“My plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth?”
– SOCRATES (470-399 B.C.) Greek stonemason, general, philosopher
While Syriza told Greek voters in the months before the January 25, 2015 election that they were for “radical change within Greece and throughout the Eurozone”, after it’s surprising victory it failed to listen to Syriza members such as Costas Lapavitsas advising preparations for leaving the Eurozone. A Professor of Economics in Britain, Mr. Lapavitsas believes the radical change Syriza promised Greek voters is impossible without taking the necessary steps to leave the euro and establish a sovereign Greek monetary/financial system.
Mr. Lapavitsas was a boy in 1974 when he stood in Athens with over 100,000 fellow Greeks who’d overthrown the military dictatorship. At 17-years old he had made up his mind to study economics in either the United States or Britain and chose the London School of Economics. In the 30 years since, he has entered into scholarly study of all things economic, financial and banking, and authored books on what he has learned. He has, as the cliché goes, “learned the ropes”.
Costas Lapavitsas’ book “Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All” (2014):
He wants to know, and wants Greeks to ask for, the reasons Syriza ignored his incessant suggestions to enter efforts to develop what is now commonly called a “Plan B” for Greece. Many analysts and journalists have issued criticisms of Syriza leaders Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and now resigned Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, ranging from calling them traitorous, to bribed “Trojan Horses”, to well-meaning but utterly naïve to think their European “partners” would come around and hear their proposals for economic rationality. Some have gone so far as to assert perhaps warnings of physical harm, up to assassination, have guided Syriza leaders’ actions.
Whatever the truth of what really happened between the election victory for Syriza on January 25, the impossible negotiations in the months leading up to the July 5 stunning Greek referendum – Oxi, no to more austerity – and how it came to pass that no “Plan B” became developed and ready for implementation, will become revealed in due time. As it stands now for the Greek people, there are three months of “breathing space” available for accountants, computer experts, lawyers, economists, political scientists, etc. to develop that Plan B. Costas Lapavitsas has no interest in engaging in “blame games”, wants the Syriza government to remain in power, and places his focus solely on the “obvious” and inevitable: making preparations for Grexit.
Will Greek voters be given the opportunity in the days ahead to take part in democracy again, in a referendum like July 5, which asks the question “Should Greece leave the Eurozone?”? After voting Syriza into power on January 25 with the promise to end austerity and transform both Greece and the European Union, and then registering 61% five months later in opposition to further austerity, one could predict even a 70-80% majority “Yes!” for leaving the euro, taking monetary and government/democratic decision-making power back by returning to the drachma, while lighting a fire which starts a peaceful world transformation that students will read about in history books for generations to come.
What has occurred in Greece in the little over five months since the country’s election of January 25 has resulted in a massive education of millions of men and women the world over on economics, international banking, history, political science and more. Most importantly, many millions around the Earth have gained an awareness of how negative have been the consequences for everyday people of political ideologies and financial arrangements which rose to dominance in most nations.
That newly revealed, widespread awareness will manifest in the days and weeks ahead with an ever more intense transfer of knowledge and awareness, leading to information-based actions fueled from firmer grasping of what it will take to bring about conditions of greater health and well-being for not only the people of Greece – but of people everywhere.
So, are we “all Greeks now”? Most certainly… without doubt… 100% certain.
Only fools refuse to believe that the people of Greece – and standing with them, the entire human family – will emerge victorious.
Does anyone else wonder how it is that Greece and Syriza seem to have no “Plan B”: leaving the euro, Grexit, and returning to the drachma? Like millions of men and women around the world, interest in the situation in Greece leading up to the historic “Oxi” vote on Sunday July 5 has led to reading a good number of articles and listening to reports. Recently resigned Greece Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis posted a short radio interview on his personal blog days before the July 5 vote, on July 2:
What stood out and astonished during the radio interview was Mr. Varoufakis’ talking about how European nations, upon agreeing to use the euro, were required to destroy/get rid of their drachma, lira, peso, franc, etc. printing presses. The first question which came to mind after hearing him say that was “How can he be saying that Greece hasn’t made certain to obtain printing presses to produce drachmas?” While thinking it was naive and perhaps ridiculous to make the following suggestion in a comment at Mr. Varoufakis’ blog on the printing press issue, but, since the interview didn’t reveal possible solutions, the following comment was entered:
(Note: Copy/paste from the actual post – Interesting that “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”… the comment apparently wasn’t ok’d/published)
“Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank robbing it than at any other time in my life.”
– WILLIE SUTTON, JR. (1901-1980) Bank robber
ank robber Willie Sutton Jr. is inaccurately remembered as saying in response to the question why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is”. Even though he never said those words one can assume he thought them, however it seems his main motive was the thrill and “action” that he became addicted to. Mr. Sutton’s reasons stand in sharp contrast to Goldman-Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein who infamously told a Congressional committee: “I’m doing God’s work”. Then again, perhaps Mr. Sutton and Mr. Blankfein’s motives are similar when it comes to their respective associations with banks.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and now newly-revealed Trade in Service Agreement (TiSA) are the largest trade deals in history, but an acquaintance in America – after asking him his opinion on TPP – responded he had never heard of it. Could the biggest reason the super-secret trade deals (many Americans have no awareness of them – corporate media has not reported on them) became conceptualized and drafted in secret over a period of years have been to shut down existing, and prevent multi-nation establishment of, public banks?
Provisions/legalese in the TiSA published by Wikileaks – which has sadly and ironically become the prime source of TPP/TTIP/TiSA information for elected representatives and citizens around the world – point to a major push at privatization of all public services in signatory nations, so one can logically assert this includes public banks. Because public banking makes obvious sense, and, because public banks would take many billions of dollars out of Wall Street “too-big-to-fail or jail” megabank accounts, it becomes difficult to discount public banking as possibly the main impetus for the trade deals.
A few months ago this writer, after around eight redials, got through on “Brunch With Bernie” – a long-running weekly (Fridays) call-in show on Free Speech TV – hosted by Thom Hartmann and featuring now presidential candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The topics posed for Mr. Sanders’ consideration and opinion were (1) the decades-old, global, trillion-dollar per year tax haven/evasion industry, and (2) nationalization of the Federal Reserve. Both issues have become the subject of extensive reporting on alternative/internet media for years, however the mainstream/corporate media rarely, if ever, covers them. Both topics are common knowledge to men and women who go on the internet for their news of world events.
Senator Sanders responded to question/topic (1), global tax evasion, but did not say one word in response to topic (2): nationalization of the Federal Reserve. Without being able to read another person’s mind, it is impossible to tell whether Mr. Sanders non-response was intentional or not; he may have become so excited about speaking to an issue he’s concerned about – global tax evasion – that question (2) fell away from his consciousness. Nationalization of the Federal Reserve, if it were ever to come about, would be a world-changing event, of which certainly United States politicians share an awareness. But talking about the subject seems clearly something that is – for Washington elected representatives – “taboo”.
It’s possible that Mr. Sanders non-response on nationalizing the Federal Reserve is intimately related to his desire to remain in the status of alive. In the 1830’s the 7th U.S. President Andrew Jackson reportedly survived an assassination attempt after waging a massive, lengthy fight with Wall Street bankers for control of the nation’s money supply. Jackson won the battle, and America’s money became created by a national public central bank instead of powerful private banking interests. Andrew Jackson said the following in his 1837 Farewell Address:
“The mischief springs from the power the moneyed interest derives from a paper currency they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges which they have succeeded in obtaining… and unless you become more watchful in your states and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away, and the control of your dearest interests have been passed into the hands of these corporations.”
The only state-owned public bank in America is the Bank of North Dakota, established in 1919 in response to Wall Street bankers’ buying up large numbers of foreclosed midwest farms. Many American states are now seriously considering the North Dakota model. In the following talk by former Goldman-Sachs executive in charge of derivatives trading Nomi Prins, she notes that “Wall Street’s main fear (of public banking) is losing control” and that “…even tiny chinking away at their power , it really annoys them, so they see control and power lost”.
At this point, the connection between public banking’s beneficial superiority for governments of all sizes – from city to county to state and national – and TPP/TTIP/TiSA provisions that effectively block increased presence of public banks comes more clearly into view. Many will remember signs held by men and women during the Occupy movement reading “End the Fed”. TPP/TTIP/TiSA could be compared to the Monsanto toxic product Roundup/glyphosate used for killing all plant life but for the Roundup-ready crops, making it unnecessary to devote huge labor costs on weed removal. The three massive trade deals destroy the growth of public banks (weeds) before they grow stronger, spread and become thus more difficult to manage, while leaving the status-quo, Wall Street banks (Roundup-ready crops) the only remaining financial “life-form” in the trade zones (farms).
Suggesting that absolute destruction of public banking’s real, beneficial potential is the top-tier concern of those who own the world’s largest megabanks and central banks is not meant to discount other segments of public services targeted for privatization: Postal services, electricity generation, telephone, internet infrastructures etc., water/wastewater facilities/plants, waste disposal, schools and colleges, healthcare and health facilities, public employee pension funds, and so on. The assertion here is that public banking ranks as a “tier-one” concern for the forces behind creation of TPP/TTIP/TiSA, while the remaining public services and institutions – albeit very important ones – are for the creators of these trade deals “tier-two” concerns.
Public banks, of all current public/government services, would more negatively, directly affect the élite .01% who’ve been on the receiving end of world record wealth inequality by decreasing their power and control. In their perspective public banking – if not stopped, but instead “snowballs” from local, state, regional, then nationalization of the Federal Reserve and private central banks globally – means the possible loss of every government/public account from their mega-bank corporations to public-owned financial institutions.
In a very real sense, the creators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and Trade in Service Agreement are attempting to prevent a positive, inequality-diminishing global condition equal to “the meek inheriting the Earth”.
In the following videos former Wall Street insider executive and author of “All the President’s Bankers” Nomi Prins talks about public banking, while Co-director of PopularResistance.org/attorney Kevin Zeese gives an excellent description of TPP/TTIP/TiSA. Ms. Prins’ talk is from January 2015 at a public banking conference in Colorado, while Mr. Zeese’ interview is from a few days ago.
Their combined message provides a valuable, clear perspective on major global events occurring in 2015.
The people of Barcelona – Spain’s 2nd largest city with a population of 1.6 million – elected Ada Colau as its first woman mayor. The energetic Ms. Colau has spent years as an activist in Spain working to prevent housing foreclosures, and her campaign victory signals potential great changes in the political dynamics of Europe and beyond. In her view, political and economic elites have joined to cause a rich city like Barcelona to experience increasing wealth inequality and a political crisis.
She gained the respect and appreciation of Spain’s citizens when she went to parliament and dressed down bankers invited to speak as experts:
“This man is a criminal, and you should treat him as such. He is not an expert. The representatives of financial institutions have caused this problem. They are the very same people who have caused the problem which has ruined the whole economy of this country, and you are treating these people as experts.”
Ada Colau describes her parliament address:
“Well, this reality is that I went to speak in front of the parliament after many years of housing rights activism, and working with the thousands of families that were affected by the mortgage fraud which the banks had committed, and by the evictions that came after that. The evictions and the interest rates have literally destroyed the lives of thousands of families. By destroy the lives, they’ve caused depression, disease, even suicides. The only thing I did was describe what I know and had been living on the front lines for many years.”
“When I encountered this banker who denied the reality and said there were no problems in Spain, when there were thousands of families in a dire situation, the least I could do was denounce those lies and talk to them about what was happening in reality. I think what surprised people more, and what generated a media phenomenon after this appearance in parliament, was that someone was talking about reality inside parliament. Because, sadly, this is something that had not happened in a long time.”
“In Spain, you have the paradox of, while the corrupt politicians see the statute of limitations for their crimes lapse, and they make off without going to jail, the families who got into debt for something as basic as accessing housing became indebted forever, because it is impossible to forgive this debt. So in the face of this barbarity, what happens is that hundreds of thousands of hard-working families that just wanted to have a normal life suddenly lose their jobs, they lose their house, and they become indebted for life.”
“And becoming indebted means economic and civil death. This leads to people committing suicide, to diseases, to broken families. And the positive effect of this was the birth of an exemplary people’s movement which has succeeded in stopping thousands of evictions. That forced the banks to negotiate, and it showed that if our institutions did not resolve this problem, it was because our institutions were accomplices in this fraud.”
Democracy Now host Amy Goodman: “What do you mean by a democratic revolution all over the south of Europe?”
“What is happening in Spain and in Barcelona is not an isolated event, rather there’s a crisis in the way we do politics. There is a political elite which has become corrupt and has ended up as accomplices of a financial power which only thinks to speculate and to make money, even at the expense of rising inequality and the impoverishment of the majority of the people. Fortunately, there’s been a popular reaction here and in other parts of the Mediterranean, for example in Greece, to confront the neoliberal policies which are not only a problem in Spain but in Europe and around the world.”
“We see very clearly that the city councils are key to confronting this way of making policy, meaning that is where the everyday policies are made and where we can prove there is another way to govern – more inclusive, working together with the people, more than just asking them to vote every four years, and that you can fight against corruption and have transparent institutions. So, we think the city governments are key for democratic revolutions, to begin governing with the people in a new way. But on the other hand, we’re very aware that the real change must be global, that one city alone cannot solve all the problems we’re facing, many of which are global because today the economy does not have borders – the big capital and the markets move freely around the world, unlike people.”
Ms. Goodman asks about a public banking system’s potential in Spain.
“I think in the financial world there’s been a problem of absolute misrule. You can’t leave something as important as economic policy and money which has a social value in the hands of speculation and private interests. Here, there’s been a democratic deficit and a lack of global, collective and democratic control over money and the economic system in general. So we have to take back that democratic control, and that doesn’t mean that all the banks have to be public. It can be implemented in different ways.”
“What we need are laws that make private banks comply with the law, because now in Spain we have a banking system that breaks the law systematically and nothing happens. For us, the people, they don’t forgive anything. They make us pay all our debts; they make us pay all our taxes; they make us pay each small traffic ticket; they don’t forgive anything. But the big banks, on the other hand, which have lied, defrauded, and destroyed thousands of families are forgiven for, for example, breaking European consumer protections.”
“So this is unacceptable. The first thing we need is governments that serve their people, not the private interests, and that enforce the law. We’re talking about something as basic as enforcing the existing law. The first thing we need is to force the financial power to comply with the law and to obey the democratic power – something that is not happening now. It’s also true that t would be good if private financial power is complemented by some form of public bank that offsets and guarantees that there’s financing for what is in the public interest. Because, if not, what happens is that the private financial system has the power to decide what is funded and what is not funded.”
On her arrest for civil disobedience in banks:
“When we have unjust laws like the ones we have in Spain, oner has to massively disobey those unjust laws to defend human rights. Here, the right to housing is being infringed upon and that’s why thousands of people, in a peaceful manner, we’ve had to practice civil disobedience, to defend human rights. In this sense, this action was one of many that have been performed in this country, and not by me, but by many other people who have defended the human rights of all the others. Throughout human history it has happened this way – in order to defend rights and to win rights, many times it has been necessary to disobey unjust laws.”
“Of course, now as Mayor of Barcelona, I hope the police will be in the service of human rights, and not of the banks.”
“Movements around the world have had many things in common. First, the global dimension; the awareness that there are political and economic problems that have a global dimension. So we need to work as a network because there’s a single global economic reality and it’s essential to work in alliances. Also, the necessity for real democracy – the awareness that even if we have formally democratic institutions, we have the sense that decisions are not being made in parliament, but by the boards of directors or by international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, which are profoundly undemocratic – and which the people do not control, and they make decisions against their own people generating misery around the world.”
“This awareness of a kidnapped democracy has led to the rise of many grassroots mobilizations propelled from the bottom by the people, which are seeking a way of direct representation. They’ve seen that formal democracy is not enough, that we need to find new ways of political participation where everyone can be an actor and each person can directly contribute as much as each person can contribute. So, I think that all of these mobilizations which have happened in the last 15 years, that has also increasingly used new technologies – the internet, social media, that have produced new forms of innovative and direct communication – in some way we are seeing an upgrade of democracy, an upgrade of the forms of political participation that have had many different expressions and different global movements. But there’s clearly a nexus that unites them all.”
After a few more comments, including on transformative, positivist values when women enter politics, the new Mayor of Barcelona, Spain Ada Colau said, “A political change is happening – the people have been empowered.”
Palestinians are at the heart of the conflict in the M.E Palestinians uprooted by force of arms.. Yet faced immense difficulties have survived, kept alive their history and culture, passed keys of family homes in occupied Palestine from one generation to the next.
This blog is devoted to legal, historical and human rights matters, in which issues of general concern are addressed freely and spontaneously. It is intended to further an informal exchange of views in the democratic spirit of freedom of opinion and respect for the opinions of others, in an effort to understand rather than condemn, to propose constructive solutions rather than grandstand. The perspective is both from inside and outside the box and the added value lies more in the questions than in the answers.