The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.
Measuring and shaping
the economy: afterword by
In most natural sciences, the units of measurement are wellestablished and near-universally agreed upon, either by law
or convention. For mass, it is kilograms; for time, seconds;
for distance, light years from Earth etc. We even have a subscience – metrology – tasked with arriving at these standards.
These units of measurement allow us to quantify objectively
natural phenomenon. They are a core building block of models
of behaviour in (physical, chemical or biological) systems and
provide a means of
2012). Much of this nostalgia was fed by the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Wartime
Spirit’ campaign which reissued the 1943 pamphlet ‘How to Make Do and Mend’,
which urged the British public to ‘make do and mend’, ‘walk short distances’,
‘save fuel for battle’, ‘save kitchen scraps to feed the pigs’, ‘don’t waste water’, ‘waste
paper is still vital’, ‘dig for victory’, ‘holiday at home’, ‘eat greens for health’ and
‘keep calm and carry on’. The last of these tagline –‘keep calm and carry on’ has
become an increasingly ubiquitous sign everywhere in Britain since 2009
, 5–6 May 2012.
8 On ‘ANT1 morning’ television, 7 June 2012.
9 The results were: New Democracy, 29.66% of votes, 129 seats; SYRIZA, 26.89%,
71 seats; PASOK, 12.28%, 33 seats; Independent Greeks, 7.51%, 20 seats; Golden
Dawn, 6.92%, 18 seats; Democratic Left, 6.25%, 17 seats; KKE, 4.5%, 12 seats.
10 See for an evaluation of the electoral result G. Voulgaris, Ta Nea, 23–24 June 2012,
11 The parties supporting the European policy won 48.19% of votes, whereas those
against won 45.82%. Despite this relatively small difference in votes, the actual
have for its credibility in light of these promises, and feared any future
efforts at innovative reform or policy would be put on public trial. The desire
to distance the party from past reforms meant that none of the economic staff
of the Ministry of Finance during the period 1996–2003 was called upon. The
Prime Minister regularly sought input from American economists, with limited
experience in European affairs.
The government’s continual quest for a reform package that would resolve
the economic woes of the nation, but without prompting widespread dissent
also admired the cultural, and the political, values and structures
that he saw induced and supported by capitalist economic organisation. On
the other hand, Polanyi detested what he thought capitalism did to people,
values and politics. It is apparent that the arguments for and against market
organisation, and capitalism more generally, are concerned with issues at
some distance from evaluations of performance on strictly economic grounds,
whatever the latter might mean. Both Schumpeter and Polanyi believed that
capitalism could not survive politically, at least in
or kept their distance. To regain the lost ground and
consolidate his position at the helm of the party, he insisted on a new general
election, hoping to force those who had argued against him, both within the
party and across society, to follow him. It was a major political miscalculation.
The majority of the disillusioned, weary and anxious voters rejected Samaras
and his political gamesmanship.3
PASOK’s defeat came as little surprise. However, the extent of the defeat – a
loss of 30% of its share of the total vote (from around 43% to 13%) – exceeded
fifteenth to the eighteenth century there were two
further economic zones, one above and one below the market.
Most of the world’s population lived in a quite different,
mundane and slow-moving infra economy of ‘material life’.
This was organised around immediate production and consumption rather than exchange. At the same time, above the market
was a supra economy of a few merchants and financiers engaged
in long distance trade and speculation (1981, p. 23). Braudel’s
three-level scheme is specific to the early modern period, but
his strategy of recognising a layer cake
of things. And, indeed, as
current debates about glocalisation indicate, it is a normal condition that
goods sold across localities must nonetheless make sense within each locality,
either because producers and retailers secure global understandings of their
goods, or because they tailor their goods to particular localities, or because
each locality is able to make its own sense of the goods.
At the same time, however, the disembedding of goods through long-distance
trade means that fissures, conflicts and unevenness are opened up between
and the weaknesses of the official Greek side, sowed mistrust of the country,
distanced all those who wanted to help and marginalised Greece in the EU.
‘Inevitably friends, partners and enemies doubt whether this country has the
will to save itself, to adjust and to function as a reliable, equal and normal
member of the Eurozone.’18 The Greek government still needs to overturn this
image, through its deeds.
For a solution to the Greek problem to be grasped, the view that the Greek
crisis is due exclusively to unfortunate European interventions and the conviction