Open Letter to Angela Merkel from a Depressed in the Eurosouth

AN OPEN LETTER TO ANGELA MERKEL:

I read you’re mad at the Americans for allegedly eavesdropping on your cellphone. And that you’re calling for the entire EU to react to this with “one voice”.

Well, let’s examine these demands through the prism of your own approach to relations between nations, European integration and solidarity:

I remember you stating that “you can not be in debt and be an independent nation”.

Why you expect Obama to think anything else then? Your country, besides receiving generous financial help after WWII from the US, in the form of both money transfers and debt write offs (yes, the kind that sends shivers down your voters spine these days…) had its defense needs taken care of throughout the Cold War era, courtesy of the American tax payer. Not having to maintain a real army worked wonders for Germany’s public finances…

So now, after the Cold War, with Germany looking ambivalent in its strategic orientation, with your predecessor on the payroll of a Russian company, and yourself blocking the development of nuclear energy in Germany, thus continuing and enhancing energy dependence from Russia, don’t you think the Americans have the right to be curious about your real intentions?

Remember: “You can’t owe and be independent”. Well, you owe them -as a country- half a century’s worth of defense against the USSR and its allies, and more importantly the outcome of the Cold War and the ensuing reunification of your country. As an individual, you certainly owe them the fact that you’re no longer living in the… People’s Republic of Germany!

That’s as far as your relationship with the US is concerned.

Now let’s get into your call for Europe to respond with “one voice”:

The Minister of your previous government W. Schaueble stated at some point regarding Greece that “solidarity should not be taken for granted”.

I now tend to agree.

And it applies both ways.

Throughout the past four years you have never stated clearly that it is unthinkable for any Euro country to leave the monetary union. You have not only allowed talk of countries leaving the Euro but you have added fuel to the fire through your ambivalent stance, the inflammatory comments of your various political allies on a weekly basis, the “studies” of various German think tanks addressing even minor technical issues of such an event, such as how the Euro bills in the ATMs should be marked to be differentiated…

On your watch, the EU has receded and freedoms established through treaties in the course of more than half a century of integration have been suspended. As I am typing these lines, in Cyprus, an EU member state there are capital controls. In several countries, eurosceptics are bringing up the issue of re-establishing restrictions to the free movement of workers in the EU, concerned about the consequences of high unemployment in the southern EU countries in their domestic labor markets.

So, you expect your fellow Europeans to respond with one voice to alleged US spying? “Solidarity should not be taken for granted”.

Most of us Europeans have been raised to trust the US: They have saved us from Nazi Germany. They have provided financial help to rebuild our countries after the war. They have protected us from Communism. They have set up the field for the EU to be developed. The very same EU, your leadership (or lack of) undermines…

So don’t expect us to rally to your support because (you claim) they spy on you. To be perfectly honest, many among us are relieved that someone with proven world leadership credentials is listening when you seriously discuss with your advisers kicking a country out of the union or suspending treaties…

And we’re hoping that maybe they can talk some sense into you…

Regards,

DEPRESSED IN THE EUROSOUTH

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The European Union: A Failed Experiment

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by Bill Lee  |  9:00 AM June 4, 2013

How long can this go on? According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the 17-nation euro zone remains the “weakest link” in our global economy after years of economic stagnation, mired in high unemployment, plagued with stalled or contracting economies, and paralyzed by political dysfunction. Similarly, The Economist also lambasts eerily complacent EU leaders for “sleepwalking through an economic wasteland.”

The resulting human suffering is sobering — tens of millions of Europeans who want work can’t find it, and many of them are facing truly desperate situations. Here are just a few observations, which I address not to EU officials — whose performance, to my mind, justifies their removal (see below) — but rather, as a friend speaking to ordinary Europeans who are suffering under their policies and who, unfortunately, have not been accorded the power to do anything about it.

In a phrase, it’s time to throw out the EU project itself. The whole thing, root and branch. Here are just a few reasons why.

The EU has failed the most important test.

For more than three years now, EU officials have addressed the economic downturn with remarkable single-mindedness. They’ve imposed severe austerity (reducing government debts through drastic cuts in spending along with tax increases) — particularly in those countries with the largest debts, the so-called “periphery.” How well is it working? Let’s use Ronald Reagan’s test for Jimmy Carter: are people better off now than they were four years ago?

The region has just completed its six straight quarter of recession. Overall unemployment has risen steadily for two years, now topping 12 percent. In several countries, unemployment rates are at Great Depression levels — 17 percent in Portugal, 27 percent in Spain — and youth unemployment is typically around twice that of the country averages. It’s clear that people in Spain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Greece and millions of unemployed elsewhere in the region are worse off today than they were four years ago.

A growing number of officials around the world are getting this. In his recent New York Review of Books article, Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman points to an October report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that basically apologizes for its austerity recommendations in the last few years — backed up with evidence. The report shows that those countries forced into austerity measures by the EU experienced steep downturns in their economies, contrary to predictions. Further, the more drastic the austerity (measured by calculating spending cuts and tax increases as a percentage of GDP), the greater the economic downturn.

Yet EU officials — apparently convinced of the infallibility of their theory on how economies work — seem unmoved by such evidence and the human suffering that goes along with it. As Mr. Krugman put it, in the EU “the beatings will continue until morale improves.” Which brings me to the next point.

The EU system is undemocratic.

Consider Portugal. With unemployment rates at dangerous levels, and its economy predicted to contract by 2.3% this year — its third straight year of contraction under austerity policies — the nation’s Constitutional Court struck down several austerity measures enacted by the government in compliance with European Commission requirements. That prompted Commission officials to pressure the country’s government to simply ignore the ruling, under threat of losing badly needed funding — prompting a constitutional crisis.

In such ways, EU officials are inserting themselves into the governance of member nations. Yet the ordinary people whose lives are seriously affected by such measures have no recourse — they can’t vote to “throw the bums out” as we might say here in the States. This lack of democratic accountability poses a serious problem for member states and the system as whole.

It’s time to revisit the EU’s founding purposes.

The lofty purposes the EU originally set for itself included: to give Europeans the convenience of one currency, to enhance mutual prosperity, and to reduce political tensions after centuries of animosity and war.

We’ve seen how mutual prosperity is coming along. As for political tensions, a system whose officials are responsible for the region’s faltering economies but who are not accountable to the tens of millions of unemployed people in them, is obviously exacerbating those tensions rather than alleviating them.

Moreover, by giving up their national currencies, member countries who experience wage inflation can no longer temporarily deflate their currencies to make their exports more attractive. Those that fall into an economic slowdown or recession can’t “print money” to finance their safety nets for people who are unemployed or who face extreme poverty. Having your own currency may not be such a bad idea after all. Fears that the use of such tools will lead to runaway inflation and interest rates have proven completely unfounded. In the US, despite the relatively sizable stimulus enacted by the Obama Administration, interest rates here remain near all-time lows, and our deficit is now half what it was at the depth of the recession in 2009..

Meanwhile the costs and risks of the EU system are enormous. To take just one example, fiscal debt or banking problems in tiny countries like Greece and Cyprus have touched off major crises for the EU. A comparable situation in the US — where a state such as Rhode Island or Louisiana, or even huge California, were to go bankrupt — would amount to nothing more than a blip on the radar here.

However, the US system requires a substantial transfer of power to the center. This brings me to my final point.

The prospects for effective EU integration are slim to none.

For the EU project to work, it would require, at a minimum, substantial political power at the center to tax, control fiscal policy, and create a region-wide safety net capable of protecting people in a downturn. Furthermore, that centralized power would need to be accountable — voted in, not appointed.

Few Europeans seem to believe such integration is actually possible — many recoil at any suggestion of a “United States of Europe.” Given the widespread ambivalence and lack of clarity on how a reformed EU would look, the prospects for a successful integration look bleak. That’s because even under the best of circumstances, achieving it would be an extremely difficult and long haul.

It took the US the better part of 80 years — and a horrific Civil War — to complete our own integration, transitioning from a loose confederation of colonies, and then states, into a true union. Why should Europeans expect to have an easier time of it, particularly in view of their deep cultural differences and centuries-long history of wars and acrimony?

My guess is that Europe will muddle on trying to “reform” the EU system around the margins. European economists and officials will likely remain steadfast in their belief that their policies have been right all along, that all they need is yet more time, and that the real fault lies with the moral defects of those living in the periphery nations — who must be compelled to do what’s good for them and for the EU as a whole.

This sounds too much like old Europe to me (and not in a good way). It would be better to start now directing our efforts and energy to winding down the whole EU project as quickly as possible; and in parallel to ramp up efforts and policies to help European economies to prosper as separate nations, learning how best to work together.

A more recent WSJ article contained the news that a new book by a Portuguese economist shot instantly to the top of the best seller list in that country — even beating out Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s called, “Why We Should Leave the Euro.”

Perhaps it’s the start of a trend.

Source: HBR Blog Network

«Ελλάδα» του κόσμου η Ευρώπη;

Εξαιρετικό ανάγνωσμα για τα αίτια του ευρωσκεπτικισμού.

 

Της Τασούλας Καραϊσκάκη

«Αν οι Ευρωπαίοι πολίτες θέλουν να έχουν μία φωνή, θα είναι μία ευρωπαϊκή φωνή… Εάν δεν το επιτύχουμε, τότε οι άλλοι θα αποφασίζουν για εμάς. Είναι η διαφορά ανάμεσα σε μια Ευρώπη που θα είναι παγκόσμιος παίκτης, με πραγματική επιρροή, ή μια Ευρώπη που θα γίνει σαν την Ελλάδα», είπε προ ημερών ο πρώην πρωθυπουργός του Βελγίου Ζιλ Ντεάν, σε συνέντευξή του στην εφημερίδα Soir. Περισσότερο από το να αναφέρει την Ελλάδα ως αρνητικό πρότυπο, ο κ. Ντεάν εξέφρασε τον προσωπικό του, αλλά και περιρρέοντα, φόβο, μήπως οι παρενέργειες του γιατρικού που επελέγη για την υπέρβαση της κρίσης αφήσει την Ευρώπη με σοβαρές «αναπηρίες», η Ενωση αποδομηθεί και γίνει η Γηραιά Ηπειρος μια «Ελλάδα» του κόσμου… Αρκετοί παράγοντες ενισχύουν αυτόν τον φόβο.

Οι συνέπειες της απότομης προσαρμογής προκειμένου να μειωθούν τα ελλείμματα και να πληρωθούν τα χρέη, της αυστηρής λιτότητας, που δρα εις βάρος της παραγωγικής οικονομίας, ενισχύουν την ύφεση και την ανεργία. Η Ευρώπη βρίσκεται αντιμέτωπη «με τη χειρότερη ανθρωπιστική κρίση της εδώ και έξι δεκαετίες» (Ερυθρός Σταυρός), μετρώντας ήδη 43 εκατ. πολίτες χωρίς επαρκή ποσότητα φαγητού και 120 εκατ. –το 1/4 του ευρωπαϊκού πληθυσμού– με τον κίνδυνο να περιπέσουν στη φτώχεια.

Τα ισχυρά ευρωπαϊκά κράτη με τις επιλογές τους εντείνουν τις ανισότητες ανάμεσα στις χώρες–μέλη, μεταξύ λιγότερο και περισσότερο χρεωμένων, και στη συνέχεια επιχειρούν να αντιμετωπίζουν τα παρελκόμενα με, π.χ., αποκλεισμό: μελετούν φραγή των μεταναστευτικών ροών από τις χώρες του ευρωπαϊκού νότου σε εκείνες του ευρωπαϊκού βορρά και κέντρου.

Η απώλεια του κοινωνικού χαρακτήρα των εθνικών πολιτικών αυξάνει τον κίνδυνο τα κινήματα διαμαρτυρίας να εκτραπούν προς τη βία ή να διολισθήσουν στον ρατσισμό και στην ξενοφοβία, να επιστρέψουν οι εθνικές διαμάχες, τις οποίες η ενωμένη Ευρώπη ήθελε να ξεπεράσει διά παντός.

Το κλίμα αμοιβαίας καχυποψίας (μεταξύ των πολιτών του κέντρου της Ευρωζώνης και εκείνων της περιφέρειας) και η διάσταση ανάμεσα στα «θέλω» των πολιτών και εκείνα των κεντρικών οργάνων –οι μεν ζητούν εργασία, οι δε τη μείωση των ελλειμμάτων (τα ελλείμματα διαμορφώνουν την πολιτική)– πλήττουν τις αξίες της Ε.Ε. Που σιγά σιγά παύει να προσφέρει νέα τροφή στους λόγους που στηρίζουν την ιδέα της. Αρχίζει να χάνει τον χαρακτήρα της, ως δύναμη εκπολιτισμού και «αμερόληπτη αρχή». Να μειώνει τον ενθουσιασμό για το ιστορικό επίτευγμα της αναίμακτης και εθελοντικής ένωσης 500 εκατ. ψυχών. Να εμφανίζει νέες διαιρέσεις και ανελαστικότητες, φυγόκεντρες δυνάμεις, αλαζονικές εξυψώσεις του ενός, εθνικές συσπειρώσεις… Αν σε αυτά προσθέσει κανείς την εντεινόμενη έλλειψη πίστης στην πραγματοποίηση του προαιώνιου ευρωπαϊκού σχεδίου, τότε κινδυνεύει πραγματικά να λυθεί το σύμφωνο ενός κοινού ονόματος, ενός κοινού οράματος.

Οι ασθμαίνοντες πολιτισμοί εξαντλούνται πιο γρήγορα από εκείνους που προχωρούν ψηλαφώντας. Η σοφή γηραιά Ευρώπη μοιάζει να μην έμαθε πολλά από την ιστορία και τη φιλοσοφία της, εμμένει στα ίδια σφάλματα, παρ’ όλα όσα γνωρίζει, ενάντια σε όσα γνωρίζει. Τρέχει προς το μέλλον σωρεύοντας δυσκαμψία. Κι έτσι, μέσα στο απροσχεδίαστο τρεχαλητό της, τον αλαζονικό μονοδιάστατο ρυθμό της, αποτυγχάνει να αγγίξει το υψηλότερο· μια βαθιά άχρονη ευρωπαϊκή συνείδηση.

Πηγή

Μιχάλης Ιγνατίου: Η Ελλάδα πρέπει να κάνει την «επανάστασή» της

του Μιχάλη Ιγνατίου

Όλο και πληθαίνουν οι πληροφορίες ότι η ελληνική κυβέρνηση αποδέχτηκε χωρίς αντίσταση τη νέα «βοήθεια» των Ευρωπαίων εταίρων της, αφού αποδεικνύεται για μια ακόμη φορά ότι το Ελληνικό Πρόγραμμα «δεν βγαίνει» και η Ελλάδα αδυνατεί να εκπληρώσει τις δανειακές υποχρεώσεις της. Βεβαίως, όταν ομιλούν για «νέα βοήθεια» εννούν «νέα δάνεια», και θα πρέπει να διορθωθεί ο όρος που χρησιμοποιούν κατά κόρον τα ελληνικά ΜΜΕ.
Ο νέος δανεισμός είναι λάθος και θα βυθίσει ακόμα περισσότερο τη χώρα στα προβλήματα, πολλαπλασιάζοντας τα χρέη της που ήδη ξεπέρασαν τα 315 δις ευρώ. Ο καθένας μπορεί να υπολογίσει τα χρόνια αποπληρωμής και το συμπέρασμα είναι ότι οι επόμενες γενιές –χωρίς να έχουν την παραμικρή ευθύνη– θα πληρώνουν σε όλη τους τη ζωή.

Η εμπειρία, από το Μάιο του 2010 μέχρι σήμερα, αποδεικνύει ότι όλοι οι υπολογισμοί και όλες οι προβλέψεις είναι λανθασμένες. Το Διεθνές Νομισματικό Ταμείο δείχνει μεγαλύτερη «γενναιότητα» από τους Ευρωπαίους αποδεχόμενο τα δικά του λάθη αν και επιρρίπτει τις ευθύνες στην Αθήνα, η οποία δεν υλοποίησε το Πρόγραμμα, τουλάχιστον μέχρι τις εκλογές του Ιουνίου του 2012. Η αλήθεια είναι ότι η υλοποίηση χαρακτηρίστηκε από ανόητες καθυστερήσεις και ανικανότητα, ενώ η έλλειψη εμπιστοσύνης αύξησε τα προβλήματα και τελμάτωσε την εφαρμογή. Το Πρόγραμμα έτσι κι αλλιώς ήταν προβληματικό. Ήταν ένα ανεφάρμοστο Πρόγραμμα για τα δεδομένα της Ελλάδας και θα έπρεπε ο κ. Γεώργιος Παπανδρέου να το αποφύγει, αντί να σύρει τη χώρα βάσει σχεδίου στο μηχανισμό. Αλλά, από τη στιγμή που μπήκε στο χορό, έπρεπε να χορέψει και δεν το έπραξε επιρρίπτοντας τις ευθύνες στον υπουργό του των Οικονομικών, ο οποίος χρειαζόταν να καταβάλει μεγάλη προσπάθεια για τα κατανοήσει ο πολιτικός του προϊστάμενος ακόμα και τα απλά οικονομικά.

Η πατρίδα μας δεν χρειάζεται άλλα δανεικά. Αυτό που απαιτείται είναι μείωση του χρέους της για να μπορέσει να ανασάνει. Και η λεγόμενη «ελάφρυνση» του χρέους θα πραγματοποιηθεί μόνο με γενναίο «κούρεμα» των δανείων που έδωσαν κερδοσκοπώντας ασύστολα τα κράτη-μέλη της Ευρωζώνης και η Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα. Συντηρητικά υπολογίζοντας, η Γερμανία έχει εισπράξει από τις προβληματικές χώρες του ευρωπαϊκού Νότου 123 δις ευρώ σε τόκους. Πρόκειται για ασύλληπτο ποσό.

Ας είμαστε ρεαλιστές κι ας μην κρυβόμαστε πίσω από αριθμούς, που η εμπειρία έδειξε ότι δεν είναι ορθοί. Στο δρόμο προς το μηχανισμό οι κυβερνώντες ισχυρίζονταν ότι η χώρα χρειαζόταν 30 με 35 δις για να φτάσει τα 130, στα οποία προστέθηκαν άλλα 110. Κι ενώ οι πάντες εκτός του ΔΝΤ έλεγαν πως η Ελλάδα δεν θα χρειαστεί άλλα δάνεια, πληροφορηθήκαμε μέσω του… αθυρόστομου Σόιμπλε ότι απαιτείται και τρίτο πρόγραμμα, άρα και νέα «βοήθεια».

Τα όσα συμβαίνουν είναι εξωφρενικά και παράλογα. Η χώρα βρίσκεται στον αναπνευστήρα και ο κάθε Σόιμπλε έχει τη δυνατότητα να τραβά την πρίζα όποτε γουστάρει και να μας πνίγει. Θα επαναλάβω τη μεγάλη αλήθεια, ότι η κατάσταση θυμίζει κατοχή χωρίς στρατεύματα. Η σημερινή Γερμανία κατάφερε ό,τι απέτυχε ο διαβόητος Χίτλερ: Ελέγχει απόλυτα όλη την Ευρώπη. Η Βρετανία δεν ασχολείται, αφού αντιμετωπίζει μύρια προβλήματα, η Γαλλία διοικειται από έναν Πρόεδρο που είναι για τα μπάζα, και η Ιταλία είναι μια ελεγχόμενη χώρα, χάνοντας την παλιά της αίγλη. Δεν υπάρχει κανένας να αντισταθεί και να αντιπαρατεθεί στην κυρία Μέρκελ.

Η Ελλάδα πρέπει να κάνει την «επανάστασή» της. Ο πρωθυπουργός, ο κ. Βενιζέλος και οι αρμόδιοι υπουργοί πρέπει να εκπονήσουν πρόγραμμα για την ανάπτυξη και να υιοθετήσουν το αμερικανικό «μοντέλο», σε συνδυασμό με την ελάφρυνση του χρέους, όχι με την προσθήκη νέων δανεικών. Οι Αμερικανοί πιστεύουν –και απεδείχθησαν ορθοί– πως η λιτότητα δεν φέρνει ούτε ανάπτυξη ούτε δημιουργεί νέες θέσεις εργασίας. Αν μελετήσει κανείς τα δύο μοντέλα, το αμερικανικό και το γερμανικό, εύκολα αποδεικνύει ότι οι οικονομολόγοι του κ. Ομπάμα πέτυχαν όλους τους στόχους τους χωρίς να πονέσει ο λαός.

Τώρα είναι η ώρα των μεγάλων αποφάσεων και της σύγκρουσης με τις δυνάμεις που επιμένουν στη σκληρή λιτότητα. Ο ελληνικός λαός, που έχει φτάσει στα όριά του, θα εκτιμήσει την προσπάθεια της κυβέρνησης. Διαφορετικά, τα νέα δάνεια, που οπωσδήποτε θα συνοδευθούν από νέα μέτρα, θα οδηγήσουν σε κοινωνική αναταραχή, που όπως είπε ο κ. Ομπάμα στον κ. Σαμαρά πρέπει να αποφευχθεί με κάθε θυσία. Κι αυτό θα συμβεί μόνο με τον περιορισμό της λιτότητας, με αποφυγή νέων μέτρων και με μέτρα για την ανάπτυξη που θα χτυπήσουν την ανεργία.

e-mail: mignatiou@aol.com – twitter: @mignatiou

Πηγή

The war on Golden Dawn: a dark day for democracy?

Blogger’s foreword:  In other words we celebrate for putting out a burning tree when the whole forest is on fire.  And the arsonist is on the loose. 

However much you hate GD, you should worry about the Greek state’s war on it.

Why isn’t there more discomfort, or at least the asking of some awkward questions, about the arrest of Golden Dawn MPs in Greece? Yes, Golden Dawn is a profoundly unpleasant organisation. Virulently racist, anti-Semitic, allergic to the ideals of free speech and free movement, and supported by people who are quite happy to use violence against those they hate, especially immigrants, it makes our own British National Party look like a chapter of the Women’s Institute in comparison. Yet that doesn’t mean we should give a nod to, far less cheer, the Greek state’s incarceration of GD’s leaders and members of parliament, who were democratically elected. Any police sweep on elected politicians should make those of us who call ourselves democrats anxious; that Greece’s military-style assault on GD hasn’t is very worrying.

In total, 22 of Golden Dawn’s politicians have been arrested, including its leader, deputy leader and four sitting MPs. The party has 18 MPs in total, in a parliament with 300 seats, having won just under seven per cent of the vote in last year’s national elections. The GD leaders were arrested in the wake of the murder of the radical anti-racist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, which caused uproar in Greece. The suspect in the killing of Fyssas claims to be a GD supporter, though GD denies having any connection with him. The charges against GD’s arrested leaders are all criminal in nature, ranging from running a ‘criminal organisation’ to overseeing assaults to possessing illegal weaponry.

Far from asking critical questions about what is motivating the Greek state’s clampdown on Golden Dawn, sections of the Greek left and vast swathes of the European left are celebrating it as a victory for democracy. They echo Greece’s public order minister, Nikos Dendias, who described the sweeping-up of GD’s leaders as ‘a historic day for Greece and Europe’. Greek newspapers are competing to see who can be the most effusive in their support for the clampdown. The brilliant arrests are ‘Golden Dawn’s Holocaust’, said one, rather tastelessly. Another claimed that ‘democracy is knocking out the neo-Nazis’. A left-wing British magazine described the arrests as ‘a victory for democracy in Greece’ and demanded to know why the Greek state isn’t doing more to shut down GD. SYRIZA, the left-wing opposition party in Greece which numerous European leftists have excitably hailed as a radical voice against austerity, has stood shoulder-by-shoulder with the state against Golden Dawn, claiming the arrests show ‘that our democracy is standing firm and is healthy’.

These radical cheerleaders of a state clampdown on democratically elected politicians urgently need to look up the word democracy in a dictionary. To describe the arrest of politicians who were elected by the public, by masked, armed police who were not elected by the public, as a ‘victory for democracy’ is the most profound contradiction in terms. Some leftists are claiming that the militaristic clampdown on GD has nothing to do with its political beliefs and is just a straightforward investigation of some men involved in alleged criminal activity. It’s hard to know whether such naivety is touching or disturbing. If this is just a criminal case rather than a political war waged by agents of the state against ideological undesirables, then why are so many describing it as a ‘victory for democracy’, as opposed to a potential victory for justice, and why are so many hailing the ‘knocking out [of] neo-Nazi ideas’? No number of lists of the alleged weapons found in GD members’ homes (apparently the party’s leader owns three guns) can disguise the fact that what we are witnessing here is a state war on a party supported by a significant number of Greeks.

There are precedents in Greece for this kind of state behaviour. As a BBC news report on the arrest of GD’s politicians said in passing, this is ‘the first time since 1974 that a party leader and MPs have been arrested’. What happened in 1974? That was the tailend of the military dictatorship in Greece. Lasting from 1967 to 1974, The Regime of the Colonels, as the Greek military’s assumption of power was known, launched severe clampdowns on left-wing parties, especially communist ones. Communist organisations were described by the military dictatorship as a ‘threat to the social order’, and even as ‘bandits’. One wonders if the naive leftists currently swallowing the Greek state’s propaganda about the clampdown on GD being a straightforward criminal investigation would have so readily accepted the military’s not dissimilar claims that communists were a destabilising force and therefore had to be banned. For leftists to demand the banning of a political party in Greece, where previously such stringent action was taken against left parties, suggests they haven’t learned one of the most basic lessons of history –  that if you empower the state to dictate which political creeds are acceptable and which are not, you might one day find such power wielded against you as well as your opponents.

 

 

With the assistance of Europe’s increasingly state-loving left, the Greek authorities have achieved something remarkable: they’ve promoted the idea that GD is the most destabilising political force in modern Greece, and therefore the squishing of it is a good, even gallant thing. Neither of these things is true. The key problem in Greece today is not the existence of a mad far-right party whose level of public support is actually declining, but rather the role of the European Troika – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – in dictating Greece’s internal and budgetary affairs. This week, as the leftists lapped up the Greek authorities’ ‘democratic’ war on GD, the Troika was telling the Greek government that its latest budget is not up to scratch and it must rethink it if it wants to receive the next bailout tranche of one billion Euros in October. The left’s clueless celebration of the healthiness of democracy in GD-bashing Greece directly disguises the extraordinarily undemocratic nature of modern Greek politics under the diktats of the Troika. Indeed, in a depressing irony, while the Euro-left has welcomed Greece’s war on anti-immigrant GD, the Greek state has continued rounding up illegal immigrants.

 

Indeed, it seems Brussels is not only closely controlling Greece’s budgetary behaviour but also its political actions, including against GD. Earlier this year, a leaked Council of Europe report effectively implored the Greek authorities to ban GD. Unelected suits from the Council of Europe decreed that it would be legitimate and probably also desirable for Greece to close down GD. The report said that treaties such as the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the European Convention on Human Rights ‘give local authorities the right to curb or sanction individuals who support or engage in hate crimes’. Now it seems the Greek authorities have heeded this message from external meddlers into Greek affairs through launching a severe clampdown on GD – a party whose recent success was built largely on certain Greek constituencies’ loathing of the Euro and EU, which is a loathing that Brussels-based officials refuse to tolerate and long to see destroyed.

 

It may well be true that GD is becoming a criminal organisation; let’s hope the court cases decide that one way or another. It’s certainly true that GD is a vile racist group and that some of its supporters are violent-minded. Yet the Greek left’s response to that fact should have been to organise more effectively against GD, perhaps by setting up immigration-protection patrols in those parts of Greece with immigrant communities. Because the alternative route that the Greek and European left opted for – which was to demand and then cheer a state assault on GD – will prove disastrous. It is anti-democratic; it fundamentally disempowers the left and emboldens the state; and it disguises where the real threat to Greek politics and democracy is coming from today, which is Brussels not the alleged guns of the GD. What a terribly high price all of that is, just so that European leftists can indulge in the fantasy that they’re waging a war against ‘new Nazis’.

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