About Greek Left Review

image from AFP

Greece has dominated the front page of the press since the beginning of 2010. A common reaction in the Western media to the successive waves of austerity measures imposed on the country and accepted by the government, portrays Greeks as immoral and lazy who deserve the collective punishment imposed by the EU and the IMF. No distinction is made between the two ruling parties, which have used the state since 1974 to establish their hegemony, and the majority of the low-salaried population who saw their pay and salaries cut by 30% with more to come.

At the same time, the Greek government and establishment media adopted two strategies to persuade people about the necessity and inevitability of the wholesale destruction of the post-war social contract. The first was to present the neo-liberal diagnosis and recipe as the only available ‘truth’, a matter of scientific objectivity. This is the only possible way to cope with the crisis that plagued the country like a huge natural catastrophe detached from its history, causes, agents and context. Understanding the problem, discussing alternatives (exit from the eurozone, default and re-structuring, holding a referendum on the stability plan and re-negotiating it) were peremptorily dismissed as ignorant or naïve. Even in Britain, the cradle of neo-liberal idolatry, a large number of senior economists argue that the worst thing to do in a recession is to cut public spending.

The attempt to cow people before the mystical knowledge of ‘experts’ and disqualify alternatives was followed by a strategy of normalisation of the extreme. It was the poor man’s the politics of fear. Greeks were offered the choice between the Scylla of a ‘natural disaster and the Charybdis of collective punishment. Unless the measures are adopted and executed with ‘military discipline’, Greeks are told, salaries will not be paid, savings will be lost, the world will come to an end. Fear is fused with a complex of guilt and, at the same time, accompanied by a paroxysmal patriotism, which rhetorically attacks the foreign ‘agents’ of our travails while adopting all their commands. As we know from the past, when capitalism and patriotism diverge, the ‘super-patriotic’ elites always choose capitalism.

This unprecedented image propagated in Greece and repeated in the West is an attempt to justify the destruction of the social state and the radical undermining of Greek sovereignty as a prelude of a wider attack on the working people of Europe. Greece is used by the EU and the ‘markets’ to teach European governments a lesson: destroy your welfare state or go bankrupt. Yet the European political and economic elites have chosen the wrong people for ritual sacrifice. Greeks will not accept becoming a permanent IMF protectorate or the absurdly unfair terms it demands.

The general strike and the huge demonstration in Athens on May 5 marked the beginning of the fight-back. Large sections of the population, traditionally voting for the two ruling parties, are increasingly detached from the political system. PASOK, the ruling party, sees the discontent rising among its lines, reaching even its own MPs, while many of its disenfranchised cadres/trade unionists take active part in the struggle. Social disgust at the elites is changing from passive disengagement into active political force.  The term ‘legitimation crisis’ describes the massive loss of trust in the (always fragile) social contract, which can no longer mobilise popular assent to a balance of power so palpably and unfairly stacked against the interests of the majority. This is happening right now.

The Western media have been worrying that the Greek economic ‘disease’ will spread to the rest of the Eurozone and the world starting with the ‘pigs’ (this debate has been laced with unprecedented racism and orientalism). The commentariat has now realized that the euro may be at risk and perhaps even the Union itself. What they had not predicted was that what is at risk additionally is the anodyne post-politics that has dominated Europe in the last twenty years.

The aim of this website is to state loud and clear that there is an alternative to the catastrophic measures of neoliberal capitalism. A pluralistic and rich analysis of the crisis and the appropriate political and social response has been developing in Greece but has not been heard much outside the country. We will try to disseminate to Europe and the world the views of the Greek radical left movement. Working with all shades of left opinion, we will commission, translate and promote news, views and commentary explaining and advancing alternative strategies, theories and campaigns. The state of emergency and the fight-back in Greece is the immediate spur for this initiative.  We aspire however to develop a portal where radical voices from Europe and further afield can read, debate and collaborate in constructing a new Left for the 21st century. Please join us.

You can contact Greek Left Review for comments, suggestions or any other kind of information: greekleftreview at gmail.com

9 responses to “About Greek Left Review

  1. For your Information;

    Reykjavik 18.03.2011
    Mr Herman Van Rompuy
    President of the European Council
    European Council
    Rue de la Loi 175
    B-1048 Brussels

    Dear Mr Van Rompuy
    The Icelandic banks (90%) collapsed in autumn 2008 and with the banks Landbanki’s subsidiaries in London and Amsterdam (the Icesave deposits). According to the principal rule of the European Economic Area Treaty, the concept of market equality is the basis of co-operation within the European Community as stated in the Agreement on the EEA Part I: Objectives and principles, article 2, item e:
    „the setting up of a system ensuring that competition is not distorted and that the rules thereon are equally respected…”. (Highlighted by signatories) It is clearly stated that the principal rule of the EEU co-operation is to prevent distortion of competition.
    In this light, British and Dutch authorities were obliged to ensure that Landsbanki branches in London and Amsterdam had satisfactory securities from The Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Funds within their own borders. If that were not the case, it would have been marketing distortion.
    Britain and Netherlands unilaterally decided to make the Icesave deposits a political issue instead of a legal one. On that basis, they have demanded that Icelandic taxpayers pay the Icesave deposits which under EU regulations should have been covered by British and Dutch Depositors‘ and Investors‘ Guarantee Funds, as is clearly stated in European Economic Area treaty.
    The first reaction of the Icelandic government was that Iceland was being bullied and the Icesave dispute should be resolved in courts. Britain and Netherlands refused but prior to that the British government had taken the unprecedented action to use anti-terrorism legislation against Iceland and Landsbanki. As a consequence, Kaupthing bank operations (Singer & Friedlander) in Britain were closed down and with it fell Iceland‘s biggest bank.
    Due to these harsh actions taken by British and Dutch governments all flow of capital to and from Iceland was stopped. Iceland state finances were taken hostage by a foreign power. As a consequence, Iceland was forced to negotiate the Icesave deposits if the country was to get assistance from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF demanded that Iceland negotiated the Icesave deposits due to pressure from Britain, Holland and European Union countries.
    The current Icesave agreement can cost Iceland up to half of its state budget. If the Emergency law of October 2008 will not stand up in court of laws, the Icesave deposits will amount to double state budget. The people of Iceland have found it hard to accept being forced to pay for actions made by reckless and irresponsible bankers: burdens which according to EEA-regulations actually belong to British and Dutch Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Funds as applied to fair and equal competition within the European Economic Area.
    The Icelandic nation will vote in a referendum on the latest Icesave-agreement on the 9th of April 2011. We refused to accept the last one in a referendum. We therefore feel compelled to get answers to the following questions before the referendum.
    1. What is the moral value of an agreement between three parties (latest Icesave-agreement) where two parties (Britain and Holland) force the third party (Iceland) to the negotiation table when the matter should be on the table of The Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Funds in Britain and Holland?
    2. Why has Iceland not been able to defend itself in courts of law against British and Dutch claims?
    3. In the light that Landsbanki had to apply to British law, why was the bank allowed to open saving accounts before it had made the necessary arrangements with the Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Funds?
    a. Did it not distort competition as Landsbanki was not obliged to make arrangements with the Guarantee Funds in Britain and Holland?
    b. Was the interest of British and Dutch consumers not looked after, as Landsbanki did not have to pay to the Guarantee Funds like its competitors?
    c. Is the European Union going to let Britain and Holland violate the principals of the EEA-treaty on equality of competition?
    4. Is it in accordance with EU policy to let the taxpayers bear the burden when private banks go bankrupt?
    5. Are Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Funds of any country within the European Union strong enough to guarantee deposits in the case of (90%) banking collapse?
    6. What will be the reaction of the European Union if the people of Iceland reject the latest Icesave agreement on the 9th of April 2011?

    Sincerely and with requests for good answers

    Ásta Hafberg, student business management
    Baldvin Björgvinsson, certified electrician, teacher
    Björn Þorri Viktorsson, supreme court attorney
    Elinborg K. Kristjánsdóttir, journalist, student
    Elías Pétursson, CEO
    Guðbjörn Jónsson, retired consultant
    Guðmundur Ásgeirsson, software developer
    Gunnar Skúli Ármannsson, cand med
    Haraldur Baldursson, technologist
    Helga Garðasdóttir, student
    Helga Þórðardóttir, teacher
    Inga Björk Harðardóttir, teacher, artist
    Karólína Einarsdóttir, biologist and teacher
    Kristbjörg Þórisdóttir, cand. psych.
    Kristján Jóhann Matthíasson, retierd fisherman
    Pétur Björgvin Þorsteinsson,deacon, Evang.Lutheran Church
    Rakel Sigurgeirsdóttir, teacher
    Sigurjón Þórðarson, biologist
    Sigurlaug Ragnarsdóttir, bachelor of fine arts
    Steinar Immanúel Sörensson, ideologist
    Þorsteinn Valur Baldvinsson Hjelm, surveillance officer
    Answers and/or questions should be sent to
    Gunnar Skúli Ármannsson Cand. Med.
    Seiðakvísl 7
    110 Reykjavík
    e-mail: gunnarsa@landspitali.is

    A copy of the letter has been sent to several officials within the EU and EFTA as to the ministeries of Britain, Holland and Iceland to whom this case belongs. A copy has also been sent to several European newsmedia.

  2. I’d like to phone to ask someone at GLR about about the submarine deal

    Could tou e-mail me a phone number, and I can give you a call.

    I’m writing a book about the debt crisis, austerity and the IMF, and I want to get all the facts

    Also, what do you think of my article, which I posted on my facebook page?

  3. You guys are doing a great service for us diaspora Greeks whose access to the mother tongue is less than ideal. Thank you, thank you, and again, thank you!

  4. Either Greece (learning from Iceland) leaves the EU, refuses the debt, and prints some drachmas or Greeks find a way not to pay taxes, VATs, etc. and work out ways to survive without the Euro.

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