Thursday, April 18, 2013

Arthur Miller Would Write a Play About  Cyprus...

Book cover of The Crucible by Arthur Miller

...except  he  already wrote  it back in 1953.

Cyprus is now swept up in blaming and naming those who are responsible for causing the  financial crises and  those who may have escaped it's major consequence to date, the  bank levy, in a firestorm the media in Cyprus  and Greece have fanned by  publishing  so-called "Lists." The  media further orchestrated this frenzy by dubbing the  media's own list publishing  "The War of the  Lists."

The lists have taken two major forms to date: 1) those individuals and companies who transferred cash out of Cyprus and/or out of the two floundering Cypriot banks prior to  the  bank lock down, and  2) those whose debts to banks were generously waived. 

List Number 1) is maddeningly absurd. See my previous post on the issue Accusations Around Capital Flight Defy Logic and Reason 

List Number 2) is something for sure, but what it isn't, is a surprise. Is there a single Cypriot or expat living in Cyprus  who didn't think that people in  positions of power in Cyprus  were getting unethical, even illegal perks such as having loans written off? I don't think so.

Cyprus is infamous for the extent that nepotism, the act of favoritism without merit, has cemented itself at every  level of society. I am told that nepotism on the  level that it exists in Cyprus is a Mediterranean phenomena and can be found in Greece, Italy and Spain as well. I don't know about this, but I do know that nepotism  lives in Cyprus  like a cancerous  tumor and that Cypriots classically wave their hands (literally and  figuratively) and  accept nepotism as something unavoidable and  imminent. Cypriot parents commonly advise their children not to say anything against someone in power, and by power, I mean any level of  power, no matter how small, in order to protect them from harm or in the  hopes that they will receive favoritism in the  future.

This is  why the frenzy around List Number 2)  is also ridiculous. 

I think List Number 2) should be published. I think that people should be made to be  responsible for their actions. I  believe that transparency and checks and balances are  necessary for democracy and fairness. I believe in the  power of the news media  and the  power of positive social pressure. 

But list Number 2) is a hypocracy, meaning that such nepotism would not exist to the  level that it has thus far existed in Cyprus if Cypriots did not feed it. Now that Cypriots feel real consequences of such nepotism, they are angry and suddenly want names named.

This List frenzy reminds me of Arthur Miller's 1953 play about McCarthyism, "The Crucible." McCarthyism was the  hunt for "un-American activities" and included the  publication of lists of people who were believed to  have been communists who were then "blackballed" meaning that they could not get jobs.

"The Crucible" is about the  Salem witch hunts, and is an analogy about McCarthyism. Now I am not saying that those identified as communists  are the  same as those who may have had their loans  unethically or illegally forgiven, but they may be the same as those who transferred money out prior to the  bank lock down. We should be aware of the List frenzy and the destructive power that Lists can have on innocent people and use such  Lists  with discrimination.

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