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Leonid Bershidsky

Why Fighting Oligarchs Is a Bad Idea

Syriza, the Greek leftist party, says it will crack down on local oligarchs -- a slogan that always ends in more government control and more oligarchy.
A true enemy of oligarchs?

A true enemy of oligarchs?

Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

The top economic spokesman for the leftist Greek party Syriza, which leads the polls ahead of the Jan. 25 election, says one of the party's goals is to crack down on the nation's oligarchs. Reducing the outsized role of politically connected magnates, George Stathakis argues, will allow smaller, more honest businesses to be more competitive.

Syriza's implied threat to break apart the euro currency union was scary enough. But Stathakis's rhetoric is at least as worrisome. Any regime that wants to fight the oligarchs means to increase government interference in the economy -- to such an extent that it will end up replacing old oligarchs with new ones.