FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

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FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE’S

 

Individuality, Autonomy, “Freedom of Spirit”

From the earliest reception, commentators have noted the value Nietzsche places on individuality and on the independence of the “free spirit” from confining conventions of society, religion, or morality (e.g., Simmel [1907] 1920). This strand of thought continues to receive strong emphasis in recent interpretations—see, e.g., Nehamas (1985), Thiele (1990), Gerhardt (1992), Strong ([1975] 2000: 186–217), Reginster (2003), Richardson (2004: 94–103), Anderson (2006, 2012a), Higgins (2006), Schacht (2006), Acampora (2013), and the essays in Young (2015)—and there is an impressive body of textual evidence to support it (UM III, 2, 5–6, 8; GS 116, 117, 122, 143, 149, 291, 335, 338, 347, 354; BGE 29, 41, 259; GM I, 16, II, 1–3; TI IX, 41, 44, 49; A 11). Salient as Nietzsche’s praise of individuality is, however, it is equally obvious that he resists any thought that every single human person has value on the strength of individuality alone—indeed, he is willing to state that point in especially blunt terms: “Self-interest is worth as much as the person who has it: it can be worth a great deal, and it can be unworthy and contemptible” (TI IX, 33). Scholars have advocated quite different explanations of what makes a person’s individuality valuable in the privileged cases. Some hold that certain given, natural characteristics that admit no (or not much) further explanation entail that some individuals are “higher men” manifesting genuine value, whereas others have no such value—Leiter (2002) offers a strongly developed naturalistic version of this approach—whereas others take the ”true” or “higher self” to be a kind of ideal or norm to which a person may, or may not, live up (Conant 2001; see also Kaufmann [1950] 1974: 307–16). Still others attempt to develop a position that combines aspects of both views (Schacht 1983: 330–38), or hold that Nietzsche’s position on the “overman” or “higher man” is simply riven by internal contradiction (Müller-Lauter [1971] 1999: 72–83).

A different approach takes its lead from Nietzsche’s connection between individuality and freedom of spirit (GS 347; BGE 41–44). As Reginster (2003) shows, what opposes Nietzschean freedom of spirit is fanaticism, understood as a vehement commitment to some faith or value-set given from without, which is motivated by a need to believe in something because one lacks the self-determination to think for oneself (GS 347). This appeal to self-determination suggests that we might explain the value of individuality by appeal to an underlying value of autonomy: valuable individuals would be the ones who “give themselves laws, who create themselves” (GS 335), who exhibit self-control or self-governance (TI, V, 2; VIII, 6; IX, 38, 49; BGE 203), and who are thereby able to “stand surety” for their own future (GM II, 2–3). A variety of scholars have recently explored the resources of this line of thought in Nietzsche; Anderson (2013) surveys the literature, and notable contributions include Ridley (2007b), Pippin (2009, 2010), Reginster (2012), Katsafanas (2011b, 2012, 2014, 2016), and especially the papers in Gemes and May 2009.

 

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietzsche/

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Tasos Livaditis/translated by Manolis Aligizakis

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ΒΡΑΔΙΝΕΣ ΣΚΕΨΕΙΣ

 

Έπρεπε ν’ ανακαλύψω γρήγορα το μυστικό — ήταν μια υπόθεση

σκοτεινή, μια συνωμοσία θα `λεγα, για την οποία όλοι απέφευγαν

να μιλήσουν, ακόμα κι ο ίδιος ο πατέρας μου μετά το δείπνο άναβε

τσιγάρο κι έμενε σιωπηλός, εγώ ονειρευόμουν ένα λεοφωρείο μια

νύχτα φθινοπωρινή, μια εκδρομή με παλιούς φίλους στο χαμένο μας

όνειρο ή άφηνα τις μύγες πάνω στο πρόσωπό μου διότι λησμόνησα

να σας πω ότι είχα πεθάνει από καιρό, μόνο που έπρεπε να το

κρύβω, γιατί τί άλλο πιο επαίσχυντο από συντρόφους που λιποτα-

κτούν ή ακόμα χειρότερο που επιμένουν να ονειροπολούνε.

Κι ίσως, σκέφτομαι, η Κόλαση είναι ένα παιγνίδι

που κερδίζεις.

 

 

 

 

EVENING THOUGHTS

 

I had to discover that secret fast — it was a dark case, a conspiracy

I would say, of which everyone avoided talking even my own father

after dinner he would light a cigarette and he would remain silent while

I dreamed of a bus on an autumn night, an outing with old friends into

our lost dream or I would leave flies on my face because I forgot

to tell you I had been dead for a long time though I had to keep it secret

because what else is more shameful but friends who desert or even

worst who insist to daydream.

And perhaps, I think, Hell is just a game

you win.

 

 

 

TASOS LIVADITIS, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, Vancouver, 2014

www.libroslibertad.com

www.manolisaligizakis.com

EUROZONE PARTNERS AND GREECE

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Greece is about to be completely dismantled and fed to profit-hungry corporations

The latest bailout has nothing to do with debt, but an experiment in capitalism so extreme that no other EU state would even dare try it.

 
by Nick Dearden
 
Greece is heading towards its third “bailout”. This time €86 billion is on the table, which will be packaged up by international lenders with a bundle of austerity and sent off to Greece, only to return to those same lenders in the very near future.
 
We all know the spiralling debt cannot and will not be repaid. We all know the austerity to which it is tied will make Greece’s depression worse. Yet it continues.
 
If we look deeper, however, we find that Europe is not led by the terminally confused. By taking those leaders at their word, we’re missing what’s really going on in Europe. In a nutshell, Greece is up for sale, and its workers, farmers and small businesses will have to be cleared out of the way.
 
Under the eye-watering privatisation programme, Greece is expected to hand over its €50 billion of its “valuable state assets” to an independent body under the control of the European institutions, who will proceed to sell them off. Airports, seaports, energy systems, land and property – everything must go. Sell your assets, their contrived argument goes, and you’ll be able to repay your debt.
 
But even in the narrow terms of the debate, selling off profitable or potentially profitable assets leaves a country less able to repay its debts. Unsurprisingly the most profitable assets are going under the hammer first. The country’s national lottery has already been bought up. Airports serving Greece’s holiday islands look likely to be sold onlong-term lease to a German airport operator.
 
The port of Pireus looks likely to be sold to a Chinese shipping company. Meanwhile, 490,000 square meters of Corfu beachfront have been snapped up by a US private equity fund. It has a 99-year lease for the bargain price of €23million. According to reporters, the privatisation fund is examining another 40 uninhabited islands as well as a massive project on Rhodes which includes an obligatory golf course.
 
Side-by-side with the privatisation is a very broad programme of deregulation which declares war on workers, farmers and small businesses. Greece’s many laws that protect small business such as pharmacies, bakeries, and bookshops from competition with supermarkets and big businesses are to be swept away. These reforms are so specific that the EU is writing laws on bread measurements and milk expiry dates. Incredibly, Greece is even being told to make its Sunday opening laws more liberal than Germany’s. Truly a free market experiment is being put into place.
 
On labour, pensions are to suffer rapid cuts, minimum wages are to be reduced and collective bargaining is to be severely curtailed while it is to become easier to sack staff. All of this is far more extreme that many of Greece’s “creditor” countries have implemented themselves. Changes to tax includes a massive hike to that most regressive of taxes VAT, on a wide range of products.
 
Of course, reforms in some areas of Greece’s economy might be a good idea, and indeed Syriza came to power promising to make serious reforms in, for instance, taxation and pensions. But what is being imposed by the lending institutions is not a series of sensible “reforms”, but the establishment and micromanagement of radical ‘free market’ economics.
 
The privatisation and deregulation bonanza opens vast new swathes of Greek society to areas where big business has never been able to set foot before. The hope is that this will generate big profits to keep big business growing, as well as providing an extreme model of what might be possible throughout Europe. Although what’s even more distasteful than the hypocrisy of European leaders forcing policies onto Greece that they themselves have not dared to argue for in their own countries, is the cynicism of those same leaders imposing policies that will benefit their own country’s corporations.
 
The intensity of the restructuring programme currently being agreed for Greece should dispel any lingering notion that this is a well intentioned but misguided attempt to deal with a debt crisis. It is a cynical attempt to set up a corporate paradise in the Mediterranean, and must be resisted at all costs.
 
Source:
 
 

LILY ZOGRAFOS–GREECE PROSTITUTES HERSELF

ΛΙΛΗ-ΖΩΓΡΑΦΟΥ

Lily Zografos: Greece prostitutes herself, consciously and unconsciously. No one is innocent no one is above his responsibility

I don’t promote any style, way of expression or literature. I don’t write short stories. I report events and signs of the current days. Everything I report has happened to me or to others. For years I’ve spent my life keeping an eye on everything and everyone.
Life goes through me, entrusts me with its ugliness, infuriates me with its systematic injustice it humbles me for my inability to react, to successfully rebel to defend our common ridicule.
If I could be twenty year old again I would start from the mountain peaks, a partisan, a thief, a pirate to open the eyes of those who with no complain accept their fate, as much as those who close their eyes intentionally. No, my revolution wouldn’t go against the establishment but against those who bow down to it. I would kill I would fight the misery, the submission, the modesty.
There is no room on Earth for the humble and the contempt as there is no room for the mouthpieces of the Revolution.
Life has become so inhumane to be moulded into shapes and schemes it doesn’t belong to us as nothing belongs to us of the earth we occupy to our faces.
When the first stupid ass, the first worthless person can tie us on a chair, on a bench or a bed and he can spit on our faces, whip our backs defile us.
The running rot system condones and supports unscrupulousness, beastly behaviour, chaos, abolishing the respect for human life. Nothing is left unexploited from the generation gap that separates people from each other and prepares the children-informers of Hitler up to the complete abolition of the family.
Man is put up for bids. That the system won’t face any resistance when in the near future will put up for bids our motherland.
Papadoloulos* was a trial, an experiment in the European sphere like the thousands of experiments that take place in every corner of the planet. The recipe is simple: When a people raise their head against their leader, representative of the neo-capitalist system just find a bum and let him put handcuffs on the wrists of these people. Then let them exhaust themselves.
Most likely the people will get used to become neutralized for thirty forty years as it happened to Spain and Portugal. But as time goes by things happen in a lot faster pace as the recipe has been modified.
Take the reign from the bum and give them back to the old leader and send him to un-cuff the people. The populace will lick his hands seeing him as their liberator.
For this, we, the today’s guinea pigs we owe to use the term BC as before the Junta and AC as after the Junta, because the experiment was successful and we can’t forget the moment. Greece prostitutes itself, consciously and unconsciously. No one is innocent. No one is above his responsibility.

~Piece from the book “Profession Prostitute” by Lily Zografos, Alexandria Publishers, 1998.
~The last interview given by Lily Zografos to the reporter Anrdeas Roumeliotis

*Papadopoulos, one of the four colonels, dictatorship of 1967-1974
Λιλή Ζωγράφου: Η Ελλάδα εκδίδεται, συνειδητά και ασύνειδα. Κι ούτε ένας αθώος. Ανεύθυνος κανένας
«Δεν πουλώ ύφος, στυλ, λογοτεχνία. Δεν γράφω διηγήματα. Καταθέτω γεγονότα και συμπτώματα της εποχής που ζω. Όλα όσα γράφω συνέβησαν. Σε μένα ή σε άλλους. Χρόνια τώρα σπαταλιέμαι, παρακολουθώντας όλα κι όλους.
Η ζωή περνά από μέσα μου, με διαποτίζει με την ασκήμια της, με γεμίζει λύσσα με την αδικία της την οργανωμένη, με ταπεινώνει με την ανημποριά μου ν’ αντιδράσω, να επαναστατήσω αποτελεσματικά, να υπερασπιστώ το μαζικό μας εξευτελισμό.
Αν ξαναγινόμουν είκοσι χρόνων θα ξεκινούσα από τις κορφές των βουνών, αντάρτης, ληστής, πειρατής, ν’ ανοίξω τα μάτια εκείνων που δέχονται αδιαμαρτύρητα τη μοίρα τους, όσο και κείνων που εθελοτυφλούν. Όχι, η επανάστασή μου δε θα στρεφόταν κατά του καταστημένου και του συστήματός του, αλλά εναντίον εκείνων που το ανέχονται. Θα σκότωνα, θα τσάκιζα την κακομοιριά, την υποταγή, την ταπεινοφροσύνη.
Η γη έτσι κι αλλιώς δε χωρά άλλους ταπεινούς και καταφρονεμένους. Όπως δε χωρά άλλα φερέφωνα προκάτ επανάστασης.
Η ζωή γίνηκε πια πάρα πολύ απάνθρωπη για να την καλουπώνουμε σε σχήματα, δε μας ανήκει καν, όπως δε μας ανήκει τίποτα, από τη γη που κατοικούμε ως τα πρόσωπά μας.
Όταν ο κάθε τυχάρπαστος, ο κάθε τιποτένιος, μπορεί να μάς δέσει πάνω σε μια καρέκλα, σ’ έναν πάγκο ή σ’ ένα κρεβάτι, να μάς φτύσει, να μάς μαστιγώσει, να μάς βιάσει.
Το Σύστημα αποχαλινωμένο καλλιεργεί σκόπιμα την ασυνειδησία, την αγριότητα, το χάος, καταλύοντας το σεβασμό για τον ανθρώπινο παράγοντα. Δεν άφησε τίποτα ανεκμετάλλευτο, από το “χάσμα των γενιών” που αποκόβει τους ανθρώπους μεταξύ τους και ετοιμάζει τους αυριανούς παιδιά-καταδότες του Χίτλερ, ως την κατάργηση της οικογένειας.
Ο άνθρωπος βγαίνει στο σφυρί. Για να μη βρίσκει το Σύστημα καμιά αντίδραση και να μπορέσει αύριο να βγάλει ελεύθερα στο σφυρί και τις πατρίδες.
Ο Παπαδόπουλος ήταν μια δοκιμή και στον ευρωπαϊκό χώρο, κατά το σύστημα των χιλιάδων πειραμάτων που πραγματοποιούνται σ’ όλες τις περιοχές του πλανήτη. Η συνταγή είναι πια κοινή: Όταν ένας λαός σηκώσει κεφάλι κατά του κυβερνήτη του, εκπρόσωπου του κεφαλαιοκρατικού συστήματος, βρείτε έναν αλήτη και αναθέστε του να περάσει χειροπέδες σ’ αυτό το λαό. Κι αφήστε τον να εξουθενωθεί.
Το πιθανότερο είναι να συνηθίσει και να ζήσει εξουδετερωμένος από τριάντα μέχρι σαράντα χρόνια, όπως συνέβη στην Ισπανία και την Πορτογαλία. Επειδή όμως οι καιροί αλλάζουν, τα πράματα πάνε γρηγορότερα, η συνταγή τροποποιήθηκε.
Πάρτε τα κλειδιά από τον αλήτη, δώστε τα στον παλιό κυβερνήτη και στείλτε τον να ξεκλειδώσει τις χειροπέδες. Ο λαός θα του γλείφει τα χέρια, βλέποντάς τον σαν ελευθερωτή του.
Γι’ αυτό και μεις, τα σύγχρονα πειραματόζωα, οφείλουμε να χρησιμοποιούμε πάντα τον όρο π.Χ., που θα σημαίνει τώρα πια “προ Χούντας”, και μ.Χ., “μετά τη Χούντα”. Γιατί το πείραμα πέτυχε και δεν πρέπει να το λησμονούμε ούτε στιγμή. Η Ελλάδα εκδίδεται, συνειδητά και ασύνειδα. Κι ούτε ένας αθώος. Ανεύθυνος κανένας».
Απόσπασμα από το βιβλίο της Λιλής Ζωγράφου “Επάγγελμα Πόρνη”, Εκδόσεις Αλεξάνδρεια, 1998
Η τελευταία συνέντευξη της Λιλής Ζωγράφου στον Ανδρέα Ρουμελιώτη
Source:http://www.nostimonimar.gr/%CE%BB%CE%B9%CE%BB%CE%AE-%CE%B6%CF%89%CE%B3%CF%81%CE%AC%CF%86%CE%BF%CF%85-%CE%B7-%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%AC%CE%B4%CE%B1-%CE%B5%CE%BA%CE%B4%CE%AF%CE%B4%CE%B5%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%B9-%CF%83%CF%85%CE%BD%CE%B5/

CRUELTY OF EUROZONE CAPITALISM

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The euro ‘family’ has shown it is capable of real cruelty

by Suzanne Moore

Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker seek to justify their Greek bailout deal, but what kind of family asset-strips one of its members in broad daylight?
The seemingly indestructible Angela Merkel can go without sleep, and still manage a half smile and speak about Greece’s wish to remain in “the euro family”. This may sound reasonable and pleasant. All families have their little local difficulties, don’t they? But they work through them. People see reason. When they are forced to.
By infantilising Greece, Germany resembles a child who closes its own eyes and thinks we can not see it. We can. The world is watching what is being done to Greece in the name of euro stability.
It sees a nation stripped of its dignity, its sovereignty, its future.
What kind of family, we might ask, does this to one of its own members? Even Der Spiegel online described the conditions that have been outlined as “a catalogue of cruelties”, but perhaps we should now put it another way, given Jean-Claude Juncker has denied that the Greek people have been humiliated. Juncker instead says that this deal is a typical “European” compromise. Yes, we see.
The machinations of financial institutions (the troika) have been exposed as much as the institutions themselves. Who runs these banks, and for whom? Twitter slogans talk of the three world wars: the first waged with guns, the second with tanks and this third world war waged by banks. Extreme? Well, there clearly is more than one way to take over a country.
The Eurozone and Germany want regime change in Greece, or at least to split Syriza. Alexis Tsipras has fought tooth and nail for something resembling the debt restructuring that even the International Monetary Fund acknowledges is needed. The incompetence of a succession of Greek governments and tax evasion within Greece is not in doubt. But the creditors of the euro family knew this as they upped their loans, and must now delude themselves that everything they have done has been for the best. It hasn’t, and now that same family will go in and asset-strip in broad daylight a country that can no longer afford basic medicines. In three days Greece is supposed to push through heaps of legislation on privatisation, tax and pensions so it can be even poorer.
There is to be no debt forgiveness in this family. Tsipras has to sell this to his people so the banks can reopen. His endurance has been remarkable, and more will be needed. The unsustainability of Greek debt, even if the country could achieve growth, remains. The words trust and confidence keep being used but by the wrong people. Trust is gone in this European project. François Hollande, ever the pseudo–mediator, may rattle on about the history and culture of Greece. Its value has actually been shown. Its value is purely symbolic. It is worth nothing.
The euro family has been exposed as a loan-sharking conglomerate that cares nothing for democracy. This family is abusive. This “bailout”, which will be sold as being a cruel-to-be-kind deal is nothing of the sort. It is simply being cruel to be cruel.

~ Suzzane Moore, The Guardian
~ http://www.guardian.com

EU and GREECE

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Bryan Gould: Greece may now be forced to leave the EU

2:10 PM Friday Jul 10, 2015

Like so many others, I long ago got used to being pilloried as “anti-European”.
My crime was daring to say that the “Europe” we were urged to sign up to was no such thing, but was a particular arrangement cooked up by the powerful and foisted on the people of that often benighted continent without bothering either to consult them or to take count of their wishes.
As the Greek crisis unfolds, and as it strips bare the pretensions of those powerful forces who talk with less and less conviction of the European ideal and of democratic rights, we can surely no longer be in any doubt.
The “Europe” in whose service so much sacrifice is now demanded is a cartel of bankers, financiers and right-wing politicians who have no interest in democracy, or jobs, or the living standards of ordinary people.
As the Greek people suffer, and plead “no more”, it is not the travails of the Greeks – or, for that matter, the Spanish, or the Portuguese, or the Italians – that weigh with Europe’s powerful; their sights are fixed on maintaining austerity and discipline, on adhering to ideology and doctrine.
Above all, they are determined to protect the euro, because it is the one weapon that ensures that there can be no backsliding. The euro was put in place so that, whatever temptations – or even imperatives – there may be, there can be no going back. The grim and unrelenting disciplines of neo-classical economics demand nothing less.
For many of us, this imposition of a single monetary policy and discipline on a hugely diverse European economy was always destined to fail. There was no way that small and underdeveloped economies like Greece could survive competition from a powerful German economy, especially when it was the Germans who had the power to decide on the monetary policy that should be put in place – and no prizes for guessing whose interests that policy turned out to serve.
The irony is that is those powerful interests – represented by the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission and obliged to follow the dictates of the German Finance Minister – who now find that, despite the disparity in power between them and a bankrupt and demoralised Greece, it is they – and not the supposedly feckless Greeks – who have the responsibility for saving the euro.
With the power of the referendum result behind him, Prime Minister Tsipras can now say that there is nothing more he can do. Ravaged by austerity, Greece has no resources left. Unless they are helped by a bail-out package that does not drive them deeper into collapse but instead gives them a chance, over time, to begin to grow again, they will be forced – since there is no other option – to leave the euro and seek their own salvation.
The Greeks have, in other words, taken their decision. There is nothing left for them to decide. The ball is now in the court of Europe’s leaders. It is nor fort them to give up entrenched positions. It is up to them to decide whether to refuse to help, with the result that Greece will have to leave the euro whether they like it or not, simply to survive, or to relent and offer a more acceptable and realistic package that will keep Greece afloat and allow them to stay in a re-shaped common currency.
We know what they want to do. They have stuck to the current stance in the hope that the Greek government will fall and “regime change” will be brought about. There has even been talk of a government imposed on the Greek people from outside or of a government of “technocrats” that will do the bidding of the financial establishment. The referendum result, though, seems to have put paid, for the time being at least, to that disgraceful objective.
But, for a brief period, the Greek crisis has given us a glimpse of the mailed fist and doctrinaire rigidity behind the “European” ideal. Rarely can there have been such a stark demonstration of the inherently undemocratic nature of the European power structure and of the interests it truly serves.
It may be that the Greeks, by forcing an “agonising re-appraisal”, will end up having done the true adherents of a united Europe a favour. It may be that, at long last, we will begin to contemplate a Europe based on agreement freely given by the continent’s governments and peoples, an agreement to build a Europe by learning from each other how to work together and to cooperate more closely, a functional Europe that will do those things that are best done together rather than separately, a “bottom-up” Europe that will develop as a result of, but not getting ahead of, a growing sense of European identity and the wishes of its peoples.
We need a Europe, in other words, that is not just a vehicle for advancing powerful interests, and riding roughshod over everyone else, but that understands that the Greek poor and unemployed are just as important, and just as essential, to Europe’s future, and that enabling them and millions like them to live a better life is both a united Europe’s true purpose and its only real chance of success.

~Bryan Gould is a former UK Labour MP and former vice-chancellor of Waikato University.

~WWW.NZHERALD.CO.NZ

GREECE And EUROPE

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What Will Happen to Greece If It Leaves the Euro?

By Jordan Weissmann

With this weekend’s big “no” vote in its bailout referendum, Greece has edged ever closer to finally leaving the eurozone. Its government is heading to Brussels today for last-ditch negotiations with European leaders over a new rescue package. But with a deal far from sure and time ticking away, a Grexit is starting to feel “more likely than not,” as JPMorgan put it.
And what would happen then? If only we knew. Breaking up with the euro would almost certainly involve some nasty short-term suffering for Greece. But economists disagree about whether the pain might one day be worth the payoff. In one camp you have Nobel Prize winners Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, among others, who think that finally bidding goodbye to the common currency might actually be the country’s best hope for reviving its depressed economy. In another, you have pessimists like the 246 economics professors from Greek universities who recently warned that doing so would lead to “disastrous economic, social, political and geopolitical consequences.”
Since we lack an oracle to reveal what the future holds, I’ve outlined possible best- and worst-case scenarios for Greece in the event of a Grexit. But first, you might be wondering …
What if Greece doesn’t want to abandon the euro?
It might not have a choice. Greece can’t technically be expelled from the eurozone. But it may have to bow out “voluntarily” if the European Central Bank cuts off the emergency loans that are now keeping the Greek banking system from collapsing. Were that to happen, Athens would need to start printing money in order to bail out its financial sector. Since Greece can’t legally print euros, it would have to print new drachmas instead.
And we may well be approaching that endgame as Europe loses patience with Greece’s left-wing government. After refusing to raise its current €89 billion ceiling on emergency lending over the weekend, the ECB took steps Monday that could theoretically make it more difficult for Greek banks to borrow, presumably to put more heat on Greece’s negotiators. Should Athens default on a payment due to its European creditors later this month, it’s plausible the central bank will close off the tap for good. It’s also possible Greek banks will simply run out of cash in the coming days if the ECB just stands by and refuses to increase its cap on loans.
If Greece leaves, what’s the best-case scenario?
Some argue that finally ditching the euro would be a blessing in disguise. The thinking goes like this: European policymaking—from its tight-fisted central banking philosophy to its demands for austerity—has acted like a vice crushing the Greek economy, and at this point, any deal that would keep the country in the euro would only prolong the misery. Leaving would be difficult, but liberating. Greece would default on its European debts and introduce a new currency. The new drachma would depreciate quickly, giving the economy a shot of adrenaline by helping Greek businesses sell more exports—who doesn’t love good cheap olive oil?—while luring more tourists to Santorini for affordable beach vacations. Yes, Greeks would see their bank accounts largely wiped out as their euro savings were converted into less valuable drachmas. And yes, prices of imported food, which Greeks rely on heavily, would rise. But there might be light at the end of the tunnel. As long as it’s part of the euro, on the other hand, Greece’s future is just a pitch-black slog with 25 percent unemployment.
“It’s becoming hard to see any path that doesn’t lead to Grexit,” Krugman wrote recently. “It is also, although this is still something few want to accept, becoming increasingly obvious that Grexit is Greece’s best hope. Otherwise, where is recovery ever supposed to come from?”
Grexit enthusiasts, particularly Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, often suggest that Greece could follow in the footsteps of Argentina, the poster child for surviving and even thriving after a massive default. In many ways, it’s a seemingly tidy historical comparison. Much as Greece today finds itself stuck deep in debt with a depressed economy and a currency it can’t control, during the 1990s Argentina tied its currency’s value to the dollar, and later fell into a painful recession that forced it to accept a bailout from the International Monetary Fund in order to keep paying its creditors. But in 2001 and early 2002, the country changed course, defaulting on its loans and breaking the dollar peg, letting the peso fall in value.
The immediate aftermath was miserable—the economy crashed hard, leaving more than half the country’s urban population in poverty. Food prices skyrocketed. Imported medications became scarce. There were street protests and riots. But while the upheaval was violent, it was also relatively brief. Aided by its cheaper currency, Argentina’s economy recovered by 2005, which allowed the country to sit down with lenders and restructure its debts. From there it posted years of strong growth.
“It is worth noting that the social consequences of Argentina’s recovery were enormous,” Weisbrot wrote in 2012. “Even though the economy had a brief downturn during the world recession in 2009, employment in Argentina is at record levels. Poverty and extreme poverty have been reduced by two-thirds, and social spending has nearly tripled in real terms, since the default.”
Could Greece pull off a similar feat? Maybe so.
All that sounds pretty good. But what’s the worst-case scenario?
Imagine all the riots, drug shortages, and widespread destitution, but without Argentina’s happy ending.
Bleak, right?
As James Stewart outlined at the New York Times, there are a number of reasons to think that a Greek euro exit wouldn’t work out quite so well as Argentina’s adventure with default. Perhaps most important of all: Argentina is a major agricultural power that was lucky enough to start its recovery just as a massive commodities boom, fueled by China’s insatiable appetite, was taking off. Argentina exported a lot of soy and corn, which had the twin benefits of boosting growth directly while bringing much-needed foreign exchange into the country at a time when it was difficult for Argentina to access international capital markets.
Greece, in contrast, is not a major exporter and may not be poised to become one, especially if it’s forced out of the European Union and its trade pacts. Worse yet, as Stewart notes, its most important exports by far are refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel, which require imported crude to produce. Since oil is priced in dollars on the international market, a falling drachma wouldn’t make Greek refiners much more competitive or profitable.
Meanwhile, it’s no sure thing that a cheap currency will help much with tourism, especially if there are mass protests mobbing the streets due to a financial crisis. Tear gas has a way of scaring off vacationers.
Weisbrot argues that economists and journalists have overestimated the contribution that the worldwide commodity boom made to Argentina’s recovery. The real reason the country began to grow so quickly after its crises, he believes, is that defaulting on its IMF debt and letting its currency float at market rates allowed the country to abandon austerity policies that were weighing it down, much as Greece is being suffocated today. But his theory has some notable critics, including Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s just-resigned firebrand finance minister, who called the idea that his country could “pull off an Argentina” “profoundly wrong.”
Greece would have plenty of other issues to worry about aside from exports. Joseph Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics notes that Greek corporations and banks will still owe debts denominated in euros, which will become harder to pay as the drachma devalues, possibly leading to bankruptcies. Meanwhile, if the government decides to reverse the spending cuts it’s made in recent years and run a deficit, it will likely have to finance it by printing money, which could lead to severe inflation. This is to say nothing of the more mundane but significant technical challenges of introducing a whole new currency, which is more complicated than simply breaking a peg. As University of California–Berkeley economist Barry Eichengreen wrote years ago while speculating about a potential breakup of the euro, “Computers will have to be reprogrammed. Vending machines will have to be modified. Payment machines will have to be serviced to prevent motorists from being trapped in subterranean parking garages.”
Then, of course, there’s the question of Greece’s debts to Europe, which won’t necessarily disappear, even if the government stops paying them back. Economists Carmen Reinhart, of Harvard University’s Kennedy School, told me that could make it difficult for Greece to find new buyers for its debt in the future. She and Christoph Trebesch, of the University of Munich, have found that in the wake of sovereign defaults, countries tend to start growing fairly quickly and regain their credit ratings—but typically only once they’ve restructured their old loans and resolved whether and how much they will repay their lenders.
“I don’t want to be like a wet rag, but I think the prospects of growth without resolution of the debt situation are very limited with and without a euro,” Reinhart told me. “You’re not going to have potential new creditors lining up to make new loans to Greece when the rules of the game are just not known.”
So if all goes wrong, Greece could end up with a plunging currency, frightening inflation, little to no engine driving its economy, a spate of corporate bankruptcies, and no access to credit. Its predicament now is dark. But is it worth risking that kind of economic affliction to break from Europe’s yoke? I honestly don’t know. Then again, it might not have any option but to find out.

~ Jordan Weissmann is Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.