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Greece: Pearls Before Swine

Greece is the pearl of Mediterranean, the place generations of foreigners from Lord Byron to Graves to Fowles have fallen in love with. From philosophy to feta, from history to yoghurt, from poetry to honey they provided the example to follow. Their priests preserve the pristine faith; their fighters defeated Mussolini; their Helen is the epitome of female beauty. They also make lousy wine called retsina and listen to loud dreadful music called bouzouki so we would temper our Hellenophilia.

Now they have given us another example to follow: how to beat banksters at their own game. The spectacular victory of the Syriza government in Greece at the national referendum was quite unexpected: the polls wavered between an indecisive result and straightforward support of the EU plans around 51:49. However, the Greeks strongly confirmed the mandate of the government. The main problem was and remains the Syriza’s resolve and determination.

The ruling party took an unnecessary risk while calling for referendum, for they had already won the elections under their own slogans just a few months ago. This implied their wobbliness, as if they would prefer to lose and pass the hot potato to somebody else. Moreover, they did not try to win the referendum: no campaign for NO, no media coverage of demos for NO. Did they wish to lose or to win with a slightest possible margin? Possibly. The Greek people rejected the stratagem and called upon them to proceed.

Now it is the business of the government to organise a smooth and fast Grexit from the Eurozone and switch to the new Drachma. A really decisive government would leave the EU and NATO, turning the tables completely. Refusing the bailout is good but not enough.

The Greeks were right to reject paying the debts, for these debts were forced upon them by the giant vampire squid, Goldman Sachs, in words of Matt Taibbi. “The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. As we now know, Goldman Sachs (you do not have to be an anti-Semite to hate them) cooked the book,s falsely pretending Greece had a high credit rating though they knew of its huge debts. When the debts snowballed, they pulled the rug and collapsed Greece’s rating, bailing out banks at the expense of the European taxpayer.

Out of €320 billion, Greece received and used about €20 billion, while the principal sum went to the banksters. Greece could not pay it off: after five years of trying, the country is in worse shape and in deeper debt than it ever was. Austerity has destroyed lives and infrastructure. The bankers planned to sell all Greek assets: harbours, railways, lands; and you can envisage yourself who would buy it. The negotiations between the EU, IMF and Greece were dishonest, explains Ashoka Mody in widely read and technical essay. That’s why the Greeks elected the far-left party Syriza and its far-right counterpart INIL to break the rules of the rigged game.

Greece is a small country and it could not take on the whole EU banking and political establishment on its own. Fortunately, there is a country able and willing to help. That is its sister in faith, Russia. Greece for Russia is like Italy for Catholics, like England for the US: the source of culture and religion. The Greek priests had brought their faith to what was to become Russia. Greece and Russia share the same Byzantine legacy. Arnold Toynbee, the British scholar of history, spoke of few European civilisations, some abortive (Far Western and Scandinavian), and two fully developed: Western European, based on the Church of Rome, and Orthodox Christian, based on the Church of Constantinople. Russia and Greece belong to the last one.

The EU is a reincarnation of the Roman Empire and that of Charlemagne. It is at home in France and Germany, but completely foreign for Swedes and Greeks, for Letts and Bulgars, for Ukrainians and Russians. It has over-extended itself and brought huge calamities upon its people and on their neighbours.

Mind you, this is not the first time the people of the West have colonised the Orthodox Christian East: in 1204, they smashed the Byzantine Empire and established their kingdoms and duchies, eventually erased by the Turks. After Greece was restored in 1821, it went back under the Western tutelage, and remained there. In 1945, the Greeks made a heroic effort to liaise with Russia, but Churchill employed the defeated German troops to smash the Greek independence movement and installed his agents in Athens. Soviet Russia did not object much, as under the Yalta agreement Greece was going to the West, while Poland was going to the East. Now the West has both Poland and Greece. The Greeks were frog-marched to NATO and to EU, and they would have remained forever captive but for the bankers’ greed.

Russia is the only part of the Byzantine world that remained independent and adhered to its faith. Russia is a natural partner for Greece and its Balkan neighbours. Now Russia can help Greece: by buying its wine, cheese and olives that do not sell well in the West, by sending pilgrims to venerate shrines under its cruel blue sky, by encouraging its industries, by giving its youth a meaning of life beyond caring for German tourists. And the Greeks are fond of Russians, so their sympathies are mutual.

The Syriza party, and its partner ANEL were famous (some would correct it to ‘notorious’) for their pro-Russian sympathies. However, since they were elected, they began a game of playing Brussels against Moscow, like a young tease who encourages two suitors to keep both in her thrall. The Greek expert and London Lawyer Alexander Merkoulis listed the Russian attempts to help Greece. They offered five billion euros to build a gas pipeline to Greece, and Greece would be able to sell gas to Europe. Miller of Gazprom went to Athens with prepared documents, and came back empty-handed.

Tsipras promised to come to Moscow for the May 9 celebrations, and failed to show up at the last moment. He agreed to extend anti-Russia sanctions while sitting at the St Petersburg forum. This undermined Russian trust. “The Russians must be getting increasingly fed up with someone who repeatedly takes them to the Church door – and then at the last moment runs away”, said Merkoulis.

It appears that the Ukraine story has repeated itself. Russia offered huge credits to the Ukraine in 2013, it could buy its industrial output, invigorate its industry and agriculture, but the then President Yanukovych did not dare. He ended in exile, his country ruined; it will take them 20 years to regain the positions they had in 2013, say the EU experts.

Greece is not likely to go for a civil war: they had it in 1945, but the old wounds may reopen. The most pro-Russian area of 1945 insurgency – the Isle of Crete – heavily (75%) voted against the EU in the recent referendum. The Syriza government will try to renegotiate with the IMF and the EU by bluffing them with the Russian alternative. Even if they will get relief, their economy is not likely to come back to normal.

The problem is not Greece, the problem is the EU. This body has a triple purpose. It is (1) a union of bankers against people, (2) a harness with which the US can drive colonised Europe, and (3) a tool for de-industrialisation and de-education of this most developed continent. Under the EU, masses of beggars from Romania and African refugees descend on the North. Under the EU, once-industrial Latvia and Hungary became basket-cases, their high tech moved elsewhere. Under the EU, the social welfare system has been dismantled, while sexual education of children and gender games have gone into a high drive. That is why nations – from Sweden to Italy, from England to Spain – call to break up the union.

Greece would be better off out of the EU. Everybody would. Distressingly, its Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis, a stubborn negotiator, a son of 1945 fighter, who could lead his country to freedom, has been dismissed following the referendum. Alexis Tsipras will try to negotiate himself, and he is a smooth operator, say the Greeks.

There is just one problem, that of guts and their lack thereof. Too many leaders hesitate and contemplate instead of acting. We mentioned Yanukovych, but this is a long list of names, beginning with Allende, a man of peace killed in a coup. The leaders that stood up to the vampire squids – from Nasser to Putin – were branded “a new Hitler”, but actually managed better. The US always dares: to conquer Panama and Granada, to attack Afghanistan and Iraq, and this daring is a secret of its success.

Still it is too early for despair. The referendum was a victory, and a victory can do wonders even to wet and wobbling leaders. It would be a shame to cast the pearl of Greece to the banker swine.

First published in The Unz Review

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Israel Shamir can be reached on adam@israelshamir

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