An island in the Mediterranean with 4 letters: Cuba

Which regime in Europe questions bourgeois democracy and private property ?

Νησί της Μεσογείου με πέντε γράμματα: Κούβα

Try to imagine a regime in which the leaders (the ones who truly have power, not their pawns) question the right of private property, impose restrictions on capital flows and do not allow the elected representatives of the people to challenge any of these decisions.

For almost half a century, western governments and the dominant propaganda of Mass Media argue that this kind of regime exists in Cuba. Since March 2013 though, this regime can also be found in Cyprus.

Challenging the idea of private property – both the peoples’ and of those who cooperate with the country’s banking system – combined with restrictions on capital flows, constitute regulations that defy, not only the very essence of the neoliberal doctrine, but capitalism itself  (the abolition of democracy on the other hand, is perfectly compatible with capitalism and thus this will not be further discussed in this text).

One could wonder: are we really interested in the honour and purity of capitalism and neoliberalism or in private property and the securization of rich depositors’ bank accounts? Obviously not. We have indeed been in favour of the restrictions in capital flows that Iceland imposed, which, in combination with the country’s default, the nationalization of Icelandic banks and currency devaluation, helped the country become a pioneer for the whole world and a role model for ‘indebted’ countries to follow.

The issue that actually concerns us is not the measures as such, taken by Cyprus but who made the decisions for such measures and who benefits from them.

Neoliberals may become hysterical whenever a regulation that protects citizens is proposed, but they have no problem in using the state and its repressive mechanisms (even conducting torture if necessary) in order to promote their own interests.

The case of Cyprus reminds us of something that the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek said at the “Catastroika” documentary : neoliberalism is an ideology which requires a tremendous amount of state intervention in order to operate. As he explains, the problem is not the extent to which a regulation is applied but by whom is itbeing  applied from.

(Watch the excerpt with the interviews of Naomi Klein and Žižek here: )

In the case of Iceland, to which we referred earlier, the measures taken by the Icelandinc government protected citizens from bankers and the predators of the global financial system. In a continent that is sinking into recession, the imposition of those measures contributed effectively in Iceland’s exiting of the crisis and the achievement of significant growth, although it was contrary to all of IMF’s and Troika’s principles.

Apparently, Iceland was able to exercise an independent economic policy because it doesn’t belong to what the Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman calls “the euro straightjacket”. In a similar manner, Argentina  had to abandon the binding of the peso with the dollar (which created conditions similar to a small eurozone) in order to experience the highest growth rates in Latin America and the world.

Even in Cuba, despite all criticism and accusations that one can make, it is true that for decades, the government worked for the interests of the people against a murderous embargo and constant threats of invasion by a superpower.

By following the path of Ireland however and not Iceland, Cyprus only protects the bankers and Berlin’s financial interests at the expense of damaging the citizens. If the recent decision of the Eurogroup on Cyprus is not nullified immediately by the Cypriot people, it will mark the largest national disaster of the island after tits invasion by the Turkish military forces.

The people of Europe may ignore a small country like Cyprus, as they did with Czechoslovakia during World War II (we are not like El Pais who delete their own criticism towards Germany).

Aris Chatzistefanou

(original article in Greek: )