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In the mind of Papandreou's loaded gun
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-11-02 07:17:41
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Two years ago and while the Greek economic crisis was reaching one of her peaks, with Mr. Papandreou trying to handle his first days as prime minister in front the disastrous situation, in a speech for the Greek parliament he said that there is always a loaded gun waiting under the table. Most of us noted the words and I presume we did understand the message but we tried to avoid further analysis. Until last night when the Greek prime minister put the loaded gun on the table. When Mr. Papandreou talked about a loaded gun two years ago main recipients of his message were the Europeans and the international economic community; when he put it on the table last night his recipients were internal and external and I’m afraid the targets included him.

The economic crisis is not something new and it started at least two decades ago when the national gold became shares and the national budget issue of gabling in the New York stock exchange. When economic lobbies became so strong that people like George Soros have the power to advise or threaten governments including superpowers and when overproducing and overconsuming outwitted the people and became states’ reality. States’ debt from the bankrupted African countries to USA became a fact in the 21st century and banks turned out to be the regulators of the national economy. And all that creating a two-ways parasitic relationship where the states cannot survive without the banks and the banks depend on the states.

The same time Europe was living her own drama doing repeatedly mistakes based on wrong judgments or better lacking political strength to take united decisions. Barroso as the president and Solana in the foreign office led Europe to her most unbalance period with the American invasion to Iraq its climax, separating Europe to different sides with different agendas. The expansion to ten in the beginning, twelve soon after, countries joined with the common currency led the continent instead of a unification to a worst separation. The common currency needed political support and the then European leadership for unexplained reasons hoped that quantity will bring quality and unification in front of the common aims - political and economic. The only thing the expansion brought was more troubles. The majority of these new member states were not ready to join the Union in many levels, – even today most still suffering of corruption, lack of democracy in parts and judicature problems like Romania or Bulgaria - bribing Poland through millions in subsidies to become a member it's scandalous or ignoring serious internal problems in a bureaucracy and a justice living in the far past like Latvia or Estonia unacceptable.

But the worst political mistake was still not here and it came out with all the effect to enforce a common constitution. Two negative referendums for the constitution send off balance the whole Europe that was not prepared for the rejection. There was no plan B and no way-out of the dead lock the member states and especially the leadership of the Union found itself. Actually plan B is an unknown word for the European leadership and they prove it constantly with the economic crisis when the only thing they do is experimenting with temporary solutions postponing final political decisions. And Greece the last two years have become the guinea pig of all those crash-tests and experiments; you see it is easier experimenting with the 2% the Greek economy represents in the Union than with Spain or Italy for example. Here comes the major mistake, everything the European leadership does the last decade is amateuristic and without a plan, just throwing ideas and try to apply non-tested theories, often already rejected in practice in other sides of the economic life and that because arrogantly they thought that they can conquer without any battle and based in illusions built on wishful thoughts. Papandreou just like every other European leader knew very well and from inside about all these and by making the hint of a loaded gun two years ago he tried to pass the message that the fragile European economy and unity is depending even from the smallest player. The domino effect, that has been often mentioned the last two years has already started long before.

Greece has been under a lot of pressure; a partner demanding guarantees while profiting from the situation and another one forcing rules that threaten national sovereignty are not easily accepted from any nation and a public that feels that its dignity is sacrificed for the best of the banks and naturaly will bring some kind of reaction. Papandreou also has been under a lot of pressure part of which we know and part we don’t know. And he has been under a lot of pressure also internally not only from the demonstrators or the continuing marches in most of the Greek cities but also from an opposition represented by a megalomaniac, pompous and definitely opportunistic leader Mr. Samaras with one and only aim under any circumstances, the Prime Minster’s seat. And when the pressure from all the sides reached his limits the loaded gun landed on the table in the form of a referendum questioning if the public wanted the help and in extent the demanded measures or they wanted the government to reject them and find a new way out that might include exit form the euro-zone.

And of course Europe reacted hysterically with the shares in the markets diving deep since as I wrote before there was never plan B or a defence alternative, a mechanism to anything going a different way. Actually they tried to find alternatives now experimenting on Greece. The European leadership reacted equally hysterically organizing meetings and calling the Greek Prime minister to consider the European unity and the dangers a rejection from the referendum will bring to Europe forgetting conveniently and hypocritically how they treated this unity and solidarity when Greece was on the other side. The same time in the internal front while all these months the opposition accused Papandreou for selling-out Greece to the banks with humiliating terms, now rejects the referendum accusing him for ...endangering the very same terms they were rejecting. Schizophrenia? No, hypocrisy.

But Papandreou made also his lethal mistakes. First of all he forgot that he’s not part of the solution but part of the problem and his party is major part of the problem. The debt and the political problem didn’t come out of the blue five years ago, it was built the last thirty years and he - with most of his party comrades - were in governments the last thirty years with tens of scandals and cover ups following them. Actually this cover up continues even today often using or manipulating the laws and their flaws. Papandreou in the eyes of the Greek people is not innocent of what happened to Greece and on top of that he was elected promising salvation while using methods – empty promises and populist slogans – used in the past he was supposed to fight. On top of that his own party as part of the problem is not going to disengaged from the power that partly founded and created so easily.

Adding to that an opposition motivated only from their wish to power led and staffed from the very same people that ruled the country a few years ago and brought the country to this situation this loaded gun I’m afraid is going to backfire to a lot of targets including the holder. If Papandreou had used this gun more convincingly two years ago while he was negotiating the terms of the help with IMF and European partners, might – emphasize this might – something would have turned better for the Greek people. This moment I’m afraid nothing good will come out, neither the European leadership or the Greek people have the nerves and the self-control to see facts and the domino effect just continues its route.

In the meantime some continue profiting uncontrollably and immorally in the pain of the Greek people and the European leadership continues eating their nails wandering who’s next in this Russian roulette.

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Emanuel Paparella2011-11-02 09:19:14
What is intriguing for me in this analysis of the Greek financial crisis which is also the crisis of the EU and the euro is that ominous metaphor of the loaded gun placed on the table. Of course a gun can be used to defend oneself, or to intimidate and threaten others for indeed in a Machiavellian world he who carries the biggest gun commands the greatest respect. But the gun can also be used to commit suicide. As I have attempted to suggest at the end of my article on Utopia and the search for a new paradigm in Western Civilization, we are currently at the crossroads in the West, at the crossroads where the past meets the future and we must choose: either continue with old senile paradigms of civilization and social arrangements, with old false assumptions i.e., continue pouring new wine in old bottles, or summon enough courage and imagination to envision a new paradigm for a new civilization, or better for a civilization which will resurrect like a sphinx from its own bitter ashes and experience a new rebirth or renaissance. That has happened before and can happen again in Western civilization; it is one of its unique features. If it happens, and there is no guarantee that it will, it will come not from the seats of power and greed and over-production and over-consumption where a fulfilled life is measure with what one has in one’s banks, but rather from a place of decline and exhaustion which indeed is the exhaustion and the decline of the whole civilization as it manifests itself nowadays, from the place where it all began, the place of origins: Greece. Greece is the place where we either create a new Renaissance with new assumptions buttressed by a radically new paradigm of what a full life ought to mean, or we commit suicide as a civilization. Quite often in history the end is in the beginning and in the beginning there is the end. The injunction of Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living applies alas to civilizations too: the unexamined civilization is not worth living and dying for. The existential dread of being human is that one needs to choose one’s destiny, the way one lives and the way one dies. Civilizations too like people die the way they live. Indeed, the gun is on the table and the choice of whether to commit suicide or envision a new renaissance remains ours.

Thanos2011-11-02 14:06:00
I'm afraid your headline says everything, is the "loss of the utopia", a vision!

Leah Sellers2011-11-02 20:56:15
Hello Sir Thanos,
Well written and interesting article. Thank you for expanding my knowledge of Greece and the Euros dilemmas.
What a ride the Banks and Elitist Few of the World have all of Us on.
Now we are second guessing everything, when the Answers to all of the Questions are staring Us right in the face.
We are just Choosing not to truly See them.
In order to truly See anything one must become a Visionary of sorts.
Imagine that, a world full of Benevolent Utopian Visionaries. Now, that would be worth taking an Honest gander at. Ha !

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