Greek Left Prepares Nationalization of Energy/Telecom Industries, Key Infrastructure

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.  You can follow him on Twitter at

What happens with a society’s social contract collapses?  That question is being posed in Greece right now.  Often what happens is that so-called “swamp things”, like the Greek neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn, emerge.  Often, the left begins articulating a genuine alternative vision.  And the corrupt rotted center calls in every chip it can, hoping to preserve patronage and corruption.  Right now, much of the Euro-elite, when not panicking about Spanish borrowing costs, is watching the anti-bailout Greek left (Syriza) and the pro-bailout center right (New Democracy) running neck and neck in the polls.  If Greece goes anti-bailout, it’s going to create tremendous political uncertainty.  With much of the left in Europe looking to Greece, a win by Syriza in mid-June could spark similar anti-bailout left-wing alternatives, much as the Arab Spring ignited the Occupy movement.

So what does Syriza actually want?  Their political platform is fairly interesting.  Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras admires FDR’s nationalization of the American banking system in the 1930s and the stimulus pursued by Obama in 2009.  But it seems like he may go much further.

SYRIZA will present on Friday its economic manifesto with nine major sectors, including privatization and nationalization issues, salaries and pensions increases and the introduction of a new tax system.

Proto Thema newspaper published an article last Sunday saying that members of SYRIZA announced different measures each time. As a result, the party decided to give a complete answer to such allegations.

One of the party’s main issues will be the nationalization of several former public institutions, including telecommunications and energy companies, as well as airports and ports. SYRIZA members state that, despite yet unknown, their party will find the appropriate way of re-nationalizing these companies, when the time is good for such an action.

Furthermore, the economic team of SYRIZA appears to have found some ways of increasing the country’s income, so that they can make a new tax system based on social justice, development and productive reconstruction. The minimum wage change is a crucial subject, which SYRIZA promises to improve.

And as the Memorandum is of great importance for Greeks, SYRIZA does not clarify whether they will abolish it or just renegotiate it. “It depends on the Europeans’ reactions,” they state, but also stress the fact that the funding provided by Troika serves only their interests and not its budget.

If this platform is for real, and it’s hard to know if it is, it looks like a very aggressive plan to remove the power structure currently running Greece.  Shipping, banking, energy, telecom AND cracking down on tax fraud is, well, a lot.  It’s not Communism, but it is something we haven’t seen much of except in Iceland.  It is an attempt to actually have the state take power from private financial and corporate interests.  While we often look at the financial system as a set of interlinked banking institutions and markets, the reality is that it’s just a place where a small group decides how our resources will be allocated.  And the austerity debate is a technocratic argument dressing up what is really going on – a giant class war.

You can see why the Eurocrats are terrified of Syriza.  It’s not just about financial contagion.  As goes Greece, so might go Spain.  And so forth.  Of course, should the Eurocrats prevent Syriza from being governing, waiting in the wings is the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn, and they want to place mines on the border to prevent immigrants from getting into Greece and are talking about committing violence against “traitors” against Greece.  Personally, I’d take Syriza, even if I owned a lot of European bank debt or had a stake in Greek shipping interests.

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About Matt Stoller

From 2011-2012, Matt was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters, focusing on the intersection of foreclosures, the financial system, and political corruption. In 2012, he starred in “Brand X with Russell Brand” on the FX network, and was a writer and consultant for the show. He has also produced for MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show. From 2009-2010, he worked as Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Alan Grayson. You can follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.


  1. bmeisen

    When he starts talking about bigger, broader reductions in the military budget then it’ll get really interesting. If anyone, why not him? The right is presumably the military, and the center can’t apparently conceive of Athens without goosestepping zouaves.

    1. Mr. Eclectic

      Actually they did, especially MP Dritsas, who presented the section about foreign affairs and defense. The focus will be on using the local industry, and focusing on availability of platforms and systems (most of the military procurements here in Greece are downright ridiculous – fighter jets without electronic warfare suites, tanks but no spare parts and ammo, etc).

    2. Ruben

      You don’t really want to go into that, at least not in terms of budget reductions. After the fear of European elites’ punishment, the second big obstacle to a Syriza takeover of govt top posts is the aquiescence of the Greek military.

      1. Mr. Eclectic

        The whole defense policy is not that controversial. For instance consolidation of units, closing down unnecessary camps etc are measure that various ex and currently serving officers have proposed over time.

        But… the dissolution of the riot police, and assignment of its members to regular police stations, as the program stipulates, now that may prove hard. It is estimated that up to 50% of riot police officers voted for Golded Dawn, the neonazi party. Furthermore, they have a definitely easier job compared to the severely understaffed and overworked regular police officers that are doing patrols etc, and they get special compensation, which they’ll lose in that eventuality.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Maybe give the police the money the banks were going to get, and then set up “auxiliary precautions” in the form of overlapping jurisdictions and authorities. I know it sounds easy, but some times buying them off is the only way, and they are sure to understand that…

          Then again, this idea could be too clever by half. Don’t know!

  2. joebhed

    Nationalization of industry MUST be severely limited to what the public sector can do more efficiently.

    Nationalization of the banking sector, which is intimated in the article but not specifically mentioned in the party’s platform, should be a last-resort if needed for financial stability.

    However, a first-order priority in anticipation of resort to a national currency system would be the nationalization of that system – the national money system – with the public issuance and management of the Drachma well established as a governmental function.

    Naturally, Greece would need a model for public money administration and that model is available in the proposal of Congressman Kucinich here in the states.

    The issuance of a national money without the issuance of debt is a needed component for Greece’s to achieve its ability to secure national socio-economic justice in the future.

    For the Money System Common

    1. F. Beard

      Nationalization of the banking sector, which is intimated in the article but not specifically mentioned in the party’s platform, should be a last-resort if needed for financial stability. joebhed

      But what about bank loans? Would you impose a 100% reserve requirement on them?

    2. Mr. Eclectic

      Besides the banking sector, which will be nationalised right after the elections, should they form a government, all other are infrastructure. Energy, land-line telecommunications, ports and airports, and roads. And those are further down the road, not immediately.

      1. Carla

        Perhaps we will start thinking of money as the public utility it really ought to be…there is social infrastructure as well as physical infrastructure, but without money, there is no infrastructure.

        1. Mole

          I suggest reading that again. I’ve seen infrastructure being built without a dime. Not to say that gov doesnt play a critical role.

          The Greek are not going to find out the truth because the truth hursts.

          The market will now impose itself and bring out the truth, a government cannot spend itself to prosperity. A government cannot bailout the banks and fund entitlements for everyone.

          1. ggm

            A sovereign currency government most certainly can spend itself to prosperity and fund entitlements for everyone, provided it does not run into resource and productive capacity constraints.

          2. Mole


            You are joking right?

            Why dont you give it a try?

            The gov can either tax to support essential infrastructure, borrow it’s way to a third world nation, counterfit while taking from savers to give the lazy ones.

            The gov is the most effective when it limits itself to taxes. When it borrows and counterfits, we end up in a collapse because it is never enough borrowin and never enough counterfeiting. The US has done both of these and we are still in trouble. People like yourself cant see the truth if it smacked you in the face. And smack it will.

          3. F. Beard

            The gov is the most effective when it limits itself to taxes. Mole

            Then where will new money come from? Even a gold standard allows new money creation.

          4. F. Beard

            Also, if they US had a balanced budget it would eventually transfer the entire US money supply from US taxpayers (the entire US population since business passes on taxes to consumers) to US debt holders.

            Is that what you want? And if so, are you insane?

          5. Carla

            @Mole: your comments imply that you think of money as a “thing.” But most of our modern money is created by private banks in digital form when they lend it into existence. It is debt money, and it is used to enslave people.

            We could have positive money, not based on debt, but you see, the private bankers(very rich people indeed) would not like that very well.

            If you like, you can learn more about this. “No More National Debt” by Bill Still is a good place to start.

          6. Mole

            Money is a thing and should be seen as such. It has no value other than faith that it will hold value. Since wealth cannot be easily created, so should our money. Btw, you dont really need an expansion in the money supply to have a real growing economy. If your money can buy more goods and svcs for the same amount, you are wealthier.

            Counterfeiting of currency is only good for 2 entities, banks for profits and banks to buy votes.

          7. Mole


            What does the Fed try to mimic when they set rates and money supply?

            All the needs to do is letting the market set the rates, and the amount of money supply. Let banks be banks and lend money they have and make it clear nobody will get backstop. Enforce gold standard to ensure neither banks nor gov counterfeit.No fractional reserve allowed. This should be followed by abolishing collective bargaining, and the gov should be restructured to fit with the budget. The American people want a balanced budget.

            This resets the system and allows for clean slate. Now banks will lend to individuals and corps that can pay back, hard work is rewarded, laziness is not rewarded, prices are stable if not dropping, banks cannot steal, gov cannot spend more than the taxes they take in,good teachers are promoted, savers are rewarded.

            But the biggest positives are that, capital is not malinvested, and that the theft ends. Society, not a group of elites and not a group of entitled, benefit from this system.

          8. Mole


            Im a big fan of Bill Still. I agree that the gov should not be allowed to be in debt. I just dont agree with the gov, especially todays gov, deciding how much cutrrency is needed. Whether dem or gop, there is always reason for more. Find me one time in recent history where these parties didnt come out on tv talking balanced budget, but vote for all spending coming through. Nobody cares…but everyone should be sick of the lies. Heck there is not one penny for social sec and other much needed programs, the money has been stolen.

            Bill explains the banking theft well, but he misses the gov theft side.

            My opinion is that the gov should limit itself to taxes. If they feel more is needed, than raise taxes, im all for higher taxes. The people will bear the pain and will decide if the politician should remain in place.

          9. F. Beard

            Heck there is not one penny for social sec and other much needed programs, the money has been stolen. Mole

            Wrong!!! The Federal Government CANNOT run out of money!

            Why do you buy that lie? You know who it serves? It serves rich US debt holders (including the banks) who want to protect THEIR “corporate welfare” (interest on the National Debt) and even INCREASE it in real terms through deflation.

          10. Mole


            The gov has already ran out of money for years, why do you think we owe 15 trillipn?

            Not advocating for the current system, but if the gov was in charge of money creation, we would be tripping over dollars.

            You seem to think that just forcibg people to pay taxes would balance the amount of currency in the system, but we both know it will become another game like it is today.

            What i meant on my previous post is that in the current system, the banks nor the gov can continue to spend for ever because there comes a time where there is not enough wealth to service the debt. There is a limit.

          11. F. Beard

            nor the gov can continue to spend for ever because there comes a time where there is not enough wealth to service the debt. Mole

            The debt is serviced with MONEY, not wealth, and since the debt itself ITSELF is a form of money then the “lenders” have already been paid. The “National Debt” thus does not really exist. What does exist is unnecessary usury payments to the bond holders which should be abolished by paying off the “National Debt” as it comes due with new fiat and NEVER borrowing again.

          12. Mole

            You conviniently leave the important pieces.

            A dollar is valuable because of wealth. Be it a store, a bridge, a arm, 100 cows, buildings, savings etc.. people trade these items for currency because of faith in the dollar.

            The people borrowing in the gov know exactly that the money being created is devaluing existing money as it is backed by the same wealth.

            The notion that nothing is owed is pure BS, the gov used those funds and is obliged to pay it off. The wealth was stolen with the gov concent.

          13. F. Beard

            The people borrowing in the gov know exactly that the money being created is devaluing existing money as it is backed by the same wealth. Mole

            So you would rather that the entire US money supply be transferred to US Debt holders? Or be defaulted on?

            Those people lent money and that’s what they’ll get back. What it will buy is their problem. If taxation was used to pay off that debt the value of the money used to pay it off would skyrocket meaning the lenders would get far more in real terms than they lent. Is that what you want? And the US economy plunged into a very deep Depression?

            THe National Debt is “corporate welfare” anyway according to Bill Mitchell. Sticking up for rich welfare bums are you?

          14. Mole

            Im not sticking for anyone, you should also try it. Agree, if we cannot pay, we should default on the debt.

            I also like the fact that this is going in the right direction. But i think we both agree that the system needs reform to avoid ending in the dame place.

          15. F. Beard

            Agree, if we cannot pay, we should default on the debt. Mole

            I never said that! We will ALWAYS be able to pay! That’s why the US can borrow so cheaply – there is no default risk.

    3. bdy

      Nationalization of industry MUST be severely limited to what the public sector can do more efficiently.

      The argument should be shifted from constraining industry by market efficiency (which insists upon growth in consumption to maximize public good and growth in extraction/production to maximize profit), to an efficiency that privileges maximizing public good by better use of resources and labor.

      Such a model suggests that privatization of industry must be reasonably limited to sectors that the profit motive doesn’t force into over-production or obscene economic rents (things like the institutionalization of planned obsolescence in the auto industry, or the “business cycle” of asset inflation).

      The default assumption that private stewardship of industry naturally leads to better outcomes is a Flat Earth superstition that just doesn’t play out in the real world. Some enterprises fail and some succeed, state-owned or private not withstanding. Neither model is more or less immune to the corruption that sinks economies, and neither excludes innovation that genuinely makes things better.

      The assumption does, however, serve nicely as a fallback for the obtuse austerity meme that’s set to well fuck things up for us all.

          1. Lambert Strether

            No no. This is greek:

            Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec faucibus, magna at gravida tincidunt, libero massa sodales risus, et feugiat magna leo vel nibh. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nunc sit amet metus vel purus mollis sollicitudin. Integer commodo lorem ac lorem ultricies at ultricies ipsum ornare. Proin rutrum interdum iaculis. Vestibulum sed nulla purus. Nullam commodo laoreet feugiat. Sed vel justo id mauris cursus eleifend tempor non neque. Donec sem orci, tempus at hendrerit vel, suscipit a ante. Sed congue auctor sagittis. Curabitur ut neque in dolor ullamcorper imperdiet sit amet sollicitudin leo.

          2. Goin' South

            Now Lambert, you know that’s fake Latin, not Greek.

            portabam, bas, bat, portabamus, batis bant

    4. TK421

      “Nationalization of the banking sector should be a last-resort”

      If it isn’t time for the last resort, what is it time for? Should they wait until AFTER the neo-Nazis take power? Or AFTER millions of people have starved?

      1. Lambert Strether

        It has to be the first resort. The banks are where the slush funds to pay the goons are, no? And the banks are where the Eurocrats are going to wire the money for the goons, right?

  3. Jim Haygood

    ‘While we often look at the financial system as a set of interlinked banking institutions and markets, the reality is that it’s just a place where a small group decides how our resources will be allocated.’

    So true! And after nationalization, a former elitist corporate oligopoly becomes an elitist government monopoly, yet more opaque, arbitrary and refractory.

    As ol’ Dostoyevsky used to say (Notes From Underground): ‘So things are bad? Well then — let them get even worse!’

    1. F. Beard

      So true! And after nationalization, a former elitist corporate oligopoly becomes an elitist government monopoly, yet more opaque, arbitrary and refractory. Jim Haygood

      Until we decide to implement money ethically what else is there but an endless oscillation between fascism and socialism?

    2. Ruben

      How do you know that one elitist monopoly will be more opaque, arbitrary and refractory than the other elitist oligopoly? You seem prejudiced.

      And does it matter which elitist arrangement is more transparent, objective and responsive? The question seems to be which one works, as a source of income for the State and stability for the rest of the economy.

    3. TK421

      Private banks: controlled by a tiny handful of oligarchs, accountable only to themselves.

      Nationalized banks: controlled by any number of elected officials, accountable to voters.

      How is that “more opaque”?

      1. F. Beard

        How is that “more opaque”? TK421

        Indeed it isn’t.

        However, at least private bankers are very conscious about avoiding losses or at least they should be. So how are government boondoggles to be avoided?

        1. rotter

          whooaaaa….”avoiding losses”? they ARANGE for “losses” now,so our freemarketdemocracy can bail them out,with the little people-taxpayers footing the bill – right? this conversation is a fraud. Any overpriviledged,petit bourgeouise pinhead wringing thier hands over “opauge socilaism” is either a fraud or completely ignorant -and either way greedy and completely not worth consoling – “there there, we’ll make the bad commies go away lil fellah”..

          1. F. Beard

            I am not for loaning money into existence, period, whether the loan is “sound” or not.

            So yeah, it is irrelevant that the private sector might make so-called “sounder” loans.

            Me bad. Sorry.

          1. F. Beard

            Like I said in my retraction, NO ONE should LEND money into existence, so as far as I’m concerned it’s a mute point. The government should simply spend new fiat into existence and tax some of it out of existence. Otherwise, if so-called “credit-worthiness” is a basis for qualifying for new money lent into existence then the government becomes the agent for transferring wealth from the less “credit-worthy” to the more “credit-worthy”. The injustice remains though the government gets to profit from it too.

      2. Goin' South

        You’re a dreamer. Or a Bolshie. The Right is correct about this. Putting banks in State hands will be even worse in this environment.

        As long as there’s a Capitalist system, the State will be a servant of Capitalism.

        Downsize and democratize. We’re better off with local credit unions and town meetings than the plutocracy we have.

        1. F. Beard

          We’re better off with local credit unions Goin’ South

          Credit unions engage in theft too – at least from non-members and typically within credit unions too as the more “credit worthy” are allowed to steal purchasing power from the less “credit worthy”.

          Only loans of existing money are ethical and even that is problematic due to usury.

          1. Mole

            Are considering that you are taking the side of the less credit worthy, and that it wont be too long before the credit worthy become non credit worthy?

            I dont think you want to kill lending, you just want more responsible lending. If so, than you want to stop the bailout mentality. Banks and individuals would be forced to make better decisions without a backstop.

            This is an example of how letting the markets be works.

          2. F. Beard

            Since “credit” is essentially new money and since it steals purchasing power then NO ONE is credit worthy.

            “Responsible” theft is still theft.

          3. Mole

            Come Beard,

            So wht not just not pick any sides.

            How is responsible credit theft?

            You mean if i am a berter payer than you im stealing from you?

            Either you are for justice or thugery. I grew up around these and know them well.

          4. F. Beard

            How is responsible credit theft? Mole

            Because “credit” is new money. Where do you think it gets its purchasing power from?

          5. Mole

            You kwep jumping from the current system to your system.
            You have a point, but you need to define further. the current fiat system rewards those with first mover access to credit. you are 100% correct.

            but, the issue i see with socialist solution is that it directly destroys exactly the ones that eotled their assess off and are not responsible. The middle class.

          6. F. Beard

            but, the issue i see with socialist solution Mole

            I am NOT a socialist!

            I see that theft has taken place and I see a way to reverse that theft in a non-inflationary manner by combining it with a ban on further theft. We have a ONE-TIME opportunity to do so. The universal bailout enables the reform and the reform allows the universal bailout. “One hand washes the other.”

          7. Mole

            The idsue is that this would prove impossible. If we cant put in jail the people that we know 100% tat they have stolen, like bernanke, paulson, greenspan, geithner, obama, bush, bank ceos, etc, how the hell are we going to find a fair solution to take back from the ones that really stole and a fair solution to give to the ones they stole from? im with you, thieves should pay whom they stole from.

            My point is that in attempting such a move, the rich will leave, and the ones that will pay will be the innocent that cant leave. so taking backwhat has been stolen is not possible.

            what is possible is implementing controls, which i have mentioned, to stop this from continuing.

          8. Mole


            The rich leaving has no impact. The taking back from the “rich”, which would default to the innocent middle class, is the issue. Yoy will be doing much worst than the rich.

            That is why the jubilee and taking back would not work. It would mean crucification of the middle class, rewarding of the incopetent class. This also end up putting more pressure on the poor you are trying to help.

            Lets also be clear and rightious, not all the rich have stolen. Some have, via rightious means, amassed wealth. That wealth belongs to them, and only them.

          9. F. Beard

            so taking backwhat has been stolen is not possible. Mole

            What? They’re going to smuggle some prime real estate out of the US? Maybe the Mississippi River too?

          10. F. Beard

            That is why the jubilee and taking back would not work. Mole

            How dense are you? A universal bailout would not take from anyone, not even in real terms if it was combined with a ban on further credit creation and metered appropriately to just replace existing credit as it is paid off with new reserves.

            Plus, the Bible COMMANDS debt forgiveness every 7 years in Deuteronomy 15.

          11. They didn't leave me a choice

            >Lets also be clear and rightious, not all the rich have stolen. Some have, via rightious means, amassed wealth. That wealth belongs to them, and only them.

            >Implying that you can get rich without stealing from others.

            Oh please, it’s not the 1980’s anymore, just in case you haven’t noticed. That greed is good bullshit won’t fly anymore, neither will your worthless worship of the “free market” god.

          12. F. Beard

            neither will your worthless worship of the “free market” god.

            Yeah, let’s dismantle any hope of restitution by going to a gold-standard! That’s the ticket!

            He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. Proverbs 22:16

          13. Mole


            You talk crap about greed, yet you are ok with taking from someone to give to another. What’s greed again?

            You would destroy the savers/middle class and destroy the poor.

            Another thing you forget is that a farmer knows how to produce from his land, you take it and give it to someone that’s not a farmer and the land will rot.same goes for any other asset. Again, intervention is the worst thing you can do to a society or economy. When the government gets involved, there is misallocation of capital. Again, land will rot.

            So hands off and let capital flow where it should.

          14. F. Beard

            When the government gets involved, there is misallocation of capital. Mole

            That has already happened!

            The government backed/enforced counterfeiting cartel, the banking system, has driven borrowers into unserviceable debt and cheated savers too. We are in a balance sheet Depression because of it.

            But YOU have a problem with reform and restitution even though it could be done almost painlessly.

            Instead we are supposed to endured Great Depression II and possibly WW III because government is not supposed to intervene when a theft has occurred?!

            Better trolls, please! Are you the best that can do?

          15. Mole

            Ohhh now I got you.

            If a fire is burning hard, just throw some gasoline to tame it.

            Kind of like the Keynesian deal, if debt is the issue more debt will fix it.

            In your case, misallocation has been happening, lets really misallocate even more to fix it.

            I guess insanity is en Vogue.

            BTW, the US will default, I’d like to see your excuse when it does.

          16. F. Beard

            I’d like to see your excuse when it does. Mole

            It won’t since there is never a need to but if the US Congress does choose to default a LOT of people will be very pissed off.

          17. Glenn Condell

            ‘Why is it bad that parasites leave the body politic?’ Lambert

            Because the buggers are likely to come over here and infect us?

            If they are not hobbled the problem is simply transferred from one place to another. The wealth they’ve stolen will enable corruption of the political process in most destinations.

          18. Mole


            Are you kidding me?

            Does it look like Congress waould like to give it up, just because defaulting sounds cool?

            No, the US will default because it wont be able to pay. And no, it wont be a choice of Congress.

            People that are not preparing will be mad and hungry. Those that see what’s coming and prepare will be fine.

          19. F. Beard

            No, the US will default because it wont be able to pay. Mole

            The US Government creates money by spending it. How will it be unable pay?!

            You seem incapable of learning, just like Defiant.

          20. Mole

            You don’t think rates can shoot higher leading to a scenario where the government can pay, do you?

            I think we will get a Japanese preview. But I’m sure there will be more excuses when it does happen.

    4. bluntobj

      Here comes the new Boss, same as the old Boss.

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      Revolutions are always coming around again.

      The King is Dead! Long live the King!

      Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.

      This attempt will fail, as other attempts involving collectivism have. Is that cynical? Or is it merely a judgment based on historical events?

      A new elite will form, overreach will occur, and the cycle will repeat again. It’s only going to stop when people stop looking to the government as a source of competitive advantage. So starve the beast. Opt-out. Deprive the power elite of your financial, political, and moral support and obesiance.

      1. They didn't leave me a choice

        You know, I used to think like you, that the end result is always the same, corrupt elites leading everything after a revolution. But there’s a catch, what about the perioids /after/ the revolutions when then elites are still too scared of people power to act like they’d like to act. Isn’t it worth having those revolutions if only to have at least a few decades of decent living between all those mandatory elite headchoppings?

    5. Glenn Condell

      ‘yet more opaque, arbitrary and refractory’

      MORE opaque? You’re kidding, right?

      Yes politicians and bureaucrats are incompetent but could any coalition of them have produced the clusterfuck we now live in, courtesy of the uber-competent greed of ‘the market’?

      Yes politicians and bureaucrats are corrupt but could any coalition of them have managed the awesome system-wide fraud that has delivered the world’s wealth to the 1%?

      And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that the main reason government is justifiably seen as untrustworthy is because the un-nationalised (and unregulated) ‘free market’ finance sector has bought it lock, stock and barrel, rendering it incapable (and/or unwilling) of acting in the interests of the 99%.

      There’s plenty of blame to go around but to imagine that ‘government’ is the prime mover driving us onto the rocks, with the poor old ‘free’ market a helpless passenger along for the ride is delusional. Arse about face, in fact, but you hear this refrain from the Schiffs and the Shedlocks too, and of course the Tea Partiers.

      Governments are way stations for entrants to the elite, purgatory before nirvana. Dirty job but someone has to do it, and there’s a payoff at the end (just ask Clinton or Blair). But for this reason it is always staffed by temps, whereas the forces they serve sit in the back room unseen, their names rarely changing. Focussing on government as the problem is like prosecuting small-fry street-corner pushers and pretending that you’re winning the war on drugs.

      Unfortunately a clear picture of the centrality of government to any imaginably decent future is hobbled in the US by the historically deep strain of government suspicion. This is not without kernels of genuine concern at its core, but these are dwarfed by a sort of fundamentalist irrationality, a fear of ‘socialism’ that verges on the comical, with an attendant crush on the ruggedly individual… the idea that putting fences around essential activities like banking is more about fettering freedom of the individual than protecting the citizenry.

      Also, if politicians and bureaucrats are genuinely on the hook for important monetary decisions, citizens are at least theoretically able to influence them, support them, organise to get rid of them, etc. If bankers are left to their devices, we get what we now have.

      1. skippy

        What he said.

        If the government is bad… its because of huge piles of capital covering it.

        Skippy… beardo… get rid of Banks… so Capital can take its rightful place and rule the world! FK’um both I say.

        Advance the commons!

        1. F. Beard

          so Capital can take its rightful place and rule the world! skippy

          I would broadly increase the ownership of Capital by abolishing the means by which the few have stolen it. That plus a universal bailout till ALL private credit debt is paid off and a ban on borrowing by monetary sovereigns would GREATLY reduce wealth inequality.

          What’s to dislike? That it would work?

          1. skippy

            Having multinational – national corporations that are LLC et a,l issuing script, is not spreading capital around.

            Killing the sovereign bond market is an issue for the international arena, we have neighbors thingy.

            Skippy… its Capital that has raped a world for hundreds of years, governments are just their proxy, united fruit, oil company’s and now TBTF. Banks are just the pinnacle of Capital’s evolutionary ladder… methinks.

          2. F. Beard

            Having multinational – national corporations that are LLC et a,l issuing script, is not spreading capital around. skippy

            Without the counterfeiting cartel to borrow from then I reckon corporations would have to issue a lot more common stock, not script, especially since after the universal bailout the population would not be in debt. I also support a BIG to further eliminate any desperation.

            As for LLC, abolish it for all I care as far as the Board, management and employees go.

          3. skippy

            Capital does not need banks to do its deeds, its just a skimming operation / veil / conduit for it. Capital has and always does, seek its self, its part and parcel of the rules of wealth accumulation and its insipidus desire to protect – its self – above and beyond all societal costs.

            Skippy… BTW this is a global issue and not a nation state one. Any fix has to be global, we are truly, one world these days.

          4. F. Beard

            Capital does not need banks to do its deeds, skippy

            How do you think capital got so concentrated in so few hands? Honest usury alone might have been enough but add so-called “credit-worthiness” and the conclusion was inevitable.

            Any fix has to be global, we are truly, one world these days. skippy

            A global fix is likely to be “666” or a precursor. Also, you remind me of “We can’t have true Communism anywhere till we have it everywhere.” But then how would escape be possible?

            The US can do a lot unilaterally; such as end sovereign borrowing and bailout its entire population.

          5. skippy

            Further more, Capital corporations and Sovereign bonds are tied at the hip. The creation of Sovereign bonds is were and when Capital and Government became commingled.

            Skippy… go read about it.

          6. skippy

            “We can’t have true Communism anywhere till we have it everywhere.” But then how would escape be possible?”

            Anywho, go learn about sovereign bonds, why they were created, when, and everything since.

            Skippy… That is a truism, your favorite tool IMO. BTW I have no use for ologys and isms, just a human that has an aversion to pidgin holes, cough… dead ends.

  4. Mr. Eclectic

    I’ve just watched (and read) the program as presented by Mr. Tsipras (general presentation and economic policy, and the subsections as presented respectively by Mr. Lafazanis (social and labour policy), Mr. Dritsas (external affairs and defence), and Mrs. Sakorafa (administration and security).

    Concerning the nationalisations programs, they pledged to move on immediately on nationalising the banks. As for the rest, they will cancel all current privatisation efforts, and consider strategically the pace and time of nationalising already privatised former public companies and assets. On a tangent, they will also pass legislation that will allow workers to take control of and keep bankrupt businesses working, as in Argentina.

    The declaration of war to the local elite was the part about the national spectrum. Television stations here in Greece (which are controlled by a few shipping magnates and large constructions contractors) up to a few years ago operated without any legal framework or regulation, still disregard it, and they still don’t pay for the bandwidth they use. Tsipras will demand these fees. And of course the whole accusations about suppressing free press and expression will commence, as usual…

  5. rkka

    “Personally, I’d take Syriza, even if I owned a lot of European bank debt or had a stake in Greek shipping interests.”

    I believe you.

    However, the historical pattern is for the propertied to support the murderous far right as their “bulwark against bolshevism.”

    Greek leftists had better be prepared to get bullets…

    1. Nathanael

      This is in fact the danger: that the Troika will back Golden Dawn because they’re afraid of Syriza. If this happens, the only option is war.

      1. F. Beard

        If this happens, the only option is war. Nathanael

        Who against who? Isn’t the IMF controlled by the US? Shall the US fight against itself?

        1. Heretic

          There was a very good documentary series that depicts the rise of Hitler; I believe the series was titled ‘Armageddon: the Rise of Hitler’. This documentary details the social an political aspects that supported Hitler. One of the interesting aspects of the documentary was that Hiler had some high level industry support… Krupp industries, Hugo Boss designed the Uniforms, Lufthansa provided an airplane for Hitler’s election campaign. This demonstrates from near history, that Propertied Right will use the Extreme Right to protect them from an aggressive Left.

          What was also surprising was that support for Hitler among the general population was still surprisingly weak…indeed they still only had a minority of support until 1932. However once they attained power, they rapidly consolidated it via viscious political suppression, symbolic rituals attesting to German strength and solidarity, and sound Keynsiam economic polices. (MMT in effect, the government started spending for re-armament, industry followed without argument, and employment and prosperity ensued for the German people.) Hitler also had some key persons who produce brilliant propaganda, which when combined with the above, it was in short order that the German people supported Hitler.

          So what I conclude is this… The Greek Elites and the Troika might support the extreme right should Syriza become powerful and the other benighted people’s of Europe gain hope … Syriza needs to be careful and the Greek people need to be energized and vigilant, and honest police and judiciary need to be befriended (if there is any honest ones remaining…)

          1. Jessica

            Elites prefer to threaten with violent racist right-wing groups than to actually turn them loose.
            In the case of Germany, although the Nazis had a lot of support from those with the money during their rise to power, much of the elite over-estimated their capacity to keep the Nazis under control.
            I am guessing that the Greek elite will hesitate to hand power over to Golden Dawn.
            The Greek elite may also have European based options that were not available to Weimar German conservatives.
            And the broader European elite, as little as they would mind Golden Dawn employing Syrian style violence against the Greek left, might be a bit concerned about the effect of that on the next Greeces. What will the Spanish and Italian people do if they see the European elite throw the Greeks to neo-Nazis?

          2. Mole

            This is funny..

            I thought Hitler was a marxist?

            I thought he defended unions?

            Have you read the manifesto?

            Didnt he defend all his crimes by simply making it “in the name of the people”.

            Werent the Nazis the green party of its time?

            Didnt the Nazi want abolition of big stores, Walmart, and institution of smaller ones?

            To top it off, the party’s name was national socialist.

            To to say that there no “conservative” (whatever that is) but i would say that what got the Nazis to power was not the right tendencies and the evil corporations you speak about, but the left ones and the people.

            Just like you all I can state that the worst liberal president, and there are tons of criminals, were all from the left. Does not make it true.

          3. Nathanael

            Actually, Mole, Hitler attacked and broke unions and murdered union members. All a matter of public record.

            It is, however, true that Hitler *advertised* the Nazis with left-wing slogans, such as calling the party “socialist”.

            He was lying.

          4. Nathanael

            Heretic has given a good description of the rise of the Nazis. The Nazis were backed by the “mainstream” German elites because those elites feared the German Social Democratic Party. (The Social Democrats were the second to be sent to the concentration camps, after the Communists.)

            The Nazis then proceeded to say mildly left-wing things while practicing aggressively right-wing abusive policies — except that the Nazis *did* practice Keynesian economics. That worked, it was popular, and it kept them in power.

        2. Nathanael

          Who against who? In this scenario, the war would be between

          On one side: the Greek people & whoever decides to support them (perhaps Spanish people, and who knows what random foreign countries)

          On the other side: Greek fascists & Troika.

          Much like the Spanish Civil War.

          The US would probably not be involved at all.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Goin’ South;
        Yes, I have, also, “The Battle of Algiers,” “The Serpents Egg,” “The Damned,” and, to round it all out, “The Sorrow and the Pity.”
        I heartily wish that we were not seeing a rerun of an old plot from earlier times.

      2. Chris Rogers

        I’m pleased in the United Kingdom that our Universities take the teaching of Modern Germany very seriously indeed – and by Modern mean from circa 1848 to the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

        I’m not sure what they teach in high school or US Universities regarding Nazis Germany, but from my three years of undergraduate studies and another one for a MA, I’ve yet to come across the view that a majority of the working class actually supported the national socialists in any election from 1919-1932.

        Hitler’s rise to absolute power was tied closely to the economics of the day, particularly after the Wall Street Crash and end of cheap loans to Germany and calling of existing loans in.

        Indeed, and testament to the German left and its working class in general, Hitler’s Party never received a majority of any vote and by the last elections under the Weimar Republic the National Socialists were actually losing votes.

        For the record, Hitler achieved power in 1933 due to support from business interests, a middle class scared shit about socialists and communists and far right fanatics who thought Hitler was a joke and could be safely manipulated for their interests.

        Further, their were huge schisms within the National Socialist Party itself – I suggest you look at who was killed during the ‘night of the long knives’ to actually understand who Hitler’s actual enemies were – you’ll notice none from the Left and many from the rabid right.

        Posters should also remember that on the eve of War in July/August 1914 the German Socialist Party (SPD) were the largest bloc within Parliament, regrettably, its leadership by voting to support the German war effort, split the Party into two, out of it came the German Communist Party – the German Communists went head to head with all right wing natters from 1919 onwards, however, they had no respect for democracy or Weimar – the interesting point I’m making, and all voting evidence from the timeframe supports this contention, had the German left been unified Hitler would never have happened – it also pays to remember that Germany was not the homogenous industrial powerhouse many make it out to be, indeed, after WWI Germany still had a huge agrarian sector and it was elements from this that were drawn to romantic rabbit right wing extremism and not member of the proletariat.

        Suffice to say, Nazism was preferable to socialism in the eyes of those with the money – this is one of the major reasons why the USA is such a rightwing nation and certainly has nothing to do with supposed individualism, which is a myth of gigantic proportions.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Read Richard Evans, “The Coming of the Third Reich,” which supports the above summary. “Magisterial” isn’t a word I use often, but that book is. The similarities to our own time are uncanny, but the differences are great too. In particular, the propaganda apparatus developed by Goebbels seems simplistic and crude.

        2. Mole

          UK and US universities are full of socialist jackasses that have seen time after time socialists gain power, and hide under the pretense that they were “right wingers”.

          Socialists are what we have in the UK and US today. Do you think they will ever grow some balls to tell people the truth?

          That money doesnt grow on trees and that both are bankrupt. Our unicersities are a bunch of sad dreamers that live in bernanke world. Sir, paper, not wealth, comes from trees.

        3. Nathanael

          Mole, you don’t have one clue what socialism is.

          Chris Rogers, here in the US education about history is terrible: below the university level, no history at all is taught, and the courses are basically just jingoistic propaganda. The book _Lies My Teacher Told Me_ attempts to cover *some* of this.

  6. Morning Fog

    This scratch is all over the place:
    “Often, the left begins articulating a genuine alternative vision.” No no no, it’s clearly articulated but submerged by the owner ruler class. Using the words “left” or “communism” is negative framing, right out of the keyboard.
    And we haven’t seen much of what you refer to in “Iceland.” either. Do you ignore your own blog?…Nevermind, f#$k it. Why am I wasting my time with your blog farts?

    1. Temper Temper

      Quit yer yappin. If it wasn’t for Dupont, Monsanto and other foundations similiar to David Koch’s you wouldn’t have a corporate blog to mouth off to or on. I hate to sound heartless (or fartless) as the case appears to be. But these big foundations “care” about the riff raff, the homeless, the bombings, prisoners, slaves and the other 7 wonders of the world that await exploitation. The devil makes work with idle chatter.

    2. ambrit

      Dear M.F.;
      Speaking of ‘farts,’ what is that miasma you are waking up to composed of anyway?

  7. Samuel Conner

    I speculate that the nationalization scheme could be very simple. Enforce the tax code, raise taxes on the target industries, and purchase controlling interests in them using Greek State tax credits as the “currency” to make the purchase.

  8. S Brennan

    The Germans, having once bequeathed the Greeks a civil war..

    ..through their imperial invasion. Are they now looking to repeat history? Isn’t this grand? Germany, the all time European defaulter, thug and multinational welfare bum is at it again. Effectively they’ve been reunited some 10 years and they are already back to their old tricks.

    Sad to say; Stalin was right about the fanaticism inherit in Germans that gave rise to Nazism. Doesn’t Merkel truly represent Germany’s “natural” desire to be the master race?

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Caused by Germany or the U.S?

      It was the U.S./Allies that left a stay behind army in Greece and conducted clandestine warfare against the Greek people.

      The victors wrote the history of the world wars and Germany has been blamed for all the ills.

      Also, I don’t think there is evidence that Germans are more war-like than other peoples. In fact, I recently saw some data to the contrary recently . . . and I’ll try to find it.

      1. S Brennan

        I knew somebody would try this line, hence the attached article. It was the western powers attempt to disarm the leftist resistance, while arming the right wing [formally Nazi supporter]that got the whole ball rolling . Here’s some histroy for you:

        “The 1936 elections resulted in a hung parliament, with the Communists holding the balance. As no government could be formed, Demertzis continued on. At the same time, a series of deaths left the Greek political scene in disarray: Kondylis died in February, Venizelos in March, Demertzis in April and Tsaldaris in May. The road was now clear for Ioannis Metaxas, who had succeeded Demertzis as interim Prime Minister.

        Metaxas, a retired royalist general, believed that an authoritarian government was necessary to prevent social conflict and, especially, quell the rising power of the Communists. On 4 August 1936, with the King’s support, he suspended parliament and established the 4th of August Regime. The Communists were suppressed and the Liberal leaders went into internal exile. Patterning itself after Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy,[citation needed] Metaxas’ regime promoted various concepts such as the “Third Hellenic Civilization”, the Roman salute, a national youth organization, and introduced measures to gain popular support, such as the Greek Social Insurance Institute (IKA), still the biggest social security institution in Greece.

        Despite these efforts the regime lacked a broad popular base or a mass movement supporting it. The Greek people were generally apathetic, without actively opposing Metaxas. Metaxas also improved the country’s defenses in preparation for the forthcoming European war, constructing, among other defensive measures, the “Metaxas Line”. Despite his aping of Fascism, and the strong economic ties with resurgent Nazi Germany, Metaxas followed a policy of neutrality, given Greece’s traditionally strong ties to Britain, reinforced by King George II’s personal anglophilia. In April 1939, the Italian threat suddenly loomed closer, as Italy annexed Albania, whereupon Britain publicly guaranteed Greece’s borders. Thus, when World War II broke out in September 1939, Greece remained neutral.
        World War II
        Main articles: Military history of Greece during World War II, Axis Occupation of Greece, and Greek Resistance
        The symbolic start of the Occupation: German soldiers raising the German War Flag over the Acropolis. It would be taken down in one of the first acts of the Greek Resistance.

        Despite this declared neutrality, Greece became a target for Mussolini’s expansionist policies. Provocations against Greece included the sinking of the light cruiser Elli on 15 August 1940. Italian troops crossed the border on 28 October 1940, beginning the Greco-Italian War, but were stopped by determined Greek defence, and ultimately driven back into Albania. Metaxas died suddenly in January 1941. His death raised hopes of a liberalization of his regime and the restoration of parliamentary rule, but King George quashed these hopes when he retained the regime’s machinery in place. In the meantime, Adolf Hitler was reluctantly forced to divert German troops to rescue Mussolini from defeat, and attacked Greece through Yugoslavia and Bulgaria on 6 April 1941. Despite British assistance, by the end of May, the Germans had overrun most of the country. The King and the government escaped to Crete, where they stayed until the end of the Battle of Crete. They then transferred to Egypt, where a government in exile was established.
        The three occupation zones. Blue indicates the Italian, red the German and green the territory annexed by Bulgaria. The Italian zone was taken over by the Germans in September 1943.

        The occupied country was divided in three zones (German, Italian and Bulgarian) and in Athens, a puppet regime was established. The members were either conservatives or nationalists with fascist leanings. The three quisling prime ministers were Georgios Tsolakoglou, the general who had signed the armistice with the Wehrmacht, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos, and Ioannis Rallis, who took office when the German defeat was inevitable, and aimed primarily at combating the left-wing Resistance movement. To this end, he created the collaborationist Security Battalions.

        Greece suffered terrible privations during World War II, as the Germans appropriated most of the country’s agricultural production and prevented its fishing fleets from operating.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Just to respond to this part:

          “Patterning itself after Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy,[citation needed] Metaxas’ regime promoted various concepts such as the “Third Hellenic Civilization”, the Roman salute, a national youth organization, and introduced measures to gain popular support, such as the Greek Social Insurance Institute (IKA), still the biggest social security institution in Greece.”

          This is yet another example of how Wikipedia is pushing a pro-Western, neoliberal agenda.

          Metaxas’ “regime” (I love how this word is used selectively) could just as easily have been modeled after the good ol’ U.S.A. as much as it was modeled after Mussolini, at least based on the evidence given here. The U.S. also instituted Social Insurance (crafted by Morgenthau), and also did the “Roman”/Nazi salute. The U.S. also had youth organziations, etc.

          That information doesn’t tell us much and is used as scare tactics. Not that the guy is good or that I support his policies . . . I’m just noting the propaganda masquerading as history.

          1. neretva'43

            “I’m just pointing out that Germany was not the sole cause for all of Greece’s problems. It was a world war and actually looking at Greek’s role in the war helps demonstrate this. Italy first attacked, and then along with Germany and Bulgaria, occupied Greece. Other Axis powers like Spain also took part.”

            You anglicized version of your nickname tell me enough that I can say you are tailoring history which suit your sentiment, right Walt(h)er.

            Italy as a military force never been serious one, they been defeated by partisan movement in Yugoslavia 1943. Fascist regimes of Bulgaria and Spain were effectively installed by Germans.

            Take look at this documentary.


            “This report by Kostas Vaxevanis for the Greek show “Pandora’s box” (NET, Feb. 21th 2012), investigates the German debt to Greece, accounting of over €400 billion, with interest rates included. This is higher than the current Greek external debt. It is made by the reparations that Germany still refuses to pay to Greece since WWII, plus a loan supplied forcibly by the occupied Greece to Nazi Germany at the same period.”

            Germany also refused to pay slaves from WWII, or, they has been paid minuscule amount of money.

          2. Walter Wit Man

            You’re right to suspect that my training in history is from and Aglicized POV. I am attempted to break free of those shackles though be reassessing what I know about WWII.

            My “Anglicized” history is very similar to your history–I was taught tp have a blind hatred for Hitler and Nazis, and to mistrust Germans (for being warlike, etc.). It was illegal to speak German in the state I was born in for many years. One of the first memories my Grandfather has was the Kaiser being hung in effigy in his small town.

            Anway, I will view your video because I am interested in getting different perspectives.

            Also, the U.S. and allies controlled the post war environment and the lack of reparations and the financial policies of the different countries post war has more to do with Americans/Britains/Bankers than it does German character.

          3. Walter Wit Man

            Also, the fact Italy was a weak power does not disprove my point. In fact, you seem to agree with Hitler who warned Mussolini not to attack Greece. Mussolini’s own military warned him not to attack.

            Plus, as S Brennn seems to argue above, wasn’t Metaxas a fascist modeled after Mussolini and an alleged Germanophile as well?

            Why did Mussolini attack?

            I think the causes of WWII are much more complicated than we were told.

            If you look at the Pacific theater you see the U.S. goading Japan into war, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some goading of Germany as well. I don’t trust the conventional history.

          4. neretva'43

            “My “Anglicized” history is very similar to your history…”

            Well my “history” in past 20 years or so is very cruel one, and isn’t “Anglicized”, far from it. Actually, I am coming from Balkan but that country had not such luck as the Greece. Yes, the Greeke are having luck believe it or not. They have (Greeks) no clue how vile and bloodthirsty Western Rulers are.

            However, what is threating to Greece (if the Left comes to power) in its road to independence is Chile scenario, or another “Prometheus” plan from 70’s, by so-called Deep State, which is euphemism for no-fascism.

            “It was illegal to speak German in the state I was born in for many years. One of the first memories my Grandfather has was the Kaiser being hung in effigy in his small town.”

            If you mean on this:
            I know what you mean.

          5. Walter Wit Man

            Yes Neretva, just like that. Great link. I especially like this section on British Propaganda and WWI (they already had a controlled media, war correspondents were embedded, and the British even committed their own Kristalnacht):

            “In September, 1914, Masterman invited twenty-five leading British authors to discuss ways of best promoting Britain’s interests during the war. Those who attended included Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Masefield, Ford Madox Ford, William Archer, G. K. Chesterton, Sir Henry Newbolt, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Gilbert Parker, G. M. Trevelyan, H. G. Wells and of course, Rudyard Kipling, inveterate Hun-hater and infamous apologist of the (British) colonial enterprise. All of the writers present at the conference were sworn to secrecy, and it was not until 1935 that their full activities became known to the public. Most had already been working for war.

            There were estimated to be 60,000 Austro-Hungarians, Germans and Turks in the country as well as 8,000 other citizens of “enemy birth”. Inflamed by the intense propaganda, Germanophobia swept across Britain like a firestorm and mobs attacked German shops, homes and churches. 57 German civilians were killed during anti-German riots . . . . Germans were stripped of their civil rights, fired from their jobs, jailed as spies or deported. Their churches and schools were closed down and they were cheated out of their real estate and businesses.

            Wellington House relied mainly on pamphlets in the first part of the war. . . .

            They published over 1160 inflammatory pamphlets and books between 1914 and 1918 including: ‘To Arms!’ ( Doyle), ‘The Barbarism in Berlin’ (Chesterton), ‘The New Army’ (Kipling). . . .

            Conan Arthur Doyle, when he wasn’t trying to convince people of the reality of fairies, borrowed much of the same material he’d used with success when writing sensational accounts of the atrocities in the Belgium Congo a few short years before, such as the nasty Belgians cutting hands off of the Congolese. Doyle simply revamped the stories into Germans cutting off the hands of Belgian babies.

            By 1917, Wellington House, had 54 staffers. Its governing body met daily and included advisors
            such as Arnold Toynbee and Lewis Namier. . . .

            Masterman picked Canadian Sir Gilbert Parker to direct British propaganda toward the States. He manipulated American war correspondents operating out of London by, among other means, arranging staged tours of the front. He farmed through “Who’s Who in America” to build a 200,000 name mailing list of influential Americans to whom he provided articles, pamphlets and speeches on war topics written solely from a British perspective. He and his staff also provided substantial war related materials to 555 American newspapers and hundreds of libraries with full approval of the allegedly neutral US Government.

            Over the next two years, 90 artists also worked for Masterman creating propaganda illustrations. He arranged for whole teams of artists to visit France, but only British officers were allowed to take actual photos of the Western Front, the penalty being the firing squad for anyone else, and photos of dead British soldiers were banned. . . .”


            Read the rest. Amazing how the propaganda methods haven’t really changed much.

            The few links I clicked on from the main page, like the above, were interesting.

          6. Walter Wit Man


            I have a comment awaiting moderation, but wanted to tell you that was a great link. Thanks.

          7. Nathanael

            Walter, the US also had a huge number of Mussolini supporters prior to WWII, and many prominent people in the controlling US party in the 20s — the Republicans — thought Mussolini was pretty awesome.

            So. Um.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          And this doesn’t really respond to the issue we were initially debating: whether the Germans were responsible for the Greek Civil War following WWII.

          We are simply discussing the beginning of WWII for Greece, not the events later that decade. Of course they are related though.

          I’m just pointing out that Germany was not the sole cause for all of Greece’s problems. It was a world war and actually looking at Greek’s role in the war helps demonstrate this. Italy first attacked, and then along with Germany and Bulgaria, occupied Greece. Other Axis powers like Spain also took part.

          Of course countries were split in different powers so there was that dynamic. But Britain was the first country to expand war beyond just Italy and Greece. Of course Germany, as well as the Allies, probably always anticipated Greece being part of the larger war, but Britain appears to be the first country that entered the Italian-Greece war as an ally of one of the combatants.

          Anyway, the period during and after the war, when the post-war period was being planned, is more relevant to our discussion.

          For instance, check out the secret stay behind NATO army. And the fascist coup the U.S. supported a few decades later.

          1. Mr. Eclectic

            1. Mussolini was looking to build his own empire, and it was always one of his goals to annex and colonize the Ionian islands and Rhodes. After the Ethiopian debacle and his stalemate in North Africa, his only vector of expansion was towards the east.

            2. Metaxas was a fascist, trying to implement a corporatist vision of economy, and also a political campaign of terror. His blackshirts terrorized, and he instituted a police state which persecuted and tortured most political dissidents. By they way, they had a really creative (sic!) use for castor oil and a block of ice…

            3. Both Mussolini and Metaxas shared at the beginning an ambivalent attitude regarding their foreign policy towards GB and Germany. In 1933 for instance, fascist Italy guaranteed Austrian independence, and he saw Dollfuss (the Austrian fascist dictator), not Hitler as his northern ally. And up to 38 he had better relations with GB than Germany.

            4. Regarding the Reich’s role in the civil war, their formation of Security Battalions by greek anticommunists, in order to fight the ELAS partisan army, was a significant factor. These were later absorbed into the regular army. Also greek collaborationists were motivated to their treason by their anticommunist bias.

            5. Unlike France, there was not a major set of collaborationists’ trials after the end of the war. Their expertise in combating the Red Menace was urgently needed.

            6. Former members of the Security Battalions were later in the 67-74 military junta.

          2. Walter Wit Man

            Thanks for info.

            Again, I’m not saying Germany bears NO responsibilty.

            But if this is the evidence that Germany caused, or is primarily responsible, it’s weak and it is not balanced against other possible factors, like the stay behind allied forces and clandestine operations by these forces . . . not to mention the almost complete control of postwar Europe by the victors.

            So, that’s why the fact that some fascist troops in the early 40s serving the Reich were later folded into subsequent forces is pretty weak evidence in my book. I mean the best evidence is the fact Germany [allegedly] started WWII so one could say that this caused Italy to attack Greece and the instability lead to the subsequent Civil War.

            But basically Germany was defeated totally and I don’t see how one can blame the Reich for running post-war Greece. That’s on the U.S. probably more than any other country, right?

            But I do appreciate the facts you mention.

          3. Walter Wit Man

            Plus, the facts as you describe them indicate that fascism in Europe was not just a German thing and not just a Nazi thing. Metaxas sounds just as culpable for bringing fascism to Greece as Hitler was. In fact, he’s probably more culpable as Greece’s ruler.

            Also, I am having a harder and harder time distinguishing between fascism and other forms of government. It seems these fascists didn’t have much different policies than FDR. They did autobahns and social security and boy scouts and concentration camps and racial superiority laws and egnaged in imperial wars, cracked down on dissidents, etc. I am really starting to wonder how much of our historical knowledge is completely bogus.

          4. Nathanael

            Ah, Walter. Some explanation.

            Fascists are *authoritarian*, *militaristic*, *bigoted* and form *cults of personality* around their leaders.

            However, they are also *Keynesian economists* who promote *infrastructure spending*, and within their favored ethnic group, they can be quite populist.

            The people we have in power now are authoritarian, militaristic, bigoted, and form cults of personality, but they are also economic greedheads with austerity obsessions. This means they are *not* fascists economically; they are closer to the economic policies of Louis XIV-XVI of France (who were also authoritarian, militaristic, bigoted, and with cults of personality). This is why we call them “neofeudalists” or “neomonarchists”.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      I can’t find the study that looked at the number of wars engaged in the last 150 years or so. It had England and other European countries well ahead of Germany in the war department.

      Anyway, reviewing WWII history, and found yet more evidence why Wikipedia shouldn’t be trusted while looking at this entry on the Battle of Greece:

      First, note that it was the Italians who attacked Greece, and then Spain agreed to support the Nazi invasion of Greece (but Wikipedia notes that Spain did not approve of attacking Gibralter).

      Also note that Wikipedia get a basic fact totally wrong: it was Britain that committed the first act in the Greece v. Italy war. The Wikipedia article states that Britain sent troops in October, but it wasn’t until November that Hitler ordered his military to start PLANNING an invasion. According to Wikipedia, this is what forced Britain to get in the war, but this is obviously false because the timeline doesn’t make sense, plus Hitler ordering plans to be drawn up does not trigger the treaty. If that was an excuse for war then the U.S. would be able to be legally attacked by lots of countries, like Japan, whom they had attack plans drawn up against for decades.

      Anyway, I had forgotten that Italy first attacked Greece.

  9. neretva'43

    SYRIZA Greek: Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς, Synaspismós Rhizospastikís Aristerás – The Coalition of the Radical Left. It is umbrella group of the far left in Greece.

    “Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras admires FDR’s nationalization of the American banking system in the 1930s and the stimulus pursued by Obama in 2009.”

    Maybe Tsipras also admires Goldman Sachs, too!?

    I very much doubt in above statement. Greece as an independent state from its inception has been victim of British/Russian imperialism, German Nazism and than again US imperialism. Finally, the Germans in its ever quest to Lebensraum imposed “shock doctrine” upon the Greece. I hope they have had enough.

    The Greece as a nation is in need for high quality leadership, which will lead them out of Austerity Union – forever. I hope that party will stand by its name: Radical.

  10. Lambert Strether

    Just to bring the thread back to what I see as Stoller’s point:

    If this platform is for real, and it’s hard to know if it is, it looks like a very aggressive plan to remove the power structure currently running Greece. Shipping, banking, energy, telecom AND cracking down on tax fraud is, well, a lot. It’s not Communism, but it is something we haven’t seen much of except in Iceland. It is an attempt to actually have the state take power from private financial and corporate interests.


    Is this likely to be true? And is it do-able? If so, can it be done in Spain?

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Well, based on the fact that we’re not hearing much about this in the MSM, then it may be a viable threat to TPTB.

      Just like with Iceland, positive examples like this will be hidden.

      I expect the media diversion will involve characterizing these kooky Greeks as far leftists and neo-Nazis who are lazy and don’t want to work and want free gyros.

    2. tiebie66

      Clearly, austerity is being successful in focusing the mind. That, IMO, is one of the major advantages of austerity. The other is that it culls malinvestments, allowing proper resource allocation to resume. Avoid the austerity and one gets a zombified system – granted – the zombie could be pumped up by increasing public debt.

      1. F. Beard

        Avoid the austerity and one gets a zombified system – granted – the zombie could be pumped up by increasing public debt. tiebie66

        A sovereign state should not have any public debt! Too bad for Greece that it quit issuing its own currency.

  11. Unemployment, Yeah!

    Will Christine Lagarde hurl more shit as people kill themselves? That is a good question. Syriza should be doing what the people want, and if he doesn’t, then the people should Democratically remove him from office via a recall or takin’ it to the streets. Same process could be carried out here concerning our own failed elections – yet we have an increasingly brutal police state and equally brutal “activists”, corporate blogs and political propagandists who pose as progressives in service of this very status quo.
    It’s taboo, therefore, to question whether Democracy really exists in Greece in the first place, or here in the USA for that matter. So, there, as here, what the people want is low priority, more important is herding, stealing, or kettling their ideas, to gain consent.

  12. okie farmer

    Rueben has it right. If Syriza wins and is able to esatblish a left govt, the Greek military is preparing to take the country back on behalf of the oligarchy that has run Greece since the end of WWII. We’re talking about marital law – again.

  13. lew

    So a deeply-in-debt, insolvent government is going to borrow more money to invest in a slow-growth economic sector at the beginning of a world-wide Greater Depression.

    Great plan, and one so many contries have tried before, with such amazing success.

    Politicians don’t have our interests at heart.

    1. groo

      The most important weakness is the ideological belief in the state as the most important “visible hand”.

      The ‘hand’ tends to get dirty at times.
      But to stick to your metaphor, I prefer the ‘visible’ variant anytime to its ‘invisible’ sibling.

      An invariant but hidden theme of the ‘free market’ is the invisibility of its basic interests:
      Profit at someone’s expense, which is mostly the public, it seems.
      Eg ‘Win-Win’ is a fiction in PP-Partner-relationships.

      Let them financial scam-artists play their derivative zero-sum games in them smokey backrooms, and not bother anybody else.
      Disgusting, but anyway.

      What You seem to allude to, is that ‘visibility’, i.e. full information of the public wrt public affairs, is somehow inferior to some other setup, which you do not explicate.
      Probably for good reason, I suppose.
      What are they?

      Public affairs are no poker game, as You implicitly seem to infer.

      Public affairs is about soundly securing basic needs, the public good and natural monopolies, INCLUDING the creation of money.

      Above that, the ‘state’ is not an abstract monolith, or some dumbo bureaucrats sitting in their state-sponsored cubicles, but a carefully honed system of ethics, manifesting itself by a system of regulations, which tend to get sklerotic over time. Agreed.

    1. Mr. Eclectic

      When discussing the adjustment of progressive tax scales for individuals and legal persons and the gradual reduction of VAT, Tsipras commended “It is estimated that this (reduction of VAT), as well as the previous measure (income tax scale), will have a POSITIVE MULTIPLYING RESULT (emphasis mine) in domestic demand because of THE HIGHER TENDENCY FOR CONSUMPTION of the lower income strata.”

      The influence of Keynes is made apparent in this excerpt, and I believe it is one of the guiding principles of the whole program, ie the role of the state to reinvigorate an economy.

      Furthermore, in such a devastated landscape, the state is the only force capable of marshaling the economy. Make no mistake, this is an emergency, and the reason we have states is for emergencies like this.

    2. Mr. Eclectic

      In your post you also discuss that, due to ideological concerns, certain aspects of the program should better be employed by a coalition government formed by other parties. That means, New Democracy and any other willing partners.

      ND’s economic program though is a mix of Cain’s 9-9-9 and Bush Jr’s tax cuts. Totally incompatible, and that would be one Frankenstein creation.

    3. Mr. Eclectic

      Finally, when opening, Tsipras admitted that up to a month ago they were a small party, and it would be unreasonable to assume that suddenly a significant portion of the Greeks turned radical left. It is due to the party’s conviction and steadfastness that these people have been persuaded to give it a chance, and they fully acknowledge that.

      Furthermore, unlike the two mainstream parties, it is not a leader-centric one, it does not have a centrally controlled political organization, and their voters are just that, not full time supporters. To me, these are good indicators that they will at least try very hard to stick to their principles and program, and that they embrace that accountability.

      Finally, and ironically, there is no alternative. Tina just switched sides!

  14. Jon

    You forgot to add that, when the social contract is dissolving and left groups have a realistic chance of gaining power, capital resorts to alliances with the fascist ‘swamp things’ in a last desperate effort not to lose control. That’s the point at which evil migrants/foreign ‘others’ start to feature more and more heavily in the political rhetoric as a scapegoat to avoid putting the blame squarely where it truly lies, with the ‘haves’. Greece is nearly at this primordial tipping-point…

    1. Nathanael

      Notice that here in the US, we’re well past that tipping point, with the Republican Party relying almost entirely on appeals to anti-immigrant bigotry, racism, and other forms of bigotry in its attempt to divert attention from the 0.1% causing the real problems.

  15. Chris Rogers

    May I remind everyone on these boards that Germany, that’s Imperial Germany, founded by Bismarck between 1866-1871 did not actually exist, prior to its unification following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 – unless of course we are actually referring to the Holy Roman Empire or Prussia.

    As such, it would be difficult for Germany to be more or less of a warrior nation than its European cousins based on the fact they had a minimum 350 years head start to kill and slaughter.

  16. Brooklin Bridge

    Europe could easily take the Nazi’s. Real democratic change that took away from the owners, helped the poor and middle class, and actually worked, would be Kryptonite to Germany.

  17. Jim

    [from, 9th May, 2012]


    1. Creation of a shield to protect society against the crisis

    • Not a single citizen without a guaranteed minimum income or unemployment benefit, medical care, social protection, housing, and access to all services of public utilities.
    • Protection of and relief measures for indebted households.
    • Price controls and price reductions, VAT reduction, and abolition of VAT on basic-need goods.

    2. Disposal of the debt burden

    The national debt is first and foremost a product of class relations, and is inhumane in its very essence. It is produced by the tax evasion of the wealthy, the looting of public funds, and the exorbitant procurement of military weapons and equipment.
    We are asking immediately for:
    • A moratorium on debt servicing.
    • Negotiations for debt cancellation, with provisions for the protection of social insurance funds and small savers. This will be pursued by exploiting any available means, such as audit control and suspension of payments.
    • Regulation of the remaining debt to include provisions for economic development and employment.
    • European regulations on the debt of European states.
    • Radical changes to the European Central Bank’s role.
    • Prohibition of speculative banking products.
    • A pan-European tax on wealth, financial transactions, and profits.

    3. Income redistribution, taxation of wealth, and elimination of unnecessary expenses

    • Reorganization and consolidation of tax collection mechanisms.
    • Taxation of fortunes over 1 million euros and large-scale revenues.
    • Gradual increase, up to 45%, of the tax on the distributed profits of corporations (SA).
    • Taxation of financial transactions.
    • Special taxation on consumption of luxury goods.
    • Removal of tax exemptions for ship owners and the Greek Orthodox Church.
    • Lifting of confidentiality for banking and merchant transactions, and pursuit of those who evade taxes and social insurance contributions.
    • Banning of transactions carried out through offshore companies.
    • Pursuit of new financial resources through efficient absorption of European funds, through claims on the payment of German World War II reparations and occupation loan, and finally via steep reductions in military expenses.

    4. Productive social and environmental reconstruction

    • Nationalization/socialization of banks, and their integration into a public banking system under social and workers’ control, in order to serve developmental purposes. The scandalous recapitalization of the banks must stop immediately.
    • Nationalization of all public enterprises of strategic importance that have been privatized so far. Administration of public enterprises based on transparency, social control, and democratic planning. Support for the provision of Public Goods.
    • Protection and consolidation of co-operatives and SMEs in the social sector.
    • Ecological transformation in development of energy production, manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture. These reforms will prioritize nutritional abundance and fulfillment of social needs.
    • Development of scientific research and productive specialization.

    5. Stable employment with decent wages and social insurance

    The constant degradation of labour rights, coupled with embarrassing wage levels, does not attract investment, development, or employment.
    Instead, we are calling for:
    • Well-paid, well-regulated, and insured employment.
    • Immediate reconstitution of the minimum wage, and reconstitution of real wages within three years.
    • Immediate reconstitution of collective labour agreements.
    • Instigation of powerful control mechanisms that will protect employment.
    • Systematic opposition of lay-offs and the deregulation of labour relations.

    6. Deepening Democracy: democratic political and social rights for all

    There is a democratic deficit in the country. Greece is gradually being transformed into an authoritarian police state.
    We are calling for:
    • The restoration of popular sovereignty and an upgrade of parliamentary power within the political system:
    • Creation of a proportional electoral system
    • Separation of powers
    • Revocation of ministerial immunity
    • Abolishment of economic privileges for MPs
    • Real decentralization to create local government with sound resources and expanded jurisdiction.
    • The introduction of direct democracy and institutions of self-management under workers’ and social control at all levels.
    • Measures against political and economic corruption.
    • The solidification of democratic, political, and trade union rights.
    • The enhancement of women’s and youths’ rights in the family, in employment, and in public administration.
    • Immigration reforms:
    • Speeding up the asylum process
    • Abolition of Dublin II regulations and granting of travel papers to immigrants
    • Social inclusion of immigrants and equal rights protection
    • Democratic reforms to public administration with the active participation of civil servants.
    • The demilitarization and democratization of the Police and the Coast Guard. Disbandment of special forces.

    7. Restoration of a strong welfare state

    Anti-insurance laws, the shutdown of social services, and the steep fall in social expenditures under the Memorandum have turned Greece into a country where social injustice reigns.
    We are in need of:
    • An immediate rescue of the pension system, to include tripartite financing and the gradual consolidation of separate pension fund portfolios into one public, universal system of social insurance.
    • A raise in unemployment benefits until the substitution rate reaches 80% of the wage. No unemployed person is to be left without unemployment benefits.
    • The introduction of a guaranteed minimum income.
    • A unified system of comprehensive social protection covering the vulnerable social strata.

    8. Health is a Public Good and a social right

    Health care is to be provided for free and will be financed through a Public Health System. Immediate measures include:
    • Support and upgrades for hospitals. Upgrade of health infrastructures of the Social Insurance Institute (IKA). Development of an integrated system of first-level medical care.
    • Covering the needs of medical treatment in both personnel and equipment, in part by stopping lay-offs.
    • Open and cost-free access to medical treatment for all residents in the country.
    • Free pharmaceutical treatment and medical examinations for low-income pensioners, the unemployed, students, and those suffering from chronic diseases.

    9. Protection of public education, research, culture, and sports from the Memorandum’s policies

    With regards to education, we are calling for:
    • Consolidation of universal, public, and free education, including coverage of its urgent needs in infrastructure and personnel at all three levels.
    • Compulsory 14-year unified education.
    • Revocation of the Diamantopoulou Law.
    • Assurance of self-government for Universities.
    • Preservation of the academic and public character of Universities.

    10. An independent foreign policy committed to the promotion of peace

    The capitulation of our foreign policy to the desires of the U.S. and the powerful states of the European Union endangers the country’s independence, peace, and security.
    We propose:
    • A multidimensional and peace-seeking foreign policy.
    • Disengagement from NATO and closure of foreign military bases on Greek soil.
    • Termination of military cooperation with Israel.
    • Aiding the Cypriot people in the reunification of the island.
    Furthermore, on the basis of international law and the principle of peaceful conflict resolution, we will pursue improvements in Greek-Turkish relations, a solution to the problem of FYROM’s official name, and the specification of Greece’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

    The incumbent economic and social system has failed and we must overthrow it!

    1. Jim

      Given the above, IF Syriza is elected AND they try to pursue these policies, I think it extremely unlikely that the IMF will extend any form of credit to them. Almost all of the policies they have outlined are completely opposed to what the IMF have traditionally supported. Despite this, Alexis Tsipras is having some kind of daydream that remaining in the Euro-currency is realistic. It is a wonderful sounding manifesto, and I am sure if I were the average Greek I would think ‘that sounds lovely’, but it appears he has only a very slim chance of delivering even half what he is promising.
      Timeo Danaos et dona farentes

      1. Nathanael

        Greece prints its own Euro notes and mints its own Euro coins and has electronic control over the crediting of euros to electronic accounts within Greece.

        Greece has no reason to leave the Euro *and cannot be forced out* — Greece can force the *rest* of the eurozone to leave the euro instead, if it doesn’t like Greece printing money.

        I think that’s the smart move. Several of the “southern” countries such as Spain would probably gladly accept the printed Greek euros, and form a new Eurozone. Germany can leave if it wants to; it will only hurt Germany.

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