Greece and the Moral Failings of Social Justice

The case of Greece and the riots there speak to a seeming paradox within the leftist dream. That dream is one of people seeing themselves as members of a larger community first and as individuals second, of the state supporting workers before entrepreneurs, and ensuring that everyone has high pay, plenty of vacation time, medical care, and generous pensions, by taxing and redistributing heavily. A society structured that way is supposed, we are told, to lead to an end of selfishness and greed and an end to poverty and inopportunity–a society where we care about each other and not just about ourselves.

What the Greeks have learned–and what the rest of Europe is quickly learning–is that such a system is terribly expensive, and that the money has to come from somewhere. Every person living entirely off of the state is a person not putting money into the pot from which the state makes its payments. It’s quite obvious that if your paycheck had to support my family in addition to your family, both our families would be broke. That simple math doesn’t go away when we scale up the number of people both producing and consuming tax revenue. The Greeks forgot this. Their politicians over promised and the system can no longer provide.

But the riots speak to a more tragic element than the basic economic problems of a massive redistributionist state, as well. They show that even the idea that, with the state providing for all, everyone will think of community first is fatally flawed. The rioting Greeks are not rioting and burning and killing because they have a sense of community. They are each, individually rioting and burning and killing because they don’t want to make the tiny sacrifice, to take the relatively small cut in pay, Greece needs to continue to function. The Greeks are behaving exactly the opposite of how the leftist dream says they should. They are thinking of themselves first and their community not at all.

Believing in social justice is only meaningful when you have to sacrifice for it. The Greeks, contrary to the dream, are behaving like the worst progressive caricature of a greedy capitalist: what’s theirs is theirs, fuck the consequences. The leftist dream has lead not to moral enlightenment, but to moral repugnance.

18 thoughts on “Greece and the Moral Failings of Social Justice

  1. Hi Aaron,
    As a greek, I believe you oversimplify the greek problem. The politicians did not just “over-promise”. They also cultivated and supported a crooked political hybrid based on corruption, vanity, armies of payed voters and foreign and domestic “eager” vendors of the public sector. This resulted in the depletion of the country’s resources and the collapse of all financial, productive and moral subsystems.
    The result was the complete destruction of the social fabric over a period of 30 years. Every man for himself is the new dogma.
    Greece does not owe more money than other EU countries; actually greece owes much less than Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium etc. Greeks nowadays simply lack the moral reflex to react and when they do, they do it for all the wrong reasons.

    The people you saw at the demonstrations were NOT public servants. They were workers and young people that never earned and never will earn more than 1000 euros per month.
    They are not greedy, they are simply desperate. Now they see that their politicians sold them out – cheap.
    However, I have to agree that the majority of greeks is responsible for supporting the corrupt political system for the past 30 years – perhaps hoping that if they “play ball” the will also join the mile-high club someday.
    So you see, the problem of greece is financial only superficially. It is mostly a moral problem. A crisis of consciousness.
    Hopefully we will see this whole mess as an opportunity to change.

  2. Hi Aaron,
    As a greek, I believe you oversimplify the greek problem. The politicians did not just “over-promise”. They also cultivated and supported a crooked political hybrid based on corruption, vanity, armies of payed voters and foreign and domestic “eager” vendors of the public sector. This resulted in the depletion of the country’s resources and the collapse of all financial, productive and moral subsystems.
    The result was the complete destruction of the social fabric over a period of 30 years. Every man for himself is the new dogma.
    Greece does not owe more money than other EU countries; actually greece owes much less than Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium etc. Greeks nowadays simply lack the moral reflex to react and when they do, they do it for all the wrong reasons.

    The people you saw at the demonstrations were NOT public servants. They were workers and young people that never earned and never will earn more than 1000 euros per month.
    They are not greedy, they are simply desperate. Now they see that their politicians sold them out – cheap.
    However, I have to agree that the majority of greeks is responsible for supporting the corrupt political system for the past 30 years – perhaps hoping that if they “play ball” the will also join the mile-high club someday.
    So you see, the problem of greece is financial only superficially. It is mostly a moral problem. A crisis of consciousness.
    Hopefully we will see this whole mess as an opportunity to change.

  3. Hi Aaron,
    As a greek, I believe you oversimplify the greek problem. The politicians did not just “over-promise”. They also cultivated and supported a crooked political hybrid based on corruption, vanity, armies of payed voters and foreign and domestic “eager” vendors of the public sector. This resulted in the depletion of the country’s resources and the collapse of all financial, productive and moral subsystems.
    The result was the complete destruction of the social fabric over a period of 30 years. Every man for himself is the new dogma.
    Greece does not owe more money than other EU countries; actually greece owes much less than Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium etc. Greeks nowadays simply lack the moral reflex to react and when they do, they do it for all the wrong reasons.

    The people you saw at the demonstrations were NOT public servants. They were workers and young people that never earned and never will earn more than 1000 euros per month.
    They are not greedy, they are simply desperate. Now they see that their politicians sold them out – cheap.
    However, I have to agree that the majority of greeks is responsible for supporting the corrupt political system for the past 30 years – perhaps hoping that if they “play ball” the will also join the mile-high club someday.
    So you see, the problem of greece is financial only superficially. It is mostly a moral problem. A crisis of consciousness.
    Hopefully we will see this whole mess as an opportunity to change.

  4. Communism works best at the micro-level, at the family level.
    Capitalism works best at the macro-level, at the societal level.
    Between the two is a spectrum of socialism that spans the gap.

    • Walter, there’s some definitional problems in what you’ve written. Communism is a theory of the state, so doesn’t apply to families, unless we broaden its meaning dramatically. I don’t know what “the societal level” means. The village? The city? The nation? The continent? And how does socialism apply to the “gap” between them, whatever that gap happens to be?

  5. Communism works best at the micro-level, at the family level.
    Capitalism works best at the macro-level, at the societal level.
    Between the two is a spectrum of socialism that spans the gap.

    • Walter, there’s some definitional problems in what you’ve written. Communism is a theory of the state, so doesn’t apply to families, unless we broaden its meaning dramatically. I don’t know what “the societal level” means. The village? The city? The nation? The continent? And how does socialism apply to the “gap” between them, whatever that gap happens to be?

  6. Communism works best at the micro-level, at the family level.
    Capitalism works best at the macro-level, at the societal level.
    Between the two is a spectrum of socialism that spans the gap.

    • Walter, there’s some definitional problems in what you’ve written. Communism is a theory of the state, so doesn’t apply to families, unless we broaden its meaning dramatically. I don’t know what “the societal level” means. The village? The city? The nation? The continent? And how does socialism apply to the “gap” between them, whatever that gap happens to be?

  7. Aaron,
    It’s as if the sheepeople- like the three monkey caricatures, have their hands over their eyes, ears and mouths. I’s like to hear what your opinion is as to why this has happened. Protesters receive coverage but the coverage never goes to the sources of the problems. Is protest a worth while excercize? It seems hardly worth the effort. A tsunami is coming. It aint gonna be pretty. I like the way you explain things- straight forward. Keep up the good work.

  8. Aaron,
    It’s as if the sheepeople- like the three monkey caricatures, have their hands over their eyes, ears and mouths. I’s like to hear what your opinion is as to why this has happened. Protesters receive coverage but the coverage never goes to the sources of the problems. Is protest a worth while excercize? It seems hardly worth the effort. A tsunami is coming. It aint gonna be pretty. I like the way you explain things- straight forward. Keep up the good work.

  9. Aaron,
    It’s as if the sheepeople- like the three monkey caricatures, have their hands over their eyes, ears and mouths. I’s like to hear what your opinion is as to why this has happened. Protesters receive coverage but the coverage never goes to the sources of the problems. Is protest a worth while excercize? It seems hardly worth the effort. A tsunami is coming. It aint gonna be pretty. I like the way you explain things- straight forward. Keep up the good work.

  10. Hi Aaron,
    As a greek, I believe you oversimplify the greek problem. The politicians did not just “over-promise”. They also cultivated and supported a crooked political hybrid based on corruption, vanity, armies of payed voters and foreign and domestic “eager” vendors of the public sector. This resulted in the depletion of the country’s resources and the collapse of all financial, productive and moral subsystems.
    The result was the complete destruction of the social fabric over a period of 30 years. Every man for himself is the new dogma.
    Greece does not owe more money than other EU countries; actually greece owes much less than Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium etc. Greeks nowadays simply lack the moral reflex to react and when they do, they do it for all the wrong reasons.

    The people you saw at the demonstrations were NOT public servants. They were workers and young people that never earned and never will earn more than 1000 euros per month.
    They are not greedy, they are simply desperate. Now they see that their politicians sold them out – cheap.
    However, I have to agree that the majority of greeks is responsible for supporting the corrupt political system for the past 30 years – perhaps hoping that if they “play ball” the will also join the mile-high club someday.
    So you see, the problem of greece is financial only superficially. It is mostly a moral problem. A crisis of consciousness.
    Hopefully we will see this whole mess as an opportunity to change.

  11. Hi Aaron,
    As a greek, I believe you oversimplify the greek problem. The politicians did not just “over-promise”. They also cultivated and supported a crooked political hybrid based on corruption, vanity, armies of payed voters and foreign and domestic “eager” vendors of the public sector. This resulted in the depletion of the country’s resources and the collapse of all financial, productive and moral subsystems.
    The result was the complete destruction of the social fabric over a period of 30 years. Every man for himself is the new dogma.
    Greece does not owe more money than other EU countries; actually greece owes much less than Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium etc. Greeks nowadays simply lack the moral reflex to react and when they do, they do it for all the wrong reasons.

    The people you saw at the demonstrations were NOT public servants. They were workers and young people that never earned and never will earn more than 1000 euros per month.
    They are not greedy, they are simply desperate. Now they see that their politicians sold them out – cheap.
    However, I have to agree that the majority of greeks is responsible for supporting the corrupt political system for the past 30 years – perhaps hoping that if they “play ball” the will also join the mile-high club someday.
    So you see, the problem of greece is financial only superficially. It is mostly a moral problem. A crisis of consciousness.
    Hopefully we will see this whole mess as an opportunity to change.

  12. Hi Aaron,
    As a greek, I believe you oversimplify the greek problem. The politicians did not just “over-promise”. They also cultivated and supported a crooked political hybrid based on corruption, vanity, armies of payed voters and foreign and domestic “eager” vendors of the public sector. This resulted in the depletion of the country’s resources and the collapse of all financial, productive and moral subsystems.
    The result was the complete destruction of the social fabric over a period of 30 years. Every man for himself is the new dogma.
    Greece does not owe more money than other EU countries; actually greece owes much less than Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium etc. Greeks nowadays simply lack the moral reflex to react and when they do, they do it for all the wrong reasons.

    The people you saw at the demonstrations were NOT public servants. They were workers and young people that never earned and never will earn more than 1000 euros per month.
    They are not greedy, they are simply desperate. Now they see that their politicians sold them out – cheap.
    However, I have to agree that the majority of greeks is responsible for supporting the corrupt political system for the past 30 years – perhaps hoping that if they “play ball” the will also join the mile-high club someday.
    So you see, the problem of greece is financial only superficially. It is mostly a moral problem. A crisis of consciousness.
    Hopefully we will see this whole mess as an opportunity to change.

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