Yanis Varoufakis: Occupying the Closure of Greek Public TV (Journalists at BBC, ABC, and CBC, Take Note). Updated

Update by Yves, 6:15 AM. Yanis isn’t exaggerating about the domestic impact. See details in the Guardian, Attempt to shut ERT rocks Greece.

By Yanis Varoufakis, an economics professor at the University of Athens. Cross posted from his blog

For those of us who grew up in the Greece of the neo-fascist colonels, nothing can stir up painful memories like a modern act of totalitarianism. When the television screen froze last night, an hour before midnight, as if some sinister power from beyond had pressed a hideous pause button, I was suddenly transported to the 60s and early 70s when a disruption in television or radio output was a sure sign that another coup d’ etat was in the offing. The only difference was that last night the screen just froze; with journalists still appearing tantalisingly close to finishing their sentence. At least the colonels had the good sense of pasting a picture of the Greek flag, accompanied by military tunes…

After the state channels froze on our screens, I turned to the commercial ones assuming that this major piece of news would be recorded and commented upon by them. Not a word. Soaps, second rate movies and informationals. That was all we got. As if ERT’s, the public radio and television service’s, instant demise was not worth a mention by their commercial competitors. Soon after the phone rang. It was a journalist friend. Her message to me: “Come to ERT now. Thousands are gathering. It will be a long night.” And so I did.

Indeed, thousands had gathered. The dual carriageway in front of the building was closed to traffic as the crowds gathered in front of ERT’s building. Inside the building all the staff were there, despite a police order to vacate the facility. All studios were running, all systems were go. Only, of course, the signal was not reaching the outside world, cut off by technicians working for other parts of government. Still, ERT’s people managed to upload a tv signal onto a disused analogue transmitter and at least some Athenians had output. In that context, they ushered me into the studio, where I was interviewed by anchors in full make up, as if nothing had changed.

My words to them were:

I feel I have the moral authority to be here in support of your cause; to castigate ERT’s barbaric closure. I say this because, as you know, your government bosses had me blacklisted from this station ever since I refused to keep quiet about Greece’s bankruptcy. That act of totalitarianism was a prelude to the much grosser one that we are experiencing tonight. Clearly, I am not the person to say that ERT was a splendid organization unblemished by censorship, political interference or corruption. But I think I am the person possessing the moral authority to stand here tonight in front of you and say that, despite all its ills, the totalitarian manner in which ERT was closed down was a crime against all civilised people the world over. Think about it: Mr Rupert Murdoch, and people of his ilk, will be ecstatic tonight. Who is to say that ERT’s dismantling cannot be the blueprint that will lead to the privatisation of the BBC, of the ABC in Australia, of CBC in Canada etc. etc.?


Then, I stepped outside the studio to a cacophonous web of corridors and then outside the building itself. To find thousands of people gathered, joining in ERT’s excellent musicians in an impromptu heart-warming concert – see photo. When I left a couple of hours later, just before 5am, more people were arriving. Is this our Taksim Square? Only time will tell. So far the only certainty is that Greece took another step down the stairway to hell.

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  1. The Dork of Cork.

    They turned off the analog signal in Ireland recently.

    This is all part of the great experiment to turn former bank controlled nation states into bank controlled market states.

    I.e. the 9th circle of hell.

    The pressure is clearly on these state propaganda vessels to conform to the new dogma or else their salaries go the way of the Dodo.


    We are clearly dealing with the darkest force ever assembled on this planet.
    Pure Evil.

  2. Chris E.

    This could be the beginning of the end. The past couple years of “borrow from one in troika to pay the other” delaying of the inevitable and inflicting unnecessary pain on the Greek people, has only been sustainable absent a large catalyst for change like a major institution such as ERT going down.

    This can’t go on. It won’t go on. 13% of Greeks trust the banking system ( http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_196_highlights.pdf ) — most deposits are just institutions who have to trust it because dealing in cash would be impossible for payment processing and be a hassle.

    And then there’s this:


    Greece became the first developed nation to be cut to emerging-market status by MSCI Inc. (MSCI) after the local stock index plunged 83 percent since 2007.

  3. Arkansasangie

    But … But … Obama would never do that. Then, again, he doesn’t have to. He already controls abc, CBS, New York Times, et al

    National security is a farce.

    These bums … all of them … need to be thrown out

    Regime change needs to start at home

    A one-eyed drunken sailor is a better choice than any current republican or democrat.

  4. Paul W

    I’m of two minds here. I can understand the replusion of having a world of news dictated to us by the Rupert Murdochs of society. But doesn’t that situation already exist? Why else do we flee to the internet for our news?

    Therefore I would not shed a tear if the CBC went down. It is firmly a part of the 21st century mainstream media. It is a first rate enabler of government propaganda. In short, it contributes to the illusion that this nice, happy world we live in has never changed for the worst. As Greece shows, shutting down national tv serves as a wakeup call for all the sheep. Is that not better than sleepwalking into a neo-feudal world?

    1. diptherio

      FWIW, I heard that the Jessica Lynch story was concocted on the CBC years before I heard a peep about it in the American press. Just for that I’ve been happy to be able to pick them up from South of the border.

      Greece’s ERT was apparently not faultless either, but diversification of ownership and management is worth protecting, imho, even if the current owners/managers aren’t exactly stellar.

      1. JEHR

        Do either of you ever listen to CBC radio or the CBC news? It does not sound like it. The CBC is the main reason we now know all the scandals we have had the pleasure of finding out about: the Senate corruption of living and travel expenses, the payment of $90,000 by the PMO’s office for one Senator’s illegal expenses, the fraud that occurs in various businesses (dentists, home repairs, meat-packing plants, car repair shops, etc.); the money that Mulroney obtained under the table and then sued the government for a further $2 million when he was accused; corruption in Nortel, corruption at SNC Lavalin, etc., etc. The CBC breaks a lot of stories that we would not otherwise hear about such as the tax havens of the rich, and the CBC does a lot of investigative reporting that would not be done otherwise. CBC uses the Freedom of Information Act to find out what is being done in secret in the name of our present government.

        The CBC is a well-run organization and does not deserve these remarks by PaulW and diptherio. Everything on the Internet has to be looked at carefully, too, before you believe the “news” you get there. I do not think the CBC transmits propaganda except when the politicians are speaking and you know what that means: You can tell if a politician is lying if his mouth is moving.

        The CBC is being attacked in many ways: the conservative politicians often refuse to talk to reporters to explain their actions and programs; the Prime Minister does not talk to reporters except when he gets to choose the person and the number of questions he will answer; funding for the CBC is being taken away gradually; the government now gets a say in how compensation is decided upon at the CBC; the government would like to have CBC as a propaganda tool and that is what it is slowly trying to do. Eventually, CBC will not be an “arm’s length” organization if the conservatives stay in power. The problem here is not the CBC; it is the neo-liberal government we are saddled with.

        Public radio and TV is very important when it is transmitting information that the public needs. So far, the CBC is doing that in spite of attacks by our government and in spite of people who think there should not be any public institutions at all.

        We have very good programs like “As It Happens,” “Ideas, “Quirks and Quarks,” classical music programs, “Writers and Company,” and many others that cover a host of different topics that are sometimes educational, sometimes entertaining and sometimes newsworthy.

        See here (http://www.cbc.ca/radio/) for the variety of radio programs;
        and here (http://www.cbc.ca/television/) for the variety of television programs.

        When you have listened and watched for a week or so, then come back and tell me what is wrong with the CBC. You make me very angry talking the way you do without really good points to make.

  5. Susan the other

    Could be an experiment to see how well the citizens of Greece can coordinate via their cell phones and computers. I really don’t think this will turn out well.

  6. The Dork of Cork.

    Yanis is not a creditable commentator in my opinion.

    For example -his previous claims that the ECB boys do not know what they are doing is beyond all reality.

    His spasms of political correctness is used to take visceral & powerful language out of the social equation and shows his true colours.


    1. Charis

      You are very right.Varoufakis is an idiot.Most greeks do not forget how this clown welcomed yaesr ago the troika and promised (in the ERT-news) that greece will “only undergo a soft IMF-austerity package”.

      He is just another “expert” who tries to make his personal gain out of this.

      1. The Dork of Cork.

        In the 1960s there was a major clash in RTE between Irish speaking / Irish cultural promoters ( this “culture” was really based on a certain group of Anglo Irish people which promoted a mythology of Ireland during Edwardian times as Irish / Norman culture was destroyed by Cromwell and the lads much earlier and was therefore unrecoverable)

        I can’t think of the guys name is now …..Gunner something ( perhaps some Irish guy can give his full name and rank)

        He was part of the Anglo / Dutch establishment and was generally not liked by the locals.

        He brought in mass American cowboy shows etc etc.

        This man explains this B movie imagery & subsequent predicable actions of the public.
        A non organic construct.


          1. The Dork of Cork.

            I am sorry but I simply do not buy the Yanis product.

            He was calling for greater scaling up & centralization during the crisis when a pushing of resources ever higher (this time beyond nation state borders) is what has caused this mess – triggering a catastrophic loss of local redundancy & social capital.

            What we are going through now is very much like what happened to Scotland & Ireland during the 1500 – 1800 period.

            A destruction of tribal systems and replacement of these systems with nation state systems under bank and not fiat king control.
            People lived in a period of flux / destruction back then as they do today as they change from a nation to market state method of control.
            I am afraid its the very same forces or at least its very apparent from my prism.
            Yanis provides the left wing argument for further centralization under a state of artificial flux.

            This makes him very suspect in my opinion.
            The alien estate agents in Dublin castle which plotted our destruction are very real forces I am afraid as the evidence is all in now and cannot be rationally disputed.

            I imagine its very much the same thingy in Athens although perhaps more extreme for the moment.

          2. charles sereno

            @ The Dork of Cork
            Your 2nd paragraph gets to the point — “He was calling for greater scaling up & centralization during the crisis…” These are broad claims that we can easily imagine Yanis defending. I’m not against using pre-19th century history as an argument, but that should be a minor, if not irrelevant, matter in this case. I think your criticism should match the scope of that which you criticize.

          3. The Dork of Cork.

            Irrelevant ?

            A financial crisis in Scotland as the greedy lowlanders using highland blood money on a crazy scheme caused the final stage of union with England.
            Get it ?
            The EU is a union remember ?

            These classic nation state organizations which will be shut down has served their purpose.
            My arguments are very relevant.

            The EU organization has no real connection with the systems that it controls.
            It does not wish politics to interfere with the extraction process as that would reduce profits.

            The parallels between that union and the present euro horror is striking ……with local corrupt elites willing to give up local political control so as to maintain their (now global) symbolic claims on wealth.


          4. charles sereno

            @ The Dork of Cork
            I think this discussion is wandering off topic. For what it’s worth, comparing the 20 year old EU (Maastricht Treaty) to the centuries old UK union requires more justification than a paragraph or two. When History is open to myriads of possible analogies, it is trivially diminished. (BTW, I find myself on your side with regard to the British union.) You say, “The EU organization has no real connection with the systems that it controls.” This makes no sense. How does it control what it has no connection with? Let’s get back to Varounakis and the comic/tragic burp of the Greek guvmint.

          5. The Dork of Cork.

            It simply divides and conquers.
            It can subsequently extract a surplus or as I like to put it suck the marrow from the bones and redirect the surplus back to Genoa / Amsterdam / London etc etc

            The bank of St George operations in Corsica is really a mini Ireland like operation.
            Its the same guys mate…….

            You should really travel to Cargese and watch the striking face off between the Orthodox and Latin church.
            Its both quite funny and dark at the same time.


            Given that that island is a even smaller petri dish the underlying financial forces become even more clear to see.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Yanis has been extremely critical of austerity in recent years. His naivete is LONG past.

          I’d rather have an economist who gets on the right side of an issue than what you see from pretty much the entire breed, fealty to powerful organizations and an unwillingness to change position.

          1. The Dork of Cork.

            Yves – you are a nice woman and all but you somehow fail to see the deep spiritual attack of these extreme Marxist materialists on local village culture.

            Beauty for me was destroyed by the European experiment and it was not a accident.
            Rome was never really powerful in Ireland until Cromwell arrived.
            Ironic but true.

            Something much deeper is happening under the surface.


          2. charles sereno

            @ Dork
            I apologize for taking up too much precious space. My comment is only about your beautiful musical link. It’s so rare even for an Anglophone to hear such an elegant, natural rendition of a language that it displaced. It’s a 10+3 for me.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Provide some proof. This is bollocks and I see nothing on the Web supporting your charge.

  7. Aussie F

    “At least the colonels had the good sense of pasting a picture of the Greek flag, accompanied by military tunes…”

    Indeed, In a corporate state even the national flag is dangerous symbol of social solidarity. Presumably Goldman Sachs doesn’t have a flag, or they would have stuck that up on Greek TV screens.

    Still, I’m surprised the Greek junta didn’t play ‘stupid’s pledge’ as a background mantra. Created by the late Utah Phillips as a parody of patriotic stupidity, it just about captures the world view of our corporate masters:

    “I pledge allegiance to the flag
    of the multinational corporations,
    and to the profits for which they stand,
    one interlocking directorate,
    under no government,
    with monopoly and cheap labor for all.”

  8. Charis

    Some news from greece;

    Most people dont even care about all this.Varoufakis wet dreams about a “greek taksim movement” may turn out in hot smoke.ERT was just the propaganda-machinery of PASOK and nea dimokratia.And it will remain as this just in a more “modern way” with not a single critical journalist.According to many surveys over 60% of greeks dont have any problem with the fact that this propaganda tool is shut down BUT only with the way this happened in a junta style.

    1. Maira

      The Greek government never really needed ERT for its propaganda, at least in the last 15 years; the private tv stations fit the bill remarkably well.
      The surveys you are talking about are probably surveys of Samaras himself. People already show their support to ERT and against the totalitarian practices of PART of the government. In the meantime, the eastern part of Greece can now watch only turkish tv stations while the Greeks around the world have lost any contact with Greece.

      Why don’t you just go and rinse off that toothpaste of a brain that you have?

      1. charis

        Now you wont get it,right?

        Every single journalist of ERT was either from Nea Dimokratia or PASOK.This is something every greek knows.The private channels ofcourse are even worse but that does not mean that ERT was not a propaganda tool in the hands of the few greek oligarchs.

        Again,nobody in greece is really sad about what will happen to all those corrupt journalists of ERT.But STILL! the state TV is a public TV and normally belongs to the people.In pure terms of law the government has no right to close it down within a few minutes.This is against every single law,this is against the constitution.This has happened in greece only through war times or when the junta took over in 1967.This is UNBELIEVABLE!!

        Sorry,I cant make this more clear.

        As for Varoufakis..for some reason this guy achieved to become some sort of “hip” outside of greece.But in greece we know that he is just a hypocrit who will do every thing and say everything to “sell”. During the last months he discovered the german-bashing.He plays the anti-german card and does not see that many germans suffer very hard under Merkels neoliberal agenda too.But Varoufakis does not miss any opportunity to sell germany (all germans) as the “big winner”..

        Most greeks dont like this.We dont like it when some one plays the nationalistic card.We dont like to blame any other country no matter what they tell you in your media.We blame our voting behaviour,,we blame our corruption,we blame our politicians,we blame our banks,we blame the financial international bankster-mob but we dont blame “ze germans” as Varoufakis did all the last time because he thought that this would “sell”.

        Got it now?

        1. John Jones

          Unfortunately not enough people in Greece seem to be blaming the real cause of the crisis
          which is the rules and terms of belonging to the E.U and the rules and terms of belong to the Euro
          currency. And how they de-industrialize and bleed the weaker countries in favor of the core countries.

          Everything about blaming something internal in Greece is just a nice distraction to keep the wool over the Greek peoples eyes by the Euro elites and allow them to do what they want.

          Greece could have the best run public sector no tax evasion squeaky clean politicians etc etc etc. But if Greece still belongs to the E.U and Euro the way they are designed now Greece is always going to bleed more money to the core then it receives or it collects internally.

          The only thing to internally blame in Greece is any politician wanting to belong to these institutions. The E.U and Eurozone. All other internal problems are not the cause of the crisis and should be dealt with after Greece stops the bleeding.

          Apologies to anyone who had to endure my spelling and punctuation.

          1. charis

            My friend..right now we have a global crisis with 50 million food stampers in the USA (unbelievable numbers for europeans),50% of all pensions in germany below 700euros,millions of people everywhere who need soup kitchens,and so on..

            Today I read a report of the OECD and it says what every south european already knows:

            50% of all greeks and spaniards who left their country to find work in germany of the UK during the last few years are returning to their homelands!Not because things get “better” in greece or spain but for the reason that things are even worse elswehere.Do not laugh.At least 90% of greeks have their own real estate.They dont pay a single euro for rent.80% of all citizins in big cities like athens live in their own house/appartment.I read some where that this is a world record.Add to this that we dont have any serious private debt.

            Now I dont stop reading about the “euro crisis” about the “loosers” in the south of europe and the “winners” in the north of europe.The USA still pretending to be a “supa power”(with 50 million on food stamps I dont buy this anymore) Greeks “bleeding” and germans “enyoing” and other bullcrap.People like Varoufakis is one of those guys who helps all these nationalism and stereotypes.Instead to make it clear that all oligarchs win and all normal people loose he delivers stereotypes and wannabe leftist arguments(like in the case of ERT).

            For me things are very simple:

            My country was NEVER an industrial giant.Portugal neither.We are small countries with less population than a city like Paris.Euro or not,the drachma would not have saved us from the wild attacks of the neoliberals..

            Anyway.We can live very nicely with 20-25 million high class tourists every year,shipping,bio-farming and some specialised technology production in the future.

            All this talk about the “euro crisis” and the euro as currency just deflects from the real issues and most of all from what will soon happen to the populations of the huge countries like USA,germany,france,UK and so on..the ERT-shot down was one more experiment in a small country for things to come to the big and importnat countries.But again:This whole thing is not about the small ones.This is not about greece,portugal,ireland or any other “PIG”.We are just the guinea pig.For the “real action” coming soon to the big ones.

            But we still dont see any american or any german on the streets protesting.And this is a REAL REASON to worry.At least for me.

          2. John Jones

            Belonging to a currency that does not reflect your economy
            sounds very neoliberal to me.

            Belonging to an organization that favours the consumption of euro country products when Greece is more than capable of producing them itself or been able to block those european products in favor importing them from cheaper cost countries.

            Belonging to an organization that will never allow a country to create industries because they cannot compete
            with the core countries industries already in Greece.

            This is all neoliberal policies imposed on Greece and allowed in Greece by complicit euro elite politicians and Greeks with wool over their eyes about the euro.

            Answer me this.
            Why do you want to hold onto the euro and E.U
            when it does nothing positive for Greece?

            As for Greeks and Greece
            Yes they are bleeding and it has being going on before the crises.

  9. The Dork of Cork.

    Listening to extremely materialist Marxists will fuck up your mind and natural human village scale perspective of beauty.


    Please keep in mind Romes influence in Ireland pre Cromwell was very weak despite or because of peoples mixed christian / pagan beliefs

    Despite Cromwells apparent hostility to Rome – its only when people lost everything did Rome gain full control over peoples little heads.

    The lessons for todays strange world of materialist mind fucking is quite stark.
    Only through the destruction of ancient systems can you gain total power.

  10. Yanis Varoufakis

    One comment said this about me: “Varoufakis is an idiot. Most greeks do not forget how this clown welcomed yaesr ago the troika and promised (in the ERT-news) that greece will “only undergo a soft IMF-austerity package”. An idiot I may be – not for me to judge. But the claim that I welcomed the troika to Greece is a vile lie. As is the false report that I told ERT that the IMF-troika program would be soft. Months before that package was announced I ran a campaign against it. Against the austerity that I could see coming. In fact I had written long articles prognosticating that the Greek program would bring untold hardship to the whole of Europe – even to Germany. (See this as an example: http://www.re-public.gr/en/?p=2416 – published in March 2010). In short, call me any names you wish. But do not put words that I never uttered in my mouth.

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