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.”
Introduction: Over the past decade fundamental changes have taken place in Southern Europe, which have broken with previous political alignments, resulting in the virtual disappearance of traditional leftist ’parties, the decline of trade unions and the emergence of ‘middle class radicalism’.
New political movements, purportedly on the left, no longer are based on class conscious workers nor are they embedded in the class struggle. Likewise on the right, greater attention is paid to escalating the repressive capacity of the state instead of state intervention in pursuit of economic markets.
Radicalization of the right, including massive cutbacks in social spending, has demolished welfare programs. The dispossession of households has uprooted cohesive neighborhood-based social organizations.
In place of the class based traditional left, ‘non-leftist left’ movements have emerged. Their leaders embrace ‘participatory democracy’ but engage in vertical political practice.
On the right, politics no longer revolve around conserving national economic privileges. Rightwing leaders willingly subordinate their economies and society to imperial led crusades, which empty national sovereignty of any meaning while pillaging the national treasury.
This essay will proceed to discuss these complex changes and their meaning.
The ‘Non-Leftist Left’ in Southern Europe
The economic crisis, in particular the imposition of severe cuts in wages, pensions and other social welfare programs by rightwing and social democratic governments have led to widespread discontent, which the traditional workplace based leftist parties have been unable to address and mobilize the people. Prolonged and deepening unemployment and the growth of temporary employment have affected over 50% of the labor force.
Union representation has declined precipitously, further weakening the presence of traditional leftist parties in factories.
Large-scale evictions, foreclosure of mortgages and accompanying job losses have led to neighborhood-based anti-eviction movements and struggles. Millions of young workers now depend on their grandparents’ pensions and remain with two older generations in their parents’ home. For the young workers, the degradation of everyday life, the loss of personal autonomy and the inability to live independently have led to revolts for ‘dignity’.
The traditional left parties and trade unions have failed (or not attempted) to organize the unemployed. They have failed to attract the young and the downwardly mobile temporary workers in anything resembling class-based, class struggle-oriented movements.
Paradoxically despite the deepening crisis among most workers, the traditional left has declined. Its workplace orientation and its language of class struggle do not resonate with those without jobs or prospects. For the radicalized middle class the traditional left is too radical in seeking to overturn capitalism and too distant from power to realize changes.
The radicalized middle class includes public employees, professionals and self-employed private contractors who aspire to, and until recently, experienced upward mobility but have now found their path blocked by the austerity programs imposed by rightwing, as well as, social democratic parties.
Frustrated by the social democrats’ betrayal and facing downward mobility, the radicalized middle class are disoriented and fragmented. Many have joined amorphous street protests; some have even embraced, temporarily in most cases, the alternative traditional rightwing parties only to encounter even more brutal job cuts, insecurity and downward mobility.
The middle classes deeply resent being denied the opportunity for upward mobility for themselves and their children. They resent their formerly ‘moderately progressive’ Social Democratic leaders’ betrayal of their interests. Their radicalism is directed toward restoring their past access to social advancement. Their deep-seated hostility to the authorities is rooted in the loss of their previous status as a result of the crisis.
Middle class radicalism is tempered by nostalgia for the past. This radicalism is rooted in the struggle to restore the European Union’s social subsidies and growth policies. They remember a recent past of rising living standards and “social inclusion”, now denied their own children. This vision guides the rhetoric that the progressive middle class had earned and enjoyed theirrising incomes as a result of their own ‘merit’.
Today the radicalized middle class looks for practical, specifically defined and government-sponsored policies that can restore their past prosperity. They do not aim to ‘level the playing field’ for everyone but to prevent their proletariazation. They reject the politics of the traditional left parties because class struggle and worker-centered ideologies do not promote their own social aspirations.
For most radicalized middle class activists the culprits are ‘austerity’, the mega-bank swindlers and the political kleptocrats. They seek parties that can reform or moralize capitalism and restore ‘individual dignity’. They want to kick out corrupt officials. They demand ‘participatory democracy’ rather than the traditional left’s goal of public ownership under worker control.
Under the specific conditions generated by the current social crisis, a non-leftist left (NLL) has emerged throughout Europe. Spontaneous, amorphous, ‘anarchic’, extra-institutional and ‘street-centered’, the NLL has adopted an irreverent style. The NLL, in its origins, rejected political parties, well-defined programs and disciplined cadres in favor of spontaneity and irreverence toward institutions.
As the appeal of the NLL grew, the unemployed, the temporary workers, the insecure and unprotected non-unionized workers and the radicalized middle class joined demonstrations and found safety in the crowds. They were attracted by the appeals from ‘the street’ to oust the incumbent kleptocrats.
Emerging from this movement aimed at the downwardly mobile middle class’ anger, Podemosin Spain, Syriza in Greece and Five Stars in Italy have appealed to all the people disconnected from power, by promising a restoration of ‘dignity and respect.’ They made amorphous appeals to ‘end austerity’ with only a vague promise that they would create jobs.
The NLL leadership, however, is most clearly influenced by the non-radical resentments of the downwardly mobile middle class.
They never engaged in class struggles and have rejected class ideology. For the NLL leaders, social polarization is mostly a vehicle for building an electoral base. Their participation in small-scale local struggles was presented as ‘proof’ that the NLL leaders spoke to authentic popular aspirations.
The Non-Leftist Left’s Transition: From Street to Public Office
From the street, the NLL moved swiftly to elections and from elections they proceeded to form coalitions with traditional parties. Strategic decisions were taken by a small coterie of personalistic leaders: They redefined ‘participatory democracy’ to refer only to local neighborhood activism and issues – not national issues, which were the realm of ‘experts’.
Syriza, the first NLL to reach power, reflected the immense gap between the radical posturingof its leaders in opposition and their cringing conformity before Established Power (the Troika: IMF, European Commission, Central Bank) once elected to government.
Syriza embodied middle class resentment toward the Euro-technocratic elite in Brussels whom they blamed for their loss of past prosperity and job security and for the ongoing degradation of everyday life. Syriza denounced the Troika while it remained under its tutelage. It excoriatedthe EU elite in the highest moral tones for doing what its elite class interests dictated, that is, defend the EU bankers, extract debt payments and threaten their underlings. In practice,Syriza never applied any class analysis to the Troika’s policy as it continued to refer to their ‘EU partners’. ..even as they imposed brutall demands.
Once in power the Syriza leaders never mobilized a single mass protest and never even threatened a general strike in the face of EU colonial dictates.
Syriza’s personalist leader, Alexis Tsipra,s appointed right wingers from former regimes to key posts. He negotiated with the Troika and caved on all strategic issues dealing with debt payments, austerity and privatizations. Syriza never considered ‘going to the people’. Syriza’s‘moral crusade’ against capitalism ended by their embracing capitalism and the colonial Eurozone system.
Syriza’s lack of class analysis, class struggle and class mobilization and its total commitment to working within a moralized capitalism and the Eurozone to restore middle class status and security has resulted in the most abject conformity and surrender – punctuated by shameless buffoonery on the part of some leaders.
In the end, Syriza surrendered to the dictates of higher powers of the Troika ad their Eurozone acolytes, but not until it had emptied the Greek Treasury. The leaders have combined the worst of all worlds: a bankrupt national economy, a ‘protesting’ but fundamentally colonial regime and a disenchanted electorate.
Where Syriza wildly succeeded was in marginalizing the traditional left (the Greek Communist Party). It reaffirmed the historic pattern: free floating movements of the moment end up being run by personalistic leaders who presume to speak for “the people” while bending over to their overseas overlords.
NLL in Spain and Italy: Podemos and Five Stars
Podemos in Spain and Five Stars in Italy are ready to follow Syriza’s path of colonial subservience. They rejected and successfully marginalized the traditional left. They have gained mass support, organized mass protests and loudly rejected austerity and the dictates of the Troika.
While Podemos leaders talk of ‘participatory democracy’, a handful of leaders make all policy pronouncements, decide which candidates to support in the elections and determine what kind of post-election coalition governments they will join.
What gives Podemos and Five Stars their radical appearance is their opposition to the governing parties, their rejection of ‘austerity’, their criticism of neoliberalism – and their support for ‘micro-politics’ of local grassroots direct-action.
At no time or place have they counterpoised an alternative to capitalism. Nor have they repudiated illicit debts or supported the expropriation of the banks responsible for the pillage their economies.
Podemos and Five Stars deliberately obscure their politics: They are whatever any of their affiliates’ claim to be…
The leaders raise populist demands and speak about ‘dignity’, employment and punishment of corrupt officials. They call for an end to authoritarian measures, but avoid any real commitments to institutional change, especially of the repressive courts, police or armed forces.
Podemos and Five Stars criticize the EU’s austerity programs while staying in the EU as subordinate members of an organization dominated by German bankers. They promote popular mobilizations which they have turned into vote-gathering machines for electing their members to office.
The NLLs contradictory politics of populist gestures and institutional commitments reflect the politics of a frustrated and blocked middle class demanding a restoration of its past status and security. Podemos and Five Stars leaders put on the grand show of thumbing their noses at the establishment to promote limited middle class demands. On a much broader front, the leaders of the NLL have not organized any mass protests – let alone formed a mass movement which would seriously challenge the imperialist powers, NATO, the Middle East wars and US-EU sanctions against Russia.
Since most of their supporters are anti NATO, in favor of Palestinian independence and critical of the Kiev regime the popular base of the NLL will act on their own but will have no real impact on the current national leadership.
The reason for the disparity between leaders and followers is clear: The NLL leaders intend to form post-electoral coalitions with the corrupt and reactionary ‘center left’ parties so despised and rejected by their own electorate.
Following the nationwide Spanish municipal and regional elections, Podemos allied with corrupt Socialist Party (PSOE). In the municipality of Madrid, Podemos supported the left-center coalition Ahora Madrid (Madrid Now), which in turn has allied with the center-right Socialists to elect the ‘progressive’ mayoral candidate, Manuela Carmena.
While the entire ‘progressive camp’ celebrates the defeat of the hard-right Popular Party candidate –little has been said about consequential changes in the municipal and regional budgets, structures of economic power and class relations.
‘Five Stars’,( Movimento Cinque Stelle or M5S), Italy’s non-leftist left is dominated by a single ‘anti-leader’, Beppe Grillo, he defines the party’s programs and affiliations. He is known for making clownish, provocative gestures against the authorities, calling for a “Fuck the Parliament Day”.
It is Beppe who selects the candidates to run for Parliament. While in opposition, M5S loudly opposed all NATO wars in the Middle East, US military interventions in Latin America and free trade agreements. But now ensconced in the European Parliament, Beppe has aligned with the Libertarian Right.
Five Stars (M5S) central demands revolve around ‘direct democracy’ and ‘sustainable development’. It has captured the electoral support of the majority of the lower middle classgaining 26% of the vote (9 million voters) in the 2013 general elections.
While Beppe and his colleagues engage in fist fights within the Parliament, make radical gestures and spout belligerent rhetoric, ‘M5S’ has not supported a workers general strike. It participates in each and every election, but has stayed away from factory struggles.
Radicalism, as grand ‘gesture politics’, is an entertaining, non-threatening response to capitalism since there is no concerted effort to form class alliances with workers engaged in workplace struggles.
‘M5S’, like Podemos and Syriza, expresses the disorganized radicalism of the young, frustrated lower middle class raging against their downward mobility, while refusing to breakwith the EU .They rail against the concentration of power in the hands of the banks, but refuse to pursue their nationalization. M5S mobilized 800,000 people in Rome recently but led them nowhere. ‘Five Stars’ convokes crowds to meet and cheer its leaders and to ridicule the power brokers. Afterwards they all go home.
While the ‘NLL’ movements capture the support of the ‘indignant’, the mass of unemployed workers and the evicted householders, their leaders do not articulate a serious plan of action capable of challenging the economic power structures: they raise popular expectations via demands for ‘change’. However, these vague and deceptive slogans allow the NLL leaders to join in a medley of opportunist electoral coalitions and governmental alliances, with decidedly establishment personalities and parties.
In Greece, Italy and Spain the traditional left has either disappeared, or shrunk to a marginal force. With little or no base outside of the workplace and trade unions, they barely secure five percent of the votes.
The NLL has deepened the isolation of the traditional left and has even attracted a part of its social base. NLL’s rejection of the traditional left’s tight organization and top down leadership and its pluralistic rhetoric appeals to the young. Moreover, as the left trade unions have sought compromises with the bosses to save the jobs of employed workers and ignored the unemployed, the latter has looked to the ‘open and spontaneous’ NLL to express their opposition. In Spain’s municipal elections, the United Left, a Communist-led electoral formation, joined with Podemos to elect Manuela Carmena, the ‘insurgent mayor’ of Madrid.
While the Euro-US academic left has rightly celebrated the emergence of mass opposition to the rightist regimes in Southern Europe, they have failed to understand the internal dynamicswithin the NLL movements: the limitations of middle class radicalism and their conformists’ goals.
The example of Syriza in Greece is a warning of the fatal consequences of middle class leaders trying to realize radical changes, within the neo-liberal framework imposed by the EU.
Currently, the best example of the opportunism and bankruptcy of the NLL is found in the successful Mayor-elect of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, whose victory was hailed by Podemos as the ‘great victory for the people’ at recent celebration.
For her part, Mayor-elect Carmena has wasted no time repudiating all ‘five basic emergency reforms’ promised during the elections. In a press conference, the so-called ‘progressive Mayor of Madrid’ announced (with a cynical grin) that ‘promise number one’ – a public bank – was no longer needed because she was satisfied to work with the private banking oligarchy. She refused to pursue ‘promise number two’ – to provide subsidies for electricity, water and gas for poor families cut off from those services, claiming such support was too early and could wait until winter
Regarding Podemos ‘promise number three’ – a debt moratorium, Carmena insisted that “we will keep paying, for now”. On ‘promise number four’ favoring public over private contractors for municipal contracts, Carmena reversed the position: “We can’t change right away”.
Carmena even repudiated ‘promise number five’ – to immediately implement a summer meals program for poor children, insisting that she would rely on the inadequate programs of far right predecessor.
Moreover, Mayor-elect Carmena went even further, staffing her administration with far-right holdovers from the previous government to strategic policy-making positions. For example, sheappointed Carmen Roman, a former Director General of the far right Prime Minister Aznar, as Senior Executive of Madrid. She defended these reactionary decisions claiming that she was looking for “technocrats who are the best professional administrations”. Indeed, Carmen Roman had implemented mass firing of public workers and the dismantling of social programs in the ‘best professional’ manner possible!
Carmena further betrayed her Podemos electorate by insisting she looked forward to working with the hard right Prime Minister Rajoy and flatly rejected the idea of promoting a progressive alternative!
In less than one week, the euphoria over the victory of Podemos backed candidates has been dissipated by these acts of cynical opportunism: the non-leftist left has betrayed its electorate, from the very start!
Syriza: Plunder, Pillage and Prostration. (How the ‘Hard Left’ embraces the policies of the Hard Right)
Introduction: Greece has been in the headlines of the world’s financial press for the past five months, as a newly elected leftist party, ‘Syriza’, which ostensibly opposes so-called ‘austerity measures’, faces off against the “Troika” (International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and European Central Bank).
Early on, the Syriza leadership, headed by Alexis Tsipras, adopted several strategic positionswith fatal consequences – in terms of implementing their electoral promises to raise living standards, end vassalage to the ‘Troika’ and pursue an independent foreign policy.
We will proceed by outlining the initial systemic failures of Syriza and the subsequent concessions further eroding Greek living standards and deepening Greece’s role as an active collaborator of US and Israeli imperialism.
Winning Elections and Surrendering Power
The North American and European Left celebrated Syriza’s election victory as a break with neo-liberal austerity programs and the launch of a radical alternative, which would implement popular initiatives for basic social changes, including measures generating employment, restoring pensions, reversing privatizations, reordering government priorities and favoring payments to employees over foreign banks. The “evidence” for the radical reform agenda was contained in the ‘Thessaloniki Manifesto’ which Syriza promised to be the program guiding their newly elected officials.
However, prior to, and immediately after being elected, Syriza leaders adopted three basic decisions precluding any basic changes: Indeed, these decisions set it on a reactionary course.
First and foremost, Syriza accepted as legitimate the foreign debt of over $350 billion dollars, although most had been signed by previous government Kleptocrats, corrupt banks, business, real estate and financial interests. Virtually none of this debt was used to finance productive activity or vital services which would strengthen the economy and Greece’s future ability to payback the loans.
Hundreds of billions of Euros were stashed away in foreign bank accounts and foreign real estate or invested in overseas stocks and bonds. After affirming the ‘legitimacy’ of the illicit debt, Syriza followed up by declaring its ‘willingness’ to pay the debt. The ‘Troika’ immediately understood that the new Syriza government would be a willing hostage to further coercion, blackmail and debt payments.
Secondly, and related to the above, Syriza declared its determination to remain in the European Union and Eurozone and thus accepted the surrender of its sovereignty and ability to fashion an independent policy. It declared its willingness to submit to the dictates of the Troika. Once under the thumb of the Troika, Syriza’s only policy would be to ‘negotiate’, ‘renegotiate’ and make further concessions to the EU overseas banks in a totally one-sided process. Syriza’s rapid submission to the Troika was their second strategic, but not their last, betrayal of its electoral program.
Once Syriza demonstrated to the Troika, its willingness to betray its popular program, the Troika escalated its demands and hardened its intransigence. Brussels discounted Syriza’sleftist rhetoric and radical theatrical gestures as blowing smoke in the eyes of the Greek electorate. The EU bankers knew that when it came time to negotiate new loan agreements, the Syriza leadership would capitulate. Meanwhile, the Euro-American Left swallowed Syriza’s entire radical rhetoric without looking at its actual practice.
Thirdly, on taking office, Syriza negotiated a coalition with the far-right, pro-NATO, xenophobic, anti-immigrant Independent Greeks Party, guaranteeing that Greece would continue to support NATO’s military policies in the Middle East, the Ukraine and Israel’s brutal campaign against Palestine.
Fourthly, the bulk of Prime Minister Tsipras cabinet appointees had no experience of class struggle .Worse still, most were academics and former PASOK advisers without any capacity or willingness to break with the dictates of the Troika. Their academic ‘practice’ consisted largely of theoretical ‘combat’, ill-suited for real-world confrontation with aggressive imperial powers.
From a Scratch to Gangrene
By capitulating to the EU from the outset, including accepting to pay the illegitimate debt, hooking up with the Far Right and submitting to the dictates of the Troika, the stage was set for SYRIZA to betray all its promises and to worsen the economic burden for its supporters. The worst betrayals include: (1) not restoring pension payments; (2) not restoring the minimum wage; (3) not reversing privatizations; (4) not ending austerity programs; and (5) not increasing funds for education, health, housing and local development.
The Troika and its publicists in the financial press are demanding that Syriza cut the Greek pension system even further ,impoverishing over 1.5 million retired workers. Contrary to the media’s planted ‘examples’ of fat pensions enjoyed by less then 5% of pensioners, the Greeks have suffered the deepest pension reductions in Europe over the past century. In just the last past 4 years the Troika cut Greek pensions eight times. The vast majority of pensions have been slashed by nearly 50% since 2010.The average pension is 700 Euros a month but 45%of Greek pensioners receive less than 665 Euros a month – below the poverty line. Yet the Troika demands even greater reductions. These include an end of budget subsidies for pensioners living in extreme poverty, an increase in the retirement age to 67, an abolition of pension provisions tied to hazardous occupations and for working mothers. The earlier regressive measures, imposed by the Troika and implemented by the previous right-wing coalition regime, severely depleted the Greek pension fund. In 2012, the Troika’s ‘debt restructuring’ program led to the loss of 25 billion Euros of reserves held by the Greek government in government bonds. Troika austerity policies ensured that the pension reserves would not be replenished. Contributions plummeted as unemployment soared to nearly 30% (Financial Times 6/5/15 p4). Despite the Troika’s frontal assault on the Greek pension system, Syriza’s “economic team” expressed its willingness to raise the retirement age, cut pensions by 5% and negotiate further betrayals of pensioners facing destitution. Syriza has not only failed to fulfill its campaign promise to reverse the previous regressive policies, but is engaged in its own ‘pragmatic’ sellouts with the Troika.
Worse still, Syriza has deepened and extended the policies of its reactionary predecessors. (1)Syriza promised to freeze privatizations: Now it vows to extend them by 3.2 billion Eurosand privatize new public sectors. (2) Syriza has agreed to shift scarce public resources to the military, including an investment of $500 million Euros to upgrade the Greek Air Force. (3) Syriza plundered the national pension fund and municipal treasuries of over a billion Euros to meet debt payments to the Troika. (4) Syriza is cutting public investments in job creating infrastructure projects to meet Troika deadlines. ( 5) Syriza has agreed to a budget surplus of 0.6% at a time when Greece is running a 0.7% deficit this year – meaning more cuts later this year. (6) Syriza promised to reduce the VAT on essentials like food; now it accepts a 23% rate.
Syriza’s foreign policy mimics its predecessors. Syriza’s far right Defense Minister, Panos Kammenos, has been a vocal supporter of the US and EU sanctions against Russia- despite the usual flurry of Syriza’s faked “dissent” to NATO policies, followed by total capitulation – to remain in good standing with NATO. The Syriza regime has allowed each and every well-known kleptocrat and tax evader to retain their illicit wealth and to add to their overseas holdings with massive transfers of their current ‘savings’ out of the country. By the end of May 2015, Prime Minister Tsipras and Finance Minister Varofakis have emptied the Treasury to meet debt payments, increasing the prospects that pensioners and public sector workers will not receive their benefits. Having emptied the Greek Treasury, Syriza will now impose the “Troika solution” on the backs of the impoverished Greek masses: either sign-off on a new “austerity” plan, lowering pensions, increasing retirement age, eliminating labor laws protecting workers’ job security and negotiating rights or face an empty treasury, no pensions, rising unemployment and deepening economic depression. Syriza has deliberately emptied the Treasury, plundered pension funds and local municipal holdings in order to blackmail the population to accept as a ‘fait accompli’ the regressive policies of hardline EU bankers – the so-called “austerity programs”.
From the very beginning, Syriza gave into the Troika’s dictates, even as they play-acted their ‘principled resistance’. First they lied to the Greek public, calling the Troika ‘international partners’. Then they lied again calling the Troika memorandum for greater austerity a ‘negotiating document’. Syriza’s deceptions were meant to hide their continuation of the highly unpopular ‘framework’ imposed by the previous discredited hard rightwing regime.
As Syriza plundered the country of resources to pay the bankers, it escalated its international groveling. Its Defense Minister offered new military bases for NATO, including an air-maritime base on the Greek island of Karpathos. Syriza escalated Greece’s political and military support for EU and US military intervention and support of “moderate” terrorists in the Middle East, ludicrously in the name of “protecting Christians”. Syriza, currying favor with European and US Zionists, strengthened its ties with Israel, evoking a ‘strategic alliance’ with the terrorist-apartheid state. From his first days in office, the hard right Defense Minister Kammenos proposed the creation of a “common defense space” including Cyprus and Israel – thus supporting Israel’s air and sea blockade of Gaza.
Syriza’s political decision to ‘embed’ in the EU and the Eurozone, at all costs, signals that Greece will continue to be vassal state, betraying its program and adopting deeply reactionary policies, even while trumpeting its phony leftist rhetoric, and feigning ‘resistance’ to the Troika. Despite the fact that Syriza plundered domestic pensions and local treasuries, many deluded Leftists in Europe and the US continue to accept and rationalize what they choose to dub its “realistic and pragmatic compromises”.
Syriza could have confiscated and used the $32 billion of real estate properties owned by the Greek Armed Forces to implement an alternative investment and development plan – leasing these properties for commercial maritime ports, airports and tourist facilities.
Syriza buried Greece even deeper into the hierarchy dominated by German finance,by surrendering its sovereign power to impose a debt moratorium, leave the Eurozone, husband its financial resources, reinstate a national currency, impose capital controls, confiscate billions of Euros in illicit overseas accounts, mobilize local funds to finance economic recovery and reactivate the public and private sector. The fake “Left sector” within Syriza repeatedly mouthed impotent “objections”, while the Tsipras -Varofakis sell-out charade proceeded to the ultimate capitulation.
In the end, Syriza has deepened poverty and unemployment, increased foreign control over the economy, further eroded the public sector, facilitated the firing of workers and slashed severance pay- while increasing the role of the Greek military by deepening its ties to NATO and Israel.
Equally important, Syriza has totally emptied leftist phraseology of any cognitive meaning: for them – national sovereignty is translated into international vassalage and anti-austerity becomes pragmatic capitulations to new austerity. When the Tsipras – Troika agreement is finally signed and the terrible toll of austerity for the next decades finally sinks into the consciousness of the Greek public, the betrayals will hopefully evoke mass revulsion. Perhaps Syriza will split, and the “left” will finally abandon their cushy Cabinet posts and join the disaffected millions in forming an alternative Party.
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.
Zoes skarpa demokratiska positionering i sina riktlinjer till det grekiska parlamentet avslöjar två SYRIZA
Zoe Konstantopoulou, är den yngsta i ålder och den andra kvinnliga talmannen i parlamentet. Hon valdes med 235 röster av 298 parlamentsledamöter som deltog i omröstningen. De första officiella, rent demokratiska riktlinjerna till det grekiska parlamentet på länge, gavs av Mrs Zoe Konstantopoulou’s i sitt öppningstal.
Den första ljusglimten av solsken lyste på grekerna, då de svarta molnen för första gången på fem år skingrade sig lite. Det var en verbal solstråle, men den kom från någonstans den inte har kommit på mycket länge i Grekland, eller i övriga Europa för den delen. Det var den officiella, djupt demokratiska, patriotiska och konkreta positioneringen av den nya talmannen i parlamentet, i sitt öppningstal.
För första gången sedan det blodiga inbördeskriget har någon i den positionen, officiellt uttryckt och personligen förbundit sig till de mycket grundläggande demokratiska fundamenten, så kristallklart. Hon påpekade att parlamentets största uppgift är att först och främst försvara och garantera dessa grundläggande demokratiska principer och värderingar och den grekiska nationens historiska rätt till dem. Hon nämnde särskilt de odiskutabla rättigheter som den grekiska nationen och det grekiska folket i synnerhet har, på grund av dess heroiska kamper och gigantiska uppoffringar för demokrati och frihet, genom hela historien. Mycket bestämt förklarade hon, att vem som helst som försöker beröva grekerna dessa rättigheter – från och med nu – kommer att möta en vägg med de demokratiska grundprinciperna i praktiken. De kommer att möta den ursprungliga andemeningen i folkrätten, den väsentliga essensen i FN-konventioner och det grekiska folkets konstitutionella rättigheter, i handling. Och de kommer att möta ett parlament som, först och framför allt annat, kommer att försvara dessa historiska rättigheter och garantera dem till dessa historiska försvarare av dem.
Hon gav ett mycket törstigt och nästan uttorkat folk, ett par ‘shots’ av friskt källvatten, efter så många decennier drickandes giftigt och smutsigt vatten serverat i form av stormakternas snyggt förpackade, buteljerade latrin-vatten. Hon talade direkt till hjärtat hos över 80% av grekerna (inklusive diasporan). Detta faktum är anledningen till att Mr Varoufakis såg så orolig ut och varför han vred och vände på sig som en “Lord Voldemort på kola”, under Fru Konstantopoulous tal. Hennes ord var som smärtsamma, förvrängda höga ljud i hans öron, eftersom han bär Soro’s hörlurar. För alla nyliberala krafter i synnerhet för topp-bankirerna på planeten, lät detta tal som ljudet av en metallkniv som skär mot en tom tallrik.
Herr Varoufakis må ha tagit de europeiska medierna och de politiskt korrekta vänster-låtsarna med storm, men om han inte följer den breda majoriteten av partiets och medlemmarnas synpunkter på skulden, kommer han ha många duster med egna partimedlemmar. Fru Konstantopoulous vyer har mer stöd i Syriza än Varoufakis “strama försörjnings program”, vänj-er-vid-att-vara-skuldsatta-programmet. Att han är en mycket bra ekonom är det ingen fråga om, men att vara en lysande ekonom är inte tillräckligt för en sådan position. I den positionen måste han först och främst arbeta för folket och inte åt någon annan. Dr Mengele var också en lysande läkare men hans lojaliteter och hans arbetsgivare utgjorde ett dödligt hot för miljoner människor. Det är för vad och för vem de arbetar som räknas. I hans fall är det helt klart att han inte arbetar för det grekiska folkets bästa.
Mrs Konstantopoulou visade en något annorlunda linje än finansminister Yanis Varoufakis som har att säkerställa skulden och i verkligheten bara talar om “sträckea ut den över längre tid”. Hon talade om avskrivning av majoriteten av skulden, så som utlovat. Hon betonade också att hon själv kommer att ta initiativ för att främja grekernas anspråk att radera största delen av den grekiska skulden och utvecklings-klausulerna.
På grund av parlamentets talman, fru Konstantopoulou’s oöverträffade, officiella klarhet och skärpa i de grundläggande demokratiska principerna, i motsats till vad som pågår i de trojanska hästen-ledda delarna av regeringen, är det uppenbart att två “Syriza” är i aktion just nu… Den trojanska hästen tjänar stor-makternas intressen, och de andra, vars anda tillsammans med den stora majoriteten av de grekiska folkets gemensamma anda, talade genom den nya ordföranden för det grekiska parlamentet på fredagen.
Detta är den enda riktigt goda nyheten hittills, men endast om den nya talmannen och parlamentets officiella ståndpunkt också försvaras i praktiken och i handling, naturligtvis.
Hennes grundlagsskyddade ställning, som ordförande för det grekiska parlamentet, ger henne mycket stor frihet att fastställa regler och dra riktlinjer för parlamentets demokratiska, praktiska förfaranden i enlighet med de grundläggande demokratiska principerna. I praktiken innebär det, att aktivt garantera och försvara grundläggande demokratiska rättigheter åt det grekiska folket och det måste baseras på folkets önskemål.
Talet har inte sänds i sin helhet någonstans i västmedian ännu, utom vissa utdrag (minuter och sekunder från det 24 minuter långa talet). Jag försökte hitta den översatt på YT. Detta tal var ett smärtsamt oljud för bankirerna och den globala eliten. Som det alltid är då demokratins fundamentala principer, internationella lagar och FN-konventioner tas upp från höga officiella positioner i en nations regering.
Jag laddar upp den här för er som förstår grekiska
Zoe Konstantopoulou, is the youngest in age and the second woman president of the Parliament. She was elected with 235 votes out of 298 MP’s who took part in the vote. The first official, purely democratic guidelines to the Greek parliament in long time, was given in the opening speech by Mrs. Zoe Konstantopoulou.
The first bright glimpse of sunshine shone on the Greeks, when the black clouds for the first time in five years scattered a little bit. It was a verbal ray, but it came from somewhere it hasn’t come for a very long time in Greece, or in Europe for that matter. It was the official, deeply democratic, patriotic and concrete positioning of the new President of the Parliament, in her opening speech.
For the first time since the bloody civil war, someone in that position, officially express and personally commits themselves to the very basic foundations of Democracy, so crystal clear. She pointed out that the Parliament’s biggest task is to first and foremost defend and guarantee these basic, democratic principles and values and the Greek nations historic right to them. She specifically mentioned the indisputable rights that the Greek nation and the Greek people in particular have, due to its heroic struggles and gigantic sacrifices for democracy and freedom, throughout history. Very firmly she declared, that whoever tries to deprive the Greeks these rights – from now on – will meet a wall with the democratic basic principles in practice. They will meet the original spirit of international law, the substantial essence of the UN-conventions and the Greek people’s constitutional rights, in action. And they will meet a parliament that will, first and above anything else, defend those historic rights and guarantee them to these historic defenders of them.
She gave a very thirsty and almost dehydrated people, a few shots of fresh spring water, after so many decades of drinking toxic and dirty water served with the great powers nicely packaged, bottled, latrine-water. She spoke directly to the hearts of over 80% of the Greeks (including the diaspora). That fact is the reason why Mr Varoufakis looked so worried and was twisting and turning like a “Lord Voldemort on coke”, during Mrs Konstantopoulous speech. Her words were as painful, distorted high noises in his ears, because he wears Soro’s headphones. To all neo-liberal powers on the planet, particularly the bankers that speech was like the sound of a metal knife cutting against an empty plate.
Mr Varoufakis might have taken the European media and the politically correct left-pretenders by storm, but if he doesn’t follow the wide majority of the party’s and the members standpoint on the debt, he will have many battles within the party. Mrs Konstantopoulou views are more rooted in SYRIZA than Varoufakis “austere livelihood” program, the get-used-to-being-poor-program. That he is a brilliant economist there is no question, but to be a brilliant economist is not enough for the position he has. He have to first and foremost work for the Greek people’s interests and nobody else’s. Dr Mengele was also a brilliant physician but his loyalties and his employer posed a lethal threat to many million people. It is for what and for who they work that matters. In his case it’s quite clear that he don’t work for the best of the Greek people.
Mrs Konstantopoulou showed a slightly different line than Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis who has been ensuring the debt and in reality just talks about “stretching it out over a longer time”. She spoke about deletion of the majority of the debt, as was promised. She also stressed that she herself will take initiative to promote the Greek claims of deleting most of the Greek debt and the Development clauses.
Due to the President of Parliament, Mrs Konstantopoulou’s unprecedented, official clarity and sharpness on the basic democratic principles, in contrast with what goes on in the Trojan Horse led parts of the government, it is evident that two ‘SYRIZA’ are in action right now… The Trojan Horse serves the great-powers’ interests, and the others, whose spirit together with the vast majority of the Greek people’s common spirit, spoke through the new President of the Greek Parliament on Friday.
This is the only really good news so far, but only if the new President of the Parliament’s official standpoint is also defended in practice and in action, of course.
Her constitutionally protected position, as President of the Greek Parliament, gives her very big freedom to set the rules and the guidelines for the parliament’s democratic, practical procedures in accordance with the fundamental democratic principles. In practice that means, to actively guarantee and defend the basic democratic rights for the Greek people and it must be based on the people’s requests.
The speech has not been broadcasted in its entirety anywhere in western media yet, except some excerpt (minutes and seconds from the 24 minutes of the speech). I tried to find it translated on YT, but not even an excerpt anywhere. That speech was a painful noise to the bankers and the global elite. As it always is when democracy’s fundamental principles, international laws and UN conventions are officially pointed out by government members, judges or the President of Parliament in a nation’s government.
I upload it here for you who understand Greek
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?
Syriza-regeringens inre krets och dess första vecka ger inte mycket hopp.
Namnen i den nya grekiska regeringen som tillkännagavs i tisdags, gav många av oss rysningar. Även vi som inte trodde på alla löften, trodde åtminstone att genom att bli av med de hänsynslösa, föregående “Bryssel och Berlin-tjänarna”, skulle vi kunna andas ut.
Tvärtom tvingades vi plötsligt smälta faktumet att Tsipras i verkligheten, inte kan hålla många av sina främsta löften till folket. Inte med dessa nyliberala “Soro’s pojkar och flickor”, i den inre kretsen av ministrar och viceministrar.
Det råder ingen tvekan om att folkets röst i valet var ett ‘bra steg’, det var ett steg i rätt riktning, men det var verkligen inte något annat än ett endaste, litet steg. Och det steget beskrivs inte, av beslutet att rösta för en Tsipras-regering, utan av beslutet att bli av med Samaras-regeringen.
En kort analys gjordes redan förra måndagen av Dimitris Kazakis, ekonomen och generalsekreteraren för den demokratiska motståndsrörelsen E.PA.M (Enad Folklig Front). Han kommenterade några mycket misstänkta medlemmar i Syrizas ledning, några av de tidigare medlemmarna ur PASOK, de “smutsiga” medlemmarna med ett olöst förflutet. Han kommenterade dessa namn, eftersom de återfinns i minister och vice ministerposter och i förhandlingsgruppen för den nya regeringen. Efter en blick på namnen, förstår man att det är mer sannolikt att det kommer att bli sittningar av köpslagning, snarare än verkliga förhandlingar om Skulden, Åtstramningspolitiken och Demokratin.
Han talar om ministrarna och medlemmarna i förhandlingsgruppen som, den nya finansministern, Yanis Varoufakis (en Soro’s “pojke”), vice premiärminister Giannis Dragasakis och ministern för infrastruktur, transport och turism, Georgos Stathakis, De här är de grekiska “Dalton bröderna från gamla PASOK “- Averel saknas, eftersom han startade sitt eget parti och fick 2,4%, från familj och “vänner”. Alla tre är bankirernas vargar. Så storbankirenas seger också i den här Europeiska’vänster-regeringen’, är uppenbar.
Han talar om,”förhandlaren” Nikos Christodoulakis (minister under Kostas Simitis, en av de mest hatade premiärministrarna för att han verkligen skuldsatta grekerna, med det ökända börs-bedrägeriet och diverse mut-skandaler), biträdande ministern för att bekämpa arbetslösheten, Rania Antonopoulou (från Levi Institute och aktiv i flera av George Soro’s organisationer), “förhandlaren” Louka Katseli (röstade för Memorandum I och sa efteråt att hon inte ens var bekant med siffrorna för skulden, för hon hade inte ens läst det hon röstat igenom), Nikos Kotsias den nya utrikesministern (var George Papandreou’s, utrikesminister, Pangalo’s hjälpreda, och även herr Papandreou’s rådgivare – han har blivit Pangalos-tränad i många år).
Det verkar som det misslyckade och dödliga, nyliberala Papandreou receptet skall stylas om och säkerställas, istället för att på allvar ifrågasätts och fördömas av dessa ministrar. Vi ser alltså endast ett dåligt förklätt PASOK regera Grekland nu.
I Soro’s tjänst
Den nya finansministern, Yanis Varoufakis, avslöjade i sin allra första intervju som grekernas finansminister – som gavs till BBC förresten, och inte till någon grekisk kanal – för vem han verkligen jobbar och för vems räkning han i verkligheten kommer att förhandla. Det är uppenbart att han är där för att försäkra och skydda Soro’s, Levi’s & Co intressen, och inte för att verkligen förhandla för det grekiska folkets räkning. Han är inte där för att, med stöd av konstitutionell och internationell rätt och FN:s resolutioner, ifrågasätta skulden och kräva en rättslig och ekonomisk utredning av alla de nykoloniala avtalet med Eurogruppen/ IMF/ ECB. Även om just detta var ett av de klara, faktiska uppdragen ifrån folket. Med hjälp av ett fåtal vänsteraktiga, “kosmetiska” justeringar, och några socialekonomiska “slickepinnar” till de lidande, kommer han att försöka driva igenom ett nytt sorts “Memorandum”, ett permanent sådant.
Han kommer att göra detta, genom att fortsätta det nyliberala Papandreiska resonemanget. Denna Narcissus, kallade förvisso inte grekerna lata, som Papandreou gjorde, men han var lika kränkande när han indirekt erkände skulden, istället för att berätta sanningen om ‘de grekiska lånen’, för européerna. Det borde han gjort! För det är vad Syriza lovade oss. Han kände istället att han ville lugna ner de nervösa investerarna och Eurogruppen, innan han kunde börja posera som en “vänster-regerings” finansminister.
Han ljög faktiskt medvetet för européerna, när han sa till dem att de någonsin har betalat ett nickel från sina fickor för sina regeringars lån till Grekland. Att deras regeringar och deras media ljög för dem och sa till dem att det var p.g.a “grekernas lathet”, som man måste strama åt deras liv, är en helt annan sak. Den saken får dessa medborgare ta upp och göra upp med sina regeringar, inte med grekerna. Hur betalar tyskarna, slovenernas och andra EU-medborgare för grekerna?
Vet inte Varoufakis, att Tyskland som nation lånade Grekland 15,2 miljarder euro inom ramen för “hjälppaketen”, men tjänade över 75 miljarder euro, endast från de olika räntorna på dessa lån? De lån som gick till Grekland var pengar som inte kom från medborgarnas fickor, så som den här nya finansministern antyder. Dessa länders regeringar lånade pengar från ECB med betydligt lägre ränta än vad de lånat ut till Grekland. Han vet också mer än väl, att dessa länder inte lånade Grekland 240 miljarder euro under 5 år, utan 55 miljarder euro, som 16 länder delade på. Resterande 185 miljarder kom från EFSF, dvs den tillfälliga europeiska fonden för mekanismen för kontrollerad konkurs, vilka i sin tur lånades från marknaderna genom att man gav ut egna skuldebrev. Regeringarna erbjöd alltså sina medborgare att spekulera i skuld, att investera i, ett annat lands konkurs, istället för att fråga dem om de har lust att stödja EFSF eller ej. Ingen kan be grekerna att varken lagligt eller etiskt, känna något ansvar inför faktum att dessa medborgare förlorat pengar, när de själva accepterat att spekulera i människors elände genom ett sådant motbjudande pyramid spel.
Herr Varoufakis talade inte om för de europeiska medborgarna, att deras regeringar faktiskt har gjort tiotals miljarder euro i vinst genom att låna ut pengar till Grekland, och att de avsiktligt ljög för dem om det.
Syriza lovade grekerna, att de skulle vidarebefordra meddelandet om denna lögn till européerna och inte fortsätta Papandreous skuld-lekar, och samtidigt spela “de hårda förhandlarna”. Verkligen besynnerlig uppfattning, som vår tids “vänsterregeringar” har om begreppet, tala för folkets räkning.
Vi ville inte att regeringen skulle lugna ner bankirerna och långivarna. Vi ville att regeringen skulle uppröra dem och beslutsamt och med stöd i internationell rätt, verkligen utmana dem.
De europeiska folkens hopp emot ny-liberalismen?
Om Tsipras har valt att tillmötesgå EU’s, Eurogruppens och bankirernas “önskelistor”, kommer han inte att behandlas väl alls av de progressiva delarna av Syriza, majoriteten av sina nya väljare och större delen av det grekiska folket.
Majoriteten av väljarna röstade på SYRIZA för att de förband sig att “inte backa” från följande löften:
- ett fördömande och krav om rättslig prövning, av de olagligt påtvingade koloniala låneavtalen, i internationell domstol
- en radikal, demokratisk förändring i det nuvarande parti-topps-kontrollerade, kundbaserade, politiska systemet
- den korrekta beskattningen av ALLA de rikaste
- att alla de ansvariga – inhemska och utländska – för det grekiska folkets lidande och Greklands förstörelse, skall ställas till svars i domstol för sina brott
Det grekiska folket kommer inte att nöja sig och lita på någon regering, innan den visar i praktiken att den inte backar från dessa folkets “röda linjer”, i alla aspekter av dessa fyra mycket avgörande frågor.
Tsipras, borde veta – eftersom de flesta av hans väljare och många av hans partimedlemmar vet – att de viktigaste pågående, omedelbara hoten som dagligen fördjupar vår oro, spär på vår vrede och förlänger vår sorg är:
- de påtvingade koloniala avtalen, villkoren och det grekiska folkets skuldlivegenskap (genom en olagligen undertecknad resignation från alla rättigheter att försvara naturrikedomar, suveränitet och självständighet, på begäran av Eurozonen och Papandreous regering)
- den planlagda, systematiska, utarmningen, utmattningen och förnedringen av det grekiska folket
- det ökande antalet människor som dör som direkt följd av ‘åtstramningarna’, alla självmorden och den utvandrande unga befolkningen
- nedmonteringen av demokratin, mänskliga och konstitutionella rättigheter i Grekland
- de mycket partiska och propagandistiska medierna (som uppenbarligen ljuger och istället för att informera, undanhåller sanningen från folket, polariserar det och agerar som talesman för det Tysklands-ledda, nyliberala, nynazist-främjande och -stödjande, EU)
Jag kommer inte att kommentera alls på de små socialekonomiska, ynka “tröstnapparna”. När ovanstående frågor behandlas med respekt och enligt folkets önskan kan jag känna mig manad att applådera några av ‘tröstnapparna’ också. Jag VET att den undergivna attityden mot långivarna inte alls var vad den grekerna röstade för och inte heller en pimpad Papandreou-lösning. Vi ville inte att regeringen skulle lugna ner bankirerna och långivarna, utan att oroa dem. Vi ville att regeringen målmedvetet skulle utmana dem, med stöd i internationell folkrätt. Men Herr Kotsias, precis som alla andra av de nuvarande fega, moraliska krymplingarna till utrikesministrar, så viftar han bort folkrätten, FN-konventioner och internationella fördrag och stämmer in i psykopaternas krigslekar.
Grekiska regeringens utrikespolitik öppnade vägen för EU’s steg två mot Ryssland
En första positiv sak, som kunde ha sagts om denna regering, skulle varit om Kotsias gått vidare till att använda sitt veto i Ukraina frågan, emot resten av EU. Det skulle nämligen ha varit bra om Greklands medie-döpta “radikala vänster”, kunde ha stoppat den eskalerande inblandningen i nynazistiska massakrer av befolkningen i Ukraina och inte bara anpassa sig till den befintliga, mycket giftiga aggressiviten emot Ryssland. Men det gjorde inte utrikesminister Kotsias (Pangalos-lärlingen)… Han påpekade bara några felaktiga ordningsrutiner och släppte sedan nyckel-kommentaren “sanktionerna fungerar inte”, som i utrikespolitiskt språk betyder vi bör gå vidare till nästa steg mot Ryssland. Han skulle kunnat varit den som, med stöd i grundläggande internationella lagar och FN-fördrag, lagt sitt veto emot “EU’s strävan till att ensidigt kunna förklara krig och starta krig emot en suverän nation. Att inte en enda representant från något annat medlemsland, såg några problem med faktum att EU vill bryta emot internationell rätt och befintliga FN-fördrag och resolutioner, var inte problemet enligt Kotsias. Men att de “ignorerade det föreskrivna förfarandet för Grekland samtycke”, var något han minsann inte skulle tåla.
Vi vet genom historiska fakta att kommentaren “sanktionerna fungerar inte” betyder låt oss gå till steg två. Flyganfall, drönare, kluster-bomber, skapa eller stödja lokala “väst-vänliga” slaktare och när det “inte fungerar”, gå till steg tre, mark invasion (Korea, Vietnam, Kambodja, Argentina, Serbien, Somalia, Afghanistan, Irak, Libanon, Syrien, Libyen etc.). Endast i de fall då man inte vågade att de facto gå till attack, fortsatte man med sanktionerna i flera årtionden, som exempelvis emot Sovjetunionen, Kina, Kuba och Nordkorea. Att den grekiska regeringen inte använde sitt veto mot EU och dess nyliberala korståg mot Ryssland, är en position som är i direkt konflikt med majoriteten av det grekiska folkets uppfattning och det kommer alla undergivna, kund sinnade grekiska regeringar vara.
Nä, jag kan verkligen inte förstå, varför några illasinnade, misstänksamma personer, starkt tvivlar på att de här verkligen är “de europeiska folkens bästa hopp emot bankirerna, EU:s nykoloniala åtsramnings-politik och de nynazistiska, etniska rensningarna”? Kan du?
Leo Panitch says it is the first left party to come to power since the 2007-2008 crisis of neoliberalism
Dimitri Lascaris says breaking up the troika and the power of oligarchs that control Greece is not going to be an easy task
Published time: January 26, 2015 14:01
Syriza’s Greek election win has dealt a blow to Eurocrats’ austerity agenda. As the European left celebrated the triumph, UK Prime Minister David Cameron warns the result will prompt further “economic uncertainty” in Europe.
Cameron made the comment after Syriza beat Greece’s ruling center-right New Democracy party in Sunday’s election, paving the way for a potential confrontation with international creditors.
Throughout its electoral campaign, the left-wing party pledged a series of deeply transformative policies.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras vowed to renegotiate Greece’s £179 billion bailout, and address clauses that make the Greek government’s implementation of harsh austerity measures mandatory.
He also said the party would demand the cancellation of over 50 percent of Greek debt owed predominantly to the ECB and Eurozone states, and place a new debt deal with the EU at the heart of its agenda.
As Syriza swept the ruling conservative New Democracy party from power, warnings that incoming Greek PM Tsipras’s party will prompt a crisis in the euro began to circulate.
‘There is no alternative’
Reflecting on the anti-austerity party’s electoral triumph, Cameron said the UK must stick to its economic plan of fiscal rectitude. In a climate of increasing economic insecurity in Europe, British policy makers must strive to deliver “security at home,”he warned.
Chancellor George Osborne suggested Syriza’s radical demands will require Greece’s exit from the eurozone.
He said the anti-austerity party’s pre-electoral mandate would be “very difficult” to deliver on and is ultimately “incompatible with what the eurozone currently demands of its members.”
In an effort to defend the austerity agenda that underpins his long-term economic plan for Britain, Osborne claimed Greek votes on Sunday weren’t against austerity, but against economic policies that had failed the Mediterranean state.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, the chancellor echoed Cameron’s stance that the election result would increase economic uncertainty in Europe.
But Euroskeptic UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader, Nigel Farage, took a more critical stance.
“Greece’s elections are a cry for help from those who have been impoverished by the euro,” he said.
Farage argued Syriza’s victory marked the beginning of a “game of poker” with German Chancellor and EU austerity architect Angela Merkel.
He also suggested the ECB will be “powerless” as this political game unfolds.
‘Hope has won’
Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said austerity hasn’t worked for Greece, for Britain or for the wider EU.
Lauding Syriza’s victory as “fantastic,” he argued investment in growth must replace savage cuts in Britain and Europe.
Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, said “hope has won.”
She said she was “inspired” by the large proportion of Greeks who voted for Syriza, and that the time had come for the EU to listen to economists and Greek citizens and “respond with debt forgiveness and support.”
Left-wing comedian and political activist Russell Brand also weighed in, calling for a new party in Britain that could emulate Syriza’s radical position.
Brand said he would abandon his propensity not to vote if a similar party emerged on Britain’s political horizon.
In response to Cameron’s claim that Syriza’s victory would increase economic uncertainty in Britain and elsewhere, Brand said: “It will increase economic uncertainty for corporations, the city and you, ‘Dave.’”
Despite concern amid Eurocrats and financial institutions that a Syriza victory could spell disaster for the eurozone and the euro itself, European stocks have remained relatively stable since Sunday.
Analysts suggest recent European Central Bank stimulus measures pursued by the bank’s chief Mario Draghi have neutralized fears over the anti-austerity party’s victory.
‘Rage against the dying of the light’
Writing in the Spectator magazine, Swedish economist Frederick Erixon said Greece’s election result had inevitably paved the way for “turbulence ahead, both in Greek and eurozone politics.”
But Yanis Varoufakis, a leading economics professor based in Athens, contests this view.
He argues, “Greek democracy resolved to rage against the dying of the light” on Sunday in a bid to place Greece on a path of “sustainable prosperity.”
“The people of Greece gave a vote of confidence to hope.”
“They used the ballot box, in this splendid celebration of democracy, to put an end to a self-reinforcing crisis that produces indignity in Greece and feeds Europe’s darkest forces.
While it remains unclear whether Greece will leave the euro, how Syriza’s policies will affect the single market currency and what they will mean for Britain and eurozone member states in the long term, one thing is certain: Syriza have proved it’s possible to build a successful political movement that can challenge austerity, and the governments and international creditors that propel it.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras will be officially sworn in on Monday afternoon as Greece’s new prime minister.
As his party begins its task of restructuring Greece’s political and economic position on a fraught European stage, leftist parties in Britain and Europe will be watching closely.