Tag: Greece

Another Greek Myth: Freedom of the Press

Op-ed on the arrest of Kostas Vaxevanis for publishing the names of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts A warrant for Greek journalist Kostas Vaxevanis’ arrest was issued today [Ed. 28 October 2012] for the alleged crime of “violating privacy legislation” related to his bi-weekly magazine HOT DOC which published a list of 2,059 names and associated…

The Right against the City

“Reclaim our cities”. “Self-organise”. “Take neighbourhood action”. Consider these slogans for a moment. Sound familiar? Indeed they should, echoing as they do a body of scholarship (e.g. Amin & Thrift, 2005; Butler, 2012; Chatterton, 2010; Dikeç, 2001; Harvey, 2003; Leontidou, 2006, 2010; Marcuse, 2009; Mayer, 2009; Simone, 2005) stemming from Henri Lefebvre’s idea of the Right to the City (Lefebvre, 1996; henceforth RttC). Despite this common origin, interpretations of the Lefebvrian “right” have been most diverse; perhaps his own often-times abstract writing has inadvertently caused this scholarship to reach outside the confines of his own political allegiance and thought: ten years ago, Mark Purcell (2002) protested that the original RttC notion was more radical than his own concurrent literature would make it appear. But today, a reformist interpretation of Lefebvre might be the least of the worries we are faced with here, on the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean that is the Greek territory.

Ask not what you can do for your country but what we can do for each other

I am thinking of the 77 year old Greek pensioner who took his life earlier today in Syntagma square, Athens. I am thinking of JFK’s 20th of January 1961 inaugural address speech where he uttered these well cited words: “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” The Greeks are not Americans. J.F. Kennedy in this inaugural speech was talking about a new world, where poverty, disease and injustice could be obliterated globally and where, “a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved”. And of course such a world could not be motivated into existence through this speech, nor does it exist […]

The Muppet Show


Greg Smith’s resignation letter in the New York Times yesterday, announcing a bridge-burning departure from his position as Executive Director of Goldman Sachs’ Equity Derivatives Division (Europe, Asia, Africa) certainly brought Wall St. to a relative halt. GS cancelled conference calls and the Goldman Flacks (PR goons) were rounded up to pour scorn on Mr. Smiths allegations as “unrecognisable”.

The importance of the letter was not so much it’s revelation of a eat-what-you-kill culture in which clients are the main course, not even the contention that somehow GS had changed culture – it hadn’t any more than any other investment bank since the Big Bang. The letter was important because it effectively took GS clients’ faces and slammed them against the restaurant window, through which they could now see their GS contact engaged in anthropophagia between raucous tales of how the current dish had of its own volition signed up to sit on the plate […]

The Abaclat legacy: Investment Arbitration as an Obstacle to Greek Recovery


The agreement reached between the Eurogroup and the Greek government in the night between last February 20th and 21st has been considered by the former as ‘a comprehensive blueprint for putting the public finances and the economy of Greece on a sustainable footing and hence for safeguarding financial stability in Greece and in the Euro area as a whole’.

Unfortunately, the recent Abaclat award (2011), that affirmed the jurisdiction of an ad hoc panel of the World Bank’s arbitration arm the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) over a claim filed by over 160,000 Italian bondholders against Argentina for breach of the Italy-Argentina Bilateral Investment Treaty (“BIT”), might represent an obstacle toward the achievement of the goals of the Greek restructuring. The effect of Abaclat amounted to a declaration that the effective protection of the investment represents the sole term of reference of investment arbitration, independently from the legitimate interest of the state, and that this effectively permitted re-interpretation (if not simply overrode) Argentinian law, the relevant BIT, the terms and conditions of the bonds in question, and even (with respect to “mass claims”) the procedural rules of ICSID itself.

Rescue the Greek People from their Rescuers!


At a time when one in two young Greeks is unemployed, when 25,000 homeless people wonder the streets of Athens, when 30% of the population has fallen below the poverty line, when thousands of families are forced to give up their children to save them from dying of hunger and cold, when refugees and the…

Fiscal Crisis or the Neo-liberal Assault on Democracy


Of course, it is always possible, and very often the case, that the dominant media claims that a “fiscal crisis” has precipitated mass demonstrations, strikes, and new forms of political mobilization in Greece. Although it is true that there is fiscal crisis, it should not be understood as a periodic difficulty that a country or…

The Final Blackmail of Baron Papandreou


The unexpected announcement by Greek PM Papandreou yesterday that he is to call a referendum and ask people to vote about the October 24 agreement is the opening salvo in the endgame of the Greek tragedy. Is this extraordinary gambit a genuine request for a popular mandate or a desperate bluff of a gambler down…

The Indictment


The workers of a small bakery and corner shop in central Athens announced yesterday (Weds) that while they would not close because they are serving many vulnerable people they are joining the 2-day general strike by charging all products at cost. It must have been an unexpected surprise in these hard times for their customers…

Anger and Indignation in Ireland, Greece & Tunisia


Politics is back on the streets of Europe, that much is clear. The PIGS are striking back. Portugal, Ireland Greece and Spain. Except that’s not quite right. I will address the failure of Irish radicalism and contrast that with Greece and Tunisia, in order to begin to pull out a number of important lessons of…

Greek Politics from Below


Few people would want to be in the shoes of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou these days. Faced with an ostensible mutiny in the ruling social-democrat PASOK party, his worries have been exacerbated by the appearance of an unprecedented, continuous wave of protests in the streets of Athens by thousands of people – who had…

In Greece, we see democracy in action


When Stéphane Hessel wrote in Time for Outrage! that indignation with injustice should turn to “a peaceful insurrection” perhaps he did not expect that the movement of indignados in Spain and aganaktismenoi (outraged) in Greece would take his advice to heart so soon and so spectacularly. The Greek resistance to the catastrophic economic measures was…

In Athens, austerity puts revolution back on the menu


What were the finance ministers of Germany, France and Greece thinking when they met each other at a Luxembourg castle for ‘top-secret’ dinner talks on the resurging Greek debt crisis last weekend? As their five-star banquet was being served, did they discuss the human tragedy that is currently unfolding in Greece? Did they consider the…

Greece’s Doomed Generation


A year after the International Monetary Fund and the European Union imposed their now infamous austerity memorandum on Greece, life here has changed radically. If you are between 18 and 24 years old, the chances are that you are unemployed, like 40% of your generation. If you are in your 30s and do have a…

These hunger strikers are the martyrs of Greece


As the world follows the north African revolutions with bated breath, a less public north African revolt and tragedy is taking place in Athens and Thessaloniki. Three hundred non-documented migrants, mostly from the Maghreb, have entered the 35th day of a hunger strike. Many have been taken to hospital in pre-comatose condition and are reaching…

Anomie: On civil and democratic disobedience


Greek Minister for Public Transport Reppas stated last week that the government will not let ‘Greece exposed to the risk of international disrepute and marginalization, destinations of countries characterized by anomie. The attack on the social acceptability of the free-rider and the political dismantling of its simulacrum of progressiveness is paramount.’ The harassed minister was…