Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Friday, February 24, 2012

DEBTOCRACY // ΧΡΕΟΚΡΑΤΙΑ

I stayed up late last night watching Debtocracy, a documentary produced by Greeks about the Greek debt crisis.  It was released in mid-2011 and has been so well received that the producers are preparing another called Catastroika to be released some time this year.

We live in an age where information is abundant but knowledge and reflection is in short supply.  It's easier to swim in the swallows of a few well-known Internet sites because the blue water just seems too dark and too deep.  Based on that information, gained cheaply and with little effort, we judge and we have the arrogance to think that we judge rightly because we read a few one-page analysis on Der Spiegel, Le Monde or The New York Times.

Some of what I have read on such sites about the Eurozone crisis troubles me because, while the root causes of the situation are complex, they are all too often reduced to a simple morality tale:  the "disciplined" versus the "undisciplined," the "hard-working" versus the "lazy," and "honest taxpayers" versus "tax evaders" with the Greeks cast as the villains (les coupables) of the piece.

If we were a bit more honest and had a better grasp of history we might recall that Greece is hardly the first country on this planet (and certainly not the first in Europe) to have had this problem.  Some of the countries that seem very happy to pass moral judgement on them today (and seem mighty reluctant to help them now) once had their own debt problems.  Correct if I'm wrong but weren't France, Germany and others also members of this club?  Some were even "serial defaulters" who walked away when the situation was simply impossible and there was no other way out.

We are living in difficult times.  No country is immune.  We are all fearful for ourselves and for our families.  It is human to assign blame.  If nothing else it salves our own uneasy consciences because, quite frankly, we and our governments bear a great deal of responsibility for what is.  Greece did not create the present situation all on her own;  she had a great deal of "help" from other European member-states and the U.S.

I don't know of any cure for being human but there is one way we can mitigate some of our least attractive traits:  we can suspend judgement and listen to the other side of the story.    This is what Debtocracy aims to do - present another view- and I think it does it very well, very pursuasively.  I learned a great deal (Iraq and its "odious debt," for example) and I think the only certitude that I had before I watched it that has stayed with me is this:  peace of mind and prosperity cannot be purchased through the punishment and impoverishment of others.  Europe made this mess and either we are "solidaire" in solving it or we are nothing.


Debtocracy International Version par The_Press_Project

(The film is in several languages, mostly Greek but also English, French and Spanish.  If you are fortunate enough to understand all of them you can muddle through without the subtitles.  If not, pass your cursor to the right-hand portion of the screen to find the subtitles in the language of your choice.)

1 comment:

Just Me said...

Thanks for the link / video on Greece. I enjoyed it.

Since this subject interests you, here is a discussion on "To the Point" about Greece. If this is your first introduction to Warren Olney, this might be a good sample as to whether or not you like his style of moderation and discussion on issues of importance...

http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp120223greece_a_country_lef