Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Exchange between Professor of Economics at Athens University Yanis Varoufakis and Kotzabasis about the Merits and Demerits of Capitalism

The following exchange between me and Professor of  Economics Yanis Varoufakis at Athens University took place on his blog about the capitalist system under the post:
Ending 2011with a fable for our times-December 24, 2011
December 24, 2011 at 03:14 #
Kotzabasis says,

Is Amartya Sen’s absolute prosperity and relative inequality of the capitalist system vulgarly to be replaced by Yanis Varoufakis’s “despicable inequality?”

Professor Varoufakis distorts and defames the whole history of the dynamism of entrepreneurial capitalist wealth that shot up the standard of living of the masses to “Himalayan” heights. To claim that capitalist “wealth …needs poverty to flourish,” is just an ornamental academic trapping empty of history and fugitive from serious thought. Capitalism, like everything else in life, was never meant to be “stable” but a process of Schumpeterian “creative destruction.” But this can only be understood and accepted by realists and not by heroic ideologues, like Professor Varoufakis.

Professor Varoufakis says,
    • December 24, 2011 at 15:32 #
It is always good to encounter intransigent Panglossian views in the post-2008 world. There is something touching about undying faith, even when of the toxic variety.

  1. December 25, 2011 at 01:48 #
Kotzabasis says,

Professor Varoufakis

Are capitalist entrepreneurial creativity, wealth, and prosperity based on “intransigent” “Panglossian” naivety? And is the history of capitalism to be truncated and concentrated naively and un- imaginatively between 2008 and 2011 for you to make your uninspiring and toxic argument?

Professor Varoufakis says,
December 25, 2011 at 11:56 #
No, capitalism’s wonders have nothing to do with Panglossian naïveté. But your determination to portray it as the best of all possible systems exudes it. As for my assessment of capitalism, and your claim that I truncate the latter’s history to a period around 2008, feel free to judge it. But only after you acquaint yourself with it. (For had you read it, eg either of my last two books, you would have realized that I truncate nothing. And that I go to great lengths to analyse capitalism’s contradictions, something that entails a celebration of its achievements as well as an exposition of its failures.) Till you are prepared to become acquainted with what I am really saying, before you attack it, I shall treat you as no more than a minor Panglossian.

Kotzabasis says,

December 26, 2011 at 02:46 #
Professor Varoufakis

Thank you for your advice how to overcome my “minor Panglossian” status. But unfortunately for me I’m bound to retain it, as your crass defamation of capitalism in your POST, hardly incentivized me, to use a term of your “little man” John Howard, to read your books and be acquainted with your thoughts. And indeed, my preference is to be “treated… as a minor Panglossian” than go through the treat to major on your ‘Pandistortions’ and jaundiced strictures on capitalism.

But to come to the gist of the matter in hand, my riposte to you was not to either of your two books, which, as I imply above I have not read. My reply was specifically to your post where you wistfully and wrongfully write, “Should we dare to hope of a new era in which WEALTH NO LONGER NEEDS POVERTY TO FLOURISH,” and of the illusion that “capitalism can be stable” and where you vulgarly and gracelessly contend that capitalism creates “DESPICABLE INEQUALITY,” and in your reply to my first post where you refer to the “post-2008 world.” It might well be that these ‘populist flourishes’ had not meant to be of any intellectual seriousness and their only aim was na deleazei ( to allure) and enthuse the ignorant to rush and become volunteer workers to your construction of your ‘matchsticks’ good society, as a replacement to the infernal deeds of capitalist society. But could one do this at the cost of one’s intellectual integrity?

And it is most surprising that the Gargantuan, indeed, Cyclopean efforts that you have put in your Modest Proposal(MP)—although one must note that Cyclopean efforts without a Ulysses are fated to be wasted efforts—have the aim to save Europe, a system that according to you produces genetically “despicable inequality.” Fortunately, however, for those condemned to this despicable inequality, but unfortunately for you, Andreas Koutras’s fatal Jovian bolts demolished to ashes the MP, from which no contriving number of revisions to it will give rise to a Phoenix solution that will salvage the European Union from its peril.

Lastly, to state that “to analyse capitalism’s contradictions… entails a celebration of its achievements as well as an exposition of its failures,” is to state the obvious.

Professor Varoufakis says,

December 27, 2011 at 04:33 #
Impressed by your dedication to keep knocking down my (according to you) already demolished, and perpetually ridiculous, arguments, as well as by the amount of time you dedicate to a blog (mine) which you consider unworthy, I shall continue to post your comments. Carry on Sir!

Kotzabasis says,

Professor Varoufakis

With your Kazantzakian character I could never imagine that you would not post my comments.

P.S. Since the above, early in 2013, Professor Varoufakis banned me from his blog and refused to publish any of my comments.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Greek Academic Comes to Bury Multiculturalism

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Professor Vrasidas Karalis of Sydney University, the translator of some of the books of Patrick White, has come to bury the condottieri of multiculturalism—I won’t call them warriors as that would give a worthy name to an unworthy cause—that are still fighting ingloriously and in an enfeebled state to resuscitate a concept that has been in a comatose state since the late eighties, when Slav Macedonians were burning Greek churches and when more recently, fanatic jihadists in pursuit of the seventy-two virgins, I must say, a chimerical, an eluding chase, they will never find them, were planning to kill thousands of Australians in football grounds and in public malls. It is in such a deadly milieu that the multiculturalists are attempting, in a futile and full of zealotry effort, to breathe life into a ghost. And in spite of the fact that the founding father of multiculturalism, professor Jerzy Zubrzycki, expressed explicitly his doubts about the viability of multiculturalism in the face of this tidal wave of atavism. Also, Gareth Evans, serving at the time as minister of communications, said to me in a phone conversation, that these conflicts between Slavs and Greeks, Serbs, Croatians and Bosnians spelled out the burial of multiculturalism.

It is a great fallacy to postulate that cultures have an amicable disposition and can live in a peaceful state of coexistence with each other without conflict. History has shown pellucidly that cultures, on fundamental issues are irreconcilable, and are in a permanent state of antagonistic competition and the stronger and more successful always subdue and supplant the weaker and less thriving. The Romans appropriated the higher culture of the Greeks and the German tribes, who were fighting the Romans were, in turn, absorbed by the higher culture of the latter.

No less a figure than Karl Marx, many of whose supporters today are puzzlingly upholders of multiculturalism, expressed, with characteristic force and eloquence, the inequality of cultures and the irreversible proclivity of the more powerful, in terms of intellectual, scientific, economic, and political success, to overwhelm and vanquish the weaker and less successful in the realm of human development and freedom. Without for a moment supporting or pleading his ideology, I would like, if you allow me, to paraphrase the great man: The elemental force of capitalism and its great culture would sweep away, on a vast scale, the dead weight of traditions and cultures that riveted their peoples to the obfuscation, ignorance, and bigotry of a hoary past.

After this long, but I believe relevant diversion, let us return back to the thesis of Professor Karalis. In a well structured argument delivered with panache, vivacity and wit, Karalis cogently argued, that with the ascendance of the Liberal-National Party to power in 1997, and the immediate dismantling of multiculturalism by the Howard government and the weak reaction of the ethnic communities to this dismantling, especially the Greek that was the avant-garde of multiculturalism, demonstrated clearly that the major part of these communities in a short duration were absorbed by a process of osmosis to the values and mores of a global, cosmopolitan Australian society. In his own words, the ethnic communities were incorporated within the political, economic, and cultural institutional framework of the Australian society. And he asks the question, is there still any reason to advocate multiculturalism as a nation-building policy or as a political project for the future? His answer is decisively negative.

Professor Karalis not only buried multiculturalism, but also inadvertently, fully justified the position and prognostications of the historian Geoffrey Blainey and that great Australian John Stone who both of them expressed, almost fifteen years ago, for which they were pilloried and maligned by the leftist intelligentsia, that multiculturalism was the design of historically ignorant politicians who could not perceive that at a critical moment would collide with Australian culture and would never recover from this crash. And the death knell for multiculturalism sounds presently in all European countries--especially in the context of Islamist terror--which had also so naively and un-historically adapted it as the elixir that would induce different cultures and peoples to love each other. They had forgotten that amity and congeniality could only issue from the sharing of common fundamental values that give the opportunity to all to succeed in the endeavours of daily life and to fulfil their ambitions according to their individualistic proclivities. It is the great culture of capitalism and its free enterprise system that provides these invaluable principles that lead to the comity of nations and peoples and eradicate, to a high degree, deadly conflict.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now