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Written By: - Date published: 10:08 am, July 14th, 2015 - 137 comments
Categories: class war, Europe, International - Tags:

Twitter and social media has responded to the deal that has been forced on Greece by expressing the opinion that Greece has been subject to a coup.  Not one conducted with guns and tanks but one conducted with spreadsheets and bank accounts.

Last night Twitter lit up to the hashtag #ThisIsACoup.  This is a visualisation of the use of the hashtag across the globe.

This is a coup

The terms of the agreement are brutal.  Required changes include pension reforms, liberalising the Greek economy (including Sunday opening hours and liberalisation of the professions), privatising its energy transmission network, reforming its labour market practices (including new rules on industrial action and collective dismissals), and action on non-performing loans.  From the Guardian:

But the deal, which one EU official said came after [Greek Prime Minister Alex] Tsipras was “waterboarded” into submission, faces huge obstacles in the form of national parliament votes in Germany, Latvia, Slovakia and possibly France, which could all balk at the extra €86bn (£62bn) offered to Greece in loans under the terms of the bailout.

Tsipras must submit to draconian economic reforms, tougher than those the Greek people rejected in a referendum just a week before.

Controversial reforms Greece promised to pass into law by Wednesday include reforming the VAT system, overhauling pensions and signing up to plans that ensure immediate spending cuts in the event of breaching creditor-mandated budget targets.

Athens has agreed to sell off state assets worth €50bn, with the proceeds earmarked for a trust fund supervised by its creditors. Half the fund will be used to recapitalise Greek banks, while the remaining €25bn will pay down Greek debts.

Paul Krugman has attacked the terms of the deal.

Suppose you consider Tsipras an incompetent twerp. Suppose you dearly want to see Syriza out of power. Suppose, even, that you welcome the prospect of pushing those annoying Greeks out of the euro.

Even if all of that is true, this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.

The same old solutions are being prosed.  Cuts to pensions and Government spending and the sell off of state assets.  Change labour laws to weaken the trade union movement.  The inevitable result will be the further concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of the already rich.

The Greek political response will be interesting.  The passion shown by the result of the recent referendum will not go away.  Tsipras will burn all of his political capital if he goes to the right wing parties for support to make the necessary legislative changes.

Europe is in for an interesting time.

137 comments on “#ThisIsACoup”

  1. fisiani 1

    Tsipras told voters before the referendum that a NO vote would mean he could secure a better agreement. He has signed up to one that is clearly worse. Not sure that his party will support him.

    • dukeofurl 1.1

      Nothing so far. The only rejectionists are a right wing party in his coalition.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 1.2

      Tsipras was/is probably under threat. Nuland (US Secretary of State) visited him a month ago.

  2. RedLogix 2

    The loss of trust inside the EU will be the killer blow.

    Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and even France are not blind to the implications. While making an example of Greece may work in the short-term, the people will remember.

    • David 2.1

      The simple fact is Greece should never have been in the Eurozone to begin with.

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        Or alternatively – the Eurozone as constructed was fatally flawed. A common currency without a common fiscal policy was always going to be a disaster.

        Of course the Eurozone was always more than just an economic construct – as the current pressure from the USA informs us – it was also security one as well.

      • tinfoilhat 2.1.2

        The simple fact is that the economic union within the Eurozone was always doomed to failure.

        Greece would be best advised to politely say thank you but no thank you, certainly that will lead to some very, very hard times for Greece but they will survive and come out the other side.

        To once again do the same old bailout,fire sale + austerity, and expect a substantially different outcome for Greece is madness.

        • Draco T Bastard


          If Greece wants prosperity for its citizens then it needs to drop out of the Euro. Unfortunately, the Greeks think that prosperity comes from being in the Euro.

          • David

            Greece won’t willing leave the Euro, it’s been a source of a large increase in wealth. Greece is the only non-market economy in Europe and you just need to look at where it sits in the index of economic freedom to see where it’s density outside the Euro is. It’s ranked 130 of of 178 countries alongside Bangladesh, Burundi and Yemen. Do you think they are really keen on that fate?

            • Draco T Bastard

              Greece won’t willing leave the Euro,

              Yeah, that’s what I said.

              it’s been a source of a large increase in wealth.

              No it hasn’t. Greece still has only the resources within its borders available to it. No amount of being in the Euro or trade will change that.

              Greece is the only non-market economy in Europe and you just need to look at where it sits in the index of economic freedom to see where it’s density outside the Euro is. It’s ranked 130 of of 178 countries alongside Bangladesh, Burundi and Yemen.

              And we’re at about #5 and have increasing inequality and poverty. Being a ‘market economy’ doesn’t appear to be doing us any good.

              Do you think they are really keen on that fate?

              What fate? They certainly don’t seem to be too interested in being crushed by Europe despite wanting to stay in the Euro.

    • Jones 2.2

      Agreed. When I heard this this morning on the radio, my first thought was Tsipras had been made an offer he couldn’t refuse… but this treatment of Greece by the EU is actually a message for those other PIIGS nations (especially Spain) and France. The whole fiasco always was.

      The EU (as we know it today) is on a slow train to implosion. The scam that is international banking is fully exposed now and the people (throughout Europe) are now not only aware that the emperor has no clothes but he in fact a pretender.

      • Gosman 2.2.1

        And yet they don’t seem to be able to form any coherent set of policies to counter the ‘big bad nasty bankers’. Why is that?

        • mikesh

          They probably need to set up a state owned bank that will lend euros on a “fractional reserve” basis. The French and German owned banks operating in Greece evidently won’t do so. They may in fact have to nationalize the entire banking system.

    • Mike the Savage One 2.3

      I reckon this will be the beginning of the end of the Eurozone, perhaps the EU, at least as we have known it. The very fact that they always have to hold such major meetings, for endless hours, and to make endless amendments, bring in lots of conditions into agreements, to get every one member country’s government on board, that shows how fragile the whole EU setup is.

      Yes, this will tell other countries in some trouble, you will not get much solidarity and help if you get into trouble. I cannot see the Eurozone or even whole EU creating one tax and one welfare system, and more centralised governance for the whole Union. That would be needed to fix many problems they have. Next will be a vote by the Brits, in a referendum, and there is a chance they may opt out, that will send shivers through continental capitals.

  3. G C 3

    Saw this coming form a mile away. I guess the vultures still have meat to pick off Greece’s bones.

  4. Paul 4

    Remembering coups.
    Douglas, Pebble and co .
    NZ 1984.
    Wonder if anyone will ever find out.

    • Wayne 4.1

      Except that Labour comprehensively won the 1987 election. An inconvenient fact?

      • dukeofurl 4.1.1

        Remember that National opposed a lot of Douglas’s measures !

        Even Ruth Richardson voted against introduction of GST

      • RedLogix 4.1.2

        Not really. Several factors made a Labour win almost inevitable:

        1. After the Muldoon years National was in absolutely no position to be returned to power.

        2. Lange was hugely popular as PM. Articulate and well-liked.

        3. This was well before the internet and the media monopolised the narrative. While there was some real disquiet amongst Labour Party activists and various intelligensia on the left – the vast majority of the voters were pretty complacent about what was going on. Most people thought they were voting for a Labour party in 1987 – not a parasitic ACT party.

        4. It really wasn’t until Labour’s second term that the real impacts of the Douglas reforms really became apparent, both economically and politically.

        Attributing the 1987 Labour win to Douglas’s reforms is very weak indeed.

        • Sacha

          5) Pissweak union leaders rolled over without a fight.

        • Puddleglum

          I think there was another factor.

          As I recall, Labour came very close to winning both Remuera and Ilam (Fendalton?). Why that was so is interesting.

          Both National and Labour increased their share of the vote (though National more than Labour) between 1984 and 1987 – National by 8 percentage points and Labour by 5.

          The big change, though, was the New Zealand Party vote which had been 12.3% in 1984 but only 0.3% in 1987. Labour seems to have managed to attract enough of that vote (Bob Jones’ party) to stay in power and increase its number of seats by 1. That voting block, at a guess, was economically very (neo)liberal and strongest, I speculate, in blue ribbon, urban seats.

          If they had all gone back to National there would have been a change of government. That block effectively decided the government both in 1984 and 1987.

          It would be interesting to find the electorate by electorate voting in 1984 and 1987.

        • DS


          – Nuclear-Free was very popular (c.f. outrage over the Rainbow Warrior).

          – The election was August 1987. The stockmarket collapsed two months later, but at the time, the country was basking in a financial bubble.

      • Paul 4.1.3

        Lange was used as a foil for the machinations of the coup d’état.

      • Paul 4.1.4

        Chris Trotter on the subject.
        Read the second paragraph.

        “SONJA DAVIES was only in Parliament for six years. But, she could hardly have chosen a worse six-year period to be a Labour MP. Her time as MP for the Wellington seat of Pencarrow (1987-1993) coincided with the crescendo of Rogernomics and the splitting of the Labour Party. It was not a happy time for the celebrated feminist and trade union fighter, and she was only too happy to hand her seat over to Trevor Mallard and get out.

        It wasn’t just the awfulness of life in the Labour Party in the late-1980s and early-90s that depressed Sonja Davies. As a shrewd observer of both local and international politics, she rapidly became aware that New Zealand was passing through a period of fundamental cultural and economic re-orientation. What concerned her most was how little New Zealanders were being told and, therefore, how little they knew, about the changes that were radically reshaping what it means to be a New Zealander.


      • Stuart Munro 4.1.5

        Hitler was elected too. Didn’t make him right.

  5. Gosman 5

    Is this the best the left can do now? A whiny Twitter handle that enables people to vent without having to do anything. The left used to stand for mass action and solidarity strikes now you can all sit on your fat arses and restrict your effort to exercising your thumbs. It is rather sad to see actually.

    • Clean_power 5.1

      Nowadays Marxists around the world prefer to drink latte and sip fine wine.

    • Hi Gosman,

      What makes you think that a “whiny Twitter handle” is all that ‘the left’ can do?

      From what I have seen of events in Greece and Europe there is quite a bit more than that occurring.

      Here (in solidarity with Greek people prior to the referendum).

      Social media tends to respond instantaneously – the kinds of measures you nostalgically refer to take a little bit of organising. You may not realise that given your position on the ideological spectrum.

      You should also remember that even petty maliciousness like your comment should have at least some basis in fact – otherwise it kind of undermines the maliciousness.

  6. Clean_power 6

    Mr Tsipras is on his way out. Not a chance his radical Syriza would support this deal. Even the Marxist Varoufakis has already rejected it.

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      Rubbish, Varoufaxis wasnt acceptable to the Euro leaders, he was pushed not jumped.

      Have you any reports of Syriza in general not supporting the deal ?

      • mikesh 6.1.1

        I suspect Varoufakis was more than happy to leave. He probably foresaw what was coming.

  7. McGrath 7

    I doubt the deal will pass through the Eurozone parliaments anyway. Too much hard-line Anti-Greek sentiment out there as a result of Greece’s antics these last few months.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      yes, a government protecting poor people, pensioners and the unemployed against the powerful banksters = “antics”

  8. AmaKiwi 8

    Colonial Viper, a personal comment.

    I see on this thread people are ignoring Gosman.

    That’s my policy. If I want to listen to an asshole I can fart.

    • Paul 8.1

      Thanks for the reminder.
      I shall join you.
      Just wish he’d get banned.

    • sirpat 8.2

      understand your sentiments re gosman but what he has said here has a lot of truth in it……we are now a lot of puter protesters and not much else.

      • Molly 8.2.1

        Both the articles and the comments on this platform have both informed and shaped my current positions.

        I would guess this is true of many others that choose not to comment or who comment sporadically.

    • infused 8.3

      When you lot have no argument, that does indeed seem to be the case. Paul is a great example of that.

  9. The lost sheep 9

    Let’s imagine for a minute that the roles had been reversed, and Europe was dominated by Marxist Governments that were running Socialist economies that were largely successful, but with enough issues that there was a significant undercurrent of Pro-Capitalist sympathy among voters.

    Germany had clung to many unworkable Capitalist doctrines which had caused severe economic difficulties, and so they had borrowed heavily from the Marxist Countries in order to stay afloat.
    But after years of rejecting Marxist advice, German bankruptcy finally approached, with massive further assistance required to avoid it.

    At this stage the Germany People elected a radical Far Right Free Market Capitalist Party that was openly committed to rejecting successful Marxist economics and destroying Socialism.

    This party then demanded that the Marxist countries wipe most of Germany’s existing loans while extending even greater sums of credit so that they could restructure the German economy along pure Capitalist lines.

    Now how do you think the Marxist countries would react to all that?
    They would actively support the German Capitalist party?, or they would do everything they could to crush it?

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      Why are you even making this comparison? Greece wasn’t Marxist in any way, shape or form. In fact, it was excessively capitalist. That’s how it had all those rich people avoiding taxes.

      • The lost sheep 9.1.1

        The point is that in such a scenario, the dominant bloc would never actively offer support to a radical government determined to undermine the status quo.
        On the other hand they would take every chance to destabilise them.

        When Syriza started their ‘war’ they seem to have overlooked the possibility that the rest of Europe might consider it in Europe’s best interest to ‘win’ that war.


        • Galeandra

          Hypothetical cases aren’t evidence. Now what do you think about that??

          • The lost sheep

            I think that an ‘Hypothetical argument from similar things’ was a device discussed and approved of by Aristotle, and as he was a Greek, it is very appropriate that I should use such a device to shed some light on the Greek situation.

            • Draco T Bastard

              The only real problem is that you compared two dissimilar things rather than two similar things which makes your argument moot.

              • The lost sheep

                I understand that it is easier for you to call the argument moot rather than accept the point that the only sensible course for Europe was to ‘defeat’ Syriza……just as Syriza would have done to Neo Liberal Europe if the boot was on the other foot.

                I do accept that even for hypothetical purposes it was stretching credibility to postulate a successful Marxist / Socialist dominated Europe.

                Please note this massively important point – there was no other country at all willing to support Greece financially in order to further Syriza’s brave new course, and the streets of Europe and the rest of the world are absolutely empty of ‘The People’ protesting in solidarity.

                That’s the reality.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Please note this massively important point – there was no other country at all willing to support Greece financially in order to further Syriza’s brave new course

                  That’s not an important point but a moot point as Greece doesn’t need any other countries support.

                  • The lost sheep

                    Wrong Draco.
                    Greece actively sought help elsewhere, and…..

                    .@tsipras_eu I went to Russia China and U.S. and there were no other options

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Nope. Neither Greece nor any country needs the support of other countries. They have the resources needed to support themselves within their own borders. Defaulting and going back to the Drachma would allow them to utilise those resources whereas remaining as part of the Euro and attempting to pay off the debt will see those resources shifted out of Greece to other peoples benefit.

                    • The lost sheep

                      Self evidently Draco, they think they do?
                      Maybe because that’s because they have to make decisions that work in the real world?

                      Like how they would recover their economy without the oil and gas that they don’t have within their borders?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Syriza should let them ‘win’ – and leave the Euro while defaulting on all ‘debt’. It would actually hurt Europe more than Greece.

          • te reo putake

            Yep. As the old saw goes, if you owe the bank a thousand, it’s your problem. If you owe the bank a million, it’s their problem. Greece should nationalise the banks, repudiate the debt (300 billion and counting) and stick two fingers up to the financial fascists.

            • McGrath

              Thereby forcing them out of the international economy into a largely closed economy. North Korea springs to mind as an example of a closed economy.

              • Gosman

                Yes and then being forced from the EU as well as the Eurozone and becoming like Albania but with better beaches and ruins.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Nope. They go back to the Drachma created solely by the Greek government and trade solely in that. The new money would invigorate the Greek economy while the floating exchange rate would balance external payments and trade.

                Basically, Greece would get the prosperity that they’re being denied right now by the Troika and their owners.

                • BM

                  Who wants drachmas?

                  You may as well get paid in dog shit.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Who wants drachmas?

                    I would suspect that anybody who wants to buy any good or service from Greece if Greece was to go back to using the Drachma as legal tender. Including the Greeks.

                    That’s the thing about legal tender – it comes with the full force of the law.

          • The lost sheep

            Gosman has said it 50 times Draco……
            There is nothing stopping Greece doing so….Why do you think they don’t?

            • Draco T Bastard

              I really don’t know why they’re not. They should do. Everything points to that. So, what’s happening in the darkened back rooms that we’re not hearing about?

        • Stuart Munro

          Germany, with its well established weapons industry would fight in any case. Armaments are a significant proportion of the Greek debt – sold to right wing governments by bribery. Greece could readily restructure these debts – illegality voids contract.

          • The lost sheep

            So why don’t they just pull out of Europe and tell the Bankers to fuck off then Stuart?

  10. stigie 10

    As Hooten said the other day, there will possibly be unease and riots in the streets.

    • dukeofurl 10.1

      When has he been right!

      The only place nazi thugs are shooting the place up is eastern Ukraine

  11. Brillo 11

    You may want to replace that photo of Michelangelo’s David in your promo picture with a Greek statue.

  12. The Lone Haranguer 12

    What would happen then, if the Greeks gave the Germans (Europes banking Police) the middle finger and said “A pox upon you and upon your bankers”

    Because thats kind of the only option left for them really isnt it?

    Would it lead to recriminations against the Greeks that would make Hitlers Germany look like a benevolent society, or would it cause some contagion where other nations too joined in and said “a pox upon you and upon your bankers”

    Would it/could it lead to reform of the secretive Swiss banking system? Could it lead to reform of banking where it becomes a servant of the country, rather than its master?

    Deep down, Im hoping that the Greeks are at the start of Europes version of the Arab Spring.

    (Conflict of Interest disclaimer)
    I have been on the unhappy end of the beating stick wielded by one of the Aussie banks, and think they have way more power and position than is reasonabe

  13. Sanctuary 13

    This deal will have the ashes of Pyrrhus shaking with mirth.

    In subjugating the Greeks to their will the anti-democratic autocrats of the European states have revealed their end game – an undemocratic super-state ruled by technocrats where sovereign parliaments have less and less say. The Euro-skeptics in the UK have had every fear confirmed, in spades. The swivel-eyed loonies on the Tory back benches, the UKIPers, the Daily Mail, The Sun, were right all along about the corrupt anti-democratic EU and the botched Euro.

    This is a Pyrrhic victory because by showing so much of their hand in crushing Greece the eurocrats have ended the era of the expansion of the European project. The British will now never join the Euro. In fact, the British establishment and liberal elites alike have been appalled at the possible re-emergence of their age old nightmare – a tyrannical, undemocratic super-state grounded in Central Europe. The chances of the UK leaving the EU altogether just shot up from unlikely to possible.

    History may yet judge this Eurocratic Greek song of goats as the moment those Europeans who wish to retain their independence stopped thinking about how to ensure another war like the last one never happens to preparing for the next one.

    • RedLogix 13.1


      an undemocratic super-state ruled by technocrats where sovereign parliaments have less and less say.

      While I have no especial issue around political unity in Europe – the lack of democratic accountability in the EU is now revealed stark and vivid.

    • Gosman 13.2

      Sovereign states from one nation should never be able to dictate that sovereign states from another should give them funding whenever they want. I believe that used to be called Imperialism.

      • Puckish Rogue 13.2.1

        Being left-wing means never having to be responsible for paying the bill

        • dukeofurl

          Who has paid back the debt Cullen or English?

          Or more to the point who has NO plans to pay any back and in spite of saying surplus is going to borrow another $7-8 billion this year

          • Brillo

            Being right wing means saying “my rich friend will pay” while ducking out the back way.

          • Colonial Viper

            Who has paid back the debt Cullen or English?

            Cullen paid back Crown debt by taxing in money that the NZ private sector (including households) borrowed.

            In other words, Cullen swapped Crown debt for NZ private sector debt.

            • dukeofurl

              Hadnt heard that one before, I thought it was all that easy credit.
              Bank of Scotland was just throwing money around ‘Auckland real estate’

              It was a world wide credit binge remember, low doc loans, liar loans and the rest of it.
              Borrow borrow borrow, which is what they were all doing all down the chain.

              • Colonial Viper

                Yep – private borrowing provided the NZ economy with the money supply needed for Cullen to keep pulling his taxes in and running his surpluses (while the private sector was running deficits due to ever increasing debt levels).

        • Jim Nald

          Being a right-wing millionnaire means quite likely to have declared bankruptcy (not paying the bills) at least once on the way to making and keeping lots of money.

        • Stuart Munro

          As proven by generations of far-right tax evaders…

  14. Matthew Hooton 14

    Nobody has forced Greece into anything. It has sought a new 86 billion euro loan, on top of the 300 billion euros it already owes. The lenders wants that loan to come with some conditions. Greece can decide it doesn’t think those conditions are worth getting the loan from those lenders, and could see if Putin has a spare 86 billion euro. But if you need to borrow that much you have to accept the lender will want to impose some conditions it thinks makes the return of its money more secure. This is why New Zealand is lucky that Richardson, Birch and Cullen paid off all our debt, and why Cullen and English can be fairly criticised for letting it build up again from 2008 onwards.

    • Gosman 14.1

      But it is all the fault of the ‘evil’ Bankers (and Germany) Matthew. Those poor unfortunate Greeks had no choice but to take the many billions foisted upon them in the past and not use it to improve their economic competitiveness. Really the Greeks are the innocent victims in all this and the fact you can’t see this means you are a shill for the perpetrators of this. European taxpayers need to pony up the money because the Greeks vote for them to do so. i believe I have covered most of the counter arguments. Oh wait. Austerity doesn’t work despite other nations following similar policies and coming out the other side in reasonable shape.

      • Puckish Rogue 14.1.1

        I think the arguement of the left can be boiled down to:

        Shut up and give Greece money

        • dukeofurl

          or we could say , the first bailout hasnt worked but since we dont admit to mistakes a second bailout is needed with less austerity or even an interest payment holiday so the Germans can be smug ( in spite of having two bailouts previously)

          Puckish Rouge you do realise the Bank of England has been printing money to get Britain’s economy moving again after austerity didnt work there either.

          They are just lucky that they had their own currency and the economic sovereignty that goes with it.

          Being all Mary Poppins has nothing to do with it. Financial orthodoxy goes out the window when it suits the so called ‘miser ‘ states

          So please no more of this we northern europeans all pay our way nonsense.

          • Puckish Rogue

            Greece owe money, Greece want more money and the people with the money have conditions

            Party times over for Greece its that simple

            • vto

              No, the Greece government owes money, not Greece

              This goes to the heart of democracy… in the birthplace of democracy no less…

      • Pat 14.1.2

        ….the Greeks have been following the Troika prescription for over 5 years and not only have they not started coming “out the other side in reasonable shape” they have in fact sunk deeper into the mire…..you may claim they havnt reformed sufficiently but even you must recall the troika visits and disbursement delays until various Greek governments passed the relevant legislation/implemented policy, so over 5 years of following prescribed policies has provided nothing but misery for Greece and no end in sight but HAS succeeded in preserving (mainly) German international competitiveness.
        The fact is Greece cannot and will not survive in this flawed currency union and when they go it will be Portugals or Spains or Irelands turn next until the whole house of cards collapses….assuming it dosnt implode first.

    • Colonial Viper 14.2

      Nobody has forced Greece into anything. It has sought a new 86 billion euro loan, on top of the 300 billion euros it already owes.

      Greece is already insolvent.

      Why lend money to an insolvent country which is in default, and which in all probability will never be able to pay back those monies?

      • Gosman 14.2.1

        That is a very good question. Why should the Eurozone members lend more money to Greece – Care to answer that question? Germany and many northern Eurozone members were tempted to not do so yet Greece still asked. Why is Greece wanting more money C.V?

        • Colonial Viper

          To see how stupid and gullible other Eurozone leaders are, i suppose.

        • vto

          You still asking that question the wrong way around I see gosman….

          Why don’t the Germans walk away gosman? They have that choice.

    • Stuart Munro 14.3

      Cullen cannot be blamed for Bill’s chronic failure Hoots. Seven years not enough? Infinity would not be enough for Bill, everything he touches fails – Solid Energy.

  15. stigie 15

    Matthew, In the early to mid 2000s there was so much money sloshing around, a Joe and john party could have made a surplus and paid down debt and one we will not probably see again in our lifetime.

    • Matthew Hooton 15.1

      Indeed. The surpluses always exceeded Cullen’s forecasts so he didn’t in fact plan to pay down as much debt as he did. But, whatever, life’s not fair, so Cullen is entitled to the credit as he was finance minister at the time.

  16. I think this about sums it up ….especially the penultimate paragraph.

    JULY 13, 2015
    The Problem of Greece is Not Only a Tragedy: It is a Lie

    An historic betrayal has consumed Greece. Having set aside the mandate of the Greek electorate, the Syriza government has willfully ignored last week’s landslide “No” vote and secretly agreed a raft of repressive, impoverishing measures in return for a “bailout” that means sinister foreign control and a warning to the world.

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pushed through parliament a proposal to cut at least 13 billion euros from the public purse – 4 billion euros more than the “austerity” figure rejected overwhelmingly by the majority of the Greek population in a referendum on 5 July.

    These reportedly include a 50 per cent increase in the cost of healthcare for pensioners, almost 40 per cent of whom live in poverty; deep cuts in public sector wages; the complete privatization of public facilities such as airports and ports; a rise in value added tax to 23 per cent, now applied to the Greek islands where people struggle to eke out a living. There is more to come.

    “Anti-austerity party sweeps to stunning victory”, declared a Guardian headline on January 25. “Radical leftists” the paper called Tsipras and his impressively-educated comrades. They wore open neck shirts, and the finance minister rode a motorbike and was described as a “rock star of economics”. It was a façade. They were not radical in any sense of that cliched label, neither were they “anti austerity”.

    For six months Tsipras and the recently discarded finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, shuttled between Athens and Brussels, Berlin and the other centres of European money power. Instead of social justice for Greece, they achieved a new indebtedness, a deeper impoverishment that would merely replace a systemic rottenness based on the theft of tax revenue by the Greek super-wealthy – in accordance with European “neo-liberal” values — and cheap, highly profitable loans from those now seeking Greece’s scalp.

    Greece’s debt, reports an audit by the Greek parliament, “is illegal, illegitimate and odious”. Proportionally, it is less than 30 per cent that of the debit of Germany, its major creditor. It is less than the debt of European banks whose “bailout” in 2007-8 was barely controversial and unpunished.

    For a small country such as Greece, the euro is a colonial currency: a tether to a capitalist ideology so extreme that even the Pope pronounces it “intolerable” and “the dung of the devil”. The euro is to Greece what the US dollar is to remote territories in the Pacific, whose poverty and servility is guaranteed by their dependency.

    In their travels to the court of the mighty in Brussels and Berlin, Tsipras and Varoufakis presented themselves neither as radicals nor “leftists” nor even honest social democrats, but as two slightly upstart supplicants in their pleas and demands. Without underestimating the hostility they faced, it is fair to say they displayed no political courage. More than once, the Greek people found out about their “secret austerity plans” in leaks to the media: such as a 30 June letter published in the Financial Times, in which Tsipras promised the heads of the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF to accept their basic, most vicious demands – which he has now accepted.

    When the Greek electorate voted “no” on 5 July to this very kind of rotten deal, Tsipras said, “Come Monday and the Greek government will be at the negotiating table after the referendum with better terms for the Greek people”. Greeks had not voted for “better terms”. They had voted for justice and for sovereignty, as they had done on January 25.

    The day after the January election a truly democratic and, yes, radical government would have stopped every euro leaving the country, repudiated the “illegal and odious” debt – as Argentina did successfully — and expedited a plan to leave the crippling Eurozone. But there was no plan. There was only a willingness to be “at the table” seeking “better terms”.

    The true nature of Syriza has been seldom examined and explained. To the foreign media it is no more than “leftist” or “far left” or “hardline” – the usual misleading spray. Some of Syriza’s international supporters have reached, at times, levels of cheer leading reminiscent of the rise of Barack Obama. Few have asked: Who are these “radicals”? What do they believe in?

    In 2013, Yanis Varoufakis wrote: “Should we welcome this crisis of European capitalism as an opportunity to replace it with a better system? Or should we be so worried about it as to embark upon a campaign for stabilising capitalism? To me, the answer is clear. Europe’s crisis is far less likely to give birth to a better alternative to capitalism …

    “I bow to the criticism that I have campaigned on an agenda founded on the assumption that the left was, and remains, squarely defeated …. Yes, I would love to put forward [a] radical agenda. But, no, I am not prepared to commit the [error of the British Labour Party following Thatcher’s victory].

    “What good did we achieve in Britain in the early 1980s by promoting an agenda of socialist change that British society scorned while falling headlong into Thatcher’s neoliberal trip? Precisely none. What good will it do today to call for a dismantling of the Eurozone, of the European Union itself …?”

    Varoufakis omits all mention of the Social Democratic Party that split the Labour vote and led to Blairism. In suggesting people in Britain “scorned socialist change” – when they were given no real opportunity to bring about that change – he echoes Blair.

    The leaders of Syriza are revolutionaries of a kind – but their revolution is the perverse, familiar appropriation of social democratic and parliamentary movements by liberals groomed to comply with neo-liberal drivel and a social engineering whose authentic face is that of Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister, an imperial thug. Like the Labour Party in Britain and its equivalents among former social democratic parties such as the Labor Party in Australia, still describing themselves as “liberal” or even “left”, Syriza is the product of an affluent, highly privileged, educated middle class, “schooled in postmodernism”, as Alex Lantier wrote.

    For them, class is the unmentionable, let alone an enduring struggle, regardless of the reality of the lives of most human beings. Syriza’s luminaries are well-groomed; they lead not the resistance that ordinary people crave, as the Greek electorate has so bravely demonstrated, but “better terms” of a venal status quo that corrals and punishes the poor. When merged with “identity politics” and its insidious distractions, the consequence is not resistance, but subservience. “Mainstream” political life in Britain exemplifies this.

    This is not inevitable, a done deal, if we wake up from the long, postmodern coma and reject the myths and deceptions of those who claim to represent us, and fight.

    • Gosman 16.1

      Pilger has truly become a grumpy old man of the hard left. I can summarise this rant as ‘Get off of my ideological lawn!’

      • TeWhareWhero 16.1.1

        Haven’t you got anything apart from cliches and banalities in your intellectual armoury Gosman?

        Just out of interest – how do you define the ‘hard left?’

      • Draco T Bastard 16.1.2

        I remember when you used to bring at least a modicum of argument to the debate. Nowadays you only bring ad hominems.

        • Wayne

          Pretty hard to classify Pilger as anything other than Hard Left.
          But why should this upset you? Presumably you are all proud of being Hard Left rather than neo-liberal sell outs.

          • vto

            blah blah typical right wing response – play the man not the ball.

            I don’t imagine you have much comment on Pilger’s actual points for this reason.

            You are as useless as that silly and ignorant tit Mike King on Brown Eye.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Perhaps, Wayne, you should read what I said again as you obviously failed to understand it.

      • Stuart Munro 16.1.3

        Go back to kindergarten Gosman, and learn to read.

    • DS 16.2

      Pilger’s never happy unless he’s miserable. And I say this as a Leftist myself, who agrees that Syriza betrayed the people of Greece.

      This wasn’t ideological though (Pilger sees Tony Blair in every shadow). This was a bunch of street-theatre radicals who thought that they could get a better deal and remain in the Euro – but because they were street-theatre radicals, they never worked out a Plan B in terms of preparing for a Grexit. That left them with zero bargaining chips.

      • Draco T Bastard 16.2.1


        Syriza needed to tell the people of Greece that they had to leave the Euro.

  17. And then there’s the rather more blunt view of Max Keiser; my asterisks.

    “Alexis Tsipras wins the feckless, lazy c**t award. #Congrats”

    • dukeofurl 17.1

      So the Brits, the Yanks and after taking their time about the Euro central bank, all printed money and threw financial orthodoxy out the window.

      So why do applaud the Europeans who say to the Greeks you have to take your financial medicine while we wont bother because we found it it doesnt work!

      • Puckish Rogue 17.1.1

        Ok so Greece can leave the EU then, problem solved

        • dukeofurl

          No , you are the one saying austerity works, Greeks take your medicine.

          All the evidence is that it doesn’t , which is why the so called responsible countries printed their way out of the recession.

          Greece didnt have a strong currency before and as a very small country doesnt have that option, and in any case they would end up like Panama, who de facto use the US dollar, they would be a quasi euro country.

          • Colonial Viper

            taking money out of the economy and away from jobs and businesses, crashes the economy.

            Amazing that the idiots in charge pretend they can’t see it.

  18. Kevin 18

    This is pretty much what I’ve been saying should happen, with the proviso that the debt is forgiven.

    For Greece, this is a mercy. I don’t think people here really understand how much trouble the Greece economy is in. Just forgiving the debt wouldn’t have been enough as the Greek economy is in a spiral. What is needed is debt forgiveness tied to real economic reform. And this is what this deal offers.

    As for those who say this is brutal and a virtual takeover of Greece’s sovereignty – five years from now when the Greece is economy is back on it’s feet we’ll see who was right and who was wrong.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      You’ll be dead wrong, just like the IMF was 5 years ago when it forecast that Greece would be experiencing strong growth now by putting in place the programme austerity measures.

    • Draco T Bastard 18.2

      If this deal goes through in 5 years the Greeks will be rioting and the arseholes who put these policies in place will either be dead or fleeing for their lives. That’s generally what happens when you oppress people.

  19. greywarshark 19

    Next time Europe has a war it shouldn’t look to us to sacrifice people’s lives and health fighting to help fix their problems, on either side. Been there done that, Never Want to Go Back Again.

    Anyway we are now in the exotic Middle East and have a part to play in the power balance between China and the USA, and Russia also, our long-term trading partner. As usual we citizens in our democracy end up getting an urgent invite to The Lovely War whether we want to go or not.

  20. infused 20

    Donno why they are taking the loan. Just going to fall harder in 3 years time.

    Should take the pain now.

    • Gosman 20.1

      I actually think Varoufakis’ proposal he made just prior to getting sacked may have been a goer. It would have meant the Greek State would have imploded but potentially given it a chance to become a low cost destination of choice for the rest of Europe. They could then have devalued their way to something approximating stability.

  21. Draco T Bastard 21

    Roach Motel Economics

    So we have learned that the euro is a Roach Motel — once you go in, you can never get out. And once inside you are at the mercy of those who can pull your financing and crash your banking system unless you toe the line.

    I and many others have had a lot to say about the politics of this reality. But let me say a word about the economic implications for the euro area as a whole — which are basically that Europe has created a system that treats surplus and deficit countries asymmetrically, even more than the classical gold standard, and leads to a severe deflationary bias.

    The way that the Euro is presently structured it must, eventually, collapse. There is not enough flexibility between each nation state to allow financial shifts between them thus introducing excess stress. The PIIGS are merely the first cracks to appear.

  22. Draco T Bastard 22

    Bank Robbery: Economists and the Banking System (from Medieval times to Adam Smith)

    So banks, like weapons systems, were needed to counter foreign banks: along with armies and navies, bank-credit was a weapon of predation. For national self-defence, ‘what the neighbours have, we must have too’. With the Mercantilists, the economics of nationalism were born, and they are with us still. Later (1816) Thomas Jefferson would describe banks as ‘more dangerous than standing armies’. None of these observers would be surprised to see, today, the peoples of Mediterranean countries brought to their knees by predatory credit.

    Before leaving the mercantilists, it’s worth mentioning an insight of Josiah Child (1630-99). He chose to ignore the credit-creation aspect of banking, but nevertheless warned of the destructive power of foreign lending. It is sometimes forgotten how much wisdom was taken by Christians from their Old Testament, the Jewish Bible. This observation of Child’s rings true today and is worth quoting: ‘the Wisdom of God Almighty did prohibit the Jews from lending upon Use one to another, but allowed them to lend to Strangers for the Enriching of their own (i.e. the Jewish) Nation and Improvement of their own Territory, and for the Impoverishing of others, those to whom they were permitted to lend, being such only whom they were commanded to destroy or at least to keep Poor and Miserable, as the Gibeonites, etc., Hewers of Wood, and Drawers of Water.’ Rich nations are today finding predatory credit as effective as war used to be, in the struggle to dominate and exploit.

  23. joe90 23

    If Greeks were bankers..

    The scale of the support currently provided to UK banks has fallen from a peak of £955 billion to £512 billion, but the amount of cash currently borrowed by the Government to support banks has risen by £7 billion since December 2009. It is likely the taxpayer will be providing support for years to come.


    Gross US Government Bailout Outlays $4.6 trillion


  24. DS 24

    An historical comparison:


    Yes, Greece is literally going through a Great Depression. And these are the circumstances where the troika is enforcing austerity…

  25. RedBaronCV 26

    I really don’t understand why the rest of Europe wants a failed state on it’s Southern border but they seem determined to create one.

    Next they’ll be complaining about the costs of people smuggling from the region and other lawless activites.
    Any chance some of us from NZ could adopt an Island or something to help them through?

    • dukeofurl 26.1

      The EU created a shambles in Ukraine after negotiating a deal of closer integration and then changing the terms at the last minute which meant it was rejected.

      It was power politics with Russia, with the US pushing the EU to give Putin a black eye on his doorstep.

      What they didnt realise there would be the demonstrations in Kiev, that the corrupt government would be removed and in the power vacuum a pro russian insurgency in the east.
      Now its an intractable problem, for a misely little agreement that wouldn’t change much
      “On 22 July 2008, it was announced that a “Stabilisation and Association”-type agreement would be signed between Ukraine and the European Union.[15] However, in 2011 the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, warned Ukraine that although talks about an European Union Association Agreement with Ukraine would continue, the ratification process of the treaty “will face problems if there is no reversal in the approach of Ukrainian authorities” towards the trial of former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko. Wikipedia

      WHy is the Security representative bringing an obscure situation about a corrupt former PM.? In reality it was an EU stalling tactic

  26. Sable 27

    The same thing is happening here only its called the TPPA.

  27. Paul 28

    John Pilger on Greece.
    Thought provoking.

    Some excerpts from the article.

    ‘Greece’s debt, reports an audit by the Greek parliament, “is illegal, illegitimate and odious”. Proportionally, it is less than 30 per cent that of the debit of Germany, its major creditor. It is less than the debt of European banks whose “bailout” in 2007-8 was barely controversial and unpunished.

    For a small country such as Greece, the euro is a colonial currency: a tether to a capitalist ideology so extreme that even the Pope pronounces it “intolerable” and “the dung of the devil”. The euro is to Greece what the US dollar is to remote territories in the Pacific, whose poverty and servility is guaranteed by their dependency.

    The day after the January election a truly democratic and, yes, radical government would have stopped every euro leaving the country, repudiated the “illegal and odious” debt – as Argentina did successfully – and expedited a plan to leave the crippling Eurozone. But there was no plan. There was only a willingness to be “at the table” seeking “better terms”.


  28. Paul 29

    Chris Hedges on Greece.

    ‘The poor and the working class in the United States know what it is to be Greek. They know underemployment and unemployment. They know life without a pension. They know existence on a few dollars a day. They know gas and electricity being turned off because of unpaid bills. They know the crippling weight of debt. They know being sick and unable to afford medical care. They know the state seizing their meager assets, a process known in the United States as “civil asset forfeiture,” which has permitted American police agencies to confiscate more than $3 billion in cash and property. They know the profound despair and abandonment that come when schools, libraries, neighborhood health clinics, day care services, roads, bridges, public buildings and assistance programs are neglected or closed. They know the financial elites’ hijacking of democratic institutions to impose widespread misery in the name of austerity. They, like the Greeks, know what it is to be abandoned.

    The Greek government kneels before the bankers of Europe begging for mercy because it knows that if it leaves the eurozone, the international banking system will do to Greece what it did to the socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1973 in Chile; it will, as Richard Nixon promised to do in Chile, “make the economy scream.” The bankers will destroy Greece. If this means the Greeks can no longer get medicine—Greece owes European drug makers 1 billion euros—so be it. If this means food shortages—Greece imports thousands of tons of food from Europe a year—so be it. If this means oil and gas shortages—Greece imports 99 percent of its oil and gas—so be it. The bankers will carry out economic warfare until the current Greek government is ousted and corporate political puppets are back in control.

    The destruction of Greece, like the destruction of America, by the big banks and financial firms is not, as the bankers claim, about austerity or imposing rational expenditures or balanced budgets. It is not about responsible or good government. It is a vicious form of class warfare. It is profoundly anti-democratic. It is about forming nations of impoverished, disempowered serfs and a rapacious elite of all-powerful corporate oligarchs, backed by the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history and a militarized police that shoots unarmed citizens with reckless abandon. The laws and rules it imposes on the poor are, as Barbara Ehrenreich has written, little more than “organized sadism.”

    Corporate profit is God. It does not matter who suffers. In Greece 40 percent of children live in poverty, there is a 25 percent unemployment rate and the unemployment figure for those between the ages of 15 and 24 is nearly 50 percent. And it will only get worse.’


    • Wayne 29.1

      What Chris Hedges means is that international bankers would not lend to a country that defaulted on their debts. Well there’s a surprise.

      As I have said before, the Hard Left thinks that the Eurolenders (actually Northern European taxpayers) should be compelled to lend money to a country without any conditions. Ain’t going to happen.

      • Colonial Viper 29.1.1

        What Chris Hedges means is that international bankers would not lend to a country that defaulted on their debts. Well there’s a surprise.

        Chris Hedges said exactly what he meant in his writing, Wayne. He doesn’t need someone like you to wrongly interpret his message.

  29. Foreign Waka 31

    The amount of ignorant rants on all sides is mind blowing. It is very clear that this side of the globe has no world history in their curriculum at school.
    The current issue in Europe is that the average working people are fed up to their nose to pay 60% tax to cover all this and are now being asked to pay even more. Meanwhile millions of immigrants (15-20% of population in some cases) move to the same countries and are being paid benefits.
    You don’t have to be a soothsayer to know that Europe is sitting on a powder keg ready to explode. None of the politicians can afford to be seen as the ones setting the spark.
    Any of the people commenting here and saying that they are left leaning – all for the working people everywhere are not getting it – at all. The people who are hardest hit are the people who work and they do long hours, increase productivity and are being ask to be quiet and just pay up.
    Greece has a tax system that effectively has tax free status for the rich – one of the richest families in Greece, the Latsis own Eurobank and large holdings of Hellenic petroleum. Or the Vardinoyannis Family, owing the second largest Oil refinery i the Balkans, or the family Stasinopoulos owing a holding dealing in Copper, Steel and Plastic. The list goes on. And no taxes paid. So where are the protest on this site?
    Meanwhile the social service have to be paid for and that they did via debt accumulation over years. The situation did not just happen over night. In fact 5 years ago people were asking about the tax systems unfairness and the Greek government rolled on that issue whilst the rich got the last warning to take their cash elsewhere- which they did.
    So before you point the finger towards those who cough up the money and getting poor in the process look at the truth about the situation and stick to some balanced accounts.

    • Colonial Viper 31.1

      A ridiculous comment, even if you ignore the fact that the ECB has started a massive programme of QE creating new money to purchase impaired assets.

      If German, French and Finnish leaders were serious about being paid back by Greece, they would be encouraging productive investment in the Greek economy as well as consumption growth, not fiscally waterboarding Greece into perpetuity, which guarantees an utter inability to pay the creditors back what they are owed and guarantees the nightmare scenario of European disintegration.

      • Foreign waka 31.1.1

        Ridiculous only because it does not agree with you? Ignorant to the last – I am not a friend of the Germans but you know absolutely nothing about Europe – at all. Just making popular rants don’t equal to the truth.

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