Debtocracy

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Debtocracy
Debtocracy poster.png
Directed by Katerina Kitidi
Aris Hatzistefanou
Produced by Kostas Efimeros
Written by Katerina Kitidi
Aris Hatzistefanou
Music by Giannis Aggelakas
Editing by Leonidas Vatikiotis
Release dates
  • 6 April 2011 (2011-04-06)
Running time 74 minutes
Country Greece
Language Greek

Debtocracy (Greek: Χρεοκρατία hreokratía) is a 2011 documentary film by Katerina Kitidi and Aris Hatzistefanou. The documentary mainly focuses on two points: the causes of the Greek debt crisis in 2010 and possible future solutions that could be given to the problem that are not currently being considered by the government of the country.

The documentary has been distributed online under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license since 6 April 2011, and the production said that it has no interest in any kind of commercial exploitation of the project.[1] The documentary is available in Greek and English and is subtitled in French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.[2] The production claims that half a million people saw the documentary in just the first 5 days of its release.[3]

The film was followed by a book under the same title (ISBN 978-960-14-2409-5) of the same content, but enriched with articles and references.

Name[edit]

The production team has coined the word "debtocracy" (Greek "Χρεοκρατία"), defining it as the condition by which Greece found itself trapped in its debt.[2] The term is coined from the words "χρέος" (debt) and the Greek "κράτος" (power, -ocracy) in a similar manner of other words regarding forms of government (such as democracy, aristocracy, theocracy etc.).

The title implies that since the Greek government has been functioning mainly under the interests of the financial debt (at points superseding or even replacing the principles of Democracy and the Constitution of Greece), the debt has been elevated as a de facto form of government by itself.

Content summary[edit]

The PIIGS.

The documentary opens with the statements of Greek Prime Ministers, starting with the dictator Georgios Papadopoulos and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and ending with some of the most prominent figures in Greek politics since the metapolitefsi: Andreas Papandreou, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Kostas Simitis, Kostas Karamanlis and current Prime Minister George Papandreou. The focus then shifts to the prelude to the recent global economic crisis and its origins in the 1970s. Interviews with prominent figures of the global philosophical and economic scene also point out to the non-viability of the euro and its contribution to the worsening of the finances of Greece due to a systematic loss of competitiveness in the markets by the PIGS.

The Greek debt[edit]

The documentary traces the roots of the Greek debt back to the revolution of 1821 and the British loans that were issued. The documentary also points out to the fact that Greece, in its 190 years of existence, has only lent money once, during the Axis occupation of Greece, and has always been the recipient of loans in all other instances. The documentary asserts that the current debt of Greece is due to the nationalisation of failing private companies, the systematic failure of the state to tax fairly, the restrictions of the Maastricht treaty, the new loans that were issued to pay older debts and the current economic policies of Greece, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, which will result in an even higher debt, equal to 167% of the country's GDP in 2013.

The documentary criticises the notion of the collective responsibility according to which the Greek population, since it enjoyed the country's prosperity produced by the past loans and corruption, is now accountable as a whole for the debts. Debtocracy emphasises on the merit of the politicians who encouraged loaning and corruption and handled the circumstances leading to the debt crisis.

The case of Argentina[edit]

Debtocracy draws parallels between the Argentine economic crisis of 1999-2002 and the current economic crisis in Greece. Argentina is dubbed the "mirror image of Greece at the opposite end of the world" in terms of its economic collapse, and an example of what might happen to Greece if it continues to follow the same neoliberal policies that the International Monetary Fund had implemented in Argentina and are currently being implemented in Greece.

The case of Ecuador[edit]

The documentary suggests the case of Ecuador as an alternative government reaction to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, sensitive to social justice, that saves the people from having to pay for a loan that didn't benefit them.

In 2006, the Prime Minister of Ecuador, Rafael Correa reacted to the huge public debt that the country had, with a series of actions supposed to protect the rights of the people of Ecuador. First, Correa decided that the funds from the natural resources of the country (exploitation of oil) would be used for public policy, and not for the payment of the debt. Second, Correa decided that only 20% of the annual budget should be used for the debt, instead of 50%. Third, he organized a committee to analyze the public debt. Despite the obstacles and the reactions to this, the committee was able to complete the analysis of the debt, and to find that it was illegal on the basis that the loans taken were used for projects that benefited only a "few", the governments signed the contracts without informing the people, and the bankers were aware of this. In the end, Ecuador was able to save about $7 billion.

Solutions to the Greek crisis[edit]

The solution suggested for the Greek crisis is the formation of a committee for the analysis of the debt in a similar way that Ecuador did. If the analysis proves all or part of the debt to be odious the people should not have to pay for it and therefore it should be erased.

Production and participation[edit]

The production team of Debtocracy have said that the producers are all those individuals that donated money in order to finance the project.[4] Interviewees include:

Critical response[edit]

Debtocracy has attracted considerable attention on the Ιnternet. The documentary has received mixed reviews, both for its use of economics and its political intention as a film, both by Greek and international media.

The documentary depicted scenes where Argentinian and Ecuadorian politicians had to evacuate the besieged parliaments by means of a helicopter. Iconic images and references to helicopters were adopted by the Aganaktismenoi movement who surrounded the Greek Parliament in 2011.

The critics against the film rely on four points:

Accusation of propaganda[5]
The film is suspected to be only a part of a marxist propaganda
False comparison of Greece with Argentina and Ecuador
The purpose of the film is to say that Argentina and Ecuador where right to refuse to pay but that comparison has been found incorrect.
Lack of opposing point of views
Only people in favor of a Greek default have been questioned
No alternative propositions
Only a cancellation of the greek debt is invoked. Nothing about competitivity of the greek economy.

In the medias[edit]

Major Greek newspapers such as To Vima and Kathimerini have criticized the documentary as a work of political propaganda.[5][6] To Vima argues that Greece's and Ecuador's economies have little in common, as Ecuador is a major oil producer for its size and population, contrary to Greece.[5]

A similar critical review was published by Kathimerini, stating that Debtocracy is aimed at promoting political propaganda rather than objectively presenting a proposed solution to the Greek crisis.[6] Kathimerini's review also fell in line with that of To Vima, saying that both the examples of Ecuador and Argentina are unfortunate as they bear no resemblance to Greece and come in full contrast with the documentary's line of argument.[6]

Other Greek media that have criticized the film include Skai TV.[7]

British newspaper The Guardian praised the movie as "compelling" and "the best film of Marxian economic analysis yet produced".[8]

On the internet[edit]

Various Greek sites and blogs also criticized the film, stating that it cannot be called 'documentary' because it presents only one side of the Greek financial problems, it fails to describe the nature of the Greek economy and wrongfully compares Greece's possible bankruptcy with Argentina's economic collapse.[9][10][11][12]

In universities[edit]

Professor of Economics at at the University of Athens wrote a letter to Debtocracy explaining the reasons for which he refused to be included in the documentary production team, and said among other things that he does not believe that Greece and Argentina have anything in common and that a default would be an easy solution.[5]

Former Aristotle University of Thessaloniki professor, and London School of Economics Doctor of Philosophy, Eleftheria Karnavou wrote a letter to the newspaper Agelioforos arguing that being completely against the documentary is unjustified, even though it is politically and scientifically unfounded, as it provides food for thought.[13]

Answer of the producer[edit]

When asked about the one-sidedness of the film by the Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia, the producers replied that they had made it clear from the start who was funding the project,[14] that they used abstracts from documentaries produced by reporters of the BBC,[14] and that those people that speak out against Debtocracy are the same people that find the television news broadcasts to be objective and credible.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Διανομή" (in Greek). Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Όταν η δημοκρατία υποτάχθηκε στο χρέος" (in Greek). Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "Χρεοκρατία: Ανοιχτή Συζήτηση - Πολιτισμένα Σχόλια" (in Greek). Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Ενα ντοκιμαντέρ για τη χρεοκρατία" (in Greek). Ελευθεροτυπία. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Argyris Papastathis, Lina Psaila (17 April 2011). "Η "Χρεοκρατία" άναψε φωτιά στο Διαδίκτυο". www.tovima.gr. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Paschos Mandravelis (17 April 2011). "Ψέματα, μεγάλα ψέματα και ντοκιμαντέρ". www.kathimerini.gr. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Thanos Dimadis (11 April 2011). "Η ειδεχθής πρόταση του "απεχθούς" χρέους". www.skai.gr. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Aditya Chakrabortty (9 June 2011). "Debtocracy: the samizdat of Greek debt". www.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  9. ^ http://www.protagon.gr/?i=protagon.el.article&id=6241
  10. ^ http://www.realpolitics.gr/archives/32527/
  11. ^ http://www.lifo.gr/team/bitsandpieces/24331
  12. ^ http://www.yupi.gr/apopsi/c27863/Debtocracy:_Ena_Review.html
  13. ^ Eleftheria Karnavou (21 May 2011). "Για το ντοκιμαντέρ "Χρεοκρατία"". www.agelioforos.gr. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c Moisis Litsis (26 April 2011). "Debtocracy: Ο κόσμος διψά για διαφορετικές προτάσεις εξόδου από την κρίση". www.enet.gr. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 

External links[edit]