Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Eurozone subthread

by afew Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:56:28 AM EST

In talos' diary Greece: Of paupers and taxes, LEP made this comment:

LEP:

Isn't it rather obvious that the bad investments of the rich countries that were made in Greece are going to remain bad and in fact are lost. What is the point of continuing these sadistic policies; there's nothing more to be bled from Greece.

How can this be stopped? Is it time for a leader of one of the large countries to declare that the euro is a failed experiment and call for an orderly breakup.

As someone who knows little of economics I do know that this crisis has brought out the worst in all parties.

There followed a long subthread that became unmanageable, squeezing up against the right margin. Read it in the original by going to LEP's comment, it would be difficult to summarize here.

Most of it, however, concerned France's historical role in the creation of the single currency. Major themes: fixed exchange rates; "sound money" and conservativism; the geographical origin of macroeconomic theories. Comment further here if you wish.
 


Display:
One thing I note is that LEP's question about the cultural significance of debt as sin or guilt got left behind.

LEP:

In English, as well as French, "debt", "guilt" and "sin" are not the same thing. So if France were the stongest country in the eurozone, rather than Germany, we might not be having this crisis?

The discussion went on to consider the French contribution to the crisis, which is fair enough given the question. But would countries that do not have the linguistic/cultural debt-guilt syndrome be visiting such punishment on Greece? I don't think the French have the same sense of debt as the Germans, and indeed the Germans frown on the French for being too debt and deficit-tolerant (feckless Latins). On the other hand, no French leader, right or left, (Sarkozy or Hollande), has had the courage to stand up to Germany on the issue.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 05:06:28 AM EST
I'm also wondering if it's not a Catholic-Protestant thing. The southern countries are all primarily Catholic in culture, as is France, and Germany is 50-50 of its Christian part but when I think of Germany I think Protestant. Also, when I think of the other northern countries I think Protestant.

I don't have any backround in the Christian religions but isn't it easier to purge your guilt and sins under Catholicism than Protestantism (if that's a word).

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 06:06:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So if it's hard to purge your guilt (debt) under Protestantism you might not want to accumulate too much.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 06:08:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in Protestantism, I think it's more about your economic status being the manifestation of God's will, and therefore a reflection of your standing with God.

i.e. rich, creditor : God loves you.
poor, debtor : God hates you.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 10:54:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Christian objections to usury are medieval and disappear towards the beginning of the European Renaissance. The Protestant Reformation happened towards the end of it.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 10:58:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
still rejects usury. As far as I can see, islamic financing seems to be based on the sharing of risks and profits. Can you recommend any reading as to its efficacy?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 11:01:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Chris Cook is the resident expert on Islamic finance...

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 11:02:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's properly associated with Calvinism. Lutheranism may be a lot less explicit in the connection between wealth and God's grace.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 11:11:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Calvin the leader of the French Reformed Church, exiled in Geneva...

Of course, absolute monarchy prevented Calvinism from taking root as a mass religion in France.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 11:16:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does nobody care about how the Greeks fit into this?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:09:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to go to the original thread to understand what we're talking about here.

http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/2013/2/14/211727/985/14#14

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 04:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That doesn't answer my question. You've been talking about Catholics, Protestants, even Muslims. What does any of this have to do with the Greeks?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 03:37:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is if the germanic use of the same word for sin and debt matters to the ongoing morality play. Hence the linguistics. Or if there are cultural/religious reasons for the morality play, hence the theology. Since the morality play is run from Germany for a German audience the Greeks are just extras without any lines.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 03:53:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But why are the (non-Syriza) Greeks going along with this? The words have no smilarity to one another in their language (nor in their religion?)
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 03:58:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good question. Is it presented as a morality play in Greece - we sinners need to pay - or as a matter of having only bad options?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 04:36:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not quite. The Greek serious people (like the Irish serious people) want to play with the other serious people, which means that they need to be seen to be worshipping at the shrine of Seriousness.

The Greek people aren't really being given much in the line of options.  What's "THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE" in Greek? It's not easy to persuade a polity that all the serious people are nuts, especially when the serious story is an easy one to believe.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 04:42:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on flavor. Lots more of that in 20th century Us inspired success theology.

This dicussion reminds me of Almqvist and his The importance of the Swedish poverty

Svenskheten enligt Almqvist, del I « Café Exposé Swedishness according to Almqvist, Part I
Det synes konsekventare, och är i samma förhållande lättare, att som en flitig och lugn tysk, jude eller ryss samla för att behålla, och endast giva ut det oundvikliga: eller att som fransmannen och engelsmannen samla för att njuta, ja så vitt möjligt frossa. Men att samla för att kasta bort och det rätt ofta utan njutning, utan avsikt, det stöter på en viss orimlighet, det är svenskt. Man gör så, när fattigdomen är ens natursätt och förmögenheten blott ett skämtIt seems more consistent, and is in the same way easier, to do as a industrious and quiet German, Jewish or Russian gathering to keep, and only give out the inevitable: or, as the Frenchman and the Englishman gathering to enjoy, indeed if possible stuff themselves. But to collect to throw away and most often without pleasure , without intention, that shows a certain absurdity, that is Swedish. One does such, when poverty is in ones natures and fortunes are merely a joke.

Poverty is what makes us Swedish and thus noble. Note that Russian, Jews and Germans are industrious and trifty, while the English and French are industrious gluttons. Is there by the way a word for what a glutton does with similar meanings. To glut? Anyway, that is the meaning of frossa.

Later, industrialism happened and the meaning of what it means to be Swedish changed a bit.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 02:13:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm wary of this explanation, that has been discussed here before.

In fact, there are as many Catholics as Protestants in Germany. Austria is distinctly Catholic. The Netherlands:

Netherlands - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Currently, Roman Catholicism is the single largest religion of the Netherlands

The Flemish are Protestant, the Walloons Catholic? No, both are Catholic. Northern Italy is Protestant versus a Catholic South? Nope.

It's more mixed than is generally thought.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 11:02:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking more of the cultural influence of the religions in certain countries rather than their actual numbers.
My ex-wife, who was one half Irish Catholic (fanatically religious mother) claimed that the Irish Catholics were more like Protestants which in her view meant they didn't have any fun. But maybe she was too influenced by her mother.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 11:51:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of the Northern Irish catholics get that way, and there are always the extremists, but Irish catholics generally have suffered from too much fun, not enough. For narrow values of fun.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 01:12:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
but Irish catholics generally have suffered from too much fun

That was my impression of the Irish having grown up in NYC.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 02:13:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's true countries like Germany are generally accounted culturally Protestant (but ask the Bavarians what they think of that), or the Netherlands.

But the linguistic point about the lexical grouping of debt-sin-guilt seems independent of Protestantism. The Germanic languages have retained it, with the exception of English that took "debt" from medieval French (from Latin debitus). This means that historically very Catholic groups like the Austrians and the Flemish use the debt-sin-guilt nexus, while a quite probably Protestant-work-ethic people like the English don't.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2013 at 03:07:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fudged the issue, in the version we learned

Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive them that tresspass against us

was pretty incomprehensible to us, given that the word "trespass" only meant walking on someone else's land.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 04:52:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Online Etymology Dictionary
trespass (v.)
c.1300, "transgress, offend, sin," from Old French trespasser "pass beyond or across," from tres- "beyond" (from Latin trans-) + passer "go by, pass" (see pass (v.)). Meaning "enter unlawfully" is first attested in forest laws of Scottish Parliament (c.1455).

The sense in the C16-C17 Anglican Book of Common Prayer (the origin of the "trespasses" version) is "transgressions, offences, sins".

But see the discussion here. The ambiguity appears to be in the New Testament Greek in the first place, hence the differing historical translations.

(This is perhaps where the Greeks come in, see gk upthread ;))

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 05:12:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trespass, transgress, same thing.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 05:24:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They mean, roughly, crossing a line. But transgression bears a more sinful connotation in modern English.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 06:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is the meaning that trespass had centuries ago but has lost.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 07:10:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually think that purging debt is much easier on Protestant countries. Just see the current situation in Iberia with personal debts. It is a short step from debtors prisons.

I cannot talk about other Northern countries but at least UK/US seems much more lenient towards debtors. It is much easier to discharge debt.

I actually also doubt that the catholic attitude towards debt is that lenient on the morality side. And you see that on peoples attitudes regarding state debt: "we have to pay" seems a pretty mainstream attitude (suggesting debt discharging does not seem a way to get more votes).

by cagatacos on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 05:58:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot talk about other Northern countries but at least UK/US seems much more lenient towards debtors. It is much easier to discharge debt.

Bankcrupty laws differed between Common Law countries and Continental countries in the 19th century. Before that natural persons could get debt relief in both groups of jurisdiction but then continental countries changed their laws so that personal debts could not be discharged in bankcrupty.
by Jute on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 12:35:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US also had a long and powerful traditional of anti-bank, anti-corporate, debtor-friendly populist economics, which along with the idea of the self-made man and the producer-citizen ethos were key parts of American identity across much of the country in the 19th century.  Lenient bankruptcy laws are one of the forgotten legacies of that era.
by Zwackus on Thu Feb 21st, 2013 at 09:17:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries