According to mainstream media, the current economic crisis in Greece is due to the government spending too much money on its people that it went broke. This claim however, is a lie. It was the banks that wrecked the country so oligarchs and international corporations could benefit.
Every single mainstream media has the following narrative for the economic crisis in Greece: the government spent too much money and went broke; the generous banks gave them money, but Greece still can’t pay the bills because it mismanaged the money that was given. It sounds quite reasonable, right?
Except that it is a big fat lie … not only about Greece, but about other European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland who are all experiencing various degrees of austerity. It was also the same big, fat lie that was used by banks and corporations to exploit many Latin American, Asian and African countries for many decades.
Greece did not fail on its own. It was made to fail.
In summary, the banks wrecked the Greek government and deliberately pushed it into unsustainable debt so that oligarchs and international corporations can profit from the ensuing chaos and misery.
If you are a fan of mafia movies, you know how the mafia would take over a popular restaurant. First, they would do something to disrupt the business – stage a murder at the restaurant or start a fire. When the business starts to suffer, the Godfather would generously offer some money as a token of friendship. In return, Greasy Thumb takes over the restaurant’s accounting, Big Joey is put in charge of procurement, and so on. Needless to say, it’s a journey down a spiral of misery for the owner who will soon be broke and, if lucky, alive.
Now, let’s map the mafia story to international finance in four stages.
Stage 1: The first and foremost reason that Greece got into trouble was the “Great Financial Crisis” of 2008 that was the brainchild of Wall Street and international bankers. If you remember, banks came up with an awesome idea of giving subprime mortgages to anyone who can fog a mirror. They then packaged up all these ticking financial bombs and sold them as “mortgage-backed securities” at a huge profit to various financial entities in countries around the world.
A big enabler of this criminal activity was another branch of the banking system, the group of rating agencies – S&P, Fitch and Moody’s – who gave stellar ratings to these destined-to-fail financial products. Unscrupulous politicians such as Tony Blair got paid by Big Banks to peddle these dangerous securities to pension funds and municipalities and countries around Europe. Banks and Wall Street gurus made hundreds of billions of dollars in this scheme.
But this was just Stage 1 of their enormous scam. There was much more profit to be made in the next three stages!
Stage 2 is when the financial time bombs exploded. Commercial and investment banks around the world started collapsing in a matter of weeks. Governments at local and regional level saw their investments and assets evaporate. Chaos everywhere!
Vultures like Goldman Sachs and other big banks profited enormously in three ways: one, they could buy other banks such as Lehman brothers and Washington Mutual for pennies on the dollar. Second, more heinously, Goldman Sachs and insiders such as John Paulson (who recently donated $400 million to Harvard) had made bets that these securities would blow up. Paulson made billions, and the media celebrated his acumen. (For an analogy, imagine the terrorists betting on 9/11 and profiting from it.) Third, to scrub salt in the wound, the big banks demanded a bailout from the very citizens whose lives the bankers had ruined! Bankers have chutzpah. In the U.S., they got hundreds of billions of dollars from the taxpayers and trillions from the Federal Reserve Bank which is nothing but a front group for the bankers.
In Greece, the domestic banks got more than $30 billion of bailout from the Greek people. Let that sink in for a moment – the supposedly irresponsible Greek government had to bail out the hardcore capitalist bankers.
Stage 3 is when the banks force the government to accept massive debts. For a biology metaphor, consider a virus or a bacteria. All of them have unique strategies to weaken the immune system of the host. One of the proven techniques used by the parasitic international bankers is to downgrade the bonds of a country. And that’s exactly what the bankers did, starting at the end of 2009. This immediately makes the interest rates (“yields”) on the bonds go up, making it more and more expensive for the country to borrow money or even just roll over the existing bonds.
From 2009 to mid-2010, the yields on 10-year Greek bonds almost tripled! This cruel financial assault brought the Greek government to its knees, and the banksters won their first debt deal of a whopping 110 billion Euros.
The banks also control the politics of nations. In 2011, when the Greek prime minister refused to accept a second massive bailout, the banks forced him out of the office and immediately replaced him with the Vice President of ECB (European Central Bank)! No elections needed. Screw democracy. And what would this new guy do? Sign on the dotted line of every paperwork that the bankers bring in.
(By the way, the very next day, the exact same thing happened in Italy where the Prime Minister resigned, only to be replaced by a banker/economist puppet. Ten days later, Spain had a premature election where a banker puppet won the election).
The puppet masters had the best month ever in November 2011.
Few months later, in 2012, the exact bond market manipulation was used when the banksters turned up the Greek bonds’ yields to 50%!!! This financial terrorism immediately had the desired effect: The Greek parliament agreed to a second massive bailout, even larger than the first one.
Now, here is another fact that most people don’t understand. The loans are not just simple loans like you would get from a credit card or a bank. These are loans come with very special strings attached that demand privatization of a country’s assets. If you have seen Godfather III, you would remember Hyman Roth, the investor who was carving up Cuba among his friends. Replace Hyman Roth with Goldman Sachs or IMF (International Monetary Fund) or ECB, and you get the picture.
Stage 4: Now, the rape and humiliation of a nation begin under the name of “austerity” or “structural reforms.” For the debt that was forced upon it, Greece had to sell many of its profitable assets to oligarchs and international corporations. And privatizations are ruthless, involving everything and anything that is profitable. In Greece, privatization included water, electricity, post offices, airport services, national banks, telecommunication, port authorities (which is huge in a country that is a world leader in shipping) etc. Of course, the ever-manipulative bankers always demand immediate privatization of all media which means that the country gets photogenic TV anchors who spew establishment propaganda every day and tell the people that crooked and greedy banksters are saviors; and slavery under austerity is so much better than the alternative.
In addition to that, the banker tyrants also get to dictate every single line item in the government’s budget. Want to cut military spending? NO! Want to raise tax on the oligarchs or big corporations? NO! Such micro-management is non-existent in any other creditor-debtor relationship.
So what happens after privatization and despotism under bankers? Of course, the government’s revenue goes down and the debt increases further. How do you “fix” that? Of course, cut spending! Lay off public workers, cut minimum wage, cut pensions (same as our social security), cut public services, and raise taxes on things that would affect the 99% but not the 1%. For example, pension has been cut in half and sales tax increase to more than 20%. All these measures have resulted in Greece going through a financial calamity that is worse than the Great Depression of the U.S. in the 1930s.
After all this, what is the solution proposed by the heartless bankers? Higher taxes! More cuts to the pension! It takes a special kind of a psychopath to put a country through austerity, an economic holocaust.
If every Greek person had known the truth about austerity, they wouldn’t have fallen for this. Same goes for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other countries going through austerity. The sad aspect of all this is that these are not unique strategies. Since World War II, these predatory practices have been used countless times by the IMF and the World Bank in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
This is the essence of the New World Order — a world owned by a handful of corporations and banks; a world that is full of obedient, powerless debt serfs.
So, it’s time for the proud people of Greece to rise up like Zeus and say NO (“OXI” in Greece) to the greedy puppet masters, unpatriotic oligarchs, parasitic bankers and corrupt politicians.
Dear Greece, know that the world is praying for you and rooting for you. This weekend, vote NO to austerity. Say YES to freedom, independence, self-government, sovereignty, and democracy. Go to the polls this weekend and give a resounding, clear victory for the 99% in Greece, Europe, and the entire western world.
The Greek debt, as such, is mostly not Greek debt. The debt which Germany and other nations are demanding that they pay for, is money that the Greeks never got! So the Greeks don’t owe that money. This was a swindle, because the Greeks didn’t incur that debt.
Lyndon LaRouche, Feb. 17, 2015
What Americans need to know about Greece and “its debt,” is that the new Greek government is asking the European Union to shut down a huge Wall Street-London bank swindle and make economic growth possible again in Europe.
If that doesn’t happen, the worsening bankruptcy of the whole trans-Atlantic banking system will continue to generate desperate confrontations with major powers Russia and China, with the threat of world war.
The rest of Europe, so far, is refusing to shut that Wall Street swindle down, and today Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew backed up that refusal, including by a threatening phone call to the Greek finance minister.
What Obama, Merkel, et al. are demanding Greece do, instead of shutting down this Europe-wide swindle by the banks, is run a budget surplus of 4.5% of its annual economy, exclusively to pay the “Greek debt.” In U.S. terms? That would mean the United States running a government tax surplus of $750 billion a year, in order to pay down debt. You won’t hear Obama or Lew volunteering to try it; it is impossible.
The “Greek debt” swindle is the same one as the TARP bailout here, and the Federal Reserve’s printing of $4 trillion in new money to cover Wall Street’s debts; and its perpetrators are the same huge banks.
In the United States, the big banks took millions of subprime, unrepayable mortgages sold by their captive mortgage companies, and made them into toxic securities which blew up the financial system and the whole economy in 2008; the government bailed them out, while our living standards plunged.
In Europe, the banks bought the mortgage securities from the U.S. banks. At the same time they made millions of unrepayable subprime loans of their own — not only to homeowners, but also to governments without the means to repay them, like those of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Hungary, and others. Big Wall Street banks were involved, particularly Goldman Sachs, which created “magic” derivatives: Take a bank loan to Greece, make it look like a mere “currency swap” rather than a debt — but turn it into a much bigger debt ten years later.
All this European subprime debt blew up on the big banks in 2009, a year after the U.S. subprime debt blew up on them. Then the European governments allsuperindebted themselves, to create a $1 trillion “European TARP” called by the initials EFSF. They bailed the megabanks out, with the IMF pitching in, using “only” about $600 billion to pay the unpayable “subprime government debt” part of it. $275 billion paid “Greek debt.”
This immense bank bailout got passed through the Greek, Irish, etc. governments, which passed it immediately on to the banks which had been their “subprime lenders.”
We have to spill this thing as a leading issue in the U.S. You can sink Wall Street on this one. If you sink the Greek swindle, you’re going to start a chain-reaction explosion of the international trans-Atlantic system, like the Wall Street system and similar things, the British andothers. They are the ones who owe the debt, not the Greeks.
The Greek debt swindle was classic. In 2009 Greece’s debt was $300 billion. It then “got” two huge bailouts in 2010 and 2012, of about $140 billion each. Less than 10% of that $275 billion stayed in Greece and was spent by the Greek government; more than 90% went directly and immediately to Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, and their fellow sharks, with small amounts crumbling to the hedge funds swimming alongside. Former Greek Labor and Social Security Minister Louka Katseli has given documentation that the Greek government actually got to spend or invest just 3% of that $275 billion. The only banks which had to write off their “Greek debt” were Greek banks; all of Wall Street and the London-centered banks got their toxic debt “assets” guaranteed 100% by this European bailout swindle. This made the Greek banks so bankrupt that the Greek government then had to borrow more to bail them out with $50 billion — so Greece’s debt was increased when supposedly being reduced! A total swindle!
Then, between 2010 and today, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, etc. were ordered to pay the bill for this huge new Europe-wide bank bailout debt. They imposed a slashing domestic austerity until their people emigrated, death rates rose and birth rates fell, and clouds of wood smoke rose over modern cities whose inhabitants could no longer afford modern heat. After five years of this punishment, Greece’s $300 billion debt has become $350 billion or so — after $250 billion passed through to the banks!
And the other European countries are also on the hook for this phony debt, all of it. They guaranteed it; Greece and Ireland and the other austerity-crushed countries can’t pay it, so the rest of Europe must either agree to reorganize that debt and write it down, or their taxpayers will pay for the swindle.
This is why the new Greek government now demands that Europe shut down this global bank swindle: Write off the unpayable debt; invest in reviving economic productivity by building new economic infrastructure.
In addition, the megabanks have to be put through a Glass-Steagall reorganization and broken up.
To which Lyndon LaRouche has added:
“This thing has to be put loud and clear on every doorstep in the United States. If you want to avoid World War III, that’s what you’ll do.”
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, after the forces of the fascist Kiev regime fled under fire today from encircled Debaltsevo, an actual ceasefire is now in effect, however fragile, and heavy weapons are being withdrawn from the front lines by both sides, as agreed by the leaders of the French, German, Ukrainian, and Russian governments at Minsk last week. To make it an enduring ceasefire, all we need do now, is immediately remove Nazi Victoria Nuland from the State Department.
Greek journalist Michael Nevradakis and US investigative journalist Greg Palast have a different take on the Greek ‘No’ vote against Europe’s cruel austerity demands.
By Michael Nevradakis in Athens with Greg Palast in New York | Oped-News
We Greeks have voted ‘No’ to slavery – but ‘Yes’ to our chains.
Not surprisingly, by nearly two-to-one, Greeks have overwhelmingly rejected the cruel, economically bonkers “austerity” program required by the European Central Bank in return for an ECB loan to pay Greece’s creditors. In doing so, the Greek people overcame an unprecedented campaign of fear from the Greek and international media, the European Union (EU), and most of our political parties.
What’s simply whack-o is that, while voting “No” to austerity, many Greeks wish to remain shackled to the euro, the very cause of our miseries.
Resistance, not Crisis
Before we explain how the euro is the cause of this horror show, let’s clear up one thing right away. All week, worldwide media was filled with news of the Greek “crisis.” Yes, the economy stinks, with one in four Greeks unemployed. But two other euro nations, Spain and Cyprus, also are suffering this depression level of unemployment. Indeed, more than 11% of workers in seven euro nations, including Portugal and Italy, are out of work.
But unlike Greece, these other suffering nations have quietly acquiesced to their “austerity” punishments. Spaniards now accept that they are fated forevermore to be low-paid servants to beer-barfing British tourists. Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who has enacted a draconian protest ban at home to keep his own suffering masses at bay, has joined in the jackal-pack rejecting anything but the harshest of austerity terms for Greece.
The difference between these quiescent nations and Greece is that the Greeks won’t take it anymore.
What the media calls the Greek “crisis” is, in fact, resistance.
Resistance to nowhere
But it’s a resistance whose leaders are leading them nowhere.
For decades, Greeks have suffered governments that are both corrupt and dishonest. The election of SYRIZA changed all that: the government is now merely dishonest.
Our new SYRIZA Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, correctly called the austerity plan “blackmail.” However, before Sunday’s vote, Tsipras told the nation a big fat fib. He said we could vote down the European Bank’s plan but keep the European Bank’s coin, the euro. How? Tsipras won’t say; it’s part of a policy ploy his outgoing finance minister Yanis Varoufakis calls “creative ambiguity.” To translate: Creative ambiguity is Greek for “bullshit.”
Sorry, Alexis, if you want to use the Reich’s coin you have to accept the Reichsdiktat.
Not a coin, a virus
Tsipras’ claim that Greece can keep the euro while rejecting austerity is crazy-talk. The fact is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Cruella De Vil of the Eurozone, will ignore the cries of the bleeding Greeks and demand we swallow austerity–or lose the euro.
But, so what if we lose the euro? The best thing that can happen to Greece, and should have happened long, long ago, is that Greece flee the Eurozone.
That’s because it is the euro itself that is the virus responsible for Greece’s economic ills.
Indeed, the sadistic commitment to “austerity” was minted into the coin’s very metal. We’re not guessing. One of us (Palast, an economist by training) has had long talks with the acknowledged “father” of the euro, Professor Robert Mundell. It’s important to mention the other little bastard spawned by the late Prof. Mundell: “supply-side” economics, otherwise known as “Reaganomics,” “Thatcherism” – or, simply “voodoo” economics.
The imposition of the euro had one true goal: To end the European welfare state.
For Mundell and the politicians who seized on his currency concept, the euro itself would be the vector infecting the European body politic with supply-side Reaganomics. Mundell saw a euro’d Europe as free of trade unions and government regulations; a Europe in which the votes of parliaments were meaningless. Each Eurozone nation, unable to control neither the value of its own currency, nor its own budget, nor its own fiscal policy, could only compete for business by slashing regulations and taxes. Mundell said, “[The euro] puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians… Without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business.”
Here’s how it works. To join the Eurozone, nations must agree to keep their deficits to no more than 3% of GDP and total debt to no more than 60% of GDP. In a recession, that’s plain insane. By contrast, President Obama pulled the USA out of recession by increasing deficit spending to a staggering 9.8% of GDP, and he raised the nation’s debt to 101% from a pre-recession 62%. Republicans screamed, but it worked. The US has lower unemployment than any Eurozone nation.
As Obama scolded the European tormentors of Greece: “You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression.” Cutting spending power only leads to less spending which leads to further cuts in spending power – a death spiral we see today in the Eurozone from Greece to Italy to Spain—but not in Germany.
“Not in Germany.” There’s the rub. Normally, a nation such as Greece can quickly recover from debt-induced recession by devaluing its currency. Greece would become a dirt cheap tourist destination once more and its lower-cost exports would zoom, instantly increasing competitiveness. And that’s what Germany can’t allow. Germany lured other European nations into the euro in order to keep them from undercutting Germany’s prices in export markets.
Restricted by the 3% deficit rule, the only recourse left for Eurozone debtors: pay the piper with “austerity” measures.
Tsipras in Wonderland
So therein lies the lie. Tsipras tells his fellow Greeks that we can live in a Looking Glass world, where we can have our euro and eat it too; that we can stay handcuffed to the euro but run free without austerity.
The nonsense continues: Following the announcement of the official results of the referendum on Sunday night, Tsipras tweeted that the Greek electorate voted for a “Europe of solidarity and democracy,” while the now-resigned finance minister Varoufakis tweeted that “Greece’s place in the Eurozone is non-negotiable,” claiming that he would not allow the “only alternative,” the old drachma trading alongside the euro.
SYRIZA’s euro-fetish was already evident in its pre-referendum proposals to the IMF and European Bank, a 47-page document which included 8 billion euros in new austerity measures plus a new round of sell-offs of state industries, the maintenance of a primary surplus of 1% this year which would increase in the coming years, the increase of the retirement age to 67, and making permanent the previously “temporary” taxes upon an already overtaxed populace. In Tsipras’ own proposal, there was no word of a debt write-down or stoppage of payments, despite the fact that the government’s own Debt Audit Commission announced on June 17 that the bulk of Greece’s debt is illegal, “odious,” and should not be paid.
Instead, Tsipras has come out in support of the IMF’s proposal for a mere 30% “debt haircut” and a 20-year grace period, effectively sweeping the problem under the rug. Greece is currently running a deficit, meaning that in order for the 1% surplus to be achieved, SYRIZA must cut, cut, cut. Exactly as Mundell and the supply-siders intended.
Death by “Reform”
Like Obama, Tsipras knows that cutting pensions, privatizing and closing industries, slashing wages – in other words, “austerity” — or, to use the latest jargon, “reform” – is not just cruel, it’s plain stupid: it can only push a nation in recession into depression.
That’s not just theory. The Troika (the European Central Bank, IMF and European Commission) first imposed their vicious austerity measures on Greece in 2010. Greeks watched their annual salaries plummet to half of a German’s paycheck. Greece’s supposedly generous pensions have been cut eight times during the crisis, while two-thirds of pensioners live below the poverty line. Everything from Greece’s airports to harbors, the national lottery to prime publicly-owned real estate was sold off, while schools and hospitals were shuttered.
And, for the first time since World War II, widespread starvation had returned. 500,000 children in Greece are said to be malnourished. Students fainting from hunger in frigid schools which cannot afford heating oil is now a common phenomenon.
This cruel “belt tightening,” the Troika promised, would restore Greece’s economy by 2012 (and then 2013, 2014, and 2015). In reality, unemployment went from a terrible 12.5% in 2010 to a horrendous 25.6% today.
Now, the Troika demands more of the same, a continuation of this disastrous policy.
Crashing into Africa?
Meanwhile, following the referendum result which made him a hero, finance minister Varoufakis resigned. Ironically, while Varoufakis rubbed German officials the wrong way with his unorthodox style, he, too, maintained the pro-euro myth. Previous austerity measures continued under his watch. To please the mad austerity masters, he said he would “squeeze blood from a stone” to repay the IMF—which he did in May, when all remaining funds in the Greek Treasury were rounded up by presidential decree to make that month’s IMF loan payment. Varoufakis was so wedded to the euro that he claimed that Greece would be unable to print its old currency, the drachma, because we destroyed our currency printing presses when we joined the euro. In fact, the government’s banknote printing facility in Athens still operates, printing the 10-euro note.
Meanwhile, our future flees. A quarter million university graduates have abandoned our nation. They have no choice: unemployment for those under 25 has hit 48.6%.
I know that many Greeks, Cypriots, Italians and Portuguese all express a visceral fear of leaving the euro. Depending on which polls one chooses to believe, anywhere from a near-majority to an overwhelming majority of Greeks wish to remain in the euro at all costs. From the hysterical statements I heard from some Greeks that, “We cannot leave Europe!”, you’d think that dropping the euro will cause Greece to break off at the Albanian border and crash into Africa.
It would be refreshing to hear political leaders say the honest economic truth: “Workers of Europe unite! You have nothing to lose but the euro—and your chains.”
The Pathology of the Rich – Credibility of the Ruling Elite is Being Shredded – Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself
On RAI with Paul Jay, Chris Hedges discusses the psychology of the super rich; their sense of entitlement, the dehumanization of workers, and mistaken belief that their wealth will insulate them from the coming storms
On RAI with Paul Jay, Chris Hedges says that while people are disgusted with the centers of power, unless there is a constructive alternative, any eruption will be nihilistic and could be fascist
The question of the referendum vote is whether the Greek people except the positions that were submitted in an ultimatum form on Thursday night to the Greek government.
In their broadcasting of 30.5.2015 by Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert drew parallels between austerity and policies imposed today by Germany in EU countries, with the austerity and other measures imposed on the colonies of the British Empire, which led to the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and they are urging Greeks to declare their independence from the EU, the IMF and the cleptocracy of Brussels.
Ελλάδα κήρυξε την ανεξαρτησία σου!
Στην εκπομπη τους της 30.05.2015 ο Max Keiser και η Stacy Herbert παραλληλίζουν την λιτότητα και τις πολιτικές που επιβάλλει σήμερα η Γερμανία στις χώρες της ΕΕ με την λιτότητα και άλλα σχετικά μέτρα που επέβαλε στις αποικίες της η Βρετανική Αυτοκρατορία, τα οποία προκάλεσαν την Αμερικανική Επανάσταση και τη Διακήρυξη της Ανεξαρτησίας το 1776 και προτρέπουν τους Έλληνες να κηρύξουν την ανεξαρτησία τους από την ΕΕ, το ΔΝΤ και την κλεπτοκρατία των Βρυξελλών.
“Germany and the BRICS countries can create a new credit system for global construction and development!”
Three were the reasons that made Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis push for the accession of Greece to the EEC in 1975, as it was then called. The first was to consolidate democracy in a country that had just come out from a catastrophic seven year military dictatorship. It should be recalled that the then democratic EEC had countered the dictatorship with every means possible and particularly by freezing the Association Agreement it had with Greece and the Financial Protocol. NATO, on the other hand, had supported the Junta. The second reason was to protect Greece against Turkey that had invaded Cyprus in 1974 and the third was to advance the economic development of the country.
When Greece joined the EEC in 1981, it had a dynamic industry with a yearly rate of development of 7.4%, a dynamic agriculture and self-sufficiency in most products with 24,2% of the population working in this sector. Unemployment was then around 3 to 4%.Afterthe accession, Greece was obliged to limit its steel production since there was an overproduction of it in the EEC and do dismantle its nascent automobile industry. Greece reduced its olive oil production to help reduce the olive oil lakes existing in the EEC and thus restructured its agriculture, reducing the percentage of population actively employed in that sector to 10%. And for many years, by the purchase of military hardware, Greece kept the French and German workers employed in the arms industries of their countries. From 2005 to 2010, Greece was the first importer of arms from Germany, purchasing 15% of its total production and the third largest customer of France. In 2010, Greece spent 1 billion euro on arm purchases from France and Germany. The social budget was reduced by 1.8 billion within the austerity measures program. Of course, EU funds helped the development of Greece and many important infrastructure products were done with EU co-financing. As such we have the Venizelos Airport, the Athens Ringroad, the Egnatia Highway and the Athens Metro. Agriculture was also assisted, often through subsidies paid for reducing agricultural means and productions rather than increasing them, even though it remains unclear how much funding actually reached its objective.
On January 1, 2002 Greece joined the Eurozone -and after only a few years the problems started that resulted in today’s situation.
Let us examine now the EU economic crisis that started as a result of the global financial crisis of 2008. The Greek government was persuades to sign a Loan Agreement in May 2010. The idea was that it could – through austerity measures – reduce the public debt which in 2009 was 129% of the GNP or 299 billion euro in absolute numbers. The promised results forecasted by experts and the predicted recovery as result of these measures, first announced in 2009, did not take place. De facto, we are still waiting for it. After two memoranda and admittedly mistaken policies from the EU, the IMF and the Greek governments, Greece to is on the verge of disaster with an increased debt of 175% of the GNP or 321 billion euro in 2013. Today it is around 180% of the GNP. One of the reasons for the failure of these measures was that the human factor was not taken into consideration and as a result Greece is facing today a social disaster without precedence. Instead of enhanced investment, recovery and growth, the economy has significantly decreased GDP reduction of 12.7% in 2012), factories, industries, shops have closed down almost on a daily basis. Those countries and companies who have invested are ignoring all workers rights of the EU or making their profits outside of Greece due to tax-haven-arrangements through e.g. the Netherlands ike the gold mining company Eldorado. And, in spite of the fact that the “institutions” had acknowledged their mistakes, they continue to insist on the implementation of the same ineffective policies that are destroying a member-state of the EU. Fortunately, the new Greek Government that came out from the elections of January 25, is refusing to implement measures that are ineffective and disastrous for the country.
But it is not only that the measures are erroneous, they also have violated human rights in Greece as well as the Lisbon Treaty. On December 18,the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the Hellenic League for Human Rights published a report entitled ”Downgrading rights: the cost of austerity in Greece”, in which the legal responsibility and accountability of the Greek governments, the EU, its member-states and the IMF for violating human rights in Greece, are explained. The responsibility of these four actors is shared on the grounds that they jointly designed, negotiated, funded and implemented the two “economic assistance programs” which are the source of the violations.
Greece, as the sovereign state of the territory on which austerity measures were implemented, holds primary responsibility for failing to uphold its obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all under its jurisdiction.
EU Member-states that took part in the negotiation, conclusion and financing of the adjustment programs were obliged to help Greece fulfill its obligations concerning the respect of human rights. They should have abstained from any action limiting the ability of Greece to respect its international obligations on human rights.
The European Union, being an Organization that enjoys a legal personality distinct from that of its members, should also be held accountable, since its accountability and responsibility are derived from EU primary law, as reflected in the founding instruments of the Union, as well as from customary rules of international law, on the responsibility of international organizations and universal human rights standards, that the EU has pledged to uphold and respect. By allowing its institutions and bodies, (Commission and the ECB) to be placed at the disposal of a group of States, seeking to incite Greece to adopt policies that will forseeably violate its human rights obligations, the EU has violated its obligations under article 2,3(1), (5) and 6 of the Treaty on the European Union.
The IMF is a specialized agency of the UN and as such should respect article 55 of the UN Charter, which includes universal respect for, and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
It should be mentioned here that German activists have filed a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court of the Hague (OTP CR 345/12) against unknown people for damage done to the health of the Greek people.
But what went wrong with the EU, why is it destroying its Member-States and peoples? Personally, I think it has to do with the “expertisms” that has infiltrated the governmental bodies. Lobbyism and “Big Companyism” have gained a power far exceeding what it was in the early days of the European Idea, when the EU was functioning in a satisfactory way with Ministers dealing themselves with the issues pertaining to the Budget, Agriculture as well as other technical issues without the presence of “experts”. They locked themselves in consultations until the wee hours of the morning, often even stopping the clock, and resolved the problems in direct dialogue. And of course, the basic priority was that any solution had to benefit the people, in contrast to what is happening today where new contracts and agreements are planned in which companies, big industrial players and global financial conglomerate get granted almost unlimited power (TTIP). The EU gradually fell under the control of lobbyists and bureaucrats. Negative effects were created by the constant celebratory statements of European Councils that created erroneous impressions by announcing after each Summit that all problems of the EU were even better resolved than before. However, what failed most was the 2000 Lisbon Strategy that had as aim to make the EU the most competitive and dynamic economy of the world by 2010 with better and more work positions and social cohesion. Look at the 27 nations today, those they call PIIGs, and the others whose letter are to be added shortly. There is not a single nation within the EU which is not suffering from increased unemployment, decreased social welfare, increased taxes and costs and decreased effective incomes – compared to the year 2000. In the meantime it has reached a point where nowhere in the EU a family can be maintained with one income, which was the standard in all European nations in the beginning days of the EEC.
The EU could have played an important role in maintaining global balance. Unfortunately it has left this role to the USA, Russia and China. And it seems, the USA is following a policy of confrontation vis-à-vis the other two countries that may endanger humanity. An answer to this may be the BRICs initiative. This is an initiative of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to pursue a policy of economic development for the benefit of humanity. To that end they have created a Development Bank to invest billions in necessary development projects. China recently initiated the Asian Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), joined by over 20 Asian nations as founding members and has set up a Silk Road Development Fund. China has also proposed within BRICS the creation of a Free Trade Area of Asia and the Pacific (FTAAP).The incorporation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to the BRICS initiative could create a formidable power, which if remaining out of the control of the bankers and big companies’ lobbyists, could lead to a point that humanity indeed has a chance to reach global peace and end poverty through common human economic development. So, what is desperately needed is the cooperation of the USA and of the sovereign nations of Europe with the BRICS countries and their initiatives. Some European countries, to the annoyance of the USA, have already signed up. Hopefully this was done with an open mind and without a second agenda. To quote the declaration launched by the Schiller Institute of which I am a signatory: ”Only such an approach would restore the United States and Europe to their original purpose as expressed in the European Renaissance and the American Revolution …”
Because of Greece’s special relationships with China and Russia, Athens can play an important role within the BRICS initiative and also to cool down US aggressiveness towards these two nations.
Greece and Russia have always shared a special relationship. Not only because both countries are of the orthodox faith. There have been many occasions where Greeks and Russians have cooperated, worked together and helped each other. The first prime minister of a free Greece back in 1830, Ioannis Capodistrias, was Foreign Minister of Russia, before he took the helmet of a just freed Greece. General Orlof, sent by Catherine the Great, came to help the Greeks of the Peloponese to rise against the Turkish yolk. It may not have been successful at its time, but it gave the Greeks the courage to start it again in 1821. That the most famous export good of Russia, the caviar, has become exportable is thanks to Varvakis who discovered how to preserve it so shipment could be possible. Greeks have settled at the coastal area of what is Russia today since Jason was travelling with the Argo and as Greeks we can proudly say that we certainly have contributed to the Russian culture. This is some common ground that cannot just simply be discussed away or disappear due to some current differences in political views. These connections have lasted over the time and will continue to last. The visit earlier this month of the Greek Prime Minister to Moscow and the results it achieved are also due to this special relationship.
With China Greece shares the fact that both are ancient developed civilizations. Greece as well as China have travelled in the ancient times and helped to shape the cultures of the globe as they are today. The Chinese show a great respect to civilizations that existed in parallel with them, like the Greek one. Already this fact makes both of our nations respect each other thus facilitating cooperation on every level.
While criticizing the EU for the damage that it is doing to itself and to its members, the following solutions are proposed for Greece, the EU and for humanity:
– Greece : The new Government of Greece, has started negotiations with the lenders on a new basis meaning that it will no longer adopt measures hurting the people and that it will no longer receive orders from the lenders. If the EU continues to ask for measures that are unacceptable to Greece then a clash might happen that may have destructive consequences for Europe. We propose the following: The denounciation of the Loan Facility Agreement of May 2010,signed between Greece and the Member-States of the Eurozone, on the basis of articles 48-52 of the Vienna Convention concerning the Law of Treaties. These articles anticipate the invalidity of a Treaty if there was an error, fraud, coercion of a representative of a State etc. Greece will at the same time request compensation from the EU for the damage done to the country, which according to conservative estimates is about the amount of the so-called debt. The compensation claim will be based on article 41.3 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, that is incorporated in the Lisbon Treaty. The cessation of payments with the denounciation of the Loan Agreement and the compensation that will be given in time to the country, will allow Greece to repair the damages done and instigate development. It will also withdraw, within a one year period from the Eurozone, in order to implement beneficial economic policies that it cannot under Eurozone rules. The Unified Popular Front (EPAM) a political party not in parliament yet, supports this policy. And in case of an impasse in the ongoing negotiations with the lenders, there is a possibility that the present government might be forced to follow such an approach.
-The EU : The transformation of the EU into an efficient organization having as sole priority the safeguard of the interests of the people and not of the bankers is imperative. A new constitutional document must replace the violated Lisbon Treaty. The new document must be drafted by movements of citizens of Member-States who will submit their proposals to a European Assembly composed of representatives of these movements.
-Humanity : The deletion of the global debt which is about 600 trillion USD, will allow humanity to restart on a new and healthy basis. There exist many examples in history of debt deletion: From the ancient Greek Sisahtheia to the Jubilee of ancient Hebrew Communities where every 50 years the debts were cancelled. Even during the 70’s the developed countries of the West deleted the debt of the non-aligned movement, thus allowing the economic boom of Yugoslavia. The BRICS movement can promote this while the decision must be taken by the G-20.Humanity as a whole will benefit because it will be able to restart on sound and healthy principles.
In order to implement the previously mentioned proposals, it is necessary to have politicians with imagination, vision and courage, politicians who care about progress of humanity and put a stop to the greed and grabbing of Banks, Financial Institutions and Companies. Such politicians do not exist today. It is the task of us, the voters, the people, the political and unpolitical movements to create them.
Introduction: The Greek government is currently locked in a life and death struggle with the elite which dominate the banks and political decision-making centers of the European Union. What are at stake are the livelihoods of 11 million Greek workers, employees and small business people and the viability of the European Union.
If the ruling Syriza government capitulates to the demands of the EU bankers and agrees to continue the austerity programs, Greece will be condemned to decades of regression, destitution and colonial rule. If Greece decides to resist, and is forced to exit the EU, it will need to repudiate its 270 billion Euro foreign debts, sending the international financial markets crashing and causing the EU to collapse.
The leadership of the EU is counting on Syriza leaders abandoning their commitments to the Greek electorate, which as of early February 2015, is overwhelmingly (over 70%) in favor of ending austerity and debt payments and moving forward toward state investment in national economic and social development (Financial Times 7-8/2/15, p. 3). The choices are stark; the consequences have world-historical significance. The issues go far beyond local or even regional, time-bound, impacts. The entire global financial system will be affected (FT 10/2/15, p. 2).
The default will ripple to all creditors and debtors, far beyond Europe; investor confidence in the entire western financial empire will be shaken. First and foremost all western banks have direct and indirect ties to the Greek banks (FT 2/6/15, p. 3). When the latter collapse, they will be profoundly affected beyond what their governments can sustain. Massive state intervention will be the order of the day. The Greek government will have no choice but to take over the entire financial system . . . the domino effect will first and foremost effect Southern Europe and spread to the ‘dominant regions’ in the North and then across to England and North America (FT 9/2/15, p. 2).
To understand the origins of this crises and alternatives facing Greece and the EU, it is necessary to briefly survey the political and economic developments of the past three decades. We will proceed by examining Greek and EU relations between 1980 – 2000 and then proceed to the current collapse and EU intervention in the Greek economy. In the final section we will discuss the rise and election of Syriza, and its growing submissiveness in the context of EU dominance, and intransigence, highlighting the need for a radical break with the past relationship of ‘lord and vassal’.
Ancient History: The Making of the European Empire
In 1980 Greece was admitted to the European Economic Council as a vassal state of the emerging Franco-German Empire. With the election of Andreas Papandreou, leader of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party, with an absolute majority in Parliament, hope arose that radical changes in domestic and foreign policy would ensue.1/ In particular, during the election campaign, Papandreou promised a break with NATO and the EEC, the revoking of the US military base agreement and an economy based on ‘social ownership’ of the means of production. After being elected, Papandreou immediately assured the EEC and Washington that his regime would remain within the EEC and NATO, and renewed the US military base agreement. Studies in the early 1980’s commissioned by the government which documented the medium and long-term adverse results of Greece remaining in the EEU, especially the loss of control of trade, budgets and markets, were ignored by Papandreou who chose to sacrifice political independence and economic autonomy in favor of large scale transfers of funds, loans and credit from the EEC. Papandreou spoke from the balcony to the masses of independence and social justice while retaining ties to the European bankers and Greek shipping and banking oligarchs. The European elite in Brussels and Greek oligarchs in Athens retained a stranglehold on the commanding heights of the Greek political and economic system.
Papandreou retained the clientelistic political practices put in place by the previous right-wing regimes – only replacing the rightist functionaries with PASOK party loyalists.
The EEC brushed off Papandreou’ phony radical rhetoric and focused on the the fact they were buying control and subservience of the Greek state by financing a corrupt, clientelistic regime which was deflecting funds for development projects to upgrade Greek economic competitiveness into building a patronage machine based on increased consumption.
The EEC elite ultimately knew that its financial stranglehold over the economy would enable it to dictate Greek policy and keep it within the boundaries of the emerging European empire.
Papandreou’s demagogic “third world” rhetoric notwithstanding, Greece was deeply ensconced in the EU and NATO. Between 1981-85, Papandreou discarded his socialist rhetoric in favor of increased social spending for welfare reforms, raising wages, pensions and health coverage, while refinancing bankrupt economic firms run into the ground by kleptocratic capitalists. As a result while living standards rose, Greece’s economic structure still resembled a vassal state heavily dependent on EEC finance, European tourists and a rentier economy based on real estate, finance and tourism.
Papandreou solidified Greece’s role as a vassal outpost of NATO; a military platform for US military intervention in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean; and market for German and northern European manufactured goods.
From October 1981 to July 1989 Greek consumption rose while productivity stagnated; Papandreou won elections in 1985 using EEC funds. Meanwhile Greek debt to Europe took off … EEC leaders chastised the misallocation of funds by Papandreou’s vast army of kleptocrats but not too loudly. Brussels recognized that Papandreou and PASOK were the most effective forces in muzzling the radical Greek electorate and keeping Greece under EEC tutelage and as a loyal vassal of NATO.
Lessons for Syriza: PASOK’s Short-term Reforms and Strategic Vassalage
Whether in government or out, PASOK followed in the footsteps of its rightwing adversary (New Democracy) by embracing the NATO-EEC strait-jacket.
Greece continued to maintain the highest per capita military expenditure of any European NATO member. As a result, it received loans and credits to finance short-term social reforms and large scale, long-term corruption, while enlarging the party-state political apparatus.
With the ascent of the openly neoliberal Prime Minister Costas Simitis in 2002, the PASOK regime “cooked the books”, fabricated government data on its budget deficit, with the aid of Wall Street investment banks, and became a member of the European Monetary Union. By adopting the euro, Simitis furthered deepened Greece’s financial subordination to the non-elected European officials in Brussels, dominated by the German finance ministry and banks.
The oligarchs in Greece made room at the top for a new breed of PASOK kleptocratic elite, which skimmed millions of military purchases, committed bank frauds and engaged in massive tax evasion.
The Brussels elite allowed the Greek middle class to live their illusions of being ‘prosperous Europeans’ because they retained decisive leverage through loans and accumulating debts.
Large scale bank fraud involving three hundred million euros even reached ex-Prime Minister Papandreou’s office.
The clientele relations within Greece were matched by the clientele relations between Brussels and Athens.
Even prior to the crash of 2008 the EU creditors, private bankers and official lenders, set the parameters of Greek politics. The global crash revealed the fragile foundations of the Greek state – and led directly to the crude, direct interventions of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission – the infamous “Troika”. The latter dictated the ‘austerity’ policies as a condition for the “bail-out” which devastated the economy, provoking a major depression; impoverishing over forty percent of the population, reducing incomes by 25% and resulting in 28% unemployment.
Greece: Captivity by Invitation
Greece as a political and economic captive of the EU had no political party response. Apart from the trade unions which launched thirty general strikes between 2009 – 2014, the two major parties, PASOK and New Democracy, invited the EU takeover. The degeneration of PASOK into an appendage of oligarchs and vassal collaborator of the EU emptied the ‘socialist’ rhetoric of any meaning. The right wing New Democracy Party reinforced and deepened the stranglehold of the EU over the Greek economy. The troika lent the Greek vassal state funds(“bail-out”) which was used to pay back German, French and English financial oligarchs and to buttress private Greek banks. The Greek population was ‘starved’ by ‘austerity’ policies to keep the debt payments flowing-outward and upward.
Europe: Union or Empire?
The European economic crash of 2008/09 resounded worst on its weakest links – Southern Europe and Ireland. The true nature of the European Union as a hierarchical empire, in which the powerful states – Germany and France – could openly and directly control investment, trade, monetary and financial policy was revealed. The much vaunted EU “bailout” of Greece was in fact the pretext for the imposition of deep structural changes. These included the denationalization and privatization of all strategic economic sectors; perpetual debt payments; foreign dictates of incomes and investment policy. Greece ceased to be an independent state:it was totally and absolutely colonized.
Greece’s Perpetual Crises: The End of the “European Illusion”
The Greek elite and, for at least 5 years, most of the electorate, believed that the regressive (“austerity”) measures adopted – the firings, the budget cuts, the privatizations etc. were short-term harsh medicine, that would soon lead to debt reduction, balanced budgets, new investments, growth and recovery. At least that is what they were told by the economic experts and leaders in Brussels.
In fact the debt increased, the downward economic spiral continued, unemployment multiplied, the depression deepened. ‘Austerity’ was a class based policy designed by Brussels to enrichoverseas bankers and to plunder the Greek public sector.
The key to EU pillage and plunder was the loss of Greek sovereignty. The two major parties ,New Democracy and PASOK, were willing accomplices. Despite a 55% youth (16 – 30 years old) unemployment rate, the cut-off of electricity to 300,000 households and large scale out-migration (over 175,000), the EU (as was to be expected) refused to concede that the ‘austerity’ formula was a failure in recovering the Greek economy. The reason the EU dogmatically stuck to a ‘failed policy’ was because the EU benefited from the power, privilege and profits of pillage and imperial primacy.
Moreover, for the Brussels elite to acknowledge failure in Greece would likely result in the demand to recognize failure in the rest of Southern Europe and beyond, including in France Italy and other key members of the EU (Economist 1/17/15, p. 53). The ruling financial and business elites in Europe and the US prospered through the crises and depression, by imposing cuts in social budgets and wages and salaries. To concede failure in Greece, would reverberate throughout North America and Europe, calling into question their economic policies, ideology and the legitimacy of the ruling powers. The reason that all the EU regimes back the EU insistence that Greece must continue to abide by an obviously perverse and regressive ‘austerity’ policy and impose reactionary “structural reforms” is because these very same rulers have sacrificed the living standards of their own labor force during the economic crises (FT2/13/15, p. 2).
The economic crises spanning 2008/9 to the present (2015), still requires harsh sacrifices to perpetuate ruling class profits and to finance state subsidies to the private banks. Every major financial institution – the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF – toes the line: no dissent or deviation is allowed. Greece must accept EU dictates or face major financial reprisals. “Economic strangulation or perpetual debt peonage” is the lesson which Brussels tends to all member states of the EU. While ostensibly speaking to Greece – it is a message directed to all states, opposition movements and trade unions who call into question the dictates of the Brussels oligarchy and its Berlin overlords.
All the major media and leading economic pundits have served as megaphones for the Brussel oligarchs. The message, which is repeated countless times, by liberals, conservatives and social democrats to the victimized nations and downwardly mobile wage and salaried workers, and small businesspeople, is that they have no choice but to accept regressive measure, slashing living conditions (“reforms”) if they hope for ‘economic recovery’ – which, of course, has not happened after five years!
Greece has become the central target of the economic elites in Europe because, the Greek people have gone from inconsequential protests to political powers. The election of Syriza on a platform of recovering sovereignty, discarding austerity and redefining its relations with creditors to favor national development has set the stage for a possible continent-wide confrontation.
The Rise of Syriza: Dubious Legacies, Mass Struggles and Radical (Broken) Promises
The growth of Syriza from an alliance of small Marxist sects into a mass electoral party is largely because of the incorporation of millions of lower middle class public employees, pensioners and small businesspeople. Many previously supported PASOK. They voted Syriza in order to recover the living conditions and job security of the earlier period of “prosperity” (2000-2007) which they achieved within the EU. Their radical rejection of PASOK and New Democracy came after 5 years of acute suffering which might have provoked a revolution in some other country. Their radicalism began with protests, marches and strikes were attempts to pressure the rightwing regimes to alter the EU’s course, to end the austerity while retaining membership in the EU.
This sector of SYRIZA is ‘radical’ in what it opposes today and conformist with its nostalgia for the past. –the time of euro funded vacation trips to London and Paris, easy credit to purchase imported cars and foodstuffs, to ‘feel modern’ and ‘European’ and speak English!
The politics of Syriza reflects, in part, this ambiguous sector of its electorate. In contrast Syriza also secured the vote of the radical unemployed youth and workers who never were part of the consumer society and didn’t identify with “Europe”. Syriza has emerged as a mass electoral party in the course of less than five years and its supporters and leadership reflects a high degree of heterogeneity.
The most radical sector, ideologically, is drawn mostly from the Marxist groups which originally came together to form the party. The unemployed youth sector joined, following the anti-police riots, which resulted from the police assassination of a young activist during the early years of the crisis. The third wave is largely made up of thousands of public workers, who were fired, and retired employees who suffered big cuts in their pensions by order of the troika in 2012. The fourth wave is ex PASOK members who fled the sinking ship of a bankrupt party.
The Syriza Left is concentrated at the mass base and among local and middle level leaders of local movements. The top leaders of Syriza in power positions are academics, some from overseas. Many are recent members or are not even party members. Few have been involved in the mass struggles – and many have few ties with the rank and file militants. They are most eager to sign a “deal” selling out the impoverished Greeks
As Syriza moved toward electoral victory in 2015, it began to shed its original program of radical structural changes (socialism) and adopt measures aimed at accommodating Greek business interests. Tsipras talked about “negotiating an agreement” within the framework of the German dominated European Union. Tsipras and his Finance Minister proposed to re-negotiate the debt, the obligation to pay and 70% of the “reforms”! When an agreement was signed they totally capitulated!
For a brief time Syriza maintained a dual position of ‘opposing’ austerity and coming to agreement with its creditors. It’s “realist” policies reflected the positions of the new academic ministers, former PASOK members and downwardly mobile middle class. Syriza’s radical gestures and rhetoric reflected the pressure of the unemployed, the youth and the mass poor who stood to lose, if a deal to pay the creditors was negotiated.
EU – SYRIZA: Concessions before Struggle Led to Surrender and Defeat
The “Greek debt” is really not a debt of the Greek people. The institutional creditors and the Euro-banks knowingly lent money to high risk kleptocrats, oligarchs and bankers who siphoned most of the euros into overseas Swiss accounts, high end real estate in London and Paris, activity devoid of any capacity to generate income to pay back the debt. In other words, the debt, in large part, is illegitimate and was falsely foisted on the Greek people.
Syriza, from the beginning of ‘negotiations’, did not call into question the legitimacy of the debt nor identified the particular classes and enterprise who should pay it.
Secondly, while Syriza challenged “austerity” policies it did not question the Euro organizations and EU institutions who impose it.
From its beginning Syriza has accepted membership in the EU. In the name of “realism” the Syriza government accepted to pay the debt or a portion of it, as the basis of negotiation.
Structurally, Syriza has developed a highly centralized leadership in which all major decisions are taken by Alexis Tsipras. His personalistic leadership limits the influence of the radicalized rank and file. It facilitated “compromises” with the Brussels oligarchy which go contrary to the campaign promises and may lead to the perpetual dependence of Greece on EU centered policymakers and creditors.
Moreover, Tsipras has tightened party discipline in the aftermath of his election, ensuring that any dubious compromises will not lead to any public debate or extra-parliamentary revolt.
The Empire against Greece’s Democratic Outcome
The EU elite have, from the moment in which Syriza received a democratic mandate, followed the typical authoritarian course of all imperial rulers. It has demanded from Syriza (1)unconditional surrender (2) the continuation of the structures, policies and practices of the previous vassal coalition party-regimes (PASOK-New Democracy) (3) that Syriza shelve all social reforms, (raising the minimum wage, increasing pension, health, education and unemployment spending (4) that SYRIZA follow the strict economic directives and oversight formulated by the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) (5) that SYRIZA retain the current primary budget surplus target of 4.5 percent of economic output in 2015-2017.
To enforce its strategy of strangulating the new government, Brussels threatened to abruptly cut off all present and future credit facilities, call in all debt payments, end access to emergency funds and refuse to back Greek bank bonds – that provide financial loans to local businesses.
Brussels presents Syriza with the fateful “choice”, of committing political suicide by accepting its dictates and alienating its electoral supporters. By betraying its mandate, Syriza will confront angry mass demonstrations. Rejecting Brussels’ dictates and proceeding to mobilize its mass base, Syriza could seek new sources of financing, imposing capital controls and moving toward a radical “emergency economy”.
Brussel has “stone-walled” and turned a deaf ear to the early concessions which Syriza offered. Instead Brussels sees concessions as ‘steps’ toward complete capitulation, instead of as efforts to reach a “compromise”.
Syriza has already dropped calls for large scale debt write-offs, in favor of extending the time frame for paying the debt. Syriza has agreed to continue debt payments, provided they are linked to the rate of economic growth. Syriza accepts European oversight, provided it is not conducted by the hated “troika”, which has poisonous connotations for most Greeks. However, semantic changes do not change the substance of “limited sovereignty”.
Syriza has already agreed to long and middle term structural dependency in order to securetime and leeway in financing its short-term popular impact programs. All that Syriza asks is minimum fiscal flexibility under supervision of the German finance minister-some “radicals”!
Syriza has temporarily suspended on-going privatization of key infrastructure (sea- ports and airport facilities) energy and telecommunication sectors. But is has not terminated them, norrevised the past privatization. But for Brussels “sell-off” of Greek lucrative strategic sectors is an essential part of its “structural reform” agenda.
Syriza’s moderate proposals and its effort to operate within the EU framework established by the previous vassal regimes was rebuffed by Germany and its 27 stooges in the EU.
The EU’s dogmatic affirmation of extremist, ultra neo-liberal policies, including the practice of dismantling Greece’s national economy and transferring the most lucrative sectors into the hands of imperial investors, is echoed in the pages of all the major print media. The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Le Monde are propaganda arms of EU extremism. Faced with Brussel’s intransigence and confronting the ‘historic choice’ of capitulation or radicalization, Syriza tried persuasion of key regimes. Syriza held numerous meetings with EU ministers. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Vardoulakis traveled to Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and Rome seeking a “compromise” agreement. This was to no avail. The Brussels elite repeatedly insisted:
Debts would have to be paid in full and on time.
Greece should restrict spending to accumulate a 4.5% surplus that would ensure payments to creditors, investors, speculators and kleptocrats.
The EU’s lack of any economic flexibility or willingness to accept even a minimum compromise is a political decision: to humble and destroy the credibility of SYRIZA as an anti-austerity government in the eyes of its domestic supporters and potential overseas imitators in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland (Economist 1/17/15, p. 53).
The strangulation of Syriza is part and parcel of the decade long process of the EU’s assassination of Greece. A savage response to a heroic attempt by an entire people, hurled into destitution, condemned to be ruled by kleptocratic conservatives and social democrats.
Empires do not surrender their colonies through reasonable arguments or by the bankruptcy of their regressive “reforms”.
Brussel’s attitude toward Greece is guided by the policy of “rule or ruin”. “Bail out” is a euphemism for recycling financing through Greece back to Euro-controlled banks, while Greek workers and employees are saddled with greater debt and continued dominance. Brussel’s “bail out” is an instrument for control by imperial institutions, whether they are called “troika” or something else.
Brussels and Germany do not want dissenting members; they may offer to make some minor concessions so that Finance Minister Vardoulakis may claim a ‘partial victory’ – a sham and hollow euphemism for a belly crawl
The “bail out” agreement will be described by Tsipras-Vardoulakis as ‘new’ and “different’ from the past or as a ‘temporary’ retreat. The Germans may ‘allow’ Greece to lower its primary budget surplus from 4.5 to 3.5 percent ‘next year’ – but it will still reduce the funds for economic stimulus and “postpone” raises in pensions, minimum wages etc.
Privatization and other regressive reforms will not be terminated, they will be “renegotiated”. The state will retain a minority “share”.
Plutocrats will be asked to pay some added taxes but not the billions of taxes evaded over the past decades.
Nor will the PASOK – New Democracy kleptocratic operatives be prosecuted for pillage and theft.
Syriza’s compromises demonstrate that the looney right’s (the Economist, Financial Times, NY Times, etc.) characterization of Syriza as the “hard left” or the ultra-left have no basis in reality. For the Greek electorate’s “hope for the future” could turn to anger in the present. Onlymass pressure from below can reverse Syriza’s capitulation and Finance Minister Vardoulakisunsavory compromises. Since he lacks any mass base in the party, Tsipras can easily dismiss him, for signing off on “compromise” which sacrifices the basic interests of the people.
However, if in fact, EU dogmatism and intransigence forecloses even the most favorable deals, Tsipras and Syriza, (against their desires) may be forced to exit the Euro Empire and face the challenge of carving out a new truly radical policy and economy as a free and independent country.
A successful Greek exit from the German – Brussels empire would likely lead to the break-up of the EU, as other vassal states rebel and follow the Greek example. They may renounce not only austerity but their foreign debts and eternal interest payments. The entire financial empire – the so-called global financial system could be shaken . . .
Greece could once again become the ‘cradle of democracy’.
Post-Script:Thirty years ago, I was an active participant and adviser for three years (1981-84) to Prime Minister Papandreou. He, like Tsipras, began with the promise of radical changes and ended up capitulating to Brussels and NATO and embracing the oligarchs and kleptocrats in the name of “pragmatic compromises”. Let us hope, that facing a mass revolt, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Syriza will follow a different path. History need not repeat itself as tragedy or farce.
 The account of the Andreas Papandreou regime draws on personal experience, interviews and observations and from my co-authored article “Greek Socialism: The Patrimonial State Revisited” in James Kurth and James Petras, Mediterranean Paradoxes: the Politics and Social Structure of Southern Europe (Oxford: Berg Press 1993/ pp. 160 -224)
James Petras was Director of the Center for Mediterranean Studies in Athens (1981-1984) and adviser to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou (1981-84). He resigned in protest over the PM expulsion of leading trade unionists from PASOK for organizing a general strike against his ‘stabilization program’.
Petras is co-author of Mediterranean Paradoxes: The Politics and Social Structure of Southern Europe. His latest books include Extractive Imperialism in the Americas (with Henry Veltmeyer); and The Politics of Empire: the US, Israel and the Middle East.
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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.
A 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?