What happens when public assets are shifted to private hands?
CATASTROIKA gathers evidence in London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and Rome.
It shows the impact of such austerity on democracy in Greece.
Followed by a discussion with:
- Randy Robinson, Political Economist, OPSEU
- and Peter Tabuns, MPP
- Hosted by Mary Fragedakis, City Councillor
CATASTROIKA was the term coined to describe the transfer of state assets to private hands
following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In Yeltsins time, when Russia instituted maybe
the biggest and least successful privatization experiment in the history of humanity,
Catastroika conveyed the country’s complete destruction by market forces; the sell off of
public property; and the steep deterioration of citizens living standards. Catastroika was
measured in unemployment, social impoverishment, declining life expectancy, as well as
the creation of a new cast of oligarchs, who took over the country’s reins.
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, privatization can strike the 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, 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.
The procedure always follows exactly the same steps: In the beginning, the government, in collaboration with mass media, starts a forceful attack against public servants, who are presented as responsible for all the country’s financial woes. The myth of the overextended public sector is often based on manipulated data from organizations supported and supporting the government of the time. Concurrently, specific public organizations are deliberately left unsupported, exasperating citizens due to their inefficiency. The process is completed by the sell-off of even the most profitable public organizations at a fraction of their real value.
Slavoj Zizek, Naomi Klein, Luis Sepulveda, Ken Loach and Greg Palast talk about the austerity measures, the Greek government as well as the attack against Democracy on Europe, after the general spreading of the financial crisis. Dani Rodrik, Alex Callinicos, Ben Fine, Costas Douzinas, Dean Baker and Aditya Chakrabortty present unknown aspects of the privatization programs in Greece and abroad.