Democracy at the Edge of Europe

greece-austerityPoliticians, having very little actual power, deal largely in gestures. Which is why the criticism of Syriza’s “stunt” over the weekend seems a little unfair. After all, what else could the Greek Government do but attempt to secure a democratic mandate to bolster the position they are taking as they undertake Mission Impossible in the Halls of Power today. Despite what is being said by their critics, I don’t imagine that there are very many Greek Voters who dreamed that an Oxi vote would magically transform the attitudes of the European Central Bank. The Bank has its own existence and logic for that existence to defend. The Greek electorate know very well – better than most – that their “local” democracy has its limits, that self-determination is a negotiation principle and not a fact. But it has been remarkable in the 24 hours since the wild-eyed newbies of Syriza won that election back in February (January?) dared to call the democratic bluff not only of their own domestic opposition (with its total control of the media and its tainted history) but of the European Project itself, how even a decisive mandate for renegotiation is being airily dismissed.

Make no mistake, the human values of the fiscal and political crisis of the “one size fits all” Euro project have been quite brilliantly dramatised. On the one hand, the elation of Syntagma Square, and on the other, the big bad villain refusing to send any more bank notes to pay anybody’s pensions. The basic assumptions which underlie the very fabric of modern life, as well as the global financial assumptions that pump the complex circulation of actual value and imaginary cash are under their most serious challenge since neo-liberal capitalism replaced Keynsian orthodoxy back in the eighties.

At least, they are under challenge in Europe in a way that would have been difficult to foresee…unless you lived in South America or Africa. It is an unspoken and unspeakable truth that capitalism’s pretensions to universality are exactly that – pretended. The Euro, from the Greek perspective, is a German racket designed to keep down the costs of exports, just as the IMF is ultimately designed to serve the interests of the rich in the USA. Even the most ardent globalists serve what are ultimate parochial cultural interests.

So here we are at the opposite corner of Europe discovering for ourselves the limitations of democracy, of self determination. The parallels, politically anyway, between Alba and Hellas, extend way further than our both having Parthenons on top of the hills in our capital cities. We even have our own wide eyed newbies in Westminster sitting open-mouthed in astonishment at the degree of contempt with which they are regarded by the honourable members around them, The parallels have been well rehearsed, from having a government opposed by the media to the mutual disintegration of our morally exhausted parties of the “left.” We were repeatedly told we’d end up like “Greece without the sunshine” if we dared to assert our human value. And we have just exercised our democratic muscles in defiance of the doomsayers, just like the greeks did.

But it is the limits of our democracy having to negotiate within the self-interested and almost unconsciously arrogant contexts of the larger world that we will both be exploring over the next months, the Greeks with rather more urgency.

The SNP and Syriza have both scored decisive victories at the ballot box. Both feel empowered within their base, their own territory. Both feel the democratic wind in their sails. Both are being told, quite clearly, that no one gives a tuppeny toss what they voted for. And both can see the rocks of “the way things are” of “reality” being waved at them by self-justifying nihilists elsewhere. It is hard to resist the conclusion that democracy is held to be of very little account by those in power whose mantra always used to be that capitalism and democracy were somehow the same thing. That social unity and the unfettered market were compatible. That power is in safe and responsible hands.

From China to Argentina and from Athens to Edinburgh, tell it to the seagulls.

The European Project, like the Union of Nations turn out to be the merest gestures in the face-with-no-face of the global forces that they have up representing and apologising for. There is nothing substantial that can be done against “the way things are” is the ultimate argument of the Nay-sayers. Some of them are representing their own interests, of course. The owners of new-papers are doing very nicely, but the deeper tragedy is that many otherwise progressively minded people argue against the “gesture politics” of the Syrizas and SNPs and Podemoses of the world out of the deep pessimism that seems to have infected and hobbled “progressive” culture since the Fall of the Berlin Wall. We are all supposed to be characters in a Beckett play., we are all supposed to recognize the end game of human hope. Thus far and no further. Nothing to be done.

Who knows? Today in Parliament as the Commons debate on the nature of EVEL and Alexis Tsipras grins into the stony face of Angela Merkel, it may well be that we have reached the limits of democracy, the limits of debate, of logic in the face of the crass arithmetic of power, of any real hope of social and cultural progress. It may be that “progress” has passed its sell-by-date. But just as it is the business of life to defy the death that always wins in the end, it is surely the business of civil society, of politics, to act as if we had faith. Just because every life ends in death, is that really an argument that we should be on death’s side?

To find hope in the very process of hope…to refuse to accept “the way things are’. How else did we ever make what progress we have already made? Call it gesture politics if you like. What else is any politics supposed to be? What else has it ever been?

Comments (31)

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  1. Elizabeth Thomson says:

    Hope over fear, so necessary in the human psyche. The Yes Campaign, Podemos, Syriza amongst others are providing the clarion call to challenge the faceless proponents of corporate greed and their dictatorial politicians who do their bidding without reference to the needs and aspirations of people on whom they depend for their “democratic” legitimacy.

    Countries, states ignore such depth of feeling at their peril, but, throughout history the lessons are rarely learned.

  2. Broadbield says:

    It’s a dysfunctional political system, FPTP, professional politicians – they are part of the problem, not the solution – the inequality of the 1%, the imbalances in power between creditor (usurer) and debtor, employer and worker, landlord and tenant, unaccountable institutions such as HoL, newspapers and other mainstream media, the revolving door between politics (and Civil Service) and big business. The rich and powerful have always been in charge, from warlords, kings, aristocracy and every concession has had to be dragged kicking and screaming out of them. Now, the neoliberal project is consolidating and retrenching (from what Piketty considers the aberration of less inequality just after the war) and moving wealth and power from the poor to the rich.

    1. HerewardAwake! says:

      Very, very well put, Broadbield. So many of the things our ancestors secured at so much cost are being blown away by the forces of power, wealth and greed.

    2. leavergirl says:

      “The rich and powerful have always been in charge”

      Not always, Broadbield. Only a few thousand years out of the 200,000 yr history of our species. Before that, a more or less egalitarian system called by some anthropologists “vigilant sharing” was in place. How else would we have survived all the challenges the Pleistocene threw our way?

  3. cloggins says:

    Should have thought a bit deeper before calling the discussion partners names, training the negociations, denying reality and delivering a bankrupted country to a referendum. The differences to the Scottish situation are so great that comparisons fall flat. It is laudable to vote for anti austerity provided you can afford it. The Scots can, the Greeks cannot.

  4. John Craig says:

    The similarities between Greece and Scotland today are there for all to see, however coming to where we are today has been a very different experience for both parties. Greece a sovereign nation which has through it’s own reluctance to pull in the purse strings and willingness to continue down the road to the Debtors Jail; Scotland tied to a surprisingly similar nation with delusions of being a big player on the world stage and dragging us along willy-nilly with it’s interventions and expeditions and sod the cost. Scotland’s problem today is that to move forward independently we have to swim in the same old fish tank as everyone else; we have to sell ourselves to a world in which most countries are mired down in the same limbo.
    We were once renowned ( and laughed at) for our thrift; we are still renowned for our innovators and our thinkers. The world around will not change it’s ways and we have to swim in the same old tank. That same old tank however is becoming an increasingly dangerous and unstable place, the last place in which we need fetters on our ability to manoeuvre. Europe has shown itself to be a less than desirable option for small nations, to exist outside it much more disciplined forms of financial governance are required. Can we regain that good old fashioned ethos of thrift that carried us over the centuries, or are our heads turned too far by a system that is slowly bringing us to the brink of financial ruin. There are no magic bullets in the world of finance!

  5. Frank says:

    Comparisons between Greece and Scotland and probably best avoided. And so too are attempts to compare the SNP to Syriza and Podemos. Syriza and Podemos are radical left coalitions whose aim is to transform society; the SNP on the other hand, whilst containing many positive features, are at the same time a party of the monarchy and NATO; many inside the party say the SNP is top down and managerial; they are often ambivalent about privatisation, and are responsible for carrying out draconian cuts in local government across the country. The contradiction of the SNP positioning itself against austerity whilst at the same time as implementing austerity is one which is going to unravel in the next few years. Next years Scottish Parliament elections are going to be interesting, and I can only hope that a rainbow opposition emerges to the SNP’s current dominance in Scottish politics. The aim of this rainbow coalition – I’m thinking of Greens and Socialists, should be to promote independence, but also turn the narrative to which powers the SNP are going to use in order to pursue a social democratic agenda.

    1. MBC says:

      Greece is in Nato too! This is the elephant in the corner that nobody is mentioning. Greece is hugely important geo-politically and strategically for the security of Europe. Especially with the Middle East and now North Africa blowing up. That’s why Greece cannot be allowed to become a failed state. The Pentagon is clearly worried about this and Reuters reported the other day that the White House is urging parties to come to an agreeement. I can only imagine that the White House is as exasperated by Merkel as it is by Tsipras.

      1. MBC says:

        The local government budgets are slashed under Barnett and only passed on by the Scottish Government. It’s Westminster that is cutting local government finance. Sure, the SNP could shift money around, it could rob the NHS to pay for local government.

        1. Frank says:

          ‘Only passed on by the Scottish Government’; I prefer the term ‘complicity’ and your false dichotomy about the NHS is foolish; the SNP could end the Council Tax freeze, or better still replace the council tax with a progressive tax system, something they voted against when it was proposed by the SSP. In Scotland’s Future, the SNP seldom mentioned local government; there were no plans to devolve powers that were taken away from local government by the Tories and New Labour or return to public ownership those services privatised and contracted out. In fact, under the new Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill every Scottish local authority is now actively considering ‘asset transferring’ libraries, community centres and other publicly owned facilities. Yet this process is uneven. Many community centre management committees are refusing to accept responsibility for assets because it often means that cleaners, janitorial staff are contracted out. This is currently the case in Edinburgh where SNP councillors are trying to force it through.

          The ‘blame Westminster at all costs argument’ is disempowering for many communities because it implies that until we have independence (and who knows how long that could be) essential services will be lost. Yet, when my own SNP council proposed closing the community centre, two leisure centres, a swimming pool and three libraries they were met with massive resistance. And guess what – the services were still there, despite an aggressive campaign by the Council to close them.

          Instead of simply ‘passing on the cuts’, SNP councillors should be building local campaigns against austerity – they could even do this and still set the budgets, but say they are setting the budgets under duress and protest. But they don’t. Instead, SNP councillors repeat the managerial arguments about ‘efficiency savings’ and ‘tough decisions’ and as I pointed out the inherent contradictions of the SNP are going to unravel.

          Please note, I’m not against the SNP; I voted for them in May but they are a contradictory party in many respects.

          1. MBC says:

            In Edinburgh the Council privatised refuse collection, not the Scottish Government. I’m a local community councillor and my experience has been that Holyrood is very reluctant to intervene in decisions taken by local authorities. For instance the Council appropriated a public park it thought it owned despite many objections against it plus a successful Court of Session ruling by objectors that it was illegal. The Council sought a private bill from the Scottish parliament to bypass the ruling and was aided and abetted by the parliament, so I don’t recognise the picture you paint of not helping. My impression is that Holyrood fears doing anything too radical in the way of local government for fear of being autocratic. As for the council tax freeze, I and many others on low incomes are extremely grateful for this mercy. Before the freeze council tax was going up and up by at least £20 a month every single year. If you are on a low income that means a huge amount. I reject your notion of ‘complicity’. The SNP is given a budget to cover local government and all else devolved, including the NHS. If the Westminster government reduces the amount it thinks should be spent on local government, all the SNP government can do, if it disagrees, is take the money from somewhere else, and the biggest somewhere else that it deals with is the NHS.

          2. Donald Mitchell says:

            It will be interesting to see how long the SNP’s talk left/act right strategy can last.
            Local government may be the biggest problem, the most vocal SNP supporters will be strongly against cuts but many SNP voters (of the “the council only empties my bins” persuasion) will insist the council tax freeze remains. This will be a very difficult circle to square, even for Nicola; on the other hand the voters i describe have no where else to go at present, Labour and the Liberals are finished and few of us could bear to vote Conservative.

    2. Kimberley Cadden says:

      Frank the SNP aren’t ‘implementing austerity’ – the example you give is of cutting council budgets but council budgets have been cut proportionately as per the budget cuts to the Scottish parliament from WM – so the cuts are as a result of WM shrinking state and nothing at all to do with any devolved government. In addition not only are the SNP doing their best to mitigate the worst of WM cuts but they are also considering progressive options re new tax powers in order to be able to increase our government spending not decrease it – and they will use our new borrowing powers for investment and suchlike, again to lead to growth and higher tax takes so they can continue to invest in public services….

      Misrepresenting the SNP can only damage our movement. There are plenty areas they can be challenged on such as land reform (in terms of going further) and on inequality re access to higher education etc; but misrepresenting their position as a party isn’t helping Scotland.

      1. Kimberley Cadden says:

        Donald I take it you don’t know that the council tax freeze hasn’t been the source of any cuts to LA’s? Do you realise that the SG has paid £2.5 billion to LA’s to cover the freeze since it began, equalling a £160 increase in CTax for every household, each year? Even though there are bands, this is still an increase higher than it would be conceivable for any council to have demanded the equivalent of in funds via council tax in the same period. The cuts LA’s have experienced are purely as a result of cuts to the SG budget from WM as said in my post above. I understand that pro-labour unison members have written briefings on the area that have been misrepresentative and misleading so I understand how there can be confusion in the area, but the SG figures speak for themselves and the contention the CTax freeze has impacted on LA budgets is just plain wrong.

        1. Frank says:

          Kimberly, surely it would be better if the council tax was abolished altogether and replaced with a tax based on people’s ability to pay. Yet the SNP have been on power since 2007, with a majority since 2011 and this grotesquely unfair tax remains? Why? When the SSP had six MSPs in the parliament the SNP were presented with an opportunity to vote against the Council Tax and failed to do so and replace it with a fairer alternative based on ability to pay.

          Wouldn’t you agree that if the SNP are elected with a thumping majority in 2016 then the abolition of the council tax should be an urgent priority?

        2. Donald Mitchell says:

          Apologies for being slow to reply, you are of course right about the SG funding of the council tax freeze up till now, however i wonder how sustainable this will be as funding from Westminster declines in the coming years.

      2. Frank says:

        Kimberly, no one is misrepresenting the SNP or ‘our movement’. The great thing about the ‘movement’ is it’s diversity, so let’s not use that as a pretext for avoiding debate.
        It sounds like you are prepared to defend the SNP at all costs. What would you do if you were an SNP councillor? Would you simply pass on Tory cuts? Would you be prepared to close community centres in deprived areas?

        SNP councillors have voted for cuts in council chambers up and down the country and resistance has been minimal. And some have defended the cuts and provided no leadership whatsoever.

        They have voted to slash funding to both local government and the voluntary sector. These are the hard facts. You are partly right when you say it’s Westminster’s fault but it is here that the SNP should be leading campaigns to defend services. They could resign on principle and say an anti-austerity party won’t make austerity measures; they could issue a collective statement to the press saying they are voting for cuts under duress because local government is dysfunctional and highlight the democratic deficit inherent within the centralised British state.

        But the SNP have done none of these things. In fact some of their councillors have had the temerity to talk about ‘good governance’ or the usual nonsense that ‘communities are at the heart of decision making processes’. In practice, this was an open invitation by an SNP council for members of the public to identity where they would like the cuts to happen.

        I get the impression from our discussions on Bella that you have an ‘ideal type’ in your head of how you would like the SNP to be which is often contradicted by the actual practices of the SNP.

        1. MBC says:

          I don’t think you’re listening Frank, but I share your frustration. Labour councils have privatised and slashed services too, not because they want to, but because they have too. This is the price of being in the UK. We pay our taxes in Scotland but we don’t get all our tax money back. Neither do we have the power to collect tax, except for the new stamp duty. Even if we get the power to increase tax, it will still be collected via UK fiscal machinery then delivered back to us and the Barnett calculation reduced. What’s the point?

          Kimberley has explained that the SNP have fully funded the council tax freeze, which you are so keen to attack, as they have the bedroom tax, so that nobody in Scotland is affected by it.

          Personally I feel that we need a range of left wing nationalist parties at Holyrood. The SNP’s problem to date had been that in order to build a credible national movement it had to try to appeal broadly across the political spectrum. Perhaps now that it is more secure and has more support it will try to be bolder, but what would compel more left wing policies is if there are left wing indy parties which get elected next year.

          1. Frank says:

            Hi MBC, I am listening, just disagreeing. There is a difference. Kimberly seems to think that everyone who disagrees with her is ‘confused’ whilst you think they are ‘not listening’. Let’s stick to the debate rather than make points which are easily interpreted as insults. On the points in question, I have already mentioned that the SNP should have abolished the Council tax and replaced it with an income based alternative. And I would criticise Labour Councils too for making cuts. But we are talking about the SNP here. I have already stated that the SNP’s passive approach to cuts – e.g. it’s all Westminster’s fault – disempowers communities, because it ignores the fact that if communities rally to save services they can keep services open. In Midlothian, mass meetings of communities stopped an SNP council from closing community centres, libraries and swimming pools. Likewise, communities stopped an SNP council in East Lothian (before Labour came to power) from contracting out sports and leisure services. The same thing happened in Edinburgh. It’s not good enough to tell people ‘wait until we have independence’. Right now my local SNP council is planning to close the only Leisure Centre in the village. That’s a fact. Is your advice to tell the public, stop campaigning, it’s Westminster’s fault?

            And even with full powers to the Scottish Parliament, the SNP have not spelled out what powers they would give to local authorities. In many instances they have supported contracting services out to the voluntary sector because labour costs are cheaper.

            The real enemy is not ‘Westminster’ but neo-liberalism, and I like many others are not convinced that the SNP offer a coherent alternative to neo-liberalism. For the record, I am not saying that the SNP are neo-liberal, just pointing out that they are contradictory, something which more and more SNP members are going to realise and rather than allowing their members to become disillusioned (it’s already happening in some places), the SNP need to develop a model which facilitates debate and dialogue within the SNP. And that will require a fundamental shift away from the top down managerial discourse which dominates the internal culture of the SNP.

            The late SNP strategist and intellectual Stephen Maxwell, once described the SNPs problem as this; you cannot have social democratic politics founded on a neo-liberal economy. Very true.

  6. john young says:

    Frank ALL political parties are the same,full of agendas and woollie bullshit,we have at least in Nicola a very bright and rational leader most of the others do not have this luxury,she inmo will listen to the people,not to be confused with “the peepil”.My contention is that we should back the Commonweal and what they propose,we should elect from our own communities those who have reached the top through their own hard work those who are honest and ethical,we should make a place for our young to be seen/heard and encouraged,we have a small population that does not need multiple political parties to govern,there should be open forum whenever/wherever with honest open discussion on major matters.Almost all politicians let themselves drift away losing focus of their original objectives.

  7. MBC says:

    Great article Peter. But the bluff Syriza is calling is deeper than you may think. What happens if Greece says, can’t pay, won’t pay? Then the ECB and IMF have just lost 320 billion euros. It’s a game of brinkmanship. Parasites needs their hosts or they will die. The issue is one of balance, of what is a workable level of burden.

    In the early 18th century one of the issues that prompted the Union was the lack of specie (coinage) in Scotland. Much coinage having been removed by investment and ultimate loss, in hard coin in the Darien scheme, and in the 1690s, during the decade-long dearth, by the need to trade coinage for food imports.

    These problems were not really resolved by the Union, as, despite the benefits to transatlatic trade and the payment of the Equivalent, the fiscal union it set up resulted in a six-fold increase in general taxation. Also, much coinage was carried off by MPs and Lords attending parliament for a season annually.

    Thus the lack of specie continued to be debated for several decades after 1707 and this debate influenced Adam Smith, a moral philosopher, to contemplate what contemporaries called ‘political arithmetic’ but which we now call economics, the field that Smith developed.

    One of the central tenets of the Wealth of Nations (1776) is a questioning of what exactly comprises the wealth of nations, and Smith argues that it can’t simply exist of ‘specie’ (coinage, or liquidity) but in a more complex and nuanced web of transactions and assets, like the grain in the fields, the state of transport and the roads to move it to where it needs to go, the capacity to exchange it from one thing to another, the buildings and machinery in a land, its people, their level of education and enterprise.

    So when I look at modern Greece, as I do Scotland, and I see small, but relatively wealthy, asset-rich countries, with fine buildings, infrastructure of all kinds, ports, roads, railways, airports, universities, telephony, media, food production, wind, oil, and solar power, and an educated, determined, and enterprising people, I think how on earth can you consider such nations as poor? And how is there a lack of coinage? Planes land bringing tourists and hard currency, which continues to circulate and accumulate. Why on earth need Greece be poor?

    The fact is that nobody really has a clue what will happen in this Mexican stand-off if both the ECB and Syriza maintain their current positions. Greece needs the liquidity to import medicines and fuel or there will be severe and immediate consequencies for its population, but in other respects the local economy could continue to keep going on tourism and agriculture and fishing. Manufacturing and industry would suffer without cash, but from my understanding this has shrunk severely under austerity anyway.

  8. MBC says:

    Here is Paul Mason’s latest video blog. From Athens.

    http://youtu.be/LBLLi6Vj9m8

    Paul was one of the few UK journalists to ‘get’ what was going on in Scotland during the indyref, and his reporting of the Greek crisis is first rate. Here he reports that Syriza may nationalise the banks next week (which he says will take them out of the Eurozone – ??Why?) if the ECB does not loosen up, and that the White House is screaming at Merkel to do a deal. (See my previous post above, about the geo-strategic importance of Greece). He also reports that Hollande wants to do some kind of deal but Merkel is intransigent.

  9. C Rober says:

    The northern European Countries rate the southern as lazy , they want 35 hours work in return for 35 hours pay.

    Anyone whom spends time regularly in the country , throughout the year would agree with the Northerners , for 3 months of the year its basically reduced work rate , not that the rest of the year is exactly productive compared to the FrancoGerman ethos.

    The Greek income from tourism is actually quite low on GDP , holiday season is 3 months after all , not year round. So where do the staff work for the other 9 months?

    I will always liken Greece to a teenager when it comes to debt and credit , history shows us that , but then again they did right off their “loans” to Germany post war – that aided its war machine , Greece back then was complicit in aiding the Economy of Germany as much as when they signed up to the euro.

    As someone comments on the Wealth of nations being more than the sum of the coinage in their pockets , highlighting that a nations wealth is dictated through other physical characteristics , then Greece may be of high assets…. but so were the Global banks.But somehow it still came crashing down , so its a matter of correct accountancy , not inflated assets , but what worth is the assets without the worker being the machinery?There is a reason why China is the worlds factory , low pay , the Greeks want hard pensions , early retirement , 2 month holidays and a wage of their northern counterparts.

    Democracy played its part in securing the loans , the Greeks elected their government that made the promises and took out the loans to supply their promises , democracy again to prevent paying them back is a failure of democracy.

    Comparing Greece to Scotland will never be a good thing , without industry both would be failures.

    Greece has got into a club , with rules , sure weighted rules , on a fag packet summation of assets. Was the bank that checked out their Books not also one of the bigger players in the Global financial crisis?

    As the world sees communism die in the east , replaced with a bastard form of capitalism , are we too to see a bastard form of democratic communism emerge in the West?

    Far too many like to compare the socialist/communist countries around the world that have changed the status quo like in South America etc , but they are not as happy to include Argentina , Cuba and so on where failure is much more apparent….. and like Syriza and our own political parties all too eager to blame someone else.

    1. Broadbield says:

      Your comments in support of the “lazy southerner” cliche are wide of the mark. A quick google shows the “lazy southerner” to be a creation of the rich northerners who don’t want to effect the fiscal transfers that is implied by a currency union. Furthermore, Greece was allowed to join the Euro as an economic fudge to satisfy the political project of a united Europe, despite Greece not meeting the entry criteria. Then the French and German banks engaged in the endemic practice of all banks – predatory lending to Greece (and Southern Europe). When it all went belly up the EZ, led by Germany & France, bailed out their “criminal” banks (to coin a phrase) but did nothing to support the Greece other than ensure that their economy was destroyed. This is a blatant example of the power disjunction between lender and borrower – why should the borrower take all the pain. If the relationship was more equitable, and the lender had to take a haircut as well as the borrower perhaps the banks wouldn’t be so cavalier in their lending.

      This is what Stieglitz argued in the US shortly after the crisis began – give some help to the homeowners who were going to lose their homes. But Geithner, US Treasury secy at the time thought this would create moral hazard, so he bailed out the banks instead – and created an even greater moral hazard.

  10. Donald Mitchell says:

    If you share a currency you cede sovereignty.
    Tsipras was disingenuous when he told the Greeks that there could be an end to austerity within the EU. Currency unions are not necessarily “stupidity on stilts”, it depends on the currency and who you’re sharing it with, sharing the Pound with RUK could have worked but it would have been Home Rule rather that Independence; ironically if we’d called it that we might have won.

  11. Republicofscotland says:

    I really hope Greece can defy the odds and leave the Euro, sure their currency the Drachma will be devalued, but the Drachma will have a advantage over the Euro, in tourism and shipping, Greece could begin to grow its GDP again.

    Staying in the Euro will cause more untold misery and suffering for the Greeks, leaving the Euro will cause the same but in a shorter term.

    The troika need to be shown that they can’t continue to ride rough shod over any country that is indebted to them.

  12. Jason says:

    Very interesting blog post from March of 2014 by Yanis Varoufakis

    http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2014/03/10/open-letter-to-mr-alex-salmond/

    Well worth a read for his perceived differences and similarities between Scotland and Greece followed by a piece of advice.

    1. Jason says:

      …and sorry Peter Arnott, a very very well written and argued article. Many thanks

  13. MBC says:

    Here’s Paul Mason’s latest. Obama practically screaming at Merkel to do a deal!

    http://youtu.be/PY-qp9egjtk

  14. Bill Halliday says:

    If Greece does default, where has this 324 billion euros been “lost” to? Which Banks in which countries or whose pockets are fuller than ever? There was apparently only about 30 billion ever got to Greece and if there is only 500 million Euros left in Greece the rest has already left the country. So how can Greece still owe in excess of 380 billion?

    And with the World’s Oligarchs now openly contemptuous of and ignoring “the people” and their “peaceful Revolutions”, how long before some people begin to look for ways to make them listen?

    1. Anton says:

      The 324 billion euros is mainly owed to other Eurozone countries and to the IMF. The European Central Bank is owed about 21 billion. Foreign banks, whom you seem to think are lining their pockets, are only owed about 1% of Greek debt (just over 3 billion) though Greece has about 50 billion owing to institutions who bought Greek Government bonds, which may be banks or not – who’s to say?

      One of the problems with the current situation is that the Eurozone countries who lent money to Greece include several countries which are poorer than Greece, and who don’t see why their citizens should subsidise a richer country. That’s why Greek talk of “democracy” is nonsense. Why should their democracy trump everyone else’s? I bet that if there was a referendum in Slovenia, for example, they wouldn’t vote to let Greece off the hook for the money that’s owed to them. So who wins? Greek democracy or Slovenian democracy?

      You’re right to note that most of the money involved in the last bail-out didn’t “get to Greece”. That’s because the last bail-out was requested by the Greek Government in order to pay off previous debts they’d incurred. Which is exactly what happened. They replaced one set of creditors with another. Which is why their debt didn’t decrease. It simply changed hands.

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