The heresy of the Greeks offers hope

Greece is a microcosm of a modern class war rarely reported as such.

by John Pilger
Published: May 20, 2010 – New Statesman

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

What makes Greece different is that it has experienced, within living memory, invasion, foreign occupation, 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 that preceded the present Pasok (Labour) government of George Papandreou was described by the sociologist Jean Ziegler as “a machine for systematically pillaging the country’s resources”.

Epic theft

The machine had infamous friends. The US Federal Reserve board is investigating the role of Goldman Sachs, which gambled on the bankruptcy of Greece as public assets were sold off and its tax-evading rich deposited €360bn in Swiss banks. This haemorrhaging of capital continues with the approval of Europe’s central banks and governments.

At 11 per cent, Greece’s budget 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 US corporate ratings agencies, which “downgraded” Greek debt 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 such as Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland has cost billions of pounds. Thanks to Gordon Brown and his passion for the avaricious instincts of the City, these gifts of public money were unconditional, and the bankers have continued to pay each other the booty they call bonuses and to spirit it away to tax havens. Under Britain’s political monoculture, they can do as they wish. In the US, the situation is even more remarkable. As the investigative journalist David DeGraw has reported, the principal Wall Street banks that “destroyed the economy pay zero in taxes and get $33bn 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 them. Jobs, pensions and public services are to be slashed and burned, with privateers put in charge. For the EU and the IMF, the opportunity presents to “change the culture” and to 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 destroyed physically behind a pretence of protecting the people of Kosovo. Most Greeks are employed by the state, and the young and the trade unions comprise a popular alliance that has not been pacified; the colonels’ tanks on the campus of Athens University in 1967 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.

Shock therapy

In Britain, such has been the 30-year propaganda of an extreme economic theory known first as monetarism, then as neoliberalism, 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. In the United States, a record 40 million 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 between 13 and 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 weapons against stricken countries where children are the majority, 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 regard themselves as once again under foreign occupation. And once again, they are rising up, with courage. When David Cameron begins to cleave £6bn from public services in Britain, he will be bargaining that Greece will not happen in Britain. We should prove him wrong.



More by John Pilger:

DOCUMENTARY – The War on Democracy by John Pilger

War is peace. Ignorance is strength

DOCUMENTARY – Breaking The Silence – Truth and Lies in the War on Terror by John Pilger

DOCUMENTARY – New Rulers of the World, by John Pilger

The lying game: how we are prepared for another war of aggression

DOCUMENTARY – Palestine is Still the Issue by John Pilger

DOCUMENTARY – Stealing a Nation by John Pilger -2004

Mourn on the 4th of July

INTERVIEW – John Pilger on Democracy Now… (6 Jul. 2009)

Smile on the face of the tiger

DOCUMENTARY – FRONTLINE, In search of truth in war time by John Pilger, 1983 (52 mins.)

VIDEO – Obama & Empire: Power, Illusion & America’s Last Taboo

Obama’s 100 days – the mad men did well

DOCUMENTARY – War by Other Means by John Pilger

PRESENTATION: John Pilger – Freedom Next Time

DOCUMENTARY – “Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq” by John Pilger

Welcome to Orwell’s World 2010

DOCUMENTARY – Pepsi vs Coke in The Ice Cold War by John Pilger

The kidnapping of Haiti

DOCUMENTARY – VIETNAM, The Last Battle by John Pilger (1995)

Have a Nice World War, Folks

4 Comments on “The heresy of the Greeks offers hope”

  1. Dwight Baker says:

    In my years of long teeth and white hair, I have developed a sense of selective memory.

    My intake of any new information first begins when I think back in history best as I can and find out why thus and so is being done so today.

    The Greeks have been con men [high seas pirate types] as long as I can think, and history bears that out. Their philosophy stinks and has always living in a dream like imaginary land of enchantment, their land is not worth a hill of beans, but their ability to defend it — is not a thing to question for they have proved just how much a threat they can be when any is on their turf.

    So why are the Brits back away from a fight—- GO FIGURE.

    Dwight Baker

  2. Annie Ladysmith says:

    I like what the Argentinean man said to the state police elite-protective force, “NO MORE JACK-BOOTS”. The line was drawn. This time we fight the jack-boots, we will not totalate your slavery, forced starvation, and f***** jack-boots. Get ta’ heck out of our lives with your freaking Internation Poverty Fund and your mafia economy. No more Nazi experiments on the defenseless. No more unspeakable tortures behind stone walls and iron gates. Has not humanity put up with this for way too long?

    Is it not better that we die fighting this evil than being ruled by it? They will take our vital organs before they kill us, they will suck every drop of blood, like they do with greed, at their Satanic rituals, they will scrape our very souls from the depths of our personalities, and leave us as splatters on a wall. Wake up! The world is being gathered up for the global rule of the most ruthless fiend that haunts the universe. The time to resist is now, while we are still relatively free.

    Go Greece! Go Argentina! Go Ireland (another junk country)!

  3. Dwight Baker says:

    Up and out of the trash heaps of humanity has come some of the greatest to tell legends filled with words of overcoming.
    By Dwight Baker
    May 20, 2010

    Eagles Eye View Aiming at Issues for We the People Advocates

    We are a people spawned out of despair some do not tend to reflect on those good folks and times but it is so gut wrenching true. The Greeks are from that same revolting seed from those that have fought off the landlord’s villains and vipers trying to usurp undue usury as the rule of International Law.

    Those devout elite thieves living for and under the totalitarian English rule —- fear the Greeks and fear us likewise. For our simple folks once run them out of our country before the time when city folks began being dumb down to accept even an open fraud if there was one ounce of floor meal in it.

    However as Annie Ladysmith stated time for us to get back to the core of where we come from and stand up cry out and push the evil barons back into the seas from whence they come. President Andrew Jackson did a lot of things many bad and some very good. I think I might in my years of living fit into a similar mold. Yet in my minds eye looking back the things done wrong by me have been less hurtful than his, but my tenacity to tell the British Bankers NOW ‘Hit the road jack’ your never going to keep all the gold you have stolen from us using the Federal Reserve to leech away our life bloods of earnings.

    And a man from about that same period of time stood head and shoulders higher than others. In fact the once slave Fredrick Douglas words ring as clear and pure today as was in the days that he penned them. Relevance of heartfelt matters put into words what mankind must do to survive are endless changeless and are from the portals of providence. And few have had such an impact to influence the ruggedness needed to resist but the tenderness to be found in the brotherhood to form the bonds to do so.

    Thus was such a man William Penn, who stood up and out as one of the greatest leaders in our America. Without his willingness to be locked away in prison many times we would have never been able to live free men and women as long as we have.

    So in my American Greats that I draw strength from their words and deeds done — stand William Penn, Frederick Douglas and Andrew Jackson.

    An appropriate ending in summation some of the Famous words of Fredrick Douglass.


    America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.

    At a time like this, a scorching iron, not convincing argument, is needed.

    Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong, which will be imposed on them.

    I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.

    If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

    It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

    It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.

    No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.

    Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

    The life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.

    The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.

    The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.

    To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

    Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

  4. […] The heresy of the Greeks offers hope […]

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