From Economic War in Greece to Jail Diversion in Missoula


by William Skink

The resolution is kind of crappy, but pictured above is a book I got years ago from AK Press about the Greek revolt of December, 2008. The title resonates loudly today: WE ARE AN IMAGE FROM THE FUTURE.

What happened with Greece this week can be effectively summed up by stating the obvious: #ThisIsACoup.

Syriza’s betrayal of the Greek people can’t be overstated. I saw some deeply cynical people get cautiously hopeful over Syriza’s electoral rise. Not at Naked Capitalism, where Yves Smith maintained stringent criticism, rightly so it would appear. A quote from that piece features this morning after assessment:

As the dust settles this morning on the Greek bailout crisis, it is increasingly clear we are witnessing one of the most daring raids on national democracy in post-war political history. If this new plan passes the Greek parliament, Greece can no longer be said to be a genuinely sovereign state. Brussels and Berlin are taking over Athens. Even one of Alexis Tsipras’ minor victories – that a £50 billion privatisation fund would be based in Athens, not Luxembourg – was entirely superficial. As Angela Merkel insisted this morning, it would not be under Greek control.

If you think what is happening in Greece isn’t relevant to us in America, or even here in Missoula, you are very wrong. Debt is an instrument of war, and that war is heating up. I agree with JC when he says:

…WWIII is a (and already is being fought in places like Greece) war using debt slavery. If the debt slaves win, capitalism will fall. Simple as that. All of the weapons in the debt war (loans, stock markets, derivatives, CDO’s, austerity measures — privatization, pension raiding, bank capital controls, etc.) only work when people borrow money and pay it back. If people/companies/countries quit paying back loans and default, who is going to pay for and maintain enough debtor prisons for the masses?

That last point is a very interesting one. Right now there is a unique bipartisan push to address bipartisan buyer’s remorse over mass-incarceration. As Obama visits a prison in Oklahoma, Van Jones and a Koch Industries spokesman were singing kumbaya on Democracy Now.

Locally, former City Council member Cynthia Wolken is putting together a jail diversion master plan. From the link:

For the next six months, Wolken will lead a team formed in collaboration with County Commissioner Cola Rowley and Emily Bentley, Ward 3 City Council member, to address the county’s over-reliance on incarceration for nonviolent offenses.

“There are so many other things we can be doing to reduce recidivism than just locking people up,” Wolken said Tuesday.

To some degree, the persisting economic crisis is creating opportunities for reform. It might be too little, too late, but at least there is some good work being done to try and change the dynamics of a systemic breakdown slowly unraveling the social order.


About William Skink

I'm a poet and political cynic living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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6 Responses to From Economic War in Greece to Jail Diversion in Missoula

  1. JC says:

    To some degree, the persisting economic crisis is creating opportunities for reform. It might be too little, too late, but at least there is some good work being done to try and change the dynamics of a systemic breakdown slowly unraveling the social order.

    I like to extend the notion of harm reduction to more than just the homeless and the addicted. I think its fair to try and offer up as much harm reduction we can as the system unravels. Jail diversion is one such avenue.

    I read an interesting piece by Melissa Chadburn at Jezebel the other day, about the work that nonprofits do for disadvantaged communities. It isn’t the usual liberal feel-good approach to bolstering resilience in the face of economic devastation:

    Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty

    I thought of my past a lot during the Belong Campaign. At one of our meetings, about three months into my tenure, I looked across the table at the people in nice suits, drinking coffee and eating bagels, talking about solving this poverty problem by increasing these community members’ sense of belonging. These people, my colleagues, traveled the world—Australia, Africa, and throughout the U.S.—speaking on panels and at conferences about their innovative new approaches to increasing resilience. Making money off poverty was their vocation. They were compensated for these studies, creating a career out of their ludicrous idea of “resilience,” that the circumstances of these people’s lives were somehow a result of their poor choices or ill behaviors…

    That day was enough for me. On that day I walked out of that job, understanding fully that the story of these people was not one of a lack of resilience but of too many systems to navigate. How to see a doctor, how to enroll in classes, how to get a driver’s license, how to tell people that you are already resilient, and what you need is a job that pays better, a job that will take you out of the surveys and focus groups to a place where you’re no longer so poor.


  2. Big Swede says:

    Slaves (debt or otherwise) are usually people standing around waiting for someone to free them.


    • steve kelly says:

      Did you get that from the Heritage Foundation dictionary?

      Webster says: A slave is someone who is legally owned by another person and is forced to work for that person without pay.


  3. Big Swede says:

    Webster owned slaves.


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