unemployment, social impoverishment, declining life expectancy, as well as the creation of a new cast of oligarchs, who took over the country’s reins. A few years later, a similar effort to massively privatize public property in unified Germany (which is presented as a model for Greece) created millions of unemployed and some of the biggest scandals in European history.
It is this “Catastroika” that is coming soon to Greece; to “Europe’s last Soviet Republic” as the MPs and the ministers of its former “socialist” government liked to call it. Catastroika is the logical aftermath and continuation of “Debtocracy”. Therefore, the logical sequence of our
first documentary, which examined the causes of the debt crisis in Greece and the European periphery as a whole.
Nevertheless, Catastroika is a virus that attacks not only the countries that radically change their economic system (like Russia) or countries under financial occupation. In fact, maybe the most unsuccessful privatization examples occur in financial superpowers that theoretically have the financial strength to control their negative consequences.
Catastroika can be spotted in post-Thatcherite Britain, where citizens were killed in accidents at the privatized rail network. It can be detected in the Dutch privatized and liberalized postal sector, where thousands of jobs have been cut and mail arrives at one’s door two to
three times per day. It can be detected even in California, which left her citizens in the dark when it deregulated the energy market.
However, its consequences are the gravest and most frightening at countries which fell in the trap of foreign lenders and are obliged to proceed to mass privatization. The public property sell-off which takes place in Greece has been tried several times in similar circumstances. The same people, who undertook the selling of public utilities in Latin American countries, now have moved their office in countries of the European periphery –and the most competent among them have been travelling to Athens during the last months.
The procedure always follows exactly the same steps: In the beginning, the government, in collaboration with mass media, starts a forceful attack against public servants, who are presented as responsible for all the country’s financial woes. The myth of the overextended public sector is often based on manipulated data from organizations supported and supporting the government of the time. Concurrently, specific public organizations are deliberately left unsupported, exasperating citizens due to their inefficiency. The process is completed by the sell-off of even the most profitable public organizations at a fraction of their real value.
Catastroika’s team is already travelling in many countries, collecting images, information and material on deregulation and privatization programs that have been implemented at the so-called “developed” world. The final result of the research is never black or white. The divide between the “social character” of the public sector vis-à-vis the inhumane face of the free market is equally simplistic as the theories of Milton Freedman that professed the need to privatize even the air that we breathe. The Greek case however supersedes the simple theoretical discussion on the role of the country in the economy.
Once more, the documentary will be distributed online under creative commons licence. The free circulation of Catastroika is not just an “obligation” to our co-producers. It is our deeper and, if you prefer, philosophical belief that each product of intellectual creation should be freely available to all. The current financial system, while based all the more on the production and management of information, is incapable by its nature to find a way to secure the remuneration of information creators. This is probably one of many dead-ends in the development of the economy’s productive forces, which may soon threaten the bases of the current financial system. Because, as it is well known, every system that stopped the development of the productive forces fell apart – and you can ask the feudalists about that…

Occupy Wall Street Joins International Day of Action: We Are All Greeks Now

Tomorrow, the people of Greece will take to the streets again to occupy Syntagma Square in protest of the extreme austerity measures being imposed on the backs of the Greek 99% to the joy and benefit of the European financial elite. The 99% everywhere are under assault by the same global banking interests. Greece is merely the most severe economic crisis yet to be imposed by the International Monetary Fund and other agents of the 1% in the Global North. People all over the world live under the tyranny of policies dictated by the IMF, the World Bank, and the G8. As demonstrated by the wholesale slashing of social services in the name of “debt reduction,” New York City and the United States are not immune.

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The first major victory of anarchists and the deforming lens of the Media

Yesterday was a defeat of bourgeois democracy in many ways. We will not dwell on the fact that a government has appointed a banker for a prime minister without him being elected by the people. Nor that the party who appointed him prime minister has already lost its parliamentary majority and still governs.

But I can not close the eyes to the fact that from the beginning of the pandemic protest last May, yesterday, the people chose as their protectors, not those who are paid to legally protect the people, but the anarchists. Neither am I surprised when I see and read that what was left from yesterday’s grand gathering of the crowd are the ashes of buildings and banks.

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The Privatization of Greece. Coming to a country near you!

“What is going on in Athens at the moment is resistance against an invasion; an invasion as brutal as that against Poland in 1939. The invading army wears suits instead of uniforms and holds laptops instead of guns, but make no mistake – the attack on our sovereignty is as violent and thorough. Private wealth interests are dictating policy to a sovereign nation, which is expressly and directly against its national interest. Ignore it at your peril. Say to yourselves, if you wish, that perhaps it will stop there. That perhaps the bailiffs will not go after the Portugal and Ireland next. And then Spain and the UK. But it is already beginning to happen. This is why you cannot afford to ignore these events.” – Sturdy Blog, June 2011, Democracy vs Mythology: The battle in Syntagma Square

CATASTROIKA english teaser trailer from ThePressProject on Vimeo.

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