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Wed Nov 2nd, 2011 at 08:55:25 AM EST
As the Greek Prime Minister is already in Cannes to meet with the G20 leaders and "discuss" the prospect of a referendum on the rescue package, I'll try to outline some possible outcomes originating from Papandreou's decision, and hopefully start a discussion on the dynamic of the current situation as a whole...
Let me start with four presuppositions:
- I still believe that Papandreou's game is aimed internally at Greece and that he will fold tonight under G20 pressure (basically Merkozy)
- The worldwide explosion that the possibility of referring austerity to be judged by its victims caused, a basic process of democratic legitimization, shows that the Greek government either purposefully or through its incompetence failed to protect its population both during the spring of 2010 and the summer of 2011, from at least the more outrageous of the troika's demands, although it could have. Greece was then even more so the most powerful country in the world. A 2010 threat to pass acceptance of the IMF programme through a popular plebiscite, would have seriously and drastically reduced the scope of the shock therapy Greece was put through or eliminated it all together, with very important effects on global austeritarian dominance hence.
- There is no real way that a referendum on the 26/10 deal can be held on January (or any other month for that matter) in Greece. The real threat is the threat of a sustained threat.
- The Greek PM is reacting to increasing social unrest in Greece, and is possibly at this point worrying even for his physical safety, but certainly about the fact that he is right now one of the most despised figures in Greek political history. The referendum idea is the result of a panicked reaction to massive popular pressure. Especially the shock of the massive and ubiquitous protests on the 28th of October national holiday which were literally unprecedented...
So let's examine what the real stakes and strategies are going to be tonight, if only to get a grasp of what is in the cards and what are possible outcomes for the players in this game...
front-paged by afew
Wed Oct 26th, 2011 at 05:02:09 AM EST
Slide 1 (glass): In 2009 23% of children lived at poverty levels
Slide 2 (glass): Today?
Slide 3 (apples): In Athens 1 in 11 inhabitants are fed through solidarity services
Slide 4 (eggs): Last year 6 out of 10 have limited their consumption of food
Slide 5(black): We started our missions in Uganda
Slide 6 (black): Now we face a humanitarian crisis in Greece
Slide 7: Send food to Medecins du Monde
In the press release they are asking for aid to help prevent the winter of 2012 from becoming a killer winter...
Mon Oct 10th, 2011 at 09:11:03 AM EST
front-paged by afew
Wed Sep 28th, 2011 at 08:42:38 PM EST
Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the National Liberation Front (Ethniko Apeleftherotiko Metopo - EAM) in Nazi-occupied Greece. In other circumstances it would pass barely noticed, with speeches from surviving war heroes, a brief spotlight on history, the bravery of the war generation, perhaps at the German Occupation and its aftermath in the Civil War. A festival, a memorial service by various parties on the left. Something like that.
As history is sending us into most troubled waters again however, it seems to acquire a deeper significance this year. A call to arms in a sense. A different kind of "arms" than at the time of course, and a call to return to the original sin of post-war Greece, the post-war political triumph of nazi collaborators.
Thus I take the opportunity to present to Eurotrib a two part BBC documentary on the Greek Civil War, that was aired only once in the 1980s and then vetoed by the British diplomatic service as "unfair" to post-war British efforts in Greece. This was something I meant to do for a while now since I have kept in mind DoDo's request for an extended diary on the subject something I now know I'll never have time to pen, so I think the two videos will do nicely as a useful and pretty much, accurate version of the events of the time... In a sense, the Greek Resistance and the Greek Civil War are still present in political discourse, disguised yet potent and still color the lexicon of modern debate. As the Germans left, I note, George Papandreou Sr, the current PM's grandfather, came into the national spotlight as a major political presence.
Sat Sep 10th, 2011 at 08:16:08 AM EST
The Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TITF) holds a special place in Greek politics. Traditionally it is there that the Greek Prime Minister presents his government's economic policy, every September. Leaders of other parties also give press conferences in response. It is the event that marks the beginning of Greece's political season, and as such it is an annual milestone, some times critical: A lame appearance in TITF in 2008, was a watershed for the Karamanlis government, the former PM, and a turning point for the Socialists on their way back to political power.
Sun Jul 24th, 2011 at 08:15:32 AM EST
In a recent essay in Der Spiegel, titled "Democratization Can't Save Europe, The Need for a Centralization of Power", Prof. Herfried Münkler (of "post-heroic society" fame) states, more clearly than anyone else I've read, the demand for an elite dismissal of democracy in Europe. This is not an exaggeration:
In light of this failure of the elites, it is hardly surprising that we are hearing renewed calls for the democratization of Europe. Suddenly, the people are expected to fix what the elites have botched. Since they are already being asked to pay for the problems caused by the elites, many believe that the people should have more say in how and by whom Europe is controlled.
As reasonable as this might sound, by no means does it make as much sense as it seems at first glance. Even after the democratization of Europe, the elites in Brussels and Strasbourg will still be in charge. The only option available to the European people, to the extent that they can be referred to as such, would be to react to obvious failure by voting their leaders out of office -- and to vote an opposing elite to take their place. Whether this would fundamentally change anything is open to question. [...]
Pushing for the democratization of Europe is akin to playing a reckless game that can quickly lead to European disintegration. Those who see democratization as a logical reaction to the crisis may not even be aware of this risk. They see democratization as an automatic reflex in response to the crisis. But democracy needs the kinds of conditions that do not exist in Europe today.
Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 03:26:22 AM EST
There's this old Nasreddin Hodja tale, where a villager sees Nassredin, standing sadly by the side of the road and asks him "What's the matter Hodja?". "I'm very upset my friend" he replies, "I have been teaching my donkey how to manage without eating, and just as he was getting the hang of it, he died!"
This was the story that came to my mind as I was reading about the great progress that the Greek economy has been making by following the ECB / EU Commissars' guide to
bankruptcy market creditworthiness:
A deeper-than-expected recession caused Greece's central government deficit to widen by almost one third in the first half of the year, widely missing an interim budget target under the country's bailout plan, the finance ministry said on Monday...
... Net budget revenues dropped 8.3 percent year-on-year to 21.81 billion euros, compared with a 25.08 billion euro target. Spending before payments on the country's debt increased 4.5 percent to 25.62 billion euros, 7.1 percent above target.
The ministry attributed the revenue shortfall to a more severe economic slump than had been anticipated, and one-off road taxes that boosted revenue in the previous period
Promoted by DoDo
Wed Jun 29th, 2011 at 12:34:07 PM EST
...And "Greek Revolution" seems a very appropriate term to describe what is happening in Syntagma square right now...
Too busy demonstrating and participating, to post (Although see some notes from yesterday below), I've managed only tweets... Here's a brief note, to sevrve as an update repository...
Police violence is escalating, propped by groups of partially dubious "anarchists", clashes to day involved "regular" demonstrators, you can cut the rage with a knife, just like the air since teargas is so thick that it's like an alien planet. I'm very worried about where this leads. When the indignants met the first 48 hour strike in 50 years, they became again a force worth reckoning....
The Greek parliament, meaning the compliant team of "socialists" minus just one MP of the ten that hinted they might vote against the Medium Term Programme, just voted 155 for and 138 against (5 present, 2 absent), to sell off the country to banksters and crooks (if they find buyers that is, else they'll give it away), lower life expectancy and gut social spending. At this moment with the scenes in Syntagma looking more and more like Tahrir square and pictures from a battleground, luxury hotels being evacuated and grandfathers (never mind kids) chanting "Cops, Pigs Murderers" and calling for the burning of parliament. I don't think its over yet.
I'm off again to Syntagma. Although getting back might be a tad difficult at this moment...
Promoted by Colman
Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 03:14:41 AM EST
A government of accountants. In fact, a government of accountants working for foreign banking interests and against anything that might remotely legitimize them as a Greek government: The new medium-term programme for the Greek economy is out, and it is a monster that combines new onerous indirect tax hikes, new direct taxes on the poor and the middle classes (those that cannot avoid taxation), possibly the largest and most rapid privatization programme in the history of the world, and gigantic public expenditures cuts.
This is Socialism for the 21st Century - bankster collaborator style...
Another update from the eye of the storm - promoted by DoDo
Sun Jun 5th, 2011 at 10:30:11 AM EST
Takis Michas' article in the WSJ, written a month ago, about Greece and what he describes as its Descent into Anarchy
(full article reproduced here
) is a stunning piece of disinformation on the situation in Greece, an outlandish view of the disaster unfolding in the country, tainted by class prejudices and ideolepsy. It is so utterly unrooted in reality, that, were it published in Greece anonymously, it would be unclear whether this was perhaps a parody. This is the pinnacle of a genre of alarmist anti-left writings that seem to pop-up regularly in the local MSM to lecture the restless natives on the vileness of resistance to Authority and its true Prophet, the IMF, and blame the Left as sole instigator of all sorts of violence: A"violence" however, which on closer inspection mostly consists of jeering a corrupt politician or two, staging a protest against the pauperization of this or that social group, peaceful civil disobedience and strikes. In a zoology of militantly conformist, fear-mongering tall tales on display in the government-friendly media (and that's 90% of all MSM media), Michas' piece is Godzilla. That's why it was perhaps too tall for the Greek press and required a global newspaper to print it.
The WSJ readership of course, needs this potent injection of fear-mongering anyway, as the plebes in the US are rapidly becoming unruly themselves, faced with shouldering the costs of the banker bailout and this cautionary tale form the exotic Near East, complete with leftist dragons, is perfectly timed for domestic use.
As I said, if this was published in a Greek newspaper, in Greek, it would offer a hilarious peek at the paranoia that the crisis has bred among the country's upper classes, and would not merit a response significantly different from "you should go out more often". Since it is published in English, in a paper as broadly read among ruling elites as the WSJ, and might skew the perception of what is actually happening in Greece, it requires debunking, especially as I have seen the article being referred to on the www as some sort of authoritative picture of Greek "anarchy", since its publication. In the process it will provide an opportunity to relate the true story of the budding, if still incoherent, mass resistance to the ECB/IMF fiscal stormtroopers and their caretaker government in this peripheral ECB province I'm writing from, but also the truly darker side of collapsing neighbourhoods, mindless violence and general despair that is emerging from the deep cracks that the prolonged ECB/IMF induced depression has carved on the already decrepit social body. This panoramic view of civil discontent and societal unrest that answering Michas' article must include, and the true dangers lurking as the crisis deepens will be the major theme of this post, along with a discussion of things that have happened after the publication of this article: it has been a month thick with events.
Promoted by DoDo
Mon May 30th, 2011 at 04:41:16 AM EST
According to the FT, Greece is in the process of completely relinquishing its sovereignty to its creditors:
European leaders are negotiating a deal that would lead to unprecedented outside intervention in the Greek economy, including international involvement in tax collection and privatisation of state assets, in exchange for new bail-out loans for Athens.
This is pretty much an explicit call to plunder the country. So much for solidarity it seems...
Promoted by DoDo
Wed May 18th, 2011 at 09:14:36 AM EST
Chancellor Merkel has decided to chide those lazy Southerners for being well... lazy:
Chancellor Angela Merkel has attacked southern European countries such as Greece where people retire early and take lots of holidays, saying they can no longer enjoy such lifestyles at the cost of other EU members like Germany
Apparently Ms. Merkel is under the impression that Germans work more than Greeks, an impression that could have been easily dispelled were she to turn to the OECD statistics instead of the vile and racist punditry of German populist right-wing rags. The OECD tables show that for Greece the average annual hours actually worked per worker in 2009 reach 2119, versus 1390 for Germany. That is a little over 60% of hours worked by Greeks. Spanish workers worked 1654 hours. Portuguese 1719.
But what about the number of days of paid leave? Surely Germans have fewer holidays than the Greeks. Well, not according to Wikipedia. In Greece the number is +/- 20 days, depending on seniority, while in Germany it's 4 weeks.
Then pensions? It surely is a scandal according to The Local that reports this nonsense, that:
"The current Greek retirement age of mid- to late-50s is to be raised to 65 for men this summer as part of a package of changes to be introduced by the government this year"
But wait, if it is now set to rise to 65, what exactly is the problem? And how about that mid to late 50s myth. The actual average age of retirement in Greece before the IMF and the ECB shock was 61, as testified i.e. in this Reuters story.
Salaries then! What about those enormous Greek salaries. Well according to Eurostat:
...Greece... has the most underpaid private sector employees compared to the rest of the "Eurozone". In Greece, the average gross monthly wage, including social security and taxes, is 803 euros [about £700 or US$1063], while the lowest gross salary in, for example, Ireland is 1300 euros, in France 1250 euros and in the Netherlands 1400 euros
I'm not even considering that the wingnut Austrian policies that the ECB, with the aid of the IMF is implementing in Greece, have resulted in three succesive years of deep contraction (and who knows how many more) - a depression actually, coupled with high inflation, and sky-rocketing unemployment (it's difficult I note to be productive when there are no jobs out there) and that by these policies Germany and the core EU is relegating Greece to colonial status and pauperization, despite the fact that, as JC Junker has admitted, the German government has been complicit with Greek governments in hiding (and profiting I should add as the recent scandals in Greece involving German companies show) and perpetuating the large scale theft of the Greek economy by corrupt politicians and oligarchs...
To hell or the front page ... Colman
Sat May 14th, 2011 at 10:32:59 AM EST
Scenes from the Nazi pogrom against immigrants Athens 12/5
As Greece was reeling from the violent repression that broke up the large anti-austerity demonstration in Athens, and led to a critically wounded demonstrator (who is doing better but is still in danger of losing his life or suffering permananent damage), Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) the local neo nazi party, which last autumn managed to elect a City councilor in Athens, went on a rampage in Athens' decrepit residential neigbourhoods of Kypseli and Patissia attacking immigrants and their shops, breaking windows, invading homes and sending as many as 50 people to the hospital (while dozens more were too afraid to seek medical help) with knife wounds and blows. This unprecedented in scale attack, came after a demonstration in the crime-ridden neighborhood protesting the stabbing and murder of a local inhabitant (who was Greek) in heartbreaking circumstances: the man went to get his car to take his pregnant wife to the hospital where she was to give birth to their child and the robbers attacked him to take the video-camera he was carrying in a pouch.
frontpaged with minor edit - Nomad
Fri May 6th, 2011 at 08:15:26 AM EST
Last night (Tuesday May 3 - Nomad) in one of the most viewed shows on Greek TV, Lakis Lazopoulos a popular comedian showed an excerpt of an edited part of a documentary that has been shown on Canal + last month, if I'm not mistaken. We already knew, since March, that in this documentary, he divulged that the Greek Prime Minister was scheming with the IMF, to impose the sort of Shock Therapy Greece is living through - as the respected daily Kathimerini reported that:
Prime Minister George Papandreou called for the intervention of the International Monetary Fund in Greece at the beginning of December 2009, or two months after he took over the governance of the country, while he was publicly categorically rejecting such a possibility
In fact Papandreou was elected, less than two months earlier, by campaigning against the relative light austerity program that the New Democracy Conservatives ran on (and with quite reasonable arguments) and explicitly dismissing the idea that Greece would have to turn to the IMF for help. His, by know infamous, campaign slogan was "there is [plenty of] money".
The video (it's in Greek but DSK's statements are in French - starting ~ 0:42) reveals that the discussions between the two men involved more than a single communication:
frontpaged with minor edits - Nomad
Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 09:18:49 PM EST
Some weeks ago Jake posted a comment/LTE draft in my last diary on the Greek crisis, that I promised to translate and circulate in the Greek blogosphere and perhaps try to publish in a newspaper or two. While I failed in my attempt to do the second, the first was more of a success. I posted it in my Greek blog (note the stamp!) and saw the piece circulated around various aggregators and blogs. This led to a discussion and a number of questions, which we thought with Jake could be answered here, as they might be of interest to the ET community, serving also as a vehicle to discuss the issue of what is to be done with and what will become of the EU periphery's (and beyond) debt crisis. Thus I post the final draft of Jake's LTE here, followed by a list of selected questions and comments that were posted or received by email...
Fri Feb 18th, 2011 at 09:10:40 AM EST
A couple of weeks ago a rather obscure dairy company, Neogal, based in the town of Drama, near the Greek-Bulgarian border, received a phone call from a representative of the troika (Greece's de facto governing authority, comprised of representatives of the IMF, the ECB and the EU Commission) - others say that they actually visited the town, but that's probably not true. They wanted to ask a few questions regarding the wage deal it had agreed on with its workers.
from the diaries - Nomad
Thu Dec 9th, 2010 at 04:39:11 AM EST
Karl Marx: On freedom of the Press
The highly sage, practical bureaucrats who secretly and unjustifiably think of themselves in the way that Pericles openly and rightly boasted of himself: "I am a man who is the equal of anyone both in knowing the needs of the state and in the art of expounding them" -- these hereditary leaseholders of political intelligence will shrug their shoulders and remark with oracular good breeding that the defenders of freedom of the press are wasting their efforts, for a mild censorship is better than a harsh freedom of the press. We reply to them with the words of the Spartans Sperthias and Bulis to the Persian satrap Hydarnes:
"Hydames, you have not equally weighed each side in your advice to us. For you have tried the one which you advise, the other has remained untried by you. You know what it means to be a slave, but you have never yet tried freedom, to know whether it is sweet or not. For if you had tried it, you would have advised us to fight for it, not merely with spears, but also with axes."
1. What is in the long run perhaps more important than the actual content of the leaked cables, or the revelations of atrocities uncovered and admitted in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the uncovering through its reflexive response, of what is practically a mechanism of internet control by powerful state and non-state actors. From Amazon to Pay Pal, from DDOS attacks to credit cards and data visualization companies, and then outside the web to banks, the Swedish and British court systems, Interpol, the whole world it seems - everybody fell on wikileaks with a vengeance that was meant, I suppose, less to silence this particular story (something that I imagine even the most deluded of state and corporate technocrats knew was pointless) but rather to inflict damage against the organization at a time when it was growing stronger and, more importantly I imagine, to discourage any further groups or networks from joining the game. This is not mainly an attempt to shut down, but rather to intimidate and contain...
Fri Nov 26th, 2010 at 02:24:16 PM EST
Statement by the EC, ECB, and IMF on the Second Review Mission to Greece
Abstract: IMF / ECB / EC to Greek workers: You're screwed and there's nothing you can do about it. We own you. If what we say sounds illogical - good, logic is an unproductive remnant of a bygone democratic era which you are well advised to forget as soon as possible...
Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 01:47:15 AM EST
Today [Sunday 7 November] Greeks are electing regional and municipal authorities: mayors, regional governors and peripheral and city councils. Though the local government system has been very recently extensively reorganized, creating larger municipalities and moving power from both the central government and the prefectures to the regions (13 in all), these elections will not be about local problems as much as about government policy: they will be a test for IMF / ECB / EC / Greek government austerity policies. This is an electoral season that will be in all likelihood painful for the socialists: opinion polls show mounting disapproval of the austerity policies, as recession is expected to reach at least -4% this year, while inflation will be somewhere around 5-6%. A very rough calculation shows that we're talking at least -10% GDP purchasing power-wise, and in fact the situation is worse than that because the effects are skewed disproportionally against workers and small businesses, while unemployment and underemployment (or illegal employment: the Greek Unions' Institute estimates that 1 in 4 people currently working are in the informal sector, with no insurance), skyrockets: official unemployment is reaching in all probability 14% by the end of the year, while youth unemployment is at 30% currently.
The depression caused by the IMF / ECT policies (policies which the ruling socialists condemned just before the 2009 elections as ineffective as a way out if the crisis) weighs heavily on society and this it is no surprise that a few days before the election an opinion poll found that 47% of the Attiki region (the broader Athens area more or less) electorate, that is something like 1/3 of the total electorate, was for dumping the current deal with the EU (27% were against), 82% rated the government negatively (16% positive) and 69% were saying that the country is moving in the wrong direction.
front-paged by afew - see comments for results
Tue May 25th, 2010 at 05:24:06 AM EST
I was thinking about how to structure the second installment of the saga of this unfolding disaster (part 1 here) that has been inflicted on the Greek working population, part of the development of the Great Crash of 08. There is a lot to be highlighted, especially concerning bogus data and statistics circulating among world media and organizations, that are then used to "explain" the inevitability of the neoliberal shock therapy which Greece is being subjected to (and which is I am afraid a first test for far wider application in the continent of similar shocks).
The IMF fortunately, I see, has helped me out a bit on this, by issuing a compilation of bad statistical urban legends and hearsay on the Greek crisis and endorsing it as policy background. In its web-site, the Fund has thus created an FAQ section on the Greek crisis. This is a document riddled with outright lies and strategically propagated half-truths and obfuscations, along with wishful thinking and handwaving serious questions aside, to an extent impressive for an official document, coming from one of the pillars of the world economy. It is the ideal place to start to tackle the (already dwindling in the face of the globalisation of the Euro crisis) moralizing and the lies that have been used to "explain" why working Greeks should suffer the economic equivalent of a nuclear attack. Let's check out some of the claims made to see how credible the IMF's analysis of the statistical and factual reality in Greece is...
Promoted by DoDo
by DoDo - May 20
by Nomad - May 10
by JakeS - May 15
by gmoke - May 17
by DoDo - May 12
by Migeru - May 6