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Author: parina (page 3 of 51)

Summer Sunday Thoughts

I have been reading a very interesting book, Max Hastings’ “All Hell Let Loose” The World at War 1939-1945, as seen and lived by people rather than strategists and generals. A fascinating read and an eye opener.

However, what really struck me was this quote: page 102 from the William Collins paper back edition, towards the end of the Chapter “Britain Alone”: “Lancashire housewife Nella Last groped movingly towards an expression of her compatriots’ hopes when she wrote that summer of 1940 : ‘Sometimes I get caught up in a kind of puzzled wonder at things and think of all the work and effort and all the unlimited money that is used today to “destroy” and not so long ago there was no money or work and it seems so wrong somehow….[that] money and effort could always be found to pull down and destroy rather than build up.”

Exactly seventy five years later, this sentiment rings eerily relevant yet again. Nella Last had the Great Depression in mind when she referred to “Not so long ago”. For us this is Now. No money can be found and we have to cut down on welfare, reduce jobs and all that is included under the TINA doctrine of destructive, debilitating austerity.

Of course mind boggling billions upon billions can be and are found for propping up banks which of course must NOT be nationalised, (even though the taxpayer is funding these billions) so that financiers and banksters can keep playing and winning on the roulette wheel of our destitution.

As Varoufakis has put it aptly, today it is banks that wreak destruction instead of tanks.


Whatever Happened to the Idea of Democracy?

From 2010 Greece has been subjected to a harsh, unrealistic, cruel and often vindictive regime, supposedly to ?bail her out? since the country had effectively become bankrupt. By now everybody knows this was nothing but a ploy by the Euro Directorate to save primarily German and French Banks. But be that as it may, there was nothing to prevent the Euro Directorate to ease the pressure on Greece once this had been achieved. However, the opposite occurred.

Since the regime was not designed to help Greece?s economy but to save the bankers, the results achieved were an abject failure. Again, no need to go into the horrendous statistics. However, despite the great failure of the plan, the Euro Directorate with the IMF in tow, insisted on more of the same despite the disaster to the Greek economy and the humanitarian crisis. Poverty has soared, homelessness, suicides, unemployment and so on.

Now, in the face of policies obviously hostile to the population bringing pain, destitution, a massive brain drain, immense social disruption, what is a civilized European country supposed to do? Employ democratic means to voice its dissent and reverse the process. Not by rebellion not by insurgency but simply by going to the ballot box.

And that is what the Greeks did. For all the hypocritical praise heaped on this hapless population about how stoically they had accepted their punishment, what patience they had shown in the face of adversity, in effect what good children they had been and had not thrown a tantrum or kicked nanny in the shins. So believing in democracy (what a quaint idea, but perhaps they can be forgiven because they are after all Greeks) they went to the polls.

The first general election in 2012 revealed the protest and rejection of this debilitating regime. The governing PASOK party that had gained 44% in 2009 was decimated. The right wing party of government which had scored 34% in 2009, which had been a bad result for it, gained only 18% in the first round of elections. What could be a more obvious protest and a more democratic way of voicing this protest than that? However, this lead to a hung Parliament and new elections.

The second 2012 elections again gave a clear message. The formerly tiny left wing party of SYRIZA soared to second place. A government coalition was formed by the former arch rivals PASOK & the right wing ND which had in fact campaigned on an anti austerity platform. Nevertheless, the new supposedly anti austerity PM (whose party won a majority of the votes because of that) rushed to grovel at Frau Merkel?s feet and pledge allegiance to her policies.

As a result, a new Memorandum of Understanding, more debt piled onto an already impossible load and even more stringent austerity. By 2015 the end of the proverbial tether had been reached. The general election voted SYRIZA in as the majority party short of only 2 seats for an outright majority and it went into alliance with ANEL a right wing but firmly anti-austerity party.

We shall not go into the negotiating process and so on. But appearing to have reached an impasse the Greek government called for a referendum on the terms proposed. The result was an astounding 61,2% No, despite the scaremongering, the threats, the pleas from all sides of the establishment from the mainstream media to all the political parties and major politicians who have ruled since the colonels fell. Not to mention all the EU establishment from the President of the Commission even the President of the European Parliament and many more who had no place sticking their noses into the internal democratic processes of a member country, and to cap it all, the bank holiday imposed through the ECB?s policy of strangling Greece into submission.

The result? Tsipras capitulates and agrees to even worse terms than before and the certain collapse of what may be left of the Greek economy.

So the question is, if democracy has been effectively abolished in Europe, what does Europe stand for? And second question, how are free democratic people supposed to react, when time after time their democratically expressed will is consigned to the rubbish bin and sneered at by the mighty unelected and unaccountable dignitaries ruling Europe by fiat?

And an addendum here, which marks the trend. The surprising surge in the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership in the UK. This has given rise to hysterics and panic. Oh! the cry is, he?s unelectable! Oh we mustn?t go back to the 1950s! Disaster!!! Why? Because he doesn?t fit in with the austerity above all command economies of the European Union that are destroying what Europe used to stand for. The ignorant masses must not be allowed to express themselves! The reaction to Corbyn is the fear of actually letting the electorate voice an opinion of its own rather than having versions of the same foisted on them.

Now, in the olden days, long forgotten now, it used to be the people who decided and voted for the government and policies they wanted. Now the vicious Euro Directorate has presumed it has the right to ordain the policies it wants against the people?s wishes and interests, because otherwise they will be waterboarded and terrorised into submission.

SYRIZA may have been defeated, and Corbyn may be crushed through fair means or foul, but something has begun to stir and that something is VOX POPULI.

Europe is remembering its core values and the European Directorate that has usurped power does not like this at all and will do everything in its power to crush it. Tsipras was crushed, but what are you going to do with the 61% of the population which is now growing even greater, and the spectrum of the will of the people floating all over Europe?

Letter To A Friend in the USA

Things climaxing. Vote on Sunday. What is going on here is appalling. All the privately owned Media have gone on a panic stricken campaign of propaganda even Goebbels would have blanched at!

The bad thing is that they control all the media (being owned by the various vested interests who in their turn own the systemic politicians) and ALL the systemic politicians, the ones directly responsible for ruining the Greek economy, have come out in unison to beseech us to vote Yes or else!!!! And as if all that were not enough, it has also come out that people are being threatened with being laid off if they don?t vote Yes.

Now the good thing is, perhaps, that such a state of panic does show fear on their side that they might not win the vote. Now, another good thing is that, as the saying is, the masks have dropped & even if the Yes vote does prevail they have exposed themselves irreparably.

But it is obscene & so totally removed for what are called ?European Values? that used to be. There is no doubt any more that this is an attempt at a direct coup d ?etat by the European directorate to oust an elected government because they are not subservient and because they are of the Left (Mind you an extremely light left but they cannot even stomach that!!)

I?m not sure how Tsipras will handle a Yes vote if it turns out that way. But I?m pretty sure he will not resign and keep the pressure up. No passeran!!!

It is a battle, but the war is on regardless of the outcome. This matters for the whole of Europe, not just Greece. And the left had better win or else Europe will turn Fascist once more.

Unfortunately the European directorate is so arrogant and complacent they either don?t see this, as a latter day collective Marie Antoinette OR, as happened in the thirties in Europe, they consider Fascism a welcome outcome.

It?s hard living in interesting times!! Adrenalin is peaking, impossible to concentrate on anything else, glued to the internet for information, Greek TV shut permanently off and only one radio station one can listen to! Called ?in the red? whose signature tunes is various versions of the Internationale with a metronome in the background!!

And I?ve given up whisky!!!

The Greek Success Story

6,300,000 people bordering on and below the breadline. The latest statistic officially issued by the office monitoring the budget of the Greek Parliament. This is over half the total population. A population that has been in steady decline since the German inspired Troika, cheered on by the whole of the rest of Europe, slapped its punitive measures on the country.

Birth rates down to below death rates. Life expectancy has fallen. Let alone massive chronic unemployment.  And though official figures show a slight drop in unemployment of point something percent (as could be expected during the height of the tourist season), closer inspection reveals that the actual number of people in work has dropped. People have either left, or died (naturally or by suicide) or just dropped off the charts and into oblivion.

This is what the dream of a united Europe of equal sovereign states, based on the ideal of solidarity, shared values and promoting prosperity has collapsed into.

Falling Into The Russian Trap?

More Deja vu? Do our current so called leaders suffer from a total ignorance of history? Whatever else, they certainly have not read the bits about the Crash of 1929. And there are so many good books on it. Whatever. Be that as it may. But one can’t help having that funny feeling in the pit of the stomach again when one sees how they have decided to deal with the Ukrainian crisis. Sanctions! they shout and then, More Sanctions! (Not unlike Austerity! and then when that fails, simply MORE Austerity!)

Now given the state of the global economy, and perhaps even more the abysmal state the Euro economy is in as it sticks religiously (the operative word here) to the iron rules, (nay laws!) set down by The Frau. Rules she might have realised were not all that effective had she bothered to read a little bit of history. John Kenneth Galbraith’s little book on the Crash of 1929 is not that long and very instructive. Surely she could have managed that at the very least (and I have no doubt that there must be an excellent German translation).

So here we go again, with this criminal negligence of history. Since it is the centenary of the First World War one would think they might realise that all these clever economic sanctions do not differ all that much from mustard gas. It had the horrible propensity to blow back into your own trenches and gas your own troops.

And what about the two Great Russian Victories? The first against Napoleon’s invading troops and next over Hitler’s invading troops. As we all know, or as we all should know or at least bother to find out if we are in a position of power deciding sanctions and so on, the Russians kept retreating and retreating drawing the invaders deeper and deeper into the large land mass till their supply lines got unmanageably long and they got stuck in the squelch of the thaw.

Russia did not achieve these victories painlessly and neither at a small cost to themselves. But they prevailed in the end. Now, by ratcheting up the sanctions game into a full scale economic war, does not Europe, particularly Europe, risk getting stuck in the slushy quagmire? In its current state of political and economic decay will it be able to withstand this self inflicted ordeal?

And, perhaps worse of all, does it insist on this dangerous path simply because, as with economics, they simply can’t be bothered to think round the problems?  How to handle them realistically? And could this be because they prefer to immerse themselves in that mesmerising dogma of “There Is No Alternative!” in politics too. Are they so lacking in imagination, intelligence and even the stamina to think things through and break out of the automatic pilot mode they are so inextricably wrapped in?

But when you see how the decisions are taken, a bunch of overrated mediocrities holding meetings through the night while imbibing quantities of choice wines, specially chosen by the Current Head of the Commission, falling asleep on sofas, appearing totally cluless as they sign on to the latest TINA nonsense, then you can hardly be surprised by the miserable results.

The "Narrative"!

The world is in a complete shambles. Perhaps it always was! The Israeli government has gone mad again, carnage reaching 100 dead already. Meanwhile in Iraq the whole thing is exploding (perhaps better late than ever), the powers that be still imagine that they are the powers that are though they are steadily losing it. (Perhaps also just as well). Basically, hypocrisy which as Shakespeare (I think) so famously put it is vice’s homage to virtue has fallen by the wayside (again perhaps not such a bad thing after all) – so even the semblance of homage is gone. The current German Fuhrer (Wolfgang Schauble) has also lost all sense of hypocrisy as he decrees pain and starvation for an ever growing part of Europe. Why? To get his money back? Hardly. After all as a Finance Minister he ought to be aware that when you devastate an economy it will never be able to pay anything back.

In reading about WWI  (Christopher Clark’s excellent book “The Sleepwalkers“) I was surprised (a bit) that all the powers were becoming more and more apprehensive of Tsarist Russia, going on about their economic miracle (as we would have called it today), the fighting prowess of their army, in short a picture of an indomitable power, growing in strength to be feared. Hmm… Did nobody see what was underneath at all? I suppose not. Like nobody foresaw the current financial meltdown. And while the IMF and OECD are busy making projections for 2060 and so on, again nobody sees what’s coming either.

If you follow mainstream news at least in Europe, the Middle East appears to be of little concern, but HEY!!! The markets wobbled because of a Portuguese bank!!!!

Greece MUST continue overtaxing till 2025 (at least) so we can get paid back from the so called primary surpluses supposedly achieved. But how an economy being milked to extinction can continue to levy taxes when income is dwindling so fast is beyond the scope of their remit.

Oh, and the World Cup football final, between Argentina and Germany. Just about ALL the Europeans are rooting for an Argentine victory whereas the Latin American countries are all rooting for a German victory (they all hate each other as much as we do here in the dark continent).

Okay guys and gals, so what’s the narrative? Well, since a narrative is very frequently a Fairy Story, then anything goes!!! And all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds!!!

The Winds Of Change

Amrit Wilson writes in the Guardian:

“In every country (Greece, Spain and Portugal) where a strong or united left party has rejected the neoliberal project of reforms and austerity, they have won. This is the real message of the European elections, which the media refuses to acknowledge.”

And in Greece this party (SYRIZA) topped the poll. It has been a very long time since one has been able to feel proud at being Greek. True, the neo nazis scored well (9.3%) but not nearly as well as had been predicted (double figures at least). Furthermore the sheer paroxysm of anti SYRIZA propaganda from all channels was akin to a blitzkrieg.

Otherwise sensible people had succumbed to a fear, a terror, of “Oh my God what will happen when SYRIZA gets in?” as if we have been living in a beautifully functioning, fair and equitable society. As if our property had not already been confiscated to a great extent through extortionist taxation, as if our bank deposits had not already dwindled through an inability to pay taxes, rising utility costs from a halved income (at best), as if over half the working population were not already unemployed. As if our economy had not already collapsed. As if people were not already dying in thousands from suicide, slashed healthcare and cuts in ant mosquito spreying which has lead to a return of malaria, and much else.

The propaganda was effective. The modern Greek establishment would have made Goebbels proud. Twist everything around and keep repeating the lie. Which is exactly what ALL the mainstream TV and radio channels did and keep doing.

As Peter Spiegel tweeted, no one was allowed to present Tsipras as anything other than a raving lunatic. (Not exact quote) A monster who would devastated the country.

For all that SYRIZA came first. Now the establishment is being particularly Goebbelian… NO, they say SYRIZA did NOT win, NO! We did very well! (That from Venizelos, leader of PASOK which from 44% of the vote in 2009, fell to 12% in 2012 and now scored 8%, prompting said Venizelos to hail it as a great victory!)

However, whatever they do, whatever they say, however they chose to continue this despicable deceit, the winds of change have begun to blow and Wilson is correct, it is not all blowing to the xenophobic right!

Another Success Story For Greece!!! Rock Bottom in Freedom of the Press

Well it was “world press freedom day” yesterday. Another of those endless days commemorating endless things from great to no importance.

Of interest, however, Greece comes very low in the charts!! Down near Lesotho where it comes to freedom of the press.

Hardly a surprise when ALL the mainstream media are nothing but crude propaganda outlets for the government.

And in reward for services rendered at least one prominent propaganda perpetrator, Maria Spyraki of Mega Channel has been put on the New Democracy ticket for a seat in the European Parliament.

She has this distinct claim to fame (among many others): She knew, she claims, about the plane loads of Euros that were being secretly flown into Athens to keep the ATMs flowing in the run up to the 2012 elections when the Greek electorate was being threatened and terrorised with Grexit. She knew this was going on, but kept mum about it.

Why? One has to wonder. Isn’t a journalist supposed to make public things of such great importance? Had the Greek public known this they would probably have realised very well that the Grexit threat was hollow and voted very differently, wouldn?t they now?

There is a tweet going round that says A journalist should print what others do not want printed. That is his role. All the rest is sheer propaganda!!!

Europe Has Become A Zombie

Europe appears to be walking and acting and forecasting as though it were still alive. In fact, it is not only its banks that have become Zombies, but the whole festering set up. Now, you may say since it is festering then it is not yet dead. But then again a Zombie is something that though dead thinks that it is still alive.

As always, Greece is the best example to illustrate the point. As Matina Stevis tweets:

Greece Unemployment Seen at 24.5% in 2014, 22.5% in 2015 — EC

and: * Greek Debt Seen at 125% of GDP in 2020, 112% of GDP in 2022 — EC

and: Greece GDP Seen Growing 0.6% in 2014; 2.9% in 2015; 3.7% in 2016-European Commission

And this is supposed to be good news and evidence that the Great Greek Catastrophe has, in actual fact, really been a great success!

The whole of the European project has taken complete leave of its senses. All these forecasts are complete nonsense and based on nothing more than, at best, wishful thinking, and in reality self serving propaganda.

There is no doubt in the collective European mind that for Greece to… well whatever it is they imagine by way of “recovery”, the country must not only continue with this catastrophic recession/depression inducing austerity panacea that has lead to the collapse of the economy, but even more step to up the pressure.

As for the appalling playing around with the figures so as to pretend that there actually was a so called “primary surplus”, this has been extremely well exposed by those of much greater authority than myself.

When the so called crisis beset this hapless country, there was an outcry against “Greek statistics” which was well warranted, a feeling that our corrupt politicians had made this great big f**k up through electoral machinations and spending on votes, and that at long last the EU was riding to the rescue to put all this right!

Well, unfortunately, quite the reverse has happened. First of all far from putting an end to “Greek Statistics” , the practice of blatantly cooking the books, it is the EC than has now adopted  such methods in order to convince, whoever it may concern, that the Greek disaster is in fact a “success story” after all. And secondly, following this brazen deceit, the Greek government is being “allowed” to spend on pre election vote winning (it is hoped) expenses.

As to all the forecasts of a great big drop in unemployment to 22.5% in 2015 (!!! What a success!!!) and achieving a growth in GDP of 3.7% of GDP in 2016… Well, it will hardly be the first time the EC has made completely unrealistic and wrong predictions. Even these paltry and hardly “Successful”! figures in any way are doomed to be proved completely wrong if the present austerity and destructive policies are continued, as planned.

Rules And Chaos

Before the 2012 elections in Greece, in a blind panic the German press used all sorts of underhand and unacceptable ruses to influence Greek voters. Even headlines in Greek. One of these was an enormous CHAOS!!!! Which was, they maintained what would ensue should the Greeks dare vote against the Quislings serviley toeing the German inspired austerity cures all policy.

Now the Germans are sticklers for Rules!!! They believe that if you follow the rules to a tee everything will be all right, but if you don’t, all Hell will break loose. Rules, they firmly believe, are made to be followed and strictly adhered to, or else!

Now the Greeks on the other hand know very well (as does a large number of German industrialists, like the ones gaining contracts throughout the world through bribes rather than competitiveness, to take a random example) that rules are there to be gotten around or broken when there’s no getting round them.

Initial knee jerk reaction to this: Bad, naughty Greeks, Good, virtuous Germans (well, not the ones pretending to be competitive and buying their way in perhaps.)

However, let us take a closer look at was has happened with the Eurozone crisis where this difference was at the root of things. Germany set the rules and Greece was forced to follow them and in the end these rules would achieve an efficient, competitive vibrant economy not only in Greece but throughout the whole of the Eurozone.

Has this expectation panned out?

Klaus Kastner in his Observing Greece blog has this to say: “When I started this blog 3 years ago and for the first couple of years, I was an adamant supporter that Greece could and should make it with the Euro. Nearly 28% unemployment and nearly 60% youth unemployment after 4 years of adjustment prove me wrong.”

In fact what has been achieved in the Eurozone and perhaps for the EU as a whole is that this obsession with rules and targets and those horribly misnamed “reforms” (which is just a Euphemism for destroy all workers rights and welfare) have really only achieved one thing at the end of the day. Chaos.

The Greek economy has completely collapsed (see Wolfgang Munchau and Yannis Varoufakis on this), the Eurozone economy is teetering on deflation, Unemployment is up, living standards down and every little tiny indication of a slight , ever so slight fall (in the under 1% range) in unemployment, or any equally tiny rise in say the PMI say, is pounced upon as EVIDENCE! That Yes! The plan worked! Europe is on the mend!

Which of course it is not

So why not? Why hasn’t following the Rules not only not worked, but actually led to the one thing they were supposed to avoid? Chaos.

Well, rules are Man made… oh sorry woman made too. And no human brain (or even computer) has the ability to foresee every single factor and contingency and every single unpredictable or unforeseen event or occurrence, therefore no perfect set of rules can ever be compiled. And in any case if you add the utter inflexibility of the German mindset to these rules, there you have it. A blue print for disaster. Wise and intelligent politicians and decision makers of all sorts know very well that one has to adapt, reassess and in any case, play it by ear. Otherwise you’re a goner.

Now the Greeks, from ancient times, have known that Chaos rules and that you go against it and try to tame it at your peril. In fact Greeks function best in chaotic situations (which is why I have recently become optimistic). They knew that man made rules were very dangerous and had a name for this: Hubris. The man (okay, or woman) who decided he or she knew best and would lay down the rules was committing hubris. Something that appears to have been quite forgotten now that the Classics are out of the syllabus.

And so we have achieved the Euro crisis paradox. German rules have achieved Greek Chaos. Perhaps it is time to start bending and swaying and YES! Being flexible…? And NOT exclusively with regard to labour relations!!! Think about it.

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