An Exchange between Kotzabasis and Professor Varoufakis on the Merits and Demerits of Capitalism

The following exchange between me and Professor of  Economics Yanis Varoufakis at Athens University took place on his blog about the capitalist system under the post:

Ending 2011with a fable for our times-December 24, 2011

December 24, 2011 at 03:14 #

Kotzabasis says,

Is Amartya Sen’s absolute prosperity and relative inequality of the capitalist system vulgarly to be replaced by Yanis Varoufakis’s “despicable inequality?”
Professor Varoufakis distorts and defames the whole history of the dynamism of entrepreneurial capitalist wealth that shot up the standard of living of the masses to “Himalayan” heights. To claim that capitalist “wealth …needs poverty to flourish,” is just an ornamental academic trapping empty of history and fugitive from serious thought. Capitalism, like everything else in life, was never meant to be “stable” but a process of Schumpeterian “creative destruction.” But this can only be understood and accepted by realists and not by heroic ideologues, like Professor Varoufakis.
Professor Varoufakis says,

December 24, 2011 at 15:32 #

It is always good to encounter intransigent Panglossian views in the post-2008 world. There is something touching about undying faith, even when of the toxic variety.

December 25, 2011 at 01:48 #

Kotzabasis says,

Professor Varoufakis
Are capitalist entrepreneurial creativity, wealth, and prosperity based on “intransigent” “Panglossian” naivety? And is the history of capitalism to be truncated and concentrated naively and un- imaginatively between 2008 and 2011 for you to make your uninspiring and toxic argument?

Professor Varoufakis says,

December 25, 2011 at 11:56 #

No, capitalism’s wonders have nothing to do with Panglossian naïveté. But your determination to portray it as the best of all possible systems exudes it. As for my assessment of capitalism, and your claim that I truncate the latter’s history to a period around 2008, feel free to judge it. But only after you acquaint yourself with it. (For had you read it, eg either of my last two books, you would have realized that I truncate nothing. And that I go to great lengths to analyse capitalism’s contradictions, something that entails a celebration of its achievements as well as an exposition of its failures.) Till you are prepared to become acquainted with what I am really saying, before you attack it, I shall treat you as no more than a minor Panglossian.

Kotzabasis says,
December 26, 2011 at 02:46 #

Professor Varoufakis

Thank you for your advice how to overcome my “minor Panglossian” status. But unfortunately for me I’m bound to retain it, as your crass defamation of capitalism in your POST, hardly incentivized me, to use a term of your “little man” John Howard, to read your books and be acquainted with your thoughts. And indeed, my preference is to be “treated… as a minor Panglossian” than go through the treat to major on your ‘Pandistortions’ and jaundiced strictures on capitalism.
But to come to the gist of the matter in hand, my riposte to you was not to either of your two books, which, as I imply above I have not read. My reply was specifically to your post where you wistfully and wrongfully write, “Should we dare to hope of a new era in which WEALTH NO LONGER NEEDS POVERTY TO FLOURISH,” and of the illusion that “capitalism can be stable” and where you vulgarly and gracelessly contend that capitalism creates “DESPICABLE INEQUALITY,” and in your reply to my first post where you refer to the “post-2008 world.” It might well be that these ‘populist flourishes’ had not meant to be of any intellectual seriousness and their only aim was na deleazei ( to allure) and enthuse the ignorant to rush and become volunteer workers to your construction of your ‘matchsticks’ good society, as a replacement to the infernal deeds of capitalist society. But could one do this at the cost of one’s intellectual integrity?
And it is most surprising that the Gargantuan, indeed, Cyclopean efforts that you have put in your Modest Proposal(MP)—although one must note that Cyclopean efforts without a Ulysses are fated to be wasted efforts—have the aim to save Europe, a system that according to you produces genetically “despicable inequality.” Fortunately, however, for those condemned to this despicable inequality, but unfortunately for you, Andreas Koutras’s fatal Jovian bolts demolished to ashes the MP, from which no contriving number of revisions to it will give rise to a Phoenix solution that will salvage the European Union from its peril.
Lastly, to state that “to analyse capitalism’s contradictions… entails a celebration of its achievements as well as an exposition of its failures,” is to state the obvious.
Professor Varoufakis says,
December 27, 2011 at 04:33 #

Impressed by your dedication to keep knocking down my (according to you) already demolished, and perpetually ridiculous, arguments, as well as by the amount of time you dedicate to a blog (mine) which you consider unworthy, I shall continue to post your comments. Carry on Sir!

Kotzabasis says,

Professor Varoufakis

With your Kazantzakian character I could never imagine that you would not post my comments.


~ by kotzabasis on December 29, 2011.

3 Responses to “An Exchange between Kotzabasis and Professor Varoufakis on the Merits and Demerits of Capitalism”

  1. One would think that professors and other highly-respected intellectuals would not use oversimplifications, metaphors and anthropomorphic fables to explain their age-old and never-changing objections to a society of individuals, free from the futile attempts by authoritarian institutions which purport to “stabilize” the economy, “equalize” social outcomes or other such nonsense.
    One would think such a person would not resort to childish name-calling, desperate evasive tactics and ridiculous requests to go read everything they ever wrote before someone dares to question anything on a post THEY made.
    And one would think these tax-funded defenders of civilization would be willing to engage in actual debate with someone who engages them on the issues.

    But no, the time for debate is over! Capitalism is evil because the intellectual elite says so and the masses convulse in agreement! No need to look at capitalism’s history or to understand the nature of what the free market actually entails! Just listen to the Varoufakises and the krugmans of the world and understand that capitalism equals greed equals poverty and government equals the common good equals prosperity!

    I greatly enjoyed this post (but would have enjoyed it more if the professor had been slightly more open to debate) and hope you will never tire in your attempts to speak truth to power.

  2. […] there were a few great posts out there, such as this one by kotzabasis on his attempts to reason with a professor of economics from the university of Athens, most were […]

  3. Kotzabasis, I did indeed enjoy the intellectual intercourse within which you engaged and attempted to exchange with the Athenian professor who, sadly, displayed his lack of ability to intellectualise the debate on Capitalism and gave support to the age old debate of “The Poverty of Philosophy” versus “The Philosophy of Poverty”.

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