First it was the Elgin marbles, now they’re lining up to take away the rest of Greece’s assets

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I twittered yesterday on the idea mooted in Europe that Greece might be forced to privatise national assets with proceeds forcibly passed to EU creditor nations. But it seems so shocking that it is worthy of further comment.

As the FT notes:

European leaders are pushing to impose measures that would ensure the Greek government lives up to its promise to deliver €50bn ($70bn) in privatisation proceeds, amid scepticism that Athens can carry out the sell-offs.

Officials involved in the discussions believe far more than €50bn could be raised in sales of state-owned assets, with estimates ranging from €250bn to €300bn — or almost all of Greece's outstanding debt.

But several diplomats and officials said repeated failures by Athens to start such sell-offs have convinced them of the need to impose new conditions on the programme, including the possibility of an international agency running the divestments. “The state is not functioning,” said one senior European diplomat.

Let's correct that: the Greek state is functioning (although it does need to collect tax). What is failing is the Euro, and the ECB and other's approach to sanctioning states that are in recession - a process of sanctions designed to ensure that the country subject to them has no prospect whatsoever of repaying its debt.

And now we see the real purpose: the neoliberals driving this policy are happily using their positions of power to seek the destruction of smaller states with the proceeds passed to larger ones. The idea of corporate bankruptcy - of effectively appointing a receiver to sell assets at what is invariably an under value to destroy any chance that the entity remains viable and with the only consideration being the realisation of short term cash for the benefit of secured creditors irrespective of the long term destruction in value that results - is to be applied to a nation state: Greece.

I am not being melodramatic when I say wars have been fought over lesser issues. Claims over assets are almost always the starting points for wars. And this new policy proposal, that shows complete contempt for the state of Greece, those who live in it and their long term well being, all promoted in the interests of bankers, has the indifference inherent in it that leads to war.

I find this profoundly troubling: the success of the EU has been in promoting stability in Europe (Yugoslavia, which was not in membership, being the notable exception). But if this attitude prevails I cannot see that surviving. The resentment that leads to hostility will be fuelled by policies such as this where nationhood is stripped from a place; a place with a weak history of recent democracy at that.

The bankers really are going mad.

I just hope they don't drag the rest of us down with them.

This feels eerily 1911 Balkans-ish. Have we learned nothing?

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