Apr 04

Commentary of the Week: A Greek Perspective on Trump, Brexit, and Media Hysteria (March 22-28, 2017)

commentaryoftheweek(Originally published in TheDuran.com)

By Michael Nevradakis

It’s a typical winter’s evening in Athens. This has been a cold winter, and the air is brisk. And wherever I go, the sweet smell of “success” is in the air. By “success” I am referring to none other than the vaunted “European dream,” and the “success story” of the Greek economy, as described by Greece’s former prime minister Antonis Samaras in late 2014, and as often repeated—even if not in those exact terms—by Greece’s “first time left” prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, far more recently. That scent of success comes from the noxious fumes of the fireplaces and makeshift furnaces which newly impoverished Greeks have lit to keep warm, since well over 80 percent of households are said to be unable to afford absurdly taxed heating oil for their homes.

This piece though is not meant to be about Greece, but about the United States, the anti-Russian hysteria that has taken hold, and the attacks that the newly inaugurated Trump administration is facing from protesters, the media, and the “deep state.” What does all of this have to do with Greece though? Everything. Crisis-stricken Greece represents a microcosm of what is transpiring in the United States and much of Europe today, and offers a useful lens through which to analyze current developments. Continue reading

Dec 14

Commentary of the Week: “Fake News, Fake Democracy” (December 8-14, 2016)

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

Following in the footsteps of voters in Britain, in the United States, and even to an extent, voters in Greece, Italian voters vociferously said no to neoliberalism recently, in a referendum which was a pure power grab by the country’s second consecutive non-elected prime minister, Matteo Renzi, a favorite of his European Union and Eurozone paymasters. Just like British voters in the referendum on Brexit, just like American voters who in many senses rejected Hillary Clinton and all she represented more than they voted for Donald Trump per se, just like Greek voters with their own confused and muddled but resounding no in July 2015, Italian voters put a stop to attempts by an non-elected prime minister to consolidate power and to subvert the country’s democratic political system, forcing Renzi’s bluff, as he had pledged prior to the referendum that he would resign if a “no” vote prevailed. Continue reading

Sep 27

Commentary of the Week: SYRIZA’s Lies and the Illegal Television Licensing Bid

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

Not so long ago, but certainly in a galaxy far, far away, the purported prime minister of Greece gave his state of the union address and told the masses just how great everything in Greece is, under the tenure of the SYRIZA-led coalition government in Greece. At least, one has to assume that Alexis Tsipras does indeed reside in a galaxy far, far away, if he believes all of the nonsense he spouted recently during his annual speech at the Thessaloniki Trade Fair. Why, according to Tsipras, salaries are going up, unemployment is going down, he is going to give raises, he will provide more jobs, schools and public services are all functioning better than ever before, tourism is arriving in Greece in record numbers, and Greece has turned the corner and is headed towards perpetual growth, stability, and sustainability.

That’s fantasy island. Now here’s reality. There’s the story of the elderly woman in Greece who relies upon an oxygen concentrator to live, but who had her electricity cut off, while her son was arrested for protesting the action. There was the street vendor, selling pastries on the street and whose spouse is unemployed, fined €5,000 for unlicensed operation, as part of the government’s supposed crusade against purported “tax evaders.” Not too far from home in Athens, 17 out of 22 storefronts lie vacant in a three block stretch which also includes a park that is chained shut and filled with overgrown weeds. On the island of Samos, German police patrol the main port, in uniform, while in the mountain villages, residents and shop owners listen to Turkish radio, because no reception of Greek stations is possible.

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Jun 08

Commentary of the Week: The Truth About Greece (June 2-8, 2016)

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

For this final commentary of the broadcast season, I thought it was time to tell you the truth. The truth about Greece. In May, likely for the first time in the post-war history of the Western world, a national parliament willingly ceded what remained of its country’s sovereignty, essentially voting itself obsolete. This development, however, did not make headlines in the global news cycle and was ignored by most of the purportedly “leftist” media.

The country in question is Greece, where a 7,500-page omnibus bill was just passed, without parliamentary debate, which transfers control over all of the country’s public assets to a fund controlled by the European Stability Mechanism, for the next 99 years. To be clear, this includes all public infrastructure, harbors, airports, public beaches, and natural resources, all passed to the control of the ESM, a non-democratic, supranational body which answers to no parliamentary or elected body. Within this same bill, the “Greek” parliament also rendered itself voteless: the legislation annuls the role of the parliament to create a national budget or to pass tax legislation. These decisions will now be made automatically, at the behest of the European Union: if fiscal targets set by the EU, the IMF, and the ESM are not met, automatic “cuts” will be implemented, without any parliamentary debate, which could slash anything social spending, salaries, and pensions. In earlier legislation, the Greek parliament agreed to submit all legislation to the “troika” for approval. For historical precedent, one needs to look no further than the “Enabling Act” passed by the German Reichstag in 1933, where the German parliament voted away its right to exercise legislative power, transferring absolute power to govern and to pass laws, including unconstitutional laws, to the Chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

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May 26

How Do You Like that European Dream? – Commentary of the Week (May 19-25, 2016)

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

Greece’s supposedly “leftist” government of so-called “hope” and “change” did it again! It saved Greece once more! Greece can continue living the European nightmare…excuse me, dream, can remain part of the vaunted “European family” and the Eurozone, and the government once again successfully completed “tough” negotiations with its so-called European “Partners,” with a capital P, as Greece’s deferential journalistic class tends to refer to them.

Let’s take a look at this new “success story” of Greece’s government of “hope” and “change.” It is a success story so big that Greece’s already insane value-added tax of 23% will be bumped up to 24% on June 1st. It is a success story so great that the unified property tax which SYRIZA, at one time, called unconstitutional and illegal and which at one time was said to be “temporary,” will now be raised and made permanent. It is a success story so tremendous that Greece’s already paltry pension and social security payments will be slashed further, despite government lies and propaganda to the contrary. Home foreclosures and auctions will resume, without anything but the flimsiest of temporary protections for the poorest homeowners. These foreclosures and auctions will take place electronically instead of in a courthouse, under cover of darkness and without warning. In the meantime, new privatizations are coming, alongside the development of a new super-fund of sorts which will manage essentially all of Greece’s publicly-owned assets and prepare them to be sold off, at bargain basement prices. And unlike most of the people of Greece, the foreign investors who will be snatching up these assets know very well how valuable a land Greece is.

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Apr 25

The Apathy of the Greek People – Commentary of the Week

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

In Greece today it seems, unfortunately, that people are willing to accept just about everything. There is no other way to explain what is happening in the country. We are talking about a situation and a mentality which is deserving of scientific analysis. For years now, the majority of the Greek people have accepted, without much of a fight if at all, the first memorandum agreement, the interim memorandum agreement, the second memorandum, and the complete betrayal of the July 5th, 2015 referendum result and the passage of the third memorandum agreement, by the supposedly radical and leftist SYRIZA government.

Ah, but I forgot. Greece has been “saved,” again and again and again. We are told that Europe is giving Greece money, to “bail out” the country, that Greece has averted bankruptcy, and all of this while Greece, of course, remains “in Europe” and part of the vaunted European family and the Eurozone. Greece is being saved, day after day, allowing its people to live the so-called “European dream.”

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Apr 11

Commentary of the Week – March 31-April 6, 2016

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

Each year, on the 25th of March, Greeks around the world commemorate the beginning of the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire. A commemoration which is closely tied into Greece’s national and cultural identity, and with the freedom and independence of the modern Greek state, after 400 years of occupation by the Ottomans.

But which independence and which sovereignty are we actually talking about here? The result of the Greek revolution of 1821 may well have been the end of 400 years of Turkish occupation and control, but what followed since then and what continues until today is a different sort of occupation, a political and economic occupation and increasingly a cultural one as well. Modern Greece has never been an independent or sovereign state. It has been a colony and protectorate of the Bavarians, who soon after Greece regained so-called “independence” brought in their royal families to rule Greece. Greece was a colony and protectorate of the British, who did what they do best, employing divide and conquer techniques against the Greek people in order to assert control and dominance, as was the case immediately after the end of World War II, when the British turned their backs on the rebels who resisted Nazi occupation and sided with far-right, fascist, criminal elements who had been Nazi collaborators. Greece has been a colony and protectorate of the United States, who brought in so-called “patriotic” elements into power in the 1950s while emptying the country of its educated youth at the time, and who later on brought a full-fledged military dictatorship to Greece, in the name of freedom and democracy of course. And since 1981, Greece has been a bona fide colony of the European Union and later the Eurozone.

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Mar 24

Commentary of the Week: March 17-23, 2016

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

It is pretty clear that humanity, and certainly the Greek people, have not yet had enough of so-called saviors. This is the conclusion that I am forced to reach after watching the latest Greek political “hero” Zoe Konstantopoulou being paraded from one major Greek media outlet to another, leading up to the launch of her new political movement.

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Mar 10

Commentary of the Week: March 3-9, 2016

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

The “first time leftist” government in Greece did it again! Having promised prior to its initial election last year that it would “go after” Greece’s oligarch media owners, the government recently passed a law which, it claims, will put an end to 26 years of anarchy in Greece’s television landscape.

There is, however, a problem. This new law and the television licensing bid that the Greek government has recently announced and made such a big deal of, will not put an end to this so-called anarchy. It will not go after the oligarchs and media mavens. It will not restore order in the television landscape. Instead, what this new law will do is concentrate even more media power in the hands of the few, while giving the government a tremendous amount of power and control over the media landscape. This is a law that will also set a dangerous precedent which could then be expanded to Greece’s local television stations, to the radio landscape, and to the internet.

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Feb 28

Commentary of the Week: February 18-24, 2016

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

It was a little over three years ago when I personally had the opportunity to travel to the heart of the beast: a week-long visit to EU institutions and to NATO, as part of an academic program I was invited to participate in. This was a week that was full of misery for me but which was nevertheless beneficial in that it was remarkably eye-opening. Hearing statements made by EU and NATO officials about Greece and hearing their viewpoints about such quaint notions as democracy were truly telling and spoke volumes about the regard with which these principles are upheld within these institutions. At the meetings that I attended, a number of very revealing statements were made by the EU and NATO technocrats who spoke to us, statements which I took note of, including the following highlights:

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Feb 11

Commentary of the Week: Before Applauding Varoufakis’ New European “Democracy” Movement, Think Again

vBy Michael Nevradakis

Once again, Greece is experiencing a time of political and social uncertainty, a time where yet again many citizens have begun to search for a new political savior, one that will pull Greece out of its current economic abyss and provide the promise of “hope” and “change”, putting an end to the crisis and placing Greece back on a path towards growth and better days.

This is highly similar to what was taking place in Greece just over a year ago, when millions of people within and outside of Greece believed that SYRIZA could comprise this sort of political force. And they believed this purely on the basis of rhetoric and promises. The big promises made by Alexis Tsipras and the rest of SYRIZA regarding the abolition of the austerity measures with one law and one article, the supposedly anti-austerity Thessaloniki policy platform, the tearing apart of the memorandum agreements, promises, promises and yet more promises from SYRIZA, including promises that all of these wonderful things could take place firmly within the confines of the European Union and the Eurozone, and that SYRIZA, when in power, would indeed manage to change Europe!

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Feb 04

Commentary of the Week: January 28-February 3, 2016

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

It has been one year since the elections which brought SYRIZA to power in Greece for the first time. One year from the time where millions of people in Greece and around the world took to the streets to celebrate the “hope” and “change” and the “end of austerity” that were to surely follow from the so-called “first time left” government in Greece, which we were told would not just save Greece, but all of Europe and indeed the world. One year from the time that the same media which have served and continue to serve as pro-austerity cheerleaders, and clueless academic leftists, were telling us that a government of hope and change had finally arrived.

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Dec 23

Commentary of the Week – December 17-23, 2015

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

The nationwide inferiority complex in Greece is still going strong. For the past three and a half years that I’ve been in Greece, what I continuously observe, to my dismay, is how much people believe that everything is better and more just and more meritocratic overseas, anywhere else except Greece, and how in other supposedly civilized countries, there is no such thing as corruption, of politicians and the rich getting away with crimes, while it is believed that everyone supposedly has an equal opportunity to succeed. I feel that in Greece and in Greek society today there is a tremendous amount of self-loathing, mediocrity and defeatism, with many Greeks having simply given up and resigned themselves to their fates and the fate of their country. But even if they have not given up completely, when you believe that you are the worst in everything and the most corrupt, this, even subconsciously, keeps you down. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a type of thinking that takes away any positive energy that one might have and any semblance of hope. And unfortunately, this is a mentality that is promoted in everything from Greece’s major media outlets to its education system.

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Nov 30

Commentary of the Week: November 19-25, 2015

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

Another year, another commemoration. Thousands of people marched in Athens on November 17 for the 42nd consecutive year, commemorating the anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising in Athens, a deadly incident where dozens of Greeks who were protesting against the rule of the U.S.-backed military dictatorship were killed. This march, which runs from the Polytechnic campus to the U.S. Embassy in Athens, has become an annual event.

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Nov 12

Commentary of the Week: November 5-11, 2015

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

Time to do a little compare and contrast. Let’s say we have the national governments of two different countries. Government A claims that it is a “radical leftist” government and promised its voters “hope” and “change,” while pledging to immediately abolish the austerity policies which had thrown millions of people into poverty and the economy into an unprecedented depression. Government A then goes ahead and shatters its pre-election pledges and turns its back on a referendum result overwhelmingly rejecting proposed new austerity measures, instead signing an agreement which will implement even harsher austerity terms versus those which had been rejected. Somehow, Government A, after doing all of this, gets re-elected anyway, albeit with almost half of the voters abstaining.

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