From laissez-faire economics in 18th-century India to neoliberalism in today’s Europe – the subordination of human welfare to power is a brutal tradition.
Greece may be financially bankrupt but the troika is politically bankrupt. Those who persecute this nation wield illegitimate undemocratic powers – powers of the kind now afflicting us all. Consider the International Monetary Fund. The distribution of power here was perfectly stitched up: IMF decisions require an 85% majority and the US holds 17% of the votes.The IMF is controlled by the rich and governs the poor on their behalf. It’s now doing to Greece what it has done to one poor nation after another from Argentina to Zambia. Its structural adjustment programmes have forced scores of elected governments to dismantle public spending – destroying health education and all the means by which the wretched of the earth might improve their lives.
The same programme is imposed regardless of circumstance: every country the IMF colonises must place the control of inflation ahead of other economic objectives – immediately remove barriers to trade and the flow of capital – liberalise its banking system – reduce government spending on everything bar debt repayments – and privatise assets that can be sold to foreign investors.
Using the threat of its self-fulfilling prophecy (it warns the financial markets that countries that don’t submit to its demands are doomed) – it has forced governments to abandon progressive policies. Almost single-handedly it engineered the 1997 Asian financial crisis: by forcing governments to remove capital controls it opened currencies to attack by financial speculators. Only countries such as Malaysia and China which refused to cave in escaped.
Consider the European Central Bank. Like most other central banks it enjoys ‘political independence’. This does not mean that it is free from politics only that it is free from democracy. It is ruled instead by the financial sector whose interests it is constitutionally obliged to champion.