Aristos Doxiadis https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/8141/all cached version 05/07/2018 00:23:22 en National populism and xenophobia in Greece https://www.opendemocracy.net/aristos-doxiadis-manos-matsaganis/national-populism-and-xenophobia-in-greece <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img style="margin-left: 5px;" src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/RR_Absolute Final.png" alt="" vspace="5" width="140" align="right" />‘National exceptionalism’ has long served as an antidote to the many disappointments that being a Greek has often entailed. But historically, has this now opened the door to populist forces in Greece’s political culture?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&lsquo;National exceptionalism&rsquo; is one of the founding myths of modern Greece &ndash; perhaps the main one. The idea that the Greek nation is not just distinct but radically different from (read: &ldquo;superior to&rdquo;) all others is steeped in history. Current members of the Greek nation learn early in life to assert a direct line of descent from the Classical Greece of Homer, Pericles and Socrates, to take pride in the latter&rsquo;s achievements, to claim them as their own.</p> <p>Never mind that in 1830, when Greece emerged as a modern state (with decisive support by the Great Powers), after a long War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire (with the active involvement on the battlefield of many hundreds of philhellenes from Western Europe and beyond), most Greeks did not define themselves as Greek, and many did not speak the Greek language (itself the subject of many transmutations and bitter controversies over the last two centuries) .</p> <p>The notion that an unbroken line connected Modern Greece to the glory that was Classical Greece proved extremely useful in diplomacy, in 19th century nation- and state-building, and later as a morale-booster and an antidote to the many failures and disappointments that being a Greek often entailed.</p> <h3>&lsquo;Fatherland-Religion-Family&rsquo; (1946-1974)</h3> <p>After the 1946-1949 Civil War, the mantle of nationalism was monopolised by the victorious Right, claiming for its own supporters (some of which had collaborated with the Nazis in 1941-1944) exclusive membership of the national community, and portraying the defeated communists as enemies of the nation. The nationalist rhetoric (&ldquo;Fatherland-Religion-Family&rdquo;) reached an apogee with the Colonels&rsquo; coup d&rsquo;&eacute;tat of 1967, and came crashing down together with the military regime in 1974. The event that triggered the Colonels&rsquo; downfall, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which led to the division of the island lasting to this day, showed that more often than not it is nationalism itself that lies at the roots of the most catastrophic national tragedies.</p> <h3>&lsquo;National Popular Unity&rsquo; (1974-1996)</h3> <p>With rightwing nationalism entirely discredited, and the ruling conservative party (New Democracy, founded in 1974 by Constantine Karamanlis) firmly pro-European and more liberal than ever, the late 1970s witnessed the transformation of nationalist energies. This time it was the new socialist party PASOK (also founded in 1974, by Andreas Papandreou) that played the game of holier &ndash; i.e. more patriotic - than thou. Its rallying cry, the platform of &lsquo;National Popular Unity&rsquo;, blended anti-imperialist sentiments, quite diffuse on the left then as now, with the conviction that the &lsquo;People&rsquo; were the sole depositories of wisdom. &nbsp;Belief was reasserted in the timeless allure of the &lsquo;national character&rsquo; .</p> <p>Early PASOK was a movement not a party (Papandreou never tolerated internal dissent, and had no time for party democracy and other such bourgeois niceties); it was radical (it promised &lsquo;socialism&rsquo;); it was fiercely nationalist (&ldquo;Greece to the Greeks&rdquo;, a slogan borrowed from Nasser&rsquo;s &ldquo;Egypt to the Egyptians&rdquo;) and anti-Turkish; it was anti-western: i.e. against the US, against NATO, and against Greece&rsquo;s entry into the European Economic Community (in 1980, as the Karamanlis government officially signed the accession treaty, PASOK mobilised its supporters and joined KKE in mass demonstrations against &ldquo;the EEC of monopolies&rdquo;) .</p> <p>This recipe proved a winner. PASOK&rsquo;s meteoric rise to a mass party that won one general election after the other and ruled the country for 21 out of the 30 years from 1981 to 2011 amounted to a triumph of national populism.</p> <p>PASOK in power moderated its anti-western stance, but never entirely abandoned it for as long as Papandreou remained in charge. Under Costas Simitis, PASOK leader and Prime Minister in 1996-2004, a pro-European party discourse was tacitly adopted. Too tacitly, most probably: the new party line, taken forgranted at leadership level, never really convinced the rank and file. By that time, the anti-American and anti-European sentiments of party activists were too deeply entrenched to let go of.</p> <p>In the meantime, the Berlin Wall had come down, shattering all remaining illusions of &lsquo;proletarian internationalism&rsquo;. Moreover, much nearer home, and too close for comfort, Yugoslavia had imploded into full-scale war, with extensive &lsquo;ethnic cleansing&rsquo; practised on all sides. Both events caused a resurgence of nationalism in Greece, this time across the political spectrum&hellip;</p> <h3>The previous rise of the far Right</h3> <p>Hostility to immigrants and a reasserted Orthodox identity were key ingredients to the success of LAOS (the &lsquo;Popular Orthodox Rally&rsquo;). The party (founded September 2000), originally a breakaway of New Democracy, exploited the shrewdness and media savvy of its leader George Karatzaferis to make a splash.</p> <p>Rather moderate by the standards of Golden Dawn, the agenda of LAOS emphasised law and order, and featured calls for the repatriation of those illegal immigrants in excess of a certain limit and &lsquo;not needed&rsquo; for their skills. The party also made symbolic gestures towards die-hard supporters of the 1967-1974 military junta, including the demand that those officers still in jail for their role in the coup should be released &lsquo;on humanitarian grounds&rsquo;. On the whole, LAOS managed (for a while) to attract &lsquo;traditional conservative and ultra right voters, who were disaffected with New Democracy and its shift [to] the centre of the left-right ideological scale&rsquo; .</p> <p>In electoral terms, although it failed to enter the national parliament in March 2004 (having won 2.2% of the vote), LAOS entered the European Parliament in June of the same year (4.1%). It did better in the general election of September 2007 (3.8% and 10 MPs), and better still in October 2009 (5.6% and 15 MPs), having achieved its best ever result in the European Parliamentary election of June 2009 (7.2% and 2 MEPs).</p> <p>As described earlier, at about this point the party&rsquo;s fortunes ebbed. Its decision to enter the coalition government of Loukas Papademos in November 2011, itself a confirmation that LAOS had gained the respectability it coveted, proved fatal: its share of the vote shrank first to 2.9% in May 2012, and lower still to 1.6% in June 2012. As of now, the party, left with no seats in Parliament, is in disarray - with some of its former MPs (including the two Ministers under Papademos) having joined the New Democracy of Antonis Samaras.</p> <h3>Xenophobic nationalism as mainstream ideology</h3> <p>As the previous narrative demonstrates, undercurrents of xenophobic nationalism have now become accepted parts of popular culture and are present in the political discourse of all mainstream parties.</p> <p>In the light of this, it should come as no surprise that a recent survey found that 63% of respondents thought &ldquo;the Greek nation superior to other nations&rdquo; (up from 43% in 2011), or that 65% said, &ldquo;they were willing to support what the country did irrespective of whether it was right or wrong&rdquo; (up from 41% in 2011).</p> <p>On the whole, national populism PASOK-style (since the mid-1970s) and the &ldquo;Macedonian Question&rdquo; (since the early 1990s) has built on deeply rooted notions of &ldquo;national exceptionalism&rdquo; and helped legitimise xenophobic nationalism once again &ndash; in the media, across the political spectrum and in society at large. Mass immigration into Greece, first from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, then from Asia and Africa, gave this a further boost. The current economic crisis, often experienced as impotence and humiliation, has made it the default reflex of both left and right. It is only in this broader context that one can make proper sense of the recent electoral success of Golden Dawn, Independent Greeks and &ndash; in a different sense - SYRIZA.</p><p><em>This article is an excerpt from Aristos Doxiadis and Manos Matsaganis&rsquo; pamphlet for the Counterpoint &ldquo;Europe&rsquo;s Reluctant Radicals&rdquo; series, which investigates the reasons for the recent fragmentation of the Greek political system and the rise of populisms on both the left and right of the political spectrum. They focus in particularly on the success of the left-wing Syriza and the shocking growth of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in a wide-ranging discussion that covers Greece&rsquo;s economic and social structure, the recent influx of immigrants into the country, Greece&rsquo;s history of protest, and the new forms of national populist economic theory and action that have taken root since the debt crisis.</em></p> <p><em>It forms part of an <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/freeform-tags/reluctant-radicals">editorial partnership</a> with <a href="http://counterpoint.uk.com/research-projects/reluctant-radicals-2/">Counterpoint </a>launched in a guest week in November 2012. The partnership will continue over the coming months with articles timed to coincide with events to disseminate the ten pamphlets commissioned through Counterpoint's project 'Recapturing Europe's Reluctant Radicals" , funded by the Open Society Foundations.</em></p> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/freeform-tags/reluctant-radicals"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Counterpoint%20Partnership_0.png" alt="" hspace="5" width="170" /></a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/pepe-egger/scarcity-shame-and-flapping-arms-in-athens-0">Scarcity, shame and flapping arms in Athens</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sappho-xenakis-leonidas-kcheliotis/politics-of-crime-and-financial-crisis-in-greece">The politics of crime and the financial crisis in Greece</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openeconomy/yanis-varoufakis/greek-election-result-assessment">Greek election result: an assessment</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/iannis-carras/politics-of-suicide-greece-and-europe-poised-between-two-elections">The politics of suicide: Greece and Europe poised between two elections </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ivan-krastev/european-dis-union-lessons-of-soviet-collapse">European dis-Union: lessons of the Soviet collapse</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/anders-rasmussen/headscarfs-and-homosexuals-feminist-ideals-in-xenophobic-politics">Headscarfs and homosexuals - feminist ideals in xenophobic politics</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Greece Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Manos Matsaganis Aristos Doxiadis Reluctant Radicals Golden Dawn: whose monster? Tue, 27 Nov 2012 09:30:37 +0000 Aristos Doxiadis and Manos Matsaganis 69381 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Aristos Doxiadis https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/aristos-doxiadis <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Aristos Doxiadis </div> </div> </div> <p>Aristos Doxiadis is a business economist and venture capital professional based in Athens, who has written on Greek economic institutions, small businesses and opportunistic behaviour.</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Aristos Doxiadis is a business economist and venture capital professional based in Athens, who has written on Greek economic institutions, small businesses and opportunistic behaviour. </div> </div> </div> Aristos Doxiadis Mon, 19 Nov 2012 09:53:44 +0000 Aristos Doxiadis 69396 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Diversity and uniformity in the Eurozone - making a united Europe work https://www.opendemocracy.net/aristos-doxiadis/diversity-and-uniformity-in-eurozone-making-united-europe-work <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Underpinning the Euro crisis is a collection of mismatches, of cultures, institutions, expectations and norms between varied European actors and, critically, debtors and creditors. Europe will not survive without unification to smoothe and manage these differences, but it need not be as painful or depowering as many currently argue. There is a positive, optimistic side to greater union.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In his <a href="http://www.georgesoros.com/interviews-speeches/entry/remarks_at_the_festival_of_economics_trento_italy/">speech,</a> which opens this debate, George Soros argued that misunderstandings and misconceptions are shaping history in important ways. This is true in general, of course, and it is true in specific ways within the eurozone. </p> <p>Proponents of the euro expected that under a single monetary policy and in the absence of currency risk, economies would converge as capital, goods and people would move more freely. An implicit assumption, never properly examined, was that national economic institutions would also become more similar. As <a href="http://books.google.gr/books?id=J5pKRWt9ij0C">Jean Pisani-Ferry tells it</a>, in the early 1990s, part of the European elite selected central banks as a good candidate for merging into one tightly knit system, since they were already operating more or less in the same way; whereas welfare systems or industry policy were markedly different. It was perhaps thought that these other institutions would follow suit, eventually.</p> <p>What seems to have happened, however, is that the monetary union actually served to mask and therefore preserve institutional differences in most other levels of the economy – in business strategies, in wage setting, in fiscal planning. Under the illusion of harmony, imbalances were allowed to get out of control.</p> <p><strong>Mismatched rationalities</strong></p> <p>As an example, consider the differing approaches to saving and investment of some typical actors within the EU. </p> <p>A northern European pension fund would want to hold assets that produce a positive cash flow stream at some future period. There may be many layers of holding between the fund and the ultimate assets in the 'real economy', but the investor was always assuming that these 'real' assets would generate cash in a fairly predictable manner. </p> <p>A Mediterranean household, on the other hand, may have had the view that a house has an inherent economic value which is not reducible to cash flows. This can be a deep conviction, forged by the experience of many generations, who may have seen financial assets vanish in times of crisis or inflation, while houses have been reliable stores of value. </p> <p>A Greek employee, furthermore, may have believed that the safest asset for retirement was a job in the public sector, since it guaranteed a comfortable pension. Since her counterparty was the state, she could assume that her future cash flow was secure. Even private sector pensions seemed secure, regardless of how well each pension fund was managed, because there was an implicit state guarantee. In 2001, a reformist minister tried to avoid bankruptcy of the pension system by tightening up the rules, at which time a leading trade unionist notoriously remarked: “The pension system can never go broke; the Greek state would have to go broke first” (the cunning of reason, incarnate). So future cash flow from 'real' assets was never a major aspect of Greeks' collective or individual life plan.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>In the eurozone, actors of the first type (northern investors in financial assets) ended up investing massively in the non-financial assets preferred by actors of the other two types (in real estate and in state-backed entitlements) rather than in actual cash generating businesses. Their savings had been created in industry, but they were re-invested in far away bricks and in other peoples' laws. </p> <p>Two other types of actor mediated this investment process: banks and governments. Everybody considered them stable and knowledgeable enough to be able to match the expectations of creditors at one end of the chain to those of debtors at the other end. But these mediators had their own institutional priorities, which did not include being efficient international and intertemporal matchmakers.&nbsp; And they were not compatible even with their own kin. Banks in the core had very different balance sheets from banks in the south, which came to depend heavily on interbank borrowing to fund long-term assets. Governments in the core had very different strategies for sustaining growth from some peripheral governments: trade surpluses were paramount for some, domestic consumption for others.</p> <p>Mainstream economics tends to view such differences between creditors and debtors and between surplus and deficit economies as reflecting nothing more than intertemporal choice: creditors defer consumption and local investment in order to have more income from international investment in the future, while debtors prefer to consume and invest locally more now, and accept that they will have to pay out more in the future. The two are supposed to have the same rationality in different sequence. </p> <p>Within one country, that may be a reasonable assumption. When we make economic decisions, we use shortcuts and heuristic devices to narrow our range of options and to assess them. Our rationality is bounded, and the bounds of reason are shaped to a large extent by culture and by institutions.&nbsp; Within the country, debtor and creditor are constrained by the same institutions, have access to the same enforcement mechanisms, probably share a common culture; and if, despite all this, their expectations are mismatched, there is a central authority to intervene and arbitrate. A useful body of work on this is on <a href="http://books.google.gr/books?id=en6zAAAAIAAJ">“varieties of capitalism”,</a> which has explored how in each advanced capitalist economy different aspects of the system, involving different actors, complement each other: structure of finance, distribution of property, mechanisms of wage setting, welfare systems and processes of innovation. Economies are successful if these aspects work well together, though they may be quite different from other successful economies.</p> <p>Across countries, rationalities are likely to differ. When investors are aware of this, they are cautious and take limited risks abroad. When, for whatever reason, they overlook such differences, pain ensues.</p> <p>One way to interpret the structural weakness of the eurozone is that actors with mismatched rationalities interacted persistently and on a large scale, under the&nbsp; misconception that they were matched. The scale and duration of the mismatch was magnified by the illusion that common European institutions were forcing a convergence of rationalities: fiscal discipline was mandated by Maastricht, monetary prudence by the ECB. </p> <p>In the example of savings and investment given above, both sides were wrong in the mismatch. It may well be that German policy is rightly dictated by the future needs of their aging population; therefore that current account surpluses are necessary, so that they can acquire assets abroad that will fund German pensions in ten or twenty years, when there will no longer be enough working age Germans to support the welfare state.&nbsp; If that is the objective, then they should be investing in future cash generating businesses, i.e. in parts of emerging dynamic economies. Investing in economies that are struggling to fund their own pensions now will not fit the bill -- except if the investments are picked carefully to enhance the future productive capacity of the receiving country.</p> <p>Recipients of finance were also wrong, of course.&nbsp; Having a different view of time and cash flow from that of an industrial or a financial player, they judged an opportunity by the ability to attract finance now, rather than by the ability to pay back later. As long as creditors seemed happy, this attitude seemed justified. A building would always be as valuable as today, a state would always be able to refinance. Historical experience suggests that they were as right on this, or as wrong, as the 'rational' northern investors who thought they could predict the value of financial assets ten years hence.</p> <p><strong>Strategies for stability</strong></p> <p>If this analysis of mismatches and misunderstandings is correct, what does it imply for the future architecture of the eurozone?</p> <p>One obvious answer, much discussed, is that a stable eurozone requires much stronger central control of governments and of banks, i.e. of the two categories of institution that mediate most of the international flows of capital. Hence, the fiscal compact, and the very recent decision to centralize bank supervision. </p> <p>This could of course enhance stability, but it will not be enough. Prudent banks and prudent governments are no guarantee that there will be no persistent current account deficits and no internationally fuelled bubbles.&nbsp; As <a href="http://blogs.ft.com/martin-wolf-exchange/2012/06/25/what-was-spain-supposed-to-have-done/#axzz1zZnAy5Wx">Martin Wolf has argued</a> about Spain, good bank supervision (which Spain had) and stricter lending rules could just result in lending coming directly from abroad; this is not something that can be prevented under current EU rules.</p> <p>In the long run, the architecture of the eurozone will have to deal with institutional diversity and with mismatched rationalities across countries at the level of firms, of households and of institutional investors . </p> <p>One radical approach is to try explicitly to restrict national current account deficits and surpluses within the euro zone. The European Commission has taken a tentative step in that direction with the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/economic_governance/macroeconomic_imbalance_procedure/mip_framework/index_en.htm">Macro-Economic Imbalance Procedure</a>.&nbsp; As a concept, this is very bold; but it is as yet hard to see how it can be enacted. The precedent of recent bail-outs suggest that for deficit countries "corrective action" would consist of standard reforms to improve competitiveness (flexibility in the labor market, ending closed-shops, etc). Such reforms would influence the current account indirectly and very slowly. They will probably not be enough, in the context of so many cultural and institutional differences. </p> <p>If current account balances are to be taken seriously as a policy target (and I believe they should be), there seem to be four types of strategy for dealing with institutional diversity, and they are not mutually exclusive.</p> <p><em>(a) Convergence</em>: Comparable institutions should have comparable targets and regulation. Ideally, they should also 'think' and act in the same way. The crisis has already led governments to agree on a strategy of convergence for fiscal policy and for banks. </p> <p>How deep this convergence will be remains to be seen. Will the existence of a central supervisory body be enough? Will it set only high-level targets, or will it insist that micro-level practices be harmonized as well? For example, will Greek banks be allowed to discount post-dated cheques -- which is a practice unknown in the north, but admirably suited to the Greek microeconomy? </p> <p>Should there be convergence of other important institutions, such as pension systems? If not, it may be impossible to justify politically the ECB as lender of last resort to governments. If nationals of country A retire at 62 and others at 67, and if the pension system of country A needs state support, would other taxpayers accept this? High-level deficit targets will not be enough to convince voters to accept such different levels of social benefit across countries.</p> <p><em>(b) Targeted diversification</em>: For some institutions, national differences could be accepted and fostered. Farms and farmers have always been protected in the EU, in ways that favor some national types over others.&nbsp; Current orthodoxy is that all other businesses should operate in conditions of competition, equal across countries, constrained only by common EU rules on issues such as the environment. That is the theory, but in practice many rules, such as labour legislation, vary greatly across countries; which means that equally able entrepreneurs will be successful in some places and not in others. </p> <p>Some of the different national rules have been shaped by local collective bargaining, others by the national political process, still others by informal national norms. If they were to be harmonized truly, every country would have to relinquish their own processes. This could only happen in a fully federal European Union.</p> <p>As we are not there yet, and may never be, there is a strong case for accepting not just different national practices, but also different levels of productivity and different forms of&nbsp; protection to some local industries. This case has been made by Dani Rodrik more generally in <a href="http://books.google.gr/books?id=c3NtIKNmzMUC"><em>The Globalization Paradox</em></a><em>. </em>Perhaps the EU should start thinking again in terms of industrial policy, aiming to keep some sort of trade balance among member states. Of course there are a myriad arguments against this, but to claim that common conditions of competition can exist across countries in the absence of strong political integration is pure hypocrisy.</p> <p>A mild form of industrial policy would be the so-called new Marshall Plan that is being discussed for the bailout countries. In this, EU institutions would fund directly specific investment projects, in infrastructure but also perhaps in tradable-sector businesses. If this happens, this could be an important first step in accepting the principle of targeted diversification.</p> <p><em>&nbsp;(c) Transnational integration: </em>One way to deal with different rationalities is to internalize them into a single organization. This is the case with foreign direct investment (FDI), where international investors directly engage with local labour (and other actors) and work out rules that combine both cultures. Successful multinational enterprises have been doing this for decades. If capital flows within the eurozone had been mostly FDI, it is unlikely that current account imbalances would have led to such bubbles. </p> <p>Northern savers would have much to gain in terms of future income if they could mobilize southern resources into joint productive enterprises. The common currency was supposed to boost this type of investment, but this has been crowded out by investment in financial instruments, where each side retains the freedom to act according to its peculiar rationality. Should we now have an active policy to promote FDI?</p> <p>And should we perhaps start thinking about other transnational institutions? Perhaps about transnational collective bargaining in specific industries, or transnational pension funds? </p> <p><em>(d) Transparency: </em>If most international transactions are to remain at arms length, as they will, then mismatches could be avoided, to some extent, if creditors and debtors had a better grasp of each other's modus operandi. This requires, first and foremost, much more detailed and useful quantitative information about institutions in each country. </p> <p>Multilateral agencies such as Eurostat and OECD have been providing international statistical tables, doing their best to compare sometimes very diverse source material. Rating agencies, such as Fitch and Moody's, narrowly focused on financial assets, have supposedly delved deeper into assessing the dynamics of risk. Yet anybody who has followed the public dialogue about who works longer hours, or who retires at a later age, or which enterprises are more productive, can attest that confusion reigns. </p> <p>We should think about creating a common European information space, where transactions at a micro level within each economy are registered and monitored by pan-European institutions. This could cover, e.g., all public spending decisions, all pension liabilities, all labor contracts, all permits, etc, at fine detail. It would require creating common databases of rules and numbers. </p> <p>Technically the task is now feasible. Politically, it would be defended in terms of democratic accountability. National political elites have had it too easy hiding their clientelist practices from their electorates by controlling the flow of information. Supranational independent monitoring bodies would be useful counterweights, and they would be serving both the national demos, and the nascent European one.</p> <p><strong>The European demos</strong></p> <p>Of the four strategies outlined above, convergence is where all the debate is focused at the moment. National political elites are directly threatened by it, but common people also do not see how they can shape it. Should it be controlled by governments, by multilateral institutions, by the European Parliament, or by new international forms of deliberation and participation? However it is done, however necessary it may be, many will feel that they have lost power and agency in the process. </p> <p>The answer for regaining agency for individuals, unions, and civil society organizations may lie in the other three strategies. </p> <p>The latter two (transnational integration and transparency) are building blocks towards a European demos that do not directly detract from national democracy. They would actually empower new local forces, against the "jealous domestic political classes", who, as <a href="../../../../../../../../tony-curzon-price/european-citizens-can-find-hope-in-end-to-game-of-othering-union">Tony Curzon-Price has argued</a>, have been excluding Europe from the political and democratic table.</p> <p>As for targeted diversification, it could allow for local rationalities to survive and perhaps thrive as building blocks of a strong European economy, rather than as vestiges from an inefficient past that should be phased out. </p> <p>The four strategies together are what we need to build a more stable, balanced eurozone, where growth can be coordinated and development diversified. Diversity of institutions will be as much part of the European demos as uniformity. There is no simple formula for moving ahead. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? openEconomy uk London UK Economics Writing on the wall for the eurozone? Aristos Doxiadis Europe 2.0 Wed, 04 Jul 2012 07:26:39 +0000 Aristos Doxiadis 66809 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The real Greek economy: owners, rentiers and opportunists https://www.opendemocracy.net/aristos-doxiadis/owners-rentiers-opportunists <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rebuilding the Greek economy will require creative interaction with the underlying realities of Greek society: the family, the small business, the habits of rentocracy and of low-trust opportunism. <em>(This article was first published in Greek in the Athens Review of Books, June 2010)</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <h3><strong>DISCOURSE</strong></h3> Formal and demotic language <p>The way we talk about the economy has changed dramatically in the past few months. Before our own debt crisis erupted, public discourse was not very different from that in western countries. We would discuss the merits of public vs private, of boosting demand vs cutting expenditure, of liberalism vs social democracy.</p> <p>A few observers did insist on Greek specificities. For example, on how the public sector is not public when it has been captured by private and by ‘syntechnic' interests [there is no English equivalent for the Greek word ‘syntechnia’ in its current usage; it means ‘trade union’, but in the particular sense of defending the common privileges of a certain narrow occupational group, rather than class interests – like guilds used to do in medieval cities]. Or, how the private sector is not private when it lives off the public purse. But these voices were not present in the discourse of political parties and of talking heads, nor did they influence government policy.</p> <p>Technocrats would plan for the ostensible, rather than for the real. For example, they would decide the official corporate tax rates, but not the taxes that enterprises actually paid; which were much higher than official rates when the tax inspectors descended on honest and cheat alike; and much lower when the business owner could work the system.</p> <p>There was a great gap between the formal language of government, of politics and of technocracy on the one hand, and what we all felt and discussed in coffeehouses, on the other, but would not articulate in public. In formal speech, we talked about investment, planning, competition, productivity, incentives, regulation, laws. In demotic, about arguments, delays and Greek ingenuity. We knew that official intent would never be realized, but we would say: let’s try, and if we achieve ten percent of the target, OK – so we won’t fall too far back away from “Europe”.</p> <p>Now public discourse has changed, and it suddenly sounds like coffeehouse talk. The dilemma between public and private has mutated into “are you for the idle bureaucrat or for the tax cheat?.”&nbsp; That between unions and employers has mutated into “shall we crack down on retiring at the age of 52, or on scandalous overpayments for medical devices in the NHS?.”&nbsp; We have begun discussing the real Greece, not some generic mixed economy. Everyday experience has melded into the big picture. This is healthy. It is the start of self-knowledge.</p> <p>But the economy is a complex system, and our experience is chaotic, diverse and contradictory. It is easy to exaggerate, denounce and talk at cross-purpose; to lose sight of causes and of prospects. Out of coarse experience we must rebuild a learned theory of the Greek economy that will focus on the basics, will explain them and will define our options.</p> <h3><span>Theories of diversity</span></h3> <p>A good way to start is to identify <em>how we differ </em>from those developed western economies that we consciously or unconsciously try to imitate. Even when we criticize them, they are the standard to which we compare both private consumption and public services.&nbsp; For this purpose a <em>neo-institutional</em> approach is useful; one that analyses the different national forms of capitalism and links them to the history and institutions of each country.</p> <p>The concept of <em>institutions</em> is rather general, and it is variously defined. In the broadest of definitions, it includes both <em>formal</em> institutions (the school) and <em>informal</em> (tutorial schools, private teaching). It includes <em>rules</em> (medical legislation), <em>organizations</em> (the hospital) and also common <em>practices </em>(bribing the doctor). In some theories it also includes <em>ideology </em>(‘what is progress?’) and <em>culture</em> (work ethic).</p> <p>Neo-institutional theory tries to illuminate and explain the micro-behaviors that shape the macro-phenomena. Why have we let the pension system go bankrupt?&nbsp; Why aren’t we paying taxes? Why haven’t we got exportable manufactured goods? Why do high school students take private tutorials? How are we different from the Germans <em>on this level</em>?</p> <p>An immediate empirical answer consists of a very long list: corruption, clientelism, bureaucracy, familism, cronyism, conspicuous consumption, learning-by-rote at school, mistrust, but also, flexible enterprises, graduates, ambition, mobility, political activism, foreign language proficiency, hard work (sometimes), international outlook. However, such a long list is not very helpful. It is more useful to identify just a few fundamental elements of difference from the more developed economies. I consider that the basic elements of Greek specificity are the following:</p> <ul><li>The large number and small size of enterprises, in combination with widely dispersed ownership of real estate (<em>owners</em>)</li><li>The extent and distribution of various forms of rent (<em>rentiers</em>)</li><li>A deficient ethic of cooperation, and a rational response to incentives and disincentives (<em>opportunists</em>)</li></ul> <p>Greece is a capitalist economy with a welfare state, like many others. And like any other, it has its own dynamic, which is shaped by its specific characteristics in combination with the general elements of capitalism.</p> <h3>OWNERS</h3> A fundamental institution <p>There is no other European country and no other member of the OECD that has as many self-employed and as many micro-employers as Greece pro rata to its population. In Greece 57% of those employed in the ‘non-financial business economy’ (NFBE) are either self-employed or employed in firms of under 10 employees. The value of this index for EU-27 is 30%. Italy comes second with 47%, Portugal third with 42%. France is at 27%, the UK at 21%, Germany at 18%. Our newest role-model, Denmark, is at 20%.</p> <p>Agriculture, which is not counted in the NFBE, is even more fragmented. In the region of Corinthia, the average grower of table grapes for export has less than three hectares, and the biggest has less than 20 hectares. The competitors of the Corinthian growers in Murcia, Spain, have over 100 hectares each. It is the same in California, South Africa, Chile, Egypt.</p> <p>In the economy as a whole, businesses of more than 250 employees employ no more than 9% of the labor force; and this includes banks and utilities.</p> <p>How did it happen that we have so many small businesses – vineyards, olive presses, rooms-to-let, mini markets, doctors’ practices, theaters, clothes boutiques, clothes makers, IT workshops – and why so few large employers?</p> <p>We owe it to history, which prevented the primitive accumulation of capital that occurred in the west; to the institutions of our modern state, which assist the survival of small business and hinder enterprise growth; and to our culture which makes it hard for us to cooperate.</p> <p>&nbsp;Western Europe came into the industrial era with large landholdings and an army of landless workers, the result of feudalism. The new state of Greece was established in a society of smallholders, a result of Ottoman policy which supported the small peasant and discouraged large holdings. Land policy in the new state continued favoring small plots. Even the large <em>chifliks </em>of Thessaly in central Greece were broken up over time. The great majority of families had some land in the country or in town where they set up farms or shops or houses. In this, Greece was very different from all of non-Ottoman Europe. As for our Balkan neighbors, those who had extensive small-holdings lost them in the socialist era.</p> <p>Small business is still the prevailing form of organization in the private sector after 180 years of modern state, with bourgeois institutions and more or less free markets. This is remarkable, as in a modern economy size is an advantage in a great many business activities. But here enterprises on average are not getting bigger. Let us list the causes.</p> <p><em>Families that own a business, even a small one, do not send their offspring to become workers</em>. If they decide to become low-paid white collar employees, this is done only in positions with job security and a good pension – i.e. in the public sector, or in banks. Otherwise, they prefer their parents’ farm or shop. The owner-household resists proletarianization.</p> <p><em>Regulations are not uniformly enforced</em>. Taxation, social insurance contributions, labor legislation etc are more of a burden on bigger enterprises, because it is easier for small ones to evade these. If the family handles receipts and payments, it can hide sales and pay uninsured workers. If invoicing and hiring is done through an accounts department, tax and contribution evasion is riskier. So in Greece anomie favors fragmentation. The state as a rule does not go after the smallest.</p> <p><em>Foreign direct investment has been discouraged</em>. In other peripheral economies large-scale industry was often created by foreign capital. Here bureaucracy, corruption, resistance by local communities and populist rhetoric have meant that relatively few foreigners have invested in Greece, and even fewer have remained. There are important exceptions in the non-tradable service sectors: banking, telephony, retail trade. In these, foreign capital moved in because the high cost of entry and operation is not prohibitive – it can be recouped by higher prices. In the tradable sectors, where competition is global, this is not possible.</p> <p>To this list, add the maze of rules and prohibitions that protect the current way of doing business, and the small size of plots of land.</p> <p>Institutional bias in favor of the small scale is so strong, that neither the 1.5 million of incoming Greek refugees in 1922, nor the huge wave of poor immigrants since 1990 became a permanent proletariat for big employers, as has happened elsewhere. It was small employers who became rich in farms and in building sites on the back of the immigrants.</p> <p>Self-employment, micro-employment and family business is a stable and fundamental institution in our economy, perhaps the most fundamental. Their share in employment and output will not shrink under normal circumstances. Not even a long and deep recession will change this. Only a revolution in institutions would.</p> <p>An important point is this: it is institution that determines specialization, not the other way around. That is: because we are a society of small business, we do not build electronic devices; rather than: because we don’t produce such devices we have small businesses. This insight often escapes policy makers. They believe that with the right funding and infrastructure we may grow competitive businesses in industries that require a larger scale. In every era, small businesspeople will do the work that suits them. Yesterday diving for sponges, today letting rooms to tourists, tomorrow what?</p> Family strategies <p>In a small-scale economy households make different choices from those in an economy of salaried employees and large organizations. The family will seek stability in <em>polyergy</em>: in having varied sources of income, as many as it can find and appropriate. There is <em>family solidarity</em>: multiple incomes require multiple hands. The father has a petrol station, the son studies information technology for the upside, but if it doesn’t work out he will not starve. The daughter preferably becomes a teacher or a municipal clerk – something secure which leaves free time to care for elderly parents and for the next generation. If the family shop does well, the whole family will work there; if not it will be maintained by one or two members. The system is admirably stable, flexible and long-lasting.</p> <p>In a small-ownership economy household <em>saving and investment</em> is also different. It is channeled, quite rationally, into real estate and into education. In western economies savings are invested collectively through pension funds, mutual funds and bank deposits. They end up funding industry, technology, infrastructure, and in general, sizeable organizations. In the Greek micro-economy monetary savings have few reliable collective outlets.</p> <p><em>Human capital </em>takes a different form. In western economies human capital can develop in standardized career paths – that is, by <em>building relationships</em> inside organizations. Higher education is useful mostly as a first step in a career – if the jobs market does not demand it, the young will not insist on getting it. In small ownership, the value of a person is vested in their <em>individual</em> characteristics. The jobs market does not give clear signals. I want an engineering degree not in order to work at Volkswagen, but because I will have numerous options, as a reseller, contractor, consultant, retailer or just possibly a middle manager. That is why families overinvest in education for the young: in English language tutorial schools, in university exam tutorial schools, in living expenses for out-of-town studies, and even for studies abroad. In national accounts these expenses appear as consumption, but they are investment.</p> Dynamics <p>The owner-household is a stable institution as long as it can provide enough income for its members, albeit with crises and mutations. However, there are only a few cases around the world of local small-business economies being internationally competitive – most are in “third Italy”. In Greece, small scale agriculture and tourism have sometimes been competitive; and incomes from working on ships or in western factories made a big contribution to GDP. These were usually not enough, and we complemented those with loans and subsidies from abroad.</p> <p>Now that the loans have dried out, Greece may need to become competitive in more sectors. Can small businesses achieve that?</p> <p>Moving into new activities does not seem to be an issue. Greek polyergy is used to that. These are not family businesses where the same activity is carried on over many generations. The young study new disciplines, and parents support them.</p> <p>There are three major disadvantages in small scale: cost (economies of scale); coordination (transaction costs; economies of scope); and continuity (innovation, updating, succession). If the institutional environment changes in ways that will help small businesses to overcome some of these disadvantages, then we may hope to build an internationally competitive economy on the small scale. If not, we’ll see either persistent poverty or a forced concentration of capital.</p> <h3>RENTIERS</h3> <p>The term <em>political rent</em> denotes various forms of income which enterprises, syntechnies and individuals derive from the state, and which do not correspond to real work or real value. It includes idle employment in the public sector, privileged pensions, subsidies without developmental impact, extraordinary profits of private providers to the state, and graft. It also refers to regulations which allow occupations to overcharge in the market (restricted professions, regulated prices, prohibitions), and, less obviously, to the windfall benefits of breaking the law when your competitors are conforming. It does not include public sector salaries for those who truly work, nor social benefits that are given on the basis of general criteria.</p> <p>Some say that political rents exploded in the 1980s, as the radical populist PASOK government sought to integrate more strata and new business interests into the process of development. But clientelism and favoritism have been inherent in the modern Greek state since its inception, and the state has always been a major player in the economy. Distributing political rents was a necessary means of legitimation of politicians in the eyes of the electorate, and harvesting rents was a major egoistic reason for becoming a politician.</p> <p>The state as a whole has been a rentier of inflows from abroad: international loans that were distributed to the populace and never repaid, international development plans, and lately the EU structural funds. These inflows have influenced the economy in depth. “Let the money cross the border, and we’ll figure out how to share it”, a small agribusiness contractor said as we were discussing how to apply for an investment grant.</p> <p>There are also substantial <em>non-political rents</em> in the private sector. Tourism income includes a major rent component, since visitors pay first for location and then for service. Transfers from ships and emigrants are the fruit of real work abroad, but for the receiving local economies they act as pure rent.</p> Democratic rent <p>Rent appropriation mechanisms are quite varied, but they have a common effect on economic culture: almost all Greeks, from large business owners to small landowners in islands and to municipal clerks in villages, believe it is natural to have some income which derives neither from work nor from risking capital. If they cannot have it, they feel wronged.</p> <p>How was rentocracy reproduced over such a long period? One reason was that “the money is there”, to quote a notorious phrase from last years’ election campaign. The money was there from international transfers; and from milking local productive activities within an economy that adopted technical progress more or less adequately; and more recently from exploiting the immigrants.</p> <p>The other reason was the democratic nature of the system. Rents were widely distributed. Especially after 1980, most households could get some benefits from the system. Democratic legitimacy was further strengthened by new institutions that made access to rents more impartial: the state started hiring based on standardized examinations (ASEP), and the university entrance mechanism eliminated the possibility of personal favors. If people have to work hard and to compete honestly in order to gain access to a position, nobody questions whether the position itself is parasitical. And the privileges attached are considered fair.</p> Behavior <p>Like any mechanism which dominates (or co-dominates) an economy, rentocracy influences behavior and culture in many different ways. Rents may not be a result of specific cultural norms, but they are certainly a cause of such norms.</p> <p><em>Zero-sum mentality</em>: rent does not contribute to growth, it only shares in what is there. Therefore, it secured by militant claims, not by productive work. It breeds populism, whose fundamental strategy is to shift responsibility for the whole to the opposite pole, the enemy. In populist discourse citizens identify with the weakest groups, regardless of their actual position in society; so they feel entitled to demand more on grounds of fairness, or even on humanitarian grounds.&nbsp; They do not feel responsible about production of wealth, nor about setting priorities for redistribution to the truly weak. It is others who are responsible for the big picture. Populism differs radically in this from a socialist strategy which starts from the mode of production before the mode of distribution; as well as from a political program of solidarity towards the really poor and excluded.</p> <p><em>Business strategy</em>: if businesses can make high profits from government contracts or from other privileges, they will invest more to gain the privileges than to become competitive in an open market. Over time this distorts their whole mode of operation: a good salesman is one who can build personal relationships with bureaucrats, a good engineer is one who can draw out a project to make it more expensive. It is rare for a state-dependent enterprise to be also competitive. This was true for the big so-called ‘national suppliers’, as well as for the small I.T. companies, in which many bright engineers wasted their youth&nbsp; working on useless&nbsp; R&amp;D projects funded by EU Programmes.</p> <p><em>Measurement and budgets</em>: rentiers do not need to measure the world; producers do. Rentiers will haggle. Producers will plan inputs and outputs and will try to maximize the margin between the two. The rentocratic state behaves like the rentier. It bargains constantly with various groups (with the ‘non-hired’ for hirings; with farmers for subsidies; with businesspeople for contracts), and always gives a little more than it started out to. It is not constrained by an absolute limit for expenditure or for tax relief. It ends up invariably in deficit, which had not been planned.</p> <p>Beyond fiscal numbers, society in general does not demand measurements, either for pollution, or for the quality of hospital care, or for the impact of policing on crime. There is no pressure on public services to count and to evaluate. That is how we get to ‘Greek statistics’, long before anybody intentionally tampers with the numbers.</p> <h3>OPPORTUNISTS</h3> <p>Maybe Greeks will work as hard as westerners when given the same set of choices; but they will not collaborate as well.</p> <p>In game theory an <em>opportunist </em>is one who grasps the chance to make a good profit today, even if that may have negative repercussions tomorrow. Usually, he will break a rule or spoil a collaboration to make the ‘grasp’ (αρπαχτή – ‘arpachti’, from the verb αρπάζω, to grasp).</p> <p>A taverna owner in Plaka (the district of Athens below the Acropolis) who serves trash food to tourists does exactly that: he breaks the implicit contract between restaurateur and client, so that he can make a good profit per portion, risking that the client will not come back. He acts rationally, because tourists are transient, and they would not be coming back anyway. This spoils the reputation of Athens as a destination, but he is not swayed by that, because reputation is shaped by the acts of all the tavernas, not just his own.</p> <p>The opposite of opportunism is cooperation. A business that invests in quality, a builder who takes the rubble to the designated distant dump instead of the field next door, the team member who works hard instead of free riding, the professional who declares his taxable income, in the parlance of game theory are all <em>cooperators</em>.&nbsp;</p> The roots of cooperation <p>Greeks act more opportunistically than the Swedes or even the French. This behavioral difference is due to multiple causes. There are cultural differences, and there are different incentive structures, which favor opportunism. The two levels (culture and incentives) interact through tolerance (I will not denounce the tax cheat) and distrust (I will cheat on our agreement, because I expect that you will too).</p> <p>Why are local cultures of cooperation different, and how deep are the causes? Systematic research on the question has begun only recently, in the past twenty years. The most interesting narrative on Greece is that of Stelios Ramfos on ‘unsuccessful individualization’. The anthropology of the person developed differently among the Greeks than in the West. In western (high) culture “the purpose of the individual is to encapsulate in itself, if possible, the totality of social and spiritual development – a sensitive wholeness of being human”. Western man has internalized, i.e. individualized, the rules of society. In Greek society, as medieval collective structures dissolved, we were left with individualism without individualization.</p> <p>A related but distinct factor is the evolution of political institutions and economic hierarchies. In the West, feudalism, monarchy and the Catholic Church interacted to create the absolutist state which was mandated to rule and guide society. The bourgeoisie inherited this state and reinforced its role of societal guidance. In parallel, during the industrial revolution large business hierarchies were developed, which assigned stable positions to workers and clerks. Such things did not happen in Greece: we overthrew the Ottoman state rather than developing it, and we resisted economic hierarchies.</p> <p>In other words, advanced western economies were founded not only on free markets and individual incentives. They were founded on hierarchies (vertical rules) and on strategies of cooperation (horizontal rules). Successful and hegemonic capitalism is free markets embedded in a society of rules and responsibility. Otherwise, it is either a jungle, or a community of corner shops. We Greeks have subscribed neither to vertical nor to horizontal rules. We are neither obedient nor cooperative. If we have avoided the jungle, it is because we have kept the corner shops.</p> Institutions of opportunism <p>The culture of opportunism explains why cooperatives fail and syntechnies succeed. A cooperative manages a collective good – for example a packing plant for the farm produce of its members, or a government grant for building such a packhouse. Without mutual trust, members will try to gain individually while offloading loses onto the collective. They will send inferior produce to the packhouse, while keeping the best to sell privately; or, they will divide and pocket the grant without investing, because they do not trust each other as business partners.</p> <p>A syntechnia has no collective assets, it has common demands. Members easily recognize similar interests in their common occupational designation, and will demand privileges that will be common to all, but of a private nature. As collaboration it carries low risk and requires limited personal investment, as befits members of a group with no cooperative ethos.</p> <p>Within this context, we have developed some admirable economic institutions, which western-educated technocrats find peculiar.&nbsp; Post-dated cheques, with the legal framework that supports them, reinforce trust among transacting parties because they carry immediate sanctions for an issuer who cannot cover the cheque, without involving the bureaucracy of banks as intermediaries. Each party is responsible for the counterparties it chooses. Name and reputation count. It is remarkable that no recipient of post-dated cheques will try to cash them before their designated dates, even though legally he could do so. If he does, he will be effectively expelled from the market. This is an institution of peer-to-peer credit, which developed spontaneously from below and is based on personal responsibility. We should be fostering such institutions, not be thinking how to banish them. Hierarchical credit from banks degrades individual responsibility and encourages opportunism.&nbsp;</p> The future of cooperation <p>Opportunists are not inherently crooks. They are ‘rational egoists’. They will conform to rules if they think it is in their interest. In an environment where most people are cooperators and where opportunism is punished, opportunists turn into cooperators. The issue here is vicious versus virtuous circles. If opportunists are a majority, it is very difficult for the group to converge towards cooperative behavior. This is why history matters.</p> <p>In the West, history bequeathed cooperative norms and practices. Some fear that recently cooperative institutions are being corroded and individualism is on the rise. This is attributed to different causes, such as the corrosion of families, consumerism, social and/or economic liberalism, inequality, rent-seeking. Could it be that Greece is already there, where the West is now going? Could Greece be an image from the West’s dystopic future?</p> <p>A countervailing tendency derives from technology. Platforms of information exchange and of collaboration render each person’s contribution transparent, and can make much of hierarchy redundant. For the first time in history, goods can be produced collectively and responsibility apportioned individually. These are tools of cooperation for opportunists; e.g. they enable a lone programmer to sell her services all over the world. Further, they can leverage small amounts of voluntary work into major contributions to collective welfare (Wikipedia), and can allow the maintenance of some collective goods without asking for big personal sacrifices. Could it be that Greek individualism can now find a creative role in the world economy?</p> <h3>PROSPECT</h3> <p>To conclude, a brief prologue to a very large discussion.</p> <p>Development policy can succeed only by focusing on family strategies, on small business, on rentocracy and on opportunism – to build on some elements and to reform others.</p> <p>A new model of development for Greece should not imitate the ones that have been most successful globally. We start from different initial conditions, and will follow a different route. Let us accept our peculiarity.</p> <p>Society has developed informal institutions that are widely respected. Private tutorial schools, for example, to which students keep going even when they are shutting down the official schools in protest. Or, post-dated cheques. Let us debate how to make the most of these.</p> <p>Most of our organized, corporate economy is in non-tradable activities, while tradable industries are for the most part very fragmented. This leads to a paradoxical situation: any improvement in the balance of payments must come from the small units that many politicians and technocrats look down upon, as tax evaders, opportunists and inefficient. Should we encourage concentration of capital in the tradable economy, and by which policy? This is a thorny question, for right and left wing politicians alike, which they have preferred not to address. If yes, how will we avoid rent-seeking and opportunism which plague all large scale efforts in our society?</p> <p>Small units will always be critical for us. They must become more export-oriented, more competitive and innovative, they must coordinate and collaborate, and they must be free of inordinate regulatory burden. All public sector systems should support these objectives: taxation, social insurance, education, research, infrastructure. Our development discourse must be restated for the small-scale.</p> <p>‘To each his own weapons’.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/greece-in-turmoil-ii">What is happening in Greece? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/greek-fire-lost-principles-lost-control">Greek fire: lost principles, lost control</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-open_politics/george_papandreou_2255.jsp">&#039;Go ahead George, change it all&#039;: George Papandreou interviewed</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> </div> </div> openEconomy Can Europe make it? openEconomy Greece Democracy and government Economics Aristos Doxiadis Thu, 23 Sep 2010 07:25:57 +0000 Aristos Doxiadis 56101 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Aristos Doxiadis https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/aristos-doxiadis <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Aristos Doxiadis </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Athens </div> </div> </div> <p>Aristos Doxiadis is a private equity professional and angel investor based in Athens. He has managed consulting and auditing companies, worked on anti-poverty programs for the European Commission, and planned industrial policy for the Greek government. He has degrees in Social Studies (Harvard) and Economics (London) and is a Visiting Fellow at the Governance and Public Management Group, Warwick Business School. He blogs at&nbsp;<a href="http://aristosd.posterous.com" target="_blank">aristosd.posterous.com</a></p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> &lt;p&gt;Aristos Doxiadis is a private equity professional and angel investor based in Athens. He has managed consulting and auditing companies, worked on anti-poverty programs for the European Commission, and planned industrial policy for the Greek government. He has degrees in Social Studies (Harvard) and Economics (London) and is a Visiting Fellow at the Governance and Public Management Group, Warwick Business School. He blogs at&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;http://aristosd.posterous.com&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;aristosd.posterous.com&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt; </div> </div> </div> Aristos Doxiadis Wed, 22 Sep 2010 14:34:20 +0000 Aristos Doxiadis 56102 at https://www.opendemocracy.net