“It would be much wiser for Germany to sponsor a military coup and solve the problem that way.”
November 16, 2011 11:21 PM   Subscribe

Mark Ames explains how EU financiers and defense contractors purchased a bloodless coup in Greece, and installed a club-carrying fascist to head its new austerity regime.
posted by clarknova (33 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
As unpleasant a character as Voridis is, he does not "head its new austerity regime".

There are 12 socialists (PASOK) in the cabinet, two members of the ND (centre-right), two independents (including the prime minister), and one member of the right wing nationalist party LAOS (that's Voridis).
LAOS has 5% of the seats in parliament, 4th largest after PASOK, ND, and the Communists (who weren't interested in joining an austerity government).

Almost as if... even this government of technocrats needed to include members of enough political parties in parliament to ensure that it would have a voting majority there.
posted by atrazine at 11:49 PM on November 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Almost as if... even this government of technocrats needed to include members of enough political parties in parliament to ensure that it would have a voting majority there.
Went t'other way in Italy and appointed a government with no elected politicians.
posted by Abiezer at 11:51 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


A quote from comments on Crooked Timber on the new technocracies:
Crisis caused by groupthink among economists best addressed by appointing economists to head governments, say all economists.
posted by vanar sena at 11:56 PM on November 16, 2011 [52 favorites]


Wow.

(Re: Italy - I hope it's not this kind of "shadows of the past" that Vendola is referring to with respect to Monti's line-up...)
posted by progosk at 12:01 AM on November 17, 2011


Right the problem with calling these people 'Technocrats' is that they are not actually technocratic, at least according to Krugman. They're much more likely to push the standard elite view rather then do the math and look at the models.
posted by delmoi at 12:04 AM on November 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


It is so very wonderful to have my belief that every bad situation can get worse proven over and over this year. And by 'wonderful' I mean despair and gnashing of teeth inducing.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:06 AM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was going to comment that there was a lot of editorializing going on in the framing of this fpp, but then I read the link, and the sources cited in the link. Quite a lot of the inflammatory language clarknova is using is bald statement of fact.

"Fascist?" Well, he is an antisemite.

From a statement by the Anti-Defamation League: According to Greek sources, Makis Voridis, the Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, questioned whether the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," was in fact an authentic document about a global Jewish conspiracy. In a remark indicative of Holocaust denial, he also reportedly challenged the authenticity of Anne Frank's diary.

As it turns out he's not just an antisemite -- he was something like a brownshirt.

He later enrolled at the Law School of Athens University and founded a group called Student Alternative. The Law School Students Union expelled him in 1985 because of his fascist activity...In 1986 the National Union of Students (EFEE-ΕΦΕΕ) sued him for participation to a fascists’ attack against several Law School students.

However, one point of fact does need to be corrected. What Voridis is holding in this picture from his days as a leather-jacketed campus thug isn't a club, it's a crude homemade axe. The photo's a bit blurry, but so help me I think it might actually be a fasces.

An antisemite who has a history of beating his political opponents with a fasces while dressed in leather -- that's just cartoonishly fascistic.


I was going to question "bloodless coup" until I saw that Forbes was apparently calling for a military coup. Now I'm afraid to look.

clarknova, would you mind making reality a bit less hyperbolic before your next post?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:39 AM on November 17, 2011 [30 favorites]


Somebody needs a hug.

Sorry. Typo. Somebody needs a thug.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:45 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tinfoilhattery at its worst.

Greece's crazy military spending isn't news. It has always spent a lot in its military, mostly because of fear of its supposed NATO ally and much bigger neighbour Turkey. Such military spending has continued under both left-wing and right-wing governments.
posted by Skeptic at 12:52 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


[a couple of comments removed; maybe the pope, et al, don't have so much to do with this topic, eh?]
posted by taz at 1:10 AM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The French battleship deal is really funny.
France wants to deliver two to four new frigates to the Greek navy and to allow the highly indebted nation to postpone payment of the €300 million ($412 million) purchase price per ship for the next five years.

Under the deal, Greece will have the option of paying up after five years, with a significant discount of €100 million, or returning them to the French navy.
In effect they're lending them the frigates with an option to purchase in five years at the depreciated value. I have no idea why they're even pretending that the actual sale price is €300 million per frigate; the time value of money means that the real price is less than €200 million - if Greece doesn't return the frigates. I find it hard to imagine that France is desperately hungry for more Greek debt. The only explanation I can think of is that France urgently wants to strengthen Greece's navy - and the only reason that makes sense is that Turkey has begun flexing its muscles again. But why France and not Germany?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:14 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fascism and anti-Semitism are distinct things. It is possible to be one and not the other. There are Israeli Jewish politicians who are pro-Semitic fascists. In any case anti-Semitism is unfashionable among right-wingers in the age of Goldman Sachs and Dominionist Christianity.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:46 AM on November 17, 2011


Aeschenkarnos, did you miss the fact that these guys really are fascists and that they really are antisemites?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:57 AM on November 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yeah Voridis is a clown, but saying he's heading the government is a gross overstatement. For one thing he is a deputy minister - not a minister; not that this excuses anything on a political level, but we might as well comment on stuff that is actually true.

There's already been some backlash to his inclusion in government - one of the muslim MPs of PASOK voted against on the vote of confidence yesterday, due to past racist statements by Voridis.

BTW there's another LAOS deputy minister, the more colorful if less violent Adonis Georgiadis. Greek political comedy writters have high expectations from this cabinet.

The only explanation I can think of is that France urgently wants to strengthen Greece's navy - and the only reason that makes sense is that Turkey has begun flexing its muscles again.

Things may very well be simpler than that - it's just good business to accomodate a long-time customer fallen on hard times. After all, the crisis will end some time - one way or the other - and we wouldn't want people to start thinking they might actually survive for a couple of years with four less frigates, would we?
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:57 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bloodless coups aren't. On the plus side at least assassination has become legitimate again.
posted by Peztopiary at 2:06 AM on November 17, 2011


Fascism and anti-Semitism are distinct things.

To be sure, but Voridis is both.
posted by atrazine at 2:28 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite part is where the mack daddy boss fascist Holocaust-denier is embarrassed by potential ties to Le Pen. Way to go, France!
posted by Mooseli at 2:34 AM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


This can't possibly end well.
posted by xqwzts at 2:50 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, this particular guy is obviously both, I was responding to justsomebody's comment that seemed to be conflating the one with the other. There have been a lot of fascist movements that have been anti-Semitic, because fascism depends on having an out-group to hate and blame and Jews have historically been treated as such an out-group, however in modern times the out-group role in fascist rhetoric is given to Muslims, immigrants, and liberals. Simply not hating Jews should not be a negator of fascism. (Not that anyone other than fascists would raise such an argument ... But fascists certainly would.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:50 AM on November 17, 2011


The only explanation I can think of is that France urgently wants to strengthen Greece's navy

More likely, it wants to keep the well-organized workers of the state-owned DCN shipyards busy. It makes both political and strategic sense to keep a sensitive defence contractor afloat. (Why do you think the US heavily subsidizes weapons exports to its allies, aside from the obvious pork-barrel reasons?).
posted by Skeptic at 3:34 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're remaking Z now?? Is nothing sacred?
posted by Bromius at 4:20 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


When the Crisis hit the Fan - November 17 or why this day is so important for Greeks.
posted by adamvasco at 5:08 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This can't possibly end well.

If you mean the situation in Greece, hopefully you are wrong. If you are referring to the comment derail, then at great risk of feeding a troll, I fear you are correct.
posted by Stoatfarm at 7:26 AM on November 17, 2011


Part of the problem is that the ECB outright refuses to act as a lender of last resort mumbling something about "price stability".

So Greece can't has to pay the entire price of its shitty bonds, can't inflate its way out of debt and can't raise interest rates to attract foreign capital to the country.

What the fuck do they want Greece to do? Go die in a ditch? Oh wait they want to cut government spending in a country where government provides half the fucking economy and is the only thing keeping the leaking boat they call a country afloat.

However I'm an optimist so I'm going to look on the bright side of this situation. I'm going to go solve the energy crisis with some magnets and some copper wire around Keynes' body because that fucker must be rolling violently in his grave right now. Fucking austerity indeed.
posted by Talez at 8:25 AM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


The bottom line:

The implications of the EU and bankers forcing Greece, the birthplace of democracy, to cancel a popular plebiscite as “irresponsible,” forcing instead an austerity regime composed partly of neo-Nazis fascists to administer more “pain”–is something that should frighten the shit out of everyone. Because like it or not, we’re all in the cross-hairs of the same banking interests, and we’re all going to face it again and again. Greece just happens to be the first in line.
posted by General Tonic at 9:15 AM on November 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


"Austerity measures"

How I hate that term. I'd say it even beats the PATRIOT Act in terms of doublethink power.
posted by formless at 9:22 AM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay, so I don't know much about the Greek situation but I remember reading that just a few weeks ago there were massive protests in the streets. Why has the appointment of an economist as the new Prime Minister seemingly quelled the protests? (Or has the media just blacked them out?) It seems like a movement of people pissed off about austerity measures would only get angrier at the prospect of an economist leading the government.
posted by overglow at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2011


The Great Enslavement proceeds apace.
posted by jamjam at 10:32 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia: The French battleship deal is really funny. ...the time value of money means that the real price is less than €200 million - if Greece doesn't return the frigates.

Sorry, Joe, but the Columbia House thread is down the hall.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:33 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, so I don't know much about the Greek situation but I remember reading that just a few weeks ago there were massive protests in the streets. Why has the appointment of an economist as the new Prime Minister seemingly quelled the protests?
Maybe the media just stopped covering them heavily? Here's an article about anti-austerity protests today involving 30,000 people. Here's another article which indicates that it's an annual thing and puts the number at 28k
posted by delmoi at 12:19 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


As delmoi said there was a large protest going on yesterday, which had the media shortcoming of not being too violent. So no clashes with police and burning buildings = "not really a protest". This sort of thing makes it hard for people like me who do not want the mindless violence, to argue against the idea that if it weren't for the violence there would be no news of the protest. Having walked the damn march from one end to the other BTW, 30.000 seems like an underestimate. The protests continue on various scales large and small.

Anyway, two things: Voridis' gang was active during the years I was in the university, so I can tell you first-hand that they were generally feared, especially since they always attacked only when they outnumbered their targets (when they weren't careful and didn't, they got their asses kicked). Most famously in 1986 in the Athens Law School where they used stiletto knives and crowbars against their "enemies".

The other thing is that this guy is scion of a prominent Greek family, wealthy, and a product of the "American College of Athens" which is a High School and where the elites send their children more to create networks than actually study (although by most measures it might be the top school of the country, education-wise as well). So this was a wealthy guy, connected, with lawyers good enough to get him out of trouble every time, and intelligent. He soon realized that being a thug was not conducive to being taken seriously and so he went from leather jackets to ties and suits and started, as Ames says, his Hellenic Front with the help of assorted fascists (the Nazis were under Plevris and co in another party), a group that was connected with and had as its inspiration J.M.Lepen's Front National in France. Despite the suits and ties however the rhetoric (and apparently not just the rhetoric) against immigrants (Albanians and Eastern European initially) was violent and remained at the core of Voridis' political agenda till he joined LAOS (which also of course had and still has the same agenda, somewhat toned down).
- Voridis' success was also a creation of the media. The MSM "laundered" his image for the past 10 years and have created the image of a true statesman (keep in mind that the guy is articulate and sharp). No one remembered to ask him about his past until very recently on national TV and steadily he (and the rest of the LAOS gang, half far-right, half a circus of trash-TV personalities) was on the way to political stardom.

Ames also has some of his Greek politics wrong IMHO, but this remains a very informative article.

BTW justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow is right, it was an axe not a hammer. Voridis is not called "hammer", but things relating to "axe" (tsekouri).
posted by talos at 4:35 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Relevant and along the same lines from Yiannis Varoufakis, a Greek economist on the rise of the far right to power: The Serpent’s Egg hatchlings in Greece’s postmodern Great Depression
posted by talos at 5:07 PM on November 18, 2011


Looks like I need to make a correction: Voridis is acutally the minister, not a deputy minister - it's Georgiadis who is a deputy </facepalm> .
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:16 PM on November 18, 2011


« Older Depressed? Has all the negativity in the media go...  |  "Asked if he thought he should... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments