Recent Protests in Greece

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Recent Protests in Greece

Not sure if any of you are following this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/29/masked-protesters-clash-w_n_629...

Thought it may be interesting to discuss in light of g20 protests.

I apologise in advance to the moderators if there is a thread on this already, or if I misplaced this forum topic.

 

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

From Syntagma Square, Athens #europeanrevolution

chris pinchen

30th May 2011

Hello from Greece,

This is the fifth day and the crowd is increasing in Syntagma square in Athens. There must have been more than 30.000 people this evening and there are still there more than 10.000 at 11.30 pm (today). As a genuine gathering of the multitude there are not prevailing slogans apart from “thefts” and “take a helicopter and leave this place” (it refers to what has happened in Argentina). Flags of Argentina can be also seen among the demonstrators. In the front a banner says in Spanish “we are desperate, we woke-up. What time is it? Its time for them to leave”. People are dancing shouting or just hanging around talking to each other. A “general assembly” is held at late hours in the square, where people can take the microphone, speak and say what they think freely. It’s not stopping and it will not stop although I think that maybe there will be less people the forthcoming days.

Maybe you are not aware on the details of the Greek time lines. There are enough money for the government until the 14 July and they desperately need the next dose of the IMF and the EU to keep the country running. EU governments are blackmailing, asking for a national consensus of at least the governing socialist party and the conservative right party, but the conservatives do not accept. They are asking for a huge privatization plan which practically spans all public enterprises including water companies and land. The latter is something quite difficult to be accepted by the public opinion......

http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/from-syntagma-square-athens-europeanrevolu...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greek protesters seize finance ministry

Fri Jun 3, 2011 11:36AM

Greek protesters have taken over the finance ministry building in Athens as the country agreed with its European partners to introduce new austerity measures in return for a new bailout package.

Protesters belonging to the left-wing The All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) union unfolded a giant banner from the roof of the finance ministry building on the central Syntagma square, calling for a nationwide strike against the new austerity measures that the government agreed to take in return for the new bailout package.

"From dawn today forces of PAME have symbolically occupied the finance ministry, calling on workers to rise, organize their struggle and prevent the government's barbarous and anti-popular measures from passing," the front said, AFP reported.

Angry citizens in the country have now, for a tenth consecutive day, held anti-government demonstrations against the austerity measures....

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/183025.html

 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

I love the coverage on the CBC.

Cool

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Direct democracy Demonstrations in Greece

by Marta Soler and Carlos Robles

Global Research, June 5, 2011

During the day, one can see several hundred working class demonstrators against the cutbacks at the postal service near Syntagma Square (the parliament), with the fear that the government will privatize it and sell it to a German company which will lay off large numbers of postal workers (perhaps over 50%). At 6 o’clock in Syntagma Square, a crowd starts to gather under a banner which says "no to apathy – direct democracy (amesi demokratia)." It is the ninth day of such gatherings and discussions. There is an open mike for speeches and proposals. By 8, some 50,000 people have gathered (I am with some friends near the speaker on the edge of the people seated, the crowd surges around, and up the high steps to the road that separates the Parliament and may extend over in front of it. The woman who moderates (one of several moderators) calls for a continuation of a discussion proposed the previous night (that meeting ended at 4 AM), and takes hands for 20 speakers (eventually there is a vote which approves hearing from all of them before continuing).

Most of the crowd is young, the people in their twenties. The European Union, to which the Greek government is obsequious, even though headed by a Socialist (George Papandreou, who is reputed - a rarity among leading Socialists - an honest man), has demanded that the Greek parliament vote on June 15 on a maximum salary for every young worker before she reaches the age of 25: five hundred – 500 - euros a month. This is a poverty, near starvation wage for a young Athenian (barely enough to pay rent – perhaps if 4 people share an apartment - let alone eat).

Quote:

Today (Sunday, the twelfth day of the demonstrations) there is to be a huge demonstation in Syntagma; perhaps a million people are expected. There are calls out for simultaneous demonstrations in European capitals, in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Berlin…But the Greek one will be the biggest. A friend – a teacher – and his wife plan specially to come from Argos (and there will be a large presence from outside Athens). The sentiment for change – and against the European Union/government - is fierce, increasing in waves.

There is no obvious leadership for this revolution. The teacher along with other intellectuals, lawyers and some former government officials is proposing a constitutional change, a fourth body, a parliament of the citizens, to meet yearly (selected by lot, so as to be not under the influence of the parties). This is an old institution, described initially by Aristotle (in the Constitution of Athens). In it, the parliamentary leader would have to explain how his policies are consistent with the promises of his campaign and benefit the people, achieve a common good. If the government has become too corrupt (as is now particularly the case), the leader and other officials can be subjected to a censure, required not to seek an additional term, and even brought to trial. My guess from listening to the discussion in Syntagma is that this would be a popular suggestion....

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25129

 

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Published on Sunday, June 5, 2011 by Agence France-Presse 

Raging Greeks Stage Biggest Anti-Austerity Protest Yet
Police: Over 50,000 Greek protesters assemble in the capital

by Will Vassilopoulos

 

ATHENS — Thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens late Sunday on the 12th consecutive day of protests against the government's draconian austerity measures.

Over 50,000 people, according to police estimates, thronged the capital's central Syntagma square for a peaceful demonstration responding to calls for gatherings across Europe. Some 3,000 people also gathered in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki, according to the police.

"Thieves, thieves," the crowd chanted waiving Greek flags, but also flags from Spain, Portugal, Tunisia and Argentina.

"You got the disease we got the solution. Revolution," one banner proclaimed.

Sunday's gathering appeared to be the largest since protests began over a week ago.

The non-political, non-ideological demonstrations are modeled by a similar mobilization in Spain led by a group calling themselves 'the indignants'.

"There is hope if demonstrations like this make a difference. If political parties get involved, then no," 26-year-old Maro told AFP.....

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/06/05-6

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greece the new Argentina: John Holloway on the desperate excitement in Athens

Michel Bauwens

8th June 2011

Stirring speech by John Holloway on the absurdity of destroying populations to pay speculative bondholders:

http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/greece-the-new-argentina-john-holloway-on-...

Doug

Almost literally. The best (well, least destructive) path for Greece is to negotiate a default and exit the Euro, at least temporarily.

Jacob Richter

Keep an eye or two on the People's Assemblies that have been formed.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Are the Greek protests finally starting to pay off?

by Jérôme E. Roos on June 7. 2011

Facing a popular uprising and a revolt within his own party, Prime Minister Papandreou feels forced to consider a referendum on austerity measures.

Signs are emerging from Greece that the roar of the ‘indignants’, who have taken to Parliament every single day for the past two weeks, attracting hundreds of thousands of protesters last Sunday, may finally be breaching through the seemingly impenetrable halls of power.

Last night, after a seven-hour meeting with his Cabinet, Prime Minister Papandreou declared that he was “prepared for the great changes that we are putting forward, to use even the institution of a referendum, for the broadest possible consent or opinion.”

Greece is currently negotiating a second round of draconian austerity measures in return for a second ‘bailout’ by the European Union. But despite a near-complete media black-out on the protests, the recent outbreak of mass anti-austerity protests seems to have shell-shocked the political class.

As Alastair Newton put it for Bloomberg the other day, “the current wave of protests across Greece isn’t like the familiar anarchic ones. They look and feel more like Argentina a decade ago. That does not bode well for the political establishment as a whole.”.

Quote:Furthermore, as the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad observed, over 80 percent of the Greek population is said to be opposed to the austerity measures. “Therefore, there is a great chance that the referendum would lead to a ‘no’ against the cuts. As a result, it’s unclear whether there will actually be a referendum at all.”

http://roarmag.org/2011/06/greece-papandreou-referendum-austerity-protests/

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..in post #5 the article uses police police numbers of 50,000 people showing up at the square. the article i now post claims the number was closer to 500,000 people. judge for yourselves which to believe.

Hundreds of thousands of ‘indignants’ protest in Athens

by Jérôme E. Roos June 6, 2011

Last night saw the largest demonstration of ‘indignant’ Greeks so far, with some reporting as many as 500.000 protesters on a completely packed Syntagma square.

In the ongoing Greek drama, yesterday potentially marked a watershed. On the weekend after the Papandreou government agreed to a second round of tax increases, draconian austerity measures and an unprecedented fire-sale of state assets, the Greek ‘indignant‘ movement swelled to its largest numbers yet.

Hundreds of thousands of outraged Greeks were reported to have converged upon a packed Constitution square. The indignants, who were inspired by the Spanish protests and who consistently refuse to be associated with any political party, labor union or ideological movement, have now been protesting against the EU/IMF-imposed austerity measures and a corrupted and out-of-touch political elite for 13 consecutive days.

Some activists, including the ‘Indignants at Syntagma‘ Facebook group that initiated the protests, claimed that over half a million people were present at the mass demonstration. The square was literally bursting with people as even its access roads entirely filled up. Hundreds, if not thousands of protesters are reported to be camped out in front of Parliament, as the movement is staging another major protest for tonight (watch three different live streams here!).

http://roarmag.org/2011/06/anti-austerity-protest-athens-indignants-greece/

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greek state-run workers stage walkout

Thu Jun 9, 2011 6:20PM

A postal worker blows an old-style postman's horn during a protest march against the Greek government's austerity measures and privatization plans, in Athens on Thursday, June 9, 2011.

Greek workers have walked out of the job to protest the government's harsh austerity measures and privatization plan, as the country struggles to meet the terms of its international bailout.

Ahead of the cabinet meeting, strikers marched through central Athens, AP reported on Thursday.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is expected to approve harsher austerity measures for 2011-2015.

The 24-hour general strike has paralyzed ports, post offices, banks, transportation and the media.

The plan includes cuts and tax hikes this year, tougher austerity measures over the next few years and a 50-billion-euro privatization program.

Meanwhile, a broader strike is scheduled for June 15.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/183963.html

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The Battle against Neoliberalism: Massive Popular Uprising in Greece

by Yorgos Mitralias

June 11, 2011

Yorgos Mitralias is founding member of the Greek Committee Against the Debt, which is affiliated to the international network of CADTM (www.cadtm.org ). See the web site of the Greek Committee : http://www.contra-xreos.gr/

Hundreds of thousands of Greek ‘Indignés’ (‘Outraged’) walk out to wage war against their neoliberal persecutors

Two weeks after it started the Greek movement of ‘outraged’ people has the main squares in all cities overflowing with crowds that shout their anger, and makes the Papandreou government and its local and international supporters tremble. It is now more than just a protest movement or even a massive mobilization against austerity measures. It has turned into a genuine popular uprising that is sweeping over the country. An uprising that makes it know at large its refusal to pay for ‘their crisis’ or ‘their debt’ while vomiting the two big neoliberal parties, if not the whole political world in complete disarray.

How many were there on Syntagma square (Constitution square) in the centre of Athens, just in front of the Parliament building on Sunday 5 June 2011? Difficult to say since one of the characteristic features of such popular gatherings is that there is no key event (speech or concert) and that people come and go. But according to people in charge of the Athens underground, who know how to assess the numbers of passengers, there were at least 250,000 people converging on Syntagma on that memorable night! Actually several hundreds of thousands of people if we add the ‘historic’ gatherings that took place on the main squares of other Greek cities (see map).

At this juncture we should however raise the question: how can such a mass movement that is shaking the Greek government (in which the EU has a particular interest) not be mentioned at all in Western medias? For these first twelve days there was virtually not a word, not an image of those unprecedented crowds shouting their anger against the IMF, the European Commission, the ‘Troika’ (IMF, European Commission, and European Central Bank), and against Frau Merkel and the international neoliberal leaders. Nothing. Except occasionally a few lines about ‘hundreds of demonstrators’ in the streets of Athens, after a call by the Greek trade unions. This testifies to a strange predilection for scrawny demos of TU bureaucrats while a few hundred yards further huge crowds were demonstrating late into the night for days and weeks on end.

This is indeed a new form of censorship. A well-organized political censorship motivated by the fear this Greek movement might contaminate the rest of Europe! Confronted as we are with this new weapon used by the Holy Alliance of modern times, we have to respond together both to expose this scandal and to find ways of circumventing such prohibition to inform public opinions, through developing communication among social movements throughout Europe and at once creating and reinforcing our own alternative media…

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25219

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

How two banksters led Europe to ruin

by Jérôme E. Roos on

For over a year, Deutsche Bank and the ECB made us believe that a Greek default would be disastrous for Europe. They were lying through their teeth.

In Frankfurt, two of Europe’s most powerful men sit virtually across the street from one another in the high-rise headquarters of two of the continent’s most important institutions. No one elected these men to rule over us. No one voted for their institutions to dictate our economic policy. Yet they do.

Meet Jean-Claude Trichet and Josef Ackermann. The former is the departing head of the European Central Bank and was recently ranked one of the five most powerful people in the world by Newsweek. The latter is the head of the largest private bank in the eurozone, Deutsche Bank, and was just named the “most powerful banker in Europe” by the New York Times. Neither was elected to run the economy. Yet, together, they do.

In fact, both men have been instrumental in shaping the EU policy response to the crippling debt crisis that continues to haunt the eurozone. As the Times reported in a powerful feature today, Mr. Ackermann “is at the center of more concentric circles of power than any other banker on the continent.” Indeed: At the same time, the NYT notes, Ackermann is “possibly the most dangerous” banker in Europe too. After all, “it is no secret where Mr. Ackermann’s financial allegiances lie: with the banks.” For example, Ackermann “has insisted that providing some sort of debt relief for Greece would be a huge mistake.”...

http://roarmag.org/2011/06/deutsche-bank-ecb-greek-debt-crisis/

 

Sven Sven's picture

epaulo13 wrote:

Greek workers have walked out of the job to protest the government's harsh austerity measures and privatization plan, as the country struggles to meet the terms of its international bailout.

If the Greek workers are successful in fighting the austerity plans, then no one will lend the Greeks any money....and then government spending will have to be cut because their deficit spending will not be able to continue.  So, one way or another, they're pretty much fucked.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

hello sven

..your scenario is speculation. neither of us can know the outcome. in spite of that i would be pleased to share a thought or two.

..i totally trust that greek workers are very much in tune to what is in their own interests. in the end if somehow they do manage to screw things up for themselves it will be of their own making. and not the making of imperialists, bankers, ponzi schemers and manipulators all trying to fleece greece for all it's worth. revolt is what i would choose if i lived in greece and revolt is what i have chosen to do here on many occasions. another point is before discussing debt payment i would want to have a through understanding of  the debt creation.    

..what i mostly want to do now though is to see how this unfolds. it has moved beyond debt payment and is spreading across europe. i find this very exciting and don't mind saying that i have been waiting for it a long time.  a breath of fresh air.

Sven Sven's picture

epaulo13, here's what I'm thinking: The Greeks are spending much more money that their government is taking in...and they are able to do that because others have been willing to loan the Greeks money to bridge the gap caused by their deficit spending.

So, if they won't cut spending drastically voluntarily through austerity measures, they will be forced into austerity anyway because no one is going to lend them any money (other than at exhorbitant interest rates).  So, either way, they are going to end up in pretty much the same place.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i understood that from your first post. i disagree with your blanket statement and i've told you why. just to add though..what you say is not what is happening in iceland today and that is not what happened in argentina when both these countries defaulted.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..sven my apologies if my #17 reply came off a bit rude. i never meant it to be. i rushed my response and it works out better if i don't do that. i wasn't as clear as i thought i was in #15

Roscoe

Sven wrote:

epaulo13 wrote:

Greek workers have walked out of the job to protest the government's harsh austerity measures and privatization plan, as the country struggles to meet the terms of its international bailout.

If the Greek workers are successful in fighting the austerity plans, then no one will lend the Greeks any money....and then government spending will have to be cut because their deficit spending will not be able to continue.  So, one way or another, they're pretty much fucked.

Yes thats true but it does not portray the entire sad story. If Greek austerity is not capable of avoiding default, either because the unions succeed in countering asset sales or no furthur bailout funds are advanced, the concern for the EU is the fact that the European Central Bank is in line to take the largest haircut.

The old adage that: "When one owes a bank a bit of money, the debtor stays awake at night while when one owes a bank a lot of money it is the banker who stays awake at night" is very true. The EU cannot allow Greece to default because the whole of the EU will share in the implosion.

In order to recover, Greece must increase the size of its tax-paying private sector by making redundant tax absorbing entities that should be publicly owned. Greece needs to decrease entitlements and increase collection on tax avoiders.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greek government announces new cuts amid mass opposition
By Stefan Steinberg and Alex Lantier
13 June 2011

On Friday the government of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a new round of deep cuts in spending and social programs to qualify for loans from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Greek government is struggling to pay back its debts, as international banks refuse further loans.

The plans aim to cut €6.5 billion in spending in 2011, and a further €22 billion from 2012 to 2015. The government is also planning €50 billion in privatizations. Public firms and assets slated for full or partial sale include: Hellenic Postbank, the ports of Piraeus (near Athens) and Thessaloniki, Hellenic Telecom (OTE), the Athens and Thessaloniki water companies, oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum, electricity utility PPC, and various ports, airports, highways, and mining rights.

These measures are nearly twice the size of cuts earlier agreed to by international authorities and the Greek government. These earlier measures have already had a catastrophic effect on the Greek economy. Unemployment has surged to over 16 percent, while the economy contracted 5.5 percent in the first quarter of the year.

The privatizations and the cuts—a combination of property and consumption tax increases and cuts in public spending and social services—entail forcing the working class in Greece to submit to a naked dictatorship of Greek and international capital. They amount to an unprecedented transfer of social wealth into the hands of the financial aristocracy....

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jun2011/gree-j13.shtml

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

How Financial Oligarchy Replaces Democracy

June 6, 2011

By Michael Hudson

Will Greece Let EU Central Bankers Run Riot Over Sovereignty?

Quote:

The Greek budget crisis in perspective

A fiscal legacy of the colonels’ 1967-74 junta was tax evasion by the well to do. The “business-friendly” parties that followed were reluctant to tax the wealthy. A 2010 report stated that nearly a third of Greek income was undeclared, with “fewer than 15,000 Greeks declar[ing] incomes of over €100,000, despite tens of thousands living in opulent wealth on the outskirts of the capital. A new drive by the Socialists to track down swimming pool owners by deploying Google Earth was met with a virulent response as Greeks invested in fake grass, camouflage and asphalt to hide the tax liabilities from the spies in space.” (Helena Smith, “The Greek spirit of resistance turns its guns on the IMF,” The Observer)

As a result of the military dictatorship depressing public spending below the European norm, infrastructure needed to be rebuilt – and this required budget deficits. The only way to avoid running them would have been to make the rich pay the taxes they were supposed to. But squeezing public spending to the level that wealthy Greeks were willing to pay in taxes did not seem politically feasible. (Since the 1980s almost no country has enacted Progressive Era tax policies.) The 3 per cent Maastricht limit on budget deficits refused to count capital spending by government as capital formation, on the ideological assumption that all government spending is deadweight waste and only private investment is productive.

The path of least resistance was to engage in fiscal deception. Wall Street bankers helped the “conservative” (that is, fiscally regressive and financially profligate) parties conceal the extent of the public debt with the kind of junk accounting that financial engineers had pioneered for Enron. And as usual when financial deception in search of fees and profits is concerned, Goldman Sachs was in the middle. In February 2010, the German magazine Der Spiegel exposed how the firm had helped Greece conceal the rise in public debt, by mortgaging assets in a convoluted derivatives deal – legal but with the covert intent of circumventing the Maastricht limitation on deficits. “Eurostat’s reporting rules don’t comprehensively record transactions involving financial derivatives,” so Greece’s obligation appeared as a cross-currency swap rather than as a debt. The government used off-balance-sheet entities and derivatives similar to what Icelandic and Irish banks later would use to indulge in fictitious debt disappearance and an illusion of financial solvency.

The reality, of course, was a virtual debt. The government was obligated to pay Wall Street billions of euros out of future airport landing fees and the national lottery as “the so-called cross currency swaps … mature, and swell the country’s already bloated deficit.” (Beat Balzli, “How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt,” Der Spiegel). The report adds: “One time, gigantic military expenditures were left out, and another time billions in hospital debt.”...

http://michael-hudson.com/2011/06/how-financial-oligarchy-replaces-democ...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greece general strike prompts violent clashes in Athens

Petrol bombs thrown as police protect parliamentary vote on austerity cuts needed for IMF and EU bailout

Wednesday 15 June 2011 13.36 BST

Link to this video

Hooded youths on the fringes of a major anti-austerity protest in Athens have thrown rocks and firebombs in violent clashes with police at the Greek parliament.

At a rally of more than 20,000 in Syntagma Square, police responded with teargas to push the protesters away from barricades erected to protect the parliament building where the government is seeking support for new cutbacks required to avoid a debt default.

Other demonstrators who had been part of the previously peaceful gathering also clashed with the violent groups of hooded youths, trying to eject them from their rally.

The protests were part of a 24-hour general strike against the cutbacks, which the country must pass to continue receiving funding from a €110bn (£95bn) international bailout that is preventing Greece from defaulting on its debts.

Quote: But the latest austerity drive has brought many people on to the streets for the first time.

"What can we do? We have to fight, for our children and for us," said Dimitra Nteli, a nurse at a state hospital who was at the protest with her daughter. "After 25 years of work I earn €1,100 a month. Now that will drop to €900. How can we live on that?"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/15/greece-general-strike-parlia...

 

Sven Sven's picture

I really hope the protesters succeed, simply because it would be interesting to see the consequences of foregoing the austerity measures.

Snert Snert's picture

Here's what I don't quite get.  When I'm short of money, austerity measures make perfect sense.  If I don't have enough for rent, I shouldn't be buying prime rib.

So it would seem reasonable that a country deep in debt should consider something of the same.  And yet I've also heard claims that austerity measures actually make it difficult for a country to grow its economy back to being viable.  And yet austerity measures are demanded all the same.

Now I should say at this point that I don't really put much stock in silliness like "the IMF just wants to punish the Greeks" or "Foreign investors would happily lose money if they can make the Greek people suffer!" -- sorry, but none of that makes sense.  Bankers want money.  So why would the IMF, or countries like Germany, insist on austerity measures if those are actually counterproductive to the goal of financial viability and getting out of debt?  Something's missing here.

Is it that some austerity curtails growth and some doesn't?  Is it that growth plateaus or dips initially, then picks up?

Slumberjack

I think that any population which has been unwittingly led by their representatives into the larcenous Ponzi scheme and extortion racket known as the global financial system, are well within their rights to arrange a general insurrection to deal with the matter. Austerity upon the people forms only one part of the overall poisonous prescription that the Greeks are expected to swallow. Following closely on the heels of this is a restructuring process consisting of wholesale privatization of public infrastructure and properties, which amounts to a fire sale with practically everything imaginable on the block, including a national heritage spanning several millennia. The Greeks are simply demonstrating their unwillingness to be led into serfdom.  Let the rich take a haircut appears to be the popular sentiment.  Argentina somehow managed to survive a similar trial by fire.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Snert wrote:

Here's what I don't quite get.  When I'm short of money, austerity measures make perfect sense.  If I don't have enough for rent, I shouldn't be buying prime rib.

Austerity programs are more akin to being told you have to sell your car when you live 30 kms from your work and there is no public transportation. No more car luxury item for you.  Oops no more job either. But it also depends on where you start doesn't it.  If you tell marginalized people that what little they have is going to now be less that is cutting out the hamburger not the steak.

The people of Europe need to just tell the bankers to go to hell.  Like Iceland they need to say we will not pay off the debts incurred by others.  If you want the money then go after the rich families that were at the casino table when the bank broke them.  Once the international bankers have ceased all the wealth and assets of those families then maybe the regular folks might feel inclined to pony up something also.

Its not like the Greek public sector workers were evading taxes.  Their taxes come right of their pay cheques. I doubt if many teachers had to buy camouflage to hide the expensive pools in their back yards.  

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Slumberjack wrote:

The Greeks are simply demonstrating their unwillingness to be led into serfdom.  Let the rich take a haircut appears to be the popular sentiment.  Argentina somehow managed to survive a similar trial by fire.

Great point. Austerity measures and restructuring (fire sale is far more accurate) only provides economic relief to the wealthiest nationals and foreign investors. Why should workers sacrafice so much for so very little?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Snert wrote:

Here's what I don't quite get.  When I'm short of money, austerity measures make perfect sense.  If I don't have enough for rent, I shouldn't be buying prime rib.

..a crucial point is how the debt was acquired. post #21 pretty well sums it up. i suggest that this debt is closer to onerous debt (debt accrued under dictatorships to supply the military with weapons) than the comparison you made.

 

Sven Sven's picture

laine lowe wrote:

Great point. Austerity measures and restructuring (fire sale is far more accurate) only provides economic relief to the wealthiest nationals and foreign investors. Why should workers sacrafice so much for so very little?

I think part of it is this: The Greeks need people (banks, individuals, etc.) to buy Greek bonds in order for the Greek government to continue to spend more money than it takes in (i.e., to fund the ongoing Greek deficits).  So, even if the Greeks say that they are going to default on outstanding debt, they will still need to continue to borrow money in order to fund those ongoing deficits.  And, this is the argument they will need to make:  "Yeah, we defaulted on those debts but we promise (scouts' honor!!), if you loan us more money, we won't default on those new loans!"

Is anyone here buying Greek bonds nowadays?  Will anyone here start buying post-default Greek bonds if Greece defaults on its current debts?

 

Roscoe

Snert wrote:

Here's what I don't quite get.  When I'm short of money, austerity measures make perfect sense.  If I don't have enough for rent, I shouldn't be buying prime rib.

So it would seem reasonable that a country deep in debt should consider something of the same.  And yet I've also heard claims that austerity measures actually make it difficult for a country to grow its economy back to being viable.  And yet austerity measures are demanded all the same.

Now I should say at this point that I don't really put much stock in silliness like "the IMF just wants to punish the Greeks" or "Foreign investors would happily lose money if they can make the Greek people suffer!" -- sorry, but none of that makes sense.  Bankers want money.  So why would the IMF, or countries like Germany, insist on austerity measures if those are actually counterproductive to the goal of financial viability and getting out of debt?  Something's missing here.

Is it that some austerity curtails growth and some doesn't?  Is it that growth plateaus or dips initially, then picks up?

Whats missing is that while all the players are responsible for the debt, the ECB and IMF are only interested in protecting the European banks that hold Greek debt while the Germans and Dutch want the banks to share in the pain via a scheduled default. ( A scheduled default meaning merely a longer maturity date while an actual default is an inability to repay by the maturity date)

As it stands, the ECB wants to force average Greeks into virtual slavery in order to avoid having wealthy bondholders take a loss on Greek bonds while the Germans are refusing to help with additional bailout funds. The German people see no reason to suffer for the sake of banksters and wealthy bondholders and neither do the Greek people.

Its business as usual at the ECB and IMF - privatise profit and socialise risk. I hope the Germans stand their ground and refuse to contribute - let the Greeks default and then they can rebuild and offer the Greek people some hope for the future. 

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Roscoe wrote:

Its business as usual at the ECB and IMF - privatise profit and socialise risk. I hope the Germans stand their ground and refuse to contribute - let the Greeks default and then they can rebuild and offer the Greek people some hope for the future. 

Seems like a great idea to me.

Sven Sven's picture

Roscoe wrote:

I hope the Germans stand their ground and refuse to contribute - let the Greeks default and then they can rebuild and offer the Greek people some hope for the future. 

Rebuild...with what money?  Where will the money come from to fund the massive Greek deficits?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..if the greek workers can force their government to alter this path much becomes possible. things that would never seem attainable or rational when looking at it from inside the current global economic box become fair game.

..just look at what is occurring in iceland..today! check out this link.

http://roarmag.org/2011/06/iceland-crowdsources-constitution-investors-s...

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I was wondering about Iceland. Thanks epaulo. That is incredibly inspiring. I was in Reykjavik very briefly last summer and I was amazed at how beautiful and vibrant the city was. You would think after the economic meltdown it would be all doom and gloom but I found no evidence of that.

doodle21

Sven wrote:

Roscoe wrote:

I hope the Germans stand their ground and refuse to contribute - let the Greeks default and then they can rebuild and offer the Greek people some hope for the future. 

Rebuild...with what money?  Where will the money come from to fund the massive Greek deficits?

They won't have any money and they will be poorer. Greek citizens will have to learn to live on the wealth generated by their own economies without the extra benefit of borrowed money.

Default will more or less shut the Greeks out of the international bond market. So no extra money. It will be the end of the outrageous benefits this poor country offered its citizens. Greeks will also have to come to grips with tax avoidance, corruption and a bloated public sector.

BUT...default is the way to go. Greece is to far gone to repay the debts owed. Selling assets and austerity measures will not be enough to pay back the debt. Those measures will almost certainly mean lifetime(s) of misery for the Greeks. There's nothing but pain for the Greek citizens under austerity measures.

Greece should declare default. They will be poorer, and probably for a long time. Avoiding trying to pay back loans they can never pay back and keeping national assets at least gives them some hope for the future.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

doodle

delete original. forgive me i once again responded to quickly. i misread your post and reacted. i'm sorry for that. i promise to do better.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Quote: George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, has in a televised address said he will form a new government on Thursday and seek a vote of confidence from his PASOK parliamentary group.

His announcement on Wednesday came shortly after the opposition turned down his offer to stand down to facilitate the formation of a unity government for passing tough austerity measures.

"I will continue on the same course. This is the road of duty, together with PASOK's parliamentary group, its
members, and the Greek people," Papandreou said.

"Tomorrow I will form a new government, and then I will ask for a vote of confidence," he said.

He had earlier said the proposed new unity government must support the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, and should not seek to overhaul it.

But opposition conservatives insisted a unity government was only possible if the bailout was renegotiated. Greek opposition leader Antonis Samaras called for early elections after talks to form the unity government failed.

"It is clear that the only one who can deliver a solution now is the Greek people," Samaras said in a televised statement on Wednesday.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/06/201161572136449774.html

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

laine lowe wrote:

I was wondering about Iceland. Thanks epaulo. That is incredibly inspiring. I was in Reykjavik very briefly last summer and I was amazed at how beautiful and vibrant the city was. You would think after the economic meltdown it would be all doom and gloom but I found no evidence of that.

..what brought you to iceland?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Quote: Greece's 18-month sovereign debt crisis brought the government to the brink of collapse as public fury over savage austerity measures erupted in pitched battles with riot police on the streets of Athens.

The escalation of the Greek crisis had instant European and global impact, sending world stocks tumbling and exposing European Union paralysis over whether and how to launch a second attempt in a year to save Greece from insolvency.

Quote: George Papandreou, the socialist prime minister, announced he would seek a vote of confidence on a new government after offering to resign and broker a new national unity coalition with opposition conservatives.

He admitted failure after intense but fruitless negotiations with the conservative New Democracy party aimed at engineering a consensus behind the massive public spending cuts and wholesale privatisation programme – moves deemed necessary to secure a second bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The opposition called for Papandreou's resignation and a renegotiation of the bailout terms with the EU, the European Central Bank, and the IMF as the price for its assent to a national coalition.

Earlier, riot police clashed with tens of thousands of demonstrators protesting in the capital against the radical austerity measures being imposed to try to secure a new bailout expected to amount to around €100bn.

Following the fall of the Irish and Portuguese governments in recent months after driving their countries into bankruptcy, it appeared that the eurozone's worst crisis was claiming another scalp. Despite the heightening sense of urgency, EU governments, the ECB, and the European Commission remained gridlocked over how to respond to the debt emergency, which pushed Greece closer to sovereign default and Europe towards a fresh banking crisis.

The ECB warned that a Greek default could spark "contagion" across Europe, causing Greek banks to implode and inflicting major damage on the big banks in France and Germany.

"It looks like a week of chaos," said a European official in Brussels. An emergency meeting of the 17 eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday failed to bridge the differences over how to construct a second bailout for Greece, senior EU diplomats said. In May last year the EU and the IMF put together a €110bn bailout for Greece, the first in a single currency country. That experiment has failed. Ireland and Portugal have since also needed to be rescued from national insolvency.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/15/europe-warned-greece-financi...

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The democracy that is born in the European occupied squares

Michel Bauwens 16th June 2011

“There may be no better proof of the rupture that is brought about by the “movement of the squares” other than its open, participatory, directly democratic way of organising and functioning. Within a single week it has given birth to a political culture of a different type, one that literally overcomes all known models of organising and struggle to date.

Even if the issue of its procedures is incomplete, it comes up again and again and comprises the most important legacy already left to the political and social life of the country. This does not mean there are no issues with disorganisation, inefficiency, delays. Taking into account however the explosive rhythm of its development, the lack of previous experience on the side of those who created it, along with the need to compile, step by step, heterogeneous and different opinions of all participants through open procedures, all this is to be expected. Even if time-consuming, its procedures are flexible and are altered by the day; they are self-criticised, adjusted according to mistakes, comments and suggestions deriving from them being tested in practice.....

Quote: The people’s assembly

The daily people’s assembly of Syntagma square (at 9 pm), like the corresponding ones in other cities, is the only one that holds the right to decision-making. The topics in each popular assembly are defined according to discussion, the demands and the proposals submitted in previous assemblies.
These are recorded in minutes that are published on-line. Suggestions are also collected, both on-line and physically in person and these are all grouped together in the corresponding topical groups and return in the form of specific proposals to the popular assembly for its consultation and approval.
The final resolutions are shaped during the assembly according to the comments of the speakers and are put up for approval, always before midnight, in order not to exclude those who work and those who have to use public transportation to return to their neighbourhoods.....

Quote: The working groups

At the moment, there are more than 15 working groups and 12 thematic ones. The working groups comprise the cornerstone of life at the square and their contribution so far has been priceless. Not only because they offer practical solutions and because so far they have responded, despite many problems and delays, to the ever-increasing needs for the shaping, the functionality and the procedures at the square, but most importantly because these groups themselves comprise the spirit of contribution of the people, their will to take life into their own hands and the capacities of their self-organising, without experts and capital, based on their own capacities. Thousands have joined up the group lists and this availability is the driving force of the movement even though it has not been utilised in the most effective of ways so far, partly due to the movement’s swift growing...

Quote: The thematic assemblies

The functioning of the thematic assemblies was born from the need and demand of the people, as expressed through the open channels of the assembly and the websites (real-democracy, facebook etc.) to have processes that will shape positions on the burning issues, on all those reasons that brought people to the streets and to the squares. They also serve the need for the shaping of appropriate conditions for a more extensive discussion of particular issues before their approval—something that the central popular assembly cannot, as a procedure, cater for. And so thematic groups have been formed for the crisis, for employment and the unemployed, education and students, health and insurance, environment, technology, solidarity, people with special needs, justice and legal issues, consultation of the debt. These assemblies meet daily between 7 and 9 pm and hundreds of people participate in some. Making their functioning substantial will largely aid and feed the discussion and topics covered in the main popular assembly, along with the attempt to articulate some concrete discourse for the overturning of the current system and the country’s escape from the crisis according to the will of the people.”

http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/the-democracy-that-is-born-in-the-european...

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Re: #38, stopover on a cheap flight on an Icelandic air carrier. I would love to go back and spend more time there.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

In Greece, days of unrest and hope

by Jérôme E. Roos on

Quote: This movement is based on the collective experiences of struggle in the past year, such as the December 2008 youth explosion, the massive general strikes in the Spring of 2010, the big strikes in public transport in the Winter 2010-2011, the heroic struggle of the people of Keratea, a small town in the greater Attica region that for months fought with riot police, successfully opposing plans for an environmentally disastrous landfill in their vicinity. At same time people with no prior experience of struggle come forward in these protests, which are not simple imitations of the 15-M protests in Spain, but a much more widespread form of protest with deeper roots in Greek society.

This composition of the movement is an important change with past struggles because it makes even more evident the open crisis of representation and legitimacy that not only the PASOK government but also the whole political scene is facing. The social crisis, which the austerity program has brought along, is now turning into a political crisis. We have reached a point of rupture in what concerns the balance of forces. The successive waves of austerity measures that totally undermine decent living standards, the rise of unemployment and especially youth unemployment, the announcement of a complete pillage of state assets through a massive privatization program, and the general apprehension that there is no way out of the vicious circle of debt, austerity and deep recession, have alienated the vast majority of the population from PASOK and the political system in general. These mass rallies, with their openness and the fact that they look different than traditional union or party meetings, have functioned as an outlet for this anger and frustration. The people refuse to be governed in such a manner and the government is unable to govern them. This textbook definition of political crisis is fully manifest in Greece.

The youth has played an important role in the development of this movement, but it is not a youth movement. Youths have been instrumental in organizing the assemblies, in using social media such as facebook, in spreading the word, in volunteering for the organization of the rallies, but the rallies and the assemblies are a meeting point of all generations.

Although not very articulate in terms of traditional political programs, these protests are deeply democratic, radical and profoundly anti-systemic. They represent a strong desire for political change, the demand for safe employment, dignity for labour, authentic democracy, and popular sovereignty against the attempt to implement measures dictated by the EU, the IMF and the ECB. They reject the current attempt for an extreme case of neoliberal social engineering that the Greek government and the EU-IMF-ECB ‘Troika’ has been trying to implement, perhaps the most aggressive case of attack on social rights that a European country has experienced since the ‘shock therapies’ in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. Even the mass use of Greek flags in the rallies, a practice that some segments of the Left misread as ‘nationalism’, is an expression of the need for popular sovereignty, social cohesion and collective social dignity....

http://roarmag.org/2011/06/in-greece-days-of-unrest-and-hope/

 

Roscoe

doodle21 wrote:

Sven wrote:

Roscoe wrote:

I hope the Germans stand their ground and refuse to contribute - let the Greeks default and then they can rebuild and offer the Greek people some hope for the future. 

Rebuild...with what money?  Where will the money come from to fund the massive Greek deficits?

They won't have any money and they will be poorer. Greek citizens will have to learn to live on the wealth generated by their own economies without the extra benefit of borrowed money.

Default will more or less shut the Greeks out of the international bond market. So no extra money. It will be the end of the outrageous benefits this poor country offered its citizens. Greeks will also have to come to grips with tax avoidance, corruption and a bloated public sector.

BUT...default is the way to go. Greece is to far gone to repay the debts owed. Selling assets and austerity measures will not be enough to pay back the debt. Those measures will almost certainly mean lifetime(s) of misery for the Greeks. There's nothing but pain for the Greek citizens under austerity measures.

Greece should declare default. They will be poorer, and probably for a long time. Avoiding trying to pay back loans they can never pay back and keeping national assets at least gives them some hope for the future.

Yeah. To put it simply: "If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging!" The Greeks have the choice of either selling off state assets at fire sale prices in order to give the money to the EU banksters or, defaulting and selling state assets on their own terms to use for rebuilding along with the fiscal imperatives needed to stop the deficits.

I'm not talking about "scheduled defaults" or any of the other sleight-of-hand malarky proposed by the poohbahs because a default is a default and the consequences will e the same so, don't give the banksters anything. Defaults are like pregnancy: You either are or you are not.

If the Greeks give in to the IMF's demands for liquidation of state assets, the Greeks will simply be giving away the very building blocks they need to rebuild their economy. Tell the ECB and IMF to piss off, take the short term pain and hope to lessen the long term pain OR accept total poverty and a permanent pain from the banksters.

There is NO moral imperative for the Greek people to accept responsibility for the financial decisions of EU poohbahs colluding with banksters to lend funds to insolventnations. The banksters knew the risks - as 28% interest on Greek bonds amply demonstrates - so, why should the Greek people beggar themselves to provide the banksters with usurious returns?  The poohbahs privatise profit and then expect to socialise risk. Tell them to stuff it. The Greeks were complicit in accepting entitlements but the pain they now will experience should be all the liability they are exposed to.

NDPP

US Used Strauss-Kahn Ouster To Dictate Terms of Greek Bailout  -  by Stefan Steinberg

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jun2011/dska-j18.shtml

"...The US government immediately grasped the affair surrounding Strauss-Kahn as a 'political opportunity' to push its man, John Lipsky, into the chair of the IMF and dictate its terms for a new Greek bailout based on defending and advocating the interests of Wall Street..."

Tommy_Paine

There are tough times ahead for the Greeks either way.  Money really isn't the issue.  The issue is democracy; the issue is liberty; the issue is freedom.

Sound economic thinking would have a plan where the bondholders took responsibility for their lack of due dillegence, and swallowed the consequences of their risk taking by taking a "hair cut".  But instead they want it all; they want it carved in stone policy that every bond is honoured.

What we are left with is trying to decide if this is the point, or whether this is a pretext for stripping nations like Ireland, Greece, Portugal, etc., of their autonomy and making them vassal states and endentured people's of Europe's traditional power brokers in England and Germany.   Plan or happy accident?  Does it really matter? the outcome is the same.

So Greece faces a choice of austerity and servitude or austerity and self determination, and a return to a reality based economy.

Ya need to think about this?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Real Democracy emerging – eyewitness account from Athens

Posted on June 7, 2011 by iyeshe

Quote:

So the news coming out of these cradles of Real Democracy are by word of mouth. Maria Skordialos is now in Athens, and she sent us back the following account of her experiences in Syntagma Square:

“The evolution of consciousness is definitely on in Greece – with our Greek spirit rising in a beautiful way – yet, here in Athens surrounded by people now living in Greece from different parts of the world, (English, Germans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Africans, etc.).

I want to share with you what we experienced last night (5 June 2011) and from further conversations with a friend who is working closely with what is emerging.

There were about 500,000+ people out in the streets of central Athens – the streets from Syntagma (Constitution Square) to Omonia were filled – people of all ages and nationalities.

Syntagma Square itself was filled with people – many were walking on the roads around the square, talking, friends meeting friends, children on parents shoulders.  Walking into the square – there was loads of food being sold/offered – drinks, etc.  There is a feeling of a festival – with big banners saying – We do not owe, We are not selling and We are not paying!!

At the centre of Syntagma Square – something was happening – people were sitting on the floor in small groups – there was a microphone and a screen. A strong energy of love was present – people listening, helping each other, creating pathways in case of people needing to move – my sister Stella has a bad back – several men stood up to help her so she can sit. Suddenly – on the screen – we are connected with Barcelona – we greet them in Greek and they greet us in Spanish – a deep sense of connection emerges in us – we feel a new sense of courage that we are in this together.  A Spaniard speaks to us – tells us that they are with us – that together we can find the courage we need to make our lives our own.  We cheer and shout thank you. One of our men responds and tells Spain how we love them, thank them for being together with us, and that we know that we are creating a new Europe. The Spanish cheer back and start chanting how much they love us. We switch to Madrid – more love is poured between us – we thank each other and the screen goes blank....

http://iyeshe.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/real-democracy-emerging-eyewitnes...

Tommy_Paine

It cannot be clearer:  Those who would adhere to a policy of saving the bondholders from any loss or responsibility are as great a threat to democracy as last centuries Fascists.

The war is on.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Hara Kouki and Antonis Vradis: Grassroots Politics Flourish In Greek Turmoil

June 18th, 2011 |

By Hara Kouki and Antonis Vradis:

Quote: Explosion of opposition

In the days and weeks that followed, a series of occupations of town squares across the country’s major cities saw a huge cross-section of Greek society come out to vent anger about the deterioration of living conditions – for which they felt they were not to blame and which they could not control. The thousands of people coming together daily at Syntagma square to participate in assemblies and joint activities have demanded nothing specific, but represent something entirely different and overwhelming.

Everyone at these gathering is allowed equal time to speak, and issues range from organisational matters to resistance politics and international solidarity. Debates take place over the economy, education, and alternative commerce – and nothing is beyond proposal or dispute. People from different strands of life, political affiliations and ages are rushing to squares across the country to hear – and to be heard – without mediation, external supervision or internal force.

After the terms of the new troika agreement were published, the country’s mainstream trade unions announced a General Strike on June 15, the day when the new financial agreement was to be debated in parliament. The Open Assembly of Syntagma called a day of action with parliament’s grounds.

On both sides, the dice had been rolled.

It is difficult to predict the long-term legacy of the June 15 events, but it is already evident that what happened will hold serious significance for some time to come. In Athens, not only was this one of the most massively attended protests of recent times, it also seems to have been the one with the most immediate effects: the city saw battlefield-like scenes with the existing hostility toward the police quickly developing into vivid hatred – fuelled by oft-reported cases of police brutality against demonstrators in recent years and against people on the day who had never previously demonstrated....

http://www.thenewsignificance.com/2011/06/18/hara-kouki-and-antonis-vrad...

 

Tommy_Paine

From the second link, I found this paragraph interesting:

"Equal or more fierce hostility has been shown towards corporate media in recent weeks, with a strong popular belief that the country’s highly powerful media conglomerates have held a significant stake and, arguably, a role in running the country over the past few decades. With verbal and physical attacks against representatives of Greece’s political elites becoming a near-daily occurrence, a new political understanding and culture seems to have emerged from the country’s occupied squares: a culture that sees  political and corporate media representation as part of the plexus of power that has misruled Greece."

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Democracy vs Mythology: the Battle in Syntagma Square

by Jérôme E. Roos on June 20, 2011

What is going on in Athens at the moment is resistance against an invasion — and this invasion is being justified with the extensive use of mythology.

By Alex Andreou, first published at SturdyBlog

I have never been more desperate to explain and more hopeful for your understanding of any single fact than this: The protests in Greece concern all of you directly.

What is going on in Athens at the moment is resistance against an invasion; an invasion as brutal as that against Poland in 1939. The invading army wears suits instead of uniforms and holds laptops instead of guns, but make no mistake – the attack on our sovereignty is as violent and thorough. Private wealth interests are dictating policy to a sovereign nation, which is expressly and directly against its national interest. Ignore it at your peril. Say to yourselves, if you wish, that perhaps it will stop there. That perhaps the bailiffs will not go after the Portugal and Ireland next. And then Spain and the UK. But it is already beginning to happen. This is why you cannot afford to ignore these events....

http://roarmag.org/2011/06/democracy-vs-mythology-the-battle-in-syntagma...

 

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