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Europe in Turmoil

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Alex Andreou
Europe in Turmoil
A view on Europe, for an international audience who is tired of the right-wing orthodox view and of isolationist hysteria


I am in the process of converting this column to include wider European issues, including the UK referendum, the refugee crisis and much more. Please be patient as I update blurb, mission statement, etc. Many thanks. Alex 


"As austerity continues to devastate communities all over the west, it's particularly crucial to have a committed, engaged and informed voice from Greece, the current vanguard of resistance to this ongoing folly. There's no better writer on the subject right now than Alex Andreou, who combines sharp analysis with great passion and essential levity." - Irvine Welsh, author of 'Trainspotting'

"Alex Andreou's take on Greece has been essential to my understanding of what is currently happening there both politically and culturally . He is able to tell us about Greece from the inside with passion and precision in a way that makes me realise just how crucial Greece is to the rest of the world, wherever we are. Insightful, surprising, warm - he is an absolute must read."- Suzanne Moore, Guardian columnist

After years of the wrong people succeeding, Greece longs for the right people, even if they fail. For the first time, the working class voted in its own self-interest, unconvinced by the vague promise of social mobility and trickle-down. For the first time, a popular government stood up to big interests and said, “We don’t see it like that. The EU you want is not the EU we want.”

What is happening there matters to all. First, it forces out into the open and brings into sharp contrast the increasing divergence between the wellbeing of markets and the wellbeing of populations. Second, it marks a clear act of economic blackmail by a global de facto establishment – let’s call it “The Davos Set” – unhappy at a democratic people opting for an alternative to neoliberalism.

How these tensions resolve themselves will determine whether national elections remain meaningful in any way; whether democratic change is possible or violent revolution is in fact the only effective option.

And there, I think, is the wider lesson from the Greek election. Globalised capitalism and democracy are often uncomfortable bedfellows. We must not assume that one needs – or magically brings about – the other. China is proof that they operate independently. Democracy is often messy. Markets like certainty. It is vital to recognise the existence of this tension.

It has become clear that most of the commentariat no longer possesses even the basic language to engage with politics that is not free-market-based. It looks at a government with clear social intentions, but flexible methods, and it cannot make sense of it. Politicians who, after an election, appear to want to achieve precisely what they promised before it, just don’t compute. Even in its first months, Syriza must be discredited, it seems, at any cost. Tsipras and his finance minister Yanis Varoufakis are portrayed as either dangerous radicals, petulant children or grotesque incompetents.

Syriza is part political choice, part resistance movement. It is important to clarify that most Greeks are fully aware it might fail – everyone and everything is set against the party. The economic environment is as challenging as it could be. Syriza’s ideas may prove unworkable. The leviathan of politics may swallow its politicians and regurgitate them wearing the same ties and telling the same lies as those before them. But the January election was about putting down a marker. About saying “no more”. Shock doctrine has its limits. You gotta leave the plebs with a little something to lose.

We must either, as a species, put life ahead of money, or not. Markets, currency, trade, business, the state, the EU, the stock market and the media are either in the service of utility, of making life better for as many as possible, or utility is secondary to a kind of sadistic accountancy. 




#Greece, #Syriza, #Varoufakis, #Tsipras, #IMF, #EU, #Crisis, #Neoliberalism, #Euroref

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Daniel Burén

2 years ago

This is the voice of the petty bourgeois class. It tries to persuade it's readers that the choices of the referendum was not between YES and NO. But. Between YES and YES(with a painkiller up your ass).

Daniel Burén

2 years ago

The choice; was not between YES and YES (with a painkiller up your ass). It was between YES and NO. The people said NO. The author of this wretched excuse of an article (propaganda) lacks the courage and councioussness to call things by their right name. Syriza betrayed the people. KKE (the communists) did NOT. Fact. Put the blame were it's due. The bankers, the capitalists, the EU. And clowns like this 'reporter'(yet another empty mouthpiece for the ruling class). Greece needs to walk on the road of socialism, justice and revolution. As much as we might need to build a guilloitine outside the Parliament in Strasbourg. A NO is a NO! No matter how the victim was dressed or what she drank!

Daniel Burén

2 years ago

The choice; was not between YES and YES (with a painkiller up your ass). It was between YES and NO. The people said NO. The author of this wretched excuse of an article (propaganda) lacks the courage and councioussness to call things by their right name. Syriza betrayed the people. KKE (the communists) did NOT. Fact. Put the blame were it's due. The bankers, the capitalists, the EU. And clowns like this 'reporter'(yet another empty mouthpiece for the ruling class). Greece needs to walk on the road of socialism, justice and revolution. As much as we might need to build a guilloitine outside the Parliament in Strasbourg. A NO is a NO! No matter how the victim was dressed or what she drank!

Marta Moreira

2 years ago

https://martaiam.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/pedimos-desculpa-aos-marxistas-de-sofa/

Marta Moreira

2 years ago

Youur article is all over in portuguese facebook. Someone translated it. :)

Jonathan Da Silva

2 years ago

Things no one said. Pointing out futility of expressing a view on Twitter too is a kind of might is right call to authority sneer. An attempt to make the conformists feel better about not having a view.

Richard Finkelstein

2 years ago

The article misses the point. Tsipras is and was a buffoon who quite literally sold out the Greek people. My guess is that at the end he voted for the salvation of his own wallet. He v is a politico of average stripes who gets into office for his own benefit and at the end takes care of himself.

William Smith

2 years ago

I reside in Greece. It takes rare individuals to stand alone and voice alternatives,alternatives to the accepted norms. We have heard these voices and their words will echo loud and far. They have wisely capitulated against a much stronger adversary.

Dave Hansell

2 years ago

It would seem reasonable to surmise that the consistency in which the EU negotiators rejected deals at the last minute in order to, seemingly, obtain further concessions from the Greeks would have had an influence on the negotiating strategy of the Greek negotiators.

Dave Hansell

2 years ago

It would seem reasonable to surmise that the consistency in which the EU negotiators rejected deals at the last minute in order to, seemingly, obtain further concessions from the Greeks would have had an influence on the negotiating strategy of the Greek negotiators.

Dave Hansell

2 years ago

This being the case it is conceivable that the Greek negotiators could well believe that the current offer they have presented to the Greek Parliament will also be rejected and that the rationale for this is to manage an orderly reorganisation of the project in which the periphery economies of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland are phased out of the Euro as a drag on its progress.

This would leave the Northern core economies which are more economically aligned scope to maintain and grow the project on a more stable basis.

It should be remembered that it was the UK/British establishment which led the movement to broaden the European project to take in lots of countries with less developed and stable economies rather than allowing the project to grow deeper roots with fewer countries involved.

The Germans and the French could well have finally realised how they were suckered, once again, by perfidious Albion in this regard.

Dave Hansell

2 years ago

This being the case it is conceivable that the Greek negotiators could well believe that the current offer they have presented to the Greek Parliament will also be rejected and that the rationale for this is to manage an orderly reorganisation of the project in which the periphery economies of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland are phased out of the Euro as a drag on its progress.

This would leave the Northern core economies which are more economically aligned scope to maintain and grow the project on a more stable basis.

It should be remembered that it was the UK/British establishment which led the movement to broaden the European project to take in lots of countries with less developed and stable economies rather than allowing the project to grow deeper roots with fewer countries involved.

The Germans and the French could well have finally realised how they were suckered, once again, by perfidious Albion in this regard.

WadjaKnow

2 years ago

You lay things out very clearly and fairly. This article from a French site published yesterday (http://t.co/Ik6Iz9LU0h) makes clear just how enormously difficult the position of the Greek negotiators was, so anyone criticising Tsipras and his team has to do so with great circumspection. For me it seems as though Costas Lapavitsas was right all along, that Greece has to leave the euro and strike out on its own, nationalising the banks forthwith. The problem with this in the context of the last two weeks is threefold: problems of liquidity made it unfeasible; Tsipras had just asked for a mandate to stay in the euro; and the process will be a time-consuming one as it will have to be done in an orderly fashion. It's clear now that Syriza weren't and aren't prepared for this at this stage. I do think that in the future one of the Second Division Euro countries will have to make the leap, and when they do it will need to be on the basis of not only a formal process of disengagement and the setting in place of a formal alternative, but also on the basis of a massive campaign of national and international solidarity for a popular austerity programme a la Cuba. It would have to mean taking a path of alternative sustainable development rather than further slavish adherence to the neoliberal model of selling off the country's assetts, sacrificing its environment and enslaving its people. I don't say this as a fan of Castro's Cuba but it does offer a useful point kf comparison for what would need to happen. There's a documentary from the early 90s about Cuba's special period after the fall of the USSR which I think would be very useful viewing at this time. Why couldn't Greece be the world's first truly sustainable economy? Easier to ask than to achieve but if it is to survive with falling into war, fascism or permanent debt peonage it seems to me that this is the only way for it to develop.

WadjaKnow

2 years ago

You lay things out very clearly and fairly. This article from a French site published yesterday (http://t.co/Ik6Iz9LU0h) makes clear just how enormously difficult the position of the Greek negotiators was, so anyone criticising Tsipras and his team has to do so with great circumspection. For me it seems as though Costas Lapavitsas was right all along, that Greece has to leave the euro and strike out on its own, nationalising the banks forthwith. The problem with this in the context of the last two weeks is threefold: problems of liquidity made it unfeasible; Tsipras had just asked for a mandate to stay in the euro; and the process will be a time-consuming one as it will have to be done in an orderly fashion. It's clear now that Syriza weren't and aren't prepared for this at this stage. I do think that in the future one of the Second Division Euro countries will have to make the leap, and when they do it will need to be on the basis of not only a formal process of disengagement and the setting in place of a formal alternative, but also on the basis of a massive campaign of national and international solidarity for a popular austerity programme a la Cuba. It would have to mean taking a path of alternative sustainable development rather than further slavish adherence to the neoliberal model of selling off the country's assetts, sacrificing its environment and enslaving its people. I don't say this as a fan of Castro's Cuba but it does offer a useful point kf comparison for what would need to happen. There's a documentary from the early 90s about Cuba's special period after the fall of the USSR which I think would be very useful viewing at this time. Why couldn't Greece be the world's first truly sustainable economy? Easier to ask than to achieve but if it is to survive with falling into war, fascism or permanent debt peonage it seems to me that this is the only way for it to develop.