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Friday, July 27, 2012

Kleptocracy: Debt as a Method of Legalized Robbery

Kleptocracy: Debt as a Method of Legalized Robbery

By Raimundo Viejo
Roar Magazine
July 27, 2012

‘Cutbacks announced by Rajoy will deepen recession until 2013’.

Thus read the El País headline on the package of austerity measures
kicking off the imperial economic protectorate of the EU and the
markets.

The headline, however, could have been another one, no less
consistent or resounding:

“It’s not a crisis! It’s a scam!”

After all, what we are witnessing is surely the worst extortion
we have ever seen.

Extortion, let’s recall, is an ‘offence that consists of forcing —
through violence or intimidation — the commission or omission
of an act or commercially motivated legal transaction with a view
to making money and with the intention of causing material loss
to the victim or a third party’.

In this case, the intimidation is that exercized by the markets,
and the act or commercially motivated legal transaction is the
package of measures approved in Las Cortes with the goal of
ruining the lives of the 99% to the benefit of the 1%.

But is there really a crisis?

The explicit awareness that the measures not only do not remedy,
but prolong and deepen the crisis, reveals something far more
insidious, if this were even possible, than the obvious
irresponsibility of misrule.

Namely, that:

1) the nation state is no longer the center of modern sovereign
power;

2) liberal democracy and representative government have failed
institutionally to reconcile capital and labour;

3) the authority that rules us today operates somewhere midway
between supranational institutions like the EU and financial
institutions like the rating agencies (to cite two obvious examples
of a far more complex network).

With things this way, what kind of (mis)government is it that is
based on continuing to deliberately aggravate the suffering of its
citizens?

An illegitimate government, no doubt.

It is also, as we have pointed out, a government that is nothing
of the sort, but instead the transmission belt of decision-making
bodies no less illegitimate, given that they evade all democratic
control.

But above all, it is a (mis)government that responds to a logic that
must be diagnozed in its functioning, denounced in its effects and
fought with an effective strategy.

Kleptocracy

The neoliberal logic of (mis)government can be identified with
a type of regime that is established with each measure that gets
approved: kleptocracy.

From the Greek kleptēs or theft and kratos or rule, it can be
defined as “government of those who steal”.

Given that we are speaking of an illegitimate robbery, one can
say, straight out, that we are facing a “government of thieves”.

This is a matter of a kind of regime that consists not of government
of, by and for the demos (as in democracy), but of government in
the service of the logic of the priva(tiza)tion of resources that were
once public.

A simple example: if university fees go up and only a minority
can pay them, but we all fund public universities with our taxes
equally, where is the redistribution of wealth?

Where is the equality of opportunities? Where are the principles
of the welfare state? Where is the Constitution?

This, however, is how kleptocracy works: it subtracts from the
99% to give to the 1%.

Debt is the mechanism that makes legalized robbery possible: the
private debt which through illegitimate means is converted into
public debt; the debt which, like a deus ex machina condemns us
to poverty.

Debt today consumes the future and, equally, reduces people’s
existence to its merely vegetative dimension.

This is why stopping the payments is an imperative in the defense
of a decent life.

Faced with a rule that appears before us as a financial automatism,
it is today urgent to move forward along the route of disobedience,
in autonomous empowerment, towards the political regime of the
commons.

http://roarmag.org/2012/07/raimundo-viejo-kleptocracy-debt-
crisis/

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