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Interview with Dimitris Kazakis leader of EPAM

Germans Have Right to Oppose Migration, Greece Threatened by NATO Takeover. One of the most intelligent and interesting Greek politicians talks on different topics and today`s main geopolitical issues.

17-21 March 2016 gianalytics.org

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One year ago, while in Athens, Greece, I interviewed Mr. Dimitris Kazakis, leader of United Popular Front (EPAM), a popular Left movement that emerged from the anti-memorandum protests of 2011. Mr. Kazakis is an erudite speaker, a socialist economist, and one who knows both the terrain of the social struggle and the high-end banking sector in London where he worked for many years.

At the time, Mr. Kazakis was not very optimistic about Syriza – the Left party governing Greece, if to say the least. He warned that Prime Minister Tsipras has no intention of breaking with austerity and that he will take on a new contract that will enslave the country further. The interview was conducted in February 2015, but it took me months to publish it since I wanted to give Syriza a chance. Mr. Kazakis was right. It happened exactly as he said. One year later, on February 17, 2016, I met Mr. Kazakis at the offices of EPAM in Athens again. Things are much worse in Athens now.

Mr. Kazakis covered almost all issues under the sun. He talked about the migration crisis, why he supports a Brexit, Greece’s economic predicament, the world economy, NATO in the Aegean, Erdogan and Merkel, NGOs dubious roles, nationalism, why cosmopolitanism is dangerous, the Germans, perpetual war, Venezuela and Cuba. Below is the full interview.

You actually predicted what will happen at the time because at the time what you said was that these negotiations are a sham, they are going to sign on another contract and so on. At the time when I wanted to publish the article, many people were warning me not to publish it, not to bring down Syriza, and it turned out that it happened exactly as you said. So that’s why I published it later, but at least, I published it before basically what was a betrayal of a promise.

I can understand that because when I went to a conference in Nice, in November, they asked me to explain what happened to Greece, what happened to the Left party, or to the Left government of Syriza. And I told them what exactly happened from day one. Right after the elections of the 25th of January, back in 2015. Everyone was astonished. There were French, Spanish, Italians, Germans. Everybody. And of course, afterwards, everybody came to me and told me that we are very very sorry. We were totally wrong in our estimation about Syriza the Left government.

The problem is that by then it was too late…

Yeah, exactly. Too late for us, especially. And for Europe. Because the system invested in the Syriza government, to show everybody, every European person, that no one can do anything with the whole system, the system of the European regime, of the banks, of the Euro. And in that way, they were trying to disappoint the society. Especially Greece and, of course, all over Europe.  No one could understand what happened here in Greece. How the anti-memorandum coalition of Syriza and Kammenos [the Independent Greeks –ANEL] can do such things as sign a third memorandum against the people and produce such a politically incorrect situation here in Greece.

This brings me to a related question which I think is relevant. In Britain, the UK, the place where you lived in the past and also worked, there will be a vote on Britain leaving the European Union. So, if I may ask, do you support Britain leaving the European Union?

Yeah, of course.

And does that mean you would also support UKIP and the Eurosceptical people?

As EPAM, we have relations with the umbrella of the movements against the European Union in Britain. And I was asked by British colleagues, fighters against the EU, to go there on a speech tour. I don’t know if I can do that because of the political situation here in Greece…

Schengen, because of the everyday situation?

Exactly. And now we have a social – we are in the process of a social resurrection of the Greek society, so we have a lot to do in Greece. I don’t know if we have the spare time to go over in Britain on a speech tour. But, anyway, we support any movement that is against the European Union in terms of democracy. We are fighting for democracy. And in order to fight for democracy you have to fight for national sovereignty. That’s the basis of democracy. You cannot have democracy without national sovereignty of any people. British people, Greek people, the German people. And that’s the only way. So, yes. We support the NO campaign against the European Union. And we have discussed with certain members of the UKIP.

Of course we are on a different page in terms of social and economic policy. But that’s our difference. But we support them for Britain to leave the European Union. And they have to leave. Because otherwise they will face one way or the other the same sort of situation that we are facing.

How so? If you can elaborate on that a little bit….

You cannot have a European Union, you cannot participate in a union and have mainly the banks, patrons, and of course the banking elite, or the financial elite – the engine of the financial elite – as first and foremost against the people, and against the interests of the people, and on the same page have social security, or social insurance or a social security state, or provide for the unemployed and the poverty-stricken population. You cannot have social labor and democratic rights in a state that is participating in the European Union. Because the European Union was built from day one to support the financial elites’ interests. That’s why we believe that Britain has to go. It has to leave the European Union.  It will make our struggle much easier. Because if Britain decides to get rid of the European Union, it will be much easier for us, to convince the Greeks that you don’t have to be afraid of anything. You see, bigger countries, huge economies, like the British, are leaving EU. So why not you? Simple.

As you told me one year ago, that basically the EU-led austerity – “made us less than human.” This is a general question. What is the current situation with pensions, social security, farmers? What is the economic situation in Greece at the moment since the past year?

I’ll give you official data: Now, if we take the middle family income, the average family budget. The income of this middle family budget is calculated according to the official data of 2014, because we don’t have any new data. We’re talking about 18,000 Euro per year. Ok?  Back in 2010, it was 23,000. Now, we are at 18,000. Of course, you have enough money to buy the things you need, the consumer products, the things you need to support the family. To provide your family’s basic needs, you need 47,000 Euro. And you have an income of 18,000.

Is that all? No. You also have to pay for the bank loans another 2,500 per year. You have to pay extra taxes on your income. That’s another 3,700 per year. You also have to pay social insurance fees. That’s another 3,500 per year. If you put all this down, you’ll see that on an income basis of 18,000 per year, the obligations of the middle family, are up to 36,000-37,000 per year. Give me a situation similar to this and provide me with an alternative… There is no way you can get rid of that economic circumstances. You cannot even imagine how you can get rid of the depression we have here in Greece, and of course, how will the economy turn around. There is no way. There is just no way. We need more than double of the income for the middle family to keep up with the obligations. There is no way you can have that because we have to withstand austerity, we have the memorandums. Now in 2016, they say they need more than 2 to 4 billion more taxes out of the family budget, and this will destroy the basis of the social insurance system in order for the beneficiary to pay more fees and get less in pensions, in social security support.

What is the situation of homelessness at the moment?

We have a problem of homelessness, but right now because of the dispersion of the homes, in Greece, more than 75% of the population owns the apartments or the houses that they live in, so there is no huge problem. Of course, most of the families now own the houses of the apartments, but they were taken through loans from the banks, so the banks now are trying to confiscate the private property from them, but they didn’t dare, up till now, to do what they did in Spain or in the US.

Of course, they have the laws now. When we talked one year ago, they didn’t have the law, but now the banks do have the law on their side. The Left government provided the bankers with the legal status of what they have for foreclosures and confiscation, the same type of legal status they have in the US. This is the product of the Left government, not of the rightist or the Left government we had back then. The current Left government provides the legal tool for the banksters for foreclosures and to confiscate private property. It was out of the question, if we go back two or three years.

The Syriza government has been waiting for this issue of enacting foreclosures. And at some point, they will be forced to take action probably.

Yes, they will try. And they even voted for a law that allows the banks to sell overdue loans for the funds we call vultures. And right now one bank, one systemic bank, the Alpha bank, sold a package of overdue loans to a private fund for 3% of the nominal value. 3%. Right now in Greece we have 100 billion of overdue loans. Now, the bankers will sell these 100 billion overdue loans to vulture funds. For how much? For 3-5 billion. And I proposed to the government a simple solution: give the bankers the 3-5 billion, take the 100 billion nominal value of overdue loans and destroy them.

But they are not doing that…

No… not even to help the citizens who cannot pay for the labor men. They cannot provide because they don’t have jobs, they don’t have income. So, we pay the recapitalization of the banking system more than 60 billion Euros as taxpayers.  60 billion. And now Mr. Draghi wants the Greek taxpayer to pay another 14 billion Euros for the recapitalization of the bank system in Greece. Why don’t they give to the bankers at least 3 to 5 billion – that’s nothing, compared to what we gave already to the banks and what they are asking for – and take the bloody overdue loans and get rid of them. Leave the people alone.

But they aren’t doing it…

No. This government doesn’t do it.

I think it’s not even possible for the Government to take unilateral actions without the approval of the Troika…

Exactly. Because that’s the new matter about the Third Memorandum. We have a new memorandum, the third section of it. If you go back to the law that was passed by the Greek parliament on the 14 of August 2015, you will see in the third section of the memorandum that the government cannot do anything without the approval of the IMF or the European Commission and the European Central Bank. We are under an occupation regime. We are less than a colony. And we cannot provide even for the borders, to guard the borders of Greece. No. We do not even have a right to say a word about this thing. That is why we are less than a state, in international law terms.

This brings me to the question of the migration crisis which is facing Europe now. Obviously Greece has already so many big economic problems; now it also has to deal with Hotspots which are being imposed by the European Union, besides the fact that NATO decided to patrol in the Aegean supposedly to stop the coming of the migrants. This brings me to ask what do you think Greece should do about it if it could.

The first thing Greece has to do is to get rid of the Schengen Treaty and the Dublin Treaty in order to provide for the migrants and of course for the refugees coming from Syria. More than 60% of those coming from Syria, up to now, are refugees coming from the war. The first thing you have to do is to follow international law. And if you cannot afford to deal with the whole situation, if you have more than 1 million, a half a million refugees and migrants, call the United Nations agency to come in and provide financial help, provide for the infrastructure you need to provide for the refugees and migrants.

The first thing that you have to do is to get rid of the Dublin and the Schengen treaties, in order to follow international law. Let me give you an example: the same situation happened in Lebanon. Right now Lebanon is providing for more than 1,250,000 refugees. We’re talking about 25% of the Lebanon population. Who is talking about Lebanon? Nobody. Because Lebanon follows international law.

How so?

Since it is not a member of the European Union, Lebanon does not want to create a slave labor out of the refugees, and what they are doing is what international law provides in a similar situation. Draghi does not want that. The European Union also does not want that. They want to take the refugees and of course the migrants and provide their own labor markets with slave labor. And that’s the whole situation…

Let’s look at the things logically. The refugee coming from Syria or Iraq is going through the trouble. The first thing a law abiding state has to do is to provide him with all the papers the refugee needs, all the papers that say who a refugee is and who he is not.

Draghi does not do that. They subsidize the whole industry of providing slave labor to the EU through Greece. And of course, Greece as a state has to go to international bodies, like the International Maritime Organization and say: “look at Turkey, what are they doing? They are creating a situation in the Aegean. You have to take measures against that.”

Turkey is a member of the International Maritime Organization. The International Maritime Organization can decide that “we have a situation – a crisis – that is created by a member state, and we have to do something about it.” Now, Greece does not do that because it’s a member of the European Union. And the European Union decides what will happen to the Greek islands. And Greece is only a member of the whole thing. It is only to abide by the decisions made by Mr. Tusk, Mr. Juncker and Mr. Erdogan. That’s what we have right now. If we decide to provide the refugees the same type of asylum and infrastructure Lebanon provides it would be not a problem. Because you would give the refugee the same kind of international treatment as the international law provides and let him go wherever he likes. He wants to go to Germany –  he may go to Germany.

And, we even could say that “Ok, we have refugees. From where? Syria. Who destroyed Syria? The United States. Ok, the United States must take 80% or 90% or 100% of the refugees from Syria.” You cannot destroy through war – a whole country – and then say “Oh, I have nothing to do with the refugee situation from that country.”

The same thing with Afghanistan and with Iraq. That’s the international law. If you remember back in Vietnam days when the southern Vietnam collapsed, what did the US do? They took more than a million Vietnamese refugees, I don’t remember for whatever reason, they took the Vietnamese refugees because they were involved in the Vietnam war. Now, what is going on in Syria? The same thing.

And I believe that the first countries that have to deal with the refugee problem are the United States and Russia. Because they are fighting on Syrian soil. And on top of that we need the Greek government, if we have a democratic government of course, to say, Ok, first and foremost, in order to deal with the refugee program, we need to stop the war in Syria. And of course, not only to stop the war, like they are doing right now, but establish law and order in Syria. And give back the situation to the lawful government – the Assad regime. Ok, I don’t believe in the Assad regime. But that’s the lawful government. And who is Mr. Obama or Mr. Putin or whoever to decide how many parts will be dissected, that Syria must be dissected, and for what reason…

Give back the national sovereignty to Syria. Take out the foreign armies and the mercenaries, everybody. And of course then you will see all the refugees, or most of the refugees, coming back to Syria.  And let us provide investment infrastructure to Syria in order to rebuild Syria because they demolished the whole country. That’s how you deal with the refugee problem.

So I’m just trying to understand. This is a simple question. So the difference between Lebanon and Greece is that in the case of Lebanon, refugees are free to go elsewhere and in the case of Greece, the European Union…

They don’t have Hotspots. Of course, they do have infrastructure to provide for the refugees, with the help of the UN. But they are trying to deal with the problem in terms of the international law. With what international law provides for the refugee. A refugee is a sacred person. He’s escaping war or a regime. So you have to deal with him as a sacred person, to provide for him, and, of course, to give him the opportunity to go back to the country. He didn’t leave on his free will; he  escaped from a situation. It’s not an opportunity for Germany or for France or for Poland or for the EU to have 2 million slave labor for their own labor market in order to bring down the wages and destroy the social infrastructure of the country so that the labor or the working class cannot fight against their own government or the European elite. A refugee is a sacred person. And you need to provide for him. And of course, do whatever you can, to stop the situation or to alter the situation that the refugee is escaping from. That’s our opinion.

How do you think the mechanism of the Hotspots will work in terms of slave labor?

It’s simple.In Greece, we already have a law passed back in 2012 that provides the ability for the government to take from the Hotspots whoever it is, either he’s an outlaw migrant or a refugee, and to provide labor supply in terms of whatever the government decides. For example, now we have a big situation with the farmers all over Greece. The government proposes to the farmers to give them free – without any charge – free slave labor from the Hotspots, and the government will subsidize the farmers for the slave labor of the migrants and the refugees working for them. That’s a way to buy out; it ‘s a way to buy the social consciousness of the farmers.

So why is the government subsidizing it, because it ends up being much cheaper?

Yes, of course. You’ll have cheap labor for yourself, and on top of that you’ll have all the income coming from the government, that normally will go for the refugees and the migrants – for the Hotspots – you’ll get the revenue as a farmer. And you’ll be provided with more income out of the slave labor you are using for every migrant or refugee you are occupying. It’s policy. It’s a policy proposition from the Greek government, the Left government for the farmers to keep them quiet and not to revolt against the memorandum policies. “I’ll provide for you slave labor, don’t worry. Go back to your farms.” That’s what the Left government is saying right now to the farmers.

But obviously for Greece to treat the refugees according to international law it would mean to leave the European Union first, but that’s impossible…

Yes. Because you have to get rid of Schengen Treaty and Dublin Treaty. The Dublin Treaty created a special situation in dealing with refugees and migrants for the EU. It created an international situation, because back then when they provided refugees with international law, back in the protocols in the 1950s, they thought of the refugee and the migrant situation as an international problem, not a European problem. An international problem. Now, the EU wanted to refurbish the whole situation as a European problem, which it isn’t.

That’s why they created the Dublin I and Dublin II treaties. For members of the EU to decide themselves what to do with refugees and migrants. Not according to international laws and protocols. No. But through their own private interests. That’s the privatization of an international problem.

Recently, as you obviously know, terrorists were found in Greece, trying to pass through. And what is very strange is how a caravan filled with AK47s and bullets managed to make its way, all the way, I think it was from Western Europe – Germany and Austria, all the way to Greece. Do you think there are flaws in the way the EU is managing its security?

Yeah, it’s a huge industry. And the banking system that supports this, the banking logistics – is based on the Greek bankers and the Cyprus banks. That’s why they are specially protected. No attorney, no justice system, can penetrate the banking system, and no one can say let’s see what is going on, who’s laundering money.  Through what channels they are taking rights, or are there payoffs, things like that. We know that the Greek banking system and the Cypriot banking system, the systemic bank, they are first and foremost launderers of black money, coming from weapons, prostitution, and of course, migrants and refugees.

So the banks are complicit, in let’s call it, intentional lack of monitoring its security, allowing smuggling?

Exactly. That’s why they keep refinancing bankrupt institutions. Like the four systemic banks here in Greece that are bankrupt since 2009. And we know that. But they keep them afloat, although they are utterly bankrupt. We are under capital controls, as you know, from June 2015. Actually, we are under a banking moratorium.  You cannot do free banking, or if you go to a bank and take the money out of your private account, you cannot do that here in Greece – since 27th of June if I remember correctly. They closed the banks from that point and on and they didn’t open them. And they are not going to open up the banks, only until they do a haircut to whatever they can to accounts, to whatever. So, they are totally bankrupt.

They are under – we are under – a banking moratorium or capital control as the Europeans call it, and on top of that we have to refinance and recapitalize the closed-down banks. That’s… as an economist I can say, that’s  a historical phenomenon. You cannot do that. There is no other historical precedent… None. You cannot have a closed down banking system and refinance… Why do they do that? Because it’s the logistical basis of this huge laundering business. … for all Europeans. I’m talking about the cash flow coming from this, through Turkey, to the European banks.

The cash flow?

I’m talking about armaments, prostitution, and the commerce of human beings – refugees and migrants.

So I’ll just simplify so that people will understand. What you are saying is that there is the network of smuggling of prostitutions, of weapons, and also of drugs?

Yes.

Of drugs also, it goes to Turkish banks, and from Turkish banks it gets laundered again…to the European Union.

Through Greece. They are going to the huge banks, Deutsche Bank and others banks in the Europe.

So they carry the money on their bodies?

Yes.  They want a free market for this kind of business. And we are a free market for this kind of business. Because Mr. Tusk, Mr. Juncker and Mr. Erdogan decide what is going to happen. For example, I’ll give you an example you probably don’t know. What Mr. Erdogan said to Mr. Tusk and to Mr. Jucnker back in November. Probably it was Russian intelligence that took the conversation and gave it to the Greek newspaper. Probably Russian intelligence, I don’t know. But the newspaper printed a week ago a conversation between Mr. Tusk and Mr. Juncker with Mr. Erdogan, discussing the situation with the Greek islands, the refugee and the migrant problem. And Mr. Erodgan asked not 3 billion but 9 billion. And when Mr. Juncker said to him, “I cannot provide such funds for Turkey,” Mr. Erdogan said, “you saw the drowned body of the 4-year-old in the Greek island”? – “Yes.”  “How about sending you 14,000 such bodies to Greek islands?” – That’s what Mr. Erdogan said to Mr. Juncker and Mr.Tusk.  And when Mr. Juncker said: “What do you want?  Are we dealing with like you are a prince”? And Mr. Erdogan said: “Yes, I am a Prince. I’m an Ottoman Prince.”

So, you see, we are under a political mafia. And no one, even in Turkey or in the EU, can deal with this Mafiosi because we don’t have democracy or even parliamentarism to provide the people with a voice, or to have some people who will deal with it. They negotiate in the dark rooms. What the people could say a few decades ago – it is something like Nazism. That’s why we say that we are facing not the European Union but a new European Reich. Full fledged.

So what does Erdogan do with the money he gets?

Mr. Erdogan wants to provide new funds to the industry we are talking about in Turkey. It’s official policy. And you can have illegal planning: take 100 refugees with your boat or whatever it is and bring them to the Greek islands. So you have the NGOs on the Greek islands. In my opinion, most of the NGOs working on the Greek islands are working for smugglers. Smuggling people.

Let me give you an example: more than 10,000 children coming out of the sea and identified by NGOs – “saved” by NGOs – they were lost afterwards. No trace. No trace at all. While going to the EU. About 10,000 children. Who is responsible for this? We’re talking about a massacre. Because, the children up to 14, 15 years old, are going to the European Union, for what? For prostitution and of course for illegal forms of human organs. 10,000 children. And that’s the situation the EU created in our armed forces with the support of our own government.

What do you think can be done about the fact that a lot of Greek people are simply apathetic and they don’t see the connection between the Euro and their own economic situation. The longer they wait, the worse it’s going to get. Because there are growing chances, the war in Syria is going to get much worse. If that happens, Greece, as a member of NATO will get involved in the war in Syria.

I know. And we are very very fearful right now about the rise of that possibility. Because NATO is in the Aegean not for the refugees or the migrants. They are here to confront Russia. Ok?

Russian forces in Syria?

Yes. We’re talking about a huge naval force from Russia coming from Crimea and the Baltics and for the first time after the 19th century the Aegean is closed off. They cannot get safe passage to Crimea. You can see what is going on?

But how will boats manage to block Russian forces?

Because the Aegean is now out of reach for the Greek government and nominally for the Turkish government. Who is going through the Aegean is up to NATO to decide, who is to have safe passage. NATO decides. Not Greece, not Turkey, not even international law. You can say that according to international law I can have safe passage… No! Because NATO is doing surveillance all over the Aegean and NATO decides who is going to pass. Because let’s say the Russian warships are working for refugees or for migrants, whatever. They can say whatever they like. Who is going to say otherwise? – Russia. Oh, so what. That’s what happened here in Greece.

Of course, we lost our sovereignty, and on top, we’re totally involved in the war creation process of NATO against Russia. And of course, that’s why the Russians, Mr. Putin, agreed on a set-back in Syria. Agreed on a ceasefire in Syria that provides for the mercenaries. Because the mercenaries were to use the ceasefire situation to refurbish their forces with new material and of course ammunition and, of course, men, coming especially from Turkey.

Then the talks in Geneva collapsed and then NATO decided to go to the Aegean…

Yeah, exactly.

The talks collapsed pretty much with the support of the US…

And now, Mr. John Kerry, can go to Lavrov and say to him: “Ok, you have two possible situations. Either your fleet is cut off from Crimea, and we’re talking about a huge fleet that’s with cruise missiles, the major ships of the Russian Crimea fleet. Either you lose your fleet, or we decide together to get rid the Assad Regime.”

And that’s right now what is happening. Of course, Russia tries to manipulate or whatever but what is happening right now in Syria is exactly that. Even with the declarations of Mr. Steinmeyer two days ago. What Mr. Steinmeyer, the secretary of the foreign policy of the German government said was that the only thing we need right now, is that Tehran and Moscow will persuade Mr. Assad lay down his arms. That’s the whole plan. To dissect Syria, into 3 or 4 zones. Similar to what they did in Tunisia, or Libya, or Iraq. Same situation. And after Syria, they will go on. They will go to Jordan, they will go to Iran, they will go to Turkey itself. And they will dissect again and again the whole Middle East region. And of course, us too… But we are easy to be dissected.

This leads me to a different question:  The European elites must be aware of the social unrest here, so; how do you think they plan to continue?

I believe that by the end of 2017 – this is my own conclusion – we will not have Greek forces involved either in national defense or security. Inner security will be provided from NATO. Even the army of Greece will be demolished and only a few units will remain, just like in Bulgaria or Albania. And they are going to be totally submitted to NATO.

And right now, we have on the northern borders of Greece, Academi and Group 4 forces, provided with Frontex budgets, right now.

Where exactly?

Sérres and Komotini. Greece and Macedonia – Greek Macedonia. And everybody knows that. The Greek army knows, the Greek police knows that. But it was decided by the Europeans.

But what are their purposes for being there exactly?

Officially to provide security service guarding the northern borders of Greece because Greece cannot provide such level of security. Let me give you an example of the whole situation, of how dire it is.

In the third memorandum, you will see that we have to provide less and less for our national defense. The state budget of 2016 provides 200 million, not billion, 200 million to the federal defense budget. In the 2015 budget, the national defense budget was 500 million. In one year’s time, the Europeans decided that the national budget must go down by 300 million. With only 200 million Euros, you cannot even pay the wages of the military personnel you employ as a state. On the budget of 2017, the memorandum says that the national budget will have to go down even further.

So in the future, we will see a situation whereamidst social unrest, Greeks will find themselves confronted by mercenaries, Academi?

Exactly. When you will have such a situation in Greece, I can guarantee you, the Greek people will take arms. It was done back in the 20th century a lot of times and it will be done again. Of course, we don’t want that, to go down that road. But we will travel this road, if we cannot do otherwise. We will fight for our country. Our forefathers fought for our country. We will fight even with arms, if we are against foreign troops, mercenaries or whomever. We will fight.

Of course I believe that in 2016 there will be a social resurrection here in Greece, one way or the other. I don’t know which way the social unrest will go. But we will have social unrest. If you walk on the streets Greece you will see a lot of people now, saying: “Ok, the situation is over our heads. I cannot afford any longer to stay silent. I have to do something.”

Ok, we have the farmers. We have the lawyers. We have the medical workers. All over Greece, the social rage is climbing. We will have a social unrest… and we will try, through EPAM of course, to make it a participation, to pave social unrest and to create a situation that can end up in a social revolution. Because the only way we can get rid of the whole regime is through a social and political revolution.

When we are talking about creating a social revolution we are not talking about – in the same way – like we’re expecting an attack on the Winter Palace like the Russians did back in 1917. No. We are talking about the organization of a huge part – a major part of the Greek population in my opinion – that will demand the demolition of the whole regime.

We will see that. And I believe that we will see that in 2016. I don’t believe that it will be before August. After we see the weather in Greece opening up, you will  see that most of the major movements, the social movements here in Greece, they are coming out like when Spring is coming. When we have spring in terms of the weather, it’s the same thing with society. Something like a natural biological process in society. You have a spring in society. And you will have that in 2016.

Otherwise, I don’t know what we will face in 2017 and in 2018. Probably, we will have to fight through other means.

By the way, speaking of Iran, I read a report on this on one website that Albania received about 2,000 fighters of an Iranian opposition group.

Yeah, that’s true.

But why?

Well, let me give you a scenario. I don’t know if it will come out… but it’s a kind of scenario that happens in Greece especially on a military level, and of course, with the security forces.

They are expecting some kind of a UÇK situation on Macedonia or even closer to the Albanian border. A UÇK situation is like a thousand, two thousand mercenaries, coming and creating a situation. Like the UÇK did in Serbia, in Kosovo.

The KLA?

Yes, the KLA [Kosovo Liberation Army]. We call them the UÇK. Mercenaries. NATO mercenaries. It’s very easy nowadays. We don’t have the means to guard the borders of our country. By 2017, we will have foreigners guarding our borders. Especially mercenaries, Academi and Group 4. British multinationals and American multinationals – the corporation created out of Blackwater. They already have an agreement with the Frontex organization to provide security services.

So, it’s quite easy. Who is going to stop them? Nobody. Except of course the Greek people. And they have in their minds the same situation. They will create a monstrous regiment, leading the section of Macedonia, the mercenaries will probably invade, and come down to Athens. And when the Greek citizen sees refugees, Greek refugees, coming… they will be frightened so much, they will accept anything. That’s the NATO scenario.

Of course, our history is quite different. If the Greek sees a Greek citizen coming as a refugee from a foreign invasion, you will see what will happen. You will see the same thing that happened back in 1940.  Barefoot, they went up to the Albanian mountains fighting against the Italian fascists. No guns. No political leadership. With the military dictatorship and fascist dictatorship here in Greece. And the Greek people went up there without even stopping. Because back then we had more casualties from the winter than from the Italian fascists. Because our forefathers had nothing. And they fought back then. Nobody believed back then…

Even Ciano who designed the Italian offensive in Greece said back then when a British diplomat asked him, “How sure you can be that through your offensive Greece will collapse in a few days”? And Ciano said, “We bribe the whole regime, the Metaxas regime.” It was a fascist regime. And what happened? Every Greek, even my grandfather, who walked with a limp, he was one leg short from birth, he went on foot from Kalamata to the Albanian border. We are talking about more than 1,000 KM. On foot. Without even a gun. He took a gun from a dead Italian fascist and fought down to the end. You will see the same thing happen again. They don’t know the Greek people.

Of course, it’s easy to say that if you take the Greek and close him in a dark room for days and then tell him “You know, don’t open the door because the light will blind you.” Well, probably most of the Greeks will decide not to open up the door. But when you squeeze him against the wall, he will decide, either to be a traitor or a hero. And most of them will decide to become heroes.

It’s easier for Greek, even if you see the history, to give up his life, rather than to give up his watches or his wallet or whatever. It’s easier for him, to decide to give up the life.

Why would NATO want to do such a thing? To prevent a social rest?

No, no. It wants to create a corridor in the Balkans.

NATO does?

Yeah. A corridor coming through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and Albania. It’s a buffer zone to control the whole Balkans.

And then NATO will come in to restore order…

Exactly. And through that you’ll have gas pipes, or installations, whatever. It’s only for foreign forces to control the whole Balkans. And of course, through the Balkans you control Central Europe. You control Russia. If you’ll go back you’ll see the same thing as the Truman Doctrine in the new situation. What we had back then – the Truman Doctrine that took us into a civil war in Greece – it’s the same thing.

They will create this buffer zone, they will reduce Southern Greece, in order to provide for an installation of Israeli forces and NATO forces, in order to have a lever, a foothold for Israeli defense. Because they want Israel to be like it is right now. It’s a constable for the US imperialism in the Middle East. They need it. By destroying the whole Middle East you need to provide Israel with a backbone of defense – a buffer.

Let’s go back to 1967, when Israel started the Six Day War against Egypt. The US asked the military junta we had back then – created by NATO here in Greece, – to provide Crete for military installations for the Israeli air force against Egypt. Back then even the military junta thought of the political reactions here in Greece and they didn’t accept. Right now, the Left government signed an SOFA , a treaty, with Israel. And now Israel is creating a military airport, in Kastelli in Crete, and bigger military installation of radars in Crete. They are creating installations all over Crete. Crete is another, you know, unsinkable airbase, it’s like a…

An aircraft carrier.

An unsinkable aircraft carrier for NATO. And the Left government signed all of this, for NATO and Israel. We are the only state, besides the United States, to have SOFA treaty with Israel. Nobody else, nobody else. Only us and the United States.

That’s why NATO and US allies like Israel need it: from Larissa downwards to south of Greece, for military and geostrategic purposes. From Larissa upwards – that’s Macedonian Greece – it’s going to become a buffer zone to control the whole Balkan situation.

But that’s obviously not a long-term solution for them. It just means perpetual war and conflict.

Exactly. We have a perpetual war on the financial market. So as long as we have that kind of functional situation of the world economy, we have perpetual war. 100%.

And in my opinion, we have a third world war. It started in 2014. Why? Because it was the first year that 11% of the world population was involved in military action or worse. The first time since the Second World War. And from that point and on, you will see every year, 2015, 2016, more people coming in… That’s world war. And we will probably the surpass the second world war.

But on a different plan, we will have perpetual war all over the place. With Rogue states, civil wars, demolition wars, the destruction of nations and states, things like that. That’s the new form of the world war.

And that is inevitable because of the financial support of the major world powers.

They need states, nations and people to be liquid as capital.

Maybe you can talk about that a little bit…

It’s easy. If I am Mr. Buffet, I know we are not talking about Buffet but a financial elite… in order to create new situation of more profit for my own investment capital, I cannot deal with different states. And I have more then, nominally, we have more than 327 trillion dollars in terms of investment capital worldwide. Controlled by 40 banks… even less. 40 banks. 327 trillion… We have a GDP, a world GDP, from 75 to 77 trillion dollars. And they are only for investment. We’re not talking about derivatives or other aspects of the financial market. We’re talking about 327 trillion dollars. So in order to create opportunities for my capital to provide new, or even more profit, for my portal, we have to destroy and re-destroy the whole… I cannot provide more out of the normal economic cycle. We have to destroy and recreate the cycle itself. And there’s no way I can do that if we have normal states or people or national economies, things like that. We tried that through financial means. We saw that. And we saw how the whole market was destroyed back in 2007 up to 2008. After that, they recreated the whole market and right now they have even a worse situation then back in 2007. So, in order to subsist that kind of a situation in the financial market, we need an army, we need political means – the economy cannot provide any more. You will see that the big international corporations are avoiding from investing. They keep the money on the coffers, and they are using it re-buying equities in the financial market. Things like that. They cannot…

They buy what?

Equities, their own equities. You will see the world commerce going down. So the normal world economy cannot afford to go up on the same level as the financial market. And the difference between the level of the real economy and of the fictitious economy is even bigger than that. What covers the difference is the political means. Creating opportunities for the fictitious capital. That’s the only way. There’s no other way.

That’s why when the equities market went down back in 2014, the US decided that “Ok, forget all about lowering the defense budget. No. Forget all about it. Give more bills to the defense budget.” From 2014, you have the advancement of the defense budget in the US. The same in all over neighboring countries. You will see, new wars erupting all over the planet.

How will they happen in NATO countries? The migrants or…

All over. Germany, went from 4 to 5 billion – if I remember the data correctly from the first budget – right now on 2015, do you know how much was the defense budget of the Federal Republic of Germany?  162 billion euros. That’s huge. And for what? To re-create a world-class army. That’s why the US wanted to give the leadership of the maritime mission of the NATO mission in the Aegean to Germany. It’s the first time after World War II, after the Bonn Treaty of 1951, for the Germans to only participate but to take leadership of a military mission. It’s the first time. And of course, Germany is a world class economy. And they want to keep that kind of status in the world economy. They tried a military partnership with Russia back in 2010. But, of course, the US destroyed that. They tried, through the EU, to create the so-called European Army, the European military force. But it was destroyed by NATO. And now, they are going through NATO military force with the agreement of the US.

That’s why they decided about the Aegean, 4 days after the General Secretary of NATO said it is Ok for the US to quadruple the military installations and military personnel in Europe. Ok? That’s a huge change in the US policy of NATO. And of course, “to defend Europe against Russian aggression.” All these political changes and developments you will see on the background of the situation in the financial markets. And what we have now is that even the BRICS economies cannot provide for the world economy. After 2008, we had the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, the world economy, even the US and, of course, the banks, the economies of capitalism and imperialism, and they had a way out. Through BRICS they invested a lot… and now the BRICS are coming down, especially in China or even in India, Brazil, even in Russia they have big problems. Of course, they cannot do anything. China cannot do anything. Because these are totally dependent on a world scale demand. If you don’t have a world demand for your own economy to grow 8% every year or 10% every year, then you have to recreate your own economy on a basis of a local market. But in doing that, you have to provide your own citizens with more income. More labor rights. And more protection for social situations. Can China, the Chinese Communist Party or the Chinese Government do such a turn? No, I don’t believe that they can do it. Because it would be a fortune for the Chinese to get out of the economic model they had from the 1980s. They cannot do such a social political turn for their own economy. They will destroy the whole system, the political system in China. And if you do that, you will have a Chinese working class demanding more and more and more. And the capitalist world economy would lose the Chinese wage. So, the only way for the world system to go ahead is only through war. There is no other way. They cannot invest anymore. Only in a total destruction. Perpetual war.

But, obviously, that’s not a long-term solution. So we’re just going to see more and more wars throughout the EU?

Exactly. Or up to the point where you will have people’s revolutions – people who want to take back their own country and rebuild it. And in order to rebuild it they have to get rid of all the connections they have with the financial markets, the loan sharks, investment banks, or whatever. That’s the only solution. The alternative.

But any country which would do a revolution, of some kind of gain, any country which would reclaim its sovereignty… would find itself under attack, will find itself under debt, so…

Well, yes. But it’s difficult to find who will fight against sovereignty. It’s difficult for NATO or whomever to create a war situation against Greece because you don’t go up against people that are united and decisive enough to fight for their own country. That’s why they didn’t go against Iran. You will see them trying to use the difference between the government and the people, like they did in Syria. You have the regime, the Assad regime, which is not – you know – “people friendly” let’s say, and create a situation where you can demolish the social cohesion of the whole country. So if you have a social revolution or a popular revolution in Greece and the people are decisive enough to fight for the country, no NATO, no noone can go up against such a people. Or of course we will face an economic war. So what? We don’t want to be part of the financial market. We are not going out on the financial market for loans. We can do without loans.  We are not in need of them. Greece is a small economy.

… Greece can be self-sustaining in terms of producing its own food.

Exactly. It’s easy. It’s easy for us to find the oil we need for our economy. Or the industrial profits, or the industrial technology we need. If we want to rebuild our own industries of textiles, we’ll go to Bangladesh, we won’t go to the US. In Bangladesh we can find whatever we like, in industrial technology, in the textile industry. And we will rebuild it.

But I’m not sure how… if you already made the case that NATO and the financial system, at the current crisis that we’re in, how it profits from and encourages and is causing more and more wars. By that same logic then, if we follow that logic, any place that would have a revolution, NATO would attack that place…

Yeah. They will try…

Maybe the people will fight back, as in the case if they would have invaded Iran. But they would still try…

They will try. They will try by going from the backdoor, you know. Not through the front door. Because by going from the front door you risk a revolution in your own country. And they don’t want that. They want to be legitimized in the people’s eyes, even in their own country. The people would have to say that the Greeks are wrong, and NATO is right. For what? Because the Greeks asked for the country back? And because they said no loans, no nothing, we don’t need anything from you?

“We’re going to work our country and prosper. That’s the only thing we are asking for… And of course, we want democracy.”

They need some kind of an excuse. They cannot go and destroy… For example, in Libya, they had the excuse of Gaddafi. In Syria, Assad. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein. In Iran, the Mullahs. In Greece, what? They are leaving the EU? They want to rebuild their own country with their own abilities? And to rely on whatever their own country can provide?  It’s quite difficult. Of course, they can say whatever they like. But if we do a good job, if we provide for the people, which is what we are saying. If we create a new kind of a situation, a real democratic situation – not, you know, a sign of democracy – but a real democracy, it’s very very difficult, even for the CIA, to create a situation like this. Even to create a situation  we see in Venezuela. They forgot that a revolution everywhere in the world, if you want a revolution, you have to trust the people, not the regime, whatever good it is, not the party, no. The people. The grassroots. And if you forget that, you will pay for that. And that’s what happened back in the Chavez era in Venezuela. Now they are paying for that. Create a grassroots democracy. Take to the people your own things.  Give the people the ability to decide…

How are they paying for it in Venezuela?

Because they create a democratic regime, Ok. But they have an election system that provides for someone who takes 44% of the electorate to have 65% in the national assembly. Why? Of course, the Chavistas say this is all work of the reactionary forces. Ok. And now they are facing their own medicine. That’s why I’m talking about going to the people, giving them the ability to decide themselves. Through communes, through councils, through whatever you can find. Let the people’s imagination decide.

Since I was there and studied a little bit my impression of Venezuela is that… their mistake was that they didn’t follow the Cuban way. I’ll tell you what I mean. Basically, first of all, Maduro wasn’t strong enough about crime, there’s a lot of hoarding done by poor people…

Exactly.

And secondly, when you have elections every four years, and you have a socialist government running, you create a situation where you have populism. You just give free goods to the people and you don’t try to do anything that would be painful, like cracking down on crime. And then at some point, the more populist you become, the more they get tired of you, and then they throw you away.

The opposition had two major weapons against Maduro: inflation and crime. What can you do? First of all, socialize the money circulation process. They did not do that.

How do you do that?

You take the banks and destroy the private banking system. Destroy it. Through their own means, through money. Give money to the people, in terms of income or in terms of jobs.

They didn’t do that…

No. They let the private banking system create money through debt. That’s totally destructive. Even nowadays the Venezuelan government is indebted to Goldman Sachs. Are you crazy? What are you doing? And the other situation is exactly the corruption and the crime problems.

The crime situation: You can deal with it in two separate ways. One is the security forces problem. And they had the security forces problem. That’s why we had in 2002 and 2004 a situation of a coup d’état, through the security forces in Venezuela. So they didn’t solve that. They did a, you know, tried to solve it through the personality of Chavez. But that’s Ok; that’s one way to say “Kill my leader in order to leave me without a head and then deal with me easily.” The other way is to provide for the society itself to fight against crime, especially in barrios, and organize the society. We know that. Even from the US history of fighting  crime back in the Roosevelt years. The society itself. Not the police, or the justice system. The society itself. Organize.

What would be the incentive? You had a situation in Venezuela where people could get a PhD, they could do a Master and instead they chose to join a gang. What would be the incentive for communities to crack down on crime…?

You provide good jobs for the people.

When you nationalize the…

Yes. And good income out of the good jobs. And more leisure time in order to get involved in the political situation. Provide more of a decision-making process for the people. For, let’s say, a convention in every neighborhood. Call the people from every neighborhood to decide what to do in the neighborhood. And whatever the people decide, it will be implemented. They will implement their own decision. Through that, they will fight to implement their own decision. They will be responsible for implementing their own decision.  And through that you will fight gangs, you will fight everything. Most of the people who join gangs do that because they want a different type of an organization. And they find that through gangs. No. They can give them a different organization, and through that organization, they can decide and implement what they decide. They have the first and the last word in their own situation. In the social and political situation they are facing. And through that, who is going to join the opposition or to vote for multimillionaire that doesn’t care even for the people who are working for them. Nobody. Well, you know only the elite or a quasi-elite. How much? 5% of the population? 10% of the population? Whatever.

That’s the same conclusion you draw from the revolutionary process all over Europe from day one. Even if you go back to the great French revolution, or the Paris Commune’s revolution or whatever. You will see the same pattern. If you lose track of money, and if you lose track of grassroot democracy, you will lose permanently. That’s what happened even in the Russian revolution.

But in Cuba they are…

Well, yeah. But in Cuba, it’s a very different story. Because what they realized, even the American elite, realized by now is that the Cuban Revolution survived because of the encirclement of the American hegemony. Because the people, the patriotic people, the Cuban people, created a huge form against any foreign oppression or invasion. So even if the Cubans have any complex about the Castro regime or whatever, Ok, leave it aside, we’ll fight against any kind of foreign invasion and recreation of the Batista regime.

Now, the American polity, the political elite, acknowledge that by going through the back door. They tell to Raul Castro, “Ok. Let’s talk. Let us give you a little bit of money, a few dollars. Instead of having the Americans flying through Canada, Vancouver or Montreal and going to Cuba, Ok, let them go in easily.” They will do the same thing, or try – let’s hope that the Cubans, or the Cuban Party, draw the conclusions we are drawing right now. If they keep the bureaucracy, the party, the state bureaucracy in tact, they will lose the country. One way or another. Because when you have the bureaucracy, it’s easy for someone like the US to buy out their way into the country. No questions asked. We saw that back in the Soviet Union. In a few years’ time, you will see the same. The same one, in a few years’ time, I’m talking about 3 or 4 years, became the worse type of Capitalism in Russia. Party of state bureaucrats. The same thing with Cuba.

I don’t believe that Cuba has any other way out because it has to go through negotiations with the US. But it has to recreate the state apparatus. Give more freedom. Let go of the war-type organization of the society and the economy. Give more space for the people. Invest in the people’s opinion and give them more. Give them more. It’s the only way to defend the regime, of course, and the party – against the new invasion, the invasion of US “friendship” and the takeover of Cuba…

You can fight it easily, but you have to change your own mindset. You see. The type of Ernesto Che Guevara or Fidel Castro type with military clothes has passed… You cannot fight the imperialism, the new stage of imperialism, through these things. Of course, you have to keep up your military alert up to the most possible scenario… you can have a US invasion against you in matter of days. But through that, give more power to the people. Grassroots power, to decide their own decisions. Give them the space to make mistakes. So what?

Going back to Venezuela, some people suggested that if the pro-Chavista military will take over the country that could stabilize things more, they can bring back order…

I don’t know.

Because the way things are going now the opposition will take over the country.

I know, I know. And I see Maduro’s declarations.  It’s a very very risky business. If the military decides to come in, you create a precedent that everyone can use. Even the opposition. And the opposition is far more advanced in these matters than you are, then a movement like the Chavistas or Maduro’s PSUV party. The opposition can do whatever they like. They have the backing of the US.

But there are generals who are different, who have good relations with Cuba, China, Russia, and Iran…

I know, I know. But what about a civil war?

That will happen anyway.

I believe that if they try that, they will have the possibility to create a situation of a civil war for decades. Like in Colombia. You see, a civil war since the 1960s. It’s very difficult, a situation like this.

Either way, if the opposition takes over the Chavistas will do a civil war…

I don’t believe it’s an easy way out right now. What they had to do- they didn’t do, years back. Now, it’s very difficult to choose. Whatever you chose, you’ll have cons and…

But in this kind of a situation you have to make an imperfect decision.

Yeah, exactly.

…And I think the military can make the situation better for everyone.

If you have the military, and at the same time you will have a popular movement, and the popular movement will try to recreate from the bottom-up the whole situation- that’s a good thing. Of course, it’s a risky business, but that’s a good thing. But in order to do that, you cannot stop at anything. If you use a knife, use it well, without any hesitation. I’m talking in a matter of time, and I’m for it, Ok. If you have to use it, use it. You don’t mess around, use it. If you decide that the whole situation is up to cutting some throats, cut them. No questions asked. Cut them. In a few day’s time, in order to pacify the whole situation. If you prolong it, you create more strife. And that’s my opinion. If you decide that the only way out is using the military, do it. And do it in 24 hours, get rid of them all. And then find a way to legitimize. Are they traitors? Ok, they are traitors. Hang them. And let history judge.

From that time on, you will work to put the people in front of the whole situation. And from that point on you will recreate the whole regime, from the bottom-up. A grassroots democracy. And through that everybody, at the end, will say, Ok, it was a situation. And of course, go out to the people and take the blame yourself. You will say that “Ok, it was my fault, as a movement, that we came to that point. We made certain mistakes. We are not going to do that anymore. We will fight for our country because we are facing an invasion, it is a new type of invasion than Syria, but we will fight,” if you decide to use the military. And tell to the people: “Ok, we made the situation worse but we will rectify, with you. And from that point and on, you [the people] will decide, and we will follow.” That’s the only way, if you come to this. And that’s what we said about Greece. If we come to this situation where we have to use weapons or arms to deal with the enemy, we will do that. No hesitation. No way around it. No. We will do that. And we will do that with the most resourceful and efficient way we can do that. In order to resolve the whole situation in the smallest possible time. No prolonging, no nothing. We will fight. We will get rid of them. And then our recreate our own country, we will build a true democracy. And that’s what back in the 40s, the national revolution movement against the Nazi occupation did. Up in the mountains. From day one, they created a democracy for the people. It was very good. But they did the same mistake again. They didn’t trust the people, the grassroots people. And on a specific… the leadership was not adequate to deal with the political situation and accepted the presence of the British military in the country and that was the start of the civil war.

Their mistake was that they didn’t believe in the people. They fought for the people, but they didn’t believe…

The people need to be educated for you to really believe in them…

No. I believe that the people, when they start to fight, they learn from their own experience. Let’s see, you can see the Egypt situation. When the people without a political leadership or a political program, learn how to deal with the government, and how to dethrone a government or a regime – the Mubarak regime – it’s something that, you know, it’s written on the genes, on the people’s genes. They know the way. If they get rid of the fear of dealing with the regime or the government, then it’s easy, to topple one government, and then topple another government. Of course, when you have a political program it is easy to topple a government and create a new political situation. That’s the deficiency of the Egypt situation right now. But the people know how to deal with them…

But that’s only possible when the people reclaim their rights.

Exactly. You cannot have a successful revolution or social insurrection without a political program, a very specific political program. Ok, we don’t want them. We have to know what we want. What will succeed after the toppling of the government or the regime.

That’s where we are trying to organize, and we are trying to educate the people politically. You know, we need democracy. But what kind of democracy? We don’t need any type of democracy; we need grassroots democracy. We need the people to decide, not only every four years but every time any serious situation involving the people comes. To involve the citizens. To create a situation that even one citizen can make a difference.

Why in the world would Merkel want to accept millions of migrants to Germany after she said in the past that multiculturalism failed?

The main problem of the German economy is the export of capital. The net investment position of the German economy is about 26% of the German GDP. It’s a huge provider of capital for the national market. 26%, out of 20% before the EU. So the main strength of the German economy is to keep exporting capital. It’s a more typically imperialist economy compared to the US. Like an old European imperialist economy. Where I need to export capital in order to provide for the financial and economic elite.

In order to do that, it has to squeeze down all the labor costs and the social costs.

Ok, they did that for 20 years. Now they are facing a social situation. They cannot squeeze now, even more, the German labor or the German working class. They need some external force. The Germans know. The Germans know from the 60s. In order to create a German miracle back then they wanted millions of immigrants. That’s the same thing right now. But the difference is back then, it was a different world situation and European situation. A different capitalism, let’s say. They tried, most of them, especially the German trade unions, they tried to take most of the immigrant people, to take them and create a new kind of a German citizen. Now there is no more of that. “We need, immigrants for the specific time of staying in Germany.” “We need – the German oligarchy needs – a few hundred thousand or 1 million immigrants only for a specific time now. We need to get rid of them as soon as they start asking for rights.”

And how will they do that?

Easy. They take them back to Greece. Easy.

It will create a civil war. You can just do that easily…

So what. They did that.

So there could be a civil war in Germany?

Yes. Because the Germans now –  the German worker or the German middle class will lose everything. And that’s why you see Nazi parties in Germany coming up, especially in Bavaria. All over Germany you see people, political factions, that they say that they are not Nazis but Ok, over the political rhetoric you will see that Nazism is coming up again in Germany. Based on the social situation created by that policy.

But not everyone who opposes migration in Germany is a Nazi. They have a right, would you say they have a right to oppose migration?

Yeah, of course. I do. The difference between the Nazis, is the same thing like in the middle war years. The Nazis weren’t against migration. They were for migration, of course using them as slave labor. During the Nazi regime there were 7.5 million migrants working in Germany as slaves. There were more migrants than at any other time in German history.  So, they were not against migration; they were for.

Of course, you had… it was like Marx said. The capitalists are for migration using them in order to bribe their own working class. The same thing happened with the Nazis. They were using slave labor in order to bribe the German working class to accept the Nazi regime. Bribing them or through the army or providing more for the Germans against the slave labor force from Eastern Europe or from all over Europe. They were working for jobs the German working man didn’t want; the jobs were not respectful enough. They were working for less than trash, Ok? And of course, all during the war, the German soldier coming from the working class, had the ability to loot the whole Europe to provide for the family. And that’s how, more or less, it was a blind eye, even for the German working class, a blind eye for what the Nazis did all over Europe, and of course, the death camps and things like that. It’s something you know; it was a bribe. Of course, it was quite different under a totalitarian regime. But it was exactly the utmost scale of what the British imperialists did with the British working class using the slave labor of the Irish back in the 19th century. That’s why Engels and Marx said you have to get rid of the bulk of the Irish, in order for the British working class to become revolutionary. And first and foremost, you have to give national sovereignty for the Irish in order for them to stay in their own country and not to come into Britain. It’s the same thing.

What I found interesting is as you said, just as there is a farmers protest here and entire farms are being taken over by corporations and Monsanto’s power grows more and more, we’re seeing the same crisis in the US. Because the government is taking – from what I learned – the government is taking land from private farmers and ranchers, to create a national park, and then they sell off the area to private corporations, even areas with uranium. So what happened now in Oregon, is that a lot of farmers and ranchers, white farmers and ranchers, came out to protest against the government. But the interesting thing is, that the American Left who you would think would be the first ones to join – didn’t join. So what is your opinion about that?

Well, in my opinion, most of the Left, even in Europe and the United States, lost the ability to know or to acknowledge the real problems. In order to provide a revolutionary movement, let’s say. If we consider the Left to be a revolutionary force, you have to know the grassroots’ problem. You are fighting for the working class, that in order become a dominant class, it has to be a dominant class for the nation. That is what the Communist Manifesto said back in 1845. Marx said that the working class doesn’t have countries. But at the same time he said that since the working class has to gain power, it must become the dominant class of the nation. A nation is not something you sign off at the doorsteps of the country or on the constitution. Nation is something that comes from the bottom-up that creates a society. A place where someone can fight for rights, for the rights to self-government. If you lose sight of that, it’s easy to cross sides and to become part of the dominant class and adopt the ideology of imperialism. See how easy it is nowadays internationally to become mixed up with cosmopolitanism – the ideology of imperialism. “You don’t need nations.” Even in our own country, we have Left forces, saying that because of the migrants and the refugee crisis, “Let’s get rid of the national borders.” Ok. NATO did that for us. That’s what NATO did. So, the extreme left, let’s say, the most radical left, by saying “Let’s get rid of the national borders,” invited actually NATO to do that. That’s why I went out and said that “Ok, the radicals of Left saying that are only agents of NATO imperialism.” It’s the same thing. We’re fighting for the people first and foremost, for everyone who has the right to own a land in the country, as a farmer or as a citizen, to have his own traditions, beliefs, even a religion. I don’t believe in any religion but I will fight to death for my people to have their right to have their own religion. That’s what Ernesto Che Guevara said about the theology of liberation in Latin America. He was not a religious man. But he fought and said that a revolutionary or liberation theology was part of parcel of national liberation movements in Latin America. You can see that even in Greece.

For the people in order to become free, first and foremost they have to have national self-determination. National sovereignty. To become a nation. To become a nation is where the last of the last of the citizens has the right to create the state that the citizen lives in. That’s what nations is all about.  And on top of that he has the ability, has the right, to create his own tradition, it’s own art, civilization. We don’t have to earn a civilization. We have it. Human civilization, created from different cultures, different historical types of civilization. Every type of civilization, of people’s civilization, has the right, to become the dominant civilization in its own country. And by dominant civilization, I don’t mean “get rid of the minority.” No. Every citizen has the right.  In order to do that we have to have national sovereignty. I believe in the Greek tradition. I’m proud of the Greek tradition. Because I know the Greeks that have fought for, the Greeks that came out of the revolution or war of independence, like the US historical textbook I am talking about, and the major slogan from the period was “Freedom or Death.” We were the first people who said “Freedom or Death.” Not “Patria O Muerte” [Homeland or Death] like the Latin Americans. We said that also. But we said “Freedom or Death.” We were fighting not only against Ottomans but against all the empires of Europe, the holy alliance. And I am proud of that tradition. And I have the right to keep to that tradition. And to keep calling myself “I am a Greek.” And since I am a Greek I have a huge tradition looking back. And since I am a Greek, I am living in Greece, I have to fight for democracy. Because it’s my tradition. It’s not only a political demand, it’s my tradition. It was here that the first fight for democracy, real democracy, took place, going back to the classical time.  So it is my tradition.

It’s only a world tradition. It’s my tradition, first and foremost. And that’s why they are fighting against Greece. They want to destroy the Greeks. That’s why they slander Greeks. That they are nowadays Jews for Europe. What the Nazis said about the Jews back in the middle war years, they are saying now about the Greeks. Why? Because they want to destroy the classical tradition of Greece. And the classical tradition of Greece was about democracy. Was about how to provide for the people. Demos we called that. The power of Demos, the power of the people. And they recreate the whole classical tradition, through their own imperialist aims.

They say in Berlin, in Paris, in London, and even in Washington, that they are the continuers of the classical tradition. No, the continuers are us. That’s why I see a civilizational collusion. Different civilizations. And I’m not talking about high from bullshit. I’m talking about real civilizations. Our civilization, even through our religion, it’s not mine but most of the Greeks, we’re talking about free will. The Greek Orthodox Church is based on free will. It’s not like Catholicism or Protestantism. We believe in free will. Because even Christianity had to adopt to the classical Greek tradition. And that’s why in the Greek Orthodox Church you will see even the most religious person talking about free will. The free will of the human.

For us, we are fighting for human freedom. And we are facing the Protestant tradition in terms of economics and politics that says first and foremost it’s submission. No. For us, it’s free will. It’s freedom. Freedom to do whatever we like in terms of the person inside a society. That’s the difference between the Greek culture. Even now the European elite call us stubborn, we don’t cooperate with what they say. Their vision of cooperation is the submission of the person to the totality. A totalitarian view of cooperation. No. We say that we can be different. Quite different. For a different road. But we can fight together. That’s how the Greek city-states back in the fourth century BC fought against the Persians. They were fighting each other before, but in the critical moment, the Athenians decided to leave their own city-state in order to go to Salamis to fight effectively against the Persians. And of course, they were fighting for freedom and democracy against Eastern despotism. That’s the whole meaning. And it’s even today. We are very different. We can fight easily each other. Easily. You can see it even in our own close relations. But at the critical moment, we will find a way to unite and fight the common enemy.

And that’s the difficult part also. We’re not soldiers, like the Germans. Following the leader, the Führer. No. We are quite different. You see, our national hero, one our national heroes is Kolokotronis. Kolokotronis is like, I can translate it in English, Kolos is in us, and kotrona is a stone. It means “us, as a stone.” Kolokotronis.

Foundation?

No. Actually, he had a forefather that could jump easily more than 10 meters from a stationary position. And the Albanians, the Turkish Albanians back then said – he was admired by the Albanians, you know, back then, they were very renowned fighters. And the Albanians called him Kolokotronis, he has an “us” out of a stone in order to jump out of a stationary position ten meters away. That’s why he was called Kolokotronis. Kolokotronis said “it’s easy.” He fought for Napoleon and for the English as a mercenary back in the early 19th century. When he was the leader, one of the military leaders of the Greek revolution, he said “It’s easy to lead a European army. It’s easy. You are the general, you have a staff, you deploy your plan, and then you give the orders to your staff, and the commanders and the staff decide what to do next. It’s very difficult to lead a Greek army. Because a Greek army, you have to go out and say good things about someone, say bad things about the other, give presents to the other, and things like that. It’s very difficult. No European can lead a Greek army.” It’s the Greek society, it’s the Greek flavor, it’s the Greek culture. But that’s what we are. That’s our Greek temperament. That what differentiates us from all over Europe and the Balkans. And that’s what we want to keep. If we go back to the 16th century, the 17th century, if you read the Europeans that came here as travelers, you will see the same thing. When they were coming to Ottoman Greece, they were expected to see philosophers discussing philosophy matters and things like that. Instead they met poor people subjected to a very despotic regime, the southern regime. But they liked the term “freedom.” That’s why all over the place, you’ll see easily, you’ll find the names Elefteris and Eleftheria. Elefteris is a very common name, Elefteris means “free,” “freedom.” Eleftheria means “Freedom” in Greek.  And you’ll see that all over even in the 16th century. English, Germans, French travelers came here, to Ottoman Greece, from all over the place and heard everywhere people saying to each other  “Yasu Elefteris” [Hi Eleftheria]. Elefteris is the Greek name for freedom, or Elefteria – the female name. It’s something, you know, you have to… It goes back centuries. And, we are proud of it, we are not going to get rid of it, and we don’t want to get rid of it, to become a German type of society.  And that’s why the human center of civilization started from here, something to do with the climate, and of course, as Hippocrates said back then, “The Greeks are much better fighters than Asians because they are not under a despotic regime.”

It’s the same thing right now. Of course we are trying to keep up because we don’t have a political situation that is free and democratic but it’s inside every Greek. And you want something like that. They didn’t have… We try to fight, our people fought for that kind… it’s easy for the Greeks when they start fighting to find a way to create a democratic situation. It’s easy for us. We did that back in the war. And if you remember the partisans were fighting up in the mountains. And in the villages are the most socially backward socieities, but in these villages a new kind of democracy was created. And it was easy for the most backward village to adapt that type of democracy, a new type. The villagers created their own judges, they created their own political system and they decided themselves what to do. Under an occupation. Even the intelligence secret agents that fought in Greece, who were of course against the Partisans…

The British?

Yes. Mr. Woodhouse. Even he said, in his own book, afterwards, that in a period of three years of fighting over the mountains, the Greeks managed to civilize the most uncivilized place, the mountains in Central Greece, because you know it’s something with the Greek people. It’s the same thing. The difficult thing for us to start, but after that it’s easy. It’s our tradition. It will come up. We will find our way to create the most fantastic and admirable democracy. The only problem is to convince people you have to get rid of the whole regime, not only a party or a government. Otherwise, you will lose and die.

Thank you very much. Efhartiso poly.

 

Austerity and Neoliberalism in Greece with Richard Wolff and Barry Herman

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 of 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.

Austerity and Neoliberalism in Greece with Richard Wolff and Barry Herman | The New School

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

SYRIZA’s new Greek government is just PASOK “updated” – Soro’s edition

Η νέα κυβέρνηση

in Swedish

The SYRIZA government’s inner circle and its first week doesn’t give much hope 

The names in the new Greek government that was announced last Tuesday, gave many of us the shivers. Even we that didn’t believe in all the promises thought at least, that by getting rid of the ruthless, previous “Brussels- och Berlin-servants”, we could breathe out.

On the contrary, we had to abruptly digest the fact that Tsipras really can’t keep many of his main promises to the people. Not with these neo-liberal, “Soro’s boys and girls”, in the inner circle of ministers and vice ministers.

There is no doubt that the people’s choice in the elections was a ‘good step’, it was a step in the right direction but it was really nothing more than just one single step. And that little step is not expressed in the election of a Tsipra’s government, but in the decision of getting rid of the Samara’s government.

253D19293CCD065A27EEAE961B946818A brief analysis was made on Monday by Dimitris Kazakis, the economist and general secretary of the democratic, resistance movement E.PA.M* (the United Popular Front). He commented on some very suspicious members in SYRIZA’s lead, some of the former members of PASOK, the “dirty” members with an unresolved past. He commented on these names, because they are found in minister and vice minister posts, and in the negotiating team of the new government. After one look at the names, one understand that it is more likely that there will be sessions of sheer bargaining, rather than true negotiations about the Debt, the Austerity and the Democracy.

He speaks about the ministers and the members of the negotiation team as, the new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (a George Soros “boy”), vice prime minister Giannis Dragasakis and the minister of infrastructure, shipping and tourism, Georgos Stathakis, These are the Greek “Dalton brothers from the old PASOK” – Averel is missing, because he started his own party and got 2,4% from family and ‘friends’. All three are the bankers wolves. So the big bankers victory, also in this European ‘left-government’, is obvious.

He speaks about, “negotiator” Nikos Christodoulakis (Minister for Kostas Simitis, one of the most hated prime ministers, because he indebted the Greeks massively, with the infamous stock market fraud and various bribe scandals), Deputy Minister for combating unemployment, Rania Antonopoulou (from Levi Institute and active in several of George Soro’s organizations), “negotiator” Louka Katseli (voted for the first Memorandum and said afterward that she was not even familiar with the figures for the debt, because she didn’t read what she voted through), Nikos Kotsias the new reckless foreign minister (George Papandreou’s Foreign Minister, Pagalo’s helper, and Mr. Papandreou’s secretary – has been Pagalos-trained for many years).

It seems that the failed and fatal, neo-liberal Papandreou prescription will be restyled and ensured, instead of seriously questioned and condemned by those ministers. We see a poorly disguised PASOK, governing Greece now.

In Soro’s service  

The new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, revealed in his very first interview as a finance minister – given to BBC by the way, and not to a Greek channel – for who he really work and on whose behalf he really will negotiate. It stands clear that he is in this position to ensure and protect Soro’s, Levi’s & Co interests, and not to really negotiate on behalf of the Greek people. He is not there to, with the support in constitutional and international law and UN resolutions, question the debt. He is not there to demand a legal and financial investigation of the debt and the neo-colonial agreement with the Eurogroup/IMF/ECB.  Even if that was one of the clear, actual assignments, from the people. With a few leftish, ‘cosmetic’ adjustments, and some socioeconomic ‘lollipops’ to the suffering, he will try to pass a new kind of “Memorandum”, a permanent one.

He will do this by continuing the Papandreic reasoning. This Narcissus, didn’t call the Greeks lazy, as Papandreou did, but he was equally degrading when he indirectly acknowledged the debt, instead of telling the truth to the Europeans, about the ‘Greek loans’. He should have! Because that’s what SYRIZA promised us. He felt instead that he had to calm down the nervous investors and the Eurogroup, before he could start posing as a “left” finance minister.

He actually deliberately lied to the Europeans, when he told them that they have ever paid one nickel from their pockets, for their governments loans to Greece. That their governments and their media have lied to them and told them that they tightened their citizens’ lives, because of the “lazy Greeks”, is an entirely different thing. That thing, is something that these citizens should take up with their governments, not with the Greeks. How are the Germans, the Slovenians and other European citizens paying for the Greeks?

Doesn’t Varoufakis know that Germany as a nation, borrowed Greece 15,2 billion euro within the framework of the “help-packages”, but made over 75 billion euro, only from the different interest rates on these loans? The loans that went to Greece was money that didn’t come from the citizens pockets, as this new finance minister implies. These countries governments borrowed money from the ECB with much lower interest rate than they lent to Greece. He also know more than well, that these countries didn’t lend Greece 240 billion euro in 5 years, but 55 billion euro, which 16 countries shared. The remaining 185 billion were provided by the EFSF, ie the temporary European Fund for controlled bankruptcy mechanism, which in its turn was borrowed from the markets by issuing its own debt securities. Thus they offered the citizens to speculate financially, to invest in another country’s bankruptcy, instead of asking them if they feel like supporting the EFSF or not. No one can ask the Greeks, neither legally nor morally, to feel any responsibility for the fact that these citizens lost money when they themselves accepted to speculate on people’s misery through such a disgusting pyramid game.

He didn’t tell the European citizens, that their governments actually made tens of billions of euros in profit by lending out money to Greece, and that they intentionally lied to them about it. 

SYRIZA promised the Greeks, that they would pass the message to the Europeans about this and not continue Papandreous blame games, while acting as the “hard negotiator”. Indeed an odd view our times “left-wing governments” have on the term, speaking on behalf of the people

We did not want the government to calm down the bankers and lenders. We wanted the government to upset them and determinedly and with the support of international law, really challenge them.

The European peoples hope against neo-liberalism?

If Tsipras have chosen to accommodate EU’s, the Euro-groups and the banker’s “wishlists”, he will not be well treated at all by the progressive parts of SYRIZA, the majority of their new voters and the bigger part of the Greek people. The majority of the voters voted for SYRIZA, for they committed themselves to “not back down” from the following promises: 

  • the condemnation and the demand for a judicial review, of the illegally imposed colonial loan agreements, in an international court
  • a radical, democratic change in the current party controlled, customer based, political system
  • the proper taxation of all the richest
  • all the responsible – domestic and foreign – for the Greek peoples suffering and Greece’s destruction, to be held to account in the court of law”, for their crimes

The Greek people will not be satisfied or trust any government, before it show in practice that it doesn’t back away from these people’s “red lines”, in all aspects of these four crucial questions.

Tsipras, should know – because most of his constituents and many of his party members know – that the main ongoing, immediate threats that daily deepens our concerns, fueling our anger and extend our grief are:

  • the enforced colonial agreements, the conditions and the debt serfdom of the Greek people (through the illegally signed resignation from any rights to defend its natural wealth, its sovereignty and its independence, on the demand of the Eurozone and Papandreou’s government),
  • the planned, systematic, impoverishment, exhaustion and humiliation of the Greek people
  • the increasing number of people who die as a direct result of ‘austerity’, all the suicides and the young migrating population
  • the dismantling of democracy, the human and the constitutional rights in Greece
  • the highly biased and propagandist media (that blatantly lies and instead of informing, withholds the truth from the people, polarize it and act like spokesmen for the Germany led, neo-liberal, neo-Nazi promoting and supporting, EU)

I will not comment at all on the small social-economic, tiny “soothers”. Once the above issues are treated with respect and according to the will of the people, I can feel myself compelled to applaud some of the ‘soothers’ too. I know that the submissive attitude towards the lenders were not at all what the Greeks voted for, nor a pimped Papandreou solution. We did not want the government to calm down the bankers and lenders, but to upset them. We wanted the government to determinedly challenge them, with the support of international law. But the Mr Kotsias, like any other of the current European moral cripples, they wave away international law, UN and international agreements and joins the psychopaths ‘war games’.

The Greek government foreign policy opened up for EU’s step two against Russia

One first positive thing, that could have been said about this government, would have been if Kotsias would have proceeded to the use of veto on the Ukraine issue, against the rest of EU. It would have been good if Greece’s media-baptized, “radical left” government, could have stopped the escalating involvement in the neo-Nazis massacres of the population of Ukraine, and not just adjust to the existing, highly toxic aggressiveness towards Russia. But the foreign minister Mr Kotsias (the Pangalos-apprentice) didn’t… He just pointed out some incorrect procedure and then he dropped the key comment “the sanctions do not work”, which in foreign policy language basically means we should proceed to the next step against Russia. He could have been the one who, with the support of international law and UN treaties, put his veto against “the EU’s ambition to be able to unilaterally declare war and start a war against a sovereign nation and from a third nation’s land”. That not a single representative, from any other member country, saw any problems with the fact that EU want to violate international law and existing UN treaties and resolutions, was not the problem according to Kotsias. But that they “ignored the prescribed procedure for Greece’s consent,” was certainly something he would not tolerate.

We know from historical facts that the comment “sanctions do not work” means let us go to step two. Airstrikes, drones, cluster bombs, create or support local “west-friendly ‘butchers and when that “does not work”, go to step three, land invasion (Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Argentina, Serbia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Libya etc.). Only in cases where they did not dare to actually declare war, they continued with sanctions for decades, such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and North Korea. That the Greek government did not use its veto against the EU and its neo-liberal crusade against Russia, is a position that is in direct conflict with the majority of the Greek people’s view and so will every submissive, customer minded Greek government be.

No, I can not really understand why some evil-minded, suspicious people, strongly doubts that this really is “the European peoples best hope against the bankers, the EU’s neo-colonial austerity policies and the neo-Nazi, ethnic cleansings”? Can you?

 

Kosmas Loumakis

Stockholm 01-02-2015

 

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Protest at Greek presidency’s inauguration – Brussels 2014

FIRST THE INTERNATIONAL MEETING IN ATHENS AND NOW ACTIONS IN BRUSSELS – NOW BEGINS THE EUROPEAN PEOPLES LONG STRUGGLE AGAINST EU’s TOTALITARIANISM!

Just a week after the ceremony for the presidency in Greece, which was accompanied by the prohibition of the public and the violent suppression of protests marches, protests against the tragicomic in the Greek presidency is marked also in the “heart of Europe”.

The purpose of this action was to unite the voice of the Greek, Belgian and the other European peoples against policies that plunder whole societies.

Representative of the Initiative said: “THE GREEK PRESIDENCY SYMBOLIZES AUTHORITARIANISM AND SOCIAL BARBARISM THAT THE ELITES WANT TO IMPOSE ACROSS EUROPE. THIS HORRIBLE EXPERIMENT MUST BE STOPPED NOW”

Representative of the Belgian action committees against austerity said: “The ruling classes in both Belgium and Greece tell us that the crisis ends. We know that’s a lie and prepare for a long-lasting struggle against it.”

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FÖRST DET INTERNATIONELLA MÖTET I ATHEN OCH NU AKTIONER I BRYSSEL – NU BÖRJAR DE EUROPEISKA FOLKENS LÅNGA KAMP EMOT EU-TOTALITARISMEN!!

Bara en vecka efter ceremonin för ordförandeskapet i Grekland, vilken åtföljdes av förbud emot allmänhetens deltagande och det våldsamma förtrycket av demonstrationerna, noteras protester mot den tragikomiska i det grekiska ordförandeskapet också i “hjärtat av Europa”.

Syftet med denna aktion var att förena rösterna från de Grekiska, Belgiska och de andra europeiska folken emot politiken som plundrar hela samhällen.

Representant för initiativet sade: “DET GREKISKA ORDFÖRANDESKAPET SYMBOLISERAR MAKTFULLKOMLIGHET OCH SOCIAL BARBARISM SOM ELITEN VILL INFÖRA I EUROPA, DETTA HEMSKA EXPERIMENT MÅSTE STOPPAS NU”

Representant för den belgiska aktionskommittén emot åtstramningar sa: “De härskande klasserna i både Belgien och Grekland säger att krisen lider emot sitt slut. Vi vet att detta är en lögn och förbereder oss för en långvarig kamp emot den..”

Austerity is illegal: Troika acts against EU law and human rights

Lire la version française

The EU’s austerity policy is unlawful, according to Professor Andreas Fischer-Lescano, a professor at the Centre for European Law and Politics (ZERP), University of Bremen, who drew up a paper for the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB), the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI).

The report was adopted on 28 November in Vienna and presented at a conference of lawyers from across Europe.

The European Commission and the European Central Bank are, due to their involvement in the troika, breaching the primary law of the EU, since the Treaty of Lisbon also includes the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

EU countries which approve of the Memoranda of Understanding in the Governing Council of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) are bond to Fundamental and Human Rights, argues Professor Fischer-Lescano, who says the crisis does not render EU law inoperative.

On a national level this approach was objected to by constitutional courts, Fischer-Lescano says, citing Portugal as an example. The European Parliament has to take action, he says. “The parliament needs to bring this back-room politics to an end.”

“Across Europe, trade unions have fought long and hard against austerity, and demand a fundamental political change of course,” said Bernhard Achitz, General Secretary of the Austrian Trade Union Federation.

“From drastic cuts in social spending, restrictions on basic trade union rights, such as the actual abolishment of collective agreements, intervention in minimum wages and much more than that, we have enough.”

In order to substantiate the trade union’s argument, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), ÖGB, and the Austrian Federal Chamber of labour (AK) commissioned a legal opinion.

“The results are very clear. The socially unjust and economic unreasonably austerity of the EU must come to an immediate termination. It is bad for the people, bad for Europe and it is also unlawful,” said Achitz.

This report strengthens the claim of European trade unions for a fundamental change of course and a European investment plan, such as the one recently proposed by the ETUC, says Achitz. “Investment in the welfare state and social services must take the place of short-sighted austerity policies, as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights must no longer remain a paper tiger, it has to eventually be observed by the EU policy.

Since the financial crisis started in 2008, member states have taken a number of measures to cut public spending and reduce budget deficits. These austerity measures have also targeted social rights and have led to a deregulation of national labour laws as well as the dismantling of collective bargaining systems“, says Veronica Nilson, Confederal Secretary of the ETUC.

The situation is the worst in the programme countries where the troika has imposed far-reaching measures. They have imposed cuts in minimum wage, interfered with collective bargaining forcing collective bargaining to take place at company level.”

So-called associations of workers obtain the competence to conclude wages that undercut the collective agreements negotiated by the trade unions. Professor Fischer-Lescano’s study strengthens our argument that we have to legally challenge the austerity measures. Trade unions have already had some success through the collective complaints procedure at the Council of Europe.”

What will happen with the return to the drachma, our national currency? – Dimitris Kazakis EPAM

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Dimitris Kazakis: Economist, analyst, general secretary and founder of EPAM (The United Peoples Front), which was formed from the massive protest movements in Greece from 2010 and onwards. He has been ploughing the country the last two years informing and organizing the Greeks for a democratic struggle for self-organization, national currency,  the cancellation of the debt and a new constitution… He speak about a democratic revolution through a long lasting national political strike for the overthrow of the whole current political system in Greece.

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Speech to U.S. college students and faculty members through Skype in April 2011.

by DIMITRIS KAZAKIS

What will happen with the return to the drachma, our national currency?

Obviously, the sky will fall on our heads and crush us. Greece will become Enver Hoxha’s Albania or Kim Il Sung’s North Korea. Just as it was before we became member of euro-zone. If I remember correctly, Greece did not come into existence on the day euro became our currency. We knew how to look after ourselves before the almighty euro came along. We had international relations before the euro, and indeed far better and more profitable, with a wider range of countries. And despite the fact that the national currency, that is to say the drachma, was managed by governments whose main objective was to facilitate inward and outward speculation and increase of the so-called competitiveness through continual devaluations, there were certain consequences not to be sneezed at:

• The country’s external deficit never reached the levels it has attained under the euro. The state of the poor little drachma was a matter of indifference to the countries with which we traded.

• Despite the inflation and the successive devaluations, the country’s external terms of trade were much better than in the decade of the euro. The same is true of the economy’s internal purchasing power.

• Because of the drachma the debt was entirely manageable, and despite the explosion under Mitsotakis’ and Simitis’ governments, it did not lead us to bankruptcy. Neither could we be led to the bankruptcy we face today, for as long as we kept the drachma.

These are the facts. If one wants to ignore them, that is his or her problem. Let us just bear in mind that from the time of the devaluation of the drachma against the dollar by Markezinis buck in 1954, the national currency lost 1000 percent of its value by the time we joined euro. Did that destroy the economy? Did we go bankrupt without realizing it? Did we lose our bank deposits? Did our currency disappear? Did our external economic transactions collapse? Nothing of all that. Why, I wonder.

Did Greece ever go bankrupt on account of its national currency? Never! In 1893 Greece went bankrupt because of overborrowing in gold francs, because of the country’s entry into the Latin Monetary Union, which was advertised at that time as an ideal source of cheap public sector loans. In 1932 Greece went bankrupt again because of the gold drachma and overborrowing in gold sovereigns, because at that time the country was in the currency union of the pound sterling, the gold sovereign.

None of these facts play any role in the discussion, because they have no role in economic studies in this country, given that all the hotshot professors in the economic schools who browse through the mass propaganda media and then proceed to tear their hair out at the prospect of return to the national currency are entirely illiterate when it comes to the subject of economics. The only thing they know is applications of quantitative methods in Business and Finance. Economic studies lost every trace of the classical economics education that was once the cornerstone of economic science. The intellectual repression to which the study programs subject students of economics robs them of any capacity for critical thought, turning them into Aristotelian “automaton” in the service of an economic theology where all that exists is the pursuit of easy money.

The English philosopher Carlyle once described economics as “the dismal science” because it could very easily be employed to justify every inhuman and anti-social practice. Today, even the well known American economist James Galbraith, son of John Kenneth, says very aptly that economics has become a form of menial, and indeed dishonorable, labor. The truth is that it has lost every characteristic of science and should be placed under the supervision of criminologists. Perhaps it would be best for economic theory to be classified together with other forms of economic crime.

I will not go into the strange fact that economists such as Nouriel Roubini, the Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, in fact the global economic community as a whole, with the exception of the servants of US and European banks, together with everyone else on European payrolls, reiterate what was once regarded as self-evident in public finances: that in the event of a crisis of over-indebtedness you write off the whole or at least the greater part of the debt, especially if it is public debt, and employ your own national currency in order to get out of the mess. I will not go into it because all this, in fact the entire history of public finance, has been written by “eccentrics” by “nonentities”, who could not hold a candle to today’s Stournarases, Hardouveloses and all the other proponents of “hard currency” on right and left of the political spectrum.

Just for the sake of it, it might be worthwhile referring to what John Maynard Keynes, a favorite source of quotations for ignorant people in university posts, said and did in a similar global crisis of overindebtedness. When, after the first World War, all the warring states were deeply in debt, primarily to the only creditor country that remained, the United States, Keynes surprised the economic and political establishment with two well-timed proposals. He said on the one hand that it was impossible for the debts to be serviced and in order for the peoples in revolt to be able to write them off it would be better to persuade the United States to write off the demands for repayment.

He said on the other hand that the golden rule of fixed exchange rates and privately issued money should be abolished and economies must introduce as rapidly as possible national currencies issued by the states themselves on the basis of their own particular needs. Keynes called for “national self-sufficiency” as the only way out of a world depression like the one European and US economy had back in the ’30s.

We face a similar situation today world wide, more aggravated than ever before and while euro has become the focal point of the devastation produced by the world depression, we are to believe that we must seek only supranational solutions through bureaucratic supranational bobies which all these years have been identified with the most predatory circles of banking and finance capital. We are to believe that the same architects of the worse mess the world economy is facing today, will deliver the solution too. Is like believing that a gangster can deliver law and order. Yes he can. Only at the expense of the innocent.

When Keynes dared to make this proposal for the first time in 1920, he was seen as an “eccentric” and in fact nothing less than stupid. Is it possible for the economy to operate without a stable currency with international backing? International trade will disappear. People’s savings will be lost, and nobody will want to enter into transactions with an inflationary national currency, which will just keep on devaluing and devaluing. This, and much else, like today, was invoked by those who thought Keynes was crazy, eccentric and stupid to make such proposals.

Of course Keynes thought that he could persuade governments, and above all the government of the United States, to make these adjustments themselves, before they were imposed by the people in a revolutionary manner. Just as some think today that they can persuade the EU and the European Central Bank to implement policies different from those it implements and to have a stance different from what it has.

The clue to the story is that the crisis of 1929 brought everything that the opponents of Keynes had portrayed as ostensibly inevitable consequences of his proposals for the writing-off of debt and restoration of the national currency. The peoples did revolt finally and the same people who didn’t want to see the loss of their financial profits introduced fascism and Nazism, leading the world into the holocaust of the Second World War. The same will happen today if we allow the powers that seek the open dictatorship of finance capital to insist on servicing the debt and support the “strong euro”.

In any case, the proposal for return to the national currency has to do with two immediate conditions: non-recognition and writing-off of the debt on the one hand, and on the other restoration of the national currency within a radically different socioeconomic and political frame from that which existed in the era of the old drachma.

What is going to happen? For a start, we are not going to keep it secret. It is not possible, and in any case not necessary, for that to happen. The knowledge, the vigilance and the participation of the people is the basic component of such a drastic change. Also, adoption of the new national currency is not something that can happen over a weekend. Six to eight months preparation is necessary. During this interval of time, in order to keep the circulation of the currency in banknotes as low as possible, the following immediate steps must be taken:

• The Bank of Greece must be nationalized and the country’s monetary gold returned.

• There must be nationalization of the largest private banks, which in any case are at the moment very generously subsidized by the state. There will be a freeze on all servicing of loans and external liabilities. The banks must be left to go bankrupt.

• Disposable liquid assets and gold in the possession of business enterprises and in private hands must be blocked. This will be done through installation of control commissions inside commercial firms comprised of state and workers’ representatives.

• All forms of tax-evading business practices (offshore companies, portfolio investments, etc.) will be abolished and all fixed and current assets in their possession on Greek territory frozen.

• The export of capital will be banned until further notice and a capital levy imposed, to be paid within two months by all large private companies, and in particular multinationals.

• Fraudulent closure of businesses will be prevented through imposition of special prohibitive fines and confiscation of assets.

• There will be a drastic reduction in the volume of wastes that can be introduced into Greece by multinational companies, and imposition of high tariffs on the introduction of luxury goods and products.

• Special programmatic agreements for intra-state collaboration will be concluded covering such imported goods as are necessary for the economy and for domestic consumption (fuels, raw materials, foods, medicines, etc.)

• Advantage must be taken of the potential for production of 9 tons of processed gold annually, following nationalization of the mines, with issuing by the central bank of special gold bonds to attract foreign currency.

• Nationalization of the country’s mineral wealth (nickel, bauxite, lignite, etc.) and its utilization for contracts with foreign countries for its productive exploitation and for immediate stimulation of foreign currency inflows.

• Establishment of interest-free open accounts with exporting companies, which will also be placed under direct state, and workers’, control.

Measures such as these are aimed at protecting currency circulation during the time interval necessary for us to be ready to reintroduce the national currency. From the moment that the national mint replaces the euro as internal currency, it will become possible to implement, immediately, certain policies:

1. Recovery from the currency “black hole” caused by the euro, amounting to approximately 30 billion euros annually.

2. A drastic increase in popular incomes and payments to workers for the purpose of generating a corresponding increase in market turnover and encouraging habits of saving.

3. Guarantees and gradual restoration of citizens’ bank deposits, which today comprise nothing but registrations for accounting purposes not backed by any assets.

4. Writing off of all private debts (of households and small-to-medium businesses) that cannot be paid off and institution of a ceiling on payments for the remainder to the amount of 25% of initial capital

5. Independent funding of self-sufficient development of production (above all, and with a priority on, primary, agricultural, production) on the basis of the most immediate vital needs of the population, the economy and the country’s international relations.

6. Imposition of a regime of regulation of the movement (import-export) of capital and of foreign trade so as to introduce drastic restrictions on the excesses now prevalent in these sectors.

These policies will make it possible to ensure that the issuing of a national currency and additional currency circulation will not cause inflation. Moreover support of the currency through such measures, and also the fact that it is not going to be converted into an object of speculation on the international currency market, will enable the currency to be stable and to reflect the real needs of the Greek economy.

Finally, we should make it clear that in the framework of such policies it will not be necessary to pursue the politics of continual devaluations, nor will the currency be exposed to tremendous pressure to devalue. In any case, the value of a currency that is not a plaything of the international currency market is determined by the dynamic of internal production and the extent of international economic links and relationships, which today are at a tragic level.

This process will secure a smooth transition from the euro to the new national currency, without violent dislocations and in correspondence with the needs of internal transactions. That being achieved, the way is open for a broader plan of productive reconstruction of the economy on the basis of full employment. We will finally have the financial means, and also the macroeconomic tools, to make it a reality.

Αναρτήθηκε από ΔΗΜΗΤΡΗΣ ΚΑΖΑΚΗΣ Τετάρτη, 30 Οκτωβρίου 2013 στις 9:59 π.μ.

Analysis: What lurks beneath the closure of ERT

The real reasons behind the ERT shutdown, the 300 million the state lost, and who benefits from it.

The eviction of the remaining staff from former public television’s (ERT) building last night in Athens was a bitter showdown of an unequal brinkmanship. The picture of handcuffs used as a padlock at building’s gate has already become one of historical value. It is a picture from the future of Europe.

But there’s a story behind the picture: Back on June 11th,with no prior notice, the Greek government shut down ERT, suggesting that urgent austerity reforms have been the reason for its decision.But Nikos Mihalitsis, former director of the technical department of ERT, has analyzed thoroughly that the public broadcaster’s shutdown occurred for other reasons. “One is that the government was going to apply, like it finally did, similar measures to other public organizations and shut down schools and hospitals. So it needed a trial case to measure reaction” and second and most important that private television owners in cooperation with politicians in power are trying to control the future TV market and as a result what information reaches to the public. “The time of the closure is not accidental. ERT was shut down right before the beginning of a tender [which has eventually been postponed for the end of 2014, something that might to an extent be connected to the prolonged standoff with ERT ex-workers] for the establishment of HD networks throughout the country. There are terms in this tender that clearly point to a Greek company that represents the interests of five private TV entrepreneurs, and make sure that no international player would consider bringing an offer” said Mihalitsis.

In Europe, and in most of the world, TV producers are prohibited from owning the distribution networks themselves, as a safeguard of independent broadcasting. Greek law, however, predicts that a TV producer could own a minimum percentage in such a company. This has created leeway for the afore-mentioned five to create a consortium and claim the tender for HD infrastructure. The consortium (Digea) has already won a tender to establish a smaller HD network covering only key points in Greece.

Absence of ERT means not only lack of a privileged public entity that would affect how HD broadcasting networks are distributed for the benefit of the public but also that a consortium of private actors, in coordination with its political partners, will be able to attempt to control anything broadcasted in the country.

Contrary to benefiting the public by saving it from an ineffective public organization burdened of personnel appointed as a political clientele, which has been partly true, the closure has been estimated to reach over 300 million in losses of rights and compensations for incomplete projects.

The importance of this case was demonstrated by the anxiety of the Ministry of Finance, to which all ERT’s property belongs after its closure, to silence ERT workers that stayed in the premises and kept broadcasting since the 11th of June. Something it failed to do until last night.

While criticism regarding pulling the plug of a public TV overnight started pouring in throughout Europe on June 12th, the European Broadcasters Union (EBU) stepped in and provided a satellite uplink in order to keep it going. On June 14th its president Jean Paul Fillipot flew to Athens, to warn that the move constitutes an act against democracy, and met with government officials asking them to backtrack on their decision. EBU Head of Institutional Relations Giacomo Mazzone told me in an email exchange at the time that EBU’s intervention was a committed one “because EBU is convinced that public service broadcasting is a primary right of the European citizens and nobody cannot prevented to access such service even for a single day”.

According to Panos Haritos, former ERT’s correspondent in the Middle East based in Jerusalem, a day after EBU’s visit to Athens the Minister of Finance asked from the Greek ambassador in Israel to contact the satellite provider company RRSAT and request ERT off its satellites, through which EBU transmitted its uplink. “The Israeli company accepted the request after the Greek side threatened to move legally against it” Haritos said.

Minister of Finance Giannis Stournaras had also threatened to take legal action against whoever reproduced signal with ERT’s brand while workers of ERT remained in the HQ of ERT and kept broadcasting on a daily. EBU maintained ERT’s TV and radio frequencies via a live stream on its website.

EBU interrupted ERT’s streaming on August 20th after the Greek government’s interim “Public Television” (DT), for which it hired a couple of hundred of ERT personnel and transferred its signal and rights, launched it first news bulletin. Some ERT workers stayed in the old headquarters and went on streaming online (with the help of ThePressProject). Initially DT broadcasting was made possible from private studios linked to some of the biggest private stake holders in Greek television.

The methods employed in eliminating ERT have caused severe political as well as legal criticism and appear to be full of irregularities. For one, the closure has circumvented the parliament and was implemented through a ministerial decree issued jointly by the Minister of Finance and Deputy PM Simos Kedikoglou, ratified only by some of the ministers. Second, according to Mazzone “some strange movements from the portfolio of rights of ERT on sport contracts to some commercial televisions occurred without any transparency and accountable decision”. Finally the ex CEO, and then appointed trustee of ERT, responsible for the broadcaster’s liquidation, Gikas Manalis has sent letters to all workers informing them they are fired since 11th of June. The letters were mailed unsigned and unstamped, and have been characterized as bearing no legal substance from expert constitutional lawyers.

In June the irregularities of the handling of ERT’s case had thrown PM Samaras government into a temporary existential crisis. The PM ignored an order by the Council of State to immediately restore public broadcasting. The government interpreted this decision in accordance with its actions and refused to open ERT, causing a cabinet reshuffling after the third partner of the coalition government, DIMAR, walked off. The new cabinet included a deputy Minister for ERT’s renewal who entered negotiations with workers regarding the future of the organization and the building, failing to create any consensus over the issue.

The closure of ERT by the government of New Democracy and PASOK underlines the nature of the governance with which the country was led through a severe austerity that has lasted already four years. Now based almost entirely on televised manipulation of public opinion, this is a government that takes down yet another opposition voice. Meanwhile it accuses everyone that talks against it of trying to obstruct the process of seeing the country out of this crisis, a moment supposedly close. Meanwhile, the country’s creditors that are in Athens these days are preparing another bitter pill of austerity.

Greece Is A Crime Scene

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An interview with the New York Times bestselling author, economist, and investigative journalist for the Guardian and BBC, Greg Palast, who discusses the failures of austerity and privatization in Greece. Aired June 6, 2013.

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