CATASTROIKA - Infowar Productions
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CATASTROIKA

It was at the beginning of 1989 when the French academic Jacques Rupnik sat at his desk, in order to prepare a report on the state of the economic reforms in Mikhail Gorbatsov’s Soviet Union. The term that he used in describing the death rattle of the empire was “Catastroika”. In Yeltsin’s time, when Russia instituted maybe the biggest and least successful privatization experiment in the history of humanity, a group of Guardian reports assigned a different meaning to Rupnik’s term. “Catastroika” became synonym of the country’s complete destruction by market forces;

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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 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.