Jul 262015
 July 26, 2015  Posted by at 8:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , ,

Harris&Ewing Balancing act, John “Jammie” Reynolds, Washington DC 1917

There’s arguably nothing that’s been more hurtful -in more ways than one- to Greece and its Syriza government over the past six months, than the lack of support from the rest of Europe. And it’s not just the complete lack of support from other governments -that might have been expected-, but more than that the all but complete and deafening silence on the part of individuals and organizations, including political parties.

It’s no hyperbole to state that without their loud and clear support, Syriza never stood a chance in its negotiations with the Troika. And it’s downright bewildering that this continues to get so little attention from the press, from other commentators, and from politicians both inside Greece and outside of it.

This gives the impression that Greece’s problems are some sort of stand-alone issue. And that Athens must fight the entire Troika all on its own, a notion the same Troika has eagerly exploited.

It’s strange enough to see the supposedly well-educated part of the rich northern European population stay completely silent in the face of the full demolition of the Greek state, of its financial system, its healthcare and its economy.

Perhaps we should put that down to the fact that public opinion in for instance Germany is shaped by that country’s version of the National Enquirer, Bild Zeitung. Then again, the well-educated in Berlin allegedly don’t read Bild.

That no massive support movements have risen up in “rich Europe” to provide at least financial and humanitarian aid, let alone political support, can only be seen as a very significant manifestation of what Europe has become.

Which is something that “poorer Europe” should take note of, much more than it has. There is no solidarity, neither at the top nor at the ground level, between rich and poor(er) in the EU.

That in turn greatly enhances the need for Europe’s periphery to support one another, whether at government level or in the streets of Madrid, Milan etc. But that’s not happening either.

There have been sporadic declarations of undoubtedly well-intended support for Syriza from the likes of Podemos in Spain and M5S in Italy, but it’s been words only, and only on occasion; that’s where solidarity stops.

Brussels likes it just fine that way. They can pick off the weaker nations one by one, instead of having to deal with a united front. And that should count as a tactical failure for all of these nations.

As Greece has shown, fighting Brussels on your own is simply not a good idea. But Greece had no choice, it was left abandoned and exposed by the other countries in similar conditions as itself.

We can speculate as to why that happened – and keeps on happening. Kindred spirits to Syriza in Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland may be too focused on their own economies and circumstances. Or on their own political careers. Alternatively, they may simply be too scared of the Troika to take a stand against it.

In that light, Beppe Grillo’s words this week denouncing Alexis Tsipras are utterly unfair and not at all helpful, even if perhaps to an extent understandable.

Italy’s Plan B For An Exit From The Euro

Tsipras couldn’t have done a worse job of defending the Greek people. Only profound economic short-sightedness together with an opaque political strategy could transform the enormous electoral consensus that brought him into government in January into the victory for his adversaries, the creditor countries, only six months later, in spite of winning the referendum in the mean time.

An a priori rejection of a Euroexit has been his death sentence. Like the PD, he was convinced that it’s possible to break the link between the Euro and Austerity. Tsipras has handed over his country into the hands of the Germans, to be used like a vassal. Thinking that it’s possible to oppose the Euro only from within and presenting oneself without an explicit Plan B for an exit, he has in fact ended up by depriving Greece of any negotiating power in relation to the Euro.

Now, it’s no secret that I appreciate Grillo, and I think people like him are sorely needed in order to get rid of what Beppe in his ‘flowery’ language calls the “Explicit Nazi-ism [..] by Adolf Schauble”. And I do understand that he must get the message across to -potential- M5S voters that he does not intend to fold in face of the Troika’s demands as Tsipras has supposedly done.

But at the same time he completely ignores his own lack of support for Tsipras, the fact that he left him to fight the entire Troika on his own. Sure, Grillo visited Athens on the day of the latest referendum, but that is woefully inadequate. If anything, it seems to depict a lack of vision.

Beppe Grillo seems unaware that his criticism of Tsipras risks isolating himself when it comes time for Rome to be in the position Athens has been in since at least January 2015.

Moreover, Grillo has never had the fully loaded Troika gun pointed at his head and that of his people, the way Tsipras did. As a matter of fact, one might well argue that Tsipras gave in to a large extent precisely because he could not be sure enough that the likes of Grillo would follow him, and support him, if he would have chosen Plan B.

That is to say, if he would have refused to give in to the Troika demands and elected to leave open the option of a Grexit, in whatever form that might have taken.

On top of that, Grillo seems to forget that Tsipras never came into the talks with a democratic mandate to leave the eurozone. And the other side of the table was well aware of that, and used it against him.

After the next round of Italian elections, Grillo may well find himself in a similar position, and if he does he will call undoubtedly on Tsipras for support.

Podemos, Syriza, M5S and others should present themselves, very publicly, as a front. That should hold regular well-publicized meetings, issue clear and strong declarations of solidarity and support for one another, and make sure all of it gets a prominent place in international media.

The ruling class has organized itself, and the ruled won’t be able to fight them unless they do the same. You either do it together, or it’s not going to happen.

Grillo calls on Italy to use its massive €2 trillion debt as a threat against Germany, suggesting that, once Italy leaves the eurozone, it can be converted into lira. That threat would be a lot more credible if the entire periphery would present itself as a front.

And that front should perhaps even include France’s Front National and Marine Le Pen, or Britain’s Nigel Farage. One could argue that they would be strange bedfellows, but battling Brussels alone, as Tsipras has been forced to do, hardly looks to be the best way forward.

And unless and until there is a viable way forward, the European periphery will continue to move backward. That’s the number one lesson from Athens. Where the Troika is about to re-enter its trenches.

Home Forums The Number One Lesson From Athens

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    Harris&Ewing Balancing act, John “Jammie” Reynolds, Washington DC 1917 There’s arguably nothing that’s been more hurtful -in more ways than one- to Gr
    [See the full post at: The Number One Lesson From Athens]

    V. Arnold

    What I utterly fail to understand is; for what reason, can Greece not do, what Iceland did?
    From all I’ve read, Iceland is doing okay; and while painful, didn’t take very long to recover.
    I would add that, sovereignty both individual and national, is under attack; which makes it doubly important to fight tooth and nail to maintain both at all costs.

    I’ve been doing some serious schooling lately, through a very excellent site, Unwelcomeguests. I highly recommend the wealth of information available there; Chomsky, Richard Wolf, and Howard Zinn, to name a few. A huge archive since 2000, over 1400 hours of interviews, lectures and history; And that doesn’t even address the important audio books free of charge. The curator of the sight is Robin Upton; a professor at Oregon State University.

    A must access IMO…


    Good article, Ilargi. “Podemos, Syriza, M5S and others should present themselves, very publicly, as a front.” Yes, they are either united or they’re not. They can’t do it alone, even though the Troika would love to fight them one by one. I am certain that Greece would have had a different outcome had the others stood beside it.

    The bankers/vested interests are desperately holding onto their power. Is the only way that real change can occur along the lines of what Dmitry Orlov sets out in “So You Say You Don’t Want a Revolution?”



    “What I utterly fail to understand is; for what reason, can Greece not do, what Iceland did?”

    Greece doesn’t have its own currency. Very different situation.

    It’s also about 30 times as large, that should count for something.


    Agree with commenter Arnold.

    When you’re dealing with a wildly insane monster like EU or US, the FIRST STEP is to GET AWAY from the monster.

    Tsipras and Varoufakis blew it by confusedly trying to be INSIDE the belly of the beast and OUTSIDE of its influence. It’s physically and logically impossible. If you’re inside, you’re digested and metabolized.

    Your only chance of survival is to claw your way OUT. Then you’ll be able to manage your own affairs, make your own deals with other countries for mutual advantage, whatever is needed.

    V. Arnold

    @ Ilargi
    From what I’ve read, printing Drachmas can be easily done from off shore printers; not difficult.
    It’s just a matter of doing. My school says; don’t tell me what can’t be done; look to what can be done; it’s just a matter of doing…
    Robbing countries and individuals of sovereignty is just criminal, and should be fought to the death.
    I find it hard to believe the Greeks will ultimately accept subservience to anything not Greece…

    Formerly T-Bear

    Several other points to consider. Greece has been a long term member of NATO, about the only one continuously contributing 2% GDP as required for membership. Inclusion in the EMU had benefited Greek access to European markets for domestic needs through the common currency, goods provided at less cost than were available through the drachma. This also increased the market for Greek export. The election that installed Syriza was clear that adhesion to the economic union was unquestioned, only austerity was held objectionable. The promise to negotiate was met with refusal to talk but that tactic was first experienced by Spanish PM Zapatero when he went to Brussels for economic help, the only leftist head of government at the time in the EU. Zapatero went with a public debt of about 35% GDP and a nearly balanced budget, there are charts to show what ensued with Spanish public debt after he returned with troika help – and there were few news cameras recording those proceedings, unlike Syriza. What is crystal clear is a €320 billion debt structure that cannot be supported, will certainly not support a €410 billion debt. What in god’s name are these imbecilic stupid fools trying to do?


    Ilargi- I have been present multiple times in my life at events where something drastically wrong was being perpetrated – and there was a crowd of people present who really might have altered the outcome, if only they had “stood up and done the right thing.”

    Several times, I have stood up, and spoken, and acted, and tried to convince others. Not once have I been successful. (On 3rd thought, I take that back; once I was – because the cause was so blatant, and “standing up” really required nothing of the others.) Not a lack of my ability to lead (probably); I’ve done that plenty elsewhere; it was a broad lack of what I would have to call moral spine. They had none.

    If you look at major world changes where crowds of people HAVE stood up for the right- it has always (so far as I can see) been the result of years and years of dedicated individuals continuing to push; women’s suffrage being a good example.

    The crowd, as far as I can tell, is around 5% likely to back your pleas; about 20% likely to attack you after any plea, and 75% likely to just stand and watch. Count on it.


    Greenpa – I too have stood up several times against injustice, stupidity, ignorance, only to turn around and see absolute blank faces on those around me. Nothing. No help, no agreement, not even a look of assurance. I’m pretty sure if I tried to take their iPhone away, I’d get a response out of them, but in the above instances I felt I was surrounded by programmed robots, like they couldn’t think, even when they themselves were being screwed over. Only a very few ever step up and speak out. And after you step up a few times and get no response from anyone, you even begin to doubt yourself.

    Formerly T-Bear

    Sounds like you ran into iBorg there – they are everywhere.


    Greenpa said “broad lack of what I would have to call moral spine”.
    Unfortunately, it is rampant. I see it everywhere. Then I am criticized for speaking.


    On second thought, in a larger group of people, most do remain silent. Rarely anyone speaks about what is morally or lawfully right. Those who do say anything, criticize the speaker.

    Nicole Foss

    Arnold, you mention Iceland. It’s not quite as simple as that. See our primer on the topic: https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2013/12/nicole-foss-ragnarok-iceland-and-the-doom-of-the-gods/

    John Day

    Speaking out boldly is something we more or less expect here, but we are among a minority-view group. We can cruise along for a long time without affecting a larger group, but that doesn’t mean we are not building the foundation for a paradigm shift. 2/3 of people will absolutely do what everybody else is doing, but there are times when the paradigm shifts, as it did after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Americans flipped from supporting the war to rejecting the war. That base had been built for over 5 years by reviled students who really did not want to be drafted into that war. Many went to war and some to jail and some to Canada.
    Martin Luther King spoke at the right moment in the historical process of paradigm shift. He was successful, and was killed for it, as we might be, if we speak truth to an established and teetering power.
    Keep saying what we do, to those who will listen, without getting into fruitless argument, is probably the best we can do with our voices.
    We should be building something we think will be more crashworthy, within the context of our lives. Seeing our vision AND our efforts to prepare for it, may be convincing later, depending on how close we got.


    John: “We can cruise along for a long time without affecting a larger group, but that doesn’t mean we are not building the foundation for a paradigm shift.”

    That’s the hope, fools that we are. But! This time; I have comfort to offer. I have a little blog, you know; very active a few years back; and I check my statistics from time to time. I wrote this – mathematical explanation for why “measured climate changes are worse than expected” – and got very, very little response to it. Except – my statistics tell me it is one of the all time most viewed posts- the readers are just – silent. But they seek it out; and read.


    V. Arnold

    @ Nicole Foss

    Wow, that was a hell of a read. Nice work and thanks.
    Very illustrative of the differences between Greece and Iceland; very significant differences.
    It would seem that Russia and China would, if asked, come to Greece’s aide if they chose to escape the vile clutches of IMF, Troika, and NATO.
    But then, fear is a powerful foil to stepping into the uncertain future…


    V. Arnold – I’ve only read about a third of Nicole’s post, but I second your “wow”. What the hell happened? When intelligence was handed out, I and the others around me got a few measly crumbs. They must have gotten distracted when they got to Nicole (called to the phone or something), and they dumped the whole lot on her; she got the mother lode.

    Nicole, you inspire me. You make all of us women proud. And your interview that was posted a few days ago, that was so well done. Thank you.

    John Day/Greenpa – I had some information given to me years ago. I didn’t agree with it, didn’t act on it, yet the information was there. It just took time for me to see that things fit with what I had been told. Now, had the information never been given, I would have been lost, but since it was there, things began to make sense. So I guess the best thing to do is kindly inform people what you believe, and it’s up to them to seize it when the time is right for them.

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