Syriza Party Wins Elections in Greece + Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony by Greg Palast

Can SYRIZA Break with Austerity?

Image by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York Office via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

Radical-leftist Syriza party wins elections in Greece – exit polls

RT on Jan 25, 2015

Greek radical-leftist party, Syriza, has won between 35.5 and 39.5 percent of the vote in the national parliamentary election, leaving the country’s ruling New Democracy party more than 10 per cent behind, the exit-polls revealed.

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Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony

by Greg Palast
Writer, Dandelion Salad
www.gregpalast.com
For  το χωνί (Greece)
January 20, 2015

Europe is stunned, and bankers aghast, that polls show the new party of the Left, Syriza, will win Greece’s parliamentary elections to be held this coming Sunday, January 25.

Syriza promises that, if elected, it will cure Greece of leprosy.

Oddly, Syriza also promises that it will remain in the leper colony.  That is, Syriza wants to rid Greece of the cruelty of austerity imposed by the European Central Bank but insists on staying in the euro zone.

The problem is, austerity run wild is merely a symptom of an illness.  The underlying disease is the euro itself.

For the last five years, Greeks have been told that, if you cure your disease—that is, if you dump the euro—the sky will fall.  I guess you haven’t noticed, the sky has fallen already.  With unemployment at 25%, with Greek doctors and teachers eating out of garbage cans, there is no further to fall.

In 2010, when unemployment was a terrible 10%, a year into the crisis, the “Troika” (the European Central Bank, European Commission and the International Monetary Fund) told the Greeks that brutal austerity measures would restore Greece’s economy by 2012.

Ask yourself, Was the Troika right?

There is a saying in America:  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

Can Greece survive without the euro?  Greece is already dead, but the Germans won’t even bother to bury the corpse.  Greeks are told that if they leave the euro and renounce its debts, the nation will not be able to access world capital markets.  The reality is, Greece can’t access world markets now:  no one lends to a corpse.

There’s a way back across the River Styx.  But it’s not by paddling on a euro.

There’s Life after Euro

Many nations do quite well without the euro.  Sweden, Denmark and India do just fine without the euro—and so does Turkey, which had the luck to be excluded from the euro-zone.  As long as Turks stick to the lira, even Turkey’s brain-damaged Islamo-fascist President Tayyip Erdoğan cannot destroy their economy.

Can Greece just dump the euro?  They have happy precedents to follow.  Argentina was once pegged to the US dollar much as Greece is tied to the euro today.  In 2000, Argentines, hungry and angry, revolted.  Argentina ultimately overthrew the dollar dictatorship, the IMF diktats and the threats of creditors, and defaulted on its dollar bonds.  Free at last!  In the decade since, the Argentine economy soared.  Yes, today, Argentina is under attack by financial vultures, but that is only because the nation became so temptingly wealthy.

I was in Brazil when its President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told the IMF to go to hell—and rejected privatization of the state banks and the state oil company, rejected cutting pensions and thumbed his nose at the rest of the austerity nonsense. Instead, Lula created the bolsa familia, a massive pay-out to the nation’s poor.  The result: Brazil not only survived but thrived during the 2008-10  world financial crisis.  Despite pressure, Brazil never ceded control of its currency. (It is a sad irony that Brazil is only now faltering.  That’s the fault entirely of Lula’s successor, President Dilma Rousseff,  who is beginning to dance the austerity samba.)

Austerity:  Religion, Not Economics

The euro is simply the deutschmark with little stars on it.  Greece cannot adopt Germany’s currency without adopting Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, as its own.

And Schäuble has determined that Greece must be punished.  As my homey Paul Krugman points out, there is no credible economic theory that says that austerity—that is, cutting government spending, cutting wages, cutting consumer demand—can in any way help a nation in recession, in deflation.  That’s why, in 2009, Obama ordered up stimulus, not a sleeping pill.

But austerity has nothing to do with economics.  It is religion:  the belief by the stern Lutheran Germans that Greeks have had too much fun, spent too much money, and spent too much lazy time in the sun—and now Greeks must pay a price for their sins.

Oddly, I hear this self-flagellating nonsense from Greeks themselves:  we are lazy.  We deserve our punishment.  Nonsense.  The average Greek works more hours in a year than any other worker in the 34 nations of the OECD; Germans the least.

The Euro’s Father Describes his Little Bastard

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, would like to pretend that austerity and the euro are two different things, that you can marry the pretty girl but not invite her ugly sister to the wedding. Apparently, the Syriza chief is blissfully ignorant of the history of the euro.  The horror of austerity is not the consequence of Greek profligacy:  it was designed into the euro’s plan from the beginning.

This was explained to me by the father of the euro himself, economist Robert Mundell of Columbia University.  (I studied economics with Mundell’s buddy, Milton Friedman.)  Mundell not only invented the euro, he also fathered the misery-making policies of Thatcher and Reagan, known as “supply-side economics” – or, as George Bush Sr. called it, “voodoo economics.”  Supply-side voodoo is the long-discredited belief that if a nation demolishes the power of unions, cuts business taxes, eliminates government regulation and public ownership of utilities, economic prosperity will follow.

The euro is simply the other side of the supply-side coin.  As Mundell explained it, the euro is the way in which congresses and parliaments can be stripped of all power over monetary and fiscal policy.  Bothersome democracy is removed from the economic system.  “Without fiscal policy,” Mundell told me, “the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business.”

Greece, to survive in a euro economy, can only revive employment by reducing wages.  Indeed, the recent tiny reduction in unemployment is the sign that Greeks are slowly accepting a permanent future of low wages serving piña coladas to Germans on holiday cruises.

It is argued that Greece owes Germany, the IMF and the European Central Bank for bail-out-billions.  Nonsense.  None of the billions in bail-out funds went into Greek pockets.  It all went to bail out Deutsche Bank and other foreign creditors.  The EU treasuries swallowed 90% of its private bankers’ bonds.  Germany bailed out Germany, not Greece.

Nevertheless, Greece must pay Germany back, Mr. Tsipras, if you want to continue to use Germany’s currency, that is.

Greece:  Goldman Sacked

Greece’s ruin began with secret, fraudulent currency swaps, designed a decade ago by Goldman Sachs, to conceal Greek deficits that exceeded the euro zone’s 3%-of-GDP limit.  In 2009, when the truth came out, Greek debt holders realized they had been cheated.  These debt buyers then demanded usurious levels of interest (or, if you prefer, a high “spread”) to insure themselves against future fraud.  The compounding of this interest premium brought the Greek nation to its knees.  In other words, the crimes committed to join and stay in the euro, not Greek profligacy, caused the crisis.

The USA, Brazil and China escaped from depression by controlling their money supply, government spending and currency exchange rates—crucial tools Greece gave up in return for the euro.

Worse, once the Trojan hearse of the euro entered Athens, tourism, Greece’s main industry, drained to Turkey where hotels and souvenirs are priced in cheap lira.  This allowed Dr. Mundell’s remorseless wage-lowering machine, the euro, to do its work, to force Greece to strip all its workers of pensions and power.

Greece fell to its knees, with no choice but to beg Germany for mercy.

But there is no mercy.  As Germany’s Schäuble insists, democracy, this week’s vote, means nothing.  “New elections change nothing in the accords struck with the Greek government,” he says.  “[Greeks] have no alternative.”

Ah, but they do, Mr. Schäuble.  They can tell you to take your euro and shove it up your Merkel.


Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores

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Updated: Jan. 25, 2015

Syriza supporters celebrate, leader Tsipras addresses crowd as party leads in Greek election

RT on Jan 25, 2015

Greece’s radical leftist party, Syriza, is leading the country’s parliamentary election and leaving the ruling New Democracy party in second place, according to the preliminary results.

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Left-wing Syriza party claims victory

PressTV News Videos on Jan 25, 2015

The leader of Greece’s leftist Syriza party claims victory in general elections. Alexis Tsipras says the win signals the end of austerity in Greece and other European countries.

Addressing his supporters in central Athens, Tsipras said that Greece was ready to work with his partners to find a QUOTE fair and viable solution for the country’s debt problem. The 40-year-old leader noted that his government will try to win back the nation’s lost dignity and respect. Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras admitted defeat, saying that the nation has spoken in handing victory to the anti-austerity party. Partial official results show Syriza has won nearly 35 percent of the votes compared to nearly 29 percent for the conservative New Democracy. The party is strongly against the current government’s austerity policies that have led millions of people out of work and plunged the nation into poverty.

see also

Greece Ignites Global Economic, Monetary Debate.

Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party officially wins parliamentary elections

This election can turn the tide in Greece by Sotiris Martalis

Why the whole world is watching Greece by Lee Sustar

from the archives

The Greek Affair by Gaither Stewart + Syriza

27 thoughts on “Syriza Party Wins Elections in Greece + Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony by Greg Palast

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      • Thanks Lo, yes indeed; I have only listened to Naomi speak about her book, not read it as yet, but I’d say “late 16th century: from Italian disastro ‘ill-starred event’, from dis- (expressing negation) + astro ‘star’ (from Latin astrum )” seems to characterise tactical US bondage capitalism rather well!

        John McMurtry’s summary here, is pretty accurate I reckon…

        http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-global-stakes-of-the-ukraine-crisis-the-failure-of-western-civilization/5432144

        …only I disagree about Putin ~ yes he is a villain, but not in the way US despotic propaganda asserts, typically; Tsars were bad (criminal pogroms, indigenous capture and feudal oppression) while Stalinesque tyranny is arguably worse. So Putin is just another gangster-politician with “orthodox” bells and buttons, but infinitely more clever than the average. Gorby really was an exception.

        Seems like Obama has learned some lessons from the dexterous manoeuvring of his nemesis, but as yet Tsar Putinetta remains unrattled and consummate master of Belusconi spin. The only thing worrying him, is the Litvinenko judge-led inquest in London. So two more long-range Russian nuclear bombers flew past again the other day (quite legally allegedly in neutral airspace, altho’ that was disputed by eye witnesses) not far from where I live actually, but swiftly chaperoned by RAF jet fighters!

        Conjecture has been rife about Cameron’s supposed “cover-up” of this event
        https://tompride.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/dont-tell-mi5-but-russians-are-bankrolling-the-tory-party/

        In case you haven’t seen it, a very revealing account of the Putin/Livinenko/FSB/Chechnya connection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_Zsl_6zVZI

        • Just listened to that McMurtry conference address; extremely cogent and exacting, very rigorous. He makes exceptionally important points.

          Listening to him makes it easier to read his work too, as then one can more readily comprehend its syntax because his voice clarifies the text.

          Jerry is right, he is an immensely important moral philosopher who should be heard, heeded and widely disseminated.

          The cancer analogy holds so well, because the enduring cure arises from an invincible planetary immune system just as we must heal and restore our own through intelligent process, and as he suggests drawing from the Dao De Jing, (political) understanding is the holistic key. Once that is awakened the whole coherent organism can respond in kind and life value prevail through knowledge action…great idea.

          Thanks for this Lo, and thanks to Jerry for posting it.

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  9. The same pattern is in evidence with Ukraine, the key difference being the “privatisation” of Europe’s precious heritage, its biggest breadbasket; the bankers’ plan is to mismanage agriculture through corporatised appropriation of land ~ as though global financial institutions care a microbial jot for soil science or living biology….never mind the fates of communities, and the well-being of small farmers and local markets.

    We need a Nova Magna Carta for the entire world.

    As for “democracy,” the Greeks need to devise a new word to replace it.

    What we have at present is oligarchic bankocracy, and if it sounds like an “oriental” conspiracy, that’s because it is, exactly that ~ made in the USA, in the mysterious east formerly called London, now Volks-wagon central ~ where Sushi Arabic be-spoken.

    • You’re right on target, David. Yes, a Nova Magna Carta for the entire world!
      Unless the oligarchic bankocracy is dismantled and the common people reject the worship and the glamorization of the super-rich and fight for their fair share of the wealth which “THEY” produced anyway, a more just and egalitarian society will remain a utopian concept.

      • Well said Frank! Altogether Prado, Jerry!!

        The neo-liberal ideology is a terrible curse, the top-heavy corporations have got us all “necklaced” because they operate completely outside the law. They’ve used the United States as a shield to provide them with immunity from governments around the world. They buy and break politicians like they are just another commodity, except in those countries where the politicos are already gangster-oligarchs. There is no accountability to the rule of law, it’s a “free for all” for the select few. Only one big problem for their deluded, planet-wide kindergarten, its days are numbered….

        I think the only way to deal with this unspeakably out-of-control “coup d’état in slow motion” and hasten its demise, is to identify and concentrate on decoupling the key linkages, where they are the most vulnerable, until the mechanism itself begins to fail; while consistently building up our community strengths, appreciate what we’ve got and what we can gain from local initiatives that include ethical banking to win independence from the corrupt system of corporate overseers, criminal opportunists and weak politicians.

        As Lo suggests, the plan to turn Ukraine into a GM monoculture is absolutely lethal and should be fought on every front. At present the European Commission is leaning cosily toward Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta etc. but this dream bubble may soon pop when the long-term implications begin to sink in. We’re not about to let them rest easy.

        I was just sent this report by a prominent fellow anti-GM campaigner that is a really good factual summary, highly recommended ~ makes rather disturbing reading, especially for the ideologues http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/walking-west-side-world-bank-and-imf-ukraine-conflict

        • I agree Jerry, good to hear from you.

          You doubtless learned about the near panic here in the UK when two long-range Russian bombers flew along the Channel off the South Coast last Wednesday. Anyway, Fiona Hill (from Brookings) spoke about the escalation of tensions on Radio 4 yesterday, it was a very interesting and rather surprising summary, for a change….

          (BBC generally is so frequently little more than a propaganda echo-chamber, but Radio 4 delivers the best and most diverse content ~ not sure if you can access this, it starts at 08:50 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b050c4sn#auto)

          In my opinion, if NATO had any integrity beyond “serving” as the enforcement arm of the corporate state, as Bruce Gagnon so eloquently puts it, they’d be advocating a multi-polar international deployment, to include all the permanent security council members, to serve as a combined force to de-escalate global (nuclear) tensions rather than ramp up the threat.

          Their real purpose could then be not only to sustain an acceptable level of peace, and clean up international criminal enterprise, but also alleviate the immediate horror of the biblical proportioned the refugee crisis, & be ready to act when climate emergencies imperil communities worldwide. In other words, transform the entire operation into a humanitarian agency, rather than a totalitarian tyranny of misguided force.

          Sure, it would mean a totally different industrial mindset, but isn’t that exactly what we need?

          There is a thought-provoking Brookings piece (from another source) here worth considering that may interest you (they’re not all barking mad these think-tank types!) http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2014/11/06-nato-no-promise-enlarge-gorbachev-pifer

  10. lol mundell father of the euro…..goldman sachs plan to destroy a competitor works well….and the dumb germans bought it hahaha….germany should exit the euro and leave those loser alone with their mess….but the weaker the euro the more germany’s exports will raise the result will be a german industrial giant eating up all their neighbours….how long will it take that they buy russia? A late ww2 victory without tanks? I think the Euro is a far better weapon…

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