Sunday, November 06, 2011

Lessons from Greece

This week was a week of revelations. A week of lessons. Terrible lessons.

Backed in a corner by the dictates of powers outside his country, a man called for a referendum. This man, George Papandreou, prime minister of Greece, made a decision that was his prerogative as the democratically elected leader of his country. It was a dangerous decision, to be sure, and one which came years too late. It's highly likely it was a very selfish decision, one made in order to manipulate and retain power. Still, in a breathtaking moment, he relinquished power to the people.

Convenient or not, dangerous or not, manipulation or not, selfish or not, deception or not, power to the people is what democracy is all about.

And as this declaration was made, as the unthinkable perspective of power shifting back to the people threatened to become reality, the world of capitalism shook upon its foundations. Almost, it fell.


At once, all the powers that be gathered and united. At once, threats and blackmail and humiliation were thrown upon George Papandreou, the man who had dared betray the system – be it for his own selfish purposes and ambitions. And so, in a move as callous and brutal as it is anti-democratic – and sincere – the puppets of the true powers-that-be, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Hu Jintao, Hermann Van Rompuy, and all the rest, they all crushed democracy beneath their heels. They dictated what Papandreou should do and how he should do it, or otherwise his country would be dumped down the trash can, his population would be subjected to a misery even worse than the one forced down its throat now, and he would lose everything.

And he gave in. His tail between his legs, Papandreou returned to Greece, to face more humiliation, and to accept more punishment from his own colleagues and the media in general.

And all the while, the powers-that-be continued dictating their conditions, and what Greece should do, what its population should sacrifice.

All of it, so that the illusion of a thriving capitalism can continue to exist. All of it, so that the 1% of richest can keep on growing richer, can keep on devouring everything the 99% produce, and can keep on stealing legally all the richness we produce.

What this means, is that to keep their privileges, to keep this warped order of things, the powers-that-be are ready to do whatever it takes. They're ready to break even the taboos they had nurtured in order to keep us in line. They're ready to tear down the illusion of democracy. Why go so far ? Why resort to such extreme measures ?

Because democracy is a terrifying thing. Because giving back the power to the people could have unraveled the whole tapestry of capitalism. Because the Greeks had the opportunity of choosing default, which would have revealed the whole fraud around the so-called « public debt crisis ». There is no public debt crisis, there is only the result of shifting the richness we all produce toward a single fringe of population, legally or not emptying the states' treasuries and social security everywhere.

Defaulting would have torn down the illusion. Those who stole the richness would have been made to pay. Banks would have fallen. Hedge funds would have fallen. Some would have triggered the armageddon of Credit Default Swaps. Then further insurance companies and banks would have fallen, in particular in the US. Then the Chinese would have been in trouble.

It would have all been tumbling down.

The 1% would have fallen.

It could not happen. No matter what. No matter why.

And so, the powers-that-be blew the whistle and signalled the end of the game, and they slapped democracy aside.

The pundits all explain that it was to help Greece against itself, or they say that it was folly on Papandreou's part, and his move would have hurt the Greeks, and everybody else. Let them. It doesn't matter. Only one thing matters:

What's been hurting Greece for two years, what's going to keep on hurting it for a long, long time, is blind, insane austerity programs which kill the middle-class. Which kill the economy and drag people into misery and poverty. Which kill any hope the Greek people might have. Because those programs always attack the same layers of population. And all the while, the richest, the Orthodox Church – supremely rich – the great shipowners, the real estate developers, all those who reap the richness produced by the Greek population and send it abroad – more than two times Greece's annual GDP is sleeping in Swiss banks, exported by the 1% who, legally or not, do not pay taxes.

Ain't that nice ?

Shouldn't that wonderful system continue on destroying our lives, again and again, for no other purpose than maintaining the privileges of the powers-that-be ?


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