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It is this “Catastroika” that is coming soon to Greece; to “Europe’s last Soviet Republic” as the MPs and the ministers of its former “socialist” government liked to call it. Catastroika is the logical aftermath and continuation of “Debtocracy”. Therefore, the logical sequence of our first documentary, which examined the causes of the debt crisis in Greece and the European periphery as a whole.
Nevertheless, Catastroika is a virus that attacks not only the countries that radically change their economic system (like Russia) or countries under financial occupation. In fact, maybe the most unsuccessful privatization examples occur in financial superpowers that theoretically have the financial strength to control their negative consequences.
A huge phenomenon – Naomi Klein
Catastroika can be spotted in post-Thatcherite Britain, where citizens were killed in accidents at the privatized rail network. It can be detected in the Dutch privatized and liberalized postal sector, where thousands of jobs have been cut and mail arrives at one’s door two to
three times per day. It can be detected even in California, which left her citizens in the dark when it deregulated the energy market.
However, its consequences are the gravest and most frightening at countries which fell in the trap of foreign lenders and are obliged to proceed to mass privatization. The public property sell-off which takes place in Greece has been tried several times in similar circumstances. The same people, who undertook the selling of public utilities in Latin American countries, now have moved their office in countries of the European periphery –and the most competent among them have been travelling to Athens during the last months.
The procedure always follows exactly the same steps: In the beginning, the government, in collaboration with mass media, starts a forceful attack against public servants, who are presented as responsible for all the country’s financial woes. The myth of the overextended public sector is often based on manipulated data from organizations supported and supporting the government of the time. Concurrently, specific public organizations are deliberately left unsupported, exasperating citizens due to their inefficiency. The process is completed by the sell-off of even the most profitable public organizations at a fraction of their real value.
Catastroika’s team travelled in many countries, collecting images, information and material on deregulation and privatization programs that have been implemented at the so-called “developed” world. The final result of the research is never black or white. The divide between the “social character” of the public sector vis-à-vis the inhumane face of the free market is equally simplistic as the theories of Milton Freedman that professed the need to privatize even the air that we breathe. The Greek case however supersedes the simple theoretical discussion on the role of the country in the economy.
Once more, the documentary is distributed online under creative commons licence. The free circulation of Catastroika is not just an “obligation” to our co-producers. It is our deeper and ideological belief that each product of intellectual creation should be freely available to all. The current financial system, while based all the more on the production and management of information, is incapable by its nature to find a way to secure the remuneration of information creators. This is probably one of many dead-ends in the development of the economy’s productive forces, which may soon threaten the bases of the current financial system. Because, as it is well known, every system that stopped the development of the productive forces fell apart – and you can ask the feudalists about that…
Debtocracy features the academics David Harvey, Samir Amin, Costas Lapavitsas and Gerard Dumenil; the philosopher Alain Badiou; the head of Ecuador’s Audit Commission Hugo Arias; the president of CADTM Eric Toussaint; journalists like Avi Lewis (co-creator of the documentary “The Take”) and Jean Quatremer; as well as public figures like Manolis Glezos and Sahra Wagenknecht (from the German party Die Linke).
The soundtrack was written by Yiannis Aggelakas, Ermis Georgiadis and Aris RSN, while the journalist and economist Leonidas Vatikiotis scientifically edited the whole project. BitsnBytes undertook the production of “Debtocracy”, which was edited by Aris Triantafyllou.
The creators of “Debtocracy” turned to syndicates and workers’ unions for funding. Mainly though, they turned to the citizens, who helped in co-producing the film.
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