A Conversation with Threecrow
We just had to post this, since Threecrow throws such light on the events unfolding before our eyes. He manages to capture the entire movement of this thing in a few short sentences.
As the 24-hour strike began, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told legislators that the 110-billion euro plan to bail out Greece was “about nothing less than the future of Europe and the future of Germany in Europe
The strikes on Wednesday shut hospitals, schools and tourism sites across the Greek capital, including the Acropolis, where several dozen protesters from the Communist Party broke the locks at the entrance to the monument on Tuesday and spread banners saying, “Peoples of Europe — Rise Up.”
The thing is, this is the alternative to what I have taken to calling, The Great Forgiveness. Eventually, every government will be finding itself in a position that Abbie wanted to place them in, “You want to wage this war? Then you’re going to have to wage it against your own people.”
What is the acceptable level of “austere” measures that a government can impose without cracking? And, at what point does any heavily armed government “stand down” when faced with such overwhelming protests of taking it to the streets, or, an appeal to heaven, as Locke put it is being made in this fashion? By my reckoning, we shall soon find out.
Ideally, this should be the opening salvo for the collapse of the Euro. Europe has to produce a surplus, and that means the consumption locked up in the European Social Compact has to be freed up to service the Empire. Krugman covered this in his half theory of world trade. Basically, Europe in going to go through what Argentina went through in 2000 – a massive and catastrophic fall in standard of living.
They are trying to prevent this by bailing out Greece, but this will only extend the crisis to Germany, while doing nothing for Greece. The more money lent to Greece to fund its debts, the more they become entangled in an intractable contradiction that the Greek austerity must be that more cruel and profound and less able to serve as a market for German goods.
This is exactly my point. I can’t put it in economic language as you have, but we are both saying the same thing. We, the world, have reached a point of critical mass. The center will not hold…not much longer. Something big is about to happen. It is inevitable. And yet, the Greeks will still be eating sardines, growing olives and drinking wine. And the sun will rise.
Why doesn’t Greece just declare bankruptcy? I don’t understand this!
And this speaks to the point. What are (whoever the creditors are) going to do, take away the Parthenon? Wouldn’t it be so poetic if the Greeks, whose ancient wisdom we claim as the roots of western civilization began the move away from the past and towards a New Horizon.
One thing you highlight is that, in the end, useful labor remains – we must eat. Everything else is bullshit and foam. The creditors are irrelevant in all of this because they are already bankrupt, but they do not yet understand this. Eventually they must be thrown overboard.
And it is exactly this, “a massive and catastrophic fall in standard of living” that will be unacceptable to the people, not just the people of Greece but of anywhere in the western world that will prevent the dunners from having their day. “Cruel and profound austerity” is not an acceptable form of living in the western world. The appeal to heaven seen in the videos of the Greeks taking it to the streets is only prelude. As the Euro turns to paper and the debt in dollars is ignored and walked away from more and more daily the only thing left standing becomes life itself. The quality of life has become something expected. Expected becomes demanded, as something akin to a Divine Right. The many will not bow to the few in such matters. I hear the click of televisions being turned off everywhere and people awakening from their stupor and walking out into the sunshine. Like VJ Day, it will be an outdoor thing. Everyone outdoors on the same day.
David Harvey, in his lectures on Capital, makes the most amazing statement about Marx. He notes that Marx begins not at the beginning of his explanation of capitalism, but with his conclusion.
The conclusion: we produce “use values” (the things we consume) by mixing human social labor with nature. That is his conclusion. We have to do this, all societies before us did this, and nothing occurring in the economy can stop this from taking place. Anything and everything that can stand in the way of mixing human social labor with nature to produce what we need to live must be annihilated by this necessity.
Marx goes on from there to elaborate all the things that stand in the way in his next three volumes, i.e., all the things that must be annihilated because above all else we must, “eat sardines, grow olives and drink wine.”
You recapitulated his entire works in one sentence.
The Arapahos have a saying, “Take a small, round stone. Find another flat stone and draw a circle and keep drawing the circle over and over until your vision comes.” Others read and study Marx. I’m more of an Arapaho man myself. And it is exactly this, that day in 1986 when Fortune brought us to stand together in the McCormick building, that has made our friendship and partnership in writing so powerful. You and your knowledge of ideas and your feeling for history and events seem to serve as my flat stone. I could not see half of what I do, nor, write nearly towards the mark were it not for this fact. I am grateful.
You know – the use of a thing is quite unlike its economic value – it has a human quality about it which consists entirely of this: as a value (money, private wealth, the stuff of plutocracies) it is without limit, and the hunger for it is insatiable, since it is a social power over others. However, as a mere useful object, it can do no more than satisfy a need or a want. Beyond this, it is useless to us.
The entire course upon which we are now embarked is precisely to strip things of their value, and return them to their essential quality as useful things. It is quite possibly the most astonishing event in human history.