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Magda Hassan
02-10-2010, 12:53 PM
Public sector workers in Greece have launched a national strike, rallying in protest at government measures to tackle the country's huge deficit.
Flights have been grounded, many schools are closed and hospitals are operating an emergency-only service.
The government wants to freeze pay, gather more taxes and reform pensions.
EU leaders will discuss Greece's difficulties at a Brussels summit on Thursday amid concern the crisis could threaten the credibility of the euro.
European finance ministers are also due to hold a teleconference on Wednesday to talk about the issue.
Public anger
Despite heavy rain, there were rallies across Greece on Wednesday, with hundreds of striking workers and pensioners gathering in the centre of Athens ahead of a planned protest there.
The BBC's Malcolm Brabant reports from the capital that the rallies have been mainly peaceful, but in one incident police fired tear gas at rubbish collectors who tried to drive through a police cordon.
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/shared/img/o.gif http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/start_quote_rb.gif It's a war against workers and we will answer with war http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/end_quote_rb.gif


Union member Christos Katsiotis

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/inline_dashed_line.gif

Flanders: Lessons for Europe? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/stephanieflanders/2010/02/the_new_eurobillions_lottery.html)
Mason: Europe's crisis (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2010/02/the_greek_crisis_is_europes_cr.html)
UK press views on Greek crisis (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/seealso/2010/02/daily_view_greece_and_the_futu.html)

Some demonstrators threw stones at the police but the trouble quickly died out.
The unions regard the austerity programme as a declaration of war against the working and middle classes, our correspondent says, and their resolve is strengthened by their belief that this crisis has been engineered by external forces, such as international speculators and European central bankers.
"It's a war against workers and we will answer with war, with constant struggles until this policy is overturned," said Christos Katsiotis, a union member affiliated to the Communist Party, at the Athens rally.
Others in the capital either see the cuts as necessary or argue that the strike is politically motivated.

(http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?forumID=7493&edition=1&ttl=20100210112422)

"We have to implement the austerity measures, or the country will not be able to get out of this crisis," said Katerina, a private sector employee. "We have to pay for the mistakes of the past."
On Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's socialist government announced that it intends to raise the average retirement age from 61 to 63 by 2015 in a bid to save the cash-strapped pensions system.
The move comes on top of other planned austerity measures, including a public sector salary freeze and a hike in petrol prices announced last week.
Deficit and debt
Further government measures include the non-replacement of departing civil servants, and tax collectors recovering billions of euros lost to tax evasion.
Mr Papandreou has already faced down a three-week protest by farmers demanding higher government subsidies.
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/47233000/jpg/_47233421_papandreouap226b.jpg George Papandreou has faced down public opposition so far

Public sector workers will not be hit as hard as they have been in the Irish Republic, but they complain that some of the lowest paid will suffer while the rich dodge tax with impunity, says BBC Europe correspondent Jonny Dymond.
Financial markets around the world and politicians from across Europe will be watching the situation carefully, he reports from Athens.
Greece's deficit is, at 12.7%, more than four times higher than eurozone rules allow. Its debt is about 300bn euros ($419bn; £259bn).
The markets remain sceptical that Greece will be able to pay its debts and many investors believe the country will have to be bailed out.
The uncertainty has recently buffeted the euro and the problems have extended to Spain and Portugal, which are also struggling with their deficits.
The possibility of Greece or one of the other stricken countries being unable to pay its debts - and either needing an EU bailout or having to abandon the euro - has been called the biggest threat yet to the single currency.
Ahead of Thursday's Brussels summit, some business media reported that Germany is preparing to lead a possible bail-out, supported by France and other eurozone members.
Mr Papandreou was in Paris on Wednesday for talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Ed Jewett
02-16-2010, 04:45 AM
http://www.hellenesonline.com/go/wp-content/uploads/pth/thumb-z-gavras.png

Myra Bronstein
02-16-2010, 05:07 AM
Good for the strikers. A general strike is one of the few weapons the people have against the corporate kings.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/start_quote_rb.gifIt's a war against workers and we will answer with war.http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/end_quote_rb.gif

They understand. Hit 'em where it hurts--right in the profits.

Magda Hassan
02-25-2010, 11:42 PM
Another stike in Greece. Great pictures here:
http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1135971

Ed Jewett
02-26-2010, 02:20 AM
Europe hit by wave of strikes

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10628201

Mark Stapleton
03-08-2010, 12:01 AM
http://www.hellenesonline.com/go/wp-content/uploads/pth/thumb-z-gavras.png


Just curious. What's this Ed?

Mark Stapleton
03-08-2010, 12:13 AM
From what I've read lately, quite a few others like Italy, Portugal and Spain might follow Greece. Will they accept austerity or choose revolution?

Ed Jewett
03-08-2010, 06:13 AM
http://www.hellenesonline.com/go/wp-content/uploads/pth/thumb-z-gavras.png



Just curious. What's this Ed?


It is an iconic graphic that is descriptive of the movie "Z" by Costas-Gavras.

See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065234/

Here's a video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NPJ9sPbH18

The author of the book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vassilis_Vassilikos

****

"In an unnamed Mediterranean country run by an ultra right-wing government, a liberal party leader is assassinated after giving a public speech. An investigation is launched to try to dispute claims of a police conspiracy, but the more the investigator looks into the case, the clearer it becomes that a cover-up is involved...

The film is based on the novel by Vassili Vassilikos and parallels the real life assassination in 1963 of Gregorios Lambrakis, a popular public figure known for his left-wing views. The significance of the letter Z is explained at the end of the film."

From a user comment: "... For hard-core political activists, these films are a must-see to make one fully aware to what extent those in questionable power will go, to manipulate the masses with covert deception, mass hysteria and mass hypnosis..."


http://filmsdefrance.com/FDF_Z_rev.html

See also

http://www.moviediva.com/MD_root/reviewpages/MDZ.htm

"The letter is shorthand for “He Lives” in ancient Greek, a graffito that was spray painted around Athens after Lambrakis’ murder."

***

"With the tacit acceptance of the U.S. and Western Europe, the world's cradle of democracy was harboring a totalitarian regime that regularly tortured and murdered dissidents and had banned everything from the Beatles and long hair, to Mark Twain, Dostoyevsky, and a certain letter of the alphabet. With “Z,” Costa-Gavris made sure the world knew that."

http://www.bullz-eye.com/mguide/reviews_1969/z.htm

***

See also
ZMAG
http://www.zmag.org (http://www.zmag.org/)
Z Magazine's web site: an independent political magazine of critical thinking on political, cultural, social, and economic life in the United States and around the globe.

Magda Hassan
03-08-2010, 06:21 AM
If you haven't seen the movie Mark make sure you do. I think it was recently re-issued in digital. Paul Rigby posted about it somewhere. It is a must see. A classic.

It is also the 'Z' which is used over at Zmag/Znet:
http://www.zcommunications.org/znet
Inspired by the Costas Gavras movie and Vassilikos' book.

Edit: Sorry Ed I see you already mentioned Zmag

Mark Stapleton
03-09-2010, 12:27 AM
Very interesting Ed and Maggie, and thanks.

Didn't know about all that.

Ed Jewett
03-09-2010, 03:00 AM
Via the aggregator web site "What Really Happened [dot] com", thorugh Google translator services, comes this:

Greek police stormed a government printing

http://pics.top.rbc.ru/top_pics/uniora/53/1268071353_0553.250x200.jpeg


? ?????? ?????????? ??? ?????? ??????? ????? ??????????????? ??????????.
In Athens, Greek Ministry of Internal Affairs officers stormed the state printing office.
?? ???? ???????? ????????? "?????? 24".
It is reported by TV channel "Russia 24".

????????? ??????????? ????? ????????????????? ??????? ????????????????? ?????? ? ??????? ?????? ? ????? ??????? ????? ???????? ??????? ???????????? ???????.
Greek police want to prevent the publication of government paper with the text of the law of the new stringent economy measures of the federal budget.
???????? ???????????????? ??????, ???????? ????? ????? ???????? ? ???? ?????? ????? ????????????? ? ??????????? ?????? ????????????? ??????.
According to the law of the country, passed a law can come into force only after publication in the official newspaper of the Government of Greece.

????????????, ????????? ????? ???????, ??????????????? ???????????? ?????????? ???????, ??????????? ? ??????????? ??????, ???? ?????? ??????? ? ???????.
The bill, which caused such a reaction, provides a significant reduction in salaries, bonuses and holiday pay, the growth of other taxes and excise taxes.

????????????? ???????, ??? ?????????????? ??????? ???? ???????? ???????? ? ?????? 4,8 ???? ???? ?????????????? ???????, ??? ????????? ???????? ???????? ?????????? ?? ?????? 4% ?????? ???????? ?????? ? 8,7% ???.
The Government expects that additional austerity measures will bring the budget 4.8 billion euros of additional revenue that would allow reduction in the state budget deficit to the level of 4% against the deficit of Greece to 8.7% of GDP.

???????? ?????, ??? ?????????? ??????? ????????? ???????????? Olympic Airlines, ????????? ????? ???????? ???????????? ? ??????? ????, ????? ???? ?????? ?????????? ? ????? ????? ?????? ???????? ??????????? ?????????? (????????????) ??????.
Recall also that the principal officers of the Greek airline Olympic Airlines, the airline laid off after the transfer into private hands, the fifth consecutive day hold in their hands the building of the Chief Financial Management (Treasury), Greece.
??-?? ?? ???????? ???????? ????????? ??????????? ???????? ????? ????????????.
Because of their actions partially offset by a central Athens street Panepistimiu.


08 ????? 2010?.
08 ????? 2010.



http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Ftop.rbc.ru%2Fincidents%2F08%2F03%2F 2010%2F377878.shtml%3Ffrom%3Dstartqip

Magda Hassan
03-09-2010, 03:01 AM
One of the best journalists around I think.

The Fall of Greece
Yes, It Really is a Capitalist Plot

By Diana Johnstone

URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17937 (http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103152101528&s=793&e=0016GBP3zQCsQ5iA0PABkSQ9xOloZVnoPu4S9A4Am4kQqDSX Rb0vU3KqfFcpQd4dqqmpkyy8sRqh53LNTANDDhebOypZg0nPN3 JlxgF03HaJGUeEbGRrw9D_3VsqvYVmaLPz4XeMTdbZvBy5jA6K 2nsfQ6d637XQAIlSL7I1cRZmM8=)

Global Research (http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103152101528&s=793&e=0016GBP3zQCsQ7zndHk9aQMgYHaWNEUO4TmPaaT9vUS74bMx QNz75hOAFIDHS4gHjFxd_VKUqrP7luOXGthNA2XauE6EGYAgZZ cuuxQ2iu57h1x5hqvfZr6SA==), March 4, 2010
Counterpunch (http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103152101528&s=793&e=0016GBP3zQCsQ60HGMF6EguMQcK4ED8pAGqk3xei9IBfL3Un 6WJKyxxs0g9lJXqK48hAp3dvn1ls8Jx40fUcqghZOBUF_IVlzH TUhTBwIrIaDxyrqSBRbH1TQ==) - 2010-03-01

For Europes poorest countries, European Union membership has long held out the promise of tranquil prosperity. The current Greek financial crisis ought to dispel some of their illusions.

There are two strikingly significant levels to the current crisis. While primarily economic, the European Economic Community also claims to be a community, based on solidarity -- the sisterhood of nations and brotherhood of peoples. However, the economic deficit is nothing compared to the human deficit it exposes.

To put it simply, the Greek crisis shows what happens when a weak member of this Union is in trouble. It is the same as what happens on the world scale, where there is no such morally pretentious union perpetually congratulating itself on its devotion to human rights. The economically strong protect their own interests at the expense of the economically weak.

The crisis broke last autumn after George Papandreous PASOK party won elections, took office and discovered that the cupboard was bare. The Greek government had cheated to get into the EUs euro zone in 2001 by cooking the books to cover deficits that would have disqualified it from membership in the common currency. The European Treaties capped the acceptable budget deficit at 3 per cent and public debt at 60 per cent of GDP respectively. In fact, this limit is being widely transgressed, quite openly by France. But major scandal arrived with revelations that Greeces budget deficit reached 12.7 per cent in 2009, with a gross debt forecast for 2010 amounting to 125 per cent of GDP.

Of course, European leaders got together to declare solidarity. But their speeches were designed not so much to reassure the increasingly angry and desperate Greek people as to soothe the markets  the real hidden almighty gods of the European Union. The markets, like the ancient gods, have a great old time tormenting mere mortals in trouble, so their response to the Greek problem was naturally to rush to profit from it. For instance, when Greece is obliged to issue new bonds this year, the markets can blithely demand that Greece double its interest rates, on grounds of increased risk that Greece wont pay, thus making it that much harder for Greece to pay. Such is the logic of the free market.

What the EU leaders meant by solidarity in their appeal to the gods was not that they were going to pour public money into Greece, as they poured it into their troubled banks, but that they intended to squeeze the money owed the banks out of the Greek people.

The squeezing is to take the forms made familiar over the past disastrous decades by the International Monetary Fund: the Greek state is enjoined to cut public expenses, which means firing public employees, cutting their overall earnings, delaying retirement, economizing on health care, raising taxes, and incidentally probably raising the jobless rate from 9.6 per cent to around 16 per cent, all with the glorious aim of bringing the deficit down to 8.7 per cent this year and thus appeasing the invisible gods of the market.

This just might propitiate both the gods and German leaders, who above all want to maintain the value of the euro. The financial markets will no doubt grab their pound of flesh in the form of increased interest rates, while the Greeks are bled by IMF-style shock treatment.

And what about that great theater of human rights and universal brotherhood, the European Parliament? In that forum everyone gets to speak for a carefully clocked 1, 2, or 3 minutes, but when it comes to the most serious matter, the budget, the authoritative voices are all German.

Thus the chairman of the EPs special committee on the economic and financial crisis, Wolf Klinz, has called for sending a high representative of the EU to Greece, an economies commissar to make sure the Greeks carry out the austerity measures properly. The Greek crisis can allow the EU to put into practice for the first time its Treaty instruments concerning supervision of budgetary and economic policy. Interest rates may go up because of risk, but there is to be no risk. The pound of flesh will be delivered.

There was no such supervision of the financial fiddling which caused this mess. The EU statistics agency Eurostat recently discovered and revealed that in 2001, Goldman Sachs secretly (but legally, protest its executive officers) helped the right-wing Greek government meet EU membership criteria by using a complicated currency swap that masked the extent of public deficit and national debt. [See Andrew Cockburn (http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103152101528&s=793&e=0016GBP3zQCsQ4isKa00db5tzDP-4ye2dXDXeNJstmdGbBR0eHLIoOmSqKFMS5xMJmy1DTKKzSCnk6 WrJ_4cEpqudqS2xfyQPFLv1nPQLe-THsqdr22-JFUYwzHMAeYDwyCbAEgGrzKNEt1vAVESbAamg==) and Marshall Auerback (http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103152101528&s=793&e=0016GBP3zQCsQ7_M08IWGS5s30EuW8UiXTPmfmkOryu4Yf2X tGURTCNmObPhtnspIo22Yp0R01EB1Clhbcg1f44FSmLyR0szw1 0Fn5qxxMo69JI81fL930rbqbHpilPt7PEgG7tOuZmBpCeMFB_l YgNUw==), on this site.] Who understands how that worked? I think it is fair to guess that not even Angela Merkel, who is trained as a scientist, understands clearly what went on, much less the incompetent Greek politicians who accepted the Goldman Sachs trickery. It allowed them to create an illusion of success  for a while. Success meant being a member of the club of the rich, and it can be argued that this notion of success has actually favored bad government at the national level. Belonging to the EU gave a false sense of security that contributed to the irresponsibility of incompetent political leaders.

Having euros to buy imported goods (notably from Germany) pleased rich consumers, while the euro priced Greek goods out of their previous markets. Now the debt trap is closing. The traditional way out for Greece would be to leave the euro and return to a devaluated drachma, in order to cut imports and favor exports. This way, the burden of necessary sacrifices would not be borne solely by the working class. But the embrace of EU solidarity is there to prevent this from happening. German authorities are preparing to lay down the law to the Greeks, after reducing the income of their own working class in order to benefit Germanys export-oriented economy.

Austerity measures are the opposite of what is needed in a time of looming depression. Rather, what is needed are Keynesian measures to stimulate employment and strengthen the domestic market. But Germany is firmly attached to the export model, for itself and everyone else (globalization). For a country like Greece, which cannot compete successfully within the EU, exports outside the EU are crippled by its use of a strong currency, the euro. Bound to the euro, Greece can neither stimulate its domestic market nor export successfully. But it is not going to be allowed to extricate itself from the debt trap and return to its traditional currency, the drachma. Poverty appears to be the only solution.

There is discontent within the German working class at their countrys policies aimed at shrinking wages and social benefits for the sake of selling abroad. In an ideal social Europe, workers in Germany would come to the aid of workers in Greece by demanding a radical revision of economic policy, away from catering to the international financial markets toward building a solid social democracy. The reality is quite different.

The Greek financial crisis exposes the absence of any real community spirit in the EU. The solidarity declared by the countrys EU partners is a solidarity with their own investments. There is no popular solidarity between peoples. The EU has established a surrogate ideology of internationalism: rejection of the nation-state as source of all evil, a pompous pride in Europe as the center of human rights, giver of moral lessons to the world, which happens to fit in perfectly with its subservience to United States imperial foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond. The paradox is that European unification has coincided with decreasing curiosity in the larger EU states about what happens to their neighbors.

Despite a certain amount of specialized training needed to create a Eurocrat class, the general population of each EU member is only superficially acquainted with the others. They see them as teams in soccer matches. They go on holiday around the Mediterranean, but this mostly involves meeting fellow tourists, and study of foreign languages has declined, except for English (omnipresent, if mangled). Mass media news reports are turned inward, featuring missing children and pedophiles ahead of even major political events in other EU member states.

Northern European media portray Greece practically as a Third World country, peripheral and picturesque, where people speak an impossible language, dance in circles on islands, and live beyond their means in their carefree way. The crickets in the Aesop fable, scorned by the assiduous ants.

Media in Germany and the Netherlands imply that IMF-style shock treatment is almost too good for them. The widening polarization between rich and poor, between and within EU member states, is taken for granted.

The smaller indebted countries within the EU are amiably designated by the English-speaking financial priesthood as the PIGS  Portugal, Italy (perhaps Ireland), Greece, Spain  an appropriate designation for an animal farm where some are so much more equal than others.

Diana Johnstone is author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103152101528&s=793&e=0016GBP3zQCsQ48uLctJ0QOvwyplJWCgvN4Dm5l_MImcjJUz VqELk6a-sLhSUu_2yb2Qpx5sY4tU_Ygh2X3VNN9QcYksCg2HtwjfTBiZzM jXTapxXxW3zozFfTwdOIYGnVd_CcceKAU3xwdWNVB8tgTm6pKd f3evCQHm_qCHm6_0QYuGm_BD18PdQ==) (Monthly Review Press). She can be reached at diana.josto@yahoo.fr (diana.josto@yahoo.fr)

David Guyatt
03-09-2010, 12:01 PM
Off topic, but Italy also got into the Eurozone by cooking its books. This story was hidden in the mass of news stories that hit the newsstands following the collapse of the Wall Street Wallahs Long Term Capital Management. When it came to leveraging of assets LTCM still takes the cookie at nearly 600:1.

Okay, sorry about that, back to the topic at hand.

Keith Millea
03-11-2010, 06:43 PM
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/03/11-6

Published on Thursday, March 11, 2010 by The Telegraph/UK (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/7420358/Greek-rioters-clash-with-police-as-10000-protesters-take-to-the-streets.html)


Greek Rioters Clash With Police as 10,000 Protesters Take to the Streets

Protesters clashed with riot police as more than 10,000 people marched through central Athens during a nationwide general strike against the government's harsh new austerity measures.


The strike grounded all flights and brought public transport to a halt. State hospitals were left with emergency staff only and all news broadcasts were suspended as workers walked off the job for 24 hours to protest spending cuts and tax hikes designed to tackle the country's debt crisis.

http://www.commondreams.org/files/article_images/greece_10000protesters.jpgProtesters march during a 24-hour labour strike in Athens March 11, 2010. Greek public and private sector workers went on strike on Thursday, grounding flights, shutting schools and halting public transport in the second nationwide walkout in a fortnight in protest against austerity plans. (REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis)

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse rock-throwing protesters at one point of the demonstration as more than 10,000 strikers and protesters marched through central Athens, banging drums and chanting slogans such as "no sacrifice for plutocracy," and "real jobs, higher pay." People draped banners from apartment buildings reading: "No more sacrifices, war against war."

The demonstrators included a group of about 100 youths wearing crash helmets and ski masks, some of whom smashed windows of a department store and bank, and sprayed riot police with brown paint. Shopkeepers along the demonstration route scrambled to roll down their shutters, while a few blocks away, people sat at outdoor restaurants, continuing their meals.

Fears of a Greek default have undermined the euro for all 16 countries that share it, putting the Greek government under intense European Union pressure to quickly show fiscal improvement.
It has announced an additional 4.8 billion euro (£4.4 billion) in savings through public sector salary cuts, hiring and pension freezes and consumer tax hikes to deal with its ballooning deficit, but the measures have led to a new wave of labour discontent.

The cutbacks, added to a previous 11.2 billion euro (£10.2 billion) austerity plan, seek to reduce the country's budget deficit from 12.7 per cent of annual output to 8.7 per cent this year. The long-term target is to bring overspending below the EU ceiling of 3 per cent of GDP in 2012.
The new plan sparked a wave of strikes and protests from labour unions whose reaction to the initial austerity measures had been muted. Thursday's strike was the second major walkout in a week, shutting down all public services and schools, leaving ferries tied up at port and suspending all news broadcasts for the day. However, some private bank branches were open despite calls from the bank employees' union to participate in the strike.

While their colleagues clashed with groups of protesters, some police joined the demonstration.
About 200 uniformed police, coast guard and fire brigade officers, who cannot go on strike but can hold protests, gathered at a square in the centre of the city shortly before the marches got under way.
"The police and other security forces have been particularly hard hit by the new measures because our salaries are very low," said Yiannis Fanariotis, general secretary of one police association. He said the average policeman made about 1,200 euros (£1,000) a month if weekend and night shifts were included.

Joining the protest "doesn't feel strange, because we are working people like everybody else and we are all shouting out for our rights," he said.
The government says the tough cuts are its only way to dig Greece out of a crisis that has hammered the common European currency and alarmed international markets - inflating the loan-dependent country's borrowing costs.

But unions say ordinary Greeks are being called to pay a disproportionate price for past fiscal mismanagement.
"They are trying to make workers pay the price for this crisis," said Yiannis Panagopoulos, leader of Greece's largest union, the GSEE.
"These measures will not be effective and will throw the economy into deep freeze."

A general strike last Friday was marred by violence during a large protest march. Riot police used tear gas and baton charges against rock-throwing protesters, who smashed banks and storefronts.
The unrest could spark fears that the government will have trouble in implementing its new measures.

Greece insists it doesn't need a bail-out, and its European partners are reluctant to fund one. But it has called for European and international support for its program, saying that unless it receives that support and the cost for it to borrow on the market falls, it might have to appeal to the International Monetary Fund for help.
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010

Jan Klimkowski
03-11-2010, 08:26 PM
10,000????

TPTB are getting worried. No way is that a measly 10,000 protesting Greeks.

Whilst I see that the 93% Icelandic NO vote, democracy in action, has barely been reported by MSM.

David Guyatt
03-12-2010, 10:34 AM
Good point Jan. Diminishing the actual figures diminishes the story.

Blair and the Brit MSM did the same thing with the Brit march against the planned Iraqi war. As I recall somewhere around 500,000 people were diminished overnight.

Ed Jewett
03-16-2010, 10:46 PM
http://cryptome.org/info/greece-police/pict48.jpg


More photos here: http://cryptome.org/info/greece-police/greece-police2.htm

Magda Hassan
03-17-2010, 01:00 AM
The soldier is outside the bank protecting it and its contents I suppose. Meanwhile who will protect the people of Greece (and elsewhere) from the banks?

Its looking more and more like Argentina circa 2000 everyday. Shock therapy for all.

Keith Millea
05-05-2010, 05:00 PM
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/05-1

Published on Wednesday, May 5, 2010 by The Telegraph/UK (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/7681829/Greek-crisis-clashes-turn-deadly-as-thousands-protest-against-cuts.html) Greek Crisis: Clashes Turn Deadly as Thousands Protest Against Cuts

Greek protests turned deadly on Wednesday as three died in an Athens bank set alight while tens of thousands demonstrated against harsh new spending cuts aimed at saving Greece from bankruptcy.


Protesters set a bank in the Greek capital on fire as scores of demonstrators tried to storm parliament, throwing chunks of marble at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas and stun grenades. The fire brigade said at least three people had died in the fire.

http://www.commondreams.org/files/article_images/greece_clashes_deadly.jpgDemonstrators pass the parliament building in Athens. A fire-bomb attack on a bank in Greece killed at least three people as police fought pitched battles with striking protestors furious at brutal spending cuts designed to avoid bankruptcy.(AFP/Aris Messinis)

The clashes took place during a march against austerity measures, the largest since the country was gripped by a debt crisis in October last year.

Violence also broke out in the northern city of Thessaloniki, with youths smashing windows of stores and fast food restaurants.

The demonstrations came as Greece ground to a halt on Wednesday, paralysed by a nationwide general strike in the first major test of the socialist government's resolve to push through unprecedented austerity cuts needed to avert a fiscal meltdown.

Public transport was halted, ferries were holding at docks and air traffic was grounded as unions went on the warpath against the latest wave of spending cuts and tax hikes.

As the violence escalated in Greece, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, warned that the future of the European Union was at stake as the crisis over the Greek bailout pushed the euro to a 13-month low against the dollar.

Ms Merkel defended her decision to back the unpopular measure and called on fellow politicians to give their support.

"The future of Europe and the future of Germany within Europe is at stake," Ms Merkel told the German parliament, which will vote on Friday on a package that would see Germany lend 22.4 billion euros (£19 billion) in taxpayers' money to Greece.

Ms Merkel's cabinet agreed on Monday to the German contribution to a three-year €110bn (£95bn) EU and International Monetary Fund bail-out for Greece. But investors doubt that the loan will be able to stop contagion to other vulnerable eurozone countries, including Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy, which also have debt problems. Investors have warned that these countries may require even larger bailouts.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010

Susan Grant
05-05-2010, 07:57 PM
It is all going to come crashing down here too and in the rest of Europe. Once any of these clones get in in Britain tomorrow (or even if there is a hung
parliament it will make no difference) the austerity measures will surely zip in - cos' they all think alike anyway and are all bloody crooks so I suspect there will be more of what's happening in Greece at present.
At least the Greeks are fighting back. In Britain I think everyone is asleep or watching the soaps. They are going to get a nasty shock very, very soon.
God help us all.

Peter Lemkin
05-06-2010, 04:21 AM
From Bill Blum's excellent book Killing Hope

3. Greece 1947 to early 1950s
From cradle of democracy to client state
Jorge Semprun is a Spaniard, a Frenchman, a novelist and film-writer, former
Communist, former inmate of Buchenwald. He was at the infamous Nazi concentration
camp in 1944 with other party members when they heard the news:
For some days now, we had talked of nothing else. ... At first some of us had
thought it was a lie. It had to be. An invention of Nazi propaganda, to raise the
morale of the people. We listened to the news bulletins on the German radio,
broadcast by all the loudspeakers, and we shook our heads. A trick to raise the
morale of the German people, it had to be. But we soon had to face up to the
evidence. Some of us listened in secret to the Allied broadcasts, which
confirmed the news. There was no doubt about it: British troops really were
crushing the Greek Resistance. In Athens, battle was raging, British troops were
retaking the city from the ELAS forces, district by district. It was an unequal
fight: ELAS had neither tanks nor planes.
But Radio Moscow had said nothing, and this silence was variously interpreted.1
The British army had arrived in Greece during October and November 1944,
shortly after the bulk of the Germans had fled, an evacuation due in no small part to
ELAS, the People's Liberation Army. Founded during the course of 1941- 42 on the
initiative of the Greek Communist Party, ELAS and its political wing EAM cut across
the entire left side of the political spectrum, numbering many priests and even a few
bishops amongst its followers. The guerrillas had wrested large areas of the country
from the Nazi invaders who had routed the British in 1941.
ELAS/EAM partisans could be ruthless and coercive toward those Greeks who
did not cooperate with them or who were suspected of collaboration with the Germans.
But they also provided another dramatic example of the liberating effects of a world
war: the encrusted ways of the Greek old guard were cast aside; in their place arose
communities which had at least the semblance of being run by the local residents,
inchoate institutions and mechanisms which might have been the precursor of a
regenerated Greek society after the war; education, perhaps geared toward propaganda,
but for the illiterate education nonetheless; fighting battalions of women, housewives
called upon for the first time to act independently of their husbands' control ... a
phenomenon which spread irrepressibly until EAM came to number some one to two
million Greeks out of a population of seven million.2
This was hardly the kind of social order designed to calm the ulcers of the
British old guard (Winston Churchill for one) who had long regarded Greece as their
private manor. The Great Man was determined that the Greek king should be restored to
his rightful place, with all that that implied, and the British military in Greece lost no
time in installing a government dedicated to that end. Monarchists, quislings, and
conservatives of all stripes found themselves in positions of political power,
predominant in the new Greek army and police; members of EAM/ELAS found
themselves dead or in prison.3
In the early days of the world war, when defeating the Nazis was the Allies'
over whelming purpose, Churchill had referred to ELAS as "those gallant guerrillas",
and ELAS's supporters had welcomed the British in early November 1944 with a sign
reading, "We Greet the Brave English Army. ... EAM."4
33
But the following month, fighting broke out between ELAS and the British
forces and their Greek comrades-in-arms, many of whom had fought against ELAS
during the war and, in the process, collaborated with the Germans; others had simply
served with the Germans. (The British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, acknowledged
in August 1946 that there were 228 ex-members of the Nazi Security Battalions—whose
main task had been to track down Greek resistance fighters and Jews—on active service
in the new Greek army.)5 Further support for the campaign against ELAS came from the
US Air Force and Navy which transported more than two British divisions into
Greece.''6 All this while the war against Germany still raged in Europe.
In mid-January 1945 ELAS agreed to an armistice, one that had much of the
appearance and the effect of a surrender. There is disagreement amongst historians as to
whether ELAS had been militarily defeated or whether the Communists in the ELAS
and EAM hierarchy had received the word from Stalin to lay down the gun. If the latter
were the case, it would have been consistent with the noted agreement between Stalin
and Churchill in October 1944, whereby spheres of influence in Eastern Europe were
allocated between the two powers. In this cynical (as Churchill acknowledged)
Monopoly game Britain had landed on Greece. Churchill later wrote that Stalin had
"adhered strictly and faithfully to our agreement of October, and during all the long
weeks of fighting the Communists in the streets of Athens not one word of reproach
came from Pravda or Izvestia".7 Nor, as Jorge Semprun noted, from Radio Moscow.
"It is essential to remember," Professor D.F. Fleming has pointed out in his
eminent history of the cold war, "that Greece was the first of the liberated states to be
openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great
Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in
Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed."8
A succession of Greek governments followed, serving by the grace of the
British and the United States; thoroughly corrupt governments in the modern Greek
tradition, which continued to terrorize the left, tortured them in notorious island prison
camps, and did next to nothing to relieve the daily misery of the war-torn Greek
people.9"There are few modern parallels for government as bad as this," CBS's chief
European correspondent Howard K. Smith observed at the time.10
In the fall of 1946 the inevitable occurred: leftists took to the hills to launch
phase two of the civil war. The Communists had wrenched Stalin's strangulating hand
from their throats, for their very survival was at stake and everything that they believed
in.
The British were weighed down by their own post-war reconstruction needs,
and in February 1947 they informed the United States that they could no longer
shoulder the burden of maintaining a large armed force in Greece nor provide sizeable
military and economic aid to the country. Thus it was that the historic task of preserving
all that is decent and good in Western Civilization passed into the hands of the United
States.
Several days later, the State Department summoned the Greek chargé 'affaires
in Washington and informed him that his government was to ask the US for aid. This
was to be effected by means of a formal letter of request; a document, it turned out, to
be written essentially by the State Department. The text of the letter, the chargé
d'affaires later reported, "had been drafted with a view to the mentality of Congress ... It
would also serve to protect the U.S. Government against internal and external charges
that it was taking the initiative of intervening in a foreign state or that it had been
persuaded by the British to take over a bad legacy from them. The note would also serve
as a basis for the cultivation of public opinion which was under study."11
34
In July, in a letter to Dwight Griswold, the head of the American Mission to
Aid Greece (AMAG), Secretary of State George Marshall said:
It is possible that during your stay in Greece you and the Ambassador will come to
the conclusion that the effectiveness of your Mission would be enhanced if a
reorganization of the Greek Government could be effected. If such a conclusion is
reached, it is hoped that you and the Ambassador will be able to bring about such a
reorganization indirectly through discreet suggestion and otherwise in such a
manner that even the Greek political leaders will have a feeling that the
reorganization has been effected largely by themselves and not by pressure from
without.12
The Secretary spelled out a further guideline for Griswold, a man the New York
Times shortly afterwards called the "most powerful man in Greece".13
During the course of your work you and the members of your Mission will from
time to time find that certain Greek officials are not, because of incompetence,
disagreement with your policies, or for some other reason, extending the type of
cooperation which is necessary if the objec-tives of your Mission are to be
achieved. You will find it necessary to effect the removal of these officials.14
These contrivances, however, were not the most cynical aspects of the
American endeavor. Washington officials well knew that their new client government
was so venal and so abusive of human rights that even confirmed American anticommunists
were appalled. Stewart Alsop for one. On 23 February 1947 the noted
journalist had cabled from Athens that most of the Greek politicians had "no higher
ambition than to taste the profitable delights of a free economy at American expense".15
The same year, an American investigating team found huge supplies of food aid rotting
in warehouses at a time when an estimated 75 percent of Greek children were suffering
from malnutrition.16
So difficult was it to gloss over this picture, that President Truman, in his
address to Congress in March 1947 asking for aid to Greece based on the Greek
"request" (the "Truman Doctrine" speech), attempted to pre-empt criticism by admitting
that the Greek government was "not perfect" and that "it has made mistakes". Yet,
somehow, by some ideological alchemy best known to the president, the regime in
Athens was "democratic", its opponents the familiar "terrorists".17
There was no mention of the Soviet Union in this particular speech, but that
was to be the relentless refrain of the American rationale over the next 2 1/2 years: the
Russians were instigating the Greek leftists so as to kidnap yet another "free" country
and drag it kicking and screaming behind the Iron Curtain.
The neighboring Communist states of Bulgaria, Albania, and particularly
Yugoslavia, in part motivated by old territorial claims against Greece, did aid the
insurgents by allowing them important sanctuary behind their borders and furnishing
them with military supplies (whether substantial or merely token in amount is a
debatable question). The USSR, however, in the person of Joseph Stalin, was adamantly
opposed to assisting the Greek "comrades". At a meeting with Yugoslav leaders in early
1948 (a few months before Yugoslavia's break with the Soviet Union), described by
Milovan Djilas, second-in-command to Tito, Stalin turned to the foreign minister
Edvard Kardelj and asked: "Do you believe in the success of the uprising in Greece?"
Kardelj replied, "If foreign intervention does nor grow, and if serious political and
military errors are not made."
Stalin went on, without paying attention to Kardelj's opinion: "If, if! No, they have
no prospect of success at all. What, do you think that Great Britain and the United
States—the United States, the most powerful state in the world—will permit you to
35
break their line of communication in the Mediterranean? Nonsense. And we have
no navy. The uprising in Greece must be stopped, and as quickly as possible."18
The first major shiploads of military assistance under the new American
operation arrived in the summer of 1947. (Significant quantities had also been shipped
to the Greek government by the US while the British ran the show.] By the end of the
year, the Greek military was being entirely supported by American aid, down to and
including its clothing and food. The nation's war-making potential was transformed:
continual increases in the size of the Greek armed forces ... fighter-bombers, transport
squadrons, air fields, napalm bombs, recoilless rifles, naval patrol vessels,
communication networks ... docks, railways, roads, bridges ... hundreds of millions of
dollars of supplies and equipment, approaching a billion in total since the end of the
world war... and millions more to create a "Secret Army Reserve" fighting unit,
composed principally of the ex-members of the Nazi Security Battalions referred to
earlier.19
The US Military Mission took over the development of battle plans for the
army from the ineffective Greek generals. The Mission, related British military writer
Major Edgar O'Ballance, "took a tough line and insisted that all its recommendations be
carried into effect, at once and in full".20 Eventually, more than 250 American army
officers were in the country, many assigned to Greek army divisions to ensure
compliance with directives; others operated at the brigade level; another 200 or so US
Air Force and Navy personnel were also on active duty in Greece.
All military training methods and programs were "revised, revitalized and
tightened up" under American supervision21... infantry units made mote mobile, with
increased firepower; special commando units trained in anti-guerrilla tactics; training in
mountain warfare, augmented by some 4,000 mules (sic) shipped to Greece by the
United States ... at American insistence, whole sections of the population uprooted to
eliminate the guerrillas' natural base of operation and source of recruits, just as would be
done in Vietnam 20 years later.
"Both on the ground and in the air, American support was becoming
increasingly active," observed CM. Woodhouse, the British colonel and historian who
served in Greece during the mid-1940s, "and the theoretical line between advice,
intelligence and combat was a narrow one."22
The Greek leftists held out for three terrible years. Despite losses of many tens
of thousands, they were always able to replenish their forces, even increase their
number. But by October 1949, foreseeing nothing but more loss of lives to a vastly
superior destruction-machine, the guerrillas announced over their radio a "cease fire". It
was the end of the civil war.
The extent of American hegemony over Greece from 1947 onwards can
scarcely be exaggerated. We have seen Marshall's directives to Griswold, and the
American management of the military campaign. There were many other manifestations
of the same phenomenon, of which the following are a sample:
In September 1947, Vice-Prime Minister Constantine Tsaldaris agreed to the
dissolution of the government and the creation of a new ruling coalition. In doing so,
said the New York Times, Tsaldaris had "surrendered to the desires of Dwight P.
Griswold ... of [US] Ambassador MacVeagh, and also of the King".23 Before Tsaldaris
addressed the Greek legislature on the matter, MacVeagh stepped in to make a change
to the speech.24
Over the next several years, each of the frequent changes of prime minister
came about only after considerable American input, if not outright demand.25 One
example of the latter occurred in 1950 when then American Ambassador Henry Grady
36
sent a letter to Prime Minister Venizelos threatening to cut off US aid if he failed to
carry out a government reorganization. Venizelos was compelled to step down.26 The
American influence was felt in regard to other high positions in Greek society as well.
Andreas Papandreou, later to become prime minister himself, has written of this period
that "Cabinet members and army-generals, political party leaders and members of the
Establishment, all made open references to American wishes or views in order to justify
or to account for their own actions or posi-tions."27
Before undertaking a new crackdown on dissidents in July 1947, Greek
authorities first approached Ambassador Macveagh. The ambassador informed them
that the US government would have no objection to "preventive measures if they were
considered necessary". Reassured, the Greeks went ahead and rounded up 4,000 people
in one week.28
An example of what could land a Greek citizen in prison is the case of the
EAM member who received an 18-month sentence for printing remarks deemed
insulting to Dwight Griswold. He had referred to the American as "the official
representative of a foreign country".29
"In the economic sphere," Andreas Papandreou noted, the United States
"exercised almost dictatorial control during the early fifties requiring that the signature
of the chief of the U.S. Economic Mission appear alongside that of the Greek Minister
of Co-ordination on any important documents."30
Earlier, American management of the economy may have been even tighter. A
memorandum from Athens dated 17 November 1947, from the American Mission to
Aid Greece to the State Department in Washington, read in part: "we have established
practical control ... over national budget, taxation, currency issuance, price and wage
policies, and state economic planning, as well as over imports and exports, the issuance
of foreign exchange and the direction of military reconstruction and relief
expenditures."31
There was, moreover, the creation of a new internal security agency, named
and modeled after the CIA (KYP in Greek). Before long, KYP was carrying out all the
endearing practices of secret police everywhere, including systematic torture.
By the early 1950s, Greece had been molded into a supremely reliable allyclient
of the United States. It was staunchly anti-communist and well integrated into the
NATO system. It sent troops to Korea to support the United States' pretence that it was
not simply an American war.
It is safe to say that had the left come to power, Greece would have been much
more independent of the United States. Greece would likely have been independent as
well of the Soviet Union, to whom the Greek left owed nothing. Like Yugoslavia, which
is also free of a common border with the USSR, Greece would have been friendly
towards the Russians, but independent.
When, in 1964, there came to power in Greece a government which entertained
the novel idea that Greece was a sovereign nation, the United States and its Greek
cohorts, as we shall see, quickly and effectively stamped out the heresy.
37

1. Jorge Semprun, What a Beautiful Sunday! (English translation, London, 1983), pp. 26-7;
Semprun wrote the screenplays for "Z' and 'La Guerre est finie'.
2. For a summary of some of the literature about ELAS and EAM, see Todd Gidin,
"Counter-Insurgency: Myth and Reality in Greece" in David Horowitz, ed.,
Containment and Revolution (Boston, 1967) pp, 142-7, See also D.F. Fleming, The
Cold War and ill Origins, 1917-1960 (New York, 1961) pp. 183-5; Howard K. Smith,
The Stale of Europe (London, 19.50) pp. 225-30; William Hardy McNeil!, The
Greek Dilemma: War and Aftermath (US, 1947) passim.
3. For accounts of the thoroughly unprincipled British policy in Greece and its dealings
with collaborators during 1944-46, see Fleming, pp. 174-87; Smith, pp. 227-31,
234; Lawrence S. Winner, American Intervention in Greece, 1943-1949 (Columbia
University Press, NY, 1982) passim.
4. Churchill quote: Kati Marton, The Polk Conspiracy: Murder and Cover-Up in
the Case of CBS News Correspondent George Polk (New York, 1990), p. 23.
EAM sign: Hearst Metrotone News, N.Y., film shot 3 November 1944, copy in
author's possession.
5. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 16 October 1946, column 887
(reference is made here to Bevin's statement of 10 August). See also Christopher
Simpson, Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold
War (New York, 1988), p. 81.
6. Gitlin, p. 157; Winner, p. 25.
7. Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. VI, Triumph and Tragedy (London,
1954), pp. 198, 255. For further evidence of Soviet non-intervention, see Winner, pp.
26-7.
8. Fleming, p. 182; see also Smith, p. 228.
9. See sources listed in notes 2 and 3 above; see also James Becket, Barbarism in
Greece (New York, 1970) p. 6; Richard Barnet, Intervention and Revolution
(London, 1970) pp. 99-101; Edgar O'Ballance, The Greek Civil War, 1944-1949
(London, 1966) pp. 155, 167.
10. Smith, p. 232. To capture the full flavor of how dreadful the Greek government of
that time was, see Marton, op. cit., passim. This book recounts the story of how the
Greek authorities, with US approval, fabricated a case to prove that CBS news
correspondent George Polk had been murdered by communists, and not by the
government, because he was about to reveal serious corruption by the prime minister,
11. Stephen G. Xydis, Greece and the Great Powers, 1944-1947 (Institute for Balkan
Studies, Thessaloniki, Greece, 1963) p. 479, information from the archives of the
Greek Embassy in Washington.
12. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1947, Vol. V (U.S. Government Printing
Office, Washington, 1971) p. 222.
13. New York Times Magazine, 12 October 1947, p. 10.
14. Foreign Relations, op. cit., pp. 222-3.
15. Cited in Fleming, p. 444.
16. Barnet, p. 109.
17. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1947 (U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, 1963) p. 177.
18. Milovan Djilas, Conversations with Stalin (London, 1962) p. 164. Djilas was
imprisoned in 1962 for divulging state secrets in this book.
19. For details of the American military effort:
221
a) O'Ballance, passim
b) Wittner, p. 242
c) CIA Report to the President, March 1948, appendices D and F, Declassified
Documents Reference System (Arlington, Va.) 1977, document 168A
d) Department of the Army internal memorandum, 15 June 1954, DDRS 1980,
document 253C
e) Simpson, pp. 81-2 (Secret Army Reserve)
20. O'Ballance, p. 156.
21. Ibid., p. 173
22. Christopher M. Woodhouse, The Struggle for Greece, 1941-1949 (London, 1976) pp.
260-1.
23. New York Times, 28 August 1947, p. 1; 5 September 1947, p. 1.
24. Foreign Relations, op. cit., p. 327.
25. John 0. latrides, "American Attitudes Toward the Political System of Postwar
Greece" in Theodore A Couloumbis and John 0. latrides, eds., Greek-American
Relations: A Critical Review (New York, 1980) pp. 64- 65; Lawrence Stern, The
Wrong Horse: The Politics of Intervention and the Failure of American Diplomacy
(N.Y. Times Books, 1977) pp. 16-17.
26. Philip Deane, I Should Have Died (Atheneum, New York, 1977) pp, 102, 103;
Andreas Papandreou, Democracy at Gunpoint (Doubleday, New York, 1970) pp. 84-
5.
27. Papandreou, p. 80.
28. New York Times, 13 July 1947, p. 11.
29. Ibid., 11 September 1947, p. 19; 17 October 1947, p. 11.
30. Papandreou, p. 5.
31. Sent by Horace Smith of AMAG; U.S. National Archives, Record Group 59, cited in
Michael M. Amen, American Foreign Policy in Greece 1944/1949: Economic,
Military and Institutional Aspects (Peter Lang Ltd., Frankfurt, W. Germany, 1978),
pp. 114-5.
-------------------------------
35. Greece 1964-1974
"Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution,"
said the President of the United States
"It's the best damn Government since Pericles," the American two-star General
declared.1 (The news report did not mention whether he was chewing on a big fat cigar.)
The government, about which the good General was so ebullient, was that of the Colonels'
junta which came to power in a military coup in April 1967, followed immediately by the traditional
martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, torture, and killings, die victims totaling some
8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this
was all being done to save the nation from a "communist takeover". Corrupting and subversive
influences in Greek life were to be removed. Among these were miniskirts, long hair, and foreign
newspapers; church attendance for the young would be compulsory.2
So brutal and so swift was the repression, that by September, Denmark, Norway,
Sweden and the Netherlands were before the European Commission of Human Rights to
accuse Greece of violating most of the Commission's conventions. Before the year was over,
215
KILLING HOPE
Amnesty International had sent representatives to Greece to investigate the situation. From
this came a report which asserted that "Torture as a deliberate practice is carried out by the
Security Police and the Military Police."3
The coup had taken place two days before the campaign for national elections was to
begin, elections which appeared certain to bring the veteran liberal leader George
Papandreou back as prime minister. Papandteou had been elected in February 1964 with
the only outright majority in the history of modern Greek elections. The successful machinations
to unseat him had begun immediately, a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek
military, and the American military and CIA stationed in Greece.
Philip Deane (the pen name of Gerassimos Gigantes) is a Greek, a former UN official,
who worked during this period both for King Constantine and as an envoy to Washington
for the Papandreou government. He has written an intimate account of the subtleties and
the grossness of this conspiracy to undermine the government and enhance the position of
the military plotters, and of the raw power exercised by the CIA in his country.4 We saw
earlier how Greece was looked upon much as a piece of property to be developed according
to Washington's needs. A story related by Deane illustrates how this attitude was little
changed, and thus the precariousness of Papandreou's position; During one of the perennial
disputes between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, which was now spilling over onto
NATO, President Johnson summoned the Greek ambassador to tell him of Washington's
"solution". The ambassador protested that it would be unacceptable to the Greek parliament
and contrary to the Greek constitution. "Then listen to me, Mr. Ambassador," said
the President of the United States, "fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America is
an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just
get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good.... We pay a lot of good American dollars
to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about
Democracy, Parliament and Constitutions, he, his Parliament and his Constitution may not
last very long."5
In July 1965, George Papandreou was finally maneuvered out of office by royal prerogative.
The king had a coalition of breakaway Center Union Deputies (Papandreou's party)
and rightists waiting in the wings to form a new government. It was later revealed by a
State Department official that the CIA Chief-of-Station in Athens, John Maury, had
"worked in behalf of the palace in 1965. He helped King Constantine buy Center Union
Deputies so that the George Papandreou Government was toppled."6
For nearly two years thereafter, various short-lived cabinets ruled until it was no longer
possible to avoid holding the elections prescribed by the constitution.
What concerned the opponents of George Papandreou most about him was his son.
Andreas Papandreou, who had been head of the economics department at the University of
California at Berkeley and a minister in his father's cabinet, was destined for a leading role
in the new government. But he was by no means the wide-eyed radical. In the United States,
Andreas had been an active supporter of such quintessential moderate liberals as Adlai
Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey. His economic views, wrote Washington Post columnist
Marquis Childs, were "those of the American New Deal".8
But Andreas Papandreou did not disguise his wish to take Greece out of the cold war.
He publicly questioned the wisdom of the country remaining in NATO, or at least remaining
in it as a satellite of the United States. He leaned toward opening relations with the
Soviet Union and othet Communist countries on Greece's border. He argued that the
swollen American military and intelligence teams in Greece compromised the nation's freedom
of action. And he viewed the Greek Army as a threat to democracy, wishing to purge it
216
Greece 1964-1974
of its most dictatorial- and royalist-minded senior officers.
Andreas Papandreou's bark was worse than his bite, as his later presidency was to
amply demonstrate. (He did not, for example, pull Greece out of NATO or US bases out of
Greece.) But in Lyndon Johnson's Washington, if you were not totally and unquestioningly
with us, you were agin' us. Johnson felt that Andteas, who had become a naturalized US
citizen, had "betrayed America". Said LBJ:
We gave the son of a bitch American citizenship, didn't we? He was an American, with all the
rights and privileges. And he had sworn allegiance to the flag. And then he gave up his American
citizenship. He went back to just being a Greek. You can't trust a man who breaks his oath of
allegiance to the flag of these United States.10
What, then, are we to make of the fact that Andreas Papandreou was later reported to
have worked with the CIA in the early 1960s? (He criticized publication of the report, but
did not deny the charge.)11 If true, it would not have been incompatible with being a liberal,
particularly at that time. It was incompatible, as be subsequently learned, only with his
commitment to a Greece independent from US foreign policy.
As for the elder Papandreou, his anti-communist credentials were impeccable, dating
back to his role as a British-installed prime minister during the civil war against the left in
1944-45. But he, too, showed stirrings of independence from the Western superpower. He
refused to buckle under Johnson's pressure to compromise with Turkey over Cyprus. He
accepted an invitation to visit Moscow, and when his government said that it would accept
Soviet aid in preparation for a possible war with Turkey, the US Embassy demanded an
explanation. Moreover, in an attempt to heal the old wounds of the civil war, Papandreou
began to reintroduce certain civil liberties and to readmit into Greece some of those who
had fought against the government in the civil war period.'12
When Andreas Papandreou assumed his ministerial duties in 1964 he was shocked to
discover what was becoming a fact of life for every techno-industrial state in the world: an
intelligence service gone wild, a shadow government with powers beyond the control of the
nation's nominal leaders. This, thought Papandreou, accounted for many of the obstacles
the government was encountering in trying to catty out its policies.13
The Greek intelligence service, KYP, as we have seen, was created by the OSS/CIA in
the course of the civil war, with hundreds of its officers receiving training in the United
States. One of these men, George Papadopoulos, was the leader of the junta that seized
power in 1967. Andreas Papandreou found that the KYP routinely bugged ministerial conversations
and turned the data over to the CIA. (Many Western intelligence agencies have
long provided the CIA with information about their own government and citizens, and the
CIA has reciprocated on occasion. The nature of much of this information has been such
that if a private citizen were to pass it to a foreign power be could be charged with treason.)
As a result of his discovery, the younger Papandreou dismissed the two top KYP men
and replaced them with reliable officers. The new director was ordered to protect the cabinet
from surveillance. "He came back apologetically," recalls Papandreou, "to say he
couldn't do it. All the equipment was American, controlled by the CIA or Greeks under CIA
supervision. There was no kind of distinction between the two services. They duplicated
functions in a counterpart relationship. In effect, they were a single agency."14
Andreas Papandreou's order to abolish the bugging of the cabinet inspired the Deputy
Chief of Mission of the US Embassy, Norbert Anshutz (of Anschuetz), to visit him.
217
KILLING HOPE
Anshutz, who has been linked to the CIA, demanded that Papandreou rescind the order.
Andreas demanded that the American leave his office, which he did, but not before warning
that "there would be consequences".15
Papandreou then requested that a thorough search be made of his home and office for
electronic devices by the new KYP deputy director. "It wasn't until much later," says
Andreas, "that we discovered he'd simply planted a lot of new bugs. Lo and behold, we'd
brought in another American-paid operative as our No.2."16
An endeavor by Andreas to end the practice of KYP's funds coming directly from the CIA
without passing through any Greek ministry also met with failure, but he did succeed in transferring
the man who had been liaison between the two agencies for several years. This was
George Papadopoulos. The change in his position, however, appears to have amounted to little
more than a formality, for die organization still took orders from him; even afterwards, Greek
"opposition politicians who sought the ear (or the purse) of James Potts, CIA [deputy] chief in
Athens before the coup, were often told: 'See George—he's my boy."17
In mid-February 1967, a meeting took place in the White House, reported Marquis
Childs, to discuss CIA reports which "left no doubt that a military coup was in the making
... It could hardly have been a secret. Since 1947 the Greek army and the American military
aid group in Athens, numbering several hundred, have worked as part of the same team ...
The solemn question was whether by some subtle political intervention the coup could be
prevented" and thus preserve parliamentary government. It was decided that
no course of action was feasible. As one of the senior civilians present recalls it, Walt Rostow,
the President's adviser on national security affairs, closed the meeting with these words: I hope
you understand, gentlemen, that what we have concluded here, or rather have failed to conclude,
makes the future course of events in Greece inevitable.-"
A CIA report dated 23 January 1967 had specifically named the Papadopoulos group
as one plotting a coup, and was apparently one of the reports discussed at the February
meeting.19
Of the cabal of five officers which took power in April, four, reportedly, were intimately
connected to the American military or to the CIA in Greece. The fifth man had been
brought in because of the armored units he commanded.20 George Papadopoulos emerged
as the de facto leader, taking the title of prime minister later in the year.
The catchword amongst old hands at the US military mission in Greece was that
Papadopoulos was "the first CIA agent to become Premier of a European country". "Many
Greeks consider this to be the simple truth," reported Charles Foley in The Observer of
London.21
At die time of the coup, Papadopoulos had been on the CIA payroll for some 15 years.22
One reason for the success of their marriage may have been Colonel Papadopoulos's World War
II record. When the Germans invaded Greece, Papadopoulos served as a captain in the Nazis'
Security Battalions whose main task was to track down Greek resistance fighters.23 He was, it is
said, a great believer in Hitler's "new order", and his later record in power did little to cast
doubt upon that claim. Foley writes that when he mentioned the junta leader's pro-German
background to an American military adviser he met at a party in Athens, the American hinted
that it was related to Papadopoulos's subservience to US wishes: "George gives good value," he
smiled, "because there are documents in Washington he wouldn't like let out."24
Foley relates that under Papadopoulos:
218
Greece 1964-1974
intense official propaganda portrayed Communism as the only enemy Greece had ever had and
minimized the German occupation until even Nazi atrocities were seen as provoked by the
Communists. This rewriting of history clearly reflects the dictator's concern at the danger that
the gap in his official biography may some day be filled in.25
As part of the rewriting, members of the Security Battalions became "heroes of the
resistance".26
It was torture, however, which most indelibly marked the seven-year Greek nightmare.
James Becket, an American attorney sent to Greece by Amnesty International, wrote in
December 1969 that "a conservative estimate would place at not less than two thousand" the
number of people tortured.27 It was an odious task for Becket to talk to some of the victims:
People had been mercilessly tortured simply for being in possession of a leaflet criticizing the
regime. Brutality and cruelty on one side, frustration and helplessness on the other. They were
being tortured and there was nothing to be done. It was like listening to a friend who has cancer.
What comfort, what wise reflection can someone who is comfortable give? Torture might last a
short time, but the person will never be the same.28
Becket reported that some torturers had told prisoners that some of their equipment
had come as US military aid: a special "thick white double cable" whip was one item;
another was the head-screw, known as an "iron wreath", which was progressively tightened
around the head or ears.29
The Amnesty delegation described a number of the other torture methods commonly
employed. Among these were:
a) Beating the soles of the feet with a stick or pipe. After four months of this, the soles of one prisoner
were covered with thick scar tissue. Another was crippled by broken bones.
b) Numerous incidents of sexually-oriented torture: shoving fingers or an object into the vagina and
twisting and tearing brutally; also done with the anus; or a tube is inserted into the anus and
water driven in under very high pressure.
c) Techniques of gagging: the throat is grasped in such a way that the windpipe is cut oft", or a filthy
rag, often soaked in urine, and sometimes excrement, is shoved down the throat.
d) Tearing out the hair from the head and the pubic region.
e) Jumping on the stomach.
f) Pulling out toe nails and finger nails.30
These were not the worst. The worst is what one reads in the many individual testimonies.
But these are simply too lengthy to be repeated here.31
The junta's response to the first Amnesty report was to declare that it was comprised of
charges emanating from "International Communism" and to hire public relations firms in
New York and London to improve its image.32
In 1969, the European Commission of Human Rights found Greece guilty of torture,
murder and other violations. For these reasons and particularly for the junta's abolition of
parliamentary democracy, The Council of Europe—a consultative body of, at that time, 18
European states, under which the Commission falls—was preparing to expel Greece. The
Council rejected categorically Greece's claim that it had been in danger of a communist
takeover. Amnesty International later reported that the United States, though not a member
of the Council, actively applied diplomatic pressure on member states not to vote for the
expulsion. (Nonetheless, while the Council was deliberating, the New York Times reported
219
KILLING HOPE
that "The State Department said today that the United States had deliberately avoided taking
any position on the question of continued Greek membership in the Council of
Europe.") The European members, said Amnesty, believed that only the United States had
the power to bring about changes in Greece, yet it chose only to defend the junta.33
On the specific issue of torture, Amnesty's report concluded that:
American policy on the torture question as expressed in official statements and official testimony
has been to deny it where possible and minimize it where denial was not possible. This policy
flowed naturally from general support for the military regime.34
As matters transpired, Greece walked out before the Council could formalize the expulsion.
In a world grown increasingly hostile, the support of the world's most powerful nation
was sine qua non for the Greek junta. The two governments thrived upon each other. Said
the American ambassador to Greece, Henry Tasca, "This is the most anti-communist group
you'll find anywhere. There is just no place like Greece to offer these facilities with the back
up of the kind of Government you have got here." ("You", not "we", noted the reporter,
was the only pretense.)35
The facilities the ambassador was referring to were dozens of US military installations,
from nuclear missile bases to major communication sites, housing tens of thousands of
American servicemen. The United States, in turn, provided the junta with ample military
hardware despite an official congressional embargo, as well as the police equipment
required by the Greek authorities to maintain their rigid control.
In an attempt to formally end the embargo, the Nixon administration asked
Papadopoulos to make some gesture towards constitutional government which the White
House could then point to. The Greek prime minister was to be assured, said a secret White
House document, that the administration would take "at face value and accept without
reservation" any such gesture.36
US Vice-president Spiro Agnew, on a visit to the land of his ancestors, was moved to
exalt the "achievements" of the Greek government and its "constant co-operation with US
needs and wishes".37 One of the satisfied needs Agnew may have had in mind was the contribution
of $549,000 made by the junta to the 1968 Nixon-Agnew election campaign.
Apart from any other consideration, it was suspected that this was money given to the junta
by the CIA finding its way back to Washington. A Senate investigation of this question was
abruptly canceled at the direct request of Henry Kissinger.38
Perhaps nothing better captures the mystique of the bond felt by the Greeks to their
American guardians than the story related about Chief Inspector Basil Lambrou, one of
Athens' well-known torturers:
Hundreds of prisoners have listened to the little speech given by Inspector Basil Lambrou, who
sits behind his desk which displays the red, white, and blue clasped-hand symbol of American
aid. He tries to show the prisoner the absolute futility of resistance: "You make yourself ridiculous
by thinking you can do anything. The world is divided in two. There are the communists on
that side and on this side the free world. The Russians and the Americans, no one else. What are
we? Americans. Behind me there is the government, behind the government is NATO, behind
NATO is the U.S. You can't fight us, we are Americans."39
Amnesty International adds that some torturers would tell their victims things like: "The
Human Rights Commission can't help you now ... The Red Cross can do nothing for you ...
Tell them all, it will do no good, you are helpless." "The torturers from the start," said
220
Greece 1964-1974
Amnesty, "had said that the United States supported them and that was what counted."40
In November 1973, a falling-out within the Greek inner circle culminated in the ousting
of Papadopoulos and his replacement by Col. Demetrios loannidis, Commander of the
Military Police, torturer, graduate of American training in anti-subversive techniques, confidant
of the CIA,41 Ioannidis named as prime minister a Greek-American, A.
Androutsopoulos, who came to Greece after the Second World War as an official employee
of the CIA, a fact of which Mr. Androutsopoulos had often boasted.42
Eight months later, the loannidis regime overthrew the government of Cyprus. It was a
fatal miscalculation. Turkey invaded Cyprus and the reverberations in Athens resulted in
the military giving way to a civilian government. The Greek nightmare had come to an end.
Much of the story of American complicity in the 1967 coup and its aftermath may
never be known. At the trials held in 1975 of junta members and torturers, many witnesses
made reference to the American role. This may have been the reason a separate investigation
of this aspect was scheduled to be undertaken by the Greek Court of Appeals.43 But it
appears that no information resulting from this inquiry, if it actually took place, was ever
announced. Philip Deane, upon returning to Greece several months after the civilian government
took over, was told by leading politicians that "for the sake of preserving good relations
with the US, the evidence of US complicity will not be made fully public".44
Andreas Papandreou had been arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for
eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American
ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou related the following:
I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the
death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then
Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup?
Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they
would have crushed the coup.45

35. GREECE 1964 to 1974
1. The Observer [London), 1 July 1973, article by Charles Foley.
2. Junta's actions: James Becket, Barbarism in Greece (New York, 1970) p. 1; Bernard Nossiter, "Saving Greece
from the Greeks™, New Republic (Washington), 20 May 1967, p. 10; The Nation (New York) 22 May 1967, p,
644.
3. Becket P, 90 [Amnesty International Report, 27 January 1968).
4. Philip Deane, / Should Have Died (Atheneum, New York, 1977) pp. 92-124, composed of conversations with
Greek and American individuals in or close to the conspiracy, and references to testimony from the 1975 trials of
junta members and torturers.
5. Ibid., pp. 113-14.
6. New York Times, 2 August 1974, p. 3; see also Newsweek, 12 August 1974, p. 36, concerning CIA buying politicians
and votes in Greece before the coup.
7. Stephen Rousseas. "The Deadlock in Greece", The Nation (New York), 27 March 1967, p. 392.
8. Washington Post, 15 May 1967, p. A18,
9. Andreas Papandreou's political views: No&siier, p. 9; Deane, p. 116; Lawrence Stern, Tfae Wrong Horse: The
Politics oflntervention and the Failure of American Diplomacy (N.Y. Times Books, 1977) pp. 20-30.
423
KILLING HOPE
10. Deane, pp. 116-17.
11. New York Times, 2 August 1974, p. 3; 3 August, p. 4.
12. George Papandreou: Rousseas, pp. 390-1; Nossiter, p. 9; Deane, p. 115.
13. The Observer, op. cit.
14. Ibid.; see also Deane, p. 96 re bugging ministers.
15. Deane, p. 96, citing Andreas Papandreou as the source. Julius Mader, Who's Who in CIA (East Germany, 1968),
p. 34, stares that Anschuetz served in the Military Intelligence Service of the US Army during World War 2 and
joined the CIA in 1950. This book, however, has not always proven to be reliable.
16. The Observer, op. cit,
17. Ibid.; Deane, p. 96; Becker, p. 13.
IS, Washington Post, 15 May 1967, p, A18.
19. Stern, pp. 42-3.
20. The Observer, op. cit,
21. Ibid.
22. New York Times, 2 August 1974, p, 1; Deane, p. 96.
23. The Observer, op, cit.; Deane, p. 126.
24. The Observer, op. cit.
25. Ibid.
26. Becket, p. S.
27. Ibid., p. 10.
28. Ibid., p. xi.
29. Ibid., p. 15.
30. Ibid., p. 91.
31. See, e.g., Becket, pp. 18-85; Deane, pp. 128-33; Amnesty International, Torture in Greece: The First Torturers'
Trial in 1975 (London, 1977) passim.
32. Becket, pp. 4 and 115,
33. Amnesty International, Report on Torture (London, 1973), pp. 93-t; also see Deane, p, 119, for evidence of the
fraudulent nature of the junta's claims before the coup of a communist threat; State Department statement; New
York Times,!} December 1969.
34. Report on Torture, op. cit., p. 77; see pages 88, 89, 95, 98 for choice examples of what Amnesty was referring to.
35. The Observer, op. cit.
36. Seymour Hersh, Kissinger: The Price of Power (Simon & Schuster/Summit Books, New York, 1983) p. 140.
37. The Observer, op. cit.
38. Heish, pp, 137-8,648; Los Angeles Times, 1 August 1990, p. S.
i9. Becket, p. 16; see also p. 127.
40. Report on Torture, op. cit., p. 96.
41. Deane, p. 134; New York Times, 2 August 1974, p. J.
42. Deane, p. 134.
43. New York Times, 1 September 1975, p. 6.
44. Deane, p. 125,
45. Andreas Papandreou, Democracy at Gunpoint: The Greek Front {New York, 1970) p. 294. :ridinghorse:

Keith Millea
05-06-2010, 10:18 PM
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/05/06-5

Published on Thursday, May 6, 2010 by FireDogLake.com (http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/45568) Senior Greek Official : 'We May Have an Uprising in the Making'

by Jeffrey Kaye

What if three million protesters poured into the streets of American cities, and with a general strike shut down all transportation, closing government offices, and setting banks and office buildings ablaze?
If one takes into account the size of Greece, a proportionate amount of the Greek population did just that on May 5. Over 100,000 protesters took took to the streets. But this was not your ordinary European mass rally. World markets, including Wall Street, felt the tremor from these demonstrations. The protests are against onerous economic cutbacks in the wake of a € 110 billion Euro ($145 billion) bailout for a near-bankrupt economy. But a large percentage of the Greek population doesn't see itself paying for a generation for the corruption of their own officials, and the economic shock therapy dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and German bankers.
From the UK Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/05/greek-bailout-economic-crisis-deaths):

"All of us are angry, very, very angry," bellowed Stella Stamou, a civil servant standing on a street corner, screaming herself hoarse, a block away from where the bank had been set alight.
"You write that - angry, angry, angry, angry," she said, after participating in one of the biggest ever rallies to rock the capital since the return of democracy in 1974. "Angry with our own politicians, angry with the IMF, angry with the EU, angry that we have lost income, angry that we have never been told the truth."
From the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703961104575225472577513414.html):

"For 30 years the Greek people have been held hostage," said Periandros Athanassakis, 48, a garbage collector in Piraeus, the port near Athens. "Those who stole the money should pay."
Some officials saw in Wednesday's protests the seeds of broader discontent. "We may have an uprising in the making," one senior Greek official said.
The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/world/europe/07greece.html?ref=world&pagewanted=all) focused on the violence, predicting (in their hopeful way) that the violence would bring about a government reaction, and a backlash of Greeks "against a growing number of extremists". The Grey Lady intoned, "Some said they were willing to endure what some economists predict could be 10 years before the economy bounces back," even while others were responding differently:

... clustered among the protesters were subgroups numbering in the hundreds - mostly young and many clad in black, wearing hoods or masks and carrying helmets, wooden bats or hammers - that the police and other demonstrators identified broadly as anarchists. They led efforts to storm the Parliament building, chanting "thieves, thieves," and hurling rocks and gasoline bombs.
Everyone agrees that the situation in Greece is dire. And Greece is the proverbial canary in the coalmine, as world financiers look doubtfully upon Spain's 20% unemployment rate and indebtedness, and precarious economic conditions from the UK to Italy. The Germans are the real power behind the EU, and their economy is the one that others are looking to for a bail out the weaker states - but only at a price. The Germans are holding firm to the terms of their bailout, even as German chancellor Angela Merkel said (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/06/greece-crisis-eu-future-editorial), "Quite simply, Europe's future is at stake."
What's the Bailout Deal?
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has a difficult, maybe impossible austerity package to sell to the Greek people. The Greek state has been living on borrowed funds for some time. The bailout deal proposed by the Germans and IMF demands Greece reduce its national borrowing rate from 13.4% of national income to 3% within four years. But where's the money going to come from?
According to another New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/04/business/global/04greece.html?pagewanted=2) story:

The new measures include an increase of two percentage points in the value-added sales tax, which is now 19 percent; a further increase in the fuel tax; increases of 20 percent for alcohol taxes and 6 percent for cigarette taxes; a new tax on luxury goods; and a 12 percent cut in supplements to wages for civil servants, Mr. Petalotis said.
They also include a 30 percent reduction in the bonuses given to civil servants as holiday pay, which amount to two additional monthly wages, he said.
The Gerson Lehrman Company describes (http://www.glgroup.com/News/The-Greek-bailout--What-will-happen-in-the-productive-economy--47718.html) how the Greek economy is going to be chopped up and sold to the highest bidder, many of those foreign. Of course, they are quite sober about it all:

The government will accelerate privatizations (€ 2.5 bill. budgeted for 2010) and may change its mind regarding majority ownership by strategic (foreign/EU) investors of types of assets / industries that have been protected under the existing social /political model, including utility/infrastructure, transport or special state (monopoly) assets. Examples might include the railway company, water distribution companies, the electricity grid or the power company (PPC), as well as the soccer betting company (OPAP), gambling Casinos and the remaining stake in Hellenic Telecom (OTE), which will probably be sold to Deutsche Telekom. Other interesting candidates for privatization might include airports and seaports and enhanced PPP/PFI models will be considered for infrastructure investments.
So goodbye living wages, goodbye state-run utilities, transport, and telecom. As the quote above makes clear, German companies are primed to sweep up the goodies off the bargain basement floor. This is a bitter pill for the Greeks, who endured Nazi occupation during World War II, which they answered with a large bloody resistance. The old hatreds and resentments still simmer under the surface.
Back in February, Greek Deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos lashed out (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1253416/Greece-accuses-Germany-wrecking-economy-Nazi-occupation-debt-ridden-nation-hit-strikes.html):

Nazi theft of Greek gold during the Second World War is to blame for the country's faltering finances, Athens claimed yesterday....
Greece said the real culprit for its problems were the Nazis, whose occupation lasted from 1941 to 1945....
Germany swiftly rejected the accusation, saying it paid £50 million in compensation by 1960 and more to forced labourers of the Nazi regime.
Where is this all headed?
People in the U.S. are used to hearing about European general strikes. In the popular mind, fostered by a somnolent and ignorant press, such protests are quaint European customs, artifacts of a past that is not relevant anymore, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union. But this is a crisis that is not going to go away. And within living memory, European states have turned to violent coups and dictatorships to quell popular dissent, as in Greece and Portugal in the 1960s and 1970s.
In Italy, U.S./NATO-backed right-wing terrorists, part of the left-behind armies of Operation Gladio, facilitated the Italian government's "strategy of tension" during the 1980s in order to keep the then-popular Italian Communist Party from entering the Italian government. Philip Willan covered (http://www.cambridgeclarion.org/press_cuttings/us.terrorism_graun_24jun2000.html) the revelations of this story in the UK Guardian a decade ago:

The 300-page [Italian parliamentary] report says that the United States was responsible for inspiring a "strategy of tension" in which indiscriminate bombing of the public and the threat of a rightwing coup were used to stabilise centre-right political control of the country.
Those who carried out the attacks were rarely caught, it said, because "those massacres, those bombs, those military actions had been organised or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions and, as has been discovered, by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence".
The crisis in Greece and the European Union in general is exposing the deep flaws within the post-Soviet economic and political structure in Europe. The fires in Athens are a harbinger of a bigger crisis to come, one that Americans will have to pay attention to. But do not count on the U.S. press to honestly report what will happen, or the U.S. government to stand aside in neutrality. The Obama administration is pushing the Europeans and the IMF to get the bailout deal in place quickly, even as right-wing Republicans are screaming (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704866204575224421086866944.html) they will not support the U.S. paying its portion of the IMF bailout funds.
The people of Greece seem determined they will not pay for the orgy of corruption and double-dealing that has left their economy in tatters. Whether it was Goldman Sachs (http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,676634,00.html) playing funny with derivatives to help the Greek government to hide its debt, or German companies rushing to buy up newly privatized industries, or the wide-spread corruption of Greek politicians, they are saying (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/05/greek-bailout-economic-crisis-deaths) something that American workers and middle class might be thinking, and that has some people afraid: "'let the plutocracy pay'...'Why should we, the little man, pay for this crisis?'"


© 2010 FireDogLake.com

Jan Klimkowski
05-06-2010, 10:54 PM
The Gerson Lehrman Company describes how the Greek economy is going to be chopped up and sold to the highest bidder, many of those foreign. Of course, they are quite sober about it all:
The government will accelerate privatizations (€ 2.5 bill. budgeted for 2010) and may change its mind regarding majority ownership by strategic (foreign/EU) investors of types of assets / industries that have been protected under the existing social /political model, including utility/infrastructure, transport or special state (monopoly) assets. Examples might include the railway company, water distribution companies, the electricity grid or the power company (PPC), as well as the soccer betting company (OPAP), gambling Casinos and the remaining stake in Hellenic Telecom (OTE), which will probably be sold to Deutsche Telekom. Other interesting candidates for privatization might include airports and seaports and enhanced PPP/PFI models will be considered for infrastructure investments.

Yup - neoliberal vulture capitalism and economic Shock Therapy.

The poster child for this type of rape of a country's infrastructure occurred when western banks were looting Argentina. Jeb Bush allegedly phoned up the President of Argentina and insisted that he sell the Argentine national grid to a fabulously run American company named.... Enron.

The Greeks are far better off revolting and telling the bankers and the vulture capitalists to fuck off. Now.

At least the Greek people still nominally own at least some of their country's infrastructure and natural resources. In a few months, they'll own nothing and be even more in hoc to the bankers and the IMF if they allow these "austerity measures" to stand.

Bring it on. :elefant:

David Guyatt
05-07-2010, 08:34 AM
The Greeks are far better off revolting and telling the bankers and the vulture capitalists to fuck off. Now.

At least the Greek people still nominally own at least some of their country's infrastructure and natural resources. In a few months, they'll own nothing and be even more in hoc to the bankers and the IMF if they allow these "austerity measures" to stand.

Bring it on. :elefant:

The problem is that the Greek government favour the "bailout" plan -- even when the people clearly don't.

And so the government will force it through irrespective of any support of the Greek people.

And this from the birthplace of democracy too.

Magda Hassan
05-21-2010, 10:00 AM
The Heresy Of The Greeks Offers Hope

May 20, 2010 By John Pilger
John Pilger's ZSpace Page (http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/johnpilger) / ZSpace (http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/)
As Britain’s political class pretends that its arranged marriage of Tweedledee to Tweedledum is democracy, the inspiration for the rest of us is Greece. It is hardly surprising that Greece is presented not as a beacon but as a “junk country” getting its comeuppance for its “bloated public sector” and “culture of cutting corners” (the Observer). The heresy of Greece is that the uprising of its ordinary people provides an authentic hope unlike that lavished upon the warlord in the White House.

The crisis that has led to the “rescue” of Greece by the European banks and the International Monetary Fund is the product of a grotesque financial system which itself is in crisis. Greece is a microcosm of a modern class war that is rarely reported as such and is waged with all the urgency of panic among the imperial rich.

What makes Greece different is that within its living memory is invasion, foreign occupation, betrayal by the West, military dictatorship and popular resistance. Ordinary people are not cowed by the corrupt corporatism that dominates the European Union. The right-wing government of Kostas Karamanlis, which preceded the present Pasok (Labour) government of George Papandreou, was described by the French sociologist Jean Ziegler as “a machine for systematic pillaging the country’s resources”.

The machine had infamous friends. The US Federal reserve Board is investigating the role of Goldman Sachs and other American hedge fund operators which gambled on the bankruptcy of Greece as public assets were sold off and its tax-evading rich deposited 360 billion euros in Swiss banks. The largest Greek ship-owners transferred their companies abroad. This hemorrhage of capital continues with the approval of the European central banks and governments.

At 11 per cent, Greece’s deficit is no higher than America’s. However, when the Papandreou government tried to borrow on the international capital market, it was effectively blocked by the American corporate ratings agencies, which “downgraded” Greece to “junk”. These same agencies gave triple-A ratings to billions of dollars in so-called sub-prime mortgage securities and so precipitated the economic collapse in 2008.

What has happened in Greece is theft on an epic, though not unfamiliar scale. In Britain, the “rescue” of banks like Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland has cost billions of pounds. Thanks to the former prime minister, Gordon Brown, and his passion for the avaricious instincts of the City of London, these gifts of public money were unconditional, and the bankers have continued to pay each other the booty they call bonuses. Under Britain’s political monoculture, they can do as they wish. In the United States, the situation is even more remarkable, reports investigative journalist David DeGraw, “[as the principal Wall Street banks] that destroyed the economy pay zero in taxes and get $33 billion in refunds”.

In Greece, as in America and Britain, the ordinary people have been told they must repay the debts of the rich and powerful who incurred the debts. Jobs, pensions and public services are to be slashed and burned, with privateers in charge. For the European Union and the IMF, the opportunity presents to “change the culture” and dismantle the social welfare of Greece, just as the IMF and the World Bank have “structurally adjusted” (impoverished and controlled) countries across the developing world.

Greece is hated for the same reason Yugoslavia had to be physically destroyed behind a pretence of protecting the people of Kosovo. Most Greeks are employed by the state, and the young and the unions comprise a popular alliance that has not been pacified; the colonels’ tanks on the campus of Athens University remain a political spectre. Such resistance is anathema to Europe’s central bankers and regarded as an obstruction to German capital’s need to capture markets in the aftermath of Germany’s troubled reunification.

In Britain, such has been the 30-year propaganda of an extreme economic theory known first as monetarism then as neo-liberalism, that the new prime minister can, like his predecessor, describe his demands that ordinary people pay the debts of crooks as “fiscally responsible”. The unmentionables are poverty and class. Almost a third of British children remain below the breadline. In working class Kentish Town in London, male life expectancy is 70. Two miles away, in Hampstead, it is 80. When Russia was subjected to similar “shock therapy” in the 1990s, life expectancy nosedived. A record 40 million impoverished Americans are currently receiving food stamps: that is, they cannot afford to feed themselves.

In the developing world, a system of triage imposed by the World Bank and the IMF has long determined whether people live or die. Whenever tariffs and food and fuel subsidies are eliminated by IMF diktat, small farmers know they have been declared expendable. The World Resources Institute estimates that the toll reaches 13-18 million child deaths every year. “This,” wrote the economist Lester C. Thurow, “is neither metaphor nor simile of war, but war itself.”

The same imperial forces have used horrific military weapons against stricken countries whose majorities are children, and approved torture as an instrument of foreign policy. It is a phenomenon of denial that none of these assaults on humanity, in which Britain is actively engaged, was allowed to intrude on the British election.

The people on the streets of Athens do not suffer this malaise. They are clear who the enemy is and they regard themselves as once again under foreign occupation. And once again, they are rising up, with courage. When David Cameron begins to cleave £6 billion from public services in Britain, he will be bargaining that Greece will not happen in Britain. We should prove him wrong.


From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives (http://www.zcommunications.org/)
URL: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-heresy-of-the-greeks-offers-hope-by-john-pilger

Jan Klimkowski
05-21-2010, 05:16 PM
Yup - John Pilger, a lifelong supporter of Noam Chomsky, gets it.

Magda Hassan
05-29-2010, 12:22 PM
Insulin giant pulls medicine from Greece over price cut

Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Saturday, 29 May 2010 12:01 UK



By Malcolm Brabant BBC News, Athens http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/47952000/jpg/_47952291_injection203_203x152-1.jpg The Danish company's decision has been criticised in Greece The world's leading supplier of the anti-diabetes drug insulin is withdrawing a state-of-the-art medication from Greece.
Novo Nordisk, a Danish company, objects to a government decree ordering a 25% price cut in all medicines.
A campaign group has condemned the move as "brutal capitalist blackmail".
More than 50,000 Greeks with diabetes use Novo Nordisk's product, which is injected via an easy-to-use fountain pen-like device.
A spokesman for the Danish pharmaceutical company said it was withdrawing the product from the Greek market because the price cut would force its business in Greece to run at a loss.
The company was also concerned that the compulsory 25% reduction would have a knock-on effect because other countries use Greece as a key reference point for setting drug prices.
'Insensitive' Greece wants to slash its enormous medical bill as part of its effort to reduce the country's crippling debt.
International pharmaceutical companies are owed billions in unpaid bills. Novo Nordisk claims it is owed $36m (£24.9m) dollars by the Greek state.
Pavlos Panayotacos, whose 10-year-old daughter Nephele has diabetes, has written to Novo Nordisk's chairman to criticise the move.
"As an economist I realize the importance of making a profit, but healthcare is more than just the bottom line," he wrote.
"As you well may know, Greece is presently in dire economic and social straits, and you could not have acted in a more insensitive manner at a more inopportune time."
The Greek diabetes association was more robust, describing the Danes' actions as "brutal blackmail" and "a violation of corporate social responsibility".
The Danish chairman, Lars Sorensen, wrote to Mr Panayotacos stressing that it was "the irresponsible management of finances by the Greek government which puts both you and our company in this difficult position".
People with diabetes in Greece have warned that some could die as a result of this action.
But a spokesman for Novo Nordisk said this issue was not about killing people. By way of compensation, he said the company would make available an insulin product called glucagen, free of charge.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/10189367.stm

Magda Hassan
09-19-2010, 08:59 AM
The Greek Laboratory:
Shock Doctrine and Popular Resistance
by Stathis Kouvelakis


"There is a shadow of something colossal and menacing that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the shadow of an oligarchy, if you will; it is the nearest I dare approximate it. What its nature may be I refuse to imagine. But what I wanted to say was this: You are in a perilous position." -- Jack London, The Iron Heel (http://books.google.com/books?id=yF6AEf6P3QUC&pg=PA73)
'Shock and Awe' on Greece
One of the ways to understand what is happening in Greece is to use the notion recently developed by Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine (http://books.google.com/books?id=7ZUl-iF7Sl4C). Seen from that perspective, the meaning of the Greek situation is simply that it's the first time this so-called 'shock doctrine', a constitutive element of any neoliberal purge, is put into practice in a Western European country, after having been tested, of course, many times in the past in other parts of the world, including the eastern part of the European continent, with results that are now very familiar to us. The idea of the shock doctrine is, to put it as briefly as possible, the following: it's impossible to implement a neoliberal purge, or, rather this kind of qualitative leap in the speed and depth of the neoliberal purge, and furthermore to get it to be, if not accepted, at least tolerated by society, without creating and staging an 'exceptional' situation, a situation of emergency, in the wake of which, somehow, 'normal' life is disrupted and what seemed until quite recently unimaginable just happens.
'Shock and Awe' is exactly what it is about: shock and awe targeting the social body itself, the popular classes and the subaltern groups of each social formation being the core target. This is how the 'normal' time, the 'normal' course of events, is interrupted. I've been to Greece many times over the last several months, and each time I was amazed by a constant acceleration of the pace of events. The acceleration was certainly dramatized by the media and the political system, but it was essentially due to the unfolding of the objective contradictions of the situation. It has therefore to be understood as the unleashing of violent elementary systemic forces, comparable, to quote some examples underlined by Klein in her book, to wars, occupations, military coups, or the management of certain natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina. A major economic crisis, such as the one that is happening, is precisely an event of this type. The crisis is major because it is not a case of usual cyclical recessions, but rather something close to a collapse affecting the foundations of the economy of the state, of the social and political system in its entirety. It is an organic crisis, to use the term of Antonio Gramsci.
From this follows that the social and political forces in Greece have to face a new, unprecedented situation. A situation for which no one is prepared, neither at the top layers of society, nor at the bottom, on the side of the popular forces and of all those who will suffer the consequences of this economic and social hurricane. Everyone is destabilized, and that is why the outcome of the Greek situation is absolutely crucial. What I've said so far about the shock therapy is of general validity. But what is specific to Greece is that, as has been suggested in very powerful terms by the previous speakers, this shock therapy, this neoliberal purge, is even more necessary in this country because here we have to deal with the weakness of the political structures, especially of the Greek state.
Why Is the Greek State So Inept?
Costas Lapavitsas very aptly spoke of the failure of the Greek ruling class. This failure can be understood in two ways. The first is the short term. There has been an immediate failure to deal properly with the contradictions of the Greek capitalist system. The whole recent cycle of economic growth relied on a very fragile and even unsustainable basis. The analysis of these contradictions has already been outlined by Lapavitsas and his collaborators of the Research on Money and Finance (http://www.researchonmoneyandfinance.org/) group, so I will not say more on this. But there is also a more long-term failure, which I want to emphasize now.
I come from, and I situate myself, within the Marxist tradition. One of the key ways within this tradition of dealing with the state is to talk about its "relative autonomy." Nicos Poulantzas famously elaborated a lot on this notion. The relative autonomy means that the state has the capacity to be at a distance from the different factions of the ruling class and of the balance of class forces in society. The state intervenes to constitute the overall outcome of those class forces and it is constituted itself as the condensation of that balance between class forces and class relations, as Poulantzas famously said.
The characteristic of the Greek state is precisely that this relative autonomy, for reasons that go very deep in Greek history, has been much weaker, much more limited, than in other cases. The Greek state, indeed, has been at constant war with the popular classes, with its own people, for many decades. What is at the very root of the weakness of the Greek state, paradoxical as it may sound to some, is the very failure of the popular classes in Greece to reach a permanent form of representation and regulation of their interests within the state itself. All the phenomena we've been talking about so far in this discussion, such as the diffusion of corruption "from below", clientelism etc, are just ways to compensate, from above and below if you prefer, for this sort of weakness. This affects an essential part of the popular classes, who are deprived of a more institutionalized, stabilized form of social compromise that has been reached by the popular classes in other parts of the European continent in the context of the so-called welfare state. These classes have therefore to bypass this lack in order to reach some particularistic or fragmentary form of fulfilling certain immediate interests via practices such as those mentioned before. But this is, of course, much more the case of the ruling classes and the dominant groups. What we call corruption in Greece just means how obscene and incestuous the relations between fractional capitalist interests and the Greek capitalist state as such are.
Perspectives of the Popular Resistance
How are we to understand now the new possibilities opened up by the structural weakness of the Greek state as they develop in the current crisis? I would point to two of them. The first has to do with the relative position of the Greek national formation within the international division of labour. I think that one of the main interests of this very important piece of research produced by Costas Lapavitsas and the group of economists working with him is the way it updates and renews the analysis of the polarizing effects of the core/periphery division in Europe. I think we have to distinguish two levels of periphery within Europe. The first includes Greece, the Mediterranean South, the so-called 'PIGS'; and the second is even more peripheral -- the 'periphery of the periphery' -- and corresponds of course to Eastern Europe, the new 'Mezzogiorno' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Italy)-type cheap labour reserve of the continent as whole. The weakness of the Greek state, in the context of the shock therapy, just means the loss of the remnants of what can be a form of "national sovereignty". I'm not mentioning this because I want to defend any form of national sovereignty or out of a principled hostility to any superseding of national sovereignty as such but because, in this case, it amounts, for the popular classes, to the loss of elementary forms of democratic control of the state and the disorganization of representation, of the relation of representation between the state and the fractions of the dominant class. This downgrading of the position of the Greek state within the international system will have far-reaching consequences. It is within this context that the popular forces have to situate their own struggle, elaborate their own strategy, and build their own system of alliances on European and international levels.
The second consequence of that weakness of the Greek state, to put it very simply and a bit more optimistically, is that it opens up the possibility of direct intervention of the popular forces. Indeed, as we all know, Greek history, including recent events in Greece, has been characterized by exactly this direct intervention of the popular forces, of the popular struggles, in the political scene. What happened today gives us a taste of what will follow in the forthcoming weeks and months. Let me mention here some examples taken from the last decade. In 2001, an uprising of the Greek trade union movement succeeded in preventing the brutal and savage reform of the pension system initiated by the so-called 'modernizing PASOK'1 (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/kouvelakis260810.html#_edn1) government of Costas Simitis. In 2006 and 2007, Greece was the only country in Europe where the student movement succeeded in blocking many of the elements of the Bologna process and preventing the partial privatization of higher education. In 2008, as the result of the murder of the Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the police, the very legitimacy of the state was put into question in the most significant street riots and mass confrontations with the police that have happened in Europe since the 1970s.
What we have seen today happening in the streets of Athens and of other Greek cities is a combination of all those events. The two-day-long national strike organized by the unions, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating, public-sector workers entering into violent clashes with the police, and other insurrectionary practices. Such social practice developing from below tends to break the existing framework of political representation, of political confrontation and of public debate. Beyond any doubt, it will be one of the major characteristics of the period to come. It will also be one of the major challenges the Left and the popular forces in Greece will have to face in the near future. This challenge may destroy them. This is not rhetoric but a very real eventuality: if the Left and the organized social forces are unable to meet the challenge, if they appear powerless and fragmented, they will be swept away by the dislocation of social relations and the rise of despair and, probably, of the most reactionary and regressive tendencies within society. But if they find ways to intervene and offer a genuine perspective that articulates the people's anger, then this perilous situation can also open up an unprecedented prospect for the future of the country, of the popular movement, and moreover, of the progressive forces in Europe and elsewhere.

1 (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/kouvelakis260810.html#_ednref1) A Greek version of the Blairite transformation of the Labour Party into 'New Labour'. PASOK is the Greek Socialist Party founded in 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, the father of the current prime minister and PASOK leader George Papandreou. Simitis took over as prime minister and party leader after Andreas Papandreou's death in 1996, staying in power until 2004.
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/kouvelakis260810.html

Jan Klimkowski
09-19-2010, 03:21 PM
The Shock Therapy electrodes are buzzing and humming across Europe.

It's time to find the Off switch.

Or even better, pull the plug out of the wall. :viking:

Austin Kelley
09-19-2010, 04:20 PM
Here are some thoughts on an alternative arrangement, as presented recently in Greece:

http://www.zcommunications.org/participatory-socialism-there-is-an-alternative-by-peter-bohmer



Bio: Peter Bohmer has been an activist in movements for radical social chance since 1967. These have included anti-racist organizing and solidarity movements with the people of Vietnam, Southern Africa,...


Peter Bohmer,
Faculty in Economics and Political Economy
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, Washington, United States
Delivered in Thessaloniki, Greece, September 9, 2010 at the A-Fest, Festival of the Anti-Authoritarians

Thank you for inviting me. I am honored to be with you in Greece at the festival in Thessaloniki put on by the anti-authoritarians. . Although you are suffering severe economic hardship, you are providing hope for those around the world fighting back against unemployment, against cutbacks in social programs and poverty and who are committed to creating a better world where the dignity of all people is its organizing principle. I hope my talk will provide some useful insights into alternatives.

Capitalism is a failing and destructive system as can be so clearly seen from the global crisis in general and the crisis in Greece in particular. However, it will not collapse on its own and if does, the alternative is unlikely to be liberatory unless we have developed in theory and practice some real alternatives to it, and movements powerful enough to transform and revolutionize society.

To criticize and resist capitalism and the many problems it causes is necessary but without an alternative is insufficient. We, radicals, have spent too much time on developing excellent analyses of its exploitative and oppressive nature, of the limits in reforming it but not enough on what we want and how to get there. Developing alternatives are necessary for revolutionary change as of course are strategies to connect our critique of capitalism to our vision of an alternative. I will focus mainly on what we want and need although I will include some comments on strategy.

There is An Alternative!
Since the late 1970’s, the dominant mainstream ideology is that There is No Alternative (TINA), or that no qualitatively different way of organizing society is possible. Without an alternative, we can’t answer how to solve major economic and social problem such as alienated labor, unemployment, poverty, global warming, discrimination, imperialism and poverty or we often are limited to bad or insufficient choices, which are even more restricted by global capitalism. For example, if we demand a living wage for all and a work week of 20 hours, we face the likelihood that employers will move their capital to another country, and that imports will rise and exports fall worsening the balance of payments. This would cause this major reform to be undone.

TINA or There is No Alternative is used in three different senses. The first and the most common was the way it was used by British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in 1979 when she said “there is no alternative to globalization” that meant there is no alternative to neoliberalism or neoliberal capitalism. This is the most restrictive sense of TINA. That there is no worthwhile and workable alternative to free market fundamentalism is the position of the European Commission, of international financial institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and the World Trade Organization, and seemingly of Prime Minister George Papandreou and my President, Barack Obama.

As a response to the financial crisis and the high rate of unemployment around the world, many are calling, instead for a regulated form of capitalism, a Keynesian or social democratic variant, e.g. Joe Stiglitz and George Soros. In this perspective, there should be strong regulations on financial institutions, environmental regulations, and government spending sufficient for there to be high employment. There is a significant social safety net and some level of progressive taxes to make after tax income more equal than before tax income. Production is primarily organized for profit, by private corporations and through the market. In this social democratic perspective, there are no alternatives to capitalism but there is a desirable variant to neoliberal capitalism. I consider social democracy to be a form of capitalism because it is a society dominated by capital and most people who produce goods and services are wage laborers. So this is the second variant of TINA—there is an alternative to neoliberalism but not to capitalism.

Within the socialist tradition, there is a third variant of TINA. Yes, there are alternatives to capitalism, but there are only two possible socialist variants for an entire society: central planning or market socialism. Both of these alternatives are severely flawed but there is a feasible and desirable socialist or liberatory alternative, which I call participatory socialism. One reason for the belief in TINA is that no alternate society exists that we can point to and say this is what we want to create. I will make comments about Venezuela as a society that although still capitalist is moving in some ways towards a participatory socialism and direct democracy.

Both within the Marxist and anarchist tradition, there has been a hesitance to develop visions of a different society. There are many reasons why activists and social movements do not usually propose alternatives to capitalism--from not wanting to be called utopian to fears that projecting an alternative will be seen as social engineering or vanguardism.

I urge us to be utopian—to be willing to go beyond what has existed, to go beyond what we have been told is impossible, to dream and to act on it. Be utopian, not in the sense of an idea without a feasible strategy but rather utopian in going beyond what exists, to struggle for another world that is necessary and possible, to think big and creatively! Otherwise we don’t have a chance to create the world we want and need.

We do not need blueprints but rather ideas of the how an economy and society could meet human needs and be feasible; how its institutions and organization of society would further the values we consider most important. To avoid the danger of social engineering by an intellectual or technocratic elite, this evolving vision needs to be experimented with concrete examples within the existing society, and interact with and be continually altered by social movements and organizations struggling for fundamental change. Our vision must be culturally and historically specific, one size does not fit all.

Socialisms
I will sketch key elements of a participatory socialist society. The name is not important, the essence is.

Other names besides participatory socialist are decentralized socialist, libertarian socialist, participatory economy, participatory society, socialism for the 21st century, council communism, democratic socialism, and many forms of anarchism. Occasionally it goes by the name of economic democracy although that also covers many versions of reformed capitalism. The ideas are most developed in the writings of Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel. I am indebted to them for the following although I differ in a few aspects.

I use the word socialism because it represents a tradition worth maintaining although critically. I hold on to this term because in so many places around the world, socialism has represented and represents the aspirations of oppressed people and workers for liberation and human dignity. It carries a lot of baggage from its association with the repressive nature of the Soviet Union, particularly after the rise of Stalin, to the history of socialist parties when in power supporting imperialism and being reformist; to socialist groups and parties not making central the oppression of women, or the oppression of indigenous people and sexual minorities, or being bureaucratic not making democracy and popular power central, or prioritizing economic growth over all other goals. So I suggest considering ourselves part of this tradition while not defending many of the parties, groups, and societies who have called themselves socialist.

Also, unlike a capitalist economy, asocialist economy has the possibility of being environmentally sustainable, of making central as the Iroquois or Haudenasaunee indigenous people say, considering the impact of decisions, seven generations into the future. If this is made a central goal of a socialist or participatory planned society, and operationalizing the long term is part of all decision-making, sustainability can be a reality and not just a marketing tool. On the other hand if socialism focuses on economic growth as the primary goal, the results may be no better, environmentally, than a capitalist society.

It is time to overcome the division and divides between Marxists and anarchists. Their coming together with insights from other frameworks such as more indigenous centered ones can help forge richer critiques, strategies and visions of where we want to go. Non-Leninist Marxists and non-individualist and movement building anarchists and the related groups have enough in common to work together in unity with the totality being greater than the sum of the individual groups and perspectives. We can build stronger and more insightful organizations this way.

By socialism, I mean the popular control of the production and use of the societal surplus of society or a clear movement in this direction. Ending private ownership and control of the surplus is necessary but not sufficient for socialism. It is much more than nationalization. Hierarchically managed nationalized enterprises are not socialist enterprises. This concept of socialism requires the following four interrelated parts:

1) Self-management, worker control at the level of the workplace.
2) Democratic and popular control of the society as a whole. .
3) Production organized to meet human needs, needs not for profit
4) Democratic planning

So socialism when fully developed means democracy, both at micro level of the workplace and also at the society or political level. Similarly, democracy in the sense of popular control over the major economic and political decisions if fully developed also means socialism. Socialism and democracy may have different starting points but one implies the other, they are intertwined. Central to socialism is equality and substantive and direct democracy.

Also central to this understanding is that capitalism cannot be reformed but must be totally ended and transformed. The power of capital to exploit workers, to hire and fire, to determine our livelihoods, to shape the state, to hold our communities hostage for tax breaks and low wages must be ended. The concept revolution as both a process but also a fundamental transformation of society, that of the majority of the population rising up and taking power from those who have monopolized it, revolution is still a relevant concept. My focus is on liberation and qualitative change from the bottom up. It is not necessarily violent.

Before I outline a participatory socialist society, I will briefly criticize some other possible variants of socialism.

1. Centrally Planned Societies, e.g., the former Soviet Union, sometimes called Communist because a Communist Party controls the state. Economic enterprises are nationalized, the means of production are publicly owned and the economic decisions of what is produced, how and by whom and income distribution and prices are decided by central planners. There are few examples today as Cuba is moving towards greater use of markets and small privately owned production, e.g., in agriculture, services, light industry. In these societies, which inspire few people today, there is a dominant political party, a vanguard party that consists of those with the highest political consciousness. This party supposedly represents the interests of the working class. There are central planners whose overall objectives are set by the state or political party who are often indistinct from each other. Based on information the planners get from enterprises about labor requirements, necessary inputs, machinery they need for different levels of production, they develop detailed instructions on what firms should produce and how they should produce it. Central planners in consultation with the state also set five and ten year plans. There may be input from consumers and enterprises but not decision-making power. This model, with important variations between countries led by Communist Parties often had high growth rates of production in its early stages, particularly in the industrial sector and high rates of investment. This model has worked very poorly in agriculture as it tended not to use the knowledge of those directly involved in agricultural production and provided inadequate incentives to induce sufficient amounts of needed and desired agricultural produce. In the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, this model failed in producing high quality goods and services, and in producing substantial and desirable technical changes and innovations. Although workers usually could not get laid off and there was usually, full employment, there was no self-management or worker control, and enterprises had little power in deciding what and how to produce. There was not democracy in the economic and other spheres of life although repression has varied greatly between these societies.

In Cuba, the availability of health care for all is truly impressive and should not be minimized as is Cuba’s sending of doctors all over the world, true international solidarity. Also very positive is the access to education by much of the population and that almost all Cubans have at least a secondary degree. There is no hunger in Cuba, unlike many of the neighboring countries, and Cuba should be fully supported against the war the U.S. has waged against it for 50 years. Cuba’s growing production of vegetable and fruits in urban gardens and their organic agriculture is also positive and worth studying. However, Cuba does not fit the definition of socialism I have laid out nor is it a model that we should copy although it hast many important and worthwhile and inspiring aspects.

2) Market Socialism-think the former Yugoslavia. In a market socialist society, like the centrally planned model above, there is public ownership of the means of production, the resources, minerals, machines, factories, offices, stores, and agricultural land. Unlike capitalist societies, income comes from work not from ownership of wealth or capital. This is the non-capitalist model supported by most left or radical economists in the United States because they believe it combines the efficiency and individual choice that markets provide with the equity from socialism because of the absence of property income. In a market socialist society, each enterprise is trying to minimize costs in order to maximize profits which means society paying the social costs, e.g., pollution, although some of them can be regulated. Although most profits do not remain inside the firm, if none of the profits were kept by the firm, there would be little incentive for firms to minimize costs which is a desirable aspect of market socialism. Firms because of a good location may make higher profits than others although the workers there are no more deserving. In Yugoslavia, vast inequalities remained by region. Moreover, there may be vast disparities in wages because they are set by demand and supply. Progressive taxes can reduce some of the inequality in income but not all of it. Wages should not be determined by markets for labor. Also in a market socialist model, competitiveness and individualism will be fostered and encouraged. In the Yugoslav model, workers could supposedly elect and recall their managers but often the managers were constrained by the firms having to compete in national and global markets. There is market pressure on managers to speed up production and not prioritize worker safety and health, to externalize costs of production. Maybe some consumer markets are not a problem but we can do better than market socialism although it is far desirable to capitalism.

3) Social democracy, e.g. Greek’s PASOK with Andreas Papandreou as leader, the Scandinavian countries in the post World War II period. The social democratic vision has been reduced to one of regulated capitalism and Keynesianism, high government spending and a social safety net financed by progressive taxes with somewhat of a focus on a more equal distribution of income but not on who controls production and the labor process. In the context of contemporary global capitalism, global neoliberalism and the real threats of capital flight and capital going on strike, social democratic parties have moved further to the right, and less concerned with challenging the inequality of wealth and income—the so-called third way. For the most part, social democrats have not questioned hierarchical structures at the work place and the limits of representative democracy. Also, similar to the centrally planned models, there has usually been little emphasis by them on the environment. A somewhat different version from the labor-led social democratic parties are the Green Parties who emphasize sustainability but do not question capitalism.

For all of the above models, although they may not be capitalist—the centrally planned and market socialist models are not-- they are class societies. Albert and Hahnel use the term coordinator class to describe the ruling class in centrally planned and market socialist society. The working class is still alienated and not in power in these economies. In social democracies, there is a coordinator class and a capitalist class who dominate. This hierarchical division of labor will not only affect the workplace but all aspects of society as the class that dominates at work will tend to dominate other parts of society and the class dominated at work will usually feel less capable and less likely to exercise decision making and power in their community and broader society.

Many of my anarchist friends, particularly younger people, focus on some form of small is beautiful or community based economics. In these visions, the focus is on small communities being as self-sufficient as possible with the emphasis on voluntary trading within and between communities, sometimes called a gift economy. While the motivations are anti-bureaucratic and strong environmental concerns, there are many problems that have not been thought through. If equality of income and wealth is a value, wouldn’t areas or regions richer in resources or with more and better equipment, be richer than poorer regions? What about economies of scale meaning that sometimes producing on a larger scale is more efficient, worthwhile than small scale production? Isn’t there too high a cost in terms of necessary labor, quality of output, use of equipment, duplicating buildings for a community or even a midsized region of a few million people to produce locally most of what they need? If communities are not primarily self-sufficient but trade goods between them, how will trade between communities be organized? What will be the prices or terms of trade between regions? If a community or region is large enough so it can produce the majority of what it needs, how will trade, production, incomes be organized within this fairly sizable region? In this case, the participatory model is relevant.

Criterion and Values of a Good Society
In developing a vision, we need criteria and values to examine whether the institutions and organization of this possible liberatory society are advanced and fostered, or subverted.

1) Equity is a major value and goal. Income should be received according to need and effort and sacrifice. The starting point would be equal incomes for all members of that society but this can be adjusted upwards or downwards depending on effort and need. For example if the standard work week is 20 hours a week and someone wants to work more, they could get some extra compensation. Because someone has a skill or talent that is highly valued by society, e.g. being a great musician or scientist does not as in the case of capitalism or market socialism lead to higher income unless there was some major sacrifice to attain it. How need and effort will be determined is an important question?

2) Democracy meaning self-management. People make decisions in proportion to how much the decision affects them. One should have a lot of say how ones work is organized but little or none about decisions made by others that are purely private. Democracy should be as direct as possible.

3) Solidarity—Does the society foster consideration for the well-being of others, empathy? In a capitalist society, unhealthy competition is fostered. If my firm succeeds, yours may fail and all workers in your plant will lose their jobs and may not be able to find another one.

4) Variety or diversity. Is there respect and encouragement for individual and group differences? Are different types of communities, living arrangements, sexual orientation valued? Is privacy also supported?

5) Efficiency. By efficiency, maybe a different word should be used, I mean that society should not waste labor or scarce resources and materials—e.g., that it should not waste water and non-renewable resources. People’s talents should be used where they do the most societal good and labor should be organized so people work at a pace consistent with human development but human labor should not be unnecessarily used.

6) Sustainable development—This means living in harmony with the natural environment and considering fully, future generations in today’s economic decisions. It means not ripping off the rest of the world by using a disproportionate share of resources or by larger per capita carbon dioxide emissions. I would add that other species and nature, e.g., trees, have a value in and of themselves, not only because they improve the quality of the life of humans.

Principles of a Participatory Socialist Society
In moving towards a participatory society, we need to transform institutions and not just political consciousness. Moreover although experiments and aspects of participatory socialism can exist within a larger capitalist society, and it is very important that we build these institutions, they will be compromised and limited within the broader society. For example, firms will have to compete against other firms who may not pay a living wage, who pollute, who do not make worker safety a priority and do not provide adequate child care benefits, or who buy goods made with sweatshop labor. People who need the goods or services this participatory enterprise produces may not be able to afford them and the firm cannot afford to give them away.

Planning, although it has negative connotations of a huge and powerful bureaucracy, of centralism, is necessary for a non-market based society to organize production of the many goods and services, inputs and outputs, what goods are produced and how, how many of each, coordination of production and consumption, planning for the future, what kind of work do people do, where? In a participatory socialist society, economic planning must be democratic and participatory. Participatory planning is a feasible and desirable alternative to central planning and to the market and price mechanism. There is an alternative to the market.

There is popular decision making and popular power with regards to economic decisions, and public ownership of the means of production. I use the word socialization or public ownership rather than nationalization. In any case, one can't make money or income or wealth by owning property. One could own one's house but not sell it for a profit. One could not rent out housing or make money by loaning money. No one will own an enterprise although people who work at a place will manage and run it.

In a participatory socialist society,

1) Production will be organized to meet needs not for profit. Moreover, the basic needs for all members of that society will be prioritized and guaranteed for quality health care, housing, day care, education, food, clothing, clean water, transportation, etc. As a strategy, we should organize for the decommodification of these goods and services—for free public transportation, free education, access to water as a basic human right. This is a start towards building the new society in the bosom of the old. By decommodification, I mean that the prices are not determined by supply and demand and goods and services are distributed to those who need them.

2) Social and public consumption are prioritized over private consumption. For example, there will be an emphasis on public transportation rather than private cars for each individual. Community cars could be available for use by community members for an excursion.

3). Hierarchy will be eliminated or minimized. There will not be one class of managers and another of people managed although there may be managers for a specific task. Self-management will be emphasized. Worker and community councils will play a central role. Moreover to overcome class differences, there will be balanced job complexes, where workers will do a combination of jobs and tasks so that empowerment, responsibility, rote work, conceptual work, safety, desirability is similar for each person. This does not mean that people do identical tasks but rather there is not one group who does all the conceptual work and another group who does the same simple operation hour after hour.

4) Technology will be designed so that rote, repetitive labor such as the assembly line is reduced to an absolute minimum. In production, human beings are created not just workers and rote work does not develop human beings to their fullest even if they receive the same income as everyone else.

5) Reduce work week and full employment for all. There will be a societal decision on the average work week. Everyone who can will be expected to work, and will be employed. This will include young and old with an adjustment downwards of their expected work week. Without all of the unproductive labor—supervisory, guard, advertising and marketing, military, in banking and finance—and without useless products and planned obsolescence, with everyone working, the work week for the United States or Greece could be cut in half or maybe by 2/3. One of the many insanities of capitalism is the existence of long work hours for some and no work for others.

6. Ending sexual and racial (ethnic) division of labor in the household and the workplace. Household work will be shared and reduced.

7. Equality (equity), nationally and globally. Trade and international relations will be organized to promote equality of income and wealth between nations, societies. Most of the benefits of international trade will go to poorer countries. There should be respect and cooperation between nations and open borders, and the sharing of technology and information.

8. Participatory planning—to be further explained.

9. Direct democracy—the emphasis will be on participatory and direct rather than representative democracy.

10. All social costs are considered in production and consumption decisions.

These ten points are not only guidelines for a participatory socialist society but should also be incorporated into and advocated for in our current movements and organizations for the complete transformation of society. We need partial victories and concrete examples and experiments such as the town of Marinalenda in Spain, the Zapatistas in Chiapas, the recuperated factories in Argentina that point to the society we want to create. We are transformed as we transform the world. Revolution is a process that does not end. It is also a rupture with the existing structure. There is a need for revolutionary change, qualitative change to make this vision a possibility. As long as we are inside a capitalist society, it will strongly influence all aspects of life. However, overthrowing an oppressive system, taking power is only one aspect of creating a new society. We need to build the new society and social relations and institutions inside the old society, and then continue to transform ourselves and our society after capitalism is no longer the dominant economic system.

Its Economic Institutions
Here is a sketch of some major institutions of a participatory socialist society. It is not a blueprint I have thought mainly about its applicability to the United States although. I believe its general features have relevance in many other places including Greece.

A. Workplace and production. The guiding notion is that work is a means and an end. Useful goods are produced but so are people’s capacities, personalities and needs. The workplace should be non-hierarchical and cooperative with elements of play and with the aim of using and developing human creativity. This implies:

1. Worker's councils for the work group and at the enterprise level. Worker councils will organize production and the labor process. They will hire and if necessary fire. They will self-manage.

2. Balanced job complexes--People will do a combination of jobs that mix responsibilities and desirability—there will be job rotation.

a. At the workplace. e.g., In a hospital a doctor may also work in the kitchen.
b. Between workplaces. If a workplace is less desirable than the average, its members will also work at a more desirable workplace.
Balanced job complexes are necessary for there to be self-management of the economy and society—Equal pay is not enough for people to be able to self-manage in all aspects of life, for power to be equal and shared.

3. Workplaces put forward their proposed plan on desired production, on needed inputs, on desired technical changes and equipment needed. They begin with what they did the year before and build from there. They are added up for each industry. They are then be modified after they are compared with the requests of consumer councils.

4. Remuneration (Pay) by effort decided by coworkers.

B. Consumption and consumer councils--A general principle is to minimize wasteful and unnecessary consumption. I am influenced by living in the United States where there is overconsumption by many. Advertising will be eliminated as will marketing and the sales effort. There will be some production differentiation but much less—maybe 20 rather than 200 breakfast cereals.
1. Social Consumption will be prioritized. For many consumer durables, there will be libraries where, for example, you could borrow a lawn mower or car rather than have one for each household. There will be respect for individual consumption desires and for different tastes. For the great majority of people in the world and even in the United States there will not be sacrifices in consumption. Consumption will be more social and less destructive of the planet, e.g., making music or art rather than driving an SUV; and less emphasis on individual homes.

2. Consumer Councils – Local consumer councils will be nested or part of larger group of councils, We would begin with regional consumer councils that would make requests for social consumption for the region, e.g., building a university. Then the next level down would decide on social consumption for a group of consumer councils, e.g., a city park. Finally, the local consumer council would decide with their remaining revenue, how much of what is left goes for local social consumption and how much would be divided up among the consumer council members for individual consumption.

3. Health care and education will be free and not charged to one’s consumption.

4. Individuals who put in average social effort at work consume the social average

5. There will be adjustments up or down for special consumption needs--family size, inability to work, Costs connected to inhospitable climates, other.

6. Household labor will be considered as part of one’s labor effort so single parents would be expected to work less hours than the average in non-household labor and still consume the social average because of their high household labor requirements. Household labor will be shared among its members with the goal of ending the sexual division of labor

C. Participatory Planning

1. Macro or societal wide decision such as the length of the workweek, amount of investment will be decided through a participatory democratic process. As I already mentioned, we could have an adequate standard of living while choosing a 15 to 20 hour work week given all of the unnecessary labor. Society will also make decisions on dividing production between consumption and investment goods.

2. Iterative planning and convergence of plans- The proposals for individual and social consumption coming from the various levels of consumer councils will be added up as will proposals by various enterprises who are also aggregated into industry-wide proposals. If more was requested than enterprises were offering to produce, these proposals will be adjusted and redone until one or more feasible plans emerged. By feasible, I mean demand and supply match. The main mechanism to move towards a feasible plan are indicative prices.

3. Indicative Prices but not markets.

a. There are indicative prices that measure the social costs of production and the social benefits of good. If demand for a good, e.g., a pair of jeans, was greater than proposed production, the indicative price of these jeans, i.e., their social benefit, would rise leading to less demand for them as consumers adjusted to their higher prices and enterprises increased their production in response to the higher prices. This will be the key mechanism to move towards a feasible plan. Workers wages will not be determined by the revenues of the firm they work for.

b. Firms aim for high social benefit to cost ratios. In other words, firms will try to reduce their costs by not wasting resources, by being productive, and by producing those goods and services where indicative prices are high. Firms who had high costs compared to the indicative price of the goods or services they made could be asked by higher level councils to change their methods of production or their product or even close although full-employment is guaranteed.

c. Social costs of production include all environmental costs. Communities can decide whether to veto production or be compensated if they are affected negatively, e.g. air contamination caused by the production process.
d. Individuals use their income to purchase goods at their indicative prices. Their income available for purchasing individual goods is reduced by the costs of the communities’ social consumption

4. The planners’ power is limited. They will receive the same income as other members of the society. They will rotate in and out and not be permanent positions. Their task is primarily adding up supply and demand estimates and then following a societal agreed upon formula to adjust the indicative prices. After a few rounds of this process, they will propose but not decide among a few different feasible possibilities.

5. There will be money and prices but they will play a different role from our society. They will be used for accounting, to add up consumption and social costs but there will be no way to make money from having money. For individual consumption, you might think of a debit card with a number, representing your income or purchasing power that can be used to buy goods and services whose indicative price is subtracted from the amount you have. So if those jeans had an indicative price of 20 that would be subtracted from your debit card.

A few more points!

1. Innovation and work. With lifetime education for all, there will be a large pool of potential inventors, researchers, etc., particularly if the society makes this a priority. The incentive would not be monetary, the chance to get rich. Rather the incentive will be to help your community, for social recognition, for the chance to do something creative, new and important. Similarly, if work was interesting, most people will put in a decent effort. Their effort and resulting pay will be evaluated and decided by their coworkers. Information, technology, new ideas, research, products and innovations will be shared within and between societies furthering the spread of new products, e.g., medicines to cure disease.

2. For the most part, particularly food, there will be an emphasis on and favoring of local production; the full social cost of transportation will be added to production costs in considering imports. There will be some importing even food as economies of scale, climate and resources will also be considered.

3 The individual and the collective will be a continuing contradiction in a participatory socialist society. We should consider both, and promote individuality but fight against individualism. By individuality I mean we are all unique and this should be valued and supported but individualism is a capitalist disease where one has no concern about the interests and needs of others.

4. The aim is to abolish class differences not only in income but also in power and information.

5. Socialism is necessary but not sufficient to end racism and patriarchy. There will be a need for caucuses in the workplace and community and at all levels of society to further racial and gender equality. The aim is not homogeneity and assimilation but diversity and equality with respect for cultural autonomy

Venezuela: Socialism for the 21st Century
One difficulty for the radical, anti-hierarchical left, or in talking about participatory socialism, is responding to the accusation that we have no concrete examples of a society that is a desirable alternative to capitalism on a societal level, a society that is socialist and democratic. We can point to examples from the Spanish Civil War in Catalonia in the 1930’s or going back further, the Paris Commune in the 1871, but both were short-lived.

In terms of hopeful alternatives to capitalism, I urge people here to look at, visit and learn from Venezuela and provide critical support for the exciting and important developments there. I spent 10 weeks in Venezuela in spring, 2009 and heard almost every day someone saying that Venezuela is building, “Socialism for the 21st Century”. Its path and goals are imprecise and ambiguous and being experimented with and there is no road map. Nonetheless, Venezuela’s “Socialism for the 21st Century” is moving slowly and unevenly and in a novel and different trajectory from any other revolution towards a society that meets human needs and possibly, a participatory socialist society. Poverty in Venezuela is less than ½ of what it was when Hugo Chávez was elected President in 1998. The increased access to health care and education by the popular classes is a major achievement. Even more significant in the long-run is the growing voice and power of poor people, those formerly who didn’t speak for themselves and now have a voice which they are increasingly exercising through various parallel institutions, such as the communal councils that are alternatives to the representative and traditional government structures.

Although the United States consistently attacks Venezuela as socialist, Venezuela is still a capitalist country with most production for profit and a very unequal, although improving distribution of income and wealth. It’s a contradictory situation as the economy is dominated by capital but the government is increasingly anti-capitalist. There is a significant state sector, primarily oil. Most state enterprises are run in a bureaucratic and top down manner although there is discussion and some movement towards worker run enterprises, particularly in heavy industry.. There is a third sector, although still a very small part of the overall economy, of social or socialist enterprises that are run by their workers and the surrounding community, usually with equal pay for all of the producers. A new form that has been growing since 2008, is the comuna or commune. To understand the commune, I will first explain communal councils. Beginning in 2005, there has been an explosive growth of communal councils, They are groupings of 200-400 families in cities, mainly but not exclusively in the barrios. In rural areas and indigenous communities, they comprise 10-40 families. They are a parallel form of government practicing direct democracy. They get a budget from the federal government and then decide how to spend it, usually using consensus, and with horizontal forms of organization. The communal councils have built housing, community and cultural centers, roads and socialist enterprises. A substantial proportion of the low income population are active members. In some areas, e.g., in the State of Lara, a group of communal councils have joined together to form a comuna or commune, which permits larger economic enterprises than ones formed by communal councils. In these enterprises, incomes are usually equal; they are self-managed and some of the surplus goes to fund community projects. There a growing number of comunas that are forming.

Parallel to the old system, a new system is growing and developing in Venezuela—a new and free health care system, Barrio Adentro, which stresses preventive medicine; the Bolivarian Universities, which are for older students previously excluded from the main universities and which stress socialist values and service to the community; an adult educational system based on similar values to the Bolivarian Universities; organization of women in the barrios, independent campesinos organizations, and the socialist enterprises. My hope, which many in Venezuela share, is that these new institutions will grow and eventually replace the old political and economic structures, that Venezuela will become a participatory and direct democracy and a participatory socialist society built from the bottom up. In Venezuela, the terms “direct democracy” and socialism for the 21st century are often used interchangeably.

Central to understanding the Bolivarian revolution, another term used to describe this ongoing process, is social change from above and from below. The election of the government led by Hugo Chávez in 1998 enabled ongoing transformation in Venezuelan society but by itself was not a revolutionary change. This idea is expressed in Greg Wilpert’s excellent book, “Changing Venezuela by Taking Power”.

In the last 11 years, social change from above has caused social change from below which has further moved the government led by Chávez to the left which has furthered popular power and direct democracy at the grass roots level. What is exciting about Venezuela is the mutually reinforcing process where the Chávez led government is committed to meeting people’s needs and supports activities by the popular classes in transforming their communities, local governance and workplaces. Their demands spur the government to further support grass roots power. The popular classes are becoming subjects of their history, protagonists. It is equally a mistake to only focus on the building power from below as some people do who believe the state always supports the capitalist class or is inherently oppressive. Chávez and some of the federal government, for the most part, are supporting the building of power from below. This process of transformation from above and from below is certainly contradictory and not rapid and not without serious problems, such as dependence on Hugo Chávez, but so far the direction is towards a direct democracy and participatory socialist society.

Also positive is the conscious attempt to change the values of the population towards a less individualistic and consumerist consciousness and towards one based on solidarity, cooperation and promoting the common good, socialist women and men. It is an unstable and constantly changing situation in Venezuela, with the danger of a more direct and possible military attack by national and international capital if the transformation of Venezuela continues. There are similar changes going on although the direction is less clearly anti-capitalist in Bolivia and Ecuador.

So people are resisting and creating alternatives in Venezuela, in Latin America, in Greece and where I live in Olympia, Washington. Let us deepen and broaden and connect our struggles. Another World is Possible and Necessary and Happening, Thank You!

Magda Hassan
05-01-2013, 07:09 AM
A general strike against tough austerity measures is under way in Greece, with trade unions calling for "mass mobilisation" of protesters.
The 24-hour action is expected to severely disrupt public services, including transport and hospitals.
The organisers are demanding an end to spending cuts and tax rises.
The government says the measures are badly needed to lead Greece out of a deep financial crisis and six straight years of recession.
The cabinet of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says the policies are part of continuing moves to ensure more bailout money from international creditors.
Cautious optimism The 24-hour strike officially began at midnight on Tuesday to mark labour day. May 1 is technically not a public holiday in Greece this year, as that has been moved to next Tuesday - after Orthodox Easter.
The BBC's Mark Lowen in Athens says public transport will be disrupted, ferries halted and hospitals will work on skeleton staff.
But he says it remains to be seen how big Tuesday's rallies will be, as there have been far fewer strikes and protests this year, and there is a feeling the civil unrest is beginning to die down.
Nevertheless, demonstrations are planned across the country, with police on alert for a repeat of past violence.
The two largest unions - GSEE and ADEDY - have said that the action will focus on demands to end austerity.


They say that government measures have led to the country's record unemployment rate of 27%, including almost 60% among young people.
Mr Samaras has defended his policies, insisting that this year of recession will be the country's last.
Our correspondent says that more than 20 general strikes have failed to halt the cuts, and the government feels emboldened by the cautious optimism of its international creditors.
Nearly 3bn euros (£2.5bn; $4bn) of bailout money were approved this week, with another 6bn euros set to come on 13 May.
Since 2010, the European Union and the IMF have promised more than 200bn euros in lending for Greece. Talk of exit from the eurozone has receded.
However, our correspondent says the optimism has not reached the streets, where the mood remains dire given the record unemployment levels.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22362757