Sunday, 28 February 2010

Heil… measures!

I liked this image and headline from today's Eleftherotypia – Heil… measures! – which neatly sums up Greece's deteriorating relationship with our German rulers, who want Greeks to know how cold the sea is and what it feels like to be drowning before allowing them onto the life-raft, i.e. Greece will have to implement more German-inspired austerity measures before Berlin agrees to financial support that will prevent Greece defaulting on its debt and being declared bankrupt.

In a way, I find this spat with the Germans edifying, particularly since it has made apparent German racism and what northern Europeans really think about Greeks, who for too long have been living under the illusion that Europe is just one big happy family based on solidarity and mutual respect. Greeks believed their own tourist propaganda about everyone loving Greece and the Greeks, but at least now they know that contempt between nations and peoples is the normal state of affairs and that to survive and prosper a country must have a healthy disdain and mistrust for its neighbours and those who it does business with. Our forefathers divided the world into Greeks and barbarians – this was the case in Byzantium as well as in the classical period – and modern Greeks would do well to do the same.

As for former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos' correct view (see video below) that the Germans have no moral authority to lecture anyone, and particularly Greece, on stealing, cheating and so on; again the furore his comments have caused – a furore I don't think Pangalos, who seemed to make the remarks more in jest than anger, intended – may prove beneficial since they have at least had the effect of making Greeks consider their history, made them realise that they do have a history, which tells them a great deal about who they are and what they should become.


19 comments:

Hermes said...

John, the Greeks are largely to blame for their problems. The Germans are mostly justified in their criticism. The Greeks decided the play the game and now they are paying the price.

Theodoros Pangalos is not correct. His argument is deeply flawed and makes us look immature. If Pangalos wanted reparations so much why did he wait for this crisis to make mention of them? He is only pandering to the brain dead part of the Greek electorate.

And if Germany decided to hand over another 40 billion euro in reparations where would that money end up? Not in patriotic schools, gymnasiums, high tech parks, libraries, hospitals, military etc. No, most of it would end up in useless villas, BMWs and Bulgarian whores for Pangalos.

However, you are correct in stating that Greeks may just realise that the world is not some Disneyland theme park. Beneath the polite veneer of EU and US-inspired babble there is only barbarity. A bit more Thucydides and less Che Guevara.

Hermes said...

Furthermore, my middle class Greek aunty said to me last week, they (meaning the Greek and foreignment governments and banks) are going to take it all away from us. I did not want to upset my aunty but the truth is a lot of those assets and goods they have collected over the last 30 years (and my aunty is hardworking and honest) did not belong to you in the first place. They were financed by cheap money from overseas; hence, the massive Greek current account deficit and foreign debt. However, that money has to be paid back at some point either by collecting and raising taxes or by reducing government spending (unfortunately, the Greek government did not encourage real productive industries, rather a consumption boom, so Greece could somehow grow itself out of this hole).

Greeks have to learn (or re-learn) take responsibility for themselves. They have to learn that running massive deficits will only mean that the pain is pushed into the future, perhaps onto their children. They have to learn that a brand new BMW or other consumer goods are not productive assets but rather should focus on building human capital to sustain the country into the future. They should also learn that the balance of power is shifting to the East, and the weakest members of the West will be the first and worst to suffer.

John Akritas said...

H. I have no doubts at all that the problems Greece is facing – and which go way beyond debts and deficits – are mostly self-inflicted and that blaming others for the choices Greece has made – and Greece has always had choices before it (and invariably made the wrong ones) – is a distraction. In many ways, I hope the crisis gets worse for Greece – that the country reaches rock bottom, because only then will Greece contemplate the changes it requires to save itself from extinction. Already, I'm hopeful that the spat with the Germans and the EU will make Greeks rethink their willingness to give up national identity and sovereignty for the sake of this illusory European project.

Indeed, the Germans are right to insist that any EU money that goes to Greece from now on will not go on sustaining the current Greek way of doing things; but the vitriol which has been poured on Greeks is not only derived from falsified economic data and bad experiences of getting overcharged for a beer in Mykonos and also reflects a deep-rooted western prejudice against Greeks that goes back a thousand years – the Byzantines were also accused of being liars, cheats and deceivers and deserving of destruction. I ask myself why is Greece's economic collapse the fault of the Greek character, and yet no one has said that Iceland's catastrophe can be blamed on greedy, incompetent, sybaritic Scandinavians; no one has accused the Icelanders of being thieves for refusing to pay back debts to the British and Dutch; no one is accusing the Icelanders of being a communist rabble for protesting the way their government has handled the crisis.

As for Pangalos: I didn't endorse his view on reparations – like I said, I don't even think he was that serious – but where I thought he was right was on the issue of whether Germany has the moral authority to lecture Greece – or anybody else – on propriety, to accuse Greeks – who they murdered in the hundreds of thousands – of being 'the thieves of Europe'. For Germans to dare to say such things tells me two things: 1. The Germans are unaware of what they did in Greece; 2. The Greeks have failed to make the Germans aware of what they did in Greece.

John Akritas said...

But there is no chance that Papandreou or Pasok will ever get round to addressing the fundamental flaw in the Greek economic 'model' as you describe it – i.e. it is geared towards consumption not production or the development of human capital – which is why reducing the debt and deficit will ultimately serve no purpose, other than to make Greeks miserable and resentful. Pasok has been in power five months now and I've noticed two reforms – 1. Allowing illegal immigrants to become Greek citizens; 2. Establishing a competition on a new design for park benches in Athens.

Hermes said...

John, Frankish/German prejudice against the Greeks goes all the way back when they barged into the Italian peninsula and confronted a far more sophisticated culture than their own, the prevailing Greco-Roman culture. Rather than adapt, they sought to adapt this culture to their own, resulting in montrosities such as Arianism, the Filioque and worst of all, the Pope. Sorry, the worst insult of all was when the Pope recognised that German halfwit, Charlemagne as Roman Emperor, when there was a Roman Emperor sitting in Constantinople with an inheritance going all the way back to Troy. Thereafter, you know well what happened i.e. 1204.

Given all the latent racism, we should not get too defensive. In fairness, Greece has had economic problems; and particularly, fiscal problems going back to 1832 whereas Iceland has hardly had these problems.

Pangalos is a crashing bore and a joke. Enough said about that dinosaur.

As you say, the current PASOK government has, and will, do nothing to serve Hellenic interests. Their policies are not Hellenocentric nor will they ever be. A consumption based economy is parasitic and suits the large parties, ND and PASOK perfectly. They fill up the Greeks with useless goods and satisfy their masters in Berlin, Brussels and Washington by providing them with a ready made market of drones eagerly gulping down any trinket thrown at them.

Lastly, PASOK foreign policy is worse than ND's. The visit to Russia was too late, pointless and did not move relations forward whilst Turkey has moved ahead. Whilst, Geoffrey (George Papandreou) has eagerly visited the UK and Washington. Actually, he is visiting them again so as to get blackmailed over FYROM, Cyprus, the Aegean etc.

Hermes said...

Regarding, Geoffrey's upcoming stupid and unecessary visit to Obama, Ardin wrote:

Και βέβαια οι Αγγλοαμερικανοί περιμένουν με ανοικτές αγκάλες –βλέπε την «προσφορά»-τελεσίγραφο Ομπάμα– τον «Αμερικανοδανό» πρωθυπουργό, για να παραδώσουν την Ελλάδα ακόμα πιο εύκολα στα χέρια της νέο-οθωμανικής Τουρκίας.

The vultures are circling the dead body of Hellas.

lastgreek said...

John, the Greeks are largely to blame for their problems. -

Replacing the Drachma with the Euro was . . . economic suicide. So, yes, the Greeks have royally screwed up

The Greeks decided the play the game and now they are paying the price.-

I don't know what they were thinking. It's impossibe for Greece to compete in the (German) EU. And now with a strong euro, they can forget about exporting outside the EU.

Let's call a spade a spade: Greece and the other small countries in the EU were set up as "import junkies."

Theodoros Pangalos is not correct.-

Actually, Hermes, the Israelis just recently (a few years ago) extracted billions from the
Swiss banks . . . and they're not finished yet.

And if Germany decided to hand over another 40 billion euro in reparations where would that money end up?-

Well, it would sastify Greece's military spending for the next 2 or 3 years---money that basically goes to defend the EU's southeastern boundaries! I don't see any EU members, especially of the Germanic kind, helping Greece in this incredible endeavour. By the way, I read the Germans are big on military exports but small---very, very small---on military expenditures.

No, most of it [German reparations to Greece] would end up in useless villas, BMWs and Bulgarian whores for Pangalos.-

That may well be true, but don't forget that the Germans have a monopoly on whores.

However, you are correct in stating that Greeks may just realise that the world is not some Disneyland theme park. Beneath the polite veneer of EU and US-inspired babble there is only barbarity. A bit more Thucydides and less Che Guevara.-

In this age of globalization, it's every corporation for itself. The nation-state is a thing of the past.

lastgreek said...

(unfortunately, the Greek government did not encourage real productive industries, rather a consumption boom, so Greece could somehow grow itself out of this hole).-

I agree.

For small countries like Greece, the only way to survive economically is to invest in high-tech industries. Take the Israelis. Notwithstanding the billions in U.S. welfare they receive annually, there is a lot---mucho a lot---of trickling down from their very own military-industrial complex.

lastgreek said...

They have to learn that a brand new BMW or other consumer goods are not productive assets but rather should focus on building human capital to sustain the country into the future.-

If a Greek wants a German car, or any other foreign car, for that matter, the Greek government should tax the shit out of it. The Greeks want to drive cars? They should do what the northern barbarians do---build their fuckin' own!!! That should deflate the German ego, me thinks. ;)

You know, the technology for battery-powered cars is already here. Why aren't the Greeks jumping on it? The internal combustion engine will soon be as dead as the dinosaurs.

lastgreek said...

Already, I'm hopeful that the spat with the Germans and the EU will make Greeks rethink their willingness to give up national identity and sovereignty for the sake of this illusory European project.-

EU money for private institutions (read: failed banks), nothing for EU citizens.

I hear you, J: EU solidarity sucks!

lastgreek said...

John, Frankish/German prejudice against the Greeks goes all the way back when they barged into the Italian peninsula and confronted a far more sophisticated culture than their own, the prevailing Greco-Roman culture.-

Just one word, H: jealousy.

A consumption based economy is parasitic and suits the large parties, ND and PASOK perfectly. They fill up the Greeks with useless goods and satisfy their masters in Berlin, Brussels and Washington by providing them with a ready made market of drones eagerly gulping down any trinket thrown at them.-

For a second there, H, I thought you were talking about the American economy. :)

Trivia: Consumption accounts for 3/4 of U.S GDP.

lastgreek said...

Και βέβαια οι Αγγλοαμερικανοί περιμένουν με ανοικτές αγκάλες –βλέπε την «προσφορά»-τελεσίγραφο Ομπάμα– τον «Αμερικανοδανό» πρωθυπουργό, για να παραδώσουν την Ελλάδα ακόμα πιο εύκολα στα χέρια της νέο-οθωμανικής Τουρκίας.-

Those Greeks who participated in the creation of the Greek-Turkish stock index (GT-30) should be hanged for treason. Last I checked, northern Cyprus is STILL under Turkish occupation.

Btw, I haven't forgotten about those Greek government officials who bailed out the failed Greek banks two years ago (read: welfare for the filthy rich).

Hermes said...

Ironically, the Greeks should study German (and Italian) historical economics and economists such as Federick List and more recently Erik Reinert rather than Anglo-American classical and neoclassical economics such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Paul Samuelson. All developing nations followed German economic ideas focusing on production rather than exchange. And the mode of production determines social forms i.e. production based economy results in a more cohesive society. But we gulp down either bad socialist ideas or neoliberal free market dribble if we are some highly developed cosmopolitan entrepot and not a distinct ethnos with 5,000 years of history.

lastgreek said...

An idiotic economic concept still taught in Anglo-American schools is David Ricardo's "comparative advantage" bullshit.

Hermes, regarding your aunt and millions of other Greeks like her, why should they suffer for the economic sins of dishonest and crooked Greeks? The austerity measures that the German bitch Merkel wants to impose on Greece---i.e., all Greeks---is nothing short of collective punishment. I say screw that.

When a corrupt banker or politician is hanged, should we give a hoot?

A "French" revolution is needed in Greece.

lastgreek said...

So . . . What's this I hear about the Pakistani government bitching about their economy being in the red because of their increased military expenditures at the behest of the Anglo-American warmongers?

The Pakistanis should do what the German schnitzels do: sell, sell, sell military hardware, preferably with nuclear capabilities. Selling a few nuclear missiles in the open market should put the Pakistani economy back in the black in no time.

German Economics 101, folks.


P.S. I wasn't kidding about the hanging bit before.

Hermes said...

lastgreek, my aunty may be honest in the Greek sense of the term but all Greeks are implicated. Firstly, they were beneficiaries of cheap loans and money which was not deserving by their own efforts. Secondly, they continue to vote for these abominable politicians because they are their clients and receive benefits too.

It is easy (laikismo) to say only a few politicians and the rich are to blame (this is what keeps SYRIZA and KKE going) but the reality is that most Greeks are at fault.

lastgreek said...

lastgreek, my aunty may be honest in the Greek sense of the term but all Greeks are implicated. Firstly, they were beneficiaries of cheap loans and money which was not deserving by their own efforts.-

With all due respect, H, I disagree. The "cheap loans and money," i.e., ridiculously low interest rates, were imposed and maintained by the Germanic barbarians to jumpstart their ailing economy. Barbarian dicks though the Germans are, they knew full well that for small countries in the E.U., these low interest rates were not appropriate.

Secondly, they continue to vote for these abominable politicians because they are their clients and receive benefits too.-

It is truly astonishing, I agree. However, Greeks are no worse than any other people; for example, the Americans.

It is easy (laikismo) to say only a few politicians and the rich are to blame (this is what keeps SYRIZA and KKE going) but the reality is that most Greeks are at fault.-

I don't say it because it is easy; I say it because it is true. The Greek government a few years ago had no business socializing the private---private, H---debts of the Greek banksters. The government should have let the insolvent banks fail. No big deal---others would have taken their place. A disturbing fact: The Greek bailout---tens of billions of euros---was higher per capita than the American bailout.

Look, H, I know that today's Greece leaves a lot to be desired (in comparison to ancient and midieval Greece). But I am not willing to say "cool, she had it coming; throw her to the E.U. wolves."

You obviously know this better than I. When a Byzantine soldier would break rank in battle, even when so doing to chase a fleeing enemy, it was considered unacceptable because he risked the lives of his fellow comrades. The punishment for such behaviour was death. No exceptions. As far as I am concerned, our "abominable politicans" and banksters have broken rank.

Hermes said...

lastGreek, you seem to believe Greeks have no agency. Low interested rates were given to them due to hoodwinking their way into the euro. Also, they were not forced to buy BMWs, the newest mobile phones and other consumerist rubbish rather than paying taxes to pay for better schools. This was a choice that most Greeks made either in their own lives or by voting parties which facilitated this.

The whole mantra about Greek bankers gets tiring. Greek farmers are the most pampered in the world. Ever since the beginning of the PASOK years they have lived off handouts and subsidies. Why did a Socialist party have so much rural support??? Greek civil servants are also pampered with generous benefits and early retirement. Greek unionists are the most strike prone in Europe but their productivity levels are the lowest. Don't get me wrong, the bankers should get punished too, but it is too easy to say they are completely to blame. Don't get seduced by the Tsipras propaganda.

lastgreek said...

lastGreek, you seem to believe Greeks have no agency.-

How so, H? My crooked bankers and corrupt politicians are all Greeks.

Also, they were not forced to buy BMWs . . .-

By the same logic, the Germans "were not forced to" sell "BMWs" (knowing full well the Greeks could not afford them). Tough schnitzels for the Germans.

. . . rather than paying taxes to pay for better schools.-

I agree. The rich---the Sfakianakides of Greece (pity he has such a lovely voice)---do not pay their fair share, instead hoarding their "tax savings" in Swiss banks. How many Greek-owned oil tankers fly non-Greek flags for tax reasons?

The whole mantra about Greek bankers gets tiring.-

Greek homeowners who miss mortgage payments are tossed on the street. However, when Greek bankers fuck up, they receive free money courtesy of the Greek state. Where I come from, that is called welfare---welfare for the filthy rich. It's a worlwide phenomenon, actually, especially on Wall Street.

I am sorry that you find it's tiring. But as I said before, the bailout money given to the Greek bankers was obscene, especially when you compare it to other western countries like the U.S. (trillions of dollars for the Wall Street banksters!).


Greek farmers are the most pampered in the world. Ever since the beginning of the PASOK years they have lived off handouts and subsidies.-

That is not a fair statement, H. In North America, farm subsidies are THE RULE. Heavily subsidized American and Canadian food produce runs amok in Central and South America (why do you think cocaine is the crop of choice there?).

So, H, have you told your Greek aunty you want to impose an IMF-style starvation diet on her and all other Greeks? ;-)

Trivia: Since its founding, the United States has---except maybe for one year if I am not mistaken--- always been in heavy debt. My point? Well, if I may paraphrase economist Joseph Stiglitz, this Euro hysteria about Greek budget deficits is a load of hooey.

Hurray for deficits!