Back to a Feudal Europe


Are the economic policies needed to maintain the euro still compatible with democracy? Greece’s state broadcaster was established after the fall of the military dictatorship. Last month the Greek government (which is implementing EU injunctions) decided to shut it down without authorisation from parliament (see Where Syriza stands). Before the Greek courts suspended this decision, the European Commission could have recalled the public service broadcasting protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, which states that “the system of public broadcasting in the member states is directly related to the democratic, social and cultural needs of each society and to the need to preserve media pluralism.” Instead, it backed the Greek government’s actions, stating on 12 June that the closure “should be seen in the context of the major and necessary efforts that the authorities are taking to modernise the Greek economy.”

Europeans know all about constitutional projects that have been pushed through despite being rejected by public referendum. They remember candidates who, having promised to renegotiate the terms of a treaty, then get it ratified without changing a comma. The people of Cyprus very nearly had a percentage of their bank deposits seized by the government (1). But this is a new milestone: the EC is washing its hands of the dismantling of the only Greek media not yet owned by shipping magnates, since this will make it possible to sack 2,800 workers immediately from the public sector, which the EC has always abhorred. It will also allow Greece to meet the targets for job cuts that the troika (2) has imposed on a country where 60% of young people are unemployed.

This misplaced zeal coincides with the publication in the US media of a confidential report in which the IMF concedes that the policies it has implemented in Greece over the last three years have resulted in “notable failures”. Were the errors due simply to over-optimistic growth forecasts? Probably not. According to the Wall Street Journal’s interpretation of this verbose document, the IMF admits that “an immediate restructuring [of Greece’s debt] would have been cheaper for European taxpayers, as private-sector creditors were repaid in full for two years before 2012 using the money borrowed by Athens. Greece’s debt level thus remained undented, but it was now owed to the IMF and Eurozone taxpayers instead of banks and hedge funds” (3).

The speculators have extricated themselves without losing one cent of the loans they made to Greece at astronomical interest rates. Obviously, such skill in robbing Europe’s taxpayers for the benefit of the hedge funds qualifies the troika to make the Greek people suffer. There are also hospitals, schools and universities that could be closed without any opposition. And not just in Greece: it’s only by making such sacrifices Europe that will be able keep its place in the triumphal progress towards a new Middle Ages.

SERGE HALIMI is director of Le Monde Diplomatique. He has written several books, including one  on the French press, Les nouveaux chiens de garde and another on the French left in the 20th century – Quand la gauche essayait – both are fine works.  He can be reached at Serge.Halimi@monde-diplomatique.fr

This article appears in the excellent Le Monde Diplomatique, whose English language edition can be found at mondediplo.com. This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.


(1) See Serge Halimi, “Anything’s possible now”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, April 2013.

(2) The European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

(3) “IMF Concedes It Made Mistakes on Greece”, The Wall Street Journal, New York, 6 June 2013.

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique

November 30, 2015
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Embrace of Totalitarianism is America’s Dirty Little Secret
Omur Sahin Keyif
An Assassination in Turkey: the Killing of Tahir Elci
Uri Avnery
There is No Such Thing as International Terrorism
Robert Fisk
70,000 Kalashnikovs: Cameron’s “Moderate” Rebels
Jamie Davidson
Distortion, Revisionism & the Liberal Media
Patrick Cockburn
Nasty Surprises: the Problem With Bombing ISIS
Robert Hunziker
The Looming Transnational Battlefield
Ahmed Gaya
Breaking the Climate Mold: Fighting for the Planet and Justice
Matt Peppe
Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes
Norman Pollack
Israel and ISIS: Needed, a Thorough Accounting
Colin Todhunter
India – Procession of the Dead: Shopping Malls and Shit
Roger Annis
Canada’s New Climate-Denying National Government
Binoy Kampmark
Straining the Republic: France’s State of Emergency
Bill Blunden
Glenn Greenwald Stands by the Official Narrative
Jack Rasmus
Japan’s 5th Recession in 7 Years
Karen Lee Wald
Inside the Colombia Peace Deal
Geoff Dutton
War in Our Time
Charles R. Larson
Twofers for Carly Fiorina
John Dear
An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme Park
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability