Interview with Makis Provatas, Athens Voice
In economics and political history, what is the word that made the history of the world divided into “before” and “after”?
In modern history this word is “liberalism”. It comes from the word “freedom”, in fact the conception of the idea for this word was created around the 18th century by the idea that all society should be free. Then the ending -ism was added. Weak groups, such as the poor and immigrants, need to understand that the only environment in which they can have a real future is Liberalism.
The good future is understood, and logically, in economic terms.
Only a free society can become a prosperous society. Adam Smith, in whose name I make my cross every time I mention it (actually made his cross in front of us), has spoken of the obvious and simplistic system of physical freedom. He said he was in favor of a liberal plan for Equality, Freedom and Justice. And when he says Equality, if we look a little more closely at what he says, he means equality of opportunity.
You made your cross like the Orthodox Christians.
I know. I am a Protestant, but because I am in Greece I make my cross like the Orthodox, in their honor.
Theoretically, the economy and humanity should be on the same side. But many people believe that the economy is hostile to humanity.
That’s how people think. I am talking about something I call “humanomics” and which, in addition to numbers, should take into account all the elements of human activity. Elements from history, philosophy, even from theology. “
Everywhere in the world young people are mostly socialists or even communists. Do you believe that as the years go by and because of globalization that can change?
No, this cannot be done. And I have been a socialist, a positivist, I have been a man (smiling). The reason that cannot be done, other than the revolutionary course of youth, is because young children have more recent experience of the family experience, which generally functions as a socialist group. One supports the other when it is difficult financially and in general they all share it.
But it is historically absolutely proven that this can work only in very small groups of people, in a monastery, in a group of people, but in no case can it even work in a small country of a few million. The modern world has been built on the idea of liberalism for centuries. All major revolutions in the Western world, such as the American and the French, were based on this idea.
After so many years of dealing with philosophy and economics, how would you characterize yourself?
I am a Christian liberal who feels deeply obliged to help the poor, the weak and the sick. This obligation of mine can best be fulfilled only in a free society. I believe in a free society, but with ethical principles.
But in recent years, the weak have become increasingly young.
Agree. That is why another, fundamental obligation of liberal society is to help young people. In Greece, as in the US, policies are being implemented that make it very difficult for young people to find work.
I understand what you are saying, because here in Greece we are a country where, in theory, parents adore their children and are over-protective, but in many ways their decisions are against their future.
It is not only the governments that are responsible, but also the older citizens of a country who make decisions and operate in a way that is at the expense of the young.
But there is a paradox. In Greece, nearly 500,000 young people have fled Greece, and have moved to another country where there is a liberal system.
Fortunately for them, and for Greece. And the fact that they went to a country with a liberal system means that you are doing something wrong here in Greece. They went somewhere where liberalism works seriously.
Many governments, however, say they will create jobs, something we generally do not see fit.
But a government cannot create jobs. The government can help create jobs by encouraging innovation, by not bureaucratically preventing citizens from doing the jobs they want, quickly and efficiently. A government with its policy can destroy jobs, but it cannot create jobs. It can simply create the right environment, and encourage its citizens to new jobs through its policy.
I had no intention of asking, but because you mentioned before that you have been a man, I imagine that sex change is something that a man can only do in the context of liberalism.
It’s not something I discuss in general, but I’ll answer it for you. Of course, do you imagine I was born in Iran? There, just being gay, they force you to change sex. Of course, even in liberal societies you meet even scientists who have stupid, anti-scientific ideas. In 1995, when I decided to change my sex, I went to a famous American psychiatrist who asked me “are you gay?” I answered “no”. “Then why do you want to change sex?” … Think that 25 years ago even a well-known psychiatrist had no idea of the subject. He didn’t know that there are people, about three in a thousand, who want to change sex.