Skip to main content

We live in interesting times … Those on the left following the situation in Greece were treated to an interesting spectacle in the last election in Greece on May 6th 2012. As expected, those mainstream parties that supported the EU/IMF/ECB memorandum (http://www.reuters.com/...) imposing even more harsh austerity on the country were punished: New Democracy’s (the conservatives, centre-right) votes from 33%-19%, PASOK’s (the Greek socialist party) share fell from 43%-13%, LAOS fell below the 3% needed for securing seats (right-wing nationalist party) all lost seats in the election (greek election results). This represents in many senses a significant rejection of the mainstream political forces that have been ruling Greece since the end of the rule of the colonels (1967-74, for a history of modern Greece see, History of modern Greece) and particularly of the austerity that they have been imposing on the people of Greece over recent months.

Cheat Sheet (to keep track of the players):

SYRIZA: coalition of the radical left, led by Alexis Tsipras
New Democracy: Conservative, centre right neoliberals, led by Samaras
PASOK: Panhellenic Socialist Movement, Socialist party led by Venizelos
KKE: Communist Party of Greece
ANTARSYA: Coalition of Greek Anticapitalist Left, hard left
Golden Dawn: Chrysi Avgi, Greek Fascist Party, neonazis
DIMAR: Democratic Left, centre left to left wing, led by Fotis Kouvelis
LAOS: right wing nationalists
Independent Greeks: Right-wing split off of New Democracy, anti-austerity

But the most dramatic thing was the fact that the votes for the left rose significantly, even more so SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left which is composed of Marxists, Trotskyists, Maoists, Eurocommunists, left and moderate reformists, greens and a number of other tendencies) came in second place (For the 10 demands of SYRIZA which they campaigned on May 6th; see: http://socialistresistance.org/...).

“The vote for the broad left rose from a modest 12% in 2009 to an impressive 35.5% — 17% for SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left), 8.5% for the Communist Party (KKE), 1.2% for the anti-capitalist left party ANTARSYA, 6.1% for the moderate Democratic Left and 2.9% for the Greens. However, the prospect of a left government is doubtful since the KKE, an ultra-Stalinist party, ruled out beforehand any cooperation with “opportunists,” by which it means all other left parties except from itself. Moreover, the Democratic Left and the Greens are moderate centre-left parties that do not differ radically from PASOK. Even so, the collective result of the three radical left parties, SYRIZA, the KKE and ANTARSYA, was an impressive 26.5% (http://socialistresistance.org/...).”
On the other side of the political spectrum, the rise in the vote for the Golden Dawn fascist party which for the first time secured seats in the Greek Parliament (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/...; moreover, a video surfaced of Athens police and Golden Dawn members brutalising an immigrant: http://observers.france24.com/...).

Untitled

As first New Democracy, then SYRIZA and finally PASOK failed to pull together a government, the Greeks are headed back towards elections on June 17th 2012.

In SYRIZA’s case, the party leader Alexis Tsipras, who has conducted himself in an exemplary manner despite the massive witch hunt he and his party has been subjected to by both the Greek and the international media, put forward a five point plan on which to discuss with other parties (Syriza's 5 point plan).

But the KKE, an ultra-Stalinist party, ruled out beforehand any cooperation with “opportunists,” by which it means all other left parties except from itself. They refused to even consider joining a coalition with SYRIZA; refusing even to meet with them and spoke with them by phone. The smaller far left coalition, ANTARSYA, also refused to consider participation – unless SYRIZA supported all its policies! Thus the mandate passed to PASOK.

A bit of excitement was added when speculation that DIMAR (the democratic left) would throw in with PASOK. DIMAR insisted upon a condition that could not be met to form a national salvation government; that SYRIZA would also join the coalition. So now Greece heads to elections again …

One worry that I have is that while there was no question that the votes of the left would be insufficient to form a government, the fact that the KKE and ANTARSYA refused to participate in a coalition could affect support for both SYRIZA and them at the next election in June as voters wonder whether the Left can overcome its sectarian nature to answer the desperate call of the Greek working class and poor. At the moment, it appears as though SYRIZA is picking up votes from other Left parties and those of the mainstream, hopefully this momentum will continue.

I.    The memorandum:

The mainstream in Greece and in Europe is trying to present these elections as a referendum on the euro; SYRIZA is presenting them as a referendum on austerity (http://www.guardian.co.uk/...). In the hard Left, two groups ran on an anti-euro stance, one was the KKE and the other Antarsya, while SYRIZA chose to run against austerity and specifically the memorandum in February (http://www.reuters.com/...) agreed between the EU, ECB and IMF and the Greek mainstream leaders.

This memorandum called for increased privatisation (both full and partial), reductions of the monthly minimum wage by 22%, 32% for those under age 25, 15,000 state workers being placed in labour reserve getting 60% of their salary and facing dismissal after a year, only 1 in 5 people retiring will be replaced, the civil service workforce is to be reduced by 150,000 by 2015, pensions over 1000 euros/month will be reduced to 1000 euros/month. Homelessness is rising, young people are moving back in with their parents, drug use and prostitution is rising and social welfare benefits, especially health and education are being completely undermined. Women are bearing the brunt of the austerity measures as unemployment has risen, social services are being privatised and too expensive and caring for children, the sick and the elderly is falling on them (http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/...).

There has been massive resistance to the austerity measures imposed by the Troika (EU, IMF, ECB) in February. There have been 17 general strikes and one fifth of the population of the country has been on the streets in recent months protesting against occupations. There are a number of workplaces in occupation – hospitals, newspapers, steel works. And on May 6 the population rejected the austerity programme of the Troika at the ballot box.

An obvious question arises, why is SYRIZA not running on leaving the euro? There is an obvious answer; specifically, the majority of Greeks do not want to leave the euro. At the same time, they also do not want to submit to austerity which has decimated the Greek economy and has literally destroyed the social welfare state, incomes (including pensions), benefits, and jobs of the Greek majority.

In this situation SYRIZA has continually made clear that it will not compromise on their programme even if it means expulsion from the Eurozone. This is tactically a much better way of posing the question given the concrete situation they face.

II.    The Powder-keg

The situation in Greece has been fuelling further problems in the Eurozone. Fears of Greece either leaving or being forced out of the Eurozone (which would require changes in the EU constitution as there is no formal mechanism for withdrawing or being forced out) has led to increased worries in Greece and in the stock markets. It is not really so much the problem of Greece leaving as it is a small economy, but the possibility of this being the beginning of the floodgates where other countries (e.g., Spain, Portugal) suffering from the agony of austerity also abandoning the Euro leading to the ship sinking. Given the manner in which the German economy has remained strong which is as an exporter of goods to the peripheries in Europe (enabled by undermining incomes in Germany, see e.g., http://researchonmoneyandfinance.org/...), an obvious question arises: is Germany cutting off its nose to spite its face? Impoverishing those people that actually purchase your goods is somewhat nonsensical and fears of hyperinflation in Germany cannot explain the level of agony being imposed upon the European periphery by Germany’s insistence upon neoliberal economic policies.

To add to the fuel on the fire there have been rumours of runs on Greek banks and the knowledge that the ECB will not lend to some Greek banks (see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/... and http://edition.cnn.com/...):

“The numbers on how much has recently been taken out of Greek banks by depositors have been much disputed - not surprisingly, when the official figures will not be published for weeks.

Depending on who you talk to, anything from €700m ($892m; £560m) to €1.2bn was taken out of banks in the days after the election, out of total deposits of around €160bn. That total, in turn, is about a third lower than it was at the end of 2009.
At the same time, the ECB has apparently now said that it won't directly lend to some Greek banks that it judges to be technically "insolvent". These are banks that have holes in their balance sheets, because, thanks to the restructuring of Greek sovereign debt, they can't now expect to get back all of the money that they lent to the government (http://www.bbc.co.uk/...).”

There is a lot of fear-mongering of Greece either leaving or being forced out of the Euro, both on the impact on Greece and on the impact of the Eurozone. Are these being over-rated or is keeping Greece in more important to the stability of the Eurozone? Are these threats empty on the part of the EU or is this a real danger? Here is an analysis from BofA/Merrill Lynch on the impact on the Eurozone which is worth reading (http://www.morningstar.co.uk/...). Certainly, the situation for the Greeks is already extremely difficult; leaving the Euro will enable them to regain control over both their monetary and fiscal policy. The immediate effect of a loss of access to foreign loans to help them recover the economy will make things harder and a default on their loans will mean that exactly. Policies to stimulate exports and increase tourism will help them recover and rebuild. The austerity measures are literally creating a situation where the Greek economy will never recover; moreover the reduction of Greece to poverty is not only unsustainable but unnecessary (see for e.g., http://www.neweconomics.org/...).

III.    The dangers of sectarianism:

The KKE responded to Syriza’s vote on May 6 in the following way:

“Nevertheless a government, irrespective of its composition, must deal with the whole spectrum of the problems. It should not merely denounce the memorandum but return to the people the gains that were abolished before the memorandum - because most of the gains were lost before the memorandum- as well as many others abolished after the memorandum. A government has to manage everything and not merely the unemployment benefit, as was mentioned. It has to manage issues of economy, the stance of the business groups towards the working people, the list of the privatisations adopted in the previous years. It has to handle issues of foreign policy such as the general commitments that arise from the EU, NATO, from the strategic alliance with the USA. There is no government that tears the agreements into pieces, abstracts politics and only promotes the packet of measures of the next day.

In order to agree with such a government the KKE needs to make a U-turn, a summersault and not merely a small retreat, a small turn. It must make a root and branch change. And above all it would have to make unacceptable compromises that have nothing to do with the people's interests. Maybe the people are not interested in the ideological purity of the various parties, but in a party that all these years, from the very first moment of its foundation, has been in the frontline of the struggle does not want to abandon this position in order to gain some ministries. The people do not need this kind of KKE” (from the press office of the CC of the KKE, 06/05/2012, http://inter.kke.gr/...).”

In doing so it showed a complete disregard for the policies on which SYRIZA had stood in the election – and even worse a complete contempt for the thousands of people who had voted for them and their policies. It seems likely that they will be punished by some of their own traditional voters on June 17 and beyond – in subsequent opinion polls they have lost over 1% of their votes in less than two weeks.

To understand the situation among the Left in Greece, it is useful to understand the history of the Greek left. To help, I will present two different pieces discussing the history of the left in Greece and its currents transformations that have attempted to explain the current situation. The pieces are complementary, rather than contradictory, in terms of information and also express some of the fears of the Left with respect to SYRIZA in terms of carrying out its own minimum programme.

On the one hand, here is a piece from Socialist Resistance calling for a United Front of the Left and criticising the failure to form it in a period of intense need:

“In other words, in this situation – a “Year Zero” situation for the literally hungry masses – these masses handed their votes to SYRIZA, and secondarily to the KKE, with the mandate for them to take power, reject the memorandum, reject austerity, restore their livelihoods and do so by turning the tables on the Greek plutocracy, those who actually still have their bucket loads of cash despite the “crisis”, while telling the German-French plutocracy to shove off.
Yet it is in such a context that the Greek left now seems unable to form a united front for the salvation of the people. The responsibility for this lies mostly, if not entirely, with the spectacular sectarianism of the KKE, which has point blank refused to join a united front with SYRIZA. More than that – criminally – the KKE has refused to even talk about it.
In a quasi-reenactment of Stalin’s Third Period disaster in Germany – when the German Communist Party was ordered to refuse any joint work with the German Social Democrats against Nazism, indeed the Social Democrats were declared “social fascists”, allowing the Nazis to walk into power unimpeded – the KKE claims it will not work with SYRIZA who it denounces as social democrats who will inevitably sell out.
But if history repeats itself first as tragedy and then as farce, then the tragedy being prepared by the KKE is based entirely on farce. For anyone aware of modern Greek history, the idea of the KKE having some principled left position opposed to collaborating with social democrats or even neoliberals and right-wing nationalists is a fantastic joke.
While there is much to validly criticise about the program of SYRIZA’s leadership group, as a whole the SYRIZA coalition is light years to the left of the German Social Democrats of the 1930s, let alone the neoliberal “social democrats” today, and the only actual revolutionary policy in such a dire situation is to “take the bull by its horns” and form a united front with SYRIZA around the most immediate needs of the working class, and work with the more radical left components of SYRIZA in a non-sectarian fashion to challenge its leadership to keep left and to move further left as the ensuing crisis will inevitably demand (http://socialistresistance.org/...).”
Paul Mason also has written an excellent piece discussing some history of the Greek left and the formation of SYRIZA which is very useful for those not well-versed in intricacies of the Left of Greece and also raises the fear of SYRIZA collapsing into social democracy rather than pursuing a more radical agenda. The following is a description of some of the history of the Greek Left (http://paulmasonnews.tumblr.com/...):
“Greek communism, like most of western communism after the 1970s, was split into two hostile parties: the KKE of the “interior” and that of the “exterior” – the latter denoting a Moscow-oriented party, the former denoting a Euro-communist, more parliamentary and socially liberal agenda. Initially Synaspismos was the electoral alliance between the two KKEs. But in the early 1990s the main Moscow-oriented KKE quit the alliance, purging about 45% of its members, who then stayed inside Synaspismos with the Eurocommunists. These included Tsipras.
Synaspismos then evolved in an interesting direction. Reacting to the rise of the anti-globalisation movement, first of all the party itself became a highly diverse left umbrella group: of Eurocommunists, left-social Democrats, far leftists, and ecologists. It played a significant role in mobilizations against summits, beginning in Genoa 2001 and beyond. Meanwhile the main KKE remained a traditional Communist party, rooted in public sector and manual trade unions. Then, in the 2004 election, Synaspismos came together with other small parties to form SYRIZA. These included a split-off from the British SWP, a split off from the main Communist Party and another group of eco-leftists.
Under Tsipras’ leadership, and invigorated by now including the entire left except the traditionalist KKE, SYRIZA grew the far left’s vote from 3.3% to 5.6% in the 2007 election – giving it 14 MPs. The crisis which broke out in December 2008, after the police shooting of a 15 year old schoolboy led to two weeks of rioting by the youth and poor of Athens, further strengthened SYRIZA as a left pole of attraction. Though the parties inside SYRIZA remained in the low thousands of members, many young people began to identify with them – above all in a country where Marxism has massive prestige due to its role in both the anti-fascist resistance and in the 1946-49 Civil War. In addition, those migrants with the right to vote, hearing a rising chorus of anti-migrant rhetoric from the centre as well as the right, have flocked to vote SYRIZA (http://paulmasonnews.tumblr.com/...).”
IV.    What is to be done?

From SYRIZA’s election manifesto we have the following:

“The incumbent economic and social system has failed and we must overthrow it!
The economic crisis rocking global capitalism has shattered the illusions. All the more people witness that capitalist speculation is an inhuman organizational principle for the modern society. It is also unanimously shared that that private banks function only for the benefit of the bankers harming the rest of the people. Industrialists and bankers absorb billions from Health, Education and Pensions.
The exit from the crisis entails bold measures that will obstruct those who create it from continuing their destructive work. We are endorsing a new model of production and distribution of wealth, one that would include society in its totality. In this respect the large capitalist property is to be made public and managed democratically along social and ecologic criteria. Our strategic aim is socialism with democracy, a system in which all will be entitled to participate in the decision-making process (http://socialistresistance.org/...).”
So given the election results in May, what can we expect in June? The situation in Greece is very dynamic; the ability of the mainstream to rally people to view this election as a referendum on the Euro rather than as a referendum on Austerity will probably be a prime determining factor.

The question remains whether the Left can overcome its sectarianism to do what needs to be done. No one is honestly suggesting  a true revolutionary programme can be carried out using only elections. But if the Left can not present the masses with a viable alternative, a serious danger exists of a shift to the hard-right.  If people vote for the mainstream because they think the Left cannot unite, and austerity continues under a mainstream government, voters may switch to the hard right.

Even if the Left wins, it is uncertain how long they will govern. Another subversion of the will of the people in Greece is definitely possible; Election fraud to outright coup d’etat could be employed to subvert the will of the Greek people. The rise in the fascist right presents a serious danger of the descent into barbarism. If the Greek left cannot unite, that danger increases.

In a move reeking of irony, Angela Merkel (http://www.bbc.co.uk/...) has suggested holding a referendum in Greece on whether or not they want to stay in the Eurozone; given that this brought down the elected government of Greece headed by Papandreou and resulted in a “technocratic” government headed by a former executive of Goldman-Sachs, Papademos, this is rather interesting. Separating remaining in the Eurozone from the elections may actually further undercut the mainstream parties, which somehow I do not think is in her interests.

Recent polls suggest that SYRIZA will win the election, but it is uncertain whether they will win a majority (e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/..., http://news.sky.com/...).  They are moving to transform themselves from their current status as a coalition into a political party. This move is motivated by the recognition that many new people are flocking to join – and to join SYRIZA itself rather than one of its constituent organisations. This will mean that if they are the biggest party they will benefit from one of the most undemocratic pieces of electoral legislation which is that the largest party gets an extra 50 seats!

It seems that people are shifting from other Left parties towards SYRIZA. If they cannot win a majority, that means a coalition government and given the failure in May to rally around SYRIZA could mean a catastrophe. The most likely situation is that we will be back in a situation where a coalition is needed – with even more pressure on SYRIZA to compromise its principles.

What is needed is two-fold in many senses: 1) unity among the Greek Left and 2) a continuing movement to both continue building mass support and to keep pressure on SYRIZA to hold the course. The programme advocated by SYRIZA is a good minimum programme (http://socialistresistance.org/...). But it is throwing off the shackles of the capitalist system that has caused this crisis that is the goal.

That is why it is essential for the whole left internationally to demand the Greek left break with its sectarianism and do what needs to be done. If the Left cannot unite in coalition, this will be a catastrophic loss of opportunity for the left-wing anti-austerity forces in Greece – but also in Europe as a whole – which would be a serious defeat for the left internationally as well as one which would probably strengthen support for the far right in Greece.

At the same time the need for solidarity with the struggle of the Greek people against austerity has never been more acute. Calls from the May 15 movement in Spain and elsewhere for a day of action against austerity on June 16, with solidarity with Greece as a focal point should be supported extensively.

Originally posted to Anti-Capitalist Meetup on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Global Expats.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (31+ / 0-)

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:00:05 PM PDT

  •  Bring Back (10+ / 0-)

    Melina Mercouri from the dead. She would know how to deal with Die Merkel.

    This really is one unholy mess. The Greeks are occupying center stage in a European tragedy.

    Check out Scottie's blog http://burnafterwriting.com/

    by Richard Lyon on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:03:18 PM PDT

    •  The situation is so bad from an economic (11+ / 0-)

      and social perspective; they are destroying this country in the name of an ideology. This is simply so horrific and unnecessary and put quite simply, a tragedy.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:12:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They are caught up in a much (7+ / 0-)

        larger folly. I'm not sure what would happen to Greece if they left the euro, but their exit would pose a very strong risk of bringing down the house of cards. One way or another I doubt that will be allowed to happen.

        Just about all the players are to blame for this mess. The Germans could have enforced to original Maastrict rules. That would have made the EMU a much smaller project. They choose the present course. They bear as much responsibility for the mess as anybody else.

        Check out Scottie's blog http://burnafterwriting.com/

        by Richard Lyon on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:16:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Greece will survive leaving the euro; but what I (5+ / 0-)

          think that they are afraid of is that Spain, Portugal and other countries will follow them. This is why they have not thrown them out before or allowed them to leave. As I said, Greece is a small economy, it is not that important, the same cannot be said for Spain and others.

          I would say that it is those that set up the Euro based upon monetarist principles that are those responsible for the mess; additionally German economic growth has been dependent upon export to the periphery in europe and they fronted the credit to keep their exports growing. So, who is responsible? The economic powers in europe, specifically, Germany. To make it worse, they are punishing the Greeks for the policies that they enacted.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:46:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If Greece goes (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NY brit expat, TPau, radarlady

            there is a high probability that others will follow. As I see it the real Achiles heal is the European banking system. The ECB did CPR in December. Nothing has really been cleaned up from 2008. It could very easily all come a tumbling down.

            Check out Scottie's blog http://burnafterwriting.com/

            by Richard Lyon on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:52:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't know if you have seen it but there was a (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Richard Lyon, Justina, radarlady, TPau

              G8 meeting a few days ago and supposedly they got Merkel to back down, they spoke about quantitative easing as though that will solve the problems that they have inflicted on europe with austerity measures ... all the money will be used to buy out bad bank debt and then hoarded by the banks. This is simply absurd at this point.

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:55:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have been following that closely. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NY brit expat, Justina

                What I see is a lot of double talk. As usually happens with those bull sessions everybody is claiming victory, Merkel included. I am not making any assumptions until I see what happens.

                As far as I can tell Merkel isn't facing any real domestic political pressure over applying austerity to other people. Her political problems seem to be over internal issues. I also admit to not having a very good grasp of German politics.

                Check out Scottie's blog http://burnafterwriting.com/

                by Richard Lyon on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:59:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  De ja Vu all over again. nt (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NY brit expat, Justina

                De air is de air. What can be done?

                by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:00:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, Richard, that it will not be allowed (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justina, NY brit expat

          to happen. The economic impact would go so far beyond Greece.

          I'm not sure what would happen to Greece if they left the euro, but their exit would pose a very strong risk of bringing down the house of cards.

          One way or another I doubt that will be allowed to happen.

          Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, “It was always a bad year to get out of Vietnam.”

          by allenjo on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:55:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Die Merkel? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, Justina

      or Das Merkel?

  •  I admit to not knowing the entire (8+ / 0-)

    background of the current situation in Greece, so this essay is most appreciated. TY, NY Brit expat!

    "Space Available" is the largest retail chain in the nation.

    by Free Jazz at High Noon on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:11:31 PM PDT

    •  Glad to help, the situation is really complex (5+ / 0-)

      and I've tried to clarify things and who is who and what is it that they are advocating; take a look at SYRIZA's 10 point programme so you can see where they are coming from ... the programme is a good minimum programme from the left.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:18:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I fear the right wing (5+ / 0-)

    I can see them leading if the left cannot unify and people become scared - when the food runs out, the electricity stops and the workers are all on strike the time will right for fascism to fill the vacuum.

    •  This is my worry, but the last I heard (5+ / 0-)

      from people is that the polls are saying that Golden Dawn is losing voters. But we are essentially seeing a desperate population trapped between the rigidity of the troika (EU, IMF, ECB) that seems determined to destroy their economy and punish them for the way that the Euro and EU was established following an economic policy based in the most malicious ideology that we have seen in quite a while. The Greeks are still under an "euro-illusion" and yet cannot take any more of the austerity measures that are crippling the country and which will prevent any recovery of the economy.

      I am hoping that the KKE and Antarsya will come to their senses and throw in with a coalition at the next election or if the parties do not that their voters desert them for SYRIZA. If Greece loses this momentum, it will be an incredible set-back for the Greek working class and poor and for the European and world-wide anti-austerity movement.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:27:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What do you foresee happening to Greece if they... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, Justina

        leave the Eurozone and if they stay?

        De air is de air. What can be done?

        by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:48:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If Greece leaves the eurozone and defaults (6+ / 0-)

          on the debt that will not affect pensions and people's savings (which is why a debt audit would be extremely helpful), they will no longer have access to credit for a bit. The drachma will be devalued hoping to stimulate both tourism (a large part of greek's economy) and to stimulate purchase of their exports. It will be hard, but they will also be free of privatisation and destruction of incomes and can try to rebuild their economy sensibly.

          If they stay in the euro and default or/and try to negotiate better terms along the lines of the programme of SYRIZA they will not be able to affect their monetary policy at all or fiscal policy much. However, that will preserve the savings of people as they will not be subjected to the devaluation.

          At this point, the majority of greeks do not want to leave the euro, which places limits on what can be done. Essentially, the terms asked by SYRIZA will never be accepted by the EU, IMF and ECB and they will either not allow it or will throw them out. The EU is worried that this will start a flood of other countries leaving the eurozone and collapsing the currency.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:03:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you think staying with the Euro is the wize... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NY brit expat, Justina

            decision for the Greeks themselves? Would they eventually be better off out of the Euro on their own terms?

            What measures do you think the Eurozone would take if Greece left to keep Spain, etc.

            De air is de air. What can be done?

            by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:32:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think that the Greeks should leave the euro (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lina, TPau, Justina, radarlady

              they would have the possibility of recovering an economy, it will be extremely hard but they will be able to recover and I do not think that is possible given the position taken by the Germans, EU, ECB and IMF at this point. Honestly, I think that unless that is a real threat (and even then) then nothing will force the Germans off the current course towards catastrophe.

              As far as I know, in Portugal the left was not even able to raise the possibility of leaving as the Portuguese are also living under euro-illusion. Spain is crashing and will increasingly become a greater liability, there is 50% youth unemployment there and in the absence of coherent nationalisation and job creation programmes I have no idea of how they can solve the problem there. The right-wing government that has been elected is pursuing a hard core neoliberalism programme with increasing dosages of austerity in a country which is crashing. This is the point, I think we are headed to another crash and this one (unlike the last which came out of the financial sector) will be coming out of income and wealth inequality and in the real economy arising from neoliberal economic policies. This is how I read things ...

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:45:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  have you heard how Ireland is faring? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NY brit expat, TPau

                I heard unemployment is high and will remain high. I am wondering if you think if Greece will be the domino and if they leave the euro the rest will follow?

                •  I am less informed on Ireland, but what I (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TPau, Justina, lina, radarlady

                  have heard, is wages are extremely low (this was an important part of how they enabled economic growth along with low corporate taxation to undercut their neighbours), unemployment is high and will remain so. Key components of the neoliberal platform requiring the private sector to take over state/public sector are based upon creation of unemployment to lower wage incomes (including the erosion of pensions) due to both erosion of trade union power and creation of desperation. Moreover, there has been massive credit tightening both for business and personal spending. Given the collapse of demand due to decreased incomes, there is less and less possibility of realising profits at this point either from sale overseas or domestically as this is felt throughout the whole EU which are their major trading partners. So, the celtic tiger has stagnated and is looking like a paper tiger these days along with the rest of the EU.

                  I think that the only reason that they have tried to keep Greece in is that they fear that once one country leaves, others will try to escape and the whole thing will start to crumble.

                  "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                  by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:10:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  It occurs to me that leaving may play to an... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Justina, NY brit expat

                advantage in an adverse way.

                I agree with you that the situation does not look fixable whether Greece stays OR goes. The Euro is looking more and more doomed. Since the Euro is tied to the Pound and the US dollar and the dollar is tied to the Asian markets, the whole house of cards very  well might come down.

                If Greece leaves it would have about a year maybe two before the old currencies collapsed. That might be enough time to stabilize and they may end up with one of the few economies with an intact monetary system for trade. They could end up in an enviable position in a year or two. We could all be trading in Drachmas. :)

                De air is de air. What can be done?

                by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:04:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Don't think that the Drachma will become (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Justina, radarlady

                  a reserve currency, that requires many things and certainly Greece does not have that (I know you are making a joke) ... actually the pound is independent of the euro and the dollar, money will flow into other currencies rather than the euro (and that is also what is worrying them immensely, along with the devaluation of the euro and having to trade internationally in other currencies which may affect policies) ... I have heard talk of the eurozone surviving as the currency of countries that are already part in the North of Europe, but there are a number of countries that are less than enchanted by austerity measures (see the Dutch for example). I do not see the dollar collapsing as it is propped up by many things independently of US economic policy (like the fact that the Chinese would protect it as they hold so many dollars in reserve for example), there is a whole global system. But already China is making trade deals in Yuan between them and Japan and other countries.

                  "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                  by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:47:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  True, the dollar is not attached by the hip to... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NY brit expat

                    the euro or the pound like it is to the Chinese yuan, but all the big currencies are attached by investiture and the banks as we saw in 2008. The Nation-state and sovereign currency are really a dead. Our world is run by international corporations and banks.

                    If one large money system collapses, it stresses all the rest. Given the frail state of the major economies right now, I do actually think the rest would suffer--perhaps even leading to a domino effect. None of the major economies is in a position to do what they did in 2008--balance the bank falter on the backs of the working class. The working class has already absorbed that hit and can't take another.

                    I was kidding about Greece become a reserve currency, but not about getting out early and having an intact monetary system being a better scenario for the nation should the Euro collapse. In a perverse way they could be the straw that broke the Euro camels back and be the beneficiary of the Euro's demise as well.

                    De air is de air. What can be done?

                    by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:14:51 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  But who will be the decision makers? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TPau, NY brit expat

            Are the banks controlled by the government or a few people?  I think if Greece drops the Euro some powerful people will have a lot to lose and if that is the case then the coup d'etat is a possibility.

            •  In Greece, many of the foreign banks have already (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TPau, lina, Justina, radarlady

              covered themselves and have reduced their direct exposure to the possibility of default. A lot of this exposure was transferred to governments to protect the banks (this should sound familiar). It depends on the banks, in Greece, some are nationalised, some are all but nationalised and some are still private. So nationalisation of the banks is not a problem.  But there are things at stake that go beyond Greece and that cannot be discounted so readily.

              Agreed that a lot of powerful and wealthy people have a lot to lose and that is why I raised the possibility of a coup d'etat, civil war, or a direct attempt to subvert the will of the Greeks.

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:15:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for the map to the Greek politcal classes. (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks article shows very simlar dynamics to those in the US-  from a far right Tea Party, to a watered-down CP that won't work with other left groups.  We do not have, however, the large coalition of leftist groups that Greece has -- which gives it a real oportunity to make a difference.

    I am still a little confused as to what arguments the mainstream groups are making around the euro and would appreciate a small discussoin of their arguments.

    The anti-austerity aspect is a natural for people in all countries -- seems everywhere it arises, people tend to vote those favoring it out of office.  The only problem is whether or not we turn that gut reaction into a positive  process toward a healthy human oriented society or whether we will become more and more polarized in our futility in trying to take meaningful power away from the wealthy.  Again, here as elsewhere it comes down to money power vs. people power.  Scary.

    •  As I understand it (4+ / 0-)

      the mainstream parties claim that things without the euro would be even worse. Nobody can be sure what would happen. Interest rates would like sky rocket and credit dry up. Argentina is the most likely basis for comparison.

      Check out Scottie's blog http://burnafterwriting.com/

      by Richard Lyon on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:23:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Essentially the mainstream parties are saying (7+ / 0-)

      that the Greek economy cannot survive leaving the Euro and if the Greeks want to stay in the eurozone (which the majority seem to still want to do) that they must submit to austerity in order to do so. The problem is coming from the Germans essentially whom are refusing to back off on the extreme austerity measures. It is pretty well known that both Papandreou (PASOK) and Samaras (New Democracy) had ask them to back off a bit as there was no way that they could get the Greek population to lie down meekly and submit to this reduction in their standards of living and this was refused by Merkel. In fact, what the Troika essentially did was set the stage for the left and right-wing anti-austerity movements to rise; so from their own perspective, this is completely self-defeating politically as the last thing they want is the rise of a strong hard Left.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:34:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that law of unintended consequences...... (4+ / 0-)
        In fact, what the Troika essentially did was set the stage for the left and right-wing anti-austerity movements to rise; so from their own perspective, this is completely self-defeating politically as the last thing they want is the rise of a strong hard Left.
        I spoke to my son in Greece today and he says all the talk where he lives is that Greece will be exiting the euro.

        Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, “It was always a bad year to get out of Vietnam.”

        by allenjo on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:01:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  did he tell you how people are feeling about (5+ / 0-)

          that? Did he also give you an idea of how people where he lives were responding to the propaganda of the mainstream parties in terms of accepting it or were they willing to vote for SYRIZA?

          That is exactly it, but I really think that they thought that the labour unions were so weak, the left was so weak, and that everyone believed the garbage that they were being fed by the mainstream parties throughout the EU and eurozone that they thought that they could simply force the working class and poor to acquiesce to the destruction of their jobs, incomes and pensions as there was nothing else that could be done. I think that they have not only faced the law of unintended consequences, they underestimated that people can think, that they can still fight and if you put their backs against the wall, you give them nothing to lose.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:14:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think that this past election was very telling (5+ / 0-)

            as to what you state below.

            I really think that they thought that the labour unions were so weak, the left was so weak, and that everyone believed the garbage that they were being fed by the mainstream parties throughout the EU and eurozone that they thought that they could simply force the working class and poor to acquiesce to the destruction of their jobs, incomes and pensions as there was nothing else that could be done.

            I think that they have not only faced the law of unintended consequences, they underestimated that people can think, that they can still fight and if you put their backs against the wall, you give them nothing to lose.

            I have known many Greeks here in the US and lived there twice. When it comes to politics, I have never encountered a nation more active and involved. The Greeks will take to the streets whether in joy or in pain.

            I think bottom line, Greeks have reached their breaking point. They pretty much have been left with nothing left to lose.

            Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, “It was always a bad year to get out of Vietnam.”

            by allenjo on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:36:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  agreed completely! n/t (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              allenjo, TPau, Justina, radarlady

              "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

              by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:46:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  political blackmail...... (4+ / 0-)
                New Democracy and the Socialists will be trying to scare voters who deserted the traditional parties into returning to fend off catastrophe, arguing that electing Tsipras would mean the end of Greece's membership of the euro zone.
                SYRIZA's charismatic 37-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras has emerged in the election campaign as a star, catapulting him to the forefront of the anti-bailout campaign.
                 =
                He says European leaders are bluffing when they warn Athens could be forced out of the single currency, and Greece can demand far more lenient terms because EU states will be desperate to avoid the cost of breaking up the euro bloc.  "He is a young politician and I believe he is telling the truth," said Nicos Arvanitis, 38, selling pistachios in an Athens shop. "He can get us out of the crisis. I'm not afraid they'll kick us out of the euro. It's political blackmail."
                http://www.reuters.com/...

                Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, “It was always a bad year to get out of Vietnam.”

                by allenjo on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:15:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Have they boxed themselves into a corner?... (4+ / 0-)

    In many ways, I think this is a power play by one class to subdue another class. But then I don't see a clear way out of the mess that has been  created by international banking. Essentially more money is on loan than collateral exists.

    I am interested to know, NYB, do you think there is a way out of this mess that the establishment would accept or are they pushing austerity to better their position before true collapse?

    De air is de air. What can be done?

    by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:32:26 PM PDT

    •  Has the EU, IMF and ECB boxed themselves (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TPau, Richard Lyon, Justina, radarlady

      into a corner? or have the Greeks boxed themselves into the corner?

      The main thing that the EU, IMF and ECB want is to preserve the currency and the monetarist basis of it along with neoliberal economic arguments. This required a compliant bunch of victims and they have awakened the beast with their insistence on punishing the Greeks for the failure of their own policies. I would not mind seeing the end of the euro; I have no problems with a single currency, but the basis of this one is simply reactionary and wrong. There are similar problems with the structure of the EU and the stability and growth pacts ... much of what needs to exist to make this less reactionary from a class and economic perspective requires eliminating treaties and some of the presuppositions uniting europe.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:07:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just don't see how they can preserve the... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, isabelle hayes

        currency. It can't see a viable fix from their perspective--even if they had a docile slave work force. Can it even be done?

        It doesn't seem that the banks are allowing money to flow. In their position, that actually seems to be a logical decision. Without that, the debt system they have built fails. They can prop it up temporarily by dumping money into the system but that does carry the risk of hyperinflation.

        The types of fixes that would work for this aren't acceptable to the banks--Jubilee style debt forgiveness, adjustments in taxation to spread the wealth around, etc. Am I not seeing it? Am I missing something about preserving monetary flow, or not seeing something they are trying to do? Is there really a fix somewhere in all of this or is this really a cover for the fact that the people involved in the monetary system don't have any ideas how to fix the system without operating outside the box they have created for themselves? What treaties could be broken to loosen the Banker grip and allow the monetary system to actually recovery?

        De air is de air. What can be done?

        by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:20:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am not seeing it either ... they can (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TPau, Justina, tardis10, radarlady

          either abrogate the debt, they can back off on austerity measures ... they have already shaved 50% off, but the problem is that borrowing is so ridiculously expensive for Greece is that the interest keeps accumulating. They are also forcing them to sell the things that can be used to create employment and pull the economy upwards (the state sector) for insufficient money to not only pay the debt but for less than it is worth (think of a fire sale with the public sector up for grabs) and are lowering the incomes of people whose money could also provide purchasing power to pull the economy up. The economy is crashing, neoliberalism is merely an excuse to shift money from the poor, working and middle classes to the wealthy. Even with the limits to fiscal debt, running high taxes for corps when your neighbours are playing beggar they neighbour taxation policies to woo international investment makes it difficult, wealthy people can shift their money to tax havens and they are destroying the tax base by undercutting the middle and working class. This leads to decreased revenue, no economic growth, and a collapsing economy. Also due to the fact that they are essentially taking more loans, the gdp/debt is not rising ... so all they are doing is impoverishing people at this point. I cannot see a way out in the context of the eurozone at all as they are bound into policies that result in the current situation.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:30:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is very rare that my husband and I agree on (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TPau, Justina, radarlady

            economic questions, our approaches differ substantially, he is agreeing with me. He doesn't see it either.

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:50:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  SYRIZA (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, allenjo, TPau, Justina, wsexson

    will be the first party in the next elections for June 17 in Greece.   The remarkable thing is that all other parties in Greece have focused all their venom on Tsipras and the leadership of SYRIZA.   They try hard to stop him.  But they can no not stop him.   Hopefully, there will be a leftist government in Greece after June.

    •  The anger against Tsipras and the (5+ / 0-)

      fear-mongering is all across Europe. Even the Guardian joined the fear-mongering yesterday:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

      I think that SYRIZA will win, whether they win by a majority cleanly or need to form a coalition is what remains to be seen. And then whether the other left parties will play ball now and tell their people to vote for SYRIZA or join in coalition after the election. I am hoping and am hopeful, but we are in a dynamic situation. If the left wins in Greece, we have the real makings of a true fight-back against neoliberalism here and more left anti-austerity campaigns. If not, we are looking at a further consolidation by the right in Europe and more misery over here.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:00:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Change we really can believe in! :) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat

        De air is de air. What can be done?

        by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:08:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TPau, NY brit expat, isabelle hayes

        SYRIZA will not get absolute majority.   Of course, they can not form a coalition with the stalinist party there (which is worse of the worst and impossible).  That leaves the possibility of a coalition with Democratic left party (DA).   If that would not be enough to form a government they may have to form a coalition with the party of "Independent Greeks".   They are center-right, but they have denounced strongly the austerity and the mainstream parties and I think they will be open to support a SYRIZA government with an anti-austerity platform.  

        Of course there is also the possibility that the constant threats against Greek voters and the fear-mongering by Merkel, Cameron, etc. will somehow result in SYRIZA not winning.   I hope that will not be the case.

        •  agreed, DIMAR refused to join in coalition with (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TPau, radarlady

          PASOK and New Democracy w/o SYRIZA and they are the eurocommunist part of SYNASPISMOS that split off (which is Tsipras's own party). So they played this pretty well and probably will go in with them on coalition as they are pretty aware of the stakes of what is happening.

          I am hoping along with you, but always am cautious as the situation is so fluid and expect that the EU will try to buy off the greeks with more double-talk in the hopes of getting them to vote with the mainstream as well as trying to scare the Greeks with the danger of leaving the euro.  I hope that we are right, so far, things are looking positive, but I am cautious for so many reasons. But at this point SYRIZA is dictating the discussion as they are the centre of the debate and response by the mainstream.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:54:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There will be a debate between (3+ / 0-)

            Alexi Tsipras (SYRIZA) and the leader of the pro-austerity right wing party who is obedient to Merkel and the rest.   If Alexi performs well there, he will solidify his support and SYRIZA will win.   The greeks have suffered tremendously under the forced austerity measures and they dont like the traditional parties anymore.   Tsipras is very smart and that is why his potential is very high there now.

    •  I think the same, Blue Wind. nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, Justina

      Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, “It was always a bad year to get out of Vietnam.”

      by allenjo on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:04:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How nice to get a detailed picture (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allenjo, TPau, NY brit expat, Justina

    of the clashing forces in Greece, a picture that is largely unavailable here in the US, at least in MSM.

    My gut feeling is that the global capitalist plutocracy will push the austerity meme down everyone's throats (as the Republicans here are doing with the "debt ceiling crisis") and the results will vary, depending on the country and whether citizens take control, via some form of social democracy, or fascists take control via force.  These are truly scary times.

    NY brit expat:  it might help neophytes like me if you place the "cheat sheet" at the beginning of this most excellent diary.  

    Great work, and I thank you for the time and research you have committed to this diary.

    Just waitin' around for the new Amy Winehouse album

    by jarbyus on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:55:57 PM PDT

    •  good idea ... should I put it before the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady

      squiggle thingie? will do it now!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:17:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Superb Diary, NY Brit expat! (4+ / 0-)

    Great explanation of the moving forces and events in Greece.

     What keeps going through my mind is that SYRIZA needs to do a massive educational campaign about how Iceland has managed to pull itself through.  Iceland had the guts and good sense to refuse to bail out the banksters, which is what Greece would be doing by accepting more loans and failing to repudiate the existing ones.  The loans to Greece don't put a single chicken in any Greek pot, nor help any worker or pensioner keep a roof over their head.

    The new loans to pay the existing loans interest payments
    do nothing at all to help the Greek economy grow.  The Greeks need to clear the decks by repudiating the loans and nationalizing every bank within reach, instituting currency controls and collecting taxes to use to invest in jobs and services.

    And, Iceland was only able to pull itself through the crisis because it had it owns currency to work with rather than being hamstrung by the Euro.

    If nothing else, Iceland presents a model for the importance of a local currency and the importance of refusing to kowtow to the big European banks.

    Admittedly, Iceland has had a difficult time, but no where near as "austerely" as Greece, not to mention Ireland, Spain and Portugal.

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:41:22 PM PDT

    •  Excellent point. How is Iceland doing now? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:44:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Recovering, Getting New Investments. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TPau, NY brit expat, isabelle hayes

        From friends in Iceland, I learn that China is building large plants in Iceland, taking advantage of their sophisticated thermal energy. (Those volcanoes can heat a lot of water (heating homes and even the streets, but also running turbines that run factories. Seems Iceland's steam may soon be heating up northern Europe as well.)

        The difference between Iceland and Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland, is that the Euro troika is not calling its shots, and a robust democracy keeps decision-making local.

        Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

        by Justina on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:59:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ugh. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radarlady, NY brit expat

          Time for my daily stamping down of the Iceland mythos that never seems to die.

          "Iceland had the guts and good sense to refuse to bail out the banksters": Iceland took massive IMF loans to get money, a large amount of which was used to restructure the banks in receivership so that they'd be worth enough to sell off enough assets to pay off their debt obligations.  Which they did.  Not that it stopped the British and Dutch from suing us.  :Þ

          "The Greeks need to clear the decks by repudiating the loans and nationalizing every bank within reach" - I hope you're not trying to claim that Iceland did that, because it did nothing of the sort.  The banks are no more "nationalized" than the US auto companies, and Iceland not once defaulted on its national debt - and even the private debt got paid off.

          "And, Iceland was only able to pull itself through the crisis because it had it owns currency to work with rather than being hamstrung by the Euro."

          Picture the usual stuff that happens with an economic crisis.  Unemployment.  House price collapses.  Government budget shortfalls leading to cuts.  Wage stagnation.  Etc.  Now on top of that, imagine that you live on an island where most things are imported and where loan prices are often indexed to foreign currencies, and your currency becomes worth half its value.  I.e., add in a ~40% hike in consumer good prices and double the principle owed on your home.  And your domestic become worth half their value (which affects the less wealthy more than the wealthy, who tend to be internationally diversified).

          Can you say "ouch"?  If your goal is to minimize pain to ordinary people, that is not how you do it.  And I'm not even saying it was the wrong decision.  I'm just pointing out that it was extremely painful over here, and folk are still trying to deal with it.

          "If nothing else, Iceland presents a model for the importance of a local currency and the importance of refusing to kowtow to the big European banks." -- Most Icelanders want to drop the króna.  It kinda sucks having a weak currency.  Did you know that we have to pay (not insignificant) insurance on our mortgages as a risk compensation factor against currency declines?  Stuff like that which people in other countries don't even think of.  As for the "kowtow to the big European banks", this had nothing to do with "the big European banks".  The only big banks involved were Iceland's, and they crashed!  The Icesave investment accounts were small private accounts, primarily individual retirement funds and municipal investors.  The conflict was with the British and Dutch governments, who bailed out their citizens then demanded recompensation from the Icelandic government.

          "Admittedly, Iceland has had a difficult time, but no where near as "austerely" as Greece, not to mention Ireland, Spain and Portugal." FYI, Iceland committed a ~30% across the board austerity cut in order to get the IMF loans.  Again... ouch.  Random example, Vestfirðir (the entire northwestern side of the country) could lose its only hospital.

          •  Thanks for this information Rei ... (0+ / 0-)

            no one is saying this will be painless or easy; the austerity measures are agonising and are destroying the possibility of any form of positive transformation and are destroying not only the present but the future. I really appreciate the information on Iceland as honestly there is little to be had in the mainstream discussion. Thank you for this as it is essential to have as much information as we can get to understand the picture more clearly.

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Mon May 21, 2012 at 07:23:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and concerning China... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radarlady, NY brit expat

          you're mixing things up.  Yes, China is in the news, but not over power generation.  A guy named Huang Nubo has been trying for over a year to build a huge tourist resort in the northern side of the country, in a beautiful but very remote location.  The whole thing has been mixed in with charges of racism as lots of the discussion focused around, "he's from China and that area is so remote, what's his ulterior motive?  Chinese control of the Arctic?"  Etc.  And that only intensified when his attempt to buy the land was rejected on a technicality.  Now he's trying to get a 50 year rent, and the whole issue is resurging.  FYI, by all standards, he just seems to be a person who fell in love with Iceland and wants to live in Iceland and do business there.  And I can fully sympathize.

          Iceland does indirectly "export power", via aluminum refining.  But it's extremely controversial, esp. the last smelter and its power plant.  They built the largest dam in Europe in the middle of (what was formerly) the largest unspoiled wilderness in Europe.  And it's already had downstream effects, like changing the color of Lagarfljótt, a large and popular lake in the east.  This is just ignoring what the smelters themselves do.  Contrary to popular belief, only about 30% of Iceland's electricity is geothermal; 70% is hydroelectric.  And the smelters are the primary driving factor.  The smallest smelter in Iceland alone uses more power than all of the homes and businesses combined.  Now, most of Iceland's primary energy is geothermal - but that's predominantly in the form of hot water, not electricity.

          Concerning the power cable, that too is controversial.  On one hand, of course new money to the country is good, and cleaning up Europe's power grid is obviously a great thing. But people here are also justifiedly worried about there being a rush to dam up every river and drill every possible geo well in every bit of wilderness possible if the line goes through (and also, higher electricity rates).

          In general, I personally support it, but only under tightly controlled conditions (same for power development in general).  That is, what should be approved is that with the least environmental impact, not what's cheapest (i.e., it is a prerequisite that development be highly selective) and that all sale of power should be taxed within an inch of the project collapsing (and if you don't have a few projects fall through because you're taxing too much, you're doing it wrong). But I have quite a few friends who want to just see it outright rejected and don't want to see any new generation facilities developed on land that's not already in use.  Although I might add that even if that's the case, there's lots of potential from expanding existing operations and doing low-temperature generation from currently thermal-only wells.  Again, not the cheapest power possible in Iceland, but power is so dirt-cheap here anyway, industry/exports can afford a few more krónur per kWh.

    •  Excellent point as usual Justina ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justina, tardis10, radarlady

      part of the problem in the May election is that they were either ignored or derided by the mainstream media and still managed to pull off this result.

      Honestly, SYRIZA is still advancing a euro solution which is why I think it has done as well as it has as it matches the beliefs of the Greeks. Now, I am certain that the EU will not accept their conditions and allow them to remain. Whether he is playing the situation as forcing them to throw Greece out against their wishes or trying to push the threat is anyone's guess. I am a bit to the left of them and have my own perspectives.

      This point that they could survive better with a sovereign currency needs to be pushed; it is not revolutionary by any means but it is an essential point to counter-act the propaganda of the EU and New Democracy and PASOK and the mainstream media in Greece and Europe as it is important.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:23:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, thank you for such a grounded discussion! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, NY brit expat, TPau
    •  I really thought that we needed more information (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TPau

      so much is not available in the mainstream press, almost no one knows the parties and what they stand for, discussions are based up guesswork and I was hoping that it would be helpful to pull what I knew together with some help from others to try and share information so that we had an idea of what is going on, the positives and negatives, from a different perspective. It has been a great discussion and I am thrilled.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Mon May 21, 2012 at 07:26:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tsipras is the rational one (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, TPau

    Tsipras's real position is never put forth in the international media. In Greece, you hear it clearly. What a majority of the Greek people want is to remain in the euro but to reject the bailout. In other words, they don't want your money. Let them get by on whatever they make. This means cutting off funding for the Greek gov't. They would welcome that. They can get by especially if they reverse some of the most economy-damaging provisions of austerity which make no sense, those that shutter businesses, and there are many such measures. They can also get by if they stop purchasing billions in weaponry from France and Germany, which they have continued to do despite the meltdown.

    The problem is the debt. They need to get the economy moving before they can even renegotiate the terms of the debt in an amount appropriate to a debt ravaged country. They can't pay the debt, that should be obvious to anyone. They are insolvent and bankrupt. A realistic approach, which I believe Tsipras is proposing, is for Greece to shoulder debt that is sustainable without a bailout from European taxpayers.

    The positions of the Greek people are entirely rational in this regard. The problem is Schauble wants to punish the country by making sure that no one else tries anything like this, and as he said, he intends to inflict so much pain on Greece should it renege on its austerity agreements (which aren't working) that it will be purged from the eurozone.

    Most Greeks simply want an end to policies that don't work. Let them shoulder an amount of debt appropriate to their economy, and let their shoulder this burden as they remain inside the euro and the EU.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Mon May 21, 2012 at 09:12:26 AM PDT

    •  agreed, I tried to make that point both in (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TPau, upstate NY

      the post and in the comments; the mainstream media in Europe and the US refuse to address what is happening, they refuse to hear that alternatives to austerity are not only possible but necessary and hence they hide the truth, try to make the rational seem irrational. They simply will not let information about alternatives to austerity and neoliberalism be heard; that was the point of the diary and why I put up SYRIZA's programme here and tried to raise what is happening.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Mon May 21, 2012 at 09:54:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They also try to make the irrational (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat

        seem rational.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:49:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that is the nature of ideology ... it makes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          upstate NY

          the absurd seem normal, the irrational seem rational; its sole purpose is to ensure that people not only accept their oppression and exploitation but believe it is natural and there is no other thing that is possible as it is the natural state of affairs. In that sense, the mainstream media has been working overtime to push the argument that no other economic solutions exist, that austerity is necessary and that the impoverishment of the majority is a correct state of affairs. They moan about how it is effecting people and that people are suffering but they never think or elucidate alternative solutions and accept the suffering as part and parcel of the greater good of the system.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Mon May 21, 2012 at 11:39:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site