Monday, July 6, 2015

Greece votes NO to austerity

It wasn't even close.  Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis told everyone that if the NO vote lost, he would resign.  By Saturday night he was explaining that this was essentially an empty threat because he felt assured that that his side was going to win.  But I'll bet that even he was surprised by the margin of victory. (Update: Varoufakis quits anyway.  Considering what he has gone through in the last five months, I don't blame him one little bit.)

However as big—and significant—as this vote was, this fight is FAR from over.  The creditor classes are justifiably famous for their untrammeled greed and if little Greece escapes their clutches, what's to stop Spain, Italy, Portugal, etc. from pulling the same stunts.  The answer is—not a damn thing.  Which is precisely why this vote was so important.  The Predator/creditor classes have to be stopped before they destroy everything of value on the planet.

As for Greece, I would only offer one tiny piece of advice.  As you progress through the minefields of default and possibly the re-introduction of the Drachma, remember that all the answers you need can found in the history books.  You are certainly not the first debtor or debtor nation to file for bankruptcy.  You are not the first nation to issue new currency.

Greece, these are big stakes you are playing for.  You have already exposed the evils and cruelties of neoliberalism.  You have already demonstrated that when the situation become desperate enough, people find a fountain of courage somewhere even when being deliberately terrorized by Predators who are experts at destruction and spreading fear.  You have demonstrated that whatever idealism went into the creation of the EU, it is now being run by sociopaths.  And Paul Craig Roberts seems to think you are necessary to avoid WW III.

That's quite a list for a tiny country.  Damn, maybe the modern Greeks ARE related to the ones we read about in high school (my favorite was Euclid.)

Europe has suffered a reputational catastrophe in Greece

The eurozone has shown itself unable to manage its basic moral responsibilities

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Athens 01 Jul 2015

Oxi Day has totemic significance in Greece. It commemorates the defiant Greek “No” to Mussolini’s ultimatum in October 1940, and the heroic acceptance of war against a vastly bigger military machine.

It is the same word that will top the ballot sheet when Greeks vote in a snap referendum this Sunday on creditor demands, and prime minister Alexis Tsipras is not shy in evoking the same spirit of wartime resistance.

His speech to the nation on Wednesday night was peppered with talk of ultimata. He accused “extreme Right-wing circles” of forcing the closure of the Greek banks and the imposition of capital controls through liquidity asphyxiation.

He lashed out at “authoritarians” in charge of the IMF and EU institutions. He spoke of attempts to blackmail the Greek people. And he vowed to campaign against the creditor package - which, strictly speaking, is no longer on offer - deeming it the “destruction of Europe”.

Where this will take him, and take Greece, is anybody’s guess. The latest Efimerida ton Syntakton poll shows the “No” side leading by 54pc against 33pc for “yes”. But that lead - if it really exists - may evaporate as the ghastly consequences of financial collapse become clearer by the day.

Distraught pensioners have been gathering in small, tense crowds outside banks trying to withdraw their weekly allowance of €120 (£85). Many have not been paid. A throng of veterans protested outside the finance ministry on Wednesday morning, denouncing EU “dictatorship” and Mr Tsipras with equal fury.

Ambulances in parts of northern Greece have run out of fuel. The Greek Chamber of Commerce warns of “serious shortages” of basic goods and pharmaceutical supplies within days. The radical-Left Syriza government is skating on very thin ice.

If Europe’s creditor powers have succeeded in bringing Greece to its knees, they have paid a fearful price themselves. As Pyrrhus said after the battle of Asculum: “Another such victory, and we will be utterly ruined.”

We can already see that the EU itself has suffered a reputational catastrophe on several fronts. This is of far greater importance in the sweep of events than daily twists and turns in Athens.

It has brought about a state of affairs where a member of its own eurozone family has become the first developed country in history to default to the IMF.

Let us be clear what this means. The currency union itself is delinquent. The rich countries of northern Europe are refusing to pay African, Asian and Latin American states. Blaming it on Greece alone does not wash.

The eurozone has shown itself unable to manage its basic moral responsibilities. Russian president Vladimir Putin could hardly resist his own wicked dig, professing “great concern” over the EU’s vanishing credibility.

This default is doubly shameful given that the original IMF-Troika loan in 2010 was not intended to save Greece. The extra debt was imposed on an already bankrupt Greek state to buy time for the euro, against Greek interests.

Leaked documents leave no doubt that the real purpose was to save monetary union and the European banking system - and to avert a “Euro-Lehman”, in the IMF’s own words - at a time when the eurozone had no defences against contagion.

Worse, the bitter showdown has made brutally explicit what many long suspected, that sovereign democracies count for nought when push comes to shove in Euroland.

The European Central Bank is not the chief villain, perhaps, in the latest chapter. It is in an impossible position. Yet citizens across Europe can see with their own eyes that the ECB has been rationing emergency liquidity (ELA) for a prostrate country as a tool of political pressure, and that it forced Syriza to take the drastic step of shutting the banks by freezing ELA at €89bn.

It is an odd spectacle to watch a central bank with a treaty duty to uphold financial stability take the deliberate decision to precipitate the collapse of banks that it regulates. But the deeper point is that the insane construction of the euro - a naked currency union without fiscal and political foundations - must inevitably tend to authoritarian monetary dystopia in the end.

It is, however, too soon to conclude that Syriza will buckle to creditor demands. It is certainly hard to read the real intentions of Mr Tsipras. His defiant stand on Wednesday night is starkly at odds with the letter he sent to EMU officials earlier in the day and the IMF on Tuesday that seemed, at first blush, to make big concessions. But nothing is ever what it seems in this weird drama.

“Those who say we have a secret plan for Greece to exit euro are lying,” he swore, with an impressively straight face. He denied that a “No” vote implies Grexit - though the leaders of France, Germany and Italy say it means exactly that - knowing that few Greeks are yet willing to take such a drastic step.

Yet one might suspect - and I have not made up my mind - that he and Syriza’s inner circle concluded in April that they could not do business with an EMU regime that acts solely as the enforcement arm of the creditors.

They may have concluded that demands for further fiscal contraction were economic lunacy - a view shared by the Nobel fraternity and the US Treasury - and that no serious debt relief was on the table, and therefore they would do better to default and restore a Greek sovereign currency.

If so, they cannot admit it. They must make it appear that the decision was forced upon them, just as France’s Leon Blum had to tell white lies to free his country from the Gold Standard in 1936.

Syriza officials are fully aware that the likely consequence of a “No” vote would be a parallel currency - or IOUs - along with the nationalisation of the banks along the lines of the “Icelandic Model”. Syriza’s Left Platform has already drawn up plans along these lines. Variants almost certainly exist in the Greek finance ministry.

Such action implies a return to the drachma in short order. The Greeks would continue to insist that the country remains a member of the euro, with full legal rights - blaming the creditors and EU bodies for acting illegally. Only by doing so could they ensure that the full losses from Grexit fall on the ECB and the EMU bail-out funds, while the assets of Greek citizens remain legally protected in foreign accounts, free to return later to rebuild a new banking system.

If you were of a suspicious mind, you might wonder whether Mr Tsipras has not in fact lured European leaders and officials into a legal trap, and that they have fallen for the bait.

His Byzantine negotiating tactics may make perfect sense after all. Just a thought. more

Greece Again Can Save The West


Like Marathon, Thermopylae, Plataea and Mycale roughly 2,500 years ago, Western freedom again depends on Greece. Today Washington and its empire of European vassal states are playing the part of the Persian Empire, and belatedly the Greeks have formed a government, Syriza, that refuses to submit to the Washington Empire.

Few people understand that the fate of Western liberty, what remains of it, is at stake in the conflict, and, indeed, the fate of life on earth. Certainly the German government does not understand. Sigmar Gabriel, a German vice-chancellor, has declared the Greek government to be a threat to the European order. What he means by the “European order” is the right of the stronger countries to loot the weaker ones.

The “Greek crisis” is not about debt. Debt is the propaganda that the Empire is using to subdue sovereignty throughout the Western world.

The Greek government asked the collection of nations that comprise the “democratic” European Union for one week’s extension on the debt in order for the Greek people to give their approval or disapproval of the harsh terms being imposed on Greece by the EU commission, the EU Central Bank, and the IMF with Washington’s insistence.

The answer from Europe and the IMF and Washington was “NO.”

The Greek government was told that democracy doesn’t apply when creditors are determined to make Greek citizens pay for the creditors’ mistakes with reduced pensions, reduced health care, reduced education, reduced employment, and reduced social services. The position of the Empire is that the Greek people are responsible for the mistakes of their foreign creditors, and the Greek people must pay for their creditors’ mistakes, especially those mistakes enabled by Goldman Sachs.

As has been proven conclusively, the Empire’s claim is false. The austerity measures that have been imposed on Greece have driven down the economy by 27%, thus increasing the ratio of debt to GDP and worsening the financial situation of Greece. All austerity has accomplished is to drive the Greek people further into the ground, thus making debt repayment impossible.

The Empire rejected Greece’s democratic referendum next Sunday, because the Empire doesn’t believe in democracy. The Empire, like all empires, believes in subservience. Greece is not being subservient. Therefore, Greece must be punished. The Persians Darius and Xerxes had the same view as Washington and the EU. The Greek government is supposed to do what previous Greek governments have done, accept a pay-off and allow Greece to be looted.

Looting is the only way left for the Western financial system to make money. In pursuit of short-term profits, western corporations, encouraged and coerced by the financial sector, have moved offshore western industry, manufacturing, and professional skills such as information technology and software engineering. All that remains for the West are highly leveraged derivative bets and looting. Apple is an American corporation, but not a single Apple computer is made in the US.

The German, French, and Dutch governments together with Washington and the western financial system have come down in favor of looting. For a country to be looted, its people’s voice must be silenced. This is why the Germans and the EU object to the Greek government handing the ability to decide the future of Greece to the Greek people.

In other words, in the West today, the sovereignty of peoples and accountability of governments are inconsistent with the financial interests of the One Percent who control the financial and political order.

To conclude: If democracy can be destroyed in Greece, it can be destroyed throughout Europe.

The Greek people not only hold in their hands the fate of democracy in the West, but also the fate of life on earth. Washington’s mechanism for creating conflict with Russia is the EU and NATO. By violating agreements made by previous US governments, Washington has brought NATO to Russia’s borders and is currently deploying more troops, armaments, and missiles on Russia’s borders, all the while speaking aggressively toward Russia.

Russia has no alternative but to target these insensible military deployments. As military deployments rise and the irresponsible and totally inaccurate Western propaganda against Russia and Russia’s government escalate, war can launch itself.

Clearly Washington and its vassal states have eschewed diplomacy and instead use demonization and attempted coercion to force Russia to accede to the Empire’s will.

This reckless policy continues despite the many warnings from the Russian government to the West not to deliver ultimatums to Russia. As empires are characterized by arrogance and hubris, the Empire doesn’t hear the warnings.

Recently we have had from Washington’s stooge prime minister in London British threats against Russia, despite the fact that the UK can deliver no force against Russia and can be destroyed in a few minutes by Russia. This kind of insanity is what leads to war. The crazed British prime minister thinks he can call out Russia.

Washington is brewing armageddon. But Greece can save us. All the Greek people need to do is to support their government and insist that their government, the first in awhile to represent the interests of the Greek people, give the finger to the corrupt EU, default on the debt, and turn to Russia.

This would begin the unravelling of the EU and NATO and save the world from armageddon. Most likely, Italy and Spain would follow Greece out of the EU and NATO, as these countries also are targeted for merciless looting. The EU and NATO, Washington’s mechanism for creating conflict with Russia, would unravel. The world would be saved and would owe its salvation to the ability of the Greeks to realize what really is at stake. Just as they did at Marathon, Thermopylae, Plataea and Mycelia

It is difficult to imagine another scenario that would save us from World War III. Pray that the Greeks understand the responsibility that is in their hands not merely for liberty but also for life on earth. more


  1. Are you a night owl or what? I’m doing my best to keep up. You and Tony Wikrent seem to really have your eyes on the storm.

    Hopefully the Greek people will carry on and set a necessary example to help make the world a better and safer place for us all...or at least a little safer from “The predator/creditor classes [who] have to be stopped before they destroy everything of value on the planet.”

    Please hang in there and keep up the good work, thank you.

    How is your video coming? I haven’t missed it have I?

  2. I have been distracted by a house project. I am almost 66 and these things take longer than they used to. But I am sort of done and am getting back to the videos in a major way. I think they will be excellent but who knows? I have had Youtube hits I put up mostly because I had the footage and busts I really worked hard on.