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Guest Post – Jenny Gkiougki – Anger and Injustice in Greece.

This piece was sent to me, as it was sent to others, by Jenny Gkiougki, who has been deeply involved in the Greek protests and politics of resistance. I have not edited her piece at all, only the title is mine.

I have enever met Jenny but have corresponded with her. To the best of my knowledge Jenny is not a racist nor bigot nor Xenophobe. She is a linguist and ‘ordinary’ in the way most of us would see ourselves as ordinary.

Like all of us she asks herself ‘Why?’ Why is this happening to my country, to my countrymen and women and my children?

I offer this piece Jenny sent, not because I agree with all of it or feel comfortable with the undercurrent of ‘blame the German people’. I have consistently argued that we must NOT allow ourselves to fall in to the easy trap of nation blaming nation, people blaming people. Not only because it is wrong and dangerous but because it allows the real villains, our leaders and their friends in the financial class, to fade from the scene and deflect blame.

I offer this to you because it is an insight into what some, perhaps many are thinking in Greece. It gives a measure and a voice to the freight of anger and dispair.  There have been injustices and history does matter. We should seek to make amends for those injustices commited in our name, and certainly not allow them to be perpetuated or used to enforce further injustices. But we must not allow ourselves to become trapped by history nor mesmerized by the injustices of the past. If we cannot hold together now, as people, we will find ourselves being turned against each other. It happened in Yugoslavia. It can happen to us. WE MUST NOT LET IT.

The dangers are growing. And the solutions that those in power are already trying to enforce will be far more dangerous.

What follows is Jenny’s.

 

The German reparations and Greece’s entry into the Euro
… or else ‘the missing pieces of the puzzle were lying under the carpet’

Speaking with a friend in Washington today I was able to fill in the missing pieces and see the big picture. Through my conversation with Heleni Yioka, a Greek American, a scientist, one of the Greek minds that found fertile soil away from their land, like so many others, I was able to answer many questions that had been bugging me for a long time, like the hidden meaning behind the statement made by Ms. Psarouda-Benaki who was the Chairperson of the Greek Parliament at the time, during the inauguration of Mr. Papoulias, as President of the Hellenic Republic in 2005 –a statement that was completely ignored by the media, or the incredible story of Greece’s accession to the Eurozone, with the falsification of financial data and all that that entailed –what was the reason for this to happen.

But, let us take it from the start.

The story begins with the end of the WWII, which found Germany to be the biggest loser and Greece as one of the most affected ones. Altogether during the war, but particularly through the German occupation, Greece lost 13% of its population as a direct result of Nazi atrocities, where thousands were massacred, whole villages wiped out within minutes as retaliation for the actions of the Greek guerrilla resistance. But countless people also perished, especially in cities, due to hunger and hardships they suffered because of the unbearable ‘occupation loan’ which forced all of Greece’s resources into the German stomachs … leaving the Greeks actually dying by the hundreds on a daily basis.

The end of the war brought about the issue of war crimes committed by the occupational forces and of course it opened up the chapter of reparations to those affected. A long and tragic story this is, of the Greek claims. And look how this play with words works… these reparations through the treaties of Paris in ’40, London in ’53, and Moscow in ’90 are not contestable, but due, and payable immediately!

In simple words what this means is that we do not need to do something to claim them, no need to prove anything, we simply have to demand that they get paid!

Why has this not happened so far you ask? Alas, I shall deny you the flagrantly conspicuous and regrettable answer –as one is capable of drawing one’s own conclusions.

The Treaty of London gave Germany a second chance as although it was made clear that affected countries can put forward claims against it, nevertheless as it too was coming out of the war injured and dismembered, and in need to reconstruct itself, it was granted some leeway until it would become a unified entity once again.

… Fast forward to 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. Follows the Treaty of Moscow in 1990 where the newly-reunited Germany, asks for some more time the appropriation called “2 + 4” ie ’90, ’91 plus four we now arrive at 1995! From then on the Greek governments(s) had every right to demand payment of reparations in full.  To give you an idea of what is at stake here, let me point out that according to the highly pessimistic scenarios we are talking of several hundred billion euros, while according to the optimistic estimates –supported by many prominent connoisseurs on the subject, the amount is near 1,5 TRILLION euros -yes you read it right. There are many, even within Germany supporting the view that Germany’s postwar economic development would not have happened had they paid these reparations in full upon the end of the war.

And now let us come to another very legitimate question; why was it so important for the small Balkan- in size and standards, Greek economy, accounting for only 2% of the EU to enter the currency of the strong and mighty at its launch. Also bear in mind we are a country where those that collaborated with the enemy suffered no prosecution, and that our ‘king’ that got reinstated after the war was of Germanic origin….

The Simitis government that took over in 1995, not only made no real attempt to claim reparations but it committed an even worse crime –that of locking the currency rate with the Euro. Hasn’t anyone wondered how ever did we end up with that famous 347.5 drachmas to a euro? The strong currency of the era and the area was the German Mark and the exchange rate with this was set at about 172 drachmas, yet the Drachma-Euro lock was at double that amount which automatically brought a devaluation of our economy by about 50% -not to mention the infamous, by now, case of cooking up the data with the help of Goldman Sacks to be able to enter the Euro…

To what did we owe such persistence? Before all of this took place, in the Schengen Treaty paving the way for monetary union it was stated that member states brought into the common currency would have to give up their monetary sovereignty by assigning part of its powers to the central European headquarters, and Article 50 of the Numismatic Union Treaty states that all Member States shall, in good faith, waive any claims they may have against other Member States within the Eurozone. … Perhaps now the picture is beginning to clear up?

Another thing specified in the Agreement for monetary union is that although no Member State can be expelled from the Eurozone, all members reserve the right to withdraw from it. In this eventuality, its monetary sovereignty gets restored, but the ECB should also return to the said country all that it had given away to enter –things like gold, securities, etc. It does not stop here however! Now, hold on now, the Member State leaving the Eurozone has the right to seek liability compensation for damages incurred during its stay in the monetary union! You understand what this means?? We are not the ones that will be harmed by our departure from the Euro-ITIS THEM THAT WILL BE DESTROYED!!

And here, of course, enter the ‘HOLLIER-THAN-THOU’ yet loan-laden Greek MEDIA (Mass Entertainment Deception Incorporated Alliance), who in obedience to their masters have for so long been using abysmal intimidation tactics scaring the people with horror scenarios of our return to the drachma -as if before the Euro there was no life, as if there was no Greece or economic activity or that all countries outside the Euro zone or the dollar are doomed to nothingness.

As if all the above were not enough -and perhaps as proof that our political system in its entirety is “somewhat compromised” comes the date of June 26, 2011. For most of us this was just another ordinary day in the calendar of insanity we are living in lately. But it was a very important day for the EU … So, according to the Lisbon Treaty, somewhere in the fine print you’ll find the reference, on that day all the member states that signed it ceded part of their sovereignty to the central power of Brussels -hence the Psarouda-Benaki statement during the inauguration of  Mr. Papoulias in 2005 that “he is assuming the presidency at difficult times, times whereby we will be forced to accept reduced borders and national sovereignty for the overall benefit of the many” –a statement which both the media and the politicians gave a sufficient burial to!

Which brings us to the celebrated Kallikrates scheme -one of Mind-the-GAP-Papandreou’s first movements as soon as he seized power. With Kallikrates the country is divided into 13 smaller groups, like the city-states of former times. But this also means that the concept of a nation-state as a united, independent entity is now being destroyed. Even if we were to claim the German reparations we would no longer be able to do so as a nation-state against another nation-state as we now are a federation of cantons!

The only way that can once again become a nation-state, regain our national sovereignty and immunity and to demand the German reparations is … to leave the Eurozone, but do it on our own terms! If we let our rulers, under the new, unconstitutional, dictatorial government, led by a member of the Trilateral Commission, to guide us toward a ‘soft’ Euro then all these disaster-scenarios the media are feeding us will materialize, and they will surface as prophets!

It’s time to see the truth, to expose the great conspiracy and take the brave decision. To realize that:

GOING BACK TO OUR OWN CURRENCY
WOULD NOT SIGNIFY OUR DESTRUCTION
IT WOULD GUARANTEE OUR SALVATION!

 

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50 Responses to Guest Post – Jenny Gkiougki – Anger and Injustice in Greece.

  1. Roger Lewis November 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Its refreshing to hear an alternative to the fascist Narrative. Good luck to Jenny and to Greece.
    Tierra y Libertad
    Γη και Ελευθερία
    Tir a Rhyddid
    Land and Liberty

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=oNjeBOgGus4

  2. Chris November 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    […”Follows the Treaty of Moscow in 1990 where the newly-reunited Germany, asks for some more time the appropriation called “2 + 4” ie ’90, ’91 plus four we now arrive at 1995!..”]

    Shows you have no clue and yea I am getting tired of that german bashing.

    • Zoltan November 25, 2011 at 12:00 am #

      Well you are going to be a lot more tired before this ends.

  3. Joe R November 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    From the text;

    “The Simitis government that took over in 1995, not only made no real attempt to claim reparations but it committed an even worse crime –that of locking the currency rate with the Euro. Hasn’t anyone wondered how ever did we end up with that famous 347.5 drachmas to a euro? The strong currency of the era and the area was the German Mark and the exchange rate with this was set at about 172 drachmas, yet the Drachma-Euro lock was at double that amount which automatically brought a devaluation of our economy by about 50% -not to mention the infamous, by now, case of cooking up the data with the help of Goldman Sacks to be able to enter the Euro…”

    _____________

    The exchange rate for marks and euros was fixed at ( a little over ) 2 Marks to 1 Euro – Jenny implies the euro mark ratio was 1;1 – it never was so.

    All the currencies involved with the euro were fixed compared to each other long prior to the introduction of the euro. The Irish punt was in fact the closest to the 1;1 ratio at .80 pence to a euro or one euro to 1.279 punts. I remember this distinctly.

    Perhaps Jenny could explain how her claimed 50% devaluation of the Greek economy could have occured on Jan 1st 2002? Its a substantial claim and I for one don’t understand it.

  4. Sean November 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    I was in Rhodes at the end of September for a day as I sailed around the Aegean. You could almost touch the fear.

    I once went through checkpoint charlie in Berlin during the cold war and it was a similar experience. More sunny and better food and more prosperous people, but the atmosphere was exactly the same. fear.

  5. Mike Thomas November 13, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    I don’t get the sense that she is ‘German bashing’, that is blaming the German people, rather it seems to me she is pointing up the deviousness of ruling elites, including those in Greece.
    As a non-Greek I can well see that the failure to pay reparations is galling given the mess the nation’s finances are now in. Worse still is to have a Greek government which to all intents has been chosen by Sarkozy and Merkel.
    I will be interested to see how the Italians respond once their ‘tecnocrats’ start pulling the Sarkozy/Merkel strings.
    Stick at it Jenny, good to read your thoughts.

  6. Sean November 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    I can well understand her, Greece has been placed in debt servitude.

    Yup, Greece screwed up big time, but capitalism is not about pain free failure, its about painless failure. Forgiveness is the only way foreword with strings attached to future behavior. She deserves a second chance too as did Germany.

    And the reason for the debt servitude is the ideology of the every closer union, and that is distinctly both German and french They are living in the model, and the model is all.

    The strings attached angle cant work unless people are connected as closely as possible to the institutions that they feel belonging too. This is a very Conservative philosophy and before you punch your computer screen, think about it. To my horror the British Public are deeply attached to the notion of the NHS, not because its a good Institution (imo) but because its a institution that matters to them. So yes I would change it tomorrow but only with a democratic mandate as any change would be counter productive.

    She has every right to be upset at German behavior. Germany is a great nation but they have a habit of getting locked into ideologies to the determent of everyone else. She needs to add France too to the list.

    You have to ask yourself what is going on in their culture.

    As an engineer if I invented such a instrument as the Euro knowing that it would cause such pain I would be placed in the dock, these people will live on with their gold plated pensions and fawning respect from the media.

    Yup many bankers deserve the same court room, but it goes to show this is more than bankers, its the money nexus of both politicos and bankers, corporatism, brought together in fiat money.

    • Golem XIV November 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

      Well said!

      • Neil (the original one) November 13, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

        On the arithmetic of the exchange rate, if Joe R’s figures are correct, then Jenny is simply confused.

        At the time, 1 euro = roughly 2 Deutschmarks and 347 drachmas, while the Deutschmark/drachma exchange rate was 1:172. Double 172 and you get 344, equivalent to 2 Deutschmarks.

        I don’t know enough about the reparations question to comment, but on the German angle, see Will Hutton’s article in the Observer today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/13/will-hutton-euro-crisis-germany . Makes some good points, even if Hutton is open to criticism, and gets it in the comments.

        • Joe R November 15, 2011 at 2:29 am #

          The figures are correct they are available over the internet.

          http://coinmill.com/DEM_EUR.html

          I remember the irish pound to euro rate in particular – my current account overdraft was 1000 punts and got converted over to 1280 euro.

          The 50% de-valuation is complete rubbish I think the opposite probably occured if anything – greeks got to swap the overvalued and weak drachma ( particularly if the figures were fiddled ) for solid ECB backed euros.

          I’m no expert on Greek history from 1939-2000 but there are clearly some big holes and little balance to Jennys piece. There is no mention of Bulgarias and Italy’s equally damaging presence in Greece from 1941-44. The Bulgarians were particularly nasty to the Greeks that they had control over. Jenny only wants repartions from rich ex-nazis though? How about some good bulgarian ah-whats-their-currency-called-again?

          Italy was at war with Greece invading via Albania a long time prior to the German invasion. Mussolini appealed to Hitler to attack Greece to save military face I think ’cause the rather useless Italian army could fight its way out of a brown paper bag.

          There is no mention of the four years of left-right civil war within Greece from when the axis powers left, or Greece being a cold war pawn with a semi-closed border, or the military junta in general, and juntas don’t do economic growth, which was there from the mid sixties to mid seventies or all the shenanigans with Cyprus and Turkey.

          All of these had to have had very, very detrimental effects on economic development in Greece between 1939-2000.

          Or maybe it was all Germanys fault!!!

          • Zoltan November 25, 2011 at 12:05 am #

            The civil war was a direct result of the occupation, for which the germans were responsible. The Italians and Bulgarians would have been chased out without the Wehrmacht.

            You obviously don’t come from a country that was occupied by the Nazis or you would not be so glib about it. Maybe you should read some Greek history before commenting?

    • Phil November 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

      The State-Corporate nexus indeed!

      Never had you down as a Marxist Sean ; )

  7. Mark Gullick November 13, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I sympathise with ordinary Greeks, but the economic arguments are beginning to resemble the ecumenical councils, arguing over whether or not Christ owned his own clothes or how many angels could fit onto a pinhead. There is one simple truth [sound a bit religious myself there…]; spend what you have not what you can fool people into lending you. In 500 years’ time, the EU is going to look much like mercury dental fillings, asbestos, and blood transfusions from sheep.

    • Phil November 14, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      ”spend what you have not what you can fool people into lending you”

      Very true Mark but what control do ordinary people have over their governments decisions? What choice did WE have about whether we wanted our government to bail out the banks and borrow from the bond markets to do it?

      It seems to me that in the ‘good’ times (times of non-crisis) we are told not to worry our little heads about these things and then in bad times it’s all our fault.

      So in the good times banks offered loans to anyone they could find and marketed them implicitly as being easily repayable. All backed up of course by a relentless background noise of adverts, adverts, adverts inducing you to buy. buy. buy. Adverts which are created with the help of neurologists and psychologists to break down our resistance. We take the hook and then when it goes haywire take the blame aswell.

      In other words it’s our fault for being stupid enough to believe them. It’s our fault for them fooling us.

      • Phil November 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

        http://www.monbiot.com/2011/10/24/sucking-out-our-brains-through-our-eyes/

        ”We think we know who the enemies are: banks, big business, lobbyists, the politicians who exist to appease them. But somehow the sector which stitches this system of hypercapitalism together gets overlooked. That seems strange when you consider how pervasive it is. In fact you can probably see it right now. It is everywhere, yet we see without seeing, without understanding the role that it plays in our lives.

        I am talking about the industry whose output frames this column and pays for it: advertising. For obvious reasons, it is seldom confronted by either the newspapers or the broadcasters.

        The problem was laid out by Rory Sutherland, when he was president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. Marketing, he argued, is either ineffectual or it “raises enormous ethical questions every day”. With admirable if disturbing candour he concluded that “I would rather be thought of as evil than useless.”(1) A new report by the Public Interest Research Centre and WWF opens up the discussion he appears to invite. Think of Me as Evil? asks the ethical questions that most of the media ignore(2).

        Advertising claims to enhance our choice, but it offers us little choice about whether we see and hear it, and ever less choice about whether we respond to it. Since Edward Bernays began to apply the findings of his uncle Sigmund Freud, advertisers have been developing sophisticated means of overcoming our defences(3). In public they insist that if we become informed consumers and school our children in media literacy we have nothing to fear from their attempts at persuasion. In private they employ neurobiologists to find ever more ingenious methods of bypassing the conscious mind.

        Pervasiveness and repetition act like a battering ram against our minds. The first time we see an advertisement, we are likely to be aware of what it’s telling us and what it is encouraging us to buy. From then on, we process it passively, absorbing its imagery and messages without contesting them, as we are no longer fully switched on. Brands and memes then become linked in ways our conscious minds fail to detect. As a report by the progressive thinktank Compass explains, the messages used by advertisers are designed to trigger emotional rather than rational responses(4). The low attention processing model developed by Robert Heath at the University of Bath shows how, in a crowded advertising market, passive and implicit learning become the key drivers of emotional attachment(5). They are particularly powerful among children, as the pre-frontal cortex – which helps us to interpret and analyse what we see – is not yet fully developed.

        Advertising agencies build on this knowledge to minimise opportunities for the rational mind to intervene in choice. The research company TwoMinds, which has worked for Betfair, the drinks company Diageo, Mars, Nationwide and Waitrose, seeks to “uncover a layer of behavioural drivers that have previously remained elusive”(6). New developments in neurobiology have allowed it to home in on “intuitive judgements” that “are made instantaneously and with little or no apparent conscious effort on the part of consumers – at point of purchase”(7).

        The power and pervasiveness of advertising helps to explain, I believe, the remarkable figure I stumbled across last week while reading the latest government spreadsheet on household spending. Households in the UK put an average of just £5.70 a week, or £296 a year, into savings and investments(8). Academic research suggests a link between advertising and both consumer debt and the number of hours we work(9,10,11). People who watch a lot of advertisements appear to save less, spend more and use more of their time working to meet their rising material aspirations. All three outcomes can have terrible impacts on family life. They also change the character of the nation. Burdened by debt, without savings, we are less free, less resilient, less able to stand up to those who bully us.

        Invention is the mother of necessity. To keep their markets growing, companies must keep persuading us that we have unmet needs. In other words, they must encourage us to become dissatisfied with what we have. To be sexy, beautiful, happy, relaxed, we must buy their products. They shove us onto the hedonic treadmill, on which we must run ever faster to escape a growing sense of inadequacy. The problem this causes was identified almost 300 years ago. In Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, the hero remarks, “it put me to reflecting, how little repining there would be among mankind, at any condition of life, if people would rather compare their condition with those that are worse, in order to be thankful, than be always comparing them with those which are better, to assist their murmurings and complainings.”(12) Advertising encourages us to compare ourselves to those we perceive to be better off. It persuades us to trash our happiness and trash the biosphere to answer a craving it exists to perpetuate.

        But perhaps the most important impact explored by Think of Me As Evil? is the one we discuss the least: the effect it has on our values. Our social identity is shaped by values which psychologists label as either extrinsic or intrinsic. People with a strong set of intrinsic values place most weight on their relationships with family, friends and community. They have a sense of self-acceptance and a concern for other people and the environment. People with largely extrinsic values are driven by a desire for status, wealth and power over others. They tend to be image-conscious, to have a strong desire to conform to social norms and to possess less concern for other people or the planet. They are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression and to report low levels of satisfaction with their lives(13).

        We are not born with our values: they are embedded and normalised by the messages we receive from our social environment. Most advertising appeals to and reinforces extrinsic values. It doesn’t matter what the product is: by celebrating image, beauty, wealth, power and status, it helps create an environment which shifts our value system. Some advertisements appear to promote intrinsic values, associating their products with family life and strong communities. But they also create the impression that these values can be purchased, which demeans and undermines them. Even love is commingled with material aspiration, and those worthy of this love mostly conform to a narrow conception of beauty, lending greater weight to the importance of image.

        I detest this poison, but I also recognise that I am becoming more dependent on it. As sales of print editions decline, newspapers lean even more heavily on advertising. Nor is the problem confined to the commercial media. Even those who write only for their own websites rely on search engines, platforms and programmes ultimately funded by advertising. We’re hooked on a drug that is destroying society. As with all addictions, the first step is to admit to it.”

        • steviefinn November 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

          Thanks for that Phil. I think marketing & advertising also panders to the herd instinct & helps to suppress individuality especially in the young. I have written marketing shite for giftware companies, I shall go to hell, I know Whenever I was asked to come up with some of this stuff, i would mentally apologise to Bill Hicks first, He summed marketing up in a couple of minutes:-

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gDW_Hj2K0wo

        • Mike Hall November 15, 2011 at 1:20 am #

          Which is why I say all News & Factual Media must be free of advertising.

          Instead, publicly funded, not directly but via citizen vouchers to allocate as they wish to content providers registered under appropriate rules like common ownership.

          Regarding the notion that this would involve some additional ‘cost’ – nonsense, we pay now massively in the prices for most consumer goods (& ‘bads’), just allow a narrow group of the wealthy to control what we view & read.

          The public information space is too important in democracy to leave it to private commercial interests. Nor can it be left safely in government hands.

  8. Wirplit November 14, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    A fair minded German historian discusses Germany’s own record in the matter of Debt. Puts things in proportion perhaps?
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,769703,00.html

    Perhaps it might also be helpful to watch Costa Gravas’s thriller “Z”… just to get a hint of what the Greeks have suffered in recent history under the junta of generals.

    From wikipedia:
    “As the closing credits roll, before listing the cast and crew, the filmmakers first list the things banned by the junta. They include: peace movements, strikes, labor unions, long hair on men, The Beatles, other modern and popular music (“la musique populaire”), Sophocles, Leo Tolstoy, Aeschylus, writing that Socrates was homosexual, Eugène Ionesco, Jean-Paul Sartre, Anton Chekhov, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, Mark Twain, Samuel Beckett, the bar association, sociology, international encyclopedias, free press, and new math. Also banned is the letter Z, which was used as a symbolic reminder that Grigoris Lambrakis and by extension the spirit of resistance lives (zi = “he (Lambrakis) lives”).

  9. Patrick Donnelly November 14, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    So the Germans are to blame for Greek corruption?

    They installed the tax system that does not work?

    The denial of responsibility suggests that Greeks really need the EU, as something to blame! All those Greek ships registered in Panama, leaking oil and evading taxes. There was another war, involving borrowing. The Greeks are evidently not a good risk, but the point was to devalue the Euro. The EU should have and did know that Greece was going to fail. Was that Germany too? For corruption to flourish, there needs to be a culture of lying and evasion of responsibility. Pathetic! The threats will amount to nothing.

    The starvation was caused by UK war policy of blockade! Always works, but should be banned…

    There is a reason why Greeks emigrate, to get out of the mess.

    • Roger Lewis November 14, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      Surely the real super enchilada in the corruption stakes belongs with the Governments and the banks I am not convinced that greek politicians and bankers are any worse than British, American, Irish or even Icelandic bankers and politicians those who buy into and perpetuate the myth that it is the EU that we owe for 60 years (almost) of post WW2 peace and progress.
      The established narratives of EU corporate fascism are only just falling short of Mao’s little red book. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out something in that line is being prepared on the presses just as soon as they can get the print run of more worthless Euros out of the way.
      The idea of the Club med profligates is a transparent call tio jingoism from the oh so cultured and sophisticated Northern Europeans ( wat a load of Bollocks!).
      Watched this film the other day again after many years. The message is I think quite transferable to so many economic myths and models.
      http://youtu.be/tmayC2AdkNw

    • Phil November 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

      A little harsh Patrick. Again as I argued further up the thread, how much agency do we have to influence how we are governed? And we are governed aren’t we? Even though ‘democracy’ means ‘rule of the (demos) people’.

      I have lost count of the number of times I have been told by cynical friends and colleagues, ‘you can’t change anything’. Yes, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy but it has its roots in the refusal of elites to bow to campaigns. And this in a nation which has not recently suffered under a military dictatorship.

      Greece is not blame free but we must remember that we are in a systemic crisis which has hit and will hit other nations just as hard – nations which have very different systems and histories to Greece.

    • Zoltan November 25, 2011 at 12:18 am #

      Unbelievable.

      Don’t you realise that Greece was occupied by the Ottomans for many centuries and that even after independence in 1832 it was controlled by outside interests. The continued effort to bring all the Greek people (including the majority who were in Anatolia) together dragged on amid much misfortune and disaster until the 1920’s. After the Asia minor disaster, 1.5 million Greeks were expelled from Turkey ( and many muslims went the other way) and came as refugees to Greece. Less than 20 years later the Germans occupied. Then the civil war, and later the military junta.

      What chance have the Greeks had to build a stable, thriving modern state? Only since 1974. It seems extremely harsh to expect them to have built all the necessary framework for a successful nation in such a short time.

  10. Nick Brans November 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    According to my Greek friends, who do not feel at liberty to speak freely in front of their fellow countrymen, whether or not Greece stays in the Euro there is still the problem that the population is reluctant to pay realistic taxes. They also report, and I have no independant evidence, that bribery is rife in Greece and needs to be addressed. I see no possitive prospects of Greece doing well in the Eurozone or outside it.

    • Phil November 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

      There are clearly internal systemic problems in Greece but again we are seeing the blame laid at the door of ordinary people with little agency to change the system. If there is an exisiting culture of bribery what do you do? You end up going along with it. I lived in Colombia for six months and you find yourself giving in. The Colombian Police for example are paid a pittance so they make a little more (or a lot more depending on rank/ connections!) through bribes and ‘favours’. You can’t address the corruption until you address the underlying structure.

      But in any case ALL this systemic Greek corruption was known before they entered the Euro. So why were they allowed? And why did French and German banks continue to lend? These are the big questions.

      Ireland is in a similar situation WITHOUT the problems you mention.

      As David says we MUST avoid recurse to national stereotyping and blaming each other.

  11. Nick Brans November 15, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    Certainly the issue of how Greece was allowed to join the Euro is a concern. It means that there was a lack of due diligence and it that appears to discribe the reckless lending of the French and German banks.

    But Greece is not going to recover as Iceland did when it defaulted on it’s loans, the Greek people are going to suffer if they stay in the Euro or if they leave it. The old phrase “a government can’t spend more than it is raising in taxes” is still applicable today and difficult changes are required of the people.

    I agree with Davids view on the situation in Ireland but this is not an equal situation, it is similiar but I can’t envisage Greece recovering at this moment. I also believe that it will be bad for the Euro if Greece stays or goes. I can’t see a win-win or win-lose outcome.

    Thank you Phil, for your reply, it is always worthwhile hearing other points of view.

    • Roger Lewis November 15, 2011 at 5:54 am #

      **The Old Phrase a Government can’t sopend more than it raises in taxes**.?

      Nick there are some interesting threads on Modern monetary theory here in this blog and elsewhere on the net. Seeing the problems of the Euro as being somehow linked soley to the corruption of ordinary Greek people or systemic cultual weaknesses in The Greeks is pretty lame. This is a deflection from the true problem here that the Debt Based Fiat Money system is at the heart of all of this and corporate fascism is trying to force us all under the Jack Boot of an elite of international Banks and Corporations . Greece will be fine the Greek people are a proud and ancient people in a beautiful land they can by printing their own money and governing themselves
      turn things around the scare mongering is nonsense and the myths that are conditioned into the psyches of scared populations in other european countries are fit to be outed. Wake up and smell the Ouzo its Nature that provides wealth not filthy capitalist Fiat Money.

      • Cait November 15, 2011 at 9:31 am #

        …….”its Nature that provides wealth not filthy capitalist Fiat Money”

        That is true, however even a cursory glance at the Canadian documentary “The Corporation” will outline how the 1% are seeking to incorporate Nature herself. Linking that to the current debt crisis and you can see the downward pressure on the Greeks to sell assets……these are not just Public companies….these are the beaches and islands in Greece, the forests and the water supply in Ireland. Nature provided us with the Corrib, lo and behold, it was given to Shell……for the cost of a mere brown envelope.

        I think we are at a turning point, and I actually don’t see any alternatives to physical force to assert the rights of the people. The “state” (EU, I mean) has made this a necessity. I wish this were not the case but when you see democracy being dismantled across the periphery countries, there is only so much that people will take. It is now just a matter of when this will start manifesting in a serious way.

        To go back to the Lisbon Treaty, it was a game of ballot roulette….ie, “Keep voting Ireland, until you give us the correct answer….you Paddies and your quaint constitiution!”

      • Nick Brans November 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

        Hi Roger,

        In my first comment on this blog I was voicing the comments made by good friends who live in Greece and some of them also work elsewhere in Europe. I trust what they tell me and with university educations, they don’t report these things without reasonable thought.

        On the point of the banks and global corporations, I don’t wish to support them either. This situation is a result of poor business for a fast profit and as a businessman, I consider it to be lunacy.

        To conclude, the tax payers contributions should not be used to bail out currencies, banks or corporations. Tax is pay for the services that the government provides to it’s people and the government should ensue that they are raising enough so that they don’t have to borrow.

        • Golem XIV November 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

          Nick,

          Welcome and if I may say so, well put.

          You’ll find that the whole vexed point about what Nations can and can’t afford to do, whether they have to borrow or can print, is hot topic around here revolving around neo-liberlism and its monetary theories versus Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).

          That aside, as I said, Welcome!

          • Nick Brans November 16, 2011 at 1:45 am #

            Thank you David, I was given a signed copy of your book by a mutual friend and I’ve enjoyed reading it. It certainly answered some nagging questions.

            I have returned time and time again to your blog, but it is only on this article that I have felt compelled to comment.

            I fully support your efforts to awaken the world to different points of view and commend you and this forum for making it possible to read alternative messages to those in the media.

            Well done and thank you for your welcome.

    • Mike Hall November 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

      Nick, I want to echo Golem’s sincere welcome & hope that having found your way here, likely like the rest of us with anger at the present mess & a desire to find some answers, you’ll continue to both learn & contribute to one of the best mutual education blogs on the web.

      Thru’ this process so far, quite a few of us (all?) have discovered that there are important & fundamentally wrong assumptions pervasive among the mainstream of economics thought. The most pernicious of these, imo, is that of conflating the economics of a sovereign government +issuer+ of currency (UK, US etc.) with the economics of a business or household – currency +users+.

      You are hardly alone in thinking “… a government can’t spend more than it is raising in taxes…”. But this is simply not the case. Nor am I talking just ‘theory’ here, the US (Uk & most others) have virtually +never+ repaid the principal of their gov. debt.

      Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is poorly named. One of it’s major attractions is that it is based entirely on the actual operational activities of central banks as they now occur. The Eurozone as presently constructed is a little different, but there’s no reason it couldn’t use MMT approach with some elements of fiscal union added. It’s principle point of departure from the present is that currency issuing governments or authorities need not borrow at all to ‘spend’. Taxation is then merely used to apply overall aggregate demand (inflation) regulation & ‘distributive’ policy.

      Following the natural ‘business cycle’, MMT would suggest net gov spending during a recession, to stimulate demand (a minimum wage ‘job guarantee’ is a leading policy proposal), moderating and/or reversing as the private sector picks up & (near) full employment – max economic capacity/use of physical resources – approaches. As the spending was not from ‘borrowed’ money, there is no requirement to pay interest let alone (pretend) it needs repaying. The cumulative net ‘deficit’ is of no consequence.

      Well, I hope that gives you a flavour. MMT (with ‘functional finance’) has been thoroughly worked thru’ over a decade+ by both academics & finance sector practitioners. The primary (imo) blogs are here: (tho’ there are quite a few others)

      http://neweconomicperspectives.blogspot.com/

      http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/

      http://moslereconomics.com/

      http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/

      http://pragcap.com/

      http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/

      http://www.3spoken.co.uk/

      One final comment. Whilst none of the prominent mainstream economists have dared to publicly or privately engage in academic debate with MMT proponents, the usual dismissive throw-away is the rediculous (& emotive) ‘hyper inflation’.

      Well, over the last 3 years, viewed in strictly monetary/fiscal operation terms, China has been running their ‘printing press’ ragged. With hardly the best designed implementation, they have not only escaped our recessions (& their own from falling exports to us), but continued increasing employment & high growth with minimal inflation. Cullen Roche discusses inflation & China here:

      http://pragcap.com/it-must-be-impossible-for-the-fed-to-create-inflation

      Ok, one final, final comment. If it’s so good, why isn’t there more mainstream interest? Well, we should all be asking +that+ question imo. But obvious candidates are:

      After 3 decades of neo-liberal capture of economics education & thinking, a lot of mainstream careers are going to look pretty stupid.

      The financial sector, again over the last 3 decades, in it’s ‘financialised’ unproductive, purely extractive aspects has risen to unprecedented scale & power. The Gov. bond markets are a nice little earner & a highly liquid risk-free, interest bearing, ‘safe parking’ zone for the mountains of cash that have disproportionately accumulated to unearned wealth. The last thing they want is people twigging that currency issuing authorities have no need to borrow at all.

      High levels of unemployment are a clear policy tool to exert power over fearful citizens’ & ensure the disproportionate gains of productivity to Capital continues. Witness the ongoing crisis in Europe & the further takeover of democracy by financial sector/banking placemen in Greece & Italy. Men, who, if not actually facing criminal trial, should at least be brought to accountability for their part in creating the mess that is a financial ‘casino’ & flawed EMU both.

  12. Neil (the original one) November 15, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    As a reminder (someone posted a link before):

    Misha Glenny: The real Greek tragedy – its rapacious oligarchs (originally in the FT)

    http://hellenicantidote.blogspot.com/2011/11/role-of-greeces-oligarchs-in.html (with comments)

  13. Neil (the original one) November 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    James K Galbraith on Keynes vs Hayek, http://www.alternet.org/economy/153034/john_maynard_keynes_knew_what_occupy_wall_street_tells_us_today:_"banks_and_bankers_are_by_nature_blind."?page=entire .

    And responses on what claims to be the no. 1 MMT site on the web, http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/2011/11/james-k-galbraith-weighs-in-on-keynes-v.html

  14. steviefinn November 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    #Occupy Wall street dismantled supposedly, for health & safety reasons, i wonder if Mubarak could have gotten away with such an excuse. No media allowed to witness the event, apparently.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/how-police-cleared-occupy-wall-street-2011-11

  15. steviefinn November 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Here’s the outline of Merkel & Schaubles plan to control Europe. More than one way to skin a cat. I suppose.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,797584,00.html

  16. Neil (the original one) November 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    To return to Jenny’s proxy post, I’ve found two articles, one originally in German, the other originally in Greek, on the question of war reparations:

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2093990,00.html

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1968381,00.html .

    But to bring these into the debate is to cloud the fundamental issues.

    • Mike Hall November 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

      “But to bring these into the debate is to cloud the fundamental issues.”

      Absolutely.

      From the MMT perspective, we are not ‘financially’ constrained in any way, in creating debt-free money, to hire all the idle labour & capacity that has been created by the banking mess.

      The only constraint is the politics of vested interests by the same people who created the mess in the first place.

      We must, of course, stop creating & spending debt-free money when (near) full employment has been reached & full use of presently idle capacity realised. Otherwise (but not before) excess inflation would result.

  17. Tony November 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    I want to let you know, Jenny, that I, from Paris, France, completely sympathizes with you.

    The new Lords of Europe, a bunch of corrupted swindlers thriving in Brussels, or in state

    palaces all over our countries, have decided to impose upon us the Fourth Reich.

    As in the “good old times” , they pretend to exploit the suffering of millions of people just to

    fill their pockets with millions of euros.

    Adolf Hitler enslaved all Europe.

    We, the People, survived Hitler, we destroyed the Nazis –

    People suffered beyond imagination under the SS reign.

    But , in the end, the swine were fought back and neutralized.

    The Beast is respawn, it has resurrected, and it’s up to our generation to destroy it.

    War is coming .

    The implosion of the financial system, the implosion of the biggest financial bubble in

    History, will destroy our societies.

    We will enter a civil war, more precisely, a Global civil war .

    Everywhere , on the planet, people think about Greece and Greeks , and about the ordeal

    you’re facing.

    We are with you. You ‘re not alone.

  18. Neil (the original one) November 17, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    Misha Glenny interview on the Greek oligarchs:

    http://www.theworld.org/2011/11/the-oligarchs-of-greece/

    • Margaret November 18, 2011 at 8:37 am #

      I have spent a quiet November 17 in Athens (here to give a lecture, actually, not in centre of city), anxiously awaiting what could have been really nasty. However, the various very well-attended marches passed off peacefully, and today are hardly reported in Kathimerini and Athens News. Obviously, only bloodshed is news and peaceful protest does not count as news. No further comment needed on that.
      However, meeting friends from Athens in the evening, the talk was all of the crisis. the new government, the failure of the political system. Interestingly, another topic was the closure of the Macedonian Palace Hotel in Thessalonika, one of the most famous hotels in Greece, owned by the Daskalantonakis Group. These friends were both aghast and furious at the news. It was asserted that this group has not paid its due taxes for years, and that the reason that the list of non-taxpaying individuals and companies and individuals has not been published, is that this group heads the list, and that it has important links to political parties. This list is so secret that if MPs want to see it, they have to give 15 days advance notice, after which they may READ the list. They are not allowed to take notes, nor photocopies nor photos with a mobile phone.
      Can anyone on this blog give any further links to the activities of this group? I seem to remember a post last year in which Golem provided very interesting information about the Latsis group, for instance.
      And meantime, my widowed cleaning lady, aged 74, is still working every day (including Sundays), in order to support her 98-year-old mother, terrified of losing her life savings of 5000 euros which is held by the National Bank of Greece.

      • Neil (the original one) November 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

        Margaret: on the Macedonia Palace Hotel closure, see http://greece.greekreporter.com/2011/11/18/landmark-thessaloniki-hotel-set-to-close/ .

        And another of their hotels to be closed: http://www.athens-express.gr/en/news.php?action=view&id=75

        • Margaret November 19, 2011 at 10:06 am #

          Neil
          Thanks for this further piece of info. I had read about the Macedonia Palace closure-but it is the secret list that is the talking point at the moment, because of the huge amounts of unpaid taxes by the very richest Greeks, and the fact that these tax evaders are known, but they seem to be so powerful that no one can touch them. I am not referring to those even richer Greeks who not only have all their money outside Greece (i.e., the Latsis group that has immensely powerful banking interests as well as in the petroleum sector.

          • Neil (the original one) November 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

            Yes, of course, that is the crucial issue, and thanks for drawing it to our attention. I hope you can find some more information on it – the hotel stuff was all I could find on the Daskalantonakis Group, apart from their own material.

  19. Margaret November 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    Neil
    I found some very interesting material. If indeed the group is very high up on the secret list of non-tax payers, then they have a very influential position in Greek politics which could explain a lot. (By the way, I am not Greek and do not vote here except in European elections).
    The obvious link is the PSOK MP

    N. SIFOUNAKIS
    Website http://www.sifounakis.gr
    Married to Mari Daskalontonaki of the N. Daskalantonakis Group
    Parliamentary Activities
    Elected MP (PASOK) for Lesvos in the general elections of 1989 (June and November), 1990 and 1993, 1996, 2000, 2007 and 2009.
    Political/Social Activities
    Minister for the Aegean since 13-04-2000 to 10-03-2004. Deputy Minister for Culture, 08-07-1994 to 23-06-1995; and Minister for Tourism, 23-06-1995 to 15-09-1995 and 15-09-1995 to 22-01-1996. Joined the Greek Resistance organisation, headed by Alekos Panagoulis, during the military dictatorship. Joined EDIN, the Centre Union Party Youth Organisation, after the fall of the dictatorship; after A. Panagoulis death, as a member of its Central Council he recommended that the organisation join PASOK. Lecturer in Architetura Ambientale at the Architecture Faculty of the University of Palermo, Italy.
    Joined PASOK in 1976. Appointed Greek representative on the Council of Europe (Committee on Cultural Heritage) in Strasbourg in October 1981. Prefect of Lesvos (1983-1987).
    Director General of ERT1, the Greek State Radio and Television Network (1987-1989). Received an award from Europa Nostra for his contribution to the preservation of Europe’s architectural heritage.

  20. Zoltan November 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    I do think the Germans still owe Greece for what they did to them in 1941-44. Especiallly when you consider that after the second world war Germany benefited from the Marshall plan while Greece had to undergo a civil war during this time (46 – 49) – precipitated by the militarisation of the country as a direct result of the German occupation. Greece ended up with a fascist junta while Germany was going from strength to strength as a democracy.

    The Germans are repeating mistakes of the 1930s by treating the peripheral countries as they were treated by the allies after the first world war. It can only lead to anger, despair and aggression. They seem smugly unaware that their success is fundamentally based on the support they got when they most needed it. They should be ashamed that they are apparently unwilling to offer similar help to countries they devastated.

    • Neil (the original one) November 25, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      Telegraph:

      “Ms Merkel […] used a three-way summit with France and Italy in Strasbourg to insist that new treaty powers to intervene and punish sinner states remained the key focus of Europe’s rescue efforts. She said: “The countries who don’t keep to the stability pact have to be punished – those who contravene it need to be penalised. We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

      In other words, the ordinary people of the Euromed countries have to suffer crippling austerity measures to pay for the corruption and mismanagement of their governments, the greed of their crony-capitalist, tax-evading elites and the criminally irresponsible loans and speculation of Northern European banks.

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