We Greeks have voted ‘No’ to slavery – but ‘Yes’ to our chains.
Not surprisingly, by nearly two-to-one, Greeks have overwhelmingly rejected the cruel, economically bonkers “austerity” program required by the European Central Bank in return for an ECB loan to pay Greece’s creditors. In doing so, the Greek people overcame an unprecedented campaign of fear from the Greek and international media, the European Union (EU), and most of our political parties.
What’s simply whack-o is that, while voting “No” to austerity, many Greeks wish to remain shackled to the euro, the very cause of our miseries.
It was November 2011 when I had the opportunity to meet Yanis Varoufakis in person, for the first and so far only time. Upon the invitation of his close friend and promoter James Galbraith, Varoufakis was visiting the University of Texas, where I was studying, to give a talk about the future of the Eurozone and to present his new book. As the host of what was then a locally-produced Greek radio program (Austin Hellenic Radio), I attended Varoufakis’ talk in order to try to get an interview with him on site. And indeed, I did. “Be quick though, eight other media outlets are waiting to speak with me,” Varoufakis told me.
This quote made an impression on me, but is quite indicative of Varoufakis’ personality. His “rock star” status in the world of “anti-austerity” economics was already beginning to be solidified. That same period, Varoufakis made appearances on CBS’ 60 Minutes, on NPR, and on a number of other media outlets across the world. One year later, Varoufakis would be back at the University of Texas, apparently on Galbraith’s invitation, as a visiting scholar. His annual salary of $100,000 (which can be seen through publicly-available records, as the University of Texas is a state university), was more than what many tenured professors earn at the same university. But despite his burgeoning celebrity status, little did I imagine that just a few years later, he would become the finance minister of a Greece which was even deeper in crisis.
With early returns from the referendum coming in, it is clear that a vote of “no” to the austerity measures proposed by the institutions formerly known as the troika will prevail, with a clear majority that will likely surpass 60%. As I write this, the sky is falling on Greece, the sea is drying up, day has become night, trees and flowers and kittens are dying, bullets and missiles are flying, and Greece is feeling the angry wrath of the gods for defying the will of the creditors, the mass media, and the troika.
At least, that’s what the mass media would have had us believe, with their dire warnings as to what a “no” vote would bring for Greece and with their utterly disgraceful coverage of events in Greece over the past two weeks. In reality, as I am writing this, I am sitting on a park bench in an ordinary neighborhood of Athens. It is a beautiful Greek summer evening, there is a light breeze, young people, families, and the elderly are walking about, and there is no sign of anything but life continuing on as normal. A couple of miles away, in Syntagma Square, more Greeks are congregating to celebrate the “no” victory in today’s referendum.
It was just four months ago, though it already seems like a lifetime away, when Greece’s celebrity finance minister Yanis Varoufakis publicly stated that “creative ambiguity” won the country a “loan lifeline” from the institutions formerly known as the troika: the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund. Despite the never-ending soap opera that is Greek crisis politics though, few would have imagined that the SYRIZA-led coalition government would succeed in outdoing itself in terms of its “creative ambiguity,” by calling a referendum which, just days before the polls open, remains remarkably unclear as to its actual meaning and potential consequences.
Setting The Stage for the Referendum
What has been actually happening in Greece though, over the past week? Lots has been heard in the Greek and international media, much of it tainted by either a pro-austerity or pro-SYRIZA bias and a generous dose of sensationalism. Cutting through all of this media-created noise, the realities are as follows: in a peculiarly-timed nationally-televised address which aired live a minute after midnight on June 27, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras announced to the nation that a referendum would be held on whether or not to approve the set of proposals put forth by the “institutions.” The last referendum held in Greece was in 1974, just after Greece’s Western-backed military regime fell, when Greeks overwhelmingly voted “no” for the restoration of the monarchy. This announcement was initially hailed by a majority of the public, as it was seen as a bold step towards giving the Greek people a direct say in the country’s affairs for the first time during the five-plus years of financial crisis.
Our recent interview with world-renowned author, journalist, and analyst Tariq Ali has recently been featured in Truthout! In this interview, Ali talks about the latest economic and political developments in Greece and in Europe, the failures of austerity and the policies imposed upon Greece by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, and much more.
This week, Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series will be wrapping up the 2014-15 broadcast season with an interview with world-renowned author, journalist, and analyst Tariq Ali. A member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and a contributor to such publications as The Guardian and Counterpunch, and is the author of numerous books, including “The Extreme Centre: A Warning,” “The Obama Syndrome,” and “A Banker for All Seasons.” He joins us on the Dialogos Interview Series this week to share his thoughts and insights as to the political and economic situation in Greece, on Greece’s new SYRIZA-led coalition government and its broken campaign promises, on the role of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in furthering the economic crisis in Greece, and on his upcoming visits to Greece.
In addition to our interview, hear our commentary of the week segment, where we will analyze the “negotiations” taking place between SYRIZA and the “institutions,” the proposals put forth by SYRIZA which contradict its pre-election rhetoric, and the latest broken promises by the government.
Hear this timely and exclusive interview, our commentary, plus great Greek music and much more, this week our season finale, only on Dialogos Radio!
The theater of the absurd known as the Greek government and the Greek negotiating team continues unabated. Despite the fact that Greece’s public coffers have been depleted, despite the fact that schools and universities are operating with major shortages, and despite the fact that public hospitals are lacking even basic medical supplies at this point, the otherwise “heroic” and “gutsy” celebrity finance minister Yanis Varoufakis continues to state that Greece will pay its next loan installment to the IMF and that the Greek government remains willing to repay all of its lenders, as long as there is an agreement with the so-called “institutions.” The same “institutions” which have thrown Greece into an endless spiral of poverty and hopelessness.
In our latest analysis published in Truthout, titled “SYRIZA: Lies, Broken Promises and Prolonged Austerity,” we break down the actions of the SYRIZA-led coalition government in Greece over its first three months in power, and critically examine the government’s many broken promises and pre-election pledges, its continuation of the austerity policies of its predecessors, as well as the continuation of the corruption and patronage of prior governments in Greece.
The government of “hope” and of the “radical left” has struck again! This time with an executive decree which forces all state bodies, ranging from local governments and pension funds to universities, to transfer their cash reserves to the Bank of Greece. Such decrees were a favored practice of the previous government, and indeed, it was through such a decree that they forcibly shut down national state broadcaster ERT in June 2013. Let’s take a moment to look back at what high-ranking members of SYRIZA were saying about such executive decrees when they were still the main opposition party. The current deputy minister of social welfare Dimitris Stratoulis once stated that such executive decrees are equivalent to a stripping away of Greece’s popular sovereignty. The current minister of the interior Nikos Voutsis once stated that such executive decrees draw their inspiration from military dictatorships. Member of the European Parliament Dimitris Papadimoulis had said that in no other country is such an embarrassing practice enforced by the government. And even after the elections, as recently as March 17th, Stratoulis had stated that the government was promising not to touch the cash reserves of the state. Now, Stratoulis is saying that the executive decree is a patriotic act, the same words used by the finance minister of the previous government, Giannis Stournaras, to justify similar actions in 2012.
The transcript of Dialogos Radio’s interview with scholar and analyst James Petras, professor emeritus of sociology at Binghamton University in New York, who spoke to us about his experience serving as an adviser to Andreas Papandreou, on the Papandreou family and its role in the destruction of Greece, and on his thoughts regarding Greece’s new SYRIZA-led government. This interview aired on our broadcasts for the week of April 2-8, 2015. Find the podcast of this interview here.
MN: Joining us today on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series is James Petras, professor emeritus of sociology at Binghamton University in New York, former adviser to political figures such as Andreas Papandreou in Greece, and Salvadore Allende and Hugo Chavez in Latin America, and author of dozens of books and articles which have been extensively published across the world, in almost 30 languages. James, thank you for joining us today, and for our listeners who may not be familiar with your work, give us just a few more words about yourself and your background.
The transcript of Dialogos Radio’s interview with political scientist and historian Eric Toussaint of the Committee for the Abolition of Third-World Debt (CADTM), who spoke to us about his recent meetings with members of the Greek government and about the formation of a new parliamentary commission that will audit Greece’s public debt. This interview aired on our broadcasts for the week of March 26-April 1, 2015. Find the podcast of this interview here.
MN: Joining us today on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series is political scientist and historian Eric Toussaint, the spokesperson for the Committee to Abolish Third-World Debt. He is one of the founding members of the Committee to Abolish Third-World Debt, as well as the International Debt Observatory, and he participated in the creation of the World Social Forum in 2001. He’s also the author of several books, including Bankocracy, Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, and The World Bank: A Critical Primer. Eric, welcome to our program today.
ET: Happy to be with you.
MN: To get us started, share with us a few words about the Commission to Abolish Third-World Debt and its work.
This week on Dialogos Radio, the Dialogos Interview Series will feature an extremely timely interview with political scientist and historian Éric Toussaint, senior lecturer at the University of Liege in Belgium and spokesperson for the Committee for the Abolition of Third-World Debt (CADTM). Toussaint will speak to us about his recent meetings with members of the new Greek government and the establishment of a commission to conduct an audit of Greece’s public debt, which Toussaint will be a part of. Toussaint will talk about previous debt audit commissions that he has been part of and examples from other countries which Greece could follow, and he will also discuss the potential political ramifications of this audit of Greece’s debt.
In addition to this week’s interview, we will feature our commentary of the week segment, on the issue of national independence in light of Greece’s Independence Day on March 25th, and we will also feature a special musical tribute to the life and music of renowned Greek composer Yannis Markopoulos.
Tune in for all this and much more this week, exclusively on Dialogos Radio!
This week, Dialogos Radio returns after a one-week hiatus, where this week as part of the Dialogos Interview Series we will be speaking with educator Thanasis Gounaris, who is the president of the board of the Pirate Party of Greece. Gounaris will talk about the Pirate Party in Greece and in Europe, its history, and its positions on various key issues. In addition, Gounaris will share with us his analysis regarding the new Greek coalition government and its first weeks in office. Additionally, in his role as an educator, Gounaris will discuss the problems of bullying and malnutrition that are increasingly being observed in many Greek schools, and what is being done to combat this crisis.
Along with this week’s interview, we will feature our commentary of the week segment, where we will discuss the first weeks of the new SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government, and particularly the most recent statements of Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. In addition, we will feature a special musical tribute to renowned Greek singer and musician Nikos Papazoglou.
Hear all this and much more, this week exclusively on Dialogos Radio!
Dialogos Radio’s recent interviews with economist Roger Bootle and with John Hilary, executive director of “War on Want,” have been featured in Truthout! Roger Bootle, in his interview, discusses his award-winning proposal for how a Eurozone member-state could safely manage an exit from the Eurozone, while John Hilary discusses the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its potential impacts on Europe and the United States.
In addition, Truthout has recently featured our latest analysis, titled “Greece’s Syriza Government: Meet The New Sheriff – Same As The Old Sheriff,” focusing on the new Greek government and its many broken campaign promises and pledges, after less than two months in office.
The transcript of Dialogos Radio’s interview with John Hilary, the executive director of London-based organization “War on Want,” who spoke to us about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This interview aired on our broadcasts for the week of March 5-11, 2015. Find the podcast of this interview here.
MN: Joining us today on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series to speak with us about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is John Hilary, the executive director of “War on Want,” which is an anti-poverty charitable organization based in London that has been active in raising awareness of this proposed agreement. Mr. Hilary, welcome to our program today.
JH: Thank you very much.
MN: Before we get into specifics, many of our listeners may not have heard about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) before, or they may be unfamiliar with its details. Could you share with us a brief introduction as to what this proposed agreement is all about?
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Σας υπενθυμίζουμε πως οι απόψεις που εκφράζονται στην εκπομπή δεν είναι απαραίτητα η επίσημες απόψεις του παρουσιαστή, Μιχάλη Νευραδάκη, της εκπομπής Dialogos Radio, τον ραδιοφωνικών σταθμών που μεταδίδουν τις εκπομπές μας, ή των ιδιοκτητών η προσωπικού αυτών των σταθμών.