The Greek Economy is Ik (Michael Lewis Thomas)
One of the economically devastated countries Michael Lewis describes in his new book Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World is Greece, and his tale is a sordid one of corruption, tax evasion, and systematic cheating and abuse that is so endemic to the culture that it is difficult to fully quantify-- he finally concludes that Greece "does not behave like a collective . . . it behaves as a collection of atomized particles, each of which has grown accustomed to pursuing its own interest at the expense of the common good," and this reminds me of a Lewis Thomas essay about anthropologist Colin Turnbull's infamous portrayal of The Ik, a displaced Ugandan tribe; Turnbull's observations-- in his book The Mountain People-- give a firsthand account of the Ik's selfish and highly individualist practices-- which include defecating on each others doorsteps, leaving the old and sick to fend for themselves, and having no collective spirit whatsoever-- and this makes Turnbull question the goodness of human nature . . . but Lewis Thomas dismisses this pessismism and the Ik behavior-- insisting that The Ik society has essentially gone crazy-- and as a solution to the insanity, each individual Ik has formed a "group, a one man tribe on its own, a constituency," and Thomas says this is not all that unusual, as it is how nations behave, and "for total greed, rapacity, heartlessness, and irresponsibility there is no match for a nation."