Category Archives: Articles in English
07.26.2015 :: Analysis
Introduction: The Greek people’s efforts to end the economic depression, recover their sovereignty and reverse the regressive socio-economic policies, which have drastically reduced living standards, have been thrice denied.
First, the denial came as tragedy: When the Greek majority elected Syriza to government and their debts increased, the economy plunged further into depression and unemployment and poverty soared. The Greek people voted for Syriza believing its promises of ‘a new course’. Immediately following their victory, Syriza reneged on their promise to restore sovereignty – and end the subjugation of the Greek people to the economic dictates of overseas bankers, bureaucrats and political oligarchs. Instead Syriza kept Greece in the oligarchical imperialist bloc, portraying the European Union as an association of independent sovereign countries. What began as a great victory of the Greek people turned into a tragic strategic retreat. >From their first day in office, Syriza led the Greek people down the blind alley of total submission to the German empire.
Then the tragedy turned into farce when the Greek people refused to acknowledge the impending betrayal by their elected leaders. They were stunned, but mute, as Syriza emptied the Greek treasury and offered even greater concessions, including acceptance of the illegal and odious debts incurred by private bankers, speculators and political kleptocrats in previous regimes.
True to their own vocation as imperial overlords, the EU bosses saw the gross servility of Syriza as an invitation to demand more concessions – total surrender to perpetual debt peonage and mass impoverishment. Syriza’s demagogic leaders, Yanis Varoufakis and Alexis Tsipras, shifting from fits of hysteria to infantile egotism, denounced ‘the Germans and their blackmail’ and then performed a coy belly-crawl at the feet of the ‘Troika’, peddling their capitulation to the bankers as ‘negotiations’ and referring to their overlords as . . . ‘partners’.
Syriza, in office for only 5 months brought Greece to the edge of total bankruptcy and surrender, then launched the ‘mother of all deceptions’ on the Greek people: Tsipras convoked a ‘referendum’ on whether Greece should reject or accept further dictates and cuts to bare bones destitution. Over 60% of the Greek people voted a resounding NO to further plunder and poverty.
In Orwellian fashion, the megalomaniac Tsipras immediately re-interpreted the ‘NO’vote as a mandate to capitulation to the imperial powers, accepting the EU bankers’ direct supervision of the regime’s implementation of Troika’s policies – including drastic reductions of Greek pensions, doubling the regressive ‘VAT’ consumption tax on vital necessities and a speed-up of evictions of storeowners and householders behind in their mortgage payments. Thus Greece became a vassal state: Nineteenth century colonialism was re-imposed in the 21st century.
Colonialism by Invitation
Greek politicians, whether Conservative or Socialist, have openly sought to join the German-led imperial bloc known as the European Union, even when it was obvious that the Greek economy and financial system was vulnerable to domination by the powerful German ruling class.
From the beginning, the Greek Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK) and their Conservative counterparts refused to recognize the class basis of the European Union. Both political factions and the Greek economic elites, that is, the kleptocrats who governed and the oligarchs who ruled, viewed entry into the EU as an opportunity for taking and faking loans, borrowing, defaulting and passing their enormous debts on to the public treasury!
Widely circulating notions among the Left that ‘Germany is responsible’ for the Greek crisis are only half true, while the accusations among rightwing financial scribes that the ‘Greek people are spendthrifts’ who brought on their own crisis is equally one-sided. The reality is more complex:
The crash and collapse of the Greek economy was a product of an entrenched parasitic rentier ruling class –both Socialist and Conservative – which thrived on borrowing at high interest rates and speculating in non-productive economic activities while imposing an astronomical military budget. They engaged in fraudulent overseas financial transactions while grossly manipulating and fabricating financial data to cover-up Greece’s unsustainable trade and budget deficits.
German and other EU exporters had penetrated and dominated the Greek markets. The bankers charged exorbitant interest rates while investors exploited cheap Greek labor. The creditors ignored the obvious risks because Greek rulers were their willing accomplices in the ongoing pillage.
Clearly entry into and continued membership in the EU has largely benefited two groups of elites: the German rulers and the Greek rentiers: The latter received short-term financial grants and transfers while the former gained powerful levers over the banks, markets and, most important, established cultural-ideological hegemony over the Greek political class. The Greek elite and middle class believed ‘they were Europeans’ – that the EU was a beneficent arrangement and a source of prosperity and upward mobility. In reality, Greek leaders were merely accomplices to the German conquest of Greece. And the major part of the middle class aped the views of the Greek elite.
The financial crash of 2008-2009 ended the illusions for some but not most Greeks. After 6 years of pain and suffering a new version of the old political class came to power: Syriza! Syriza brought in new faces and rhetoric but operated with the same blind commitment to the EU. The Syriza leadership believed they were “partners”.
The road to vassalage is rooted deep in the psyche of the political class. Instead of recognizing their subordinate membership in the EU as the root cause of their crisis, they blamed ‘the Germans, the bankers, Angela Merkel, Wolfgang Schnauble , the IMF, the Troika… The Greek rulers and middle class were in fact both victims and accomplices.
The German imperial regime loaned money from the tax revenues of German workers to enable their complicit Greek vassals to pay back the German bankers… German workers complained. The German media deflected criticism by blaming the ‘lazy Greek cheats’. Meanwhile, the Greek oligarch-controlled media deflected criticism of the role of the parasitical political class back to the ‘Germans’. This all served to obscure the class dynamics of empire building — colonialism by invitation. The ideology of blaming peoples, instead of classes, is pitting German workers against Greek employees and pensioners. The German masses support their bankers, while the Greek masses have elected and followed Syriza – their traitors.
From Andreas Papandreou to Alexis Tsipras: Misconceptions about the European Union
After Syriza was elected a small army of instant experts, mostly leftist academics from Canada, the US and Europe, sprang up to write and speak, usually with more heat than light, on current Greek political and economic developments. Most have little knowledge or experience of Greek politics, particularly its history and relations with the EU over the past thirty five years.
The most important policy decisions shaping the current Syriza government’s betrayal of Greek sovereignty go back to the early 1980’s when I was working as an adviser to PASOK Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. At that time, I was party to an internal debate of whether to continue within the EU or leave. Papandreou was elected on an anti EU, anti NATO platform, which, like Tsipras, he promptly reneged on– arguing that ‘there were no alternatives’. Even then, there were international and Greek academic sycophants, as there are today, who argued that membership in the EU was the only realistic alternative- it was the ‘only possibility’. The ‘possibilistas” at that time, operating either from ignorance or deceit, were full of bluster and presumption. They denied the underlying power realities in the structure of the EU and dismissed the class capacity of the working and popular masses to forge an alternative. Then, as now, it was possible to develop independent alternative relations with Europe, Russia, China, the Middle East and North Africa. The advantages of maintaining a protected market, a robust tourist sector and an independent monetary system were evident and did not require EU membership (or vassalage).
Above all, what stood out in both leaders, Andreas Papandreou and Alexis Tsipras, was their profound misconception of the class nature of the dominant forces in the EU. In the 1980’s Germany was just beginning to recover its imperial reach. By the time Syriza-Tsipras rose to power (January 2015), Germany’s imperial power was undeniable. Tsipras’ misunderstanding of this reality can be attributed to his and his ‘comrades’ rejection of class and imperial analyses. Even academic Marxists, who spouted Marxist theory, never applied their abstract critiques of capitalism and imperialism to the concrete realities of German empire building and Greece’s quasi-colonial position within the EU. They viewed their role as that of ‘colonial reformers’ –imagining that they were clever enough to ‘negotiate’ better terms in the German-centered EU. They inevitably failed because Berlin had a built-in majority among its fervently neo-liberal ex-communist satellites plus the IMF, French and English imperial partners. Syriza was no match for this power configuration. Then there was the bizarre delusion among the Syriza intellectuals that European capitalism was more benign than the US version.
EU membership has created scaffolding for German empire-building. The take off point was West Germany’s annexation of East Germany. This was soon followed by the incorporation of the rightwing regimes in the Baltic and Balkans as subordinate members of the EU – their public assets were snapped up by Germany corporations at bargain prices. The third step was the systematic break-up of Yugoslavia and the incorporation of Slovenia into the German orbit. The fourth step was the takeover of key sectors of the Polish and Czech economies and the exploitation of cheap skilled labor from Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and other satellite states.
Without firing a shot, German empire-building has revolved around making loans and financial transfers to the new subordinate member states in the EU. These financial transactions were predicated upon the following conditions: 1) Privatization and sale of the new member states’ prized public assets to mainly German as well as other EU investors and 2) Forcing member states to dismantle their social programs, approve massive lay-offs and meet impossible fiscal targets. In other words, expansion of the contemporary German empire required austerity measures, which transformed the ex-communist countries into satellites, vassals and sources of mercenaries – a pattern which is now playing out in Greece.
The reason these new German ‘colonies’ (especially Poland and the Baltic States) insist on the EU imposing harsh austerity measures on Greece, is that they went through the same brutal process convincing their own beleaguered citizens that there was no alternative – resistance was futile. Any successful demonstration by Greek workers, farmers and employees that resistance to empire was possible would expose the corrupt relationship between these client leaders and the German imperial order. In order to preserve the foundations of the new imperial order, Germany has had to take a hardline on Greece. Otherwise the recently incorporated colonial subjects in the Baltic, Balkan and Central Europe states might “re-think” the brutal terms of their own incorporation to the European Union. This explains the openly punitive approach to Greece – turning it into the ‘Haiti of Europe’ analogous to the US’ long standing brutalization of the rebellious Haitians – as an object lesson to its own Caribbean and Latin American clients.
The root cause of German intransigence has nothing to do with the political personalities or quirks of Angela Merkle and Wolfgang Schnauble: Such imperial leaders do not operate out of neurotic vindictiveness. Their demand for total Greek submission is an imperative of German empire-building, a continuation of the step-by-step conquest of Europe.
German empire-building emphasizes economic conquests, which go hand-in-hand with US empire-building based on military conquests. The same economic satellites of Germany also serve as sites for US military bases and exercises encircling Russia; these vassal states provide mercenary soldiers for US imperial wars in South Asia, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
Syriza’s economic surrender is matched by its spineless sell-out to NATO, its support of sanctions against Russia and its embrace of US policies toward Syria, Lebanon and Israel.
Germany and its imperial partners have launched a savage attack on the working people of Greece, usurping Greek sovereignty and planning to seize 50 billion Euros of vital Greek public enterprises, land and resources. This alone should dispels the myth, promoted especially by the French social democratic demagogue Jacques Delores, that European capitalism is a benign form of ‘social welfarism’ and an ‘alternative’ to the savage Anglo-American version capitalism.
What has been crucial to previous and current versions of empire-building is the role of a political collaborator class facilitating the transition to colonialism. Here is where social democrats, like Alexis Tsipras, who excel in the art of talking left while embracing the right, flatter and deceive the masses into deepening austerity and pillage.
Instead of identifying the class enemies within the EU and organizing an alternative working class program, Tsipras and his fellow collaborators pose as EU ‘partners’ , fostering class collaboration – better to serve imperial Europe: When the German capitalists demanded their interest payments, Tsipras bled the Greek economy. When German capitalists sought to dominate Greek markets, Tsipras and Syriza opened the door by keeping Greece in the EU. When German capital wanted to supervise the take-over of Greek properties, Tsipras and Syriza embraced the sell-off.
There is clear class collaboration within the Greek elite in the destruction of nation’s sovereignty: Greek banker oligarchs and sectors of the commercial and tourist elite have acted as intermediaries of the German empire builders and they personally benefit from the German and EU takeover despite the destitution of the Greek public. Such economic intermediaries, representing 25% of the electorate, have become the main political supporters of the Syriza-Tsipras betrayal. They join with the EU elite applauding Tsipras’ purge of left critics and his authoritarian seizure of legislative and executive power! This collaborator class will never suffer from pension cuts, layoffs and unemployment. They will never have to line up at crippled banks for a humiliating dole of 65 Euros of pension money. These collaborators have hundreds of thousands and millions stashed in overseas bank accounts and invested in overseas real estate. Unlike the Greek masses, they are ‘European’ first and foremost – willing accomplices of German empire builders!
Tragic Beginnings: The Greek People Elect a Trojan Horse
Syriza is deeply rooted in Greek political culture .A leadership of educated mascots serving overseas European empire-builders. Syriza is supported by academic leftists who are remote from the struggles, sacrifices and suffering of the Greek masses. Syriza’s leadership emerged on the scene as ideological mentors and saviors with heady ideas and shaky hands. They joined forces with downwardly mobile middle class radicals who aspired to rise again via the traditional method: radical rhetoric, election to office, negotiations and transactions with the local and foreign elite and betrayal of their voters. Theirs is a familiar political road to power, privilege and prestige. In this regard, Tsipras personifies an entire generation of upwardly mobile opportunists, willing and able to sellout Greece and its people. He perpetuates the worst political traditions: In campaigns he promoted consumerism over class consciousness (discarding any mobilization of the masses upon election!). He is a useful fool, embedded in a culture of clientelism, kleptocracy, tax evasion, predatory lenders and spenders – the very reason his German overlords tolerated him and Syriza, although on a short leash!
Tsipras’ Syriza has absolute contempt for democracy. He embraces the ‘Caudillo Principle’: one man, one leader, one policy! Any dissenters invite dismissal!
Syriza has utterly submitted to imperial institutions, the Troika and their dictates, NATO and above all the EU, the Eurozone. Tsipras/ Syriza reject outright independence and freedom from imperial dictates. In his ‘capitulation to the Germans’ Tsipra engaged in histrionic theatrics, but by his own personal dictate, the massive ‘NO to EU’ vote was transformed into a YES.
The cruelest political crime of all has been Tsipras running down the Greek economy, bleeding the banks, emptying the pension funds and freezing everyday salaries while ‘blaming the bankers’, in order to force the mass of Greeks to accept the savage dictates of his imperial overlords or face utter destitution!
The Ultimate Surrender
Tsipras and his sycophants in Syriza, while constantly decrying Greece’s subordination to the EU empire-builders and claiming victimhood, managed to undermine the Greek people’s national consciousness in less than 6 months. What had been a victorious referendum and expression of rejection by three-fifths of the Greek voters turned into a prelude to a farcical surrender by empire collaborators. The people’s victory in the referendum was twisted to represent popular support for a Caudillo. While pretending to consult the Greek electorate, Tsipras manipulated the popular will into a mandate for his regime to push Greece beyond debt peonage and into colonial vassalage.
Tsipras is a supreme representation of Adorno’s authoritarian personality: On his knees to those above him, while at the throat of those below.
Once he has completed his task of dividing, demoralizing and impoverishing the Greek majority, the local and overseas ruling elites will discard him like a used condom, and he will pass into history as a virtuoso in deceiving and betraying the Greek people.
Syriza’s embrace of hard-right foreign policies should not be seen as the ‘result of outside pressure’, as its phony left supporters have argued, but rather a deliberate choice. So far, the best example of the Syriza regime’s reactionary policies is its signing of a military agreement with Israel.
According to the Jerusalem Post (July 19, 2015), the Greek Defense Minister signed a mutual defense and training agreement with Israel, which included joint military exercises. Syriza has even backed Israel’s belligerent position against the Islamic Republic of Iran, endorsing Tel Aviv’s ridiculous claim that Teheran represents a terrorist threat in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Syriza and Israel have inked a mutual military support pact that exceeds any other EU member agreement with Israel and is only matched in belligerence by Washington’s special arrangements with the Zionist regime.
Israel’s ultra-militarist ‘Defense’ Minister Moshe Yaalon, (the Butcher of Gaza), hailed the agreement and thanked the Syriza regime for ‘its support’. It is more than likely that Syriza’s support for the Jewish state explains its popularity with Anglo-American and Canadian ‘left’ Zionists…
Syriza’s strategic ties with Israel are not the result of EU ‘pressure’ or the dictates of the ‘Troika’. The agreement is a radical reversal of over a half-century of Greek support for the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people against the Israeli terrorist state. This military pact, like the Syriza regime’s economic capitulation to the German ruling class, is deeply rooted in the ‘colonial ideology’, which permeates Tsipras’ policies. He has taken Greece a significant step ‘forward’ from economic vassal to a mercenary client of the most retrograde regime in the Mediterranean.
According to mainstream media, the current economic crisis in Greece is due to the government spending too much money on its people that it went broke. This claim however, is a lie. It was the banks that wrecked the country so oligarchs and international corporations could benefit.
Every single mainstream media has the following narrative for the economic crisis in Greece: the government spent too much money and went broke; the generous banks gave them money, but Greece still can’t pay the bills because it mismanaged the money that was given. It sounds quite reasonable, right?
Except that it is a big fat lie … not only about Greece, but about other European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland who are all experiencing various degrees of austerity. It was also the same big, fat lie that was used by banks and corporations to exploit many Latin American, Asian and African countries for many decades.
Greece did not fail on its own. It was made to fail.
In summary, the banks wrecked the Greek government and deliberately pushed it into unsustainable debt so that oligarchs and international corporations can profit from the ensuing chaos and misery.
If you are a fan of mafia movies, you know how the mafia would take over a popular restaurant. First, they would do something to disrupt the business – stage a murder at the restaurant or start a fire. When the business starts to suffer, the Godfather would generously offer some money as a token of friendship. In return, Greasy Thumb takes over the restaurant’s accounting, Big Joey is put in charge of procurement, and so on. Needless to say, it’s a journey down a spiral of misery for the owner who will soon be broke and, if lucky, alive.
Now, let’s map the mafia story to international finance in four stages.
Stage 1: The first and foremost reason that Greece got into trouble was the “Great Financial Crisis” of 2008 that was the brainchild of Wall Street and international bankers. If you remember, banks came up with an awesome idea of giving subprime mortgages to anyone who can fog a mirror. They then packaged up all these ticking financial bombs and sold them as “mortgage-backed securities” at a huge profit to various financial entities in countries around the world.
A big enabler of this criminal activity was another branch of the banking system, the group of rating agencies – S&P, Fitch and Moody’s – who gave stellar ratings to these destined-to-fail financial products. Unscrupulous politicians such as Tony Blair got paid by Big Banks to peddle these dangerous securities to pension funds and municipalities and countries around Europe. Banks and Wall Street gurus made hundreds of billions of dollars in this scheme.
But this was just Stage 1 of their enormous scam. There was much more profit to be made in the next three stages!
Stage 2 is when the financial time bombs exploded. Commercial and investment banks around the world started collapsing in a matter of weeks. Governments at local and regional level saw their investments and assets evaporate. Chaos everywhere!
Vultures like Goldman Sachs and other big banks profited enormously in three ways: one, they could buy other banks such as Lehman brothers and Washington Mutual for pennies on the dollar. Second, more heinously, Goldman Sachs and insiders such as John Paulson (who recently donated $400 million to Harvard) had made bets that these securities would blow up. Paulson made billions, and the media celebrated his acumen. (For an analogy, imagine the terrorists betting on 9/11 and profiting from it.) Third, to scrub salt in the wound, the big banks demanded a bailout from the very citizens whose lives the bankers had ruined! Bankers have chutzpah. In the U.S., they got hundreds of billions of dollars from the taxpayers and trillions from the Federal Reserve Bank which is nothing but a front group for the bankers.
In Greece, the domestic banks got more than $30 billion of bailout from the Greek people. Let that sink in for a moment – the supposedly irresponsible Greek government had to bail out the hardcore capitalist bankers.
Stage 3 is when the banks force the government to accept massive debts. For a biology metaphor, consider a virus or a bacteria. All of them have unique strategies to weaken the immune system of the host. One of the proven techniques used by the parasitic international bankers is to downgrade the bonds of a country. And that’s exactly what the bankers did, starting at the end of 2009. This immediately makes the interest rates (“yields”) on the bonds go up, making it more and more expensive for the country to borrow money or even just roll over the existing bonds.
From 2009 to mid-2010, the yields on 10-year Greek bonds almost tripled! This cruel financial assault brought the Greek government to its knees, and the banksters won their first debt deal of a whopping 110 billion Euros.
The banks also control the politics of nations. In 2011, when the Greek prime minister refused to accept a second massive bailout, the banks forced him out of the office and immediately replaced him with the Vice President of ECB (European Central Bank)! No elections needed. Screw democracy. And what would this new guy do? Sign on the dotted line of every paperwork that the bankers bring in.
(By the way, the very next day, the exact same thing happened in Italy where the Prime Minister resigned, only to be replaced by a banker/economist puppet. Ten days later, Spain had a premature election where a banker puppet won the election).
The puppet masters had the best month ever in November 2011.
Few months later, in 2012, the exact bond market manipulation was used when the banksters turned up the Greek bonds’ yields to 50%!!! This financial terrorism immediately had the desired effect: The Greek parliament agreed to a second massive bailout, even larger than the first one.
Now, here is another fact that most people don’t understand. The loans are not just simple loans like you would get from a credit card or a bank. These are loans come with very special strings attached that demand privatization of a country’s assets. If you have seen Godfather III, you would remember Hyman Roth, the investor who was carving up Cuba among his friends. Replace Hyman Roth with Goldman Sachs or IMF (International Monetary Fund) or ECB, and you get the picture.
Stage 4: Now, the rape and humiliation of a nation begin under the name of “austerity” or “structural reforms.” For the debt that was forced upon it, Greece had to sell many of its profitable assets to oligarchs and international corporations. And privatizations are ruthless, involving everything and anything that is profitable. In Greece, privatization included water, electricity, post offices, airport services, national banks, telecommunication, port authorities (which is huge in a country that is a world leader in shipping) etc. Of course, the ever-manipulative bankers always demand immediate privatization of all media which means that the country gets photogenic TV anchors who spew establishment propaganda every day and tell the people that crooked and greedy banksters are saviors; and slavery under austerity is so much better than the alternative.
In addition to that, the banker tyrants also get to dictate every single line item in the government’s budget. Want to cut military spending? NO! Want to raise tax on the oligarchs or big corporations? NO! Such micro-management is non-existent in any other creditor-debtor relationship.
So what happens after privatization and despotism under bankers? Of course, the government’s revenue goes down and the debt increases further. How do you “fix” that? Of course, cut spending! Lay off public workers, cut minimum wage, cut pensions (same as our social security), cut public services, and raise taxes on things that would affect the 99% but not the 1%. For example, pension has been cut in half and sales tax increase to more than 20%. All these measures have resulted in Greece going through a financial calamity that is worse than the Great Depression of the U.S. in the 1930s.
After all this, what is the solution proposed by the heartless bankers? Higher taxes! More cuts to the pension! It takes a special kind of a psychopath to put a country through austerity, an economic holocaust.
If every Greek person had known the truth about austerity, they wouldn’t have fallen for this. Same goes for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other countries going through austerity. The sad aspect of all this is that these are not unique strategies. Since World War II, these predatory practices have been used countless times by the IMF and the World Bank in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
This is the essence of the New World Order — a world owned by a handful of corporations and banks; a world that is full of obedient, powerless debt serfs.
So, it’s time for the proud people of Greece to rise up like Zeus and say NO (“OXI” in Greece) to the greedy puppet masters, unpatriotic oligarchs, parasitic bankers and corrupt politicians.
Dear Greece, know that the world is praying for you and rooting for you. This weekend, vote NO to austerity. Say YES to freedom, independence, self-government, sovereignty, and democracy. Go to the polls this weekend and give a resounding, clear victory for the 99% in Greece, Europe, and the entire western world.
The poor and the working class in the United States know what it is to be Greek. They know underemployment and unemployment. They know life without a pension. They know existence on a few dollars a day. They know gas and electricity being turned off because of unpaid bills. They know the crippling weight of debt. They know being sick and unable to afford medical care. They know the state seizing their meager assets, a process known in the United States as “civil asset forfeiture,” which has permitted American police agencies to confiscate more than $3 billion in cash and property. They know the profound despair and abandonment that come when schools, libraries, neighborhood health clinics, day care services, roads, bridges, public buildings and assistance programs are neglected or closed. They know the financial elites’ hijacking of democratic institutions to impose widespread misery in the name of austerity. They, like the Greeks, know what it is to be abandoned.
The Greeks and the U.S. working poor endure the same deprivations because they are being assaulted by the same system—corporate capitalism. There are no internal constraints on corporate capitalism. And the few external constraints that existed have been removed. Corporate capitalism, manipulating the world’s most powerful financial institutions, including the Eurogroup, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve, does what it is designed to do: It turns everything, including human beings and the natural world, into commodities to be exploited until exhaustion or collapse. In the extraction process, labor unions are broken, regulatory agencies are gutted, laws are written by corporate lobbyists to legalize fraud and empower global monopolies, and public utilities are privatized. Secret trade agreements—which even elected officials who view the documents are not allowed to speak about—empower corporate oligarchs to amass even greater power and accrue even greater profits at the expense of workers. To swell its profits, corporate capitalism plunders, represses and drives into bankruptcy individuals, cities, states and governments. It ultimately demolishes the structures and markets that make capitalism possible. But this is of little consolation for those who endure its evil. By the time it slays itself it will have left untold human misery in its wake.
The Greek government kneels before the bankers of Europe begging for mercy because it knows that if it leaves the eurozone, the international banking system will do to Greece what it did to the socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1973 in Chile; it will, as Richard Nixon promised to do in Chile, “make the economy scream.” The bankers will destroy Greece. If this means the Greeks can no longer get medicine—Greece owes European drug makers 1 billion euros—so be it. If this means food shortages—Greece imports thousands of tons of food from Europe a year—so be it. If this means oil and gas shortages—Greece imports 99 percent of its oil and gas—so be it. The bankers will carry out economic warfare until the current Greek government is ousted and corporate political puppets are back in control.
Human life is of no concern to corporate capitalists. The suffering of the Greeks, like the suffering of ordinary Americans, is very good for the profit margins of financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs. It was, after all, Goldman Sachs—which shoved subprime mortgages down the throats of families it knew could never pay the loans back, sold the subprime mortgages as investments to pension funds and then bet against them—that orchestrated complex financial agreements with Greece, many of them secret. These agreements doubled the debt Greece owes under derivative deals and allowed the old Greek government to mask its real debt to keep borrowing. And when Greece imploded, Goldman Sachs headed out the door with suitcases full of cash.
The system of unfettered capitalism is designed to callously extract money from the most vulnerable and funnel it upward to the elites. This is seen in the mounting fines and fees used to cover shortfalls in city and state budgets. Corporate capitalism seeks to privatize all aspects of government service, from education to intelligence gathering. The U.S. Postal Service appears to be next. Parents already must pay hundreds of dollars for their public-school children to take school buses, go to music or art classes and participate in sports or other activities. Fire departments, ambulance services, the national parks system are all slated to become fodder for corporate profit. It is the death of the civil society.
Criminal justice is primarily about revenue streams for city and state governments in the United States rather than about justice or rehabilitation. The poor are arrested and fined for minor infractions in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere; for not mowing their lawns; for putting their feet on seats of New York City subway cars. If they cannot pay the fines, as many cannot, they go to jail. In jail they are often charged room and board. And if they can’t pay this new bill they go to jail again. It is a game of circular and never-ending extortion of the poor. Fines that are unpaid accrue interest and generate warrants for arrest. Poor people often end up owing thousands of dollars for parking or traffic violations.
Fascist and communist firing squads sometimes charged the victim’s family for the bullets used in the execution. In corporate capitalism, too, the abusers extract payment; often the money goes to private corporations that carry out probation services or prison and jail administration. The cost of being shot with a stun gun ($26) or of probation services ($35 to $100 a month) or of an electronic ankle bracelet ($11 a month) is vacuumed out of the pockets of the poor. And all this is happening in what will one day be seen as the good times. Wait until the financial house of cards collapses again—what is happening in China is not a good sign—and Wall Street runs for cover. Then America will become Greece on steroids.
“We are a nation that has turned its welfare system into a criminal system,” write Karen Dolan and Jodi L. Carr in an Institute for Policy Studies report titled “The Poor Get Prison.” “We criminalize life-sustaining activities of people too poor to afford shelter. We incarcerate more people than any other nation in the world. And we institute policies that virtually bar them for life from participating in society once they have done their time. We have allowed the resurgence of debtors’ prisons. We’ve created a second-tier public education system for poor children and black and Latino children that disproportionally criminalizes their behavior and sets them early onto the path of incarceration and lack of access to assistance and opportunity.”
The corporate dismantling of civil society is nearly complete in Greece. It is far advanced in the United States. We, like the Greeks, are undergoing a political war waged by the world’s oligarchs. No one elected them. They ignore public opinion. And, as in Greece, if a government defies the international banking community it is targeted for execution. The banks do not play by the rules of democracy.
Our politicians are corporate employees. And if you get dewy-eyed about the possibility of the U.S. having its first woman president, remember that it was Hillary Clinton’s husband who decimated manufacturing jobs with the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement and then went on to destroy welfare with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which halted federal cash aid programs and imposed time-limited, restrictive state block grants. Under President Bill Clinton, most welfare recipients—and 70 percent of those recipients were children—were dropped from the rolls. The prison-industrial complex exploded in size as its private corporations swallowed up surplus, unemployed labor, making $40,000 or more a year from each person held in a cage. The population of federal and state prisons combined rose by 673,000 under Clinton. He, along with Ronald Reagan, set the foundations for the Greecification of the United States.
The destruction of Greece, like the destruction of America, by the big banks and financial firms is not, as the bankers claim, about austerity or imposing rational expenditures or balanced budgets. It is not about responsible or good government. It is a vicious form of class warfare. It is profoundly anti-democratic. It is about forming nations of impoverished, disempowered serfs and a rapacious elite of all-powerful corporate oligarchs, backed by the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history and a militarized police that shoots unarmed citizens with reckless abandon. The laws and rules it imposes on the poor are, as Barbara Ehrenreich has written, little more than “organized sadism.”
Corporate profit is God. It does not matter who suffers. In Greece 40 percent of children live in poverty, there is a 25 percent unemployment rate and the unemployment figure for those between the ages of 15 and 24 is nearly 50 percent. And it will only get worse.
The economic and political ideology that convinced us that organized human behavior should be determined by the dictates of the global marketplace was a con game. We were the suckers. The promised prosperity from trickle-down economics and the free market instead concentrated wealth among a few and destroyed the working and the middle classes along with all vestiges of democracy. Corrupt governments, ignoring the common good and the consent of the governed, abetted this pillage. The fossil fuel industry was licensed to ravage the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species, while being handed lavish government subsidies. None of this makes sense.
The mandarins that maintain this system cannot respond rationally in our time of crisis. They are trained only to make the system of exploitation work. They are blinded by their insatiable greed and neoliberal ideology, which posits that controlling inflation, privatizing public assets and removing trade barriers are the sole economic priorities. They are steering us over a cliff.
We will not return to a rational economy or restore democracy until these global speculators are stripped of power. This will happen only if the streets of major cities in Europe and the United States are convulsed with mass protests. The tyranny of these financial elites knows no limits. They will impose ever greater suffering and repression until we submit or revolt. I prefer the latter. But we don’t have much time.
ATHENIANVOICE – the democratic, liberation struggle – and the ‘basic democratic principles’ that every oligarch and tyrant fear
(this text is also the first part of the introduction to my site)
ATHENIANVOICE is one Athenian voice, which means a voice that have its cultural and traditional roots in modern Athens and its intellectual, philosophical and spiritual “footrest”, in the fundamental classic Athenian democratic values and principles. In particular those principles that are “comfortably forgotten” by everyone, ever since. Namely its:
- principle of, citizens rights to anarchic resistance, disobedience and organization of non-cooperative solidarity-actions against cruel monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship and tyranny
- principle of, immediate recall of an elected official if his actions are against the public good and against his obligations to the people
- principle of, personal accountability before the supreme court for all elected officials when suspected for illegal, negligent or endangering handling of public affairs and the finances of the republic – also retroactively, if suspected of corruption, theft or treason, or even the intent of such activities
There are a number of such basic democratic principles that are universally ignored today, by all “democratic governments”. Principles, that we know was considered so fundamental in ancient democratic Athens, that they had to be expressed as practiced citizens rights before all the others. Those mentioned here and many more were meant to work as security locks of democracy itself in order to avoid corruption, infiltration and oligarchy.
Without disgracing my ancestors’, my people’s and my family’s struggles and sacrifices and my own dignity and self-respect, I can’t accept any of the plutocratic, oligarchic republics as actual democracies. Simply because they aren’t and have never been.
Democracy is either benefiting the whole people’s basic needs and rights and its common good, or it is not a democracy at all. Today everyone mistake the “practice of voting”, just one and very limited practical democratic tool, to be the entirety of democracy itself.
I am truly sorry that I need to explain to so many self proclaimed democrats every now and then, that the citizens in ancient Greece did not fight the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian Wars in order to achieve or defend a shitty one-time-vote every four years. And particularly not for a lame democracy which lack any adequate practical protective mechanisms so that the citizens themselves can defend and protect democracy and justice from corruption, oligarchy and tyranny.
Real democracies are based on citizens, not on governments or elections. All the republics in human history after ancient Athens might have begun on pure actual democratic fundamentals, but none of them stayed in those longer than a few years. Unnecessary compromises and illegal pressure from the European financial elite and their “leftovers” from the tyrannic periods, lead to very wide and unnecessary gaps between written constitutions and relevant practicalities and mechanisms in order to execute the content of such constitutions. And actually, that’s the only time where the title, elected official, have any real meaning. When he ensures that the voted democratic constitution is followed by practiced principles and the citizen’s vote makes sense.
In a citizens voted democratic constitution (the only constitution that actually can be called democratic) the citizen is the only constituent, thus the employer of the elected official and therefore the only one that can elect or recall him. If we cant make even that work in our modern and allegedly developed societies, then we must accept that we can’t even re-achieve what the ancient Athenians had achieved. That is also why we seem to move back towards the times of self announced demigods and god-kings with serfs and slaves.
I don’t mean in any way that the ancient Athenian democracy, in its ancient form, is the answer to all our problems today. Of course not. It would need renewal and development according to modern conditions and it would also need to be restarted, but this time with all its original basic values and principles intact and practiced and not crippled and ignored. In essence, none of the attempts for democracy in history so far has managed to actually further develop it from its classic Athenian fundamentals, to something better. Instead, those who should have protected it ended up limiting and crippling it to the point where it can’t really be called a democracy at all anymore.
My cultural, ideological roots are in the original class-struggles and workers solidarity movements in the west and the resistance and liberation struggles against fascism and nazism in Greece, in which several very close family members of mine actively participated in. After the obvious neo-liberalization of the European “left” in the mid-80’s and its submissive compromises and its surrender of its basic values and principles in the 90’s, I found serious reasons to support the pure laocratic form of democracy [Gr. laos, λαός = the people]. The direct form, through self-governance and the satisfaction of the common and real needs. This is how a people who wants to be free either establishes or reestablishes real democracy.
Laocracy, is the “midwife” of the classic democratic principles:
- that the Greek people has claimed since The Battle of Salamis,and always practiced in its own communities, allover the world
- that the freedom fighters and the Greek people in the Greek Liberation War against the Ottoman Empire strived for and had practiced in secrecy within their own communities during 400 years of Ottoman rule
- that the Greek resistance fighters in EAM/ELAS and the vast majority of the people reached for (and practiced in the EAM-controlled city parts, islands and mountain regions during 1940 – 1944)
The bitter truth is that the most poisonous WWII-remnant, the left – right dogma, has divided us as fellow citizens and made us competitors and antagonists in a social-economic game that never benefit the citizen, as an entity.
Such division-doctrines should be long gone in a developed, modern, critical mind. It is a divide & conquer pill that works extremely good as the main filter against rational observations and it makes us very, very vulnerable to manipulation and aggression. The dogmatic theologies of the religions are other extremely effective main filters against reason. We have all been deeply manipulated in our minds to raise intellectual walls and in particular emotional walls between the so called left and the so called right. This way, a people becomes practically defenseless against further division, provocations, civil wars and invasion wars.
I and a growing number of Greeks, prefer to see the citizens, the party-members and the elected officials in the alleged democracies, as either “real democrats” or “oligarchy-servants”. Which oligarchy they serve is not always determined by the color of a pin on the lapel or a political party’s flag. Their very own ways, motives, aims and personal desires, determine that, and of course who or what really benefits from their words, signatures and actions. In our days both these types exists in all political parties and the “oligarchy-servants” are the ones dominating the scene the higher up you go in the political party hierarchies, at least from WWI and on.
I am not saying that we should abandon our different values, beliefs, ideologies and life philosophies or not hold them dear. I am just saying that we must first save the actual place, about which we then could agree or disagree on how to handle and govern. That is the right order of priorities to any real democrat, because he understands what a free human is and that there is no such thing as a free human without a free, democratic nation-state from which you can defend or claim freedom. Athenians in ancient times understood that. The French just before and during the first few years of the revolution understood that and so did the Americans just a few years around their revolution. The Republicans in The Spanish Civil War understood that. EAM the massive Greek resistance during WWII understood that and so did those who opposed and resisted the cruel dictatorships in Greece, Spain, Latin-America and Southeast Asia in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The Vietnamese FNL understood that and any people who have felt and seen the ultimate weakness and vulnerability of the oppressor when he is confronted by a united, determined people, understands that.
I felt obliged to clarify this here, given the big span of mental abilities and ‘moods’, this site is confronting in social medias and forums. I therefore clarify its name, views, values and ‘look’ here, hoping it will serve as a good introduction for this site in general.
Development, Thought and Policy Lecture Series: Austerity and Neoliberalism in Greece, sponsored by the Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs (http://www.newschool.edu/public-engag…), at the Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy (http://www.newschool.edu/milano). GPIA Professors Richard Wolff and Barry Herman share their insights, led by chair and moderator Achilles Kallergie, PhD Candidate in the GPIA program.
What austerity is about is shifting the burden of an economic crisis from one part of the population to another. The mass of Greek people did not force Andreas Papandreou to borrow money. The mass of the Greek people didn’t know about or have much to do with fiscal policy at the national level. In fact, governments, bankers, leading industrialists, ship builders, the major players of the Greek economy, got together, as their counterparts did elsewhere, to produce the decisions that then, in the wake of the international collapse of capitalism, became unsustainable, producing a crisis in Greece. Once that had happened, there was only one question left: Who was going to pay the cost of all the debt Greece has run up or all the production decisions made that have left Greece without the capacity to export, with a dependence on imports etc.? And at that point, as has happened in every country – Greece is in no way unique – the wealthy and the business community went to work, with their resources and their business connections, to make sure that they didn’t pay the price.
THE NEW SCHOOL | http://www.newschool.edu
The true nature of Syriza has been seldom examined and explained. To the foreign media it is no more than “leftist” or “far left” or “hardline” – the usual misleading spray. Some of Syriza’s international supporters have reached, at times, levels of cheer leading reminiscent of the rise of Barack Obama. Few have asked: Who are these “radicals”? What do they believe in?
An historic betrayal has consumed Greece. Having set aside the mandate of the Greek electorate, the Syriza government has willfully ignored last week’s landslide “No” vote and secretly agreed a raft of repressive, impoverishing measures in return for a “bailout” that means sinister foreign control and a warning to the world.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pushed through parliament a proposal to cut at least 13 billion euros from the public purse – 4 billion euros more than the “austerity” figure rejected overwhelmingly by the majority of the Greek population in a referendum on 5 July.
These reportedly include a 50 per cent increase in the cost of healthcare for pensioners, almost 40 per cent of whom live in poverty; deep cuts in public sector wages; the complete privatization of public facilities such as airports and ports; a rise in value added tax to 23 per cent, now applied to the Greek islands where people struggle to eke out a living. There is more to come.
“Anti-austerity party sweeps to stunning victory”, declared a Guardian headline on January 25. “Radical leftists” the paper called Tsipras and his impressively-educated comrades. They wore open neck shirts, and the finance minister rode a motorbike and was described as a “rock star of economics”. It was a façade. They were not radical in any sense of that cliched label, neither were they “anti austerity”.
For six months Tsipras and the recently discarded finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, shuttled between Athens and Brussels, Berlin and the other centres of European money power. Instead of social justice for Greece, they achieved a new indebtedness, a deeper impoverishment that would merely replace a systemic rottenness based on the theft of tax revenue by the Greek super-wealthy – in accordance with European “neo-liberal” values – and cheap, highly profitable loans from those now seeking Greece’s scalp.
Greece’s debt, reports an audit by the Greek parliament, “is illegal, illegitimate and odious”. Proportionally, it is less than 30 per cent that of the debit of Germany, its major creditor. It is less than the debt of European banks whose “bailout” in 2007-8 was barely controversial and unpunished.
For a small country such as Greece, the euro is a colonial currency: a tether to a capitalist ideology so extreme that even the Pope pronounces it “intolerable” and “the dung of the devil”. The euro is to Greece what the US dollar is to remote territories in the Pacific, whose poverty and servility is guaranteed by their dependency.
In their travels to the court of the mighty in Brussels and Berlin, Tsipras and Varoufakis presented themselves neither as radicals nor “leftists” nor even honest social democrats, but as two slightly upstart supplicants in their pleas and demands. Without underestimating the hostility they faced, it is fair to say they displayed no political courage. More than once, the Greek people found out about their “secret austerity plans” in leaks to the media: such as a 30 June letter published in the Financial Times, in which Tsipras promised the heads of the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF to accept their basic, most vicious demands – which he has now accepted.
When the Greek electorate voted “no” on 5 July to this very kind of rotten deal, Tsipras said, “Come Monday and the Greek government will be at the negotiating table after the referendum with better terms for the Greek people”. Greeks had not voted for “better terms”. They had voted for justice and for sovereignty, as they had done on January 25.
The day after the January election a truly democratic and, yes, radical government would have stopped every euro leaving the country, repudiated the “illegal and odious” debt – as Argentina did successfully – and expedited a plan to leave the crippling Eurozone. But there was no plan. There was only a willingness to be “at the table” seeking “better terms”.
The true nature of Syriza has been seldom examined and explained. To the foreign media it is no more than “leftist” or “far left” or “hardline” – the usual misleading spray. Some of Syriza’s international supporters have reached, at times, levels of cheer leading reminiscent of the rise of Barack Obama. Few have asked: Who are these “radicals”? What do they believe in?
In 2013, Yanis Varoufakis wrote: “Should we welcome this crisis of European capitalism as an opportunity to replace it with a better system? Or should we be so worried about it as to embark upon a campaign for stabilising capitalism? To me, the answer is clear. Europe’s crisis is far less likely to give birth to a better alternative to capitalism… I bow to the criticism that I have campaigned on an agenda founded on the assumption that the left was, and remains, squarely defeated… Yes, I would love to put forward [a] radical agenda. But, no, I am not prepared to commit the [error of the British Labour Party following Thatcher’s victory]… What good did we achieve in Britain in the early 1980s by promoting an agenda of socialist change that British society scorned while falling headlong into Thatcher’s neoliberal trip? Precisely none. What good will it do today to call for a dismantling of the Eurozone, of the European Union itself…?”
Varoufakis omits all mention of the Social Democratic Party that split the Labour vote and led to Blairism. In suggesting people in Britain “scorned socialist change” – when they were given no real opportunity to bring about that change – he echoes Blair.
The leaders of Syriza are revolutionaries of a kind – but their revolution is the perverse, familiar appropriation of social democratic and parliamentary movements by liberals groomed to comply with neo-liberal drivel and a social engineering whose authentic face is that of Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister, an imperial thug. Like the Labour Party in Britain and its equivalents among former social democratic parties such as the Labor Party in Australia, still describing themselves as “liberal” or even “left”, Syriza is the product of an affluent, highly privileged, educated middle class, “schooled in postmodernism”, as Alex Lantier wrote.
For them, class is the unmentionable, let alone an enduring struggle, regardless of the reality of the lives of most human beings. Syriza’s luminaries are well-groomed; they lead not the resistance that ordinary people crave, as the Greek electorate has so bravely demonstrated, but “better terms” of a venal status quo that corrals and punishes the poor. When merged with “identity politics” and its insidious distractions, the consequence is not resistance, but subservience. “Mainstream” political life in Britain exemplifies this.
This is not inevitable, a done deal, if we wake up from the long, postmodern coma and reject the myths and deceptions of those who claim to represent us, and fight.
The Greek debt, as such, is mostly not Greek debt. The debt which Germany and other nations are demanding that they pay for, is money that the Greeks never got! So the Greeks don’t owe that money. This was a swindle, because the Greeks didn’t incur that debt.
Lyndon LaRouche, Feb. 17, 2015
What Americans need to know about Greece and “its debt,” is that the new Greek government is asking the European Union to shut down a huge Wall Street-London bank swindle and make economic growth possible again in Europe.
If that doesn’t happen, the worsening bankruptcy of the whole trans-Atlantic banking system will continue to generate desperate confrontations with major powers Russia and China, with the threat of world war.
The rest of Europe, so far, is refusing to shut that Wall Street swindle down, and today Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew backed up that refusal, including by a threatening phone call to the Greek finance minister.
What Obama, Merkel, et al. are demanding Greece do, instead of shutting down this Europe-wide swindle by the banks, is run a budget surplus of 4.5% of its annual economy, exclusively to pay the “Greek debt.” In U.S. terms? That would mean the United States running a government tax surplus of $750 billion a year, in order to pay down debt. You won’t hear Obama or Lew volunteering to try it; it is impossible.
The “Greek debt” swindle is the same one as the TARP bailout here, and the Federal Reserve’s printing of $4 trillion in new money to cover Wall Street’s debts; and its perpetrators are the same huge banks.
In the United States, the big banks took millions of subprime, unrepayable mortgages sold by their captive mortgage companies, and made them into toxic securities which blew up the financial system and the whole economy in 2008; the government bailed them out, while our living standards plunged.
In Europe, the banks bought the mortgage securities from the U.S. banks. At the same time they made millions of unrepayable subprime loans of their own — not only to homeowners, but also to governments without the means to repay them, like those of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Hungary, and others. Big Wall Street banks were involved, particularly Goldman Sachs, which created “magic” derivatives: Take a bank loan to Greece, make it look like a mere “currency swap” rather than a debt — but turn it into a much bigger debt ten years later.
All this European subprime debt blew up on the big banks in 2009, a year after the U.S. subprime debt blew up on them. Then the European governments allsuperindebted themselves, to create a $1 trillion “European TARP” called by the initials EFSF. They bailed the megabanks out, with the IMF pitching in, using “only” about $600 billion to pay the unpayable “subprime government debt” part of it. $275 billion paid “Greek debt.”
This immense bank bailout got passed through the Greek, Irish, etc. governments, which passed it immediately on to the banks which had been their “subprime lenders.”
We have to spill this thing as a leading issue in the U.S. You can sink Wall Street on this one. If you sink the Greek swindle, you’re going to start a chain-reaction explosion of the international trans-Atlantic system, like the Wall Street system and similar things, the British andothers. They are the ones who owe the debt, not the Greeks.
The Greek debt swindle was classic. In 2009 Greece’s debt was $300 billion. It then “got” two huge bailouts in 2010 and 2012, of about $140 billion each. Less than 10% of that $275 billion stayed in Greece and was spent by the Greek government; more than 90% went directly and immediately to Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, and their fellow sharks, with small amounts crumbling to the hedge funds swimming alongside. Former Greek Labor and Social Security Minister Louka Katseli has given documentation that the Greek government actually got to spend or invest just 3% of that $275 billion. The only banks which had to write off their “Greek debt” were Greek banks; all of Wall Street and the London-centered banks got their toxic debt “assets” guaranteed 100% by this European bailout swindle. This made the Greek banks so bankrupt that the Greek government then had to borrow more to bail them out with $50 billion — so Greece’s debt was increased when supposedly being reduced! A total swindle!
Then, between 2010 and today, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, etc. were ordered to pay the bill for this huge new Europe-wide bank bailout debt. They imposed a slashing domestic austerity until their people emigrated, death rates rose and birth rates fell, and clouds of wood smoke rose over modern cities whose inhabitants could no longer afford modern heat. After five years of this punishment, Greece’s $300 billion debt has become $350 billion or so — after $250 billion passed through to the banks!
And the other European countries are also on the hook for this phony debt, all of it. They guaranteed it; Greece and Ireland and the other austerity-crushed countries can’t pay it, so the rest of Europe must either agree to reorganize that debt and write it down, or their taxpayers will pay for the swindle.
This is why the new Greek government now demands that Europe shut down this global bank swindle: Write off the unpayable debt; invest in reviving economic productivity by building new economic infrastructure.
In addition, the megabanks have to be put through a Glass-Steagall reorganization and broken up.
To which Lyndon LaRouche has added:
“This thing has to be put loud and clear on every doorstep in the United States. If you want to avoid World War III, that’s what you’ll do.”
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, after the forces of the fascist Kiev regime fled under fire today from encircled Debaltsevo, an actual ceasefire is now in effect, however fragile, and heavy weapons are being withdrawn from the front lines by both sides, as agreed by the leaders of the French, German, Ukrainian, and Russian governments at Minsk last week. To make it an enduring ceasefire, all we need do now, is immediately remove Nazi Victoria Nuland from the State Department.
Greece is facing the worst period of its contemporary history and at this moment its very existence is under threat. Under a dangerous government of collaborators; with an absent parliament that does not take into consideration the expressed will of the Greek People ; confronted by a Europe that seeks to mortgage the country and her people for additional loans to implement a program that will destroy the Greeks , EPAM demands:
- The immediate withdrawal of the Greek Delegation from the negotiations to be preceded by a denunciation of the May 2010 loan agreement based on the articles 48-52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
- The suspension of diplomatic relations with Germany and Finland.
- The exit of Greece from the Eurozone.
- The application by the Greek people of the article 120§4 of the Constitution.
- The practice of civil disobedience by all Greeks refusing to pay any form of tax.
This is the only way to avoid the violence and civil strife being prepared for us as the final coup de grace.
In this grave situation EPAM is making every effort towards the relief of the suffering Greeks.
EPAM Political Secretariat
Athens, July 11, 2015
Translation : EPAM Abroad
Greek journalist Michael Nevradakis and US investigative journalist Greg Palast have a different take on the Greek ‘No’ vote against Europe’s cruel austerity demands.
By Michael Nevradakis in Athens with Greg Palast in New York | Oped-News
We Greeks have voted ‘No’ to slavery – but ‘Yes’ to our chains.
Not surprisingly, by nearly two-to-one, Greeks have overwhelmingly rejected the cruel, economically bonkers “austerity” program required by the European Central Bank in return for an ECB loan to pay Greece’s creditors. In doing so, the Greek people overcame an unprecedented campaign of fear from the Greek and international media, the European Union (EU), and most of our political parties.
What’s simply whack-o is that, while voting “No” to austerity, many Greeks wish to remain shackled to the euro, the very cause of our miseries.
Resistance, not Crisis
Before we explain how the euro is the cause of this horror show, let’s clear up one thing right away. All week, worldwide media was filled with news of the Greek “crisis.” Yes, the economy stinks, with one in four Greeks unemployed. But two other euro nations, Spain and Cyprus, also are suffering this depression level of unemployment. Indeed, more than 11% of workers in seven euro nations, including Portugal and Italy, are out of work.
But unlike Greece, these other suffering nations have quietly acquiesced to their “austerity” punishments. Spaniards now accept that they are fated forevermore to be low-paid servants to beer-barfing British tourists. Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who has enacted a draconian protest ban at home to keep his own suffering masses at bay, has joined in the jackal-pack rejecting anything but the harshest of austerity terms for Greece.
The difference between these quiescent nations and Greece is that the Greeks won’t take it anymore.
What the media calls the Greek “crisis” is, in fact, resistance.
Resistance to nowhere
But it’s a resistance whose leaders are leading them nowhere.
For decades, Greeks have suffered governments that are both corrupt and dishonest. The election of SYRIZA changed all that: the government is now merely dishonest.
Our new SYRIZA Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, correctly called the austerity plan “blackmail.” However, before Sunday’s vote, Tsipras told the nation a big fat fib. He said we could vote down the European Bank’s plan but keep the European Bank’s coin, the euro. How? Tsipras won’t say; it’s part of a policy ploy his outgoing finance minister Yanis Varoufakis calls “creative ambiguity.” To translate: Creative ambiguity is Greek for “bullshit.”
Sorry, Alexis, if you want to use the Reich’s coin you have to accept the Reichsdiktat.
Not a coin, a virus
Tsipras’ claim that Greece can keep the euro while rejecting austerity is crazy-talk. The fact is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Cruella De Vil of the Eurozone, will ignore the cries of the bleeding Greeks and demand we swallow austerity–or lose the euro.
But, so what if we lose the euro? The best thing that can happen to Greece, and should have happened long, long ago, is that Greece flee the Eurozone.
That’s because it is the euro itself that is the virus responsible for Greece’s economic ills.
Indeed, the sadistic commitment to “austerity” was minted into the coin’s very metal. We’re not guessing. One of us (Palast, an economist by training) has had long talks with the acknowledged “father” of the euro, Professor Robert Mundell. It’s important to mention the other little bastard spawned by the late Prof. Mundell: “supply-side” economics, otherwise known as “Reaganomics,” “Thatcherism” – or, simply “voodoo” economics.
The imposition of the euro had one true goal: To end the European welfare state.
For Mundell and the politicians who seized on his currency concept, the euro itself would be the vector infecting the European body politic with supply-side Reaganomics. Mundell saw a euro’d Europe as free of trade unions and government regulations; a Europe in which the votes of parliaments were meaningless. Each Eurozone nation, unable to control neither the value of its own currency, nor its own budget, nor its own fiscal policy, could only compete for business by slashing regulations and taxes. Mundell said, “[The euro] puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians… Without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business.”
Here’s how it works. To join the Eurozone, nations must agree to keep their deficits to no more than 3% of GDP and total debt to no more than 60% of GDP. In a recession, that’s plain insane. By contrast, President Obama pulled the USA out of recession by increasing deficit spending to a staggering 9.8% of GDP, and he raised the nation’s debt to 101% from a pre-recession 62%. Republicans screamed, but it worked. The US has lower unemployment than any Eurozone nation.
As Obama scolded the European tormentors of Greece: “You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression.” Cutting spending power only leads to less spending which leads to further cuts in spending power – a death spiral we see today in the Eurozone from Greece to Italy to Spain—but not in Germany.
“Not in Germany.” There’s the rub. Normally, a nation such as Greece can quickly recover from debt-induced recession by devaluing its currency. Greece would become a dirt cheap tourist destination once more and its lower-cost exports would zoom, instantly increasing competitiveness. And that’s what Germany can’t allow. Germany lured other European nations into the euro in order to keep them from undercutting Germany’s prices in export markets.
Restricted by the 3% deficit rule, the only recourse left for Eurozone debtors: pay the piper with “austerity” measures.
Tsipras in Wonderland
So therein lies the lie. Tsipras tells his fellow Greeks that we can live in a Looking Glass world, where we can have our euro and eat it too; that we can stay handcuffed to the euro but run free without austerity.
The nonsense continues: Following the announcement of the official results of the referendum on Sunday night, Tsipras tweeted that the Greek electorate voted for a “Europe of solidarity and democracy,” while the now-resigned finance minister Varoufakis tweeted that “Greece’s place in the Eurozone is non-negotiable,” claiming that he would not allow the “only alternative,” the old drachma trading alongside the euro.
SYRIZA’s euro-fetish was already evident in its pre-referendum proposals to the IMF and European Bank, a 47-page document which included 8 billion euros in new austerity measures plus a new round of sell-offs of state industries, the maintenance of a primary surplus of 1% this year which would increase in the coming years, the increase of the retirement age to 67, and making permanent the previously “temporary” taxes upon an already overtaxed populace. In Tsipras’ own proposal, there was no word of a debt write-down or stoppage of payments, despite the fact that the government’s own Debt Audit Commission announced on June 17 that the bulk of Greece’s debt is illegal, “odious,” and should not be paid.
Instead, Tsipras has come out in support of the IMF’s proposal for a mere 30% “debt haircut” and a 20-year grace period, effectively sweeping the problem under the rug. Greece is currently running a deficit, meaning that in order for the 1% surplus to be achieved, SYRIZA must cut, cut, cut. Exactly as Mundell and the supply-siders intended.
Death by “Reform”
Like Obama, Tsipras knows that cutting pensions, privatizing and closing industries, slashing wages – in other words, “austerity” — or, to use the latest jargon, “reform” – is not just cruel, it’s plain stupid: it can only push a nation in recession into depression.
That’s not just theory. The Troika (the European Central Bank, IMF and European Commission) first imposed their vicious austerity measures on Greece in 2010. Greeks watched their annual salaries plummet to half of a German’s paycheck. Greece’s supposedly generous pensions have been cut eight times during the crisis, while two-thirds of pensioners live below the poverty line. Everything from Greece’s airports to harbors, the national lottery to prime publicly-owned real estate was sold off, while schools and hospitals were shuttered.
And, for the first time since World War II, widespread starvation had returned. 500,000 children in Greece are said to be malnourished. Students fainting from hunger in frigid schools which cannot afford heating oil is now a common phenomenon.
This cruel “belt tightening,” the Troika promised, would restore Greece’s economy by 2012 (and then 2013, 2014, and 2015). In reality, unemployment went from a terrible 12.5% in 2010 to a horrendous 25.6% today.
Now, the Troika demands more of the same, a continuation of this disastrous policy.
Crashing into Africa?
Meanwhile, following the referendum result which made him a hero, finance minister Varoufakis resigned. Ironically, while Varoufakis rubbed German officials the wrong way with his unorthodox style, he, too, maintained the pro-euro myth. Previous austerity measures continued under his watch. To please the mad austerity masters, he said he would “squeeze blood from a stone” to repay the IMF—which he did in May, when all remaining funds in the Greek Treasury were rounded up by presidential decree to make that month’s IMF loan payment. Varoufakis was so wedded to the euro that he claimed that Greece would be unable to print its old currency, the drachma, because we destroyed our currency printing presses when we joined the euro. In fact, the government’s banknote printing facility in Athens still operates, printing the 10-euro note.
Meanwhile, our future flees. A quarter million university graduates have abandoned our nation. They have no choice: unemployment for those under 25 has hit 48.6%.
I know that many Greeks, Cypriots, Italians and Portuguese all express a visceral fear of leaving the euro. Depending on which polls one chooses to believe, anywhere from a near-majority to an overwhelming majority of Greeks wish to remain in the euro at all costs. From the hysterical statements I heard from some Greeks that, “We cannot leave Europe!”, you’d think that dropping the euro will cause Greece to break off at the Albanian border and crash into Africa.
It would be refreshing to hear political leaders say the honest economic truth: “Workers of Europe unite! You have nothing to lose but the euro—and your chains.”
From The Real News channel – Published on 9 Jul 2015
“The European Central Bank and the IMF are not run by economists. They are run by lawyers. Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, was an anti-labour lawyer. They worked for firms to smash up labour. That’s the job of the IMF. It’s not to help countries how to balance a payments deficit. It’s to strip away their pensions, cut their wages, and make them more competitive under the pretence that any country can pay its debt if it only will reduce its wages and living standards by enough.
That’s an odious concept. That’s the right-wing concept, and its effect is its downright evil. And that’s what finally the Greeks are coming out and saying, that the way in which the financial system is structured now is anti-human, against human rights, against national sovereignty, and it’s pretty much what in the vernacular is called evil.”
Don’t forget to press button for subtitles
Michael Hudson says unlike personal and corporate debt, there is no legal framework for writing off government debt, so there is deliberate anarchy in place