The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

When Will Greek Looting and Austerity End?

Back in 2010 a friend predicted it would end when Greeks stormed parliament and beat or hung members of parliament.

It seems that, while that may or may not be literally the case, in general terms it is one of three possible end states. Since there are always enough MPs willing to sign any deal, no matter how bad, because they personally do not suffer the consequences of said deals, bringing the consequences home will be necessary.

The second possibility is the Schauble plan. It is odd that Schauble, though extraordinarily punitive, is willing to offer a pretty good deal for Grexit. He’s worked hard for it, and maybe he’ll be able to force it through yet. So far he has been stymied primarily by the fact that the Greeks will accept any deal, no matter how bad. You can imagine Schauble thinking:

“I want the Greeks out, so I’ll offer bad deals, surely they’ll leave.”

“Hmmm, that didn’t work, I’ll offer a worse deal!”

“No!?  A terrible deal, then?”

“Ah, ha, finally, a NO vote in the referendum.”  (Rubs hands together with glee.)

“Now, an apocalyptically catastrophic deal on one hand, countered with a reasonably generous plan for support if they leave!”

“No? No!?”

So, Schauble, having realized that Greece will not leave no matter how terrible the deal inflicted on them, must now convince not Greeks, but other key European decision makers.

The third possibility is that a truly radical government takes over in Greece: Likely Fascists or Communists. Someone who actually says what they mean about austerity and will do whatever it takes to end it.

Remember, Hitler did turn the German economy around. Mussolini turned around the Italian one.

One can hope it will be a slightly nicer set of people, but we are definitely in a period where the “decent” people mostly don’t have the necessary courage to stand up for anything that matters; certainly not the courage to actually face down neo-liberalism.

This isn’t a joke post, though I wish it was. I want everyone to remember the rule of prosperity and rights.

You have exactly and only the rights and prosperity which are useful to your lords and masters or those you are able to secure from them with force or the credible threat of force.

Any rights or prosperity you have beyond that will always be taken away from you.


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Syriza Wins in Greece: What It Must Do


The Iranian Nuclear Deal


  1. the American news outlets are not covering any of it, it is like 2004 and Iraq and Spain are happening and they think no one will cover it. they may be right.

    but it is happening

  2. Kurt

    With recent events in Europe and the U.S., I’ve been ruminating on a line that I think was written by novelist Robert Grudin. “The meek shall inherit the entire earth, except for a very thin layer at the surface.”

  3. This is like 2004, the elites think that they have the control over all of the media outlets. So people bombing trucks in Iraq, or by the thousands walking against the stoplights in Spain, will not matter. But the problem is they want to get newsmaking of their own sort, and this creates a problem. While it may take more people, eventually enough people will be had to buck the tide.

    And this is one of those moments. They can hide it from enough people, but enough people will know that everything is not what it appears to be. Yes, most people will be chatting about whatever it is they want to chatter about, but the trend will grow. And at the “tipping point”, it will explode.

  4. S Brennan

    To Stirling’s link:

    It’s a little early in the IVth Reich to have a “Warsaw Ghetto uprising”…but the Greeks were pretty tough last time Germany pillaged Greece…after losing a division of paratroopers to Greek peasants, Hitler was impressed enough to remark on the toughness of the Greek people…and to make a note, never to use paratroopers again…it appears, it spite of his ample faults, Hitler was a faster learner than his stepchild Schauble.


  5. It is a ghetto uprisings… now the elites need to just wait it out.

  6. Now the French are getting on it. It seems clear that a number of people know that this was bad, but were keeping their mouths shut. Still nothing from the American press on this. Absolutely nothing.

  7. tatere

    I suspect the answer to your title question is “Never.” A crappy life just becomes the new normal. Being able to move elsewhere in EU is probably a significant pressure release – not for most people, but for enough of the potential troublemakers. Some kind of low grade, go-nowhere insurgency could even be useful to administrators. People grease their ways out of regulations, overseers don’t really care if the programs are “working” or not, it all just blobs out into endless conferences and reports.

  8. There is something happening…. still no America press, but Canada means it has jumped the Pacific. it is interesting to watch how things spread.

  9. The NY Times has lost all credentials as a liberal newspaper. Still nothing on their front page some two hours after it happened.

  10. Also nothing in pravda….

  11. Peter

    Meanwhile, support for Ian from the dark side. Are you sure you folks know who you are talking about when you talk about elites?

  12. remember, the elites will spin it the way they wanted. that does not mean it will sit that way, however. but it is interesting that the New York Times has nothing, while several newspapers, both left and right, have done so in England. remember, the president of the United States is not liberal. just not as conservative as the other side, which is different from being liberal.

  13. Two CNBC were ranting about it, that means that people in the US media know, but are hoping it goes away. and it very well might.

  14. anonymouscoward

    There this item in Bloomberg Business news with a dateline of 2:40pm Eastern.
    Greek Lawmakers Weigh Bailout as Tear Gas Fired in Athens

    As N. Chomsky pointed has out over the years, business news services like WSJ often have excellent news coverage – including of ideas, people and developments that are blacked out in the editorial pages of the same paper and the NYTimes. Business leaders need to know about anything that may affect their bottomlines, even if it’s news that will be kept hushed up or marginalized in the rest of the news media pitched at the common people.

    I like the photos of policemen dancing in the flames at night. It reminds me of Greek black figure vase painting.

  15. anonymouscoward

    Well they passed a raft of required measures for a third bailout, none of which they will be able to implement to the satisfaction of the implacable debt scolds of the North. So there will be Grexit a few months onwards, but it will be the anticlimactic, petering out kind of Grexit where Greek people slowly drop dead or emigrate, and then the banks in Greece just fold up like theater scenery. Not the fiery Fuck You and Your Gods! kind of storming out Grexit that I would have preferred.

  16. The second possibility is the Schauble plan. It is odd that Schauble, though extraordinarily punitive, is willing to offer a pretty good deal for Grexit.

    I don’t know why you think that Schäuble would be offering a “pretty good deal for Grexit”. I mean it may be, but we don’t know, unless Schäuble has published some kind of detailed plan rather than the thing he presented at the summit. I gather that this had been offered to Varoufakis early on. It turns out that Varoufakis was thinking about the possibility of Grexit, but not Tsipras — but even YV was not willing to do it on Schäuble’s terms. Even after “mental waterboarding”, Tsipras was not willing to endorse the Schäuble plan — in fact, he refers to it as the worst machination of European conservatives from which he is saving Greece.

    The enthusiasm to just assume that this is a good idea is baffling to me, but anonymouscoward maybe puts his/her/its/coward’s finger on at least one version or possibility for why some people are so enthusiastic about Grexit:

    So there will be Grexit a few months onwards, but it will be the anticlimactic, petering out kind of Grexit where Greek people slowly drop dead or emigrate, and then the banks in Greece just fold up like theater scenery. Not the fiery Fuck You and Your Gods! kind of storming out Grexit that I would have preferred.

    The Schäuble-Grexit, even under its kindest possible version, wouldn’t be a fiery storming out. But the Greek people don’t exist to provide historical-catalysis drama.

    I did not expect this to end in any other way than that eventually Greece would come under another memorandum. What I am surprised is how long it took, and the positive and not to be underestimated point is that there are no illusions any more about who wants what.

  17. anonymouscoward

    It matters to me how Grexit happens, given that it is going to happen. Nobody but nobody thinks Greece can meet it requirements under the new bailout, and failure to meet those requirements means the IV drip of funds gets disconnected at some point, maybe as soon as a few months from now. When that happens – Grexit. Now I can see how that gives the Masters of the EUniverse a public relations benefit. They get to play the patient but exasperated good burgher, taken advantage repeatedly of by their lying, sponging, ne’er do well neighbor who borrowed a ladder that was never returned, who scratched the paint on the car he borrowed and never fixed it, and who spent loans he begged for his “sick kid in the hospital” on roulette. You’ve burned me before Greece, but I’m such a magnanimous guy, I’m willing to give you this one last chance if you agree to do it my way. Only it’s no chance at all. Even the IMF -one head of the Hell-Hound- has said this plan has no chance to work with Greece’s debt levels where they are and with the economy plastered by the ECB engineered bank run.

    I can see what the Euronasties think they get from this, but what the hell does Greece get from it besides set up to fail? Any delay is a delay, you might argue, and Apollo might yet descend by wires from the heavens with garbage bags stuffed with cash to save the day for our doomed tragic hero. I doubt it though. Greece is going to be under close supervision from the creditors. Any preparation by the government for leaving the Euro -quietly printing up drachmae in the middle of the night for example- will be discovered and seized upon as a violation of the agreement and just more proof of how wicked and deceitful the Greeks are.

    Best reason for Grexit: Germany ejects you. Blame for the damage to the Euro brand lands where it fucking belongs, on Germany.
    Second best reason, too many Greek parties reject the terms of this fictitious deal, deterred from their habitual dealing with the enemy by the results of the referendum recently held on a less-terrible deal. Sadly this didn’t happen, but let’s not hold it against democracy as such.
    Worst reason for Grexit: you were give ONE LAST CHANCE and even though you were on notice from your long suffering creditors and fellow Euro states, you just couldn’t resist fucking it up. You failed their tests, and so they had to stop sending money down your Mediterranean rathole. They’re cutting you off for your own good, you disgusting junkie. That’s the way the mainstream headlines will read when Greece anticlimatically dribbles out of the Euro.

    Call me a drama queen, but I think it would be far far better to slam the front door in exiting, than to get unceremoniously dumped out the service entrance by a bouncer with his mitt clenching my lapel. Given that Grexit is inevitable, what’s left to Greece is only their dignity if they can remember to defend it. This is not a trivial concern. The Euro as a tool of Neoliberal warfare is an ongoing threat stalking populations across the continent. It must be fought. Fighting requires reserves of values and symbols that economics knows nothing of: solidarity, pride, honor, and duty. People everywhere are watching how this plays out. Right now, it’s looking like a sordid chaotic scramble of Greeks blaming each other, when they should show solidarity against a foreign oppressor. A country’s premier tells his party to vote for a filthy demand of surrender he brought back from the enemy’s capital – and they mostly comply. Not a great spectacle for others concerned with the outcome to be witnessing, not unless you’re Dr. Strangeschaeuble, in which case you’re probably laughing yourself to sleep tonight.

    Anything that allows the Eurozone to assume and maintain their pretence of moral superiority to the people they are shaking down and grinding into the dirt is bad and to be resisted, evaded, and countered with an alternate narrative and symbolism.

  18. In principle I agree that a forced Grexit is better than a voluntary one or an accidental one that can be blamed on the Greeks themselves, but I’m not sure if a Schäuble-Grexit would be perceived that way. To me the forced exit drama is one where the creditors drop the ball, basically, and force a disorderly default on the Greeks. That I don’t wish on the Greeks, but if a Grexit were to occur, the blame would be more obvious. A Schäuble-Grexit would look like magnanimity at first, and then I fear it would eventually be designed to ensure that the Greeks never really succeeded outside the Eurozone — oh no, they were really not ready to stand on their own, it’s actually part of their lazy culture, etc, etc. Evidently, it’s what Tsipras feared too.

    In debtor Euro countries, there is a core pro-Troika lobby that consists of the frustrated creative-class types who blame comfortably entrenched public employees for creating an inefficient society. These people are the true popular drivers of the inability to break away. To me it is their argument that most importantly must be overcome. So I agree: that nature of the Grexit matters…

  19. Peter VE

    The 3 PM (& PM UT) BBC World News included a brief interview with a Greek minster while something (molotov cocktails?) was exploding in the background. Later in the segment, the BBC correspondent came on to reassure us that he had been told everything is under control….

  20. guest

    One huge danger of Grexit (which seems like it eventually has to happen one way or the other), is that all those oligarchs who stashed Euros in Switzerland and elsewhere will get to bring those Euros back to Greece to buy up every asset in the economy at pennies on the dollar, and they will have the army backing them up if anyone doesn’t like it (and military spending hasn’t faced the austerity pen that badly, from what I hear). So then Athens turns into Kiev, or something else godawful that Victoria Nuland can dream up.
    So unless Grexit can be engineered to avoid the depredations of the neoliberals and the fascists, it’s hard to see how this can turn around to the benefit of ordinary people.
    I think the only solution for the EZ now (not really for Greece) is for everyone to go back to their 19 national currencies, with all of their Euro denominated debt converted to denominations in national versions of the Euro of the debtor, not the creditors (you can still call them all Euros, because the Euro still belongs to Greece and every other nation of the EZ). But that will never happen. The losers will just get keelhauled one by one like Greece is now.
    Calling Marine le Pen, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

  21. VietnamVet

    Corporate media is hard at work avoiding the truth. But, it is clear that the USA is totally ineffective. A geopolitical ally, Greece, is collapsing. An orderly exit and write off of their debt would be in its best interest of the West; especially with the restart of the Cold War with Russia. Plus a Greek exit is much cheaper than a Euro breakup. But, Greece is about to join Libya as failed state. The technocrats who know the flimsiness of the financial system and the politicians of all the other EU states whose budgets would be immediately hit by write off the Greek debt will do anything to avoid an official declaration of default on the Greek sovereign debt and prevent an efficacious exit of Greece from the Euro. Any lenders left want every last penny of debt with interest, now. Period. No Write Offs.

    They all are assuring the eventual fall of the European Union but that is tomorrow.

  22. Austrian Chancellor Faymann criticises Schäuble for a proposal that was “morally not right” and would likely have cost 50 billion in humanitarian aid if it were to work at all. *Comparatively* sympathetic attitude towards Greece.

  23. (That I got via Alex Andreou’s twitter feed.)

  24. someofparts

    “In debtor Euro countries, there is a core pro-Troika lobby that consists of the frustrated creative-class types who blame comfortably entrenched public employees for creating an inefficient society. These people are the true popular drivers of the inability to break away. To me it is their argument that most importantly must be overcome.”

    Not only in Greece.

  25. Definitely not only in Greece.

    Their argument against Grexit (or Spexit or Pexit or …) is that even if it were possible to create a smooth transition outside the Euro, it would be a catastrophe, because the people would be able to continue in their backwards ways instead of becoming properly entrepreneurial, unleashing their inner startup founder, etc. ie, the Euro straightjacket is exactly the feature they want, and finally even Syriza, the representative of these entrenched labour interests, is forced to make the competitiveness reforms that will create the Greek version of Germany, etc.

  26. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Mandos and SoP mention a contempt for marginally comfortable public servants among the “creative class”.

    In the USA, I find the same phenomenon among the lower middle class.

    For my morbid amusement, I often lurk at a former-Hillaryite-turned-wingnut blog called The Crawdad Hole:

    It consists, if I understand correctly, of mostly active or retired members of the lower middle class. The regulars sing the praises of fascist Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. They love him for sticking it to those allegedly horrible, lazy, incompetent public employee unions. Thomas Frank described the Crawdad Hole sort of characters perfectly in What’s The Matter With Kansas?.

  27. Tony

    I’ve noticed a strange difference between right and left. Right here meaning neoliberals. If you serve neoliberal agenda you get paid and protected, you are treated with respect and your future is secure.

    If you oppose it, you are supposed to act out of the goodness of your heart and expect nothing in return. Even then you are consistently attacked with identity politics or the radicals.

    It’s no wonder politicians side with capital.

  28. Frances Coppola provides arguments for just what I suspected: the Schäuble-Grexit would not be a velvet divorce to Greece’s favour, but a sin box with just enough aid to prevent Greek refugees from washing up on German shores, so to speak.

    And the invaluable Alex Andreou:

  29. the game theory which is what is backing the excellently worded topic:

  30. S Brennan

    Sometimes it’s pointless to surrender…you’re only going to be kept alive long enough to be taken to Imperial Rome…er..Germany…paraded through the streets in a humiliating spectacle culminating with execution in a Deutsche Colosseum.

    “While Greek lawmakers have now passed reform measures demanded by creditors in return for negotiating a third bailout package, that may not yet be enough for the ECB to change its stance…The ECB’s Executive Board recommended that the current freeze stay in place for now, it has been in place since June 28.”


  31. S Brennan

    Let me add, I’m proud Yves posted this article, because it shows that she and Lambert didn’t have a clue as to what Germany really was saying/doing back in January…she could have gone on pretending that Greece should have taken the first deal…so good on her for admitting she was conned/wrong.

  32. Looking back, it’s clear that SYRIZA and Tsipras went into this fight with the idea of changing Europe, and they were quite clear about it.

    Few outside of Greece were focused on that objective, however, if they noticed it at all. Instead, the obsessive focus has been on what kind of “deal” the Greeks would get — a “good” one if they submitted promptly and quietly to their overlords, a “bad” one if they resisted in any way; or barring a deal with their overlords, the Greeks were commanded by their critics to quit the Euro-Projekt forthwith and go it alone, come what may.

    Surely what the Greeks have been doing — fighting the Troika every step of the way, yet with one capitulation after another until their most recent capitulation — looks like betrayal if not sheer madness. Their current deal after all is so very much worse than the deal they would have gotten had they submitted up front (on Day One as their critics would have it)… and the Euro-Projekt hasn’t budged, has it?

    Never mind the growing cracks in the Euro-facade, the more and more strident IMF demands for debt restructuring and/or writing off, the necessity of development funding, the echoes of what Greece has been saying about mischief and error in the Troika’s treatment of Greece and the Periphery and its recognition throughout the Eurozone (outside Germany and its allies), and the increasingly withering attacks on Schauble and Merkel as the operators of cruelty and evil within the Eurozone.

    Never mind that opening this dialectic was a fundamental and early objective of SYRIZA that Tsipras’s seemingly inexplicable actions have accomplished. Whether it will lead to substantive change in Europe remains to be seen, but precipitating change — necessary change — in the Euro-Projekt has always been a key element in the SYRIZA program.

    No matter how or when this drama concludes, I think it’s fair to say that Europe will never be the same. So from that perspective, SYRIZA and Tsipras have succeeded.

    Whether it’s enough to be transformative beyond Greece remains to be seen.

  33. you are thinking of this the Wrong Way, the Germans want the same thing the plebes do : Greece out of the euro , it is only the rich Greeks who want to hang. Now the Eurocrats have their own problem : they want to get rid of the Greeks , without telling their own people they could get a better deal .

  34. S Brennan


    You are writing out some of the parties involved.

    The USA has made clear to the Greeks, whatever happens, you will not be allowed to fall into Chinese/Russian orbit, you’ll be ukrained, so make the best of whatever the Nazis offer. The Nazis in Berlin know this.

    The Europeans have the money for this deal, it’s in their own vaults…in the form of Greek upper-class deposits…they could grab it anytime they wanted it.

    Reforms not suggested, stop buying weapons from us, tax your upper class and going after the upper-class Greek deposits in European vaults. The stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming.

    The Germans have hated the Greeks since they had such a difficult time conquering Greece in WWII. Only Churchill’s fecklessness prevented Germany from suffering a defeat/quagmire…but Churchill felt restoring Empire after the war was job #1, not winning the war in the shortest time frame. Churchill was a butcher.

    And then there is the Greek behavior after they were finally outflanked and had to capitulate because the English would not resupply them. I have met more than a few Nazi officers touring Greece in their old age…they will tell you to your face, they can’t understand Greek resistance, here’s a composite of what I heard “nobody else showed us that kind of disrespect…we’d kill the men of a village and the very next day Greeks would still be shooting at us from the hills…and they were good shots, they killed a lot of my men…they’re scum, we should have killed them all.”

    The Germans are avenging themselves, they are having fun reliving their Nazi ways…with a new weapon. If the Germans just wanted the Greeks out, they would not have “played with them” since January. No, you are wrong, the Nazis want to humiliate the Greeks, to them Greeks are untermensch and don’t deserve to be treated like human beings.


  35. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    If not for the gulags, the secret police, and the compulsory atheism on the other side, I might begin to think the wrong side won the Cold War. 🙁

  36. +1 to Che Pasa.

    Plus: the one thing that is not mentioned often here — the administrative capacity of the left as a whole. It’s not at all clear to me that the sort of people who have the administrative expertise to manage something like a Grexit are really sitting on the front bench of the left, shall we say — in any country other than maybe France, and even then. This is an Achilles’ heel, IMO.

  37. The people who have the administrative capacity are not allowed to work for the left.

  38. Yes, just so. I would go deeper and say that not only are they not allowed to work for the left, their training is incompatible with left-wing solutions. Even ones that hold themselves to be very left-wing inevitably approach problems with a neoliberal frame of mind. (I told you that neoliberalism is the Hotel California of ideologies).

    So now consider that, in light of the fact that without administrative capacity, there is little hope of a momentous exit (in whichever sense of exit you want, particularly walking away from the bargaining table in general). And then wonder how bargaining is supposed to take place, in the ordinary sense.

  39. jump

    There will be an ignominious grexit once the euro-vultures have grabbed the assets they want, thereby ensuring no recovery.

  40. Datbloke

    What the Greeks get out of a delayed exit is simple: a little time to plan for it.

  41. The third possibility is that a truly radical government takes over in Greece: likely Fascists or Communists. Someone who actually says what they mean about austerity and will do whatever it takes to end it.

    Remember, Hitler did turn the German economy around. So did Mussolini.

    Ian, I’m a bit confused by these statements. The implication is the ‘true radicalism’ of the ‘whatever-it-takes’ alternative will be the deciding factor in ‘turning Greece’s economy around.’ I think it’s mistaken to overlook the importance of American capital in Hitler’s rise* and the ‘economic miracle’ with which he is (somewhat misleadingly) associated. It seems to me the non-capitulative option (I don’t see the Fascists as an actual non-capitulative option) available to Greece would be less likely to lead to a dramatic turnaround a la the Axis (or even Pinochet’s Chile) than it would to a situation more like Cuba (which itself was heavily dependent on Soviet/Russian capital).

    * I don’t think the historical records are complete on this issue, but I would be surprised if it was only American capital that played this important role.

  42. Conservative neo-liberalism, there are other forms.

  43. Translated into Serbian:

    Када ће доћи крај наметнутој суровој штедњи и пљачкању Грчке?

  44. There was a fascinating interview with EU Council President Donald Tusk in the FT that is alas behind a paywall and I used my last FT token so I can’t bring it back and quote it. But it more or less confirmed everything I said about the Eurocrats in my front page post — not to beat my chest *too* hard over it, but I could practically have written his lines. In it, Tusk identifies Tsipras’ sin not as asking for more money or attempting to reduce conditionality, which is his proper part, but by attempting to use an ideological/political conflict to overcome the boundaries that normal process of European politics sets for changing the deal. From this, he rejects the claim that Tsipras was brought to his knees, but rather Tsipras emerged with a bailout deal that was only cosmetically different from the best he would have received anyway.

    Instead, Tusk is alarmed what he sees as a growing ‘tactical’ alliance between the ‘radical’ right and left, presumably embodied by Syriza-ANEL as its vanguard. He explicitly says that the danger of Syriza was/is political and ideological contagion, and so he saw his role in the negotiation to firmly ensure that it remained based on money and numbers and not on the politics. The danger of this pan-European tactical alliance of populists (revealed most particularly in the Europarliament debate where Tsipras was feted as a hero by everyone but the center political blocs) that is that they promise a different way of doing business in the Eurozone, but Tusk is convinced that there is no better way than the way that it is done now, particularly (he explicitly mentions) guided by German ordoliberalism.

    Tusk sees Grexit as a mistake, but views Schaeuble’s proposal as leverage that reminded everyone that Grexit is achievable and would presumably not be to Greece’s favour. He politicianly avoids the question of whether Germany’s standing has been damaged by this, but later he mentions that half the Europarliament looked like an anti-German demonstration.

    Seen this way, Che Pasa’s suggestion for what Syriza has accomplished is most apt. I don’t think Tusk would ever have made any of these things explicit were it not for this past few months.

  45. One can hardly say that something that is covered in the NY Times has been excluded from US media. I do think, though, that part of the problem is that the American public does not have an intuitive model of the Eurozone disaster. It’s hard to explain, and most of the public won’t sit still for the explanation.

    It is interesting that the Euro is still popular, even in Greece. Has anyone done the social science that would tell us why?

    “Plus: the one thing that is not mentioned often here — the administrative capacity of the left as a whole. It’s not at all clear to me that the sort of people who have the administrative expertise to manage something like a Grexit are really sitting on the front bench of the left, shall we say — in any country other than maybe France, and even then. This is an Achilles’ heel, IMO.”

    Unh-hunh. A lot of the left is the sort of atomistic anarchist that believes that organizing is actively evil—that is what did in Occupy. One of the reasons, I think, that Syriza did so badly in the negotiations is that they lacked some of the conservative virtues of toughness, organization, and loyalty. They didn’t seem to understand the pressures of a high-stakes negotiation and the ways the side with the upper hand acts to wear down the opposing side. After a few days of the sleep deprivation the Eurocrats forced on the negotiators, the Greek team must have been like a crew of drunks—it is no wonder they brought back a poor agreement.

    It’s been a lesson for me, and a reminder that, say, Bernie Sanders, a moderate leftist in his 70s, is unlikely to have the stamina to oppose the forces arrayed against him. Which, come to think of it, may also explain some of the Obama administration’s failures. As outsiders to the process, we tend to forget that simple physical stamina plays a huge role in negotiation—that is part of how Wendy Davis got so far in Texas, even though she has not (yet) taken the governorship.

  46. markfromireland

    Tusk interview referred to above:
    Greece: Donald Tusk warns of extremist political contagion –

    After spending much of the six-month standoff between Greece and its eurozone creditors on the sidelines, Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who is now European Council president, became the central actor in the Greek drama over the weekend when a summit he chaired became the scene of 17-hour marathon talks that finally led to a deal on Monday morning.

    In a 90 minute interview with the Financial Times and six European newspapers, Tusk gave a behind-the-scenes account of how the deal was brokered – but he also gave voice to fears that the standoff has given new energy to radical political forces in Europe that has made 2015 resemble 1968. Our full write-up of the interview, focusing on his concerns about renewed radicalisation can be read here.

    But as is our practice at the Brussels Blog, we’re providing a transcript of the interview below. It is slightly edited to eliminate occasionally long-winded questions and topics not directly related to the Greek crisis.

    The interview started with a question on Germany and whether Tusk agreed with some commentators that Berlin’s standing in Europe has been hurt by perceptions Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, bullied Greece and its leader, Alexis Tsipras, into a deal on her terms.

    I think the position in Germany today, after this negotiation, is maybe not weaker, but for sure not more powerful. It was one of my main aims in these negotiations, to avoid this risk that someone is a loser and someone is a winner, especially because as you noticed, for sure, the discussion during this economic negotiation was also about things like dignity, humiliation, trust. From history, we know very well that we can’t ignore such values, or such feelings or emotions like dignity, humiliation and trust, especially when we go back to German history. The discussion about dignity and humiliation could recall the most dangerous time in Europe, and this is why I think it’s very important to avoid this dimension in discussions and in negotiation because for sure what we needed was to have no losers and no winners in this context.

    I’m quite sure that today the result, this agreement between eurozone member states, it’s something like a draw. It means no losers and no winners. It also means that there’s a very visible lack of enthusiasm. Nobody’s satisfied. But for sure, this is what I’m 100 per cent sure, that Germany is not the winner in the context of political power. The result is rather evidence that the eurozone and the whole EU is also an idea to limit natural advantages of some nations and some countries. At the end of the day, Germany has to sacrifice much more than other countries when it comes to numbers and money. This was the main subject of the whole process.

    After this discussion about Germany, Tusk, unprompted, turned to Tsipras’ appearance last week in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Tusk was also in the chamber reporting on the results of a Tuesday summit where Tsipras had been given five days to propose serious economic reforms or face bankruptcy. Tusk said he was struck by Tsipras’ second address to the parliament – which came after dozens of MEPs had weighed in on the crisis – where he engaged in some anti-German rhetoric.

    Tsipras answered and his one mention was very interesting, because it was his opinion about a part of German history. He talked about Germany, after the first and second world wars, they experienced European solidarity and debt relief. And it was a little bit anti-German in tone, can I say, and the context was anti-German. And the reaction of parliamentarians, of the MEPs, was very, very enthusiastic. In fact, it looked like an anti-German demonstration when it came to the left side of the chamber and the radical right. It was the first time I saw radicals with such emotion, in this context anti-German emotion. It was almost half of the European Parliament. This is why I think nobody – but in particular Germany– are political winners in this process.

    The interviewers stayed on the topic of Germany, with the next questioner asking about the role of Wolfgang Schäuble, the powerful German finance minister, who tabled a proposal that would have had Greece temporarily leave the eurozone. As a finance minister, Schäuble did not take part in the leaders summit, but Tusk joked: “My feeling is that he was around the table all the time.” Tusk then went on to describe what he believed was a strong difference in opinion between Schäuble and Merkel on the temporary Grexit proposal.

    I’m quite sure that this thinking represented by Schäuble, but not only by Schäuble, this possible controlled and prepared Grexit, intellectually it’s legitimate. It’s nothing extravagant. For sure, this was a possible alternative in this process.

    It’s just my intuition, but I think it’s also what Wolfgang Schäuble believes. I think he sent this message very openly and clearly that for Europe and for Greece it would be better that Greece is out. But I’m absolutely sure that for Chancellor Merkel, it was only a useful tool in negotiation, but for sure not her political aim. I have no doubts that for all of them, the leaders and Chancellor Merkel, the only political target was to avoid this risk of Grexit. For sure, this role of Schäuble was useful as an argument which showed to Tsipras that the dramatic solution is quite realistic and achievable.

    The next questioner asked about the belief expressed by many officials that the deal Tusk brokered on Monday is unlikely to hold and that it only put off the risk of Grexit temporarily.

    This agreement is not a guarantee for years. It was something we needed to avoid, this real risk of chaos and possible Greek bankruptcy – and, as a political result, also Grexit. But this is [not even] the first half in a football match, but the first step in a long-perspective work. For now, it works.

    Yesterday, the voting in the Greek parliament was full of emotions and, for me, also a controversial message from Tsipras that he’s ready to support an agreement that he doesn’t believe in. That’s, in fact, very original. But I think it’s also very honest and authentic, because when I observed his face during the negotiations it was absolutely visible and tangible that he was not satisfied, and for him this is a really tough test. But it’s shows how difficult this process is and will be, for sure. But it shows also that, for now, it works.

    We have no guarantees. This is an ongoing process with some traps, for sure. But what is my intention? It is to avoid today, and tomorrow, to avoid this very risky discussion about trust. We need more [technical] discussions and negotiations. Humiliation and trust and dignity, this is not [technical]. When we are discussing assistance and money for Greece, it’s very important to discuss something [technical] and not emotional and feelings.

    In fact, negotiations should be about numbers, laws, procedures. The discussion about dignity, humiliation and trust, this is not a negotiation. It is an introduction to fight, always in our history. I can understand emotions and feeling, and not only on the Greek side. For sure, you observed clear and very strong emotions on Merkel’s face. Emotions, this is not a typically southern specialisation in politics. Cold, Hanseatic politicians are also, from time to time, very emotional.

    I try to be realistic, not optimistic. But if we stop this discussion about emotions and values like dignity and humiliation – not to ignore them, but I’m absolutely sure it’s a very important part of politics – but at this very moment we need more pragmatic discussion than political or ideological. It would be too risk to judge who is more humiliated, who has more right to dignity.

    Tusk was then asked about whether he had geopolitical concerns as he led the negotiations, particularly whether a Grexit could push Greece into the arms of Russia.

    The most important subject of the negotiations was assistance to Greece. This was the first, second and third priority. But as a mid-term or long-term consequence of a possible Grexit, especially as a chaotic and unpredictable process, for sure we have to discuss the possible political consequences, and not only geopolitical consequences.

    I was quite sure that there was no risk of financial contagion even if Greece is out. It wasn’t a slogan, it wasn’t propaganda when [ECB president Mario] Draghi and other institutions confirmed the eurozone is relatively safe today and the risk of contagion doesn’t exist. But for sure, after a dramatic event like Grexit, we could predict some political, ideological and geopolitical consequences.

    I am really afraid of this ideological or political contagion, not financial contagion, of this Greek crisis. Today’s situation in Greece, including he result of the referendum and the result of the last general election, but also this atmosphere, this mood in some comments – we have something like a new, huge public debate in Europe. Everything is about new ideologies. In fact, it’s nothing new. It’s something like an economic and ideological illusion, that we have a chance to build some alternative to this traditional European economic system. It’s not only a Greek phenomenon.

    This new intellectual mood, my intuition is it’s risky for Europe. Especially this radical leftist illusion that you can build some alternative to this traditional European vision of the economy. I have no doubt frugality is an absolutely fundamental value and a reason why Europe is the most prosperous part of the world…. My fear is this ideological contagion is more risky than this financial one.

    Tusk appeared to have dodged the question about Russia, so he was pressed again on whether he thought the Kremlin represents a problem when it comes to Greece.

    The whole situation around Europe – Russia, of course, but the problem of migration and the unstable situation in the Mediterranean, terrorism – everything shows that the situation is very, very tentative. We can feel the European construction is quite fresh and fragile.

    One of the most important parts of this new thinking about Europe is in fact something like questioning Europe as an idea, the EU as an organisation. From time to time, I feel that some politicians and some intellectuals in Europe are bored by the EU and they are ready to question everything, they’re ready to change everything in Europe, including treaties, but also this traditional way of thinking about Europe and our values. Russia is important, but maybe not the most important element of this threat. The most important is what we feel inside.

    For me, the atmosphere is a little similar to the time after 1968 in Europe. I can feel, maybe not a revolutionary mood, but something like widespread impatience. When impatience becomes not an individual but a social experience of feeling, this is the introduction for revolutions. I think some circumstances are also similar to 1968.

    The most impressive for me was this tactical alliance between radical leftists and radical rightists, and not only in the European Parliament…. The discussion about Greece, it means a discussion against austerity, a discussion against European tradition, anti-German in some part. Everything was provoking enthusiasm on both sides. It was quite symbolic.

    It was always the same game before the biggest tragedies in our European history, this tactical alliance between radicals from all sides. Today, for sure, we can observe the same political phenomenon.

    The main melody today is anti-European. When I say anti-European I mean this traditional thinking about the EU and European and the common currency, and of course anti-market, anti-liberal – in fact, something revolutionary. From time to time, I feel for them it doesn’t matter what kind of ideology it is.

    Another interviewer asked Tusk if part of his concern about the political debate had to do with outside commentators like Paul Krugman, the economist and New York Times columnist who has been highly critical of the EU’s handling of the Greek crisis.

    The debate, and the main actors in this debate, everything they say today is very attractive and spectacular and intellectually brilliant. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the political reality. It’s also very similar to 1968. For sure today we need fresh discussion and we have new challenges, so we need new arguments and new debate. But I’m absolutely sure what we need as our main need today is very pragmatic and realistic discussion about what we can do with our organisation, the EU and our currency.

    If I look for something inspiring when it comes to the economy, I am ready to look towards something wise and responsible in different sources than this kind of debate. For me, maybe the best school of thinking is the so-called “ordoliberals” in Germany, in this critical time after the Second World War. Very pragmatic, no ideology, no illusions. Books and also practical politics from [Ludwig] Erhard, [Walter] Eucken, [Wilhelm] Röpke. This, for me, is the source of thoughts that can be very useful for today. Wilhelm Röpke thought – and I think it’s very relevant here today – we have too much Rousseau and Voltaire and not enough Montesquieu.

    After this highly-charged criticism against the far-left, one of the reporters asked him how he could deal with Tsipras, leader of Europe’s most successful far-left political party, fairly if he felt radical leftist ideologies were undermining the EU. He argued that he felt free to discuss history and ideology with reporters, but it was not something he did as Council president.

    My role here is not to discuss ideology or history…. This is the biggest risk, to be too ideological here in Brussels. I am totally sure that we need to avoid this risk of vision, radical visions of ideologies…. I tried to convince them we have to negotiate numbers, laws and guarantees and not emotions and ideologies.

    The issue of debt relief was then raised. Tusk has been one of the most vocal EU leaders when it comes to the need for eurozone countries to provide some kind of debt relief for Athens, which would mean the eurozone bailout loans would have to be restructured. But Tusk did not renew that call, instead talking more broadly about global indebtedness, citing French economist Thomas Piketty, who has proposed a global conference on debt.

    Today, I am absolutely convinced debt is a global problem not a Greek problem, not a European problem, but a global problem.

    It’s not a Greek phenomenon, the debt problem. I’m not sure we need a discussion about debt relief for Greece. In fact, the whole process in the last five years…we had debt relief for Greece for five years. Maybe not nominal haircuts [on bailout loans], but in the private debt [there were] nominal haircuts. If we need a discussion about debt it’s not a discussion about Greece only. We have to be very cautious, because debt relief for Greece is very sensitive and risky topic in other countries.

    Tusk was then asked more pointedly about criticisms coming out of Athens, as well as other quarters, that Tsipras was forced into tough austerity measures as a punishment for questioning the EU’s established order. This is where Tusk became the most emotional during the interview.

    I can’t accept this argument, that someone was punished, especially Tsipras or Greece. The whole process was about assistance to Greece. I can’t understand. It’s more about some politicians and journalists and intellectuals than Greek politicians. I can hear this argument here in Brussels, in Paris and Berlin, also, about this humiliation, and Tsipras is the loser. It’s absurd.

    Prime Minister Tsipras negotiated €80bn assistance for his country, successfully. When we discuss facts, deeds and numbers, this is the only number on the table: €80bn for Greek assistance, and quite soft conditions, in fact. Not only [soft] financial conditions, but political conditions — in fact, without collateral. Come on. What is the reason to claim it’s something humiliating for Greece, or this is punishment for Tsipras?

    This is why I think the debate is more ideological than about facts and real politics.

    While on the topic of the weekend negotiations, Tusk was asked how close, really, the eurozone came to Grexit over the course of the three days of talks. Several news organisations, including the Financial Times, reported that early Monday morning, Tsipras and Merkel were prepared to walk away from the talks. Tsipras had asked for 24 hours to go back to Athens and consult with allies, while Merkel suggested holding another summit on Wednesday. Tusk confirmed that it was the moment he felt it could have all fallen apart.

    The first sign that Grexit was possible was, of course, the result of the eurogroup on Saturday. Not only because the lack of a result, but because of this new mood and new words – this last sentence in the document about a possible Grexit. But also because of the irritation of almost all of them.

    After the referendum, this irritation was very tangible. It meant the position of Tsipras was weaker, in fact, after the referendum than before – here, maybe not in Athens, but for sure here. This privatisation fund was, for sure, very provocative for Tsipras. This complex situation, one day before the euro summit, was the first sign a dramatic [Grexit] solution is very possible.

    In the [summit] negotiations, it was just one time when I felt the risk is really close, really possible or probable. It was about 7 o’clock in the morning, when both of them – Chancellor [Merkel] and Prime Minister Tsipras – they wanted a pause.

    For me, it was absolutely clear this was the end of the negotiation. In fact, they wanted to stop this summit, but they were not ready to say ‘this is the end’, and it was an excuse. But it was very spontaneous. It’s also why it was so dangerous, because it was an authentic reaction, fatigue, also irritation. Both of them were absolutely sure they compromised too much.

    It was a really interesting moment, because the difference at this very moment was so small. At this moment it was about €2.5bn. In the end, the discussion was about how much money – virtual money – from this privatisation fund would go to investment and how much to debt. The position of the chancellor was €10bn for investment, and for Tsipras it was €15bn. And the proposal was €12.5bn for investment. For both of them, it was about €2.5bn. At the same moment, they felt it was enough.

    I told them, ‘If you stop this negotiation, I’m ready to say publicly: Europe is close to catastrophe because of €2.5bn.’

    One of the reporters noted that despite his detailed recounting of the weekends’ events, he had not mentioned Fançois Hollande, the French president, who has publicly claimed his efforts helped prevent Grexit. Tusk was asked about Hollande’s role.

    President Hollande was more neutral and objective, but I think it was his presumption from the very beginning that he’s dedicated to this process for a solution, not tough negotiation. The division of roles was very natural. It was for all of us absolutely clear that, in the end of this process, we have to agree between Greece and Germany. For many reasons, not only because of money. This was a chance for President Hollande not to be in charge or be an arbiter, but a very active person and very helpful when it comes to moderating or calming down the emotions. He was really helpful in this context, because of his temperament.

    Another reporter got back to the early-morning meeting between Merkel and Tsipras where Tusk though they were both about to walk away and Grexit was imminent. Why did they change their minds and stay to hammer out a deal?

    It was close to illumination: ‘Yes, it’s true, we are too close to leave this room.’ When they realised that, in fact, we have an agreement, and we have just one detail – I think this was very difficult to describe, because it’s just my impression, but I’m quite sure it was something like that. And we needed just 10 minutes to draft this last text.

    Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, was brought in by Tusk during one of the small group sessions, and one interviewer asked why he had taken the unusual decision to include the Dutchman in meetings that had previously the exclusive realm of Merkel, Hollande, Tsipras and the Greek finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos.

    At about 11 o’clock, it was clear that Germany was not the toughest country. Maybe not Germany, but for sure Chancellor Merkel was ready to compromise and some countries were afraid this compromise might be unacceptable to them or their parliaments. Everything was informal.

    I received a signal that for a group of five member states: Rutte would be the best representative. I was naïve, of course, because I thought at midnight we would be ready with the compromise. I knew that I should be 100 per cent sure it was not only a compromise between Greece and Germany. I wanted to avoid this trap that some countries might ignore or oppose this possible compromise.

    The role of Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, was then raised. After the summit was completed, it came to light that the IMF was deeply sceptical about the direction of Greece’s economy and whether a new bailout could succeed without massive debt restructuring. To many, it looked like a signal the IMF did not want to participate in a new bailout when its current programme expires, so Tusk was asked whether Lagarde had raised those concerns in the summit.

    My impression was absolutely unambiguous that Lagarde is ready to participate in this programme, and it was undisputable in fact. The discussion was between Tsipras and others, but not about the possible participation of the IMF in the programme, but only about the form: Tsipras wanted to avoid – and I can understand why – the uncomfortable situation that we would have in the agreement the formulation that Greece wants to invite the IMF into the process. It was about words. It was clear to Tsipras he cannot be the initiator of the invitation, because of his obligation in his own party and in the Greek parliament.

    But what it comes to Christine Lagarde and all of us, it was absolutely clear this was a condition for all member states – excluding Greece– that we are ready to agree to the third programme only if the IMF is inside. Christine Lagarde was also unambiguous in this.

    As time began to run out, Tusk was asked if creditors had made a mistake not striking a deal with Antonis Samaras, Tsipras’ predecessor as prime minister, who was unable to complete Greece’s bailout at the end of his term because the IMF and ECB determined his government had not completed all the reforms they had promised. Instead, Samaras was forced to request a two-month extension of the bailout and call snap elections, leading to a Tsipras victory.

    For sure, Samaras was more cooperative when it came to the substance of this cooperation on assistance and reforms. I think the process of negotiations on a possible third programme would have been easier. I think that’s nothing controversial. But I’m not sure the result of the last general election in Greece would have been different than what happened. I don’t like discussion after the fact. You have to be responsible, cautious and wise beforehand. It’s absolutely useless to pretend you’re the wiseguy after something happens.

    Lastly, we again turned to the question if Monday’s deal would last. It only is an agreement that will lead to a reopening of bailout talks – it is not, in itself, a new bailout agreement. Is it possible summiteers could be back in Brussels before the summer is out?

    I can’t exclude that we would have more summits also in the summer, but I hope [not]. The voting in Athens was, in fact, promising. Molotov cocktails are more attractive. It’s obvious Molotov cocktails are not a Greek invention. But support was really massive in parliament, and the demonstrations not so huge – visible and spectacular, but maybe this is a breakthrough in a mental context. I hope so.

  47. Here’s a bit of the Tusk interview in French. It’s remarkable (translating back to English from the English presumably translated to French…): “I am above all disturbed by the risk of political and ideological contagion. Given what’s happening in Greece, the ideological illusion has appeared that it is possible to change Europe’s course, that it is possible to construct an alternative vision of Europe, with respect to austerity.”

    In other words, most explicitly, another world is NOT possible.

  48. actually another world is possible, and it has been pointed out – go to China and Russia. it will not happen this time, but it will be set for boiling. especially with the German uppenfrauen tumbled in their lower parliament.

  49. fgh

    Business leaders need to know about anything that may affect their bottomlines, even if it’s news that will be kept hushed up or marginalized in the rest of the news media pitched at the common people.

    Too many muggles caught on though, so they’ve largely moved to a subscribers-only, walled-garden model for such things now.

  50. S Brennan

    Raven, I agree with this:

    “they lacked some of the conservative virtues of toughness, organization, and loyalty…It’s been a lesson for me, and a reminder that, say, Bernie Sanders…is unlikely to have the stamina to oppose the forces arrayed against him.”

    But…as I have said for many decades, a person lacking a record of physical courage is unlikely to remain faithful…even if he/she means well…and because a lot wimpy types take offense at this, let me add, “physical courage” comes in many flavors, FDR had it and outside of not taking his illness lying down there was no other sign…but oh, what a sign.

    I think it was 84 with a bunch of Dems running against Reagan, I thought John Glenn would do well against Reagan…and so did Atwater and Rollins. Glenn was a genuine war hero, America’s first man to match Gagarin’s orbit, a boilerplate New Deal/FDR/JFK man, but we were told that Mondale was the guy, the guy that would kick Reagan’s ass [ha…ha..ha]. Even Gary Hart & Jesse Jackson got traction, but not Glenn, somebody Reagan would have to defer to…somebody Lee Atwater and Ed Rollins truly feared.

    For whatever reason, Democratic leadership in the 80’s/90’s/00’s…fears people who are risk takers, people who have put their life on the line…people who could do the right thing, when the wrong thing is so much easier.

    Prediction: Bernie Sanders will fold like a cheap suit

  51. Greg T

    S Brennan-

    I agree completely. As much as I appreciate Bernie Sanders, he isn’t a real threat to Ms Hillary. In fact, Bernies campaign is typical Democratic Party ruse politics. Put up a leftist candidate to engage the base, then pull him away at the end. Of course, they have to put up a candidate who’s perceived as in sufficiently strong to actually win. Donald Trump is the analog in the Republican Party. Then the speeches will ensue urging the party faithful to unite behind the candidate backed by money power.

    This is a shopworn game. I will say this, however ; the ability of the Democratic Party to play it is running out of steam. They may get away with it this cycle, but the shelf life is nearing an end.

  52. S Brennan

    REF: Greg T reply to “Bernie Sanders will fold like a cheap suit”

  53. Greg T

    S Brennan

    Great article. Thank you.

  54. fgs

    It’s been a lesson for me, and a reminder that, say, Bernie Sanders, a moderate leftist in his 70s, is unlikely to have the stamina to oppose the forces arrayed against him. Which, come to think of it, may also explain some of the Obama administration’s failures.

    Obama has plenty of stamina when he’s opposing his “base”.

  55. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    What FGS said. The corporate Dinocrats are neither stupid nor weak; they are CORRUPT! 👿

  56. Tom W Harris

    Badmouthing Bernie out of ignorance is no way to go thru life.

  57. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    I thought I was leftist.

    Paul Craig Roberts served as assistant secretary of the Treasury during part of the Reagan Administration.

    Lately, PCR makes me sound like his old boss.

    In the classic Trek episode “A Taste of Armageddon”, Spock said: “I do not approve. I understand.”

    I hope PCR means that he understands the “class holocausts” committed by Marxist revolutionaries (and the Jacobins before them, although he does not mention the Jacobins), not that he approves of the “class holocausts”.

  58. Ghostwheel


    Read the same article. Just five years ago, I would have been shocked by such a thing. But now … Libya, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Greece, all the various color revolutions, plans to overthrow Putin…. The Empire never sleeps, never stops. It’s like a cancer that keeps growing.

    No FDR-style “liberal compromise” is possible. We had one. They trashed it. Even the European-style social democracies must go: Little-Known History of the Euro: Crisis Was Baked In from the Start (Washington’s Blog):

    The European ideal of a peaceful, united Europe has been turned into chains of domination. If I were Grand Moff Tarkin, I’d applaud the evil brilliance of it.

    And I’ve also been watching Fedeorov’s videos on New Insight on YouTube. There are titles like “The Purge Is Coming.” He refers to Stalin as “Uncle Stalin.”

    If a liberal compromise IS impossible—and it sure seems that way—what’s left but a revolution followed by a purge?

    Like Spock, I won’t say I approve, but I finally understand. Uncle Stalin knew a thing or two.

  59. Ghostwheel

    The point is, there are “counter-revolutionary” forces with vast resources who refuse to accept the even very puny liberal compromises we’ve had here in the United States. They continually work, on myriad fronts, to dismantle them, even the front of people’s thoughts.

    Tsipras and Varoufakis believed you could “negotiate” with these forced in the name of reason, the enlightenment, and common European humanity.

    Clearly, they were fools. What’s left when no negotiation is possible?

    Even if Tsipras and Varoufakis had made adequate preparations to leave the euro, and had done so in order to avoid austerity and Greece’s subjugation, could it have lasted? Wouldn’t there have been a “fifth column” inside Greece that continually strove to turn things back to oligarchy, austerity and domination?

    The ghost of Uncle Stalin is still here. I can see him in the corner of my room as a type, smoking his cigar, a big bushy mustache and a wide knowing smile.

    Anybody else here starting to get visitations of that sort?

  60. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Even if violent revolution could do something other than replace the existing criminal gang with a different criminal gang (which is all a “successful” revolution ever does), and even if I survived it all and came out in a better earthly position–which I couldn’t enjoy very long, being 52–it’s not worth risking an appearance before the Almighty with blood on my hands.

    Oh sure, S/He forgives sins, and besides, post-mortem rehabilitation must be humane and civilized, if it reflects Hir nature–but humane and civilized rehab is still rehab, and I wish to avoid it.

    And if Uncle Joe and his peers were right that there is no afterlife? Then I’d be a fool to risk ending my one and only life prematurely, or borking its quality by getting myself locked up in one of my country’s gulags (in all but name), for anyone or anything.

    So, no, Ghostwheel, I won’t be joining you and Uncle Joe. I see no percentage in it for #1.

  61. Ghostwheel


    I’m not exactly ready to join Uncle Stalin just yet. But I do understand him. It was our own elites that schooled me in that.

    And … you evade the paradox of the dilemma by assuming that the quality of your life won’t be borked even if you sit peacefully on the sidelines. The voraciousness of our elites is unquenchable. We may be far down on the list, after the people of South America, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, and all the rest, but our turn is coming.

  62. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    I’m more concerned with not borking the quality of my afterlife, which is rather longer than this fleeting existence, after all.

    As someone observed on a previous thread, reason will never tell you that it makes sense to risk your comfort, liberty, or safety for any cause.

  63. someofparts

    Right now, the earth itself is finding out that we can’t reason with some people.

    As far as Uncle Stalin goes, he WAS the fifth column. Just ask Trotsky.

    But as far as understanding but not liking what has to be done to protect not just democracy, but the great mother earth herself, all the disciples of the Abrahamic death gods probably need to go.

  64. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Careful, SoP. Your bigotry is showing.

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