The Delphi Initiative & Crunch Time for Syriza and Greece’s Citizenry

Greek Asset Stripping SimilaritiesMichael Hudson’s speech

The background:

“Last weekend a group of us met in Delphi to discuss and draft the following Declaration of Support for Greece against the neoliberal Institutions. It is now clear that finance is the new mode of warfare. The creditors’ objective is the same as military conquest: they want the land, the natural resource rights and monopolies, and they want tribute (in this case, debt service). And they don’t want sovereign Greece to tax the economic rent from these assets. In short, the negotiation between The Institutions and Greece is a bold exercise in rent extraction. [snip]

“The eurozone’s rejection of what obviously is an attempt at reason has greatly strengthened Syriza’s hand to say “NO” to deeper austerity. It would bring yet more unemployment, yet more emigration, yet more bankruptcy – and deeper distress prices for the public domain that the Institutions are insisting be sold off. [snip]

“At stake is much more than Greece itself. What the attendees at Delphi want is to rescue not only the Greek economy, but all Europe — by replacing the euro and the ECB with a less austerity-based monetary ideology. If they are driven out of the eurozone, they will be able to create a real central bank (via the Treasury) to monetize deficit spending to revive the economy.

It is clear that what is needed is to replace the IMF with an institution able to assess the ability to pay debts, and to write down bad debts accordingly. Such an institution would replace Chicago School austerity and fiscal policy with a more progressive monetary and tax policy.

If the European Central Bank follows through on its threat to wreck the Greek banking system, Syriza has put itself in a position to replace the oligarchs’ banks with a public option.

More at Hudson’s Delphi post at Counterpunch.  They might even have called it: ‘An Oracle from Delphi’, imo.  But The Delphi Declaration needs to be seen widely, because as indicated, neoliberal rent-seeking’s utter race to the bottom is an indicator as to what will likely turn into a cascade event, not just for Europe, but the US and many nations around the globe.  I would hope that it’s being published in Greece, Italy, Spain, in all of the Euro media, and everywhere else, for that matter.

Given the severity of the situation, and coming situtations elsewhere, you might not fault me for seeing this document as the metaphorical equivalent to ‘runaway truckramps’ built by DOTs in Colorado and other states.

I’ve pasted in the text at the bottom, but I’d like to add a few bits and bobs before then, to show the seriousness of the document given that depending on one’s point of view, it’s now either:

Three minutes before midnight, or five minutes after midnight.

Greece’s final bundled payments are due tomorrow night, and yes, Tsipras announced, and Parliament approved, a July 5 referendum asking the people of Greece to either approve (Ne) or disapprove (Oxi) the Troika’s final bailout ‘deal’.

In a nationally televised address after midnight Friday in Athens, Tsipras announced the July 5 vote and excoriated a take it-or-leave it offer as a violation of European Union rules and “common decency”. “After five months of tough negotiations, our partners unfortunately resorted to a proposal-ultimatum to the Greek people,” Tsipras said. “I call on the Greek people to rule on the blackmailing ultimatum asking us to accept a strict and humiliating austerity without end and without prospect.” 

The referendum is expected to ask Greek citizens if they approve the proposed bailout agreement with Greece’s foreign creditors without touching upon a possible Grexit that could follow if the nation votes no on the deal.”

Well, of course by now the government has indeed closed the banks, and expect them to open again on July 7; rumors say that people can get either €200 or €600 at ATMs in the meantime; the western press trumpets the lengthy lines at the machines.  The text of Tsipra’s address is at the same link.

Now in her ‘Consent of the Governed, Tsipras Style’  Yves Smith is so pissed at his calling for a referendum that is far too late, and that she believes is just plain face-saving for his brand. Earlier she’d called it ‘a cynical exercise in democracy theater; a sham’, etc.  She believes that it’s all over but the grexit now, given that Greece defaults tomorrow night at midnight, and there is NO possibility of further ‘negotiations’.  Her frustration with at least half of her commentariat is epic, even while giving a nod to the fact that many want to see him as David fighting Goliath, with all evidence as to his skills to the contrary.  Smoke is coming out of her ears as she corrects misinformation, disinformation, and (I guess she’d call it) ‘wishful thinking’.

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Galbraith on Greece, Trump, Europe and US Dollar

The Greek banks are toast, there are no methods to make payments, transfer funds from pace to place, drachmas are their only possible currency now, etc.  (Not that I can understand a lot of the technical terms, mind you.)

But holy hassocks!  The Head of the EU (Herr Junkyard Dog) is pouring gasoline on the fire!  From the Guardian liveblog:

“Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has made a remarkable intervention into the Greek crisis in what looks like desperate, last-gasp bid to prevent the country ploughing out of the eurozone.

He has effectively told the Greek people that they are choosing between the euro and the exit door on Sunday, that their government has lied to them, and that he has been their friend and ally at the negotiating table.

Underneath it all, the desperate fear that the European project is swerving off course and about to lose its first member.

Juncker confirmed the claim that Greece’s creditors were prepared to discuss debt relief as part of a future aid deal, before Alexis Tsipras shattered hopes of a breakthrough last weekend.

A clearly wounded Juncker spoke of feeling “deeply distressed and saddened by the spectacle that Europe gave last Saturday”.

In a single night, the European conscience has taken a heavy blow. Goodwill has somewhat evaporated.

Crucially, Juncker is not offering a new compromise. Instead, he is arguing that the Commission was making a fair proposal – not “stupid austerity” – for the Greek people.

But his comments on the referendum are jaw-dropping: telling Greeks to vote Yes in Sunday’s referendum is one thing, but warning “not to commit suicide for fear of death” is another level altogether.

And he has raised the stakes in Sunday’s referendum to the highest level possible, by warning that “the whole planet” will see a no vote as a declaration that Greece wants to leave Europe.”

His imprecation “not to commit suicide for fear of death” is even more appallingly obscene to those Greeks and others who’ve tallied the number of poverty-related suicides since 2011 at close to 11,000.

It seems, perhaps contra Yves Smith, that Obama, Merkel, Hollande, George Osborne, and tra la la…are indeed having some phone conferences to (ahem) discuss what might be next.  I don’t expect seeing the US, Euro, Japanese, UK, stock markets and others in a bit of a free fall yesterday might have had anything to do with it, but still… Bloomberg News is rife with falling numbers, opinions, odds-making, and likely plenty of disinformation.  But on to the document; it may end up being a very worthy template in the People’s Wars Against Mandated Austerity, neoliberal style.

On Greece and Europe

European governments, European institutions and the IMF, acting in close alliance with, if not under direct control of, big international banks and other financial institutions, are now exercising a maximum of pressure, including open threatsblackmailing and a slander and terror communication campaign againstthe recently elected Greek government and against the Greek people.

They are asking the elected government of Greece to continue the “bail-out” program and the supposed “reforms” imposed on this country in May 2010, in theory to “help” and “save” it.

As a result of this program, Greece has experienced by far the biggest economic, social and political catastrophe in the history of Western Europe since 1945. It has lost 27% of its GDP, more than the material losses of France or Germany during the First World War. The living standards have fallen sharply. The social welfare system is all but destroyed. Greeks have seen social rights won during one century of struggles taken back. Whole social strata are completely destroyed, more and more Greeks are falling from their balconies to end a life of misery and desperation, every talented person who can leaves from the country. Democracy, under the rule of a “Troika” acting as collective economic assassin, a kind of Kafka’s “Court”, has been transformed into a sheer formality in the very country where it was born! Greeks are experiencing now the same feeling of insecurity about all basic conditions of life, that the French experienced in 1940, Germans in 1945, Soviets in 1991. At the same time, the two problems which this program was supposed to address, Greek sovereign debt and the competitiveness of the Greek economy have sharply deteriorated.

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Soutenez les travailleurs de viome

Now, European institutions and governments are refusing even the most reasonable, elementary, minor concession to the Athens government, they refuse even the slightest face-saving formula there might be. They want a total surrender of SYRIZA, they want its humiliation, its destruction. By denying to the Greek people any peaceful and democratic way out of its social and national tragedy, they are pushing Greece into chaos, if not civil war.Indeed, even now, an undeclared social civil war of “low intensity” is being waged inside this country, especially against the unprotected, the ill, the young and the very old, the weaker and the unlucky. Is this the Europe we want our children to live in?

We want to express our total, unconditional solidarity with the struggle of the Greek people for their dignity, their national and social salvation, for their liberation from the unacceptable neocolonial rule the “Troika” is trying to impose on this European country. We denounce the illegal and unacceptable agreements successive Greek governments have been obliged, under threat and blackmail, to sign, in violation of all European treaties, of the Charter of UN and of the Greek constitution. We call on European governments and institutions to stop their irresponsible and/or criminal policy towards Greece immediately and adopt a generous emergency program of support to redress the Greek economic situation and face the humanitarian disaster already unfolding in this country.

We also appeal to all European peoples to realize that what is at stake in Greece it is not only Greek salaries and pensions, Greek schools and hospitals or even the fate even of this historic nation where the very notion of “Europe” was born. What is at stake in Greece are also Spanish, Italian, even the German salaries, pensions, welfare, the very fate of the European welfare state, of European democracy, of Europe as such. Stop believing your media, who tell you the facts, only to distort their meaning, check independently what your politicians and your media are saying. They try to create, and they have created an illusion of stability. You may live in Lisbon or in Paris, in Frankfurt or in Stockholm, you may think that you are living in relative security. Do not keep such illusions. You should look to Greece, to see there the future your elites are preparing for you, for all of us and for our children. It is much easier and intelligent to stop them now, than it will be later. Not only Greeks, but all of us and our children will pay an enormous price, if we permit to our governments to complete the social slaughter of a whole European nation.

We appeal in particular to the German people. We do not belong to those who are always reminding the Germans of the past in order to keep them in an “inferior”, second-class position, or in order to use the “guilt factor” for their dubious ends. We appreciate the organizational and technological skills of the German people, their proven democratic and especially ecological and peace sensitivities. We want and we need the German people to be the main champions in the building of another Europe, of a prosperous, independent, democratic Europe, of a multipolar world.

Germans know better than anybody else in Europe, where blind obedience to irresponsible leaders can lead and has indeed led in the past. It is not up to us to teach them any such lesson. They know better than anybody else how easy is to begin a campaign with triumphalist rhetoric, only to end up with ruins everywhere around you. We do not invite them to follow our opinion. We demand simply from them to think thoroughly the opinion of such distinguished leaders of them like Helmut Schmitt for instance, we demand them to hear the voice of the greatest among modern German poet, of Günter Grass, the terrible prophecy he has emitted about Greece and Europe some years before his death.

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Debt is the Hidden Issue in These Elections

We call upon you, the German people, to stop such a Faustian alliance between German political elites and international finance. We call upon the German people not to permit to their government to continue doing to the Greeks exactly what the Allies did to Germans after their victory in the First World War. Do not let your elites and leaders to transform the entire continent, ultimately including Germany, into a dominion of Finance.

More than ever we are in urgent need of a radical restructuring of European debt, of serious measures to control the activities of the financial sector, of a “Marshal Plan” for the European periphery, of a courageous rethinking and re-launching of a European project which, in its present form, has proven unsustainable. We need to find now the courage to do this, if we want to leave a better Europe to our children, not a Europe in ruins, in continuous financial and even open military conflicts among its nations.

Delphi, 21 June 2015

The above declaration was adopted by nearly all participants in the Delphi conference on the crisis, on alternatives to euroliberalism and EU/Russia relations, held at Delphi, Greece on 20-21st of June. It is also supported by some people who were not able to be present. The list of people who signed it follows. In it there are not only citizens of EU countries, but also of Switzerland, USA, Russia and India. Many distinguished American scholars seem to be more sensitive as regard the European crisis, than the … political leaders of EU themselves! As for Russians, it is only normal and natural to bear a great interest for what is going on in EU, as EU citizens bear also an interest for what is going on in Russia. All participants in the Delphi conference share the strong conviction that Russia is an integral part of Europe, that there is a strong interconnection between what happens in EU and in Russia. They are categorically opposed to anti-Russia hysteria, which in fact is nothing less than the preparation of a new, even more dangerous cold, if not hot war.

The signatories.

Just in moments ago from Michael Hudson: ‘A New Mode of Warfare: The Greek Debt Crisis and Crashing Markets’

It ends: “Eurozone financial strategists made it clear that they wanted to make an example of Syriza as a warning to Spain’s Potemos party, and anti-euro parties in Italy and France. The message was supposed to have been, “Avoid our austerity and we will cause chaos. Look at Greece.”

But the rest of Europe is interpreting the message in just the opposite way: “Remain in the eurozone and we will only create money to strengthen the financial oligarchy, the 1%. We will insist on budget surpluses (or at least, no deficits) so as to starve the economy of money and credit, forcing it to rely on commercial banks at interest.”

Greece has indeed become an example. But it is an example of the horror that the eurozone’s monetarists seek to impose on one economy after another, using debt as a lever to force privatization selloffs at distress prices.

In short, finance has shown itself to be the new mode of warfare. Resisting debt leverage and financial conquest is as legal as is resisting military invasion.”

‘Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah,
Off’ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ’tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.’

~ James Russel Lowell

(h/t to juliania and mr. wd for the original Hudson link)