Saturday, June 5, 2010

Not a good time to be Greek

My friend Nat Wilcox points me to this thoughtful piece that provides some historical context to the current crisis in Greece.

The piece is well worth reading and there is much to like about it. Americans are quite prone to forget, in part because we devote quite a lot of effort to not remembering, that our history of foreign policy interventions is not uniformly pure and good. Moreover, even when our motives our good, or at least partly good, they are often not understood by those who are the subject of our interventions, who see the world in different ways that we do.

On the negative side, I would have liked to see more in the way of a distinction between liberalism and capitalism. They are close cousins, of course, but by no means the same thing. I would have also liked some recognition that there is a crucial distinction between pining for some lost (and often never-existing) pre-capitalist communitarian and equalitarian past and wanting something for nothing and voting over and over again for politicians who promise to provide it. The article gently conflates them but they are quite different.

I also disagree with this bit:
But whatever happens in Greece, we need to remember that its problems are not unique, and the clash between those who like the world that capitalism has made and those who hate it is not going away.
I am more optimistic here. There are not a lot of folks around any more who miss hereditary monarchy (or, for that matter, communism). I think the same will eventually be true of liberalism's other resisters.

No comments: