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Kafka and the Troika spin: Errors? What errors?

by Carolin Vollman

Kafka and the Troika spin: Errors? What errors?

“Are there control agencies? There are only control agencies. Of course they aren’t meant to find errors, in the vulgar sense of that term, since no errors occur, and even if an error does occur, as in your case, who can finally say that it is an error.” − Franz Kafka, The Castle

 

Who are the control agencies in the negotiations between the Troika and the Greek Government and people?

The IMF, now heavily leveraged and on shaky financial legs itself, switched from good cop to bad cop and made clear that whatever happened in Greece in the last four years was not painful enough and “clear commitments” are lacking.

According to Greek unions, the control agencies are now attacking employment protection for collective dismissal and pensions in an economy where 86% of workers work in small and medium-sized enterprises (compared to 67% in the EU-28).

Meanwhile, the share of population aged 65 or over and at-risk-of-poverty has doubled from 16.3% to one-third between 2010 and 2013 according to Eurostat (threshold is 60% of the median income of 2005). Over 200,000 young and highly educated people, Generation G, – have left the country in hope of a better future elsewhere.

Does the IMF’s Madame Lagarde of the castle, expect reduced labor protection and pensions to turn around the Greek economy?

In the Kafkaesque world of the Troika the fact that none of their control agency “reform measures” has worked so far does not register because no errors occur...

Rather, they change the counterfactual to which the real developments are compared: “it would be worse without reforms….our prediction of unemployment peaking at 15% was wrong?....well it is because …they did not reform properly….and it takes a while until it works….ahem…it takes longer….even longer….NOW it would have work but this leftist-radicals ruined EVERYTHING!”

Why do decision-makers in the IMF stick to policies that do not work and never will?

One possible explanation is that the Troika wants to punish this leftist government and those that dared to vote for them.

If the Syriza-government caves in, citizens will pay the brunt. If it does not and jumps off the Grexit cliff, nobody knows what comes next. The economy and the people may suffer further. No matter how Syriza decides, it has little chance of winning.

Another possibility is that the real purpose of the policy is to make sure capital maintains itself and emerges even stronger out of this crisis.

To cover it up, the control-agency behaviour makes sure “that no errors occur” by shifting the counterfactual and massaging it into public opinion so that “even if an error does occur,” nobody “can finally say that it is an error.”

In psychiatry this kind of behaviour is called “pseudologia fantastica” or pathological lying. In politics it is called spin-diplomacy.

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