The Greek parliament has yesterday and today voted to accept the so-called austerity measures enforced by EU and IMF, despite intense protests on the streets of Athens. What this means is that Greece will be granted the final installment of 12 billion euros of last year’s bailout loan plus probably a new loan, the sum of which is expected to climb to over 80 billion euros. The European elite seems to be still happily labouring under the notion that the debt crisis can be solved by even more debt. The roots of this line of thinking go further back into history than most people think. Consider the following passage from French Renaissance writer François Rabelais’ The Third Book of Pantagruel (1546), translation by Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and Peter Antony Motteux:
“On the contrary, be pleased to represent unto your fancy another world, wherein everyone lendeth and everyone oweth, all are debtors and all creditors. O how great will that harmony be, which shall thereby result from the regular motions of the heavens! Methinks I hear it every whit as well as ever Plato did. What sympathy will there be amongst the elements! O how delectable then unto nature will be our own works and productions! Whilst Ceres appeareth laden with corn, Bacchus with wines, Flora with flowers, Pomona with fruits, and Juno fair in a clear air, wholesome and pleasant. I lose myself in this high contemplation.
Then will among the race of mankind peace, love, benevolence, fidelity, tranquillity, rest, banquets, feastings, joy, gladness, gold, silver, single money, chains, rings, with other ware and chaffer of that nature be found to trot from hand to hand. No suits at law, no wars, no strife, debate, nor wrangling; none will be there a usurer, none will be there a pinch-penny, a scrape-good wretch, or churlish hard-hearted refuser. Good God! Will not this be the golden age in the reign of Saturn? the true idea of the Olympic regions, wherein all (other) virtues cease, charity alone ruleth, governeth, domineereth, and triumpheth? All will be fair and goodly people there, all just and virtuous.
O happy world! O people of that world most happy! Yea, thrice and four times blessed is that people! I think in very deed that I am amongst them, and swear to you, by my good forsooth, that if this glorious aforesaid world had a pope, abounding with cardinals, that so he might have the association of a sacred college, in the space of very few years you should be sure to see the saints much thicker in the roll, more numerous, wonder-working and mirific, more services, more vows, more staves and wax-candles than are all those in the nine bishoprics of Britany, St. Yves only excepted. Consider, sir, I pray you, how the noble Patelin, having a mind to deify and extol even to the third heavens the father of William Josseaulme, said no more but this, And he did lend his goods to those who were desirous of them.
O the fine saying! Now let our microcosm be fancied conform to this model in all its members; lending, borrowing, and owing, that is to say, according to its own nature. For nature hath not to any other end created man, but to owe, borrow, and lend; no greater is the harmony amongst the heavenly spheres than that which shall be found in its well-ordered policy. The intention of the founder of this microcosm is, to have a soul therein to be entertained, which is lodged there, as a guest with its host, (that) it may live there for a while. Life consisteth in blood, blood is the seat of the soul; therefore the chiefest work of the microcosm is, to be making blood continually.
At this forge are exercised all the members of the body; none is exempted from labour, each operates apart, and doth its proper office. And such is their heirarchy, that perpetually the one borrows from the other, the one lends the other, and the one is the other’s debtor.
Cops body, I sink, I drown, I perish, I wander astray, and quite fly out of myself when I enter into the consideration of the profound abyss of this world, thus lending, thus owing. Believe me, it is a divine thing to lend,—to owe, an heroic virtue. Yet is not this all. This little world thus lending, owing, and borrowing, is so good and charitable, that no sooner is the above-specified alimentation finished, but that it forthwith projecteth, and hath already forecast, how it shall lend to those who are not as yet born, and by that loan endeavour what it may to eternize itself, and multiply in images like the pattern, that is, children. To this end every member doth of the choicest and most precious of its nourishment pare and cut off a portion, then instantly despatcheth it downwards to that place where nature hath prepared for it very fit vessels and receptacles, through which descending to the genitories by long ambages, circuits, and flexuosities, it receiveth a competent form, and rooms apt enough both in man and woman for the future conservation and perpetuating of human kind. All this is done by loans and debts of the one unto the other; and hence have we this word, the debt of marriage. Nature doth reckon pain to the refuser, with a most grievous vexation to his members and an outrageous fury amidst his senses. But, on the other part, to the lender a set reward, accompanied with pleasure, joy, solace, mirth, and merry glee.”