Monday, 29 February 2016

Can US Style 'Multiculturalism' Apply to EU Nation States?


The issue that confronts every thinking person today regarding globalisation and its effects in every society is the question of multiculturalism.
26 February 2016
Can US Style ‘Multiculturalism’ Apply to EU Nation States?
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In trying to analyse why America never really had a mass movement for equality (or socialism), Steinbeck noted that “we didn’t have any self-admitted workers. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist.[i]” What made America different from Europe?
The collapse of the feudal order i.e. the system that was based on monarchies and land, and the emergence of a system based on markets and products, occurred for roughly 500 years, from around 1500 to the early 20th century. Throughout this period of history we had in Europe the emergence of capitalist nation states, the creation of a uniformity in language, and culture to the extent each specific country developed, and to the extent it was integrated within larger economic and political zones created by the growth of Empires (sterling, francophone etc.) The emergence of the USA as the dominant world power due to the collapse of the European powers in two world wars led inadvertently to the adoption of the American multicultural system as the role model for the rest of the world.
Mass Immigration, Private Armies and Multiculturalism
The issue that confronts every thinking person today regarding globalisation and its effects in every society is the question of multiculturalism. Alongside globalisation, from nowhere suddenly appeared, millions of people from many countries in nearly every European metropolis. Are there historical examples for this event? Is it an organised plan? Without history as a guide for what is occurring no one is able to find a serious answer to the questions and concerns many have. The problem though remains: which particular history are we going to research? Where will we find answers for today?
The American state is the prototype as it wasn’t created from scratch due to some racial, national or cultural rebellion of a certain nation against another. Instead, it was a product of the expansion of European colonists on a new geographic plateau. The reasons as to why the Europeans went there aren’t part of this brief analysis. But the fact that they travelled from many European countries of different tongues and cultures does have some historical weight, when the original Americans, were those called ‘Indians’ and were erased by the pogroms of the colonialists and the importation of disease during the various phases of the expansion on the soil of the USA. Based on this experience and on what occurred in South Africa, the European would be global neo-colonialist was full of praise for the methods of concentration camps and reservations.[ii]
What distinguishes therefore a state of settlers from the indigenous development of a nation? That is the question that needs analysing. The settler doesn’t try to develop a country, on the contrary, he wants to survive firstly in his new surroundings, and the general wellbeing is subsumed into individual advancement. That is why when the colonists arrived in the USA, they sent the Indians to ‘paradise,’ and then they imported black slaves so as to continue the productive relationships with Old Europe - by creating their own version of heaven on earth: a society based on slavery. Many colonists were funded by European governments to create businesses in the USA and to send back their produce for a monetary gain. Thus the colonists were an extension of Europe, but without anyone essentially in charge and without a national coordinator. It is essentially like that in our days as well.
The development of the USA in the 19th century and the rise of the labour movement contained within it many new phenomena that weren’t the same as the rest of Europe. Three basic characteristics show a particular development:
  • Firstly migrants were leaving Europe en masse and going to the US in the latter half of 19thcentury. No such movement was happening towards Europe.
  • The use of private armies for the confrontation against strikes-popular demands was unique to the USA.
  • The non-existence a labour movement during the period of industrialisation of the country was specific to the USA.
No other advanced capitalist country had such an exceptional history. Bourgeois historical analysts had identified the historical peculiarity of America, but they had never focused on explaining how the country with the most advanced technology has the most backward civil rights movement for two centuries now? This historical contradiction is one that I will try to analyse, but not fully, as history is a work in progress and reality may disprove this basic analysis.
The creation of industrialised national companies in transportation, electricity, oil etc. created the so-called robber barons, arch-sharks and the American version of Aristotle Onassis (Rockefellers, Carnegies, Morgans etc.) Whole cities belonged to a single company. The American factories, the housing, the food distribution centres and, in parallel, the creation of private armies which supported the interests of the owners. Even the Federal Reserve Bank became a private concern. Politics became a vehicle for business and overt corruption as exemplified by Mark Twain’s novelThe Gilded Age were everyone was on the make and the take (Tammany Hall), as the population boom after the end of the US civil war increased by an amazing 25% in a single decade…
The Creation of the USA: Multiculturalism Without Limits    
The arrival of immigrants from the USA in the 19th century was the following:       
  • 1841-50 - 1.7 million people
  • 1851-60- 2.6m
  • 1861-70-2.3m
  • 1871-80-2.8m
  • 1891-00-3.7m
  • 1901-10-9m
  • 1911-20-5.8m
In the 1850-60s the first unions of workers were created (Knights of Labour) with the result being to try to maintain their work, as there was a mass immigrant flood. The fact that America hadn’t as yet industrialised and hadn’t been occupied from one end to another meant that many movements could occur from area to area. In the first 40 years of the period we are analysing, immigrants came from Germany, England, Ireland, China and the Scandinavian countries. After the 1880’s immigrants came from Italy, Greece, Korea, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines. No other country on earth in that period of history had such a migrant flow from all the corners of the earth. No country since either.
The right of the bosses to recruit whomever they wanted, whenever they wanted, under a regime of permanent importation of foreign-born labour, made the creation of real unions almost impossible. A characteristic example is a not too well publicised book in Greece, but one that is very important for our days, which was printed in Greece by the KKE (the Greek Communist Party), The Unknown History of the Labour Movement in the USA’ (1993).
There we see a description as to how the American bosses functioned in the 19th century (bold mine):
The contractors make their appearance as representatives of the American flag in the most impoverished parts of Hungary, Italy, Denmark, they say stories about fantastic wages in America, they lie to the impoverished souls and they get them to sign contracts which aim to provide funds for the trip which very few understand. When they arrive at the pre-agreed destination of the contracts, they discover that their golden dreams have turned into a nightmare as they make them work in mines factories or railroads, with even lower wages than their compatriots, whose place they take. (p.121)
John Swinton’s Newspaper, 30th December 1883                                                                   
In the publication of 18th May 1884, Swinton recounted that thousands of Hungarians were imported into the areas of Connellsville in Pennsylvania where the young Frick made millions. Here sixteen men and women were placed in small huts, each the size of 2.5 to 3m. This was a usual phenomenon. The owners “turned the English against the Irish and the opposite... the Germans against both... they maintained a constant war amongst the tribes... The harshness was described openly by the words of an owner: “It’s better to lose two men, than a cow.”
These industrialist slaves were also used as strike breakers... They were recruited so as to go into work, without knowing their rights... Honest working men... these poor souls, from poor Italy, would never play the role of a strike breaker if they could choose. Butthey couldntFrom the ships they were received like herds in scenes of frightening violence, they passed them via the lines of strikers who fought throwing stones and swearing towards the gates of the closed factories or the mines whilst everywhere there were battles.[iii]
The first unions tried to block the importation of foreign born labour as contracts were signed in other countries, but they weren’t able to defeat the bosses on this crucial issue.
Multiculturalism: The Main Reason for the Backwardness of the American Labour Movement?
The question that arose is as follows: whilst America had the most advanced technology on earth in relation with Old Europe (despite that it almost always used Europeans for its technological advancement!) why did the labour movement remain so backward in relation to the European one? In contrast to all other industrialised metropolises the USA never created a pan-national labour movement with parliamentary representation. The closest it came to this was the growth of the Socialist Party[iv] prior to WW1 and the emergence of the CIO[v] (Congress of Industrial Organizations) via the sit-down strikes of the 1930’s.
Whenever there was a strike, a security company with arms in hand was called to defend the interests of the bosses. The characteristic of the era was that due to the unlimited number of immigrants, one strike could easily be replaced by newly arrived immigrants who got work as the spies-grassers of the security company of the bosses and then they stole the work of those who came before them. Until, of course, their time came up for firing and then the same thing happened to them. The most famous company was called Pinkertons and it was created so as to help the bosses maintain low wages. The strike-breakers were given prominence.
Victor Serge, a revolutionist in the time of Lenin, had written this about this period:
In the United States, the participation of the private police in the conflicts between labour and capital has grown fearfully. The offices of famous private detectives provide the capitalists with discreet informers, expert provocateurs, riflemen, guards, foremen and also totally corrupt “trade union militants”. The Pinkertons, Burns and Thiels detective agencies have 100 head offices and about 10,000 branches: they supposedly employ 135,000 people. Their annual budget comes to $65 million. They have set up industrial espionage, factory-floor espionage, espionage in the workshop, the shipyards, offices, and wherever there are workers employed. They have created the prototype of the worker-informer.[vi]
From the Marxist tradition people have grappled with the issue. Examples are Engels and Trotsky, who each in their way and their own period of history tried to find answers. Engels tried to do so towards the end of the 19th century, Trotsky during the period of Roosevelt’s New Deal[vii]. US exceptionalism alone cannot explain the phenomena. In an article just before he was murdered, the Russian Revolutionary Leon Trotsky tried to outline the differences between the European labour movement and the American one[viii], by making the observation that in every European country we had the creation of national unions and political parties of the working class, but not in the USA.  We have one party with two names: Democrats and Republicans. On this issue very few have paid attention, assuming that America is simply an extension of Europe and the same with Europe, but in reality it is an abortion of it.
Reduction of the Immigrant Cataclysm-Rise in Peoples Power
Up until the First World War, the Americans didn’t have a national Labour Party, nor did they have national unions. Their rise occurred after the end of WW1, with the ending of the importation of foreign-born labour, in particular after 1924. The 1929 crash led to one in three Americans becoming unemployed and this destruction led those remaining in work to fight to maintain their jobs by engaging serious struggles. Thus were formed the national unions. The rise of the post-war labour movement of equality with blacks in America (CIO allowed black members in 1935), almost led to the creation of a national labour party as the one that existed in England (Labour Party) or Germany (Social Democratic Party).  Almost.
But it never occurred, even after the global meltdown following 1973 that hit the advanced capitalist countries. In the 1980’s decade we had a new round of foreign born labour being imported into the USA which led to 10% of the population coming from one country, Mexico, whilst the total volume of immigrants became equivalent to more than 40-50 million during the last 25 years[ix].
The creation of a state-excrescence with many nationalities where each lived in its own ghetto while the state had the supra-national role of overseeing ‘good behaviour’ of the ghettoes, led to the creation of an infamous theory of progressive ‘multiculturalism’, which isn’t related to the peaceful co-existence of the various nationalities, but to a society whose aim is a race to the bottom and where relationships are based on backs against the wall in various ghettos. From here comes the common refrain that trying to say anything political that does not cause offence is like walking on eggshells. The police and the state security services became the final arbiters.
The national products of America in food for instance, are of a worse standard than anything produced by the nation states of Old Europe, as America is forced to produce products of low quality so that they can be acceptable across the board for all the various nationalities. Thus they have neither any taste nor any characteristic, nor any particular quality. In the final analysis that is the aim of the ‘multicultural’ melting pot. For every peoples/nation to lose their history, their traditions, their diet and their historical means of survival. All of this is done not to replace a given with something of a higher standard. An industry of fast food, with the imported junk of low cost is therefore directly related to the rot of intellectual thought for those who are apologists of “multiculturalism”. Those who propagate that American multiculturalism is the highest standard achieved by humanity - at a time when we all recognise that it is a system in dissolution of a perpetual race to the bottom with the aim of getting people to fight each other so a higher power can manipulate and control them better - will be defeated by the nations that want to survive. Assuming, of course, there are any. TTIP, GM foods and Monsanto are in no way the high point of human civilisation we must all emulate.
It’s no coincidence that as noted in the passage below by a US General Thomas P. Barnett in his book Blueprint for Action that:
We will rarely find societies adequately prepared –  either intellectually or emotionally – for the travails that lie ahead. Instead the elements most prepared will be those most willing to wage bloody resistance against this process: educated, worldly young men who are familiar with the future we offer and have already decided that it is corrupting beyond all reason. So yes I do account for non-rational actors in my worldview. And when they threaten violence against the global order, I say Kill them’[x].
Industrial scale ‘Multiculturalism’                                          
There is obviously a difference between countries that had modern colonial empires in the recent historical past, such as Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal etc. and those that were parts of other Empires, like Greece or Serbia. They aren’t the same. Creating mini-USA’s in every country cannot but create a justified nationalist backlash, as the independence of small states was gained through battles sometimes beyond human comprehension as the example of Serbia shows when it lost 75% of all its adult males during WW1 in its independence struggle against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Nowadays we have organised NGO’s helping millions relocate, labour agencies offering work contracts in countries other than the ones the applicants are residing in (widespread in Eastern Europe for workers to work in Western Europe), electronic spying on all employees via CCTVs, the monitoring of emails etc. A recent European Court ruling held that workers have no right to privacy. The massive growth of globalised non-union labour in every major metropolis and the massive overwhelming retreat of labour rights is evidenced by plans to introduce 1 Euro an hour wage for newly arrived migrants to Germany[xi].
This shift towards the 19th century labour practices of the USA started forcefully in Europe after 1989. It began in the UK and France (the two countries with large ex-colonial empires). The role model was then adopted to a lesser or greater degree by those politically tied to these centres of imperialism. ‘Antiracist’ laws have been passed in a series of countries making it a criminal offence to criticise either ‘multiculturalism’ or any ethnic group, despite the evidence of ghettoes in schooling, living accommodation and social-cultural outlooks[xii].
The level of integration of the nation state

Greece had around 98% homogeneity achieved in over 70 years of a rigid school curriculum, one national religion, one language (with regional dialects), and a national cuisine. This resulted in a uniformity where a ‘multinational’ existence created by the presence of different foreign-born migrants didn’t grow organically over a period of decades - as in America - but grew in the space of 25 years - at a breakneck speed. Just as assimilation was going to occur - as for instance in the case of the large Albanian community within Greece (their offspring went to Greek schools while the parents did not) -  the rug was pulled under their feet with the collapse of the building trade where a majority of Albanians worked. Many have been forced to emigrate once more.
American multiculturalism grew throughout the 19th century and in the latter half of the 20thcentury on solid foundations even ghettoised ethnic communities existed. That’s what’s unique about America. It’s no coincidence that Americans greet themselves with the prefix Irish-American, Italian-American or African-American. Greece on the other hand, had to fight tooth and nail over a period of around 150 years to first of all secure its land and sea borders (from the 1821 Greek Revolution to the incorporation of the Dodecanese Islands e.g. Rhodes, Kos etc. in 1948). No Albanian greets himself as Albanian-Greek neither does any Bangladeshi that resides in Greece greet himself as Bangladeshi-Greek.
The agenda therefore is not only to have a globalised labour movement, but to have a globalised society, a melting pot of inter-ethnic ghettoes. If anyone raises his heads above the parapet, he will be crushed. The mean can vary. From fines and imprisonment up to targeted assassinations. The form which is being created mirrors the large transnationals that rule the world as they can operate in any country, have a multinational managerial administration and utilise whatever labour force they see fit. The old nation-states of Europe are now on suicide watch. They will be blown apart if the people that reside in them don’t organise to stop this globalist NWO agenda.

[i]  “Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle class, middle aged people playing a game of dreams. I remember a woman in easy circumstances saying to another even more affluent: “After the revolution we will have more, won’t we dear?” Then there was another lover of proletarians who used to raise hell with Sunday picnickers on her property”.
“I guess the trouble was that we didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the Investigation Committee were a danger to America, but the ones I knew – at least they claimed to be Communists – couldn’t have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides, they were too busy fighting among themselves”. Steinbeck, J.,  A Primer on the ‘30s, Esquire, June 1960: 85-93
[ii] “Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination –by starvation and uneven combat – of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity,” Toland, J., Adolf Hitler, p. 202
[iv] The Socialist Party founded in 1901 once received 6% of the national vote
[vi] Victor Serge: What everyone should know about repression
[vii] Engel’s Letter to Sorge about US Labour:
“Then, and more especially, immigration, which divides the workers into two groups: the native-born and the foreigners, and the latter in turn into (1) the Irish, (2) the Germans, (3) the many small groups, each of which only understands only itself: Czechs, Poles, Italians, Scandinavians, etc. And then the Negroes. To form a single party out of these requires quite unusually powerful incentives. Often there is a sudden violent élan, but the bourgeoisie need only wait passively and the dissimilar elements of the working class fall apart again”.
[x] Barnett, Thomas, P., Blueprint for Action, p. 282
[xii] German Historian to be prosecuted by Greece in anti-racist law

Robert Michael Smith, From Blackjacks to Briefcases              
Vernon Briggs, Mass Immigration and the National Interest

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Troikas War on Housing Greek Homelessness Goes Mainstream

Despite the numerous bailouts, the Troika wants even more and implies additional taxation on Greeks with low to no income
12 February 2016
Troika’s War on Housing: Greek Homelessness Goes Mainstream
Greeks have had a love-hate relationship with housing that is closely tied to their turbulent history. They have been displaced, bombed, evicted and robbed so many times in the last few centuries, that housing, takes on a very high importance in Greek consciousness, and stands next to family. Since the 2007/8 Wall Street crash, housing has become a central topic after unemployment in all discussions in Greece, and with it, all related subject matter: mortgages, ENFIA (property tax), evictions, homelessness, electricity and water cutoffs, squats and migrants.
The 1950-60’s Property Boom
After the decade of war, a triple occupation and a civil war (1939-49) Greeks started to try to rebuild their lives. Athens went through the Karamanlis ‘property boom’ which was closely linked to hard-fought battles by the builders union and associated trade unions (plumbers, electricians etc.) Athens had an LA style redevelopment, growing from a city of 300,000 to 5,000,000 m people in an ad hoc manner. First plots of land were divided up and sold, then property was built on it step by step, floor by floor, over generations. Most properties were originally single story high, with a small back garden and sometimes a well, and a basement - which was either rented out or used as a hideout from German bombs in WW2. Sewage and water pipes didn’t really exist as septic tanks were dug out, and companies with lorries were paid privately to empty them, and other companies were used to sell water and ice, the most famous being Power - a German company in the pre-war era.
Building was basic using sand and mortar to create cement, and marble was crushed to create floors. All scaffolding was wooden and the hog carriers used their body. Machinery was very limited and often non-existent. Roads, town squares, street lighting and sewage came after enough building were erected in any area. Town planning was an alien concept. It was a free for all. Most roads were created in early 20th century for horse and carts and were narrow. Many of the older boroughs of Athens are still the same. Height was limited to 3-4 stories at the most. The only real benefit, of course, was that one owned the house, there was no mortgage, and it was paid for through hard graft. Hence, Athens has limited green spaces, at most 3% overall, and the only outlets are the mountains and the sea coast (which is being hived off and closed for poor people.)
In a nutshell, that is how around 70% of Greek housing was built, after World War Two. Renting was to be avoided at all costs unless one was to be relocated to another city for professional reasons. Owning property was there to gain some stability and many families just ended up building upwards where their kids and grandkids would eventually reside.
Social housing didn’t exist much. It came into existence with the government assigning land for the one million displaced after the failed invasion of Turkey at the behest of Anglo-French imperialism at the end of WW1. Post war they built a few apartment blocks which belonged to the Organisation of Workers Residence (OEK) for which you had to jump so many hurdles that it was easier to become an Olympic 100m hurdle jumper. During the Olympic games, many properties were handed over to Albanian migrants, displacing Greeks from this right as well. Now all these organisations have been shut out.
Troika and the Property Tax
Despite all Greeks banks receiving over Euro 200 billion, new property taxes on top of existing ones were introduced in 2008, based on the square metres of each property and its value during the height of the market.
There are 6.3m housing units in Greece, 45% of which are flats, and around 35sqm is the average space assigned to each citizen, with 3 bed flats being the largest (2.5m units) and 1 - 2 bed flats being the second most popular (1.5m units).
The high levels of home ownership and the low levels of indebtedness in relation to housing and mortgages, meant the economic sparks of the IMF had to come up with come up with a policy to generate income for the appetites of insatiable banksters (who have no issues claiming $500m yearly salaries) and this became the infamousharatsi (word originates from the taxes imposed on land by the Ottoman Empire) to the tune of around Euro 2.5b a year.
So having paid off their houses on the whole in full, Greeks now had to pay rent to live in them to the Troika. In work, out of work, disabled or not, money had to be paid. There were no exceptions. Initially, the tax was provisional, then it became… permanent. One politician after another (Samaras, Tsipras etc.) would abolish it or not pay it. Then it became under Syriza a patriotic duty to pay up, after standing on a pre-electoral platform that it would be abolished.
Taxing people with no source of income was the new fashion as they invented taxable criteria based on what is owned by abolishing minimum (un)taxed thresholds. From progressive taxation we went the full hog to regressive taxation, so if someone happened to have been given a village home from the parents but had never lived in it, or even kept it up to a minimum standard, the mere fact of ownership entailed a tax which was calculated on the absurd notion of assigning fictional values to ownership. So for instance, owning a one bed flat and a car meant that the taxable income could be (1 bed tax = Euro 4k x 10% = 400 per annum, and for the car it was 1.6cc engine Euro 2000 x 10% = Euro 200 per annum) liable to Euro 600 per annum, just for living in Greece. This would be separate to any income earned, which would be taxed separately irrespective if one was unemployed, or severely disabled and could not physically earn a living.
The tax was introduced initially via electricity bills (the way Greek taxes were collected for the local council, the property was in and the state owned broadcaster ERT). Failure to pay meant cut offs. Committees of Non-Payment were created, and many only paid their electricity bill. The government gave the green light to private debt committees to collect taxes, and they would go round with lists of people, and if they didn’t pay up they would cut them off the electricity grid. Countless are the stories of diabetic patients or patients on life support machines being cut off and dying soon thereafter. Then committees (most famous being Can’t Pay - Won’t Pay) sprang up going round re-connecting poor households. Then the electricity union broke into the headquarters of the electricity supplier and shed light on all. Around 50% of people hadn’t paid a penny to this tax. Once this became known, the Troika informed its politicians in Athens to transfer this tax onto the tax office. Avoiding the tax via the tax office would lead to automatic deductions from the tax office and automatic penalties.
The war on property is due to the fact that it is immobile and cannot be hidden. But having empty properties or empty business premises and being taxed, whilst in general business foreclosures alongside unemployment and wage reductions went through the roof, one gets the general impression that this is a hit-and-run mission. No one has ever heard of being taxed for half built properties or being taxed just because one owns land irrespective of whether it provides a source of income. Where logic ends, the Troika begins…
Hotspots: The new illegal immigrant terror threat
During 2009, the Thrace and Macedonia regions in Northern Greece were discussed as being areas of creating special economic zones based on the maquila model from Central and Latin America. Mass immigration has as its aim driving wages down to below Chinese levels, but the issue remains that if the cost of living is greater than that - how could one live and survive? By essentially reducing the levels, to countries like Bangladesh, where you live in shacks and work all hours under the sun for a bowl of rice, they are trying to lower peoples expectations so they never expect anything from anyone. Hence the sellout by Syriza is all the more important, as it is generating the idea that all politics by its very nature is corrupt, and the Left in particular is the most corrupt of all, as going from a programme which was to inaugurate a minimum subsistence level (unemployment pay and a rent subsidy), we are now going full steam ahead for mass evictions, and the parking of hundreds of thousands of illegals to create the usual divide and rule diversions so as to be able to bring the police back into motion to lord over the scavengers, Greek and illegals, trying to eke out a living in the same geographical space.
Parking 400,000-1,000,000 people on Greek islands without the agreement of the locals will put massive pressure on non-existent resources under a situation where the IMF has already imposed a scorched earth policy in most areas of social welfare, and will create the conditions for a social tinderbox. When Defence Minister Kammenos as a loyal lapdog of the EU landed by military helicopter in Kos, he couldn’t go to the town, and landed on a field which he said would now belong to the state to house tens of thousands of alleged refugees, when in reality their agenda is a fast track approach for a new reserve army to replace in totality recalcitrant Greeks. The use of riot police to crack heads open in Kos… and then that Syriza MPs labelled them ‘nazis’ does not bode well for what is yet to come.
Homelessness and Repossessions
Everyone realises that people in their mid-50’s have absolutely zero chance of finding another job. If one is made unemployed then, and one doesn’t own a flat or have an extended family, it is easy to find oneself on the street. Thousands became homeless, the centre of Athens was full of people sleeping rough.  Most landlords held out for anything between 6-12 months to see if anything can be done in terms of rent. Countless are the stories of adverts in the media where landlords rent out flats for free as long as the haratsi is paid. Endless are the stories of unemployed children who subsequently got married, had children, etc. and had to move back in with their parents - if they are still alive of course. As a consequence of this economic war against people on behalf of banks, we are led to the ludicrous scenario of banks’ ‘bad’ debts being paid back via bailouts (over Euro 250 billion paid by taxpayer), and then the same banks inaugurate a programme of mass repossessions.
There are around 1.2m mortgages still outstanding, of which around 400,000 are in the red, of which 800,000 are for housing (the others are for businesses) - out of a total of 6.3m houses. A section of these mortgages are linked to hotels and the tourist industry, which had exclusive funding once the Euro was introduced into Greece. Some of these are commercially viable, but due to the inability to re-finance, the banks obviously want the properties, as they can make a killing by buying them up at auction.  As everyone knows, auctions are essentially ‘inside jobs’ for the best properties. In total therefore the amount of houses that are in the red are 6% out of a total of 6.3m homes, a very small amount. In Greece, the war on housing couldn’t exist directly, but only indirectly via taxation - which is where the property tax haratsicame in. They engineered so that all would pay rent to the Troika for just happening to live in Greece.
The remaining properties which are peoples’ housing are of course under threat, but due to their specific nature (a majority are apartments in blocks), and due to the massive collapse in prices, many of them are commercially worthless. There is no logic in buying them even at auction. A cursory glance at the website Xrises Efkeries(Golden Chances – local version of Ebay), shows tens of thousands of properties for sale in the major cities, ranging from Euro 3,000 to Euro 50,000 when 8 years before the cheapest would have been around Euro 50,000. Around 200,000 are currently on the market. Adding thousands more via auctions will depress the market even further down.
A rapid glance of the repossession procedure shows that it costs money to process and takes time: around 3-4 months (and a minimum of Euro 3,000.) Then the banks would be liable for the haratsi. Unlike Detroit, it is impossible to blow up the houses or burn them to the ground and evade the property tax, as they are in apartment blocks. The court systems to process 400,000 repossessions would take approximately six decades, and that would imply they don’t ever have any strikes in courts that delay the process. The banks do not essentially want the properties, as they would be liable for them, and for that they went bust for in the first place and were bailed out, so they could do that again and again.
How could the banks not go bust when the government pushed through wage and pension cuts of 50%? People had commitments on wages and pensions and this meant their budgets were totally devastated. But even if repossessions occurred on a grand scale, another area which the banks don’t talk about is what would happen if flats were brought to auction, say at Euro 30k, and there were no bids? That would imply the depressed value of the flats was even more depressed as expressed in the non-sale at auction. Hence, even from a banksters point of view, getting rid of bad debt doesn’t help, as this may drag the other parts of the banks portfolio into the sewer.
As was noted by the President of the Bank of Piraeus,[1]
If all the tens of thousands of properties fall into the banks hands their value will go to zero then we will have the cost of maintaining, security etc. The beginning of auctioning off peoples homes is against the banks.
Syriza came up with another plan: provide a housing subsidy to ‘problematic’ households, as well as subsidise 20k rents for illegal migrants.  This sounds good on paper. But anyone who has ever had dealings with the Greek state knows that an agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. People could end up housing migrants and then not get paid, and get taxed on income not earned (this won’t be the first time this occurs, as it’s become a feature of Troikanomics). But none of the above has been implemented, it’s just waffle of trying to save the banks indirectly once more, as any income they get from whatever source saves them for a bit longer.
The growth of homelessness in the thousands has led to a massive growth in food kitchens as well, which are run by the Greek Church and other solidarity organisations (both from the Left and the Right). In certain boroughs canteen food has been brought in for pensioners (not only) at Euro 2.5 a meal for those who have no electricity at home, or don’t have the time to cook. The community canteens are being run by a big corporate businessman (Salas), as well as by a movement by farmers who try to miss out the middlemen (by selling directly to the consumer), but many buyers been overpriced. This is all that has occurred in the crisis.
 The editor of Avgi (Syriza’s paper) alleges[2] that solidarity organisations against the repossessions are essentially saving hotel owners and people with large houses, when in reality most of the small scale repossessions that go through are those of vulnerable little people - as an easy way of frightening the majority to pay up. What is illuminating is that after all the Syriza waffle (‘leftist radical nature’ etc.) has dissipated, a vacuum has been created, and people are self-organising.  Hundreds are turning up at courts when repossessions are supposed to go through and they are blocking them. It’s difficult for Syriza to push through US/Spanish style repossessions and throw families on the streets or to use riot police in court and tear gas people away, but it’s not for want of trying. They are provisionally in a social/class stalemate.
Uprooting farmers from their land and repossessing peoples’ homes in order to satisfy the corporate bloodlust of decaying capitalism sounds good on paper, the problems develop when you have to deal with real people, with real lives, who no longer want to put up with the situation with their back constantly against the wall. The struggle for decent homes with decent jobs, and to permanently evict the fear of homelessness and unemployment continues. It’s no coincidence that  Dr. Death (Schäuble) recently rekindled the spectre of Grexit with a new caveat: the creation of a Euro army. Beyond everything they realise that only a direct foreign occupation can break the Greeks and even that, as history has shown, never usually has any guarantee of success. It’s no wonder Germany’s satellite states, like Austria, have now made noises about sending in armies to allegedly stop the migrant flows, but as withFrontex arriving in Greece, it will be geared towards reducing Greece’s sovereignty, imposing the will of the supranational dictatorial union, and very possibly ordered to take things a step further by putting down recalcitrant Greeks.

[1] Quoted in Kontra newspaper, December 2 2015.
[2] Ilias Papadopulos Kinima Den Plirono radio interview Feb. 2, 2016 .

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Old Imperialisms Die Hard: NATO Remilitarising the Balkans

Whilst old imperialisms die hard and some dream about the glory days of bygone eras, like the Austrians in the Balkans or the Germans in Greece
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Austria threatened to send in the army to the borders of Greece, NATO to sendwarships to the Aegean, Greece is alleged to be expelled from Schengenenforced Hotspots of migrants are to be created from one end of Greece to the other, growing calls for a European army - a week becomes a long time in Balkan politics. A game of pass the parcel has started for show. Once more as in the past, Greece is to blame for all the sins of modern capitalism in disarray. The Greeks are responsible for crashing the global economy and now they are responsible for the mass migrant inflows to the EU to serve the big businesses appetites for an endless pool of cheap labour. The reality is far more complicated than first meets the eye.
In a week where Merkel was in London taking part in an alleged conference on the Syrian ‘refugee crisis’ but in reality militarily preparing behind the scenes the next stages of the conflict and a way of finding a new excuse to sell the arrival of millions more migrants into the EU, her anti-Russian statements show the direction the new situation is going. For over two years the US/EU has been pushing Turkey to invade Syria and divide the country up and after covering for them when they shot down a Russian fighter jet allegedly on their territory, they are pushing Turkey once more into conflict with Russia and Syria. All of a sudden the migrant flows from as far afield as sub-Saharan Africa are Russia’sand Greece’s fault. Merkel sensing the ground giving up under her feet withmany demonstrations and protests against her infamous proposals that the planet could essentially arrive in Germany is on a downward spiral and like a cornered rat is lashing out in every direction.
What is really behind the statements of various EU ministers who on the one hand criticise EU member states for not doing enough to accept ‘refugees’ and on the other of not ‘closing the borders’ - in other words two sets of contradictory and self-conflicting statements? Without asking the Greek population, the EU decided to create migrant Hotspots to park anything between 400,000 and 1,000,000 people in various areas around Greece. They have chosen as one among many places the 4th most populous in terms of tourism, an island in Greece called Kos. They have chosen one of the most depressed suburbs of the port town of Piraeus in Athens called Perama. None of the rich suburbs has ever been selected and they never will.
When Syriza came to power they made a big hue and cry in closing 13 detentions centres for migrants. Allegedly the conditions were inhumane and they should all be let loose, which they were. They then organised their mass removal to the northern countries of the EU on the quiet. When the migrant flows started and signal was given that the borders between Greece and Turkey were essentially open and illegal smugglers wanted deaths every so often in the Aegean sea to sell the concept of the ‘refugee’ escaping death destruction and willing to die in an ocean crossing, they set the scene for the arrival of tens of state-sponsored NGO’s who organised this process alongside the corporate globalist media which sold the event as if it was a Hollywood movie; only the popcorn was missing. Initially, people took for granted what was being sold especially on the Greek islands. Now they have woken up and smelt the coffee.
Imposing punitive tax rates on the islands of the Aegean sea from 13% to 23%, they want to park hundreds of thousands of people on them and turn them into dumping depots for cheap labour so the EU can assign people depending on how they divide up their transportation to the EU’s  28 member states. The local police aren't strong enough to do this, so they are militarising the conflict, talking about bringing in NATO to allegedly stop the migrant flows, but, in reality, organise them better and crush all opposition to this NWO hidden agenda.
In Kos, people protested outside an area assigned by the Greek military to be a dumping ground. They were obviously concerned that if it wasn’t policed and 100,000 arrivals would stay there for months on end, the island would be unable to cope, security would be non-existent and the new image of the island that deteriorated since last year would have a detrimental impact on tourism. This is already occurring on the Turkish side with the Russian sanctions causing tourism to plummet. Why not have it occurring on the Greek side also? The local authorities in Kos responded in the way they know best, cracking heads open, arresting people and firing tear gas on them. But they didn’t expect such a resistance in defiance of truckloads of riot police from Athens. According to the Police Federation Representative, people fired guns above the police heads, threw grenades at them which they use for fishing, the Town’s Mayor used council road diggers and filled the streets with sea rocks blocking transport to the disputed site. The mayor has now called a referendum for the islanders regarding the Hotspot. The Regional Prefecture of Greece’s Supreme Court said this cannot occur and void it. Brussels decides, Greece has to agree; democracy once more in the EU goes out of the window.
Even if the EU blocks Greece’s borders, even if NATO arrives in the Aegean, even if the Syriza government has decided to turn Greece’s tourist islands into Merkel's 4th Reich cheap labour camps, without the agreement of the local people, imposing these things will be very difficult as the island communities are tight knit and labelling them all as being Nazis - as the local Syriza MP Kamateros did - weakens their arguments as questions aired need to be addressed.
Thousands are now arriving from the Maghreb countries via Turkey and it has been revealed that visa restrictions have been abolished between Turkey and North Africa so anyone can fly into Istanbul, then go to the coast by bus and come across by dinghy. Local people know this and the concept of the war-torn refugee is wearing thin in Greece.  Hence, the campaign by the same corporate shipowners’ media that sold the IMF roadshow in Greece, asking for the islanders of Lesvos to be given a Nobel Peace Prize.
Whilst old imperialisms die hard and some dream about the glory days of bygone eras, like the Austrians in the Balkans or the Germans in Greece, the bottom line is that without tonnes of troops with boots on the ground, most of these visions are pie in the sky dreams which get overturned at the first serious hurdle. Imperialism’s new humanitarianism under the guise of helping the migrants and the drowning babies in the Aegean is just an up to date excuse to play the old divide and rule conquer game. The problem is the world moved. People ain’t falling for it.