And why the real problem is Syriza running out of electoral goodwill
Further to the Slogpost of yesterday about Austria and Greece, You may remember I ended that piece as follows:
‘It’s going to be really interesting to see what trap the Blue Meanies leave for Red Yanis this time. Let’s hope he’s more awake than he appeared to be a fortnight ago.’
It now transpires that Mr Varoufakis (allegedly) knew exactly what was waiting for him, as he’d been tipped off. This wasn’t a major Greek security coup, given that even the lowliest Brussels official seemed to know.
But Varoufakis went along with it anyway. This too, he decided, was not the “f**k you” moment. Three days before that, The Slog had wondered – it was no more than that – if the Syriza game plan was to edge the Troika out and deal direct with the markets.
Yesterday, Varoufakis was bluntly told that the Troika still existed. Draghi taunted him by using the term over and over again. Eventually, another official suggested maybe it would be better if the Troika was allowed back to Athens. Varoufakis said fine, but they must not be called the Troika.
In some circles last night, this was being hailed as a major victory. Even the more allegedly ‘balanced’ account at Macropolis still consoled Greeks by opining ‘the outcome of the meeting left Athens in no worse a position than it started the day’.
So, things didn’t get any worse, and the Troika will be the Troika but not called that. The Persian fleet has been sunk by our glorious forces! It is a Salamis moment!
I know some of my Greek friends and acquaintances will find this sarcasm offensive; but real friends are there to tell you when you’re deluding yourself. Also, I am not coming at this from the same belief system as many of those friends, so allow me to be brutally frank: I loathe the EU, I loathe the ECB gangsters, I loathe the EU’s drunken President, I despise the featherweight Dutch cheese who runs the eurogroupe, and above all I fear the people they’re in bed with: triumphalist German spooks, globalist Wall Street sociopaths, and the long Nosforatu fingers of the US State Department.
From Day One I said the euro was a daft idea, and laid 15-1 at Paddy Power in 2009 that it would be dead by the end of 2014. OK, I lost: but I’m not wrong. Next there’s Italy, then Spain, then Austria, then a major bank, then Orban’s implacable stance in Hungary, then a French Bank, then the Germans yelling like a Schlieffen Plan. The euro is doomed. The last thing Greece should be in is this pointless piece of make-believe toilet tissue, because – like all of ClubMed after Germany has squeezed all it can out of a rebranded cheap ‘Mark’ – the euro is a ten-ton export millstone.
Greece is paying the price of two things: a tiny elite at the top who thought borrowing money was a pissing contest; and bent politicians from around Europe doing grubby deals as the scramble to get aboard gathered pace. Little did you all know you were hanging on to the last helicopter out of Saigon.
Perhaps Varoufakis is playing a very cunning and clever game. But by the end of this week – even more so by the end of this month – he’s going to stand accused of having moved on from appeasement to collaboration.
The strategy being employed by Troika2 seems to me eminently clear and clever: just as with Hitler and the Czechs in 1938, then Draghi/Schauble and Cyprus in 2013, the attempt now is to snow-job the Greeks into submission.
And the tactic is work, work, work.
Work to provide another reform list within two weeks. Work to provide more detail within three days. Then two days to find the second instalment for the IMF. Then another 3 days for the third, then four days for the fourth.
Dijsselbloem is a gobby little twerp who gives himself away with every brainlessly insensitive thing he says. At a Volkskrant Rally in Amsterdam at the weekend: “The Greeks have almost no money left in their money-box”, and his parting shot at Varoufakis yesterday, “We are wasting too much time….you have a huge amount of work to do over the coming days and weeks.”
You must work. You must pay. You must lose.
After the first eurogroupe meeting, Frances Coppola gracefully suggested that Greece had restored some trust. No, no (says a panicked Finn, Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice-president for euro policy) the Greeks must not be allowed to move forwards: “only adhering to its commitments will be a first step to restore trust among its peers” he told Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.
Observe, Greeks: you are nowhere near even making the first step. You must plod sideways in the lead boots we have given you as a means of rising from the treacle.
Work, work, work. For Arbeit macht frei, nicht?
My contention is that it would be better for Tsipras and Varoufakis to work it out that Page One tactic – rather than fulfil idiot tasks. By this Friday, Athens will be two weeks into the trial period. Syriza has enough cash to pay the second of four loan instalments to the International Monetary Fund due this Friday – or so some government and banking sources confirm – but must also pay the final two on March 16th and 20th. That’s €1.5bn in total, and its dwindling reserves (with the crooks in Frankfurt acting as a catalyst in the process) are certain together to keep all the major Greek players occupied…..and distracted.
Syriza will lurch from one urgent crisis to another – and nothing important will get done.
In trying to pull some strands together at the conclusion of a piece I confess to having found uncomfortable to write, I ask the Greeks supportive of Syriza to revisit two things, and then take note of two other developments.
First up, talk of a series of tactical retreats is bollocks. The one-legged bird does not make tactical retreats from the fat cat: it attempts one hop, and is instantly snatched back. In this way does the fat cat train her obedient kittens.
Think back to what Syriza wanted: No Troika, no blackmail, end of austerity, release from programme, bridging loan, way forward on Moscovici plan.
Their achievement on that spectrum of promise is zero. That’s not a tactical retreat, it’s a rout.
Secondly, what has been meted out to ordinary Greeks by these Nazi bastards (busily working with the Vichy traitors represented by Samaras and Venizelos) is not adequately described by the word austerity. It is nothing short of neoliberalism on steroids. Call me a foreigner if you like, but I saw Athens for the first time post-madness in March 2013. I saw half-dead European beggars, hopeless kids shooting up in closed-down food markets, men in good quality but threadbare suits picking through the garbage cans, a 14 year old kid asking me if I wanted her for money…and much more.
The people who approved and then instigated this policy are not reasonable, and they cannot be appeased. They are ill, pissed witless with power, and indescribably dangerous. Economically illiterate, they are modern-day Lilliputians who insist that the way to recovery in a capitalist economy is to starve the consumers, and burden the State with ever-increasing strata of mathematically unrepayable debt….but whose job is to tell an elected National government that it is wasting their time.
The only thing missing from this darkly surreal viewpoint is tulips costing 45,000 guilders each.
And so the Third point, and the present day: I’m sure many of you are aware of the recurring rumours about what Troika2’s medium-term Game Plan is. Nobody in the West seems remotely concerned about this, but it is a compelling scenario: that Berlin wants squeaky-clean To Potami (a counterfeit media invention) to lead a government of National Solidarity. Syriza would emerge from a future election irreversibly weakened.
Here I must revert to being the bewildered foreigner and tell a story against myself. Early in 2013, I had a private meeting with what I will loosely call a consultancy in Athens. They were describing the exact To Potami concept, but without naming it, and were looking for someone familiar with Greece to write articles supportive of it in the Western press. There was talk of money payable “and not in euros”. I told them politely that I was for Tsipras as the only credible anti-euro candidate. But we parted amicably – they did seem to me like nice guys with Greece’s best interests at heart – and I never did get the Tsipras interview I wanted.
When George Papandreou launched his Flop of the Decade recently, I put 2+2 together and made 9. Having been busy with Newscorp, Jeremy Hunt, the Elm House paedophile ring, moving abroad and observing crooked Met Cops for a year, I’d spectacularly failed to notice To Potami. I assumed Gap was the chosen leader of the MOR liberal group being brokered.
I’m now 85-90% certain that the outfit I’d been invited to ghost for became To Potami.
The moral? Even an ignorant foreigner can unwittingly support a logical rumour. And the rumour in turn supports what I feel now and felt the minute Tsipras became PM: every black op you can imagine is under way in Greece, and it is the usual ring of suspects who are involved.
Finally, at the weekend, a survey conducted by Marc for the Efimerida Ton Syntakton newspaper showed 64% of Greek voters had a positive opinion of Syriza. That’s a pretty good expression of solidarity.
But 17 days ago, the same research agency recorded a figure of 83.6% approval. Almost a fifth down in 17 days.
There is a reservoir of goodwill towards Syriza. Reservoirs evaporate when the water gets hot. Goodwill is, in fact, all Syriza has got: and that goodwill itself is dependent on standing up to the Nazis. Everyone should bear this truism in mind: the more powerful Varoufakis makes them look, the more indefatigable they will seem to middle-class Greece.
Thanks for reading.