Why am I defending a public broadcaster (ERT) that banned me, and which I always considered problematic?

Last night I spent a few hours, again, at ERT’s main building in Athens, keeping a finger on the ‘liberated’ organisation’s pulse, being interviewed (for the web tv broadcast that is keeping ERT’s voice alive) in tandem with my friend and colleague James Galbraith, listening to the excellent bands performing in the courtyard, soaking up the feeling occasioned by the spontaneous protest against the government’s closure of such a problematic public tv and radio organisation. Many foreign journalists ask me: Why are you defending a station that banned you and which you describe as problematic? Here is part of my answer as I articulated for the purposes of an op-ed piece published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (click here for the article in German):

ERT has been part of Greece’s woodwork since the 1930s. Ancient recordings of its announcement that Nazi troops were about to enter its Athens headquarters are still played back on the 28th of October commemoration of Greece’s Second World War experience. Up until 1989 ERT held a total monopoly of television and radio. Most of us grew up at best mistrusting it and at worst loathing it, as a propaganda instrument of the state. Yet, once a torrent of commercial media was unleashed in the 1990s, and they quickly turned into Berlusconi-esque temples of motivated superficiality, ERT’s stale, old-fashioned ways, while never loved, provided a kind of anchor in a sea of lifestyle vulgarity.

Its news bulletins resembled a series of party press releases; first you would hear the government’s version, then the official opposition’s, then the third party’s, and so on. No serious attempt was made at a critical synthesis of these positions, in case ERT’s political masters were unimpressed. The current affairs programs that followed the news were equally stage-managed, careful to preserve the parties’ ‘right’ to deliver boring monologues instead of staging proper, lively debates. Worse still, the direct link between the Ministry of the Press and ERT’s management meant that the former had the power of censorship as well as the power to staff the organisation with their cronies, with untold damage both to the quality and the financial health of the organisation.

As probably the only Greek commentator to have been blacklisted by ERT over the past two years, due to the previous government’s annoyance at my insistence that Greece was bankrupt and should default in 2010, instead of adding huge new loans to un-payable debts, I feel I have the moral authority to cry out against ERT’s passing. Over the last three nights, I made my return to ERT’s employee-occupied studios, which are broadcasting non-stop (officially illegal programs) over web tv in support of the call to keep ERT open. Interviewed by the same journalists that were hitherto banned from interviewing me, I told them that, despite ERT’s many ills, its sudden, authoritarian closure by our troika-led government is a crime against public media that all civilised people, the world over, should rise up against.

Why? Because however stale, inefficient, even corrupt our public media organisations may be, they are essential to a well functioning society. In our stratified societies the legal system, for instance, is arguably unfair toward the weaker members of society who cannot afford the top lawyers or who are inarticulate. Even in the most civilised society, courts offer us nothing more than a chance of justice. There are no guarantees of it. Similarly with our public education systems. Frequently, they serve the interests of the middle class better than those who truly need public education. Nevertheless, this is no reason to close down the courts or our public schools.

Similarly with public television and radio: they offer us no guarantee of current and affairs pluralism and cultural diversity. What they offer us is merely a chance of it. A chance for an electronic public space were values are irreducible to prices and voices can be heard that annoy our society’s high and mighty.

49 thoughts on “Why am I defending a public broadcaster (ERT) that banned me, and which I always considered problematic?

  1. Apart from the obvious financial gain of closing and re-organization/re-opening of EPT (thank you Dean) in one fell swoop, imagine the financial costs that would gone hand in hand with a gradual re-organization supported by the minority parties of the government who happen to control the trade unions. Do we actually think that every single lay-off would not have been met by a symphony of legal appeals/writs that would have delayed the process for years? Do we actually think that a re-organization would have taken only months? Let us be totally realistic. This Is Greece! The trade unions would have made a gradual re-organization so costly tand time consuming hat eventually we would have come to the realization that this bold (understandably unpopular) move was the correct move to make.
    Finally, someone in Greece had the “cojones” to pull the band-aid off with one pull….it can be debated that maybe Mr. Samaras had his hand forced by the Troika or not. Either way, I think that cost effective change can only be done with decisive measures, something that was always the rule rather than the exception in Greece.

    • What financial gains? Firing all 2600 employees is going to add a huge redundancy cost to the government’s budget. And then they will rehire 2000 of them. A case study in waste. Also, you are forgetting that ERT is not a state enterprise. It is a public limited company with revenues independent of the state’s budget. Moreover, it was profitable – until shut down at immense cost. Put simply, there is precisely zero economic rationale for the government’s dictatorial move.

    • My God Dvusgrk…put a vowel in your name to seem more…human anyway

      It’s not only that you are confused economically with ERT’s case, it’s some naive and strong assumptions you are making before you name yourself as ”realistic”. You are very single and narrow-minded, getting scattered information from all over the pro-neoliberal internet websites I guess…

      You imply that this government don’t care what trade unions say before decide. This is wrong. They do! It’s just that trade unions belong to the opposition party as you say. To be honest I have no clear information about it, but for the sake of argument let’s say that this is the case in ERT. If the unions were in favour of this government nothing would have happened you know…This is Greece too!

      You also imply that lay-offs should be decided day1 and implemented day2. In your world of human clogs only the fittest should survive. Hope you will not feel the despair and cruelty of a sudden lay-off…But I guess this is imposible given your ”realistic” worldview.

      Again, you have a bad impression of what costs are as Yannis noticed quite handy in his reply…

      You name this measures decisive, I name them as the product of a panicky, high risky and extremely dangerous political plot…Come on, let’s be realistic for once. Real men have virtues not ”cojones”. Please, wake up from your Austrian fairy tale and come close to the social reality.

  2. I don’t think highly of German public media, especially when compared to the BBC, as voiced here: http://tomsenglishblogongermany.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/on-german-media/

    But when I imagine a Germany with only private media remaining, controlled by basically Bertelsmann, Springer and a few others, that definitely would feel like the end of democracy to me.

    Because already now in this country, public opinion is basically controlled by those who can and want to afford it, and the Germans mostly follow like sheep, as they have always.

    Still, at the time we at least keep up a good democracy simulation here, which maybe doesn’t show we Germans learnt much from the past. But surely it shows that when things on the surface look like what they pretend to be, you can sleep better at night.

  3. Pingback: Au siège de ERT, au sixième jour d’occupation | Ligue des droits de l'homme

  4. Instead of useless commentary about ideological positions, what we ought to be debating instead is the type of model the new ERT should follow. What is the role model?

    This radio station in Istanbul for example, is a prime example of very high quality programming and excellent content on a shoe-string budget (the entire Greek population in the city is no more than 3000 people). So, how do they do it? What lessons ERT could learn from the IHO TIS POLIS?

    When the ancients spoke of “agona” they meant a process of perpetual perfection or of constant refinement striving towards perfection. When the Syriza tribes use the word “agonas” today they mean sitting on someone’s behind doing nothing. Negativism and obstructionism is the exact opposite of perfection which BTW was synonymous with the Greek ideal.

    http://www.ihotispolis.com/

    • The correct public policy approach (which I am convinced will never happen in Greece) is to establish a commission of international (mainly European) experts on broadcasting, provide it with a clear mandate, and ask it to draw up a small number of possible options for the state broadcasting structure in Greece. Ideally, reporting in less than one year.

      With this public expert report, the government can choose an option that it prefers, debate in public and the Vouli, and reach a socio-political compromise that will get through the Vouli. They will never do this, though, because Greek politicians do not believe in (a) using independent experts for policy advice; (b) using non-Greeks for expert advice; (c) using any structure that is not actively being manipulated by the political party in power; and (c) engaging in democratic debate about the future of Greece.

      I do not know, you do not know, and most people reading this blog do not know much about public broadcasting and the various options and their strenghts and weaknesses. The idea that some sort of amateurish debate can be started, with random selection (or cherrypicking ) to impose a new ERT structure is typical of what has been wrong with Greek politics since 1832. It is conservatism of the worst type to suggest this as a solution.

    • Good points and I agree.
      Except it’s not conservatism that is to blame, just the endless small-minded, incompetent, power-obsessed party politics here – in this case ND with its too-strong ‘night forces’ right wing.

      None of these people give 2 hoots for ERT, or Greece for that matter – they only want to control it.

    • So ok…You speak about ”perfection” and ”ideal” and you insist that you don’t want to talk about ideologies…Your knowledge on everything is extremely fuzzy and superficial…You just want to know, not to learn…

      I did not know about this radio before…I clicked on the link and then I realised how confused you are, damned!!!

  5. As for the argument that it [ERT] needs to be closed down to be reformed, this is utter nonsense.

    Utter nonsense indeed!

    Imagine, for example, if the mayor of Athens declared tomorrow that the Fire Department needs to be closed down to be reformed. And get this, it needs to be reformed because it is a … bankrupt organization; it is not a going concern. LOL

    What do ERT and, say, a Fire Department (or the legal system, public education, to name a few other services) have in common? They are both PUBLIC services. Public services: the foundations of a dignified, democratic society.

    Of course, I am just an “inconsistent, egocentric socialist” living in a country (Canada) that has universal healthcare coverage What the hell do I know.

  6. The situation is difficult, admitted. But why do we see in the internet transmission, the ERT staff only from morning to night weeping the tears of self-pity. I thought you were journalists. So make a better program, don’t keep on just lamenting loudly. There are more important things in the world than you and your situation. Show it to the world and the government that you’re not a bunch of useless eaters!

  7. I could not agree more with your comments and defense of public media in general and ERT in particular. In a time where neo-liberal policies are the currency of the day, power is steadily being transferred to the markets and hence to economic and financial entities. This makes commercial media stations (largely funded and sponsored by the entities being empowered) NOT a healthy source of information. The public media — exactly as you point out — despite all their deficiencies provide an important disciplining device as to what news the citizens are presented with. Just look at the TV news in the US (an essentially commercial TV system, with just a relatively very small and underfunded public broadcaster, PBS) to get a sense of how bad commercial TV stations’ news can be. Here a quote by Hilary Clinton on the US’s own (commercial) TV news:

    “[The] viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock, instead of a million commercials, and, you know, arguments between talking heads, and the kind of stuff that we do in our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”

    US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, speaking at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March 2011

    • Let me just add a few key topics where I think commercial media (especially within a predominantly commercial media system) are likely to fail in providing reliable coverage for the citizens:

      climate change;
      the adverse effects of neo-liberal policies, be they the privatization of education, the privatization of health, transport, energy, labor reforms, health care reforms;
      the buildup and aftermath of financial crises as we saw them and are still witnessing, with their never-ending socialization of financial sector losses;
      wars that can benefit large corporate interests,
      etc. etc.

      Whenever large and shared corporate interests are at stake, commercial media — especially TV (generally funded and sponsored by large advertisers) will NOT be a healthy sole source of information for the citizens.

  8. Ένα μπράβο για την τελευταία παράγραφο είναι πολύ λίγο.

    Δεν ξέρω πόσοι γηγενείς θα είχαμε εικόνες Όπερας ή Καλλιτεχνικού πατινάζ εάν η ΕΡΤ δεν μετέδιδε αυτές τις “αντιεμπορικές, περίεργες συνήθειες των ξένων”.
    Τα κανάλια της αποτελούν πράγματι μια ευκαιρία παίδευσης και εξοικίωσης του απλού κόσμου με το “ασύνηθες”.

    Να ‘στε καλά κύριε Βαρουφάκη.

  9. Υπάρχει μια ολοφάνερη αντίφαση. Υποστήριζες ότι η Ελλάδα έπρεπε να κηρύξει πτώχευση (default). Τώρα που έχουμε default της ΕΡΤ, δηλαδή σε πολύ μικρότερη τάξη μεγέθους, είσαι αντίθετος. Τι θα συνέβαινε στην ΕΡΤ αν χρεωκοπούσε η Ελλάδα; Στάση πληρωμών και αδυναμία λειτουργίας της. Άρα τι συζητάμε; Τα περί πλεονάσματος της ΕΡΤ όταν παίρνει κρατική επιχορήγηση/δανεικά είναι αστεία. Μάλλον έχει δίκιο η Στάη που μιλάει για αυτοπροβολή, αν και το περιστατικό του κοψίματος πιθανόν να είναι πραγματικό, αναφέρεται κατόπιν εορτής.

    • Exactly Mona.

      And that’s why it was plundered and abused by successive governments to provide rousfetia appointments for their supporters and cronies – some foisted onto the organisation as dead wood and others foisted onto its books but working elsewhere.

      That includes the present ND government – yes, even now, in this crisis.
      That was a final straw for me.

  10. All those stuck in defending Samaras policy in case of E.R.T are missing a point.A crucial point that makes the difference between supporting and opposing such measures..Mr Varoufakis is not saying that E.R.T must go on “doing business as usual”. No one of all of those who oppose “everything the government does” believes that..They oppose the way it is done…what this way means….the historic horrors of similar events of the past…and what horrors these ways may hold for everyone in the future.
    Someone is simply blind sighted to see only the economic part of the ERT case.It is more than obvious that the people who created the problematic ERT and many(if not all) other public sector companies cannot be trusted to reform it.The failures of other similar “programs” implemented in other companies(with the shipyard/shipbuilding industry being a good example) makes that a case closed.The continuing failure of their economic policy also indicates that.
    ERT is not only an “economics” case study.It has more than economic implications…It has also social,cultural and political implications some of which extent as deep as the core of (Greek)democracy and how each and every one of us perceives his/her right to…freedom.ERT justifiably may seem to many as the wrong reason to “fight” for….but if no one speaks now…then….

    “First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.” (pastor Martin Niemöller)

    History has the nasty habit of repeating itself….The reasons may seem different…but without the proper actions and awareness….the outcome…never is…..

  11. Dear Professor,

    What exactly do you mean “ERT has had a surplus for a while?” and “It costs very little to achieve it?”. I don’t know the numbers so I just wanted to get a better understanding. So how much does the government inject in ERT every year?

    I saw a list with wages and, provided the list is accurate, I was shocked! And being a Cypriot I was already expecting to see some big numbers there..

  12. There had 1.000.000 private sector jobs to be lost before we touch the first 2000 (holy cows) public sector employees….fantastic! Lets consider the opposite: where would we be now if 200.000 REDUNDANT public sector employees were fired from day 1 of the crisis…

    • Again, bullshit. According to real data (such as the data from the State’s General Accountancy and the International Labour Organization), we had less than the median average of public sector employees.

      But many of these were poorly allocated.

      Firing 200,000 people would immediately cause a huge financial crisis all by itself: it’s the equivalent of leaving an entire city without income. That way, those that depend on this city’s income, such as merchants who sell food, consumer goods etc to them would immediately find themselves without income. And with no chance of these 200,000 “redundants” finding a new job (as not all of them are fit to become entrepreneurs – and how many entrepreneurs do you think a country can support anyway?), it’d start a vicious circle.

      Next time you put your paws on the keyboard, could you please at least activate your brain first?

  13. Dr. Varoufakis, I appreciate this post very much, and agree that there are certain institutions that should be owned by the public, even at the risk of becoming deficient. One very important institution is a public broadcasting corporation. With respect to deficiencies, the Greek state has legislative, judicial and executive powers, and should exercise them accordingly to prevent abuse and exploitation. The fact that ERT was neglected for so long is because the aforementioned powers were rendered deficient. Rather than healing them, this so-called government of the people hypocritically chooses to amputate essential public institutions and services. The reason is obvious. Why would any corrupt government want to restore to health the state legislative, judicial and executive powers?

  14. How times have changed! Back in the 80s as you say, with ERT being the ruling party’s station and only amateur “pirates” broadcasting in FM, it was said that this was authoritarian. When corporate broadcasters, which were just bigger pirates, opened up in TV and radio this was heralded as pluralism. Now the voice of the state is pluralism and the united front of corporate media is authoritarian.

  15. Je suis d’accord avec le point de vue du professeur Varoufakis. Ici, à Paris et en France en tant que total, il serait tout à fait inacceptable pour un organisme public d’être arrêté dans des conditions qui ne sont ni transparentes ni droites en premier lieu. Quant à la partie économique qu’il mentionne plus tard, il est positivement vrai que tout ce qui sort des entreprises a un long chemin à gravir avant d’atteindre sa position antérieure dans le marché.

  16. We all have to see the big picture behind the ERT’s shut down. A minister will have the power to delete overnight any public organization leading thousands to unemployment. I want ERT broadcasting even though I don’t watch it. I want ERT’s 3rd programm to keep broadcasting even though I never nor I will ever listen to it. ERT has nothing to do with with the subculture the private TV stations provide to the public. There have to be changes, true, but shutting it down was a major mistake, or it wasn’t?

  17. AS usual, Yani, I agree with your assessment of the situation. Your judgement is reasoned, and not unduly influenced by personal interests and political ideology, as is so typical of Greek discussions on public policy.

  18. Somewhat ironically, the “FAZ”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, always had at their media-pages a journalist who really loved to disregard the german ERT-pendant, ARD. He always hyped the private stations that you – so very rightly – describe as ” they quickly turned into Berlusconi-esque temples of motivated superficiality”.
    Well, anyway. It’s just that these media know no self-criticism and spread a lot of, well, superficiality, even the renowned conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine.

    Your comment, as always, is spot on and a pleasure to read.

  19. The ERT closure is such a typical example of greek story, it was well known that ERT was inefficient, badly managed, over spending the public money without any controle by any body. The same politicians who closed it , were the ones involved hiring all that staff not necessary in the organisation for votes before elections like they were doing in any public sector since ever. So they never did what should have been done a long time ago, reorganize and make this public service more efficient. They to wait to the pointof no return like the rest of the economy to take those drastic measures.it is sad but inevitable. I jut hope that it will be a lesson for the futur for greek politics.

  20. Sorry Yani, but this is a vey weak defense and certainly egocentric.

    This is not about you, your sense of pluralism or your democratic sensibilities.

    Everything you say only makes sense if there was a permanent abolition of ERT which is not the case.

    The closure is probably driven by legal reasons because by no one’s definition ERT is a going concern. It’s already a bankrupted organization that needs a new entity to avoid accumulating unending liabilities.

    This is at best an emotional plea without proposing a solution.

    You know that Stournaras is a key figure in this. He is your friend. Then talk to him and get his side of the story. We could then discuss the important details and prove without a doubt that Stournaras’ actions are tied to much larger issues.

    This is not an assault on democracy. It is not a social crisis either; just another tricky day for you:

    • Happy to post your comment Dean. Naturally I disagree entirely with you. ERT has had a surplus in its budget for a while. It also costs taxpayers very little to achieve it. Of course it should be reformed. The reason I told the story of my blacklisting was not self-promotion; I neither seek publicity nor enjoy it (if I did, I would not have disappeared to… Texas – where I love being anonymous). No, I told the story to show that one can be fully aware of how problematic the organisation was and still lambast its closure. As for the argument that it needs to be closed down to be reformed, this is utter nonsense. Nothing stops the government to redraft its charter and legal framework. Lastly, from a dollar and cents perspective, the government’ action is insane: first, they will have to compensate all 2500 employees (at a gigantic cost) and then re-eploy 1000 and more. Shedding 1500 within a year would have cost far, far less and would not have lost ERT a large sum in forfeited advertisements. Sadly I must conclude that, just like you misread the Samaras clicque’s capacity/intentions last year, you are misreading them again.

    • Naturally you disagree with me.

      But your positions on the Greek banks is that they are bankrupt and need to be sold off to European hands.

      ERT is also a bankrupt organization which probably deserves similar treatment.

      You need to be careful on consistency.

      Stournaras (your friend) said yesterday that of the 220 Mi. euros given to ERT each year from state coffers, ERT only generates 9 Mil. of advertising revenue. In other words ERT is a giant subsidy to the Greek state at a time that Greece has no such luxury for gigantic subsidies.

      And if we are to prioritize subsidies we need to do it in a consistent way. We can’t cherry pick which subsidy we think is the best because that would be on the eye of the beholder.

      Either bankrupt entities are bad (which they are because they waste valuable resources) or good. But they can’t be bad and good at the same time.

      This is very typical of our Greek behavior. Everybody wants reform as long as the reform is at the expense of someone else other than ourselves.

      Do you see the point here?

    • Yani:

      Let me address your dollar and cents question about ERT.

      There is a concept called Net Present Value. Say, the present budget for ERT is 220 Mil. euros per year. And now say that you close ERT down and produce in its place a leaner, cheaper and better ERT running on a budget of (say) 100 Mil. euros per year.

      Therefore your savings are 120 Mil. euros per annum (in this example). There is a precise formula that calculates these annual savings discounted back to present over many years. A much simpler formula, which roughly approximates the same results, is to treat these annual savings as an annuity (in other words an amount the benefit of which the state would receive year after year – theoretically in perpetuity).

      Then the formula of the annuity becomes NPV = Annual savings divided by interest = A/I = 120 Mil euros / 0.06 = 2,000 Mil. euros.

      In this example we used 6% interest but you could use either a higher or a lower interest based on prevailing market rates.

      Therefore, in this example the (re-set) new ERT yields a benefit to the Greek state of 2 Bil. euros. Even after you pay the one time expenses for retirement packages, salaries et al, the state ends up with some very significant savings. And this is what then becomes the negotiating point with Troika because in the troika conversations the objective is primary surplus and not cash flow management(which is a much more secondary point).

      Now the real savings from the new ERT could only be half of what I used in this example, therefore the NPV might end up closer to 1 Bil. euros. It would depend on the real figures.

      That’s why you need Stournaras in this discussion. He has the real figures and these are the figures we ought to be discussing ex emotion ex sensationalism of the day.

      BTW, and for the record. My Samaras defense of a year ago was on the basis of “lesser evil” (best among lesser attractive choices) and through deductive reasoning. If reasoning gets in the way of your agenda, let me know and I could then revert to becoming as unreasonable and emotional as the rest of the good folk in this otherwise fine blog.

    • Dean,

      Yours is a sad arithmetic. It would apply equally to the National Theatre, the State Orchestra, EMST (National Museum of Modern Art), the State Museum of Modern Art (Thessaloniki), the National Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis itself. Public goods that would be under-provided for on net present value maximisation terms is the difference between barbarism and a civilised society. Lastly, your failure to understand (without my proding) the difference between the damage a zombiefied banking system inflicts on society and the minor MPV losses from one of the above mentioned public good providers confirms that you are missing the most important piece in the jigsaw puzzle of the Big Picture.

    • Yani:

      I am trying hard to keep the melodrama out of this conversation and you keep introducing buckets of it.

      There is no such thing as a sad arithmetic. You as a mathematician ought to know this. There are only sad interpretations of arithmetic to suit particular propagandas which when overdone turn out to be both uninteresting and besides the point.

      And I think the Syriza rhetoric on the ERT matter has already met and exceeded such target of irrelevancy. Time to turn the conversation into something constructive other than exhibition central of partisan sloganism.

  21. Dear professor Varoyfakis,

    In the history you describe ERT was not called ERT in the 1930s (the T is television, and it came late). Even very recently we had YENED , which had been transformed to ET2. I am not a lawyer to be able to easily check the type of organization it was over the decades, but this ERT has been morphed from previous alphabetic acronyms. The defenders of the closure keep saying, of course not being heard because of the total blackout on private TV news by the syndicate of reporters, that it will morph into a new acronym, will be public, and will employ the best of the people through ASEP, where their previous working experience will be weighted to count for their taking a post in the new organization. All the history will be carried over as it has been carried over the decades from one transformation to the next.

    Of course there must be public television, it is the only way that culture rich productions can take place, since they are commercially a handicap. But the closure is an organizational one, not on the concept of public television.

    I agree that faced with black screens people are shocked, and it was a badly designed move as far as public relations go, though I do not know how much flak the governement had taken while trying to reform ERT gradually.

    • Point of information: The organisation was initially called EIR, then EIRT then, when it incorporated YENED, ERT. Still, the continuity is indisputable.

  22. Because you are a socialist and as such you believe that the state knows best mate. Kostas Send from my smartphone

    • And maybe you Kosta, having secured at present time your economic well being, only care about yourself “mate”…

      The State for hundreds if not thousands of years has been central to the life of humans, people, nations, etc; be it in a “wrong” or a “right” way. The state is just a very special and very importand kind of human groups, of society.
      Being “pro state” is not a left wing monopoly, a monopoly of the (left wing) socialists.

      “Ho anthropos physei politikon zoion”.*
      Whether you like it or not.
      Unless you think you’re “kreitton e anthropos”.*

      We’re thus all socialists in one way or another (by definition and nature in being part of a society, of various social groups); the same way we’re also at the same time in some way or another liberals-libertarians i.e. egotists.**

      It can be trivially stated or claimed that the human experience consists in many parts of the dialectical problem of how to “solve” and balance the contradiction of being at the same time a (unique) person versus being a part of human groups of various kinds and sizes.**

      Not yours, sincerely
      A conservative.
      Who’s sick of the neoliberals’-liberals'(Euro-speak)-libertarians'(US-speak)-market-fundamentalists’ presumed monopoly on modernisation and rationalism, on conservatism, the right wing, patriotism.

      * Aristotle, Politics I.1253a
      http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0057%3Abook%3D1%3Asection%3D1253a
      ** See kin and/or group selection; i.e. Theory of Evolution…
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kin_selection
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_selection

  23. Pingback: Links 6/14/13 « naked capitalism

  24. Yannis, although yours is a very accurate picture of what the news bulletins and shows were in ERT, there is something missing here. I am refering to the world classs, ERT sponsored, documentaries of Avgeropoulos and Vaxevanis, the first class war correspondents like Haritos, the certain “minor” yet fantastic productions about music, graffiti, cycling, scateboarding etc, the ERT sponsored classic music bands (trully magnificent) and, finally, the “uneconomical” coverage of the remote islands, where no private channel is broadcasting. It was surely a banch of s*** at the top but there were true professionals and artists down the stairs. I dare say that, even if Eu public networks, in general, were more independent in their news section, ERT was better than most in the cultural agenda. Beyond anything else, this is something trully worth defending these days.

    Never worked there and as a matter of fact the day before yesterday was the first time I entered the place. At the entrance I spotted an old small piano and asked about it. It turned to be the piano of Manos Hadjidakis… For a minute or two I just stood there and imagined the guy playing and staring at us all – even smilling at us. So, no fuckin way mate. They won’t have IT, no matter what.
    Manos Hadjidakis music (1957)

    I know you are smilling behind the keyboard Yannis🙂
    Still, how can one explain to our foreign friends what this small clip means to the greeks?

  25. I agree with your comment Mr Varoufakis but would you also agree such government behavior may also bring some good things looking forward? First reactions is always negative in such situations however in the long run may also push us to think that being proactive and not wait for the last minute on everything ( just because the cultural piece dictates so) is good? I know it is a long discussion but to me the ERT issue it is not about right or wrong but rather out of the box thinking and taking matters into your own hands and make things happen ( and I am not talking about the government)

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