by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos, counterpunch.org
“Ι have spelled for this man (Alexis Tsipras), in the past, some heavy words… I have said that he identifies with History… Now, I have to return to the letter I send some time ago…I am asking once more from you and from the Greek people to pardon me for having trusted people who did not see anything else than power…”
This is what Manolis Glezos said to the revolted Greek peasants, camping around their barricades and blocking circulation in the National Road. His words bear a heavy moral and political weight He is the symbol of European resistance against Nazis, the man who dropped the German flag from Acropolis in 1941, when Hitler was already dominating most Europe and Greece (much as Schäuble and Dragui do now, by financial means this time). Charles de Gaulle called him “the first partisan of Europe”. A historic leader of the Greek left, he was condemned three times to death for his political convictions. He avoided the firing squad only after personalities like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus waged an international campaign to save him. All his life a militant, he went in person to meet the peasants in spite of his age (94 years old) and fragile health.
Such words by people like Glezos or Theodorakis (1) bear an even greater moral weight, as they have won their prestige in the struggles and the prisons. They did not make an easy career just presenting themselves as leftists, as it is the case of most present SYRIZA leaders, never distinguished in struggles or intellectual work, but just jumping on the “train” of the huge movement of social discontent, created by the disastrous results of the “bail-out” program and of the previous capitulations of both Greek “socialists” and Greek Right. They represent the values and the ideas of the real, struggling Left, they have followed all their life the real movement, suffering and history of their people, as opposed to the kind of pseudo-left represented by SYRIZA cadres and their leader, evolving since some time already into a kind of political “Dorian Gray” of the left.
But more than the moral blow, it is another factor that angers now mostly the two parties, the “radical leftist” SYRIZA and the “sovereignist rightist” An.Ell., which “govern” Greece, acting in reality on behalf of the neocolonialist Troika (already the Quartet) of the “Creditors” (German and all other European governments, ECB, European Commission, IMF). And this factor is the social revolt provoked by their policy, especially among Greek peasants, who are followed now by liberal professions, scientists and all other social classes which still have the courage to resist.
Because you need indeed courage to resist in a country destroyed systematically and threatened continuously during six years by the most powerful economic and political forces on Earth, including Germany, EU and the IMF, the later acting as representative of world financial and US power. Greece is already approaching, mainly as a result of the “help” it received from its European “partners” and American-IMF “friends”, a decade of continuous economic depression, an absolute record in world economic history for the last three centuries.
You do need courage to resist when you are betrayed, time and again, by the leaders, the parties, the organizations you have trusted, beginning with “Socialists”, going on with a national-oriented Right that finished by obeying blindly the foreigner forces and finishing with the Tsipras version of the “radical Left” and its junior partners, of the “sovereignist right” (An.Ell.)
You need courage to resist when you are ruined financially, when you struggle all day to make the ends meet, when you don’t know how you will feed your children (250.000 of Greek children are going to primary schools “underfed”) and you don’t see any future for them, or when you cannot figure out how you will find the medicine or medical care you desperately need. You need courage to resist when all the nation, with the exception of its privileged strata and a small part of its middle classes (including SYRIZA bureaucrats or An.Ell. deputies!), is living in absolute fear and deep insecurity, conscious of the impasse their country is in, trying to remain unconscious of the even bigger catastrophes probably waiting it.
When the first signs of the peasants mobilization appeared, some weeks ago, the government did not pay much attention. They believed it was a temporary outburst of anger which would disappear easily after some time. After all they were able to sign the most humiliating capitulation in the history of the world left, after the leader of “Soviet communism” himself turned into a “pro-western liberal” (!), thirty years ago. Not only SYRIZA leaders were able to survive the capitulation and control their party with minor losses, they even won the elections held soon afterwards, even if their relative majority was rather narrow and a historic record number of Greek citizens just did not vote. This experience has strengthened their conviction that “luck will remain always on our side”, as well as their inner belief that they are legitimate owners of Left and History.
Things proved to be different this time. Reality is now asking its rights. Peasant mobilization got stronger every passing day. Last September a relative majority of Greek voters supported SYRIZA under the shock provoked by its sudden “transformation”, not realizing the exact content and significance of the agreements signed under pressure, threats and blackmail by Tsipras (it seems many people in Europe, including some known leaders of the European supposedly “radical left” like Gyzi, Laurent and quite a few others, did not also realize them. They did not take the slightest pain to read the documents signed by Tsipras, probably because they suspected well what they would find in them). But now, the agreement has to be translated into reality. And the reality is, among many other things, a confiscating taxation of everybody, the further destruction of the Greek pension system, including the 12th reduction of pensions in five years (!), the acceleration of the privatization-looting of the country, the selling of “red” mortgage loans to foreign “distress funds” and many others.
A “Holocaust” for Greeks
Such measures, if applied, they will ruin Greek peasants and the majority of whoever remains alive of the Greek middle classes. At the same time they will increase the number of old people, already condemned to a precarious and painful death, as a result of the Germany-EU-IMF measures and, also, the number of young scientists leaving the country.
Along the material looting of the Greek public and private (through exorbitant taxation) property, another form of intellectual “looting” of the country is taking place, through this particular form of “brain drain”. Hundreds of thousands of young, well-educated and talented scientists, absolutely necessary for any revival of Greece, are obliged to leave their country and find a job abroad. For example, thousands of Greek doctors and nurses, for the education of whom the Greek state has spent huge sums of money, are working now for the German hospitals, while the Greek hospitals are crumbling under-staffed and under-financed. In all northeastern Greece for instance, east of Salonica, it is better not to suffer a heart attack. If you don’ t have a private security you will have to pay yourself for the ambulance to get you to Salonica, as the local hospitals have not the means and sometimes even the staff to make an exact diagnosis and the corresponding treatment.
This is what the “Creditors” (European governments, ECB, IMF) mean when they speak of “reforms”. Their language is the language described by Huxley or Kafka, Zamiatin or Orwell. They speak about “reforms”, but what they mean is to continue assassinating a European country and its population! And because all this may seem a gross exaggeration to some readers, not acquainted with Greek reality, or believing to the sincerity of their politicians and newspapers, it may be useful to remind that, during the five and a half years of “European-IMF help to Greece”, this country has known a fall of its GDP and an increase of unemployment (especially of the young, two thirds of whom are without a job) superior to what happened during the last three years of the Weimar Germany or after the big Crash of 1929 in the US or than the material losses France or Germany suffered during the 1st World War! It is in this country that comes now the “Creditors” to impose a “reform program” that, according to what they themselves predict, will provoke, among other things, a further drop in GDP.
The essence of the whole program is that the creditors are obliging Greece to pay an always increasing, unsustainable and partially hideous public and private debt. World financial institutions, like Goldman Sachs (which is in reality governing the “European” Central Bank) and European authorities and governments have in reality helped a lot Greece contract this huge debt, by completely illegal means (like the Goldman Sachs swaps, or the lack of control by European authorities, or the massive corruption of the Greek political and state systems by European firms like Siemens, used afterwards for blackmailing Greek politicians).
By obliging Greece to pay to the last euro this unsustainable debt, they destroy Greek economy, the population of the country, its state and its democracy.
The German government is probably applying this policy because they wish to expel Greece from Eurozone and make of this country an example for all European states. Anyway Mrs. Merkel herself said in a declaration reported by BBC on the 10th of May 2010, that the other Europeans will see what happens to the Greeks and they will be more “wise” in their policies.
German leadership acts now in close, “Faust type” alliance with high international finance controlling most of European institutions, governments and media. The finance bought in reality some years of financial and political “stability” in Europe by destroying a European nation in order to save big and fraudulent European banks and keep intact the “principle” that the debt must be paid, even at the cost of destroying schools and hospitals, people and nations. A “kingdom of money” has replaced “popular sovereignty” as the foundation of “Maastricht integration” and the Greeks are the first among Europeans to bear the consequences.
By transforming Greek debt to private banks into debt to other European states, they were able to transform also the crisis of financial institutions into a crisis of EU and a political-financial “war” among European nations. They are now using the disaster they provoke themselves in Greece, to experiment with “regime change” (abolition of democracy and social welfare system) in Europe, the transformation of EU into a clearly totalitarian structure and other geopolitical and “ideological” agendas.
The irony of history, if such an expression is adequate in that case, is that the Creditors, whom the government tries to satisfy by imposing such harsh and indeed catastrophic measures, provoking already a revolt, are never satisfied. They “don’t take prisoners” and they are asking always for more Greek blood! No sacrifice is enough for them. They wish the complete humiliation of SYRIZA, not because they are afraid of the “really existing” Greek Left, but because they want to destroy the slightest idea of a leftist or socially sensitive alternative in Greece and all Europe. Greeks have to be punished in an exemplary way, their government must be humiliated, their Prime Minister called “stupid” publicly, so that nobody in Europe will dare challenge the dictatorship of the Finance-German alliance, the Fascism of our epoch.
This is why the instrument of this modern Fascism, the quartet of the “Institutions” is not accepting even the terrible measures the Greek government is ready to apply, having provoked a social revolt even by announcing its intention.
Reality Wakes Society
“They have stolen our vote, they are not going to steel our life”, says one peasant in the “blocks” which have been multiplied in all country stopping for many hours every day the circulation in the main roads of Greece, closing some frontier crossings and threatening even to block transport to and from the airports. While a lot of liberal professions are beginning strikes of unlimited duration, culminating in the general strike of the 4th of February, which will be the critical test day everybody weights to see what is the force of the developing popular movement and also the extent into which the feelings of Revolt and of Anger can win over fear and insecurity of the society at large. Two “arguments” are playing now against the feelings of revolt. The difficulty of the country to win against such powerful forces and the lack of any serious political alternative. Against such tendencies it is developing the realization of the fact that if Greeks do not take the situation into their own hands, they are doomed to suffer genocide.
This popular movement developing now is not in reality confronting only the present Greek government. It is confronting the “Creditors”, the neocolonial “Institutions” and nearly all the Greek political system, both left and right – given the agreement of nearly all parties to the continuation of this policy. The main opposition, the New Democracy party, not only it is supporting the Creditors, it has recently elected as head an extreme neoliberal figure. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in complete agreement with Berlin and Washington, recipient, according to the press, also of a quite expensive electronic equipment and telephone center from Siemens for his office (!), son of the Greek politician who betrayed the Prime Minister Georges Papandreou in 1965, thus opening the way for the military junta which ruled Greece after 1967 and apparently ready to do whatever the Creditors or the Americans will ask from him. His election as head of the opposition provoked a wave of enthusiasm in both German governing circles and the Wall Street.
In the beginning, the SYRIZA cadres (An.Ell. People simply disappearing) tried to answer to the protests dismissing them as unfounded, accusing the peasants of tax evasion or of being organized by right and extreme right people or not understanding the nature of the measures proposed. The only consequence of such stupidities was to increase the anger of peasants. “We are not left or right. We struggle for our lives and we struggle also for the other people who fell victim of this policy”, was their answer. Greek national flags dominate their barricades, reflecting the objective character of their struggle.
Very quickly, SYRIZA discovered that “luck is not anymore with them”. Ministers were humiliated and seemed completely ridiculous in TV debates. Both Ministers and deputies faced the anger of people wherever they tried to go, sometimes even receiving yoghurts on the face. SYRIZA discovered that it cannot organize one public meeting without people intruding and disturbing it. To the feeling of anger, because of the looming disaster from the measures imposed by government and the creditors, it was added the feeling that people were fooled and betrayed by SYRIZA and An.Ell.
In the beginning of the crisis, the mass media controlled by the corrupted Greek oligarchy and functioning in reality under direct supervision of the “Creditors” have played hard the card of peasant mobilizations in order to weaken the government and help the opposition. But the latest days, the international centers understood finally the dynamics of the revolt and they gave the order to Greek televisions to downplay it. (International media have also gravely underreported them). It is in our interest that the government of the Left remains in power and do all the dirty job, as one famous Greek TV commentator put it. The creditors know that if their closest friends in Athens get power they will face the same and even worse kind of social protests.
Now SYRIZA does not know what to do and how to face the situation, trapped as it is, between the pressure of the Creditors and of society, not disposing of any serious political project except the vague hope (already denied in the past) that if they continue satisfying the creditors, they will receive some alleviation, afterwards, of the Greek debt. Hope dies last.
A foreign politician who met with Tsipras recently told the writer of this article: “Ι saw a completely different person. He is not the man I met one year ago. He reminded me of the descriptions I read on how American veterans looked years after returning from the Vietnam war”.
Tsipras himself, having confused communication with politics and politics with History, is rapidly transforming himself into a tragic person. He is more than ever dependent upon the US-Britain-Israel axis and probably ready to make catastrophic concessions also in foreign policy, in his desperate drive to save his political skin. And around him there is nothing.
SYRIZA was propelled to the forefront of history not because of its ideas or political skills. It was propelled by the enormous wave of the energy “liberated” by the destruction of a whole society, of a whole nation, very much like it happened in pre-Hitler Weimar Germany. This “energy” was and remains a titanic historical force, SYRIZA leaders were not able/willing to recognize and respect. Now, Nemesis is preparing to come and the fall may prove as spectacular as the rise has been.
SYRIZA was able to win power because of the “national” character of its “message” – the need to save the country. Its leaders were able to climb to power by using such slogans, but they did not want to do the effort needed and take the necessary risks to save their country. Their dream was also the dream of a part of Greek petty and middle bourgoies strata, hoping to get out of the present crisis without having to wage the “war” the country needs to wage in order to be saved.
Now the greek people begins to understand that he cannot wait from any of the existing parties its salvation. We need to be “saved” by ourseleves. This is the main meaning of coming events.
Of course, the tragedy of the Greek people and the Greek nation is that they still lack, as so many times in their modern history, the necessary leadership, the political, intellectual and organizational tools for their struggle of survival as an organized and free nation.
(1) For Theodorakis declaration look to http://www.konstantakopoulos.gr/2015/07/29/mikis-theodorakis-dramatic-appeal/
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos is a journalist and writer, former Secretary of the Independent Citizens Movement, former member SYRIZA’s Central Committee, current editorial board member of the international magazine Utopia Review, ex-chief of the Greek Press Agency office in Moscow, formerly served as Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou’s adviser in East-West relations and arms control.