“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Greek Financial Coup d’Etat

Alexis Tsipras and his government colleagues in Athens are self-proclaimed Marxists, but they have forgotten the warning that great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice: the first time as tragedy; the second time as farce. And now it is difficult for them to argue that they weren’t the ones who staged the farce.
On Oct. 31, 2011, the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, announced plans for a referendum on a bailout plan proposed by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He asked Greeks to support the reform measures demanded by the creditors as the price of staying in the eurozone.
The second appearance of the referendum idea came on the initiative of Mr. Tsipras and his Syriza party: This time, call it democracy castrated. The Greeks actually held the vote on July 5 — the vast majority rejecting the terms for a new, third bailout by the so-called troika as the government wanted — but their heroic resistance to the creditors lasted a whole seven days. By Monday, Mr. Tsipras had accepted a much harsher version of the bailout and agreed to implement policies that he had only recently deemed “criminal.”
The temporary resolution of the Greek crisis shows that, in order for the common European currency to survive, the voters of the debtor nations will have to be deprived of their right to change economic policy, even as they keep their right to change governments. Given what has occurred, it is clear that what Mr. Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis, his finance minister until July 6, were fighting was not so much the policies proposed by the creditors but being held responsible for accepting them.
In dealing with Athens’s rebellion European leaders faced a tough choice: They could either allow Greece to default, thus putting the common currency at risk, destroying the Greek economy, and sending the message that in a political union of creditors and debtors there is no place for solidarity; or they could save Greece on Mr. Tsipras’s terms, thus signaling that political blackmail works and inspiring populist parties all over the Continent.
Faced with this dilemma, European leaders found a third option: to save Greece on such drastic terms that no other populist government would even be tempted to follow its example. Now Mr. Tsipras has become living proof that “there is no alternative” to the current economic policies of the European Union.
The immediate impact of the Greek agreement is calmer markets, defeated Greeks and skeptical Germans. So should Europe celebrate? Do European leaders expect Greece to be transformed by the accord as Central Europe was transformed in the 1990s? Is it possible that the whole referendum episode — a resounding public “no” followed by Mr. Tsipras’s climb-down with the creditors — could serve not to humiliate Greek voters but instead to re-educate them?
While many in Brussels are hoping that the Greeks have learned, it is more than likely that the new reform package agreed to on Monday will result in further radicalization of certain segments of the European left and the spread of apathy in Greece.
Mr. Tsipras’s leftist populism failed to win Greece a better deal. Instead, the real political winner is most likely to be not the moderate center but the anti-European right. And while European leaders can congratulate themselves on keeping the Union going, the price that Europe will pay for saving Greece economically and losing it politically is the transformation of the Union from a project sustained by hopes and aspirations into one surviving on shared fears and confusion.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hope that Greece could be transformed on the model of Central Europe rings false — at least at the moment. Berlin’s policies after the financial crisis of 2009 were heavily influenced by its experience in helping post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe undergo major economic and political changes, but Greece’s situation today is not like that of Poland or Bulgaria in the 1990s. It is true that the recession at that time in most of Central and Eastern Europe is comparable to what Greece has endured over the last five years and that many of the reforms demanded by the Greeks were successfully implemented by East Europeans. But if there is one factor that sharply distinguishes Europe’s post-Communist nations in the 1990s from Greece today, it is the nature of public expectations about the future.
Although the economies of Central and Eastern Europe were in a shambles, the citizens of these nations were generally optimistic: People tended to view reforms as a painful but relatively short stage on the way to a brighter future. In Greece, the public mood is one of total mistrust and pessimism: Reforms are seen as tantamount to no future. In fact, opinion polls indicate that most Greeks expect their children’s lives to be worse than their own.
These sharply different expectations best explain why in post-Communist Europe reforms were strongly supported by the young, while in Greece 85 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 24, and 72 percent of people from 25 to 34, rejected the creditors’ reform package. In the East, politicians blamed the economic catastrophe largely on the old Communist regime; in the case of Greece, the old regime is the European Union. In Central Europe, Brussels was viewed as a friend and ally; in Greece it is viewed as a creditor and hostile power.
In short, reforms that worked in times of public optimism collapse in times of pessimism.
Ivan Krastev is a political scientist, the chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.


  1. They want a high-service welfare state, but don't want to pay taxes.

    Good luck to'em, but I'm bored. Let me know how it works out.

  2. Greece is quite complex. I was stationed there for six months when the military troika made their coup and had to leave in January 1968 when Constantine’s counter coup failed. I had friends in the Greek Air Force and some doctor and professional friends that fought the German occupation in the forties. The partisans were helped by the communists and the oligarchs never did anything for the country except pay low wages and avoid taxes.

    The EU represents Germany, the big banks and the oligarchs. Greeks are intensely proud and unlike the average US citizen are acutely aware of their history. The political system is not the duopoly fraud that is imposed on us but represents every possible political niche.

    1. I'm not knocking the Greek people, but if they can't figure out a way to get the Oligarchs to pay taxes, they'll just have to give up any pretense at being a viable country.

    2. One standard for all?

      Apply that logic to the palestinians Rufus..

      " but if they can't figure out a way to get the Oligarchs to pay taxes, they'll just have to give up any pretense at being a viable country."


    3. Please don't use my name in your idiot, racist comments.

    4. My comment, Rufus, was not idiotic nor racist.

      Your lack of reading comprehension can be addressed by going back to middle school…

      But I notice you lack the ability to discuss ideas rather slander me, how Progressive of you.

      Now how about taking a shot at my point?

      " but if they can't figure out a way to get the Oligarchs to pay taxes, they'll just have to give up any pretense at being a viable country."

      Does this standard apply to your people, the Palestinians as well?

    5. The Palestinian government is Israeli.
      They do collect the taxes, then disperse them

      It has nothing to do with race, everything to do with sectarianism, on the part of the Israeli

  3. The temporary resolution of the Greek crisis shows that, in order for the common European currency to survive, the voters of the debtor nations will have to be deprived of their right to change economic policy, even as they keep their right to change governments.

    It turns out there is no such thing as a "right" to help yourself to someone else's energy, unless you're Putin and you have a brigade of Little Green Men to do it.

  4. Ah, more good news from the Iranian controlled Syrian battlefield…

    "Abdel Karim Rubash, Deputy Commander of the elite Al Qods Brigades, was the third Iranian general killed in Syria this year and the most senior to die on the Syrian battlefield in four years. His death, kept dark by Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah is just coming to light. Gen. Rubash initiated Hizballah’s introduction to the Syrian war effort. Also helped set up the smuggling conveys to Hezbollah in Lebanon of Iranian advanced rockets.

    1. Iran, is pumping hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, as well as shiite militias, logistics (ammo and rockets) into Syria.

      The Syrian Army is now taking orders directly from Iran.


  5. You want me to wear, WHAT?

    ( Salahuddin – According to a local source in Salahuddin province, ISIS Arab elements withdrew from Shirqat north of Tikrit towards the city of Mosul as a result of disagreements with Iraqi elements on wearing explosive belts.

    The source said in an interview for “a fight broke out today between ISIS elements from the Iraqis and Arabs in the district of Sharqat, (120 km north of Tikrit),” noting that, “The Arab elements of the organization asked the Iraqis to wear explosive belts, but they rejected it”

    The source, who asked anonymity, added: “the quarrel developed into a clash with small arms, and Arab elements walked out towards the city of Mosul.”

    It is noteworthy that ISIS controls Sharqat district northern Salahuddin for months and carries out executions against civilians from time to time under false pretenses.

    Fuck Your Virgins; YOU Wear That Thing!

    1. Child suicide bombers in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict refers to the exploitation of children to carry out suicide bombings by Palestinian militant groups. Minors have been recruited to attack Israeli targets, both military and civilian, especially during the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005. This deliberate involvement of children in armed conflict has been condemned by International human rights organizations.[1][2]

      According to Amnesty International, "Palestinian armed groups have repeatedly shown total disregard for the most fundamental human rights, notably the right to life, by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and by using Palestinian children in armed attacks. Children are susceptible to recruitment by manipulation or may be driven to join armed groups for a variety of reasons, including a desire to avenge relatives or friends killed by the Israeli army.

  6. Most of what you might want to know about the Hispanic Vote.

    Univision Poll

  7. A round of U.S.-led airstrikes combined with Iraqi coalition ground gains resulted in the deaths of more than 100 ISIS militants on Wednesday – developments that have forced foreign fighters to flee and led local extremists to seek amnesty, according to regional reports.

    The third day of a pro-government offensive in vast Anbar province resulted in more advances for the loose alliance of Iraqi forces, Shia militias and Sunni tribesman looking to push ISIS out of key cities, such as Fallujah and Ramadi. The operation began Monday.

    “Citizens of other Arab states asked them to put on the suicide belt, but the Iraqis have disobeyed"

    - FARS news source

    Seven ISIS bases in Ramadi were targeted by 29 U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on Wednesday, according to Kurdish news agency Rudaw.

    Meanwhile, Iraqi fighter jets killed 76 ISIS fighters in the town of Hit, which lies 85 miles west of Baghdad, and al-Qaim, which is 310 miles west of the Iraqi capital, according to a statement released by the country’s interior ministry.

    Ground forces killed 11 terrorists and three foreign snipers in a district east of Ramadi, also clearing nearly 20 booby-trapped houses and destroying several vehicles loaded with heavy munitions.

    Elsewhere, the pro-government groups captured a strategic bridge, cut off ISIS supply lines to Fallujah and Iraq security forces took control of three more Anbar districts and killed 19 more militants, according to Iran’s Press TV.

    And as ISIS continues to experience battlefield setbacks, internal issues are reportedly also beginning to affect the group, including intra-organization skirmishes and defections.

    “The intelligence sources in the province confirmed a mass escape of the ISIS foreign fighters from Anbar province while Iraqi fighters of the ISIS are asking for amnesty,” a source told Iranian FARS news.

    Gun fights among some extremist factions erupted in Salahuddin province, which borders the northern edge of Anbar when native Iraqis refused to wear suicide vests.

    “Citizens of other Arab states asked them to put on the suicide belt, but the Iraqis have disobeyed,” a source told FARS.


    1. How many women and kids did Obama kill today?

      No one counts...

      but apparently we are creating more Islamic martyrs

      This time in Tennessee, murdered 4 Marines...

      Are you proud Deuce and Rufus?

    2. . A perfectly idiotic comment. I have no idea what inspired him. Do you?

    3. Yep, He's ISIS.

      America making a deal with Iran is pissing him off...

      Sunnis are pissed by the Iranian slaughter and now the USA bombing them...

      really basic stuff

    4. He could be Palestinian...

      Born in Kuwait, citizen of Jordan...

      but that would be speculation

  8. Yep, He's ISIS.

    America making a deal with Iran is pissing him off...

    Israel is supporting ISIS and supporting the killing od the senior officers who are trying to defeat ISIS.

    1. Israel is in the middle east.

      It's surrounded by Iranian proxies seeking it's destruction.

      Whomever Israel uses to keep it secure is her business.

      America is meddling in the middle east. 9000 miles away.

      Iranian Generals that are killed IN SYRIA are just a bonus... :)

      better question?

      Why are you not outraged that Iran is ruling the Syrian Army?

  9. Idiotic comments are the kind that are usually made by people too stupid to realize when they are the one being called an idiot.

  10. This time in Tennessee, murdered 4 Marines...

    Thank the Clinton-era ban on members of the military going heavy when they go off base.

  11. The U.K. Independent reports the government is “facing a multi-billion pound black hole in its budget to pay for new clean energy supplies” that are threatening to raise energy prices and cause instability in the power grid. Sources told the newspaper that “the Department of Energy and Climate Change has already overspent its budget by £1.5bn [about $2.3 billion] to support renewable energy projects over the next five years.”

    “Unless more money can be found, key projects such as carbon capture and storage, as well as the future of new offshore wind farms, could be placed in jeopardy,” the Independent reports.

  12. Sunnis are pissed by the Iranian slaughter and now the USA bombing them...

    And if the Sunnis weren't pissed at the Shiites, they'd both be pissed at the Alawites or the Kurds. Yawn.