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Category: General (page 2 of 49)

Guy Burgess the Villain of the Piece

I recently read Andrew Lownie’s book STALIN’S ENGLISHMAN The Lives of Guy Burgess. I am old enough to remember the furore and media frenzy over the Cambridge five spy ring. How Burgess and Maclean absconded. The Kim Philby shock and so on, so I came to this book with great interest.

One comes out of this enthralling read wondering whether you would have really liked Guy Burgess (as all children seemed to have done) or utterly abhorred him (as most of the society hostesses of the time seem to have done). I have to confess to a puerile reaction. I think I would have liked him very much. A brilliant mind. Extensive knowledge of history, the arts, music. A sense of humour. An almost Wildean figure in scathing repartee not least.

But above all, I believe we should give him credit where it is due. He was an ideologue through and through. He believed in a better world, he believed in fighting against fascism. His spying was not inspired by the motive of any pecuniary gain. Just as we have to grudgingly admit of Margaret Thatcher that she was a Conviction politician, whether we liked her politics or not, so we have to admit of Guy Burgess that he was a man of conviction, whether we like the idea of spying or not.

It is a debate we may have over Edward Snowden as well, but be that as it may. Guy Burgess appears to have been a man of rare brilliance who destroyed himself through excess. Just about an excess of everything. Nevertheless a man sincere in his beliefs who acted on them out of conviction.

Given the state of affairs today, I found this quote, from a man credited with “a power of historical generalisation which is one of the rarest intellectual faculties..” * rather apt and something that we should perhaps still bear in mind, despite the changed historical circumstances. Guy Burgess maintained:

You’ve either got to choose America or Russia. People may have their own view which to chose, but Europe is something wishy-washy that simply does not exist. 


A quote by Goronwy Rees,page 325, hard back edition. 


Dr Schauble and King Canute

Dr Schauble has ordained that elections can make no difference to policy in Eurozone countries, because policy can only be dictated by himself. He didn’t put it quite that way but that is the essence. The brutal crushing of Greece has demonstrated that he has got his way. No matter that the 3rd bail out appears designed to fail again since it will only bring about more recession, more unemployment, more destitution. No matter that 62% of Greek voters screamed against all the bullying that they can take no more austerity. Dr Schauble got his way.

Yesterday’s elections in Portugal appear to have vindicated him too. For all the pain and misery inflicted on the Portuguese they returned the government of austerity to power, even though things remain abysmal and some 500,000 of their brightest and best have fled the country and their debt/GDP is in the region of 130%.

So Dr Scahuble has triumphed! Not only has that upstart Tsipras turned his coat completely (like a latter day Janissary of the Ottoman Empire), but the Portuguese have realised that they simply cannot defy him and have bent their knee accordingly. And no doubt something of the same will happen in Spain too.

And what has made Dr Schauble’s triumph even greater is that nobody doubts (and how could they?) that this vicious austerity imposed by fiat has failed abominably. The figures show this blatantly. Never mind the murmurs from within the IMF that whoops! Seems likes we effed up!

And yet… Coehlo’s party may have come in first but he lost enough votes to deprive him of an outright majority. The new Greek Parliament may have an overwhelming majority of Austerity True believer parties from the Tsipras band to the scraped through piddly little parties of Democratic Union and Potami, but every single major party lost voters this time around.

Abstention was high in both Greece and Portugal. So Dr Schauble has been heeded. If voting makes no difference, then why bother voting? Which is one interpretation. The obvious one. But that does not necessarily mean surrender. It merely means that an important section of the electorate has finally realised the dice are loaded against them.

Choosing to abstain from voting is not the same as accepting you are powerless. Quite the contrary. For a start it means declining to take part in the charade. It means heightened awareness of the crimes being perpetuated against you. It means a beginning in the turning of the tide.

Like King Canute Dr Schauble with equal arrogance has ordered the tide not to wet his feet. And he can smirk that he has succeeded, triumphantly so, in that no one dares challenge his obviously failed policies any more. However, like King Canute, he has not realised that he has not in fact stopped the tide, but just that at the moment it is at low ebb. Soon enough it will come rushing in again and swamp him and his foolish, arrogant policies.

62% of Greeks daring to vote NO! despite all the terrible threats they were showered with, Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour Party leadership despite all the hysteria against him, even the alarming rise of Donald Trump in the US but also the totally unexpected results for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party all attest to this.

The tide is turning, the tide will turn because no one can stop it. The only question is how violent will things become? The more one tries to stop the flow of nature, the more violent the explosion when the dam bursts.

When Dr Schauble’s puny little dam smashes from the accumulated pressure against it, as it surely will, the violence will depend on just how much water, dissent, he has managed to bottle up before it all comes cascading violently down over him, possibly uprooting the whole EU edifice with it.

If that is what Dr Schauble ultimately wants, he ought to be very pleased with himself. As most short sighted and complacent mediocre rulers usually are. Till it is too late.






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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