Greece : Shrinking the State

( Updated 25 January 2018 )

The ( unelected ) EU commission and the European Central Bank have shown that in order to get rid of a government of the Left, they will not hesitate to bully, humiliate and ultimately sacrifice an entire people.

It’s clear to me that if the UK somehow stayed in the EU under Corbyn and McDonnell, it would sooner or later face the same punitive measures that Greece under Syriza suffered (and continues to suffer). This is why a ”Labour Brexit”, based on radical reform of the banking system and re-structuring of debt, is now essential.

Who knows, the rest of Europe may then follow Britain’s lead, and Greece might yet be saved from generations of debt-slavery.…

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pushed through parliament a proposal to cut at least €13 billion from the public purse—€4 billion more than the “austerity” figure rejected overwhelmingly by the majority of the Greek population in the July 5 referendum. These measures reportedly include a 50% increase in the cost of health care for pensioners, (almost 40% of whom live in poverty); deep cuts in public sector wages; the complete privatization of public facilities such as airports and ports; and a rise in value added tax to 23%, now applied to the Greek islands where people struggle to eke out a living.

There is more to come.

Greece has agreed to “significantly scaled up”  privatisations, and state assets will be transferred to an ‘independent’ fund (based in Brussels, not Athens), which will monetise the assets through privatisations and other means……..

Greece : The Scream

(article by Myrto Tsakatika, a Syriza member and academic at University of Glasgow )


”In Greece we are witnessing a genuine ‘postmodern coup’….. There are no tanks on the streets. There are no soldiers. There is freedom of information. There is freedom of speech and freedom of association. But there are closed banks. There is ordinary peoples’ fear and uncertainty about whether they will have a job to go to or be able to put food on the table in a few days’ time. There is media-induced terror. There is that persistent ultimatum coming from Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin that, as Alexis Tsipras put it on Friday night… is like being asked for ‘your money or your life’ at gunpoint. There is a directorate in Europe that in order to get rid of a government of the left will not hesitate to bully, humiliate and ultimately sacrifice an entire people. And of course, there is a government of the left that will have to implement some disturbingly un-left wing measures in order to keep the country – particularly the poorest and weakest who would perish were there to be a Grexit under current circumstances – literally alive”’

….And an alternative, more acerbic view by John Pilger    :


”Greek Crisis is Not Only a Tragedy: It is a Lie”…/greek-crisis-is-not-only…/

15 July 2015

The Greek capitulation has shown that the institutions of the EU and the Banking Hegemony will stop at nothing to enforce their brand of corporate capitalist ”discipline”.

We could all be tasting the same medicine soon (and worse), if TTIP is implemented.  In modern Europe, democracy is being sacrificed at the altar of free market fundamentalism. For those who still entertain the idea that EU membership is a defence against the erosion of rights at home, current events should be a wake-up call.


The writing is on the wall for all of Europe. We need to be reading it.

21 July 2015

”We knew from the beginning just how merciless the lenders would be.”


Sober, realistic – and generous – article by Greece’s former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis  : ”Why I voted Oxi’‘ :

 “I decided to come into politics for one reason: to support Alexis Tsipras in his fight against debt serfdom. On his behalf, Alexis Tsipras honoured me in conscripting me for one reason: a particular understanding of the crisis based on the rejection of the Papakonstantinos dogma; namely, the view that given a choice between anarchic bankruptcy and toxic loans, thelatter is always preferable.

It is a dogma I rejected as being a standing threat, which helped enforce policies that guarantee permanent bankruptcy and, eventually, lead to debt serfdom. On Wednesday night, I was asked in the parliament to chose between (a) espousing the aforementioned dogma by voting in favour of the document that our “partners” imposed on Alexis Tsipras in the Euro Summit by putschist means and unimaginable aggression, or (b) say “no” to my Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister asked us “Is the blackmail real or make-belief?” expressing the hideous dilemma that would burden all in everyone’s’ own consciousness – his too. Clearly, the blackmail was real. Its “reality” first hit me when on the 30th of January, J.Dissjenbloem visited me in my office to present me with the dilemma “memorandum or closed banks”. We knew from the beginning just how merciless the lenders would be. And yet we decided on what we kept repeating to each other during those long nights and days at the PM’s headquarters:

“We are going to do all it takes to bring home a financially viable agreement. We will compromise but not be compromised. We will step back just as much as is needed to secure an agreement-solution within the Eurozone. However, if we are defeated by the catastrophic policies of the memorandum we shall step down and pass on the power to those who believe in such means; let them enforce those measures while we return to the streets.”

The Prime Minister asked on Wednesday “Is there an alternative?” I estimate that, yes, there was. But I shall not dwell on that now. It is not the appropriate time. What is important is that on the night of the referendum the Prime Minister was determined that there was no alternative course of action.

And that is why I resigned, so that I would facilitate his going to Brussels and coming back with the best terms he could possibly deliver. But that does not mean that we would be automatically committed to enforcing those measures no matter what they were!

The Prime Minister, on Wednesday’s parliamentary meeting asked us to decide together, to share the responsibility. Fair enough. But how? One way would be to act, all together, as we had said time and again we would in case of defeat. We would declare we had been compromised, announce that in our hands we held a deal we considered non-viable and ask all those politicians that judged the agreement to be even potentially viable, regardless of their parties, to form a government and enforce the measures.

The other way would be to do as the Prime Minister suggested: protect the first left government, be it by enforcing an agreement – the product of blackmail – that the Prime Minister himself considers impossible.

Both aspects of the dilemma were equally merciless for all of us. As Alexis Tsipras rightly announced, no one has the right to pretend as if the dilemma is burdening their own conscience any more than any other’s – be it the Prime Minister or some other member of the government. Accordingly, this by no means implies that those who decided that the government should enforce the “impossible” agreement were led by a stronger sense of responsibility that those of us who reckoned that we should quit and leave the enforcement of the deal to those politicians that believe the deal to be enforceable.

Euclid Tsakalotos flawlessly captured the reality of it all while addressing the Parliament; he said that those who believe that the government of SYRIZA must not be charged with the task of enforcing this deal have arguments just as strong as those who believe that the government of SYRIZA owes it to the people to enforce this bad deal so that an anarchic bankruptcy be avoided.

None of us is more “anti-memorandum”, but neither is any of us more “responsible”. Simply enough, when you find yourself at so dreary a crossroad, under the pressure of the Unholy Coalition of International Power, it is acceptable that some comrades will chose one way and some the other. Under these circumstances, it would be criminal for one side to label the others “compromised” and for the other to label the former “irresponsible”.

At the current moment, in the midst of sensical disputes, the unity of SYRIZA and the people who believed in us, handing us that grant 61,5%, is the main goal. And the only way to ensure this is by recognizing each other’s arguments, bearing in mind as an axiom that the opposing side has intentions that are just as good, responsible and revolutionary.

That being said, the reason why I voted “NO” last Wednesday is simple: we should have handed the power, as we had said we would, to those who can look in the people’s eyes and say what we cannot utter: “The deal is tough but it can be enforced in such a way that will leave room for hope that we might recover and reverse the humanitarian catastrophe”.

The left government cannot promise Europe what it knows it cannot deliver. The ultimate asset that the government of SYRIZA needs protect is the promise we would repeatedly give throughout our visits to the European capitals: In contrast to the others, we shall not promise anything (e.g. a certain primary surplus) that cannot be accomplished. On the other hand, the left government has no right to pillage any longer the victims of a five year long crisis without, at the very least, being able to answer in the affirmative the question: “Have you at least compensated for the recessionary measures?”

Many of my colleagues ask: “Is it not better for us to be in charge? We that care for the people and have good intentions targeting corruption and oligarchy?” Yes, it is better. But what tools have we left to work with? The decision of the Euro Summit establishes and furthers the complete lack of social control over the banks while society will be burdened with a further 10-25 bn of debt to support them.

And to make matters worse, we have the creation of an uber-HRADF (Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund) that is going to take once and for all complete control of all public assets, depriving the Hellenic Republic of all managerial benefits. And exactly how is it that we shall control austerity when the troika, with a plain liner from the ELSTAT (Hellenic Statistical Authority) –we gave over the control of this on Wednesday– is going to single-handedly determine the primary surplus?

And when the harsh reality of the results of this newly found austerity dawns upon society, when young and old alike either take to the streets or stay at home and rot in despair in the face of such measures, those people – the people we have been speaking for all along – who in the political scene is going to represent them then? Can it be that same party that brought these very measures before the Parliament? Measures which the well-meaning ministers are forced to defend to the parliament and media while being ridiculed by the anti-memorandum opposition?

“But are you not just serving Schauble’s plan when you vote against the deal?” I am asked. And I reply with a question of my own: “Are you sure that the agreement to these measures is not part of Schauble’s plan?”

Note the following:

► The latest IMF report that calculates dept over 200% of GDP, essentially forbidding the IMF to give out new loans;

► ESM’s demand, as per Schauble’s command, that there will be new loans from the IMF to Greece;

► A Greek government passing reformations which not only does it not trust but openly considers the result of blackmail;

► A German government that passes through Bundestag an agreement for Greece that it already, from the start, characterises as untrustworthy and failed.

Do you, dear reader, not concur that the above facts are powerful allies of Schauble’s? Is there really any safest means for the country to be shut out from the Eurozone that this non-viable deal that grants the German Finance Minister time and reasons to plan the Grexit he much desires?

‘Nough said. My judgment led me to vote against the current agreement, believing, as I still do, that the Papakonstantinos dogma is to be rejected. On the other hand, I respect fully those colleagues of mine who held differently. Neither am I the more revolutionary/ethical one nor are they the more responsible ones. Today what we are judged for is our ability to protect with all our powers our unity, comradeship and collectivity while retaining our right to differ.

To conclude, let me note a philosophical hew of the dilemma that burdens the conscience of everyone of us; is there a time when we may allow the idea that certain things should not be done in our name, transcend utilitarianism? Is this, such a time?

There are no right answers. Just an honest intention to respect the answers our comrades are giving, even if they disagree with ours.”


10 Quotes from Greece’s Ex-Finance Minister

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