Nov 292012
 

By greydogg and SnakeArbusto, 99GetSmart

StopCartel TV broadcasts live from Athens, Greece on Monday and Thursday @ 6 pm Athens time. The following post is a loose transcript of the 26 November 2012 broadcast.

– From Brussels:

The IMF wants Eurozone finance ministers to agree to a cut in Greece’s debt by €40 billion, but German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble remains opposed to further cuts to the country’s ‘debts.’

After months of political theater, a green light is expected for the next dose of money to recapitalize the Greek banks. The funds will be swallowed up by the black hole of the Greek banks – aiding a clear and continuous theft of public funds.

The Troika’s manufactured economic crises and its prescribed ‘cure’ of austerity have plunged Greek society into a humanitarian catastrophe. The so-called third Memorandum (M3) demands further austerity measures and the mass privatization of public assets, forcing Greek citizens into an unsustainable position of paying the odious debt of the banks with their lives.

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Predictions and polls:

– Citigroup predicts that there is more than a 60% probability that Greece will exit the Eurozone within 12-18 months, even if the Greek banks get the next dose of money.

– Analyst Ben May from Capital Economics, one of the biggest finance companies in the world, predicts that Greece will exit the euro in 2013. May stated that the Greek government and representatives from the Troika will agree to the last dose of money, but they are not in agreement over the sustainability of the Greek debt. Germany is going to refuse to agree to a reconstruction of the Greek debt, May said.

– From Reuters: A new Gallup poll indicates that SYRIZA has a 26% approval rating, with New Democracy at 21.5% and the neo-Fascist party Golden Dawn at 13.5%.

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– Economic analysts are discussing the next storm of wage cuts, dismissals and unemployment that will plunge Greece into an employment status resembling feudalism.

The Troika’s and the Greek government-of-the-regime’s recently approved Memorandum 3 contains a complete reversal of the labor laws that were developed in Greece in the last few decades. M3 subverts collective bargaining and violently reduces wages to €586 per month, temporarily, until wages will decrease again in early April to a new minimum wage. As Chris Rock famously stated, “You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like, ‘Hey, if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.’”

Just one week after the passage of M3, large, profitable companies were quick to exploit workers by inviting employees, regardless of any current contracts, to renegotiate their monthly earnings under the threat of being laid off if they do not accept decreased wages and increased working hours.

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– There is a HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IN GREECE.

Hundreds of Greek children are fainting in class daily from hunger. Recently, in Thessaloniki, a student at the Third Pines Elementary School fainted in class and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, unconscious.

Greek citizens are appealing to their municipalities to provide at least one meal a day for young students, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

What kind of government creates policies that illegally funnel public funds and assets into the pockets of the already wealthy by starving children?

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– For the third straight week, public employees are occupying town halls and municipal buildings in regions all over Greece to oppose further wage cuts and layoffs.

In Heraklion, Chania and Aghios Nikolaos on the island of Crete, public employees have occupied administrative buildings and have gone on strike for eight consecutive days. ADEDY (the Civil Servants’ Confederation) is encouraging all employees to participate in demonstrations.

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– The Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Nikos Pantelis forwarded the so-called Lagarde list to the Greek Parliament through the Minister of Justice, Antonis Roupakiotis, to investigate potential criminal liability. Meanwhile, in the Greek courts, members of the big cartels whose names are on the list are fighting to retain their anonymity and immunity for their crimes.

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From the Organization Doctors of the World – Greek branch:

We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe every day in the social medical clinics. All over Greece, doctors and patients are experiencing the hardest winter in decades. Doctors see daily queues of people crowding outside polyclinics in Athens, Perama, Thessaloniki, Patras and Chania. Healthcare in Greece cannot be obtained without being employed. [ed. note: Unemployment stands at over 25% on Greece]

Everyday people, pensioners and the unemployed have put their inhibitions aside to seek help. The ‘austerity era’ has changed people, who have pushed aside their dignity in order to get the medical care and medicines they need to survive. From healthcare to food, there is no longer shame in seeking help. Times have changed.

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– Last weekend in Athens, about 70 people organized themselves to help ease the humanitarian catastrophe surrounding them. They cooked meals in their homes and brought the food to a local park to feed the hungry. About 90 grateful people came to eat at the free, all-volunteer open-air kitchen.

——————

Thousands of homes all over Greece continue to have their electricity cut off every day. Presently, there are hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity. The mass media refuse to report on the issue at all.

Tensions arose outside the central office of the electricity corporation in the city of Patras. Many citizens gathered outside the central office of the electricity corporation, shouting angrily about how ruthlessly the electricity is cut off in the homes of poor people.

People are unable to pay their bills due to the high unemployment rate, wage and pension cuts and government-of-the-regime extortion via ‘emergency taxes’ which are attached to utility bills.

——————

– Citizens in the southern suburbs of Athens reacted strongly to a group of 20-30 Golden Dawn members who appeared in their neighborhood, presumably to show their presence and gain support from the locals.

People of all ages were unafraid, despite the daily violence perpetrated by Golden Dawn members. The locals closely followed the neo-Nazi march, shouting the slogan, “Fascism – Never Again!” until Golden Dawn members dispersed and left the town.

——————

– In Brussels, the 17-member Eurogroup met for the third time in two weeks to discuss the “Greek issue.” After exiting the summit, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici made statements to the press.

“Yesterday, we made strong progress, which means that tomorrow, Europeans should have a common position. We are very close to a solution.” 

Moscovici said that Greece has fulfilled its obligations and promises. The program submitted to the Eurogroup is credible and Greece has made material efforts. All the parameters of the issues are known to everyone and all the issues are on the table. Moscovici added that the Eurogroup would leave the summit with an agreement.

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ONGOING FUNDRAISER FOR StopCartel Livestream: http://stopcarteltv.chipin.com/stopcarteltv

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StopCartel TV broadcasts live from Athens, Greece on Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm Athens time @ http://www.livestream.com/stopcarteltvgr

Nov 252012
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

A protester shows his injuries

Bruising on a protester’s leg

 

Interview in Greek: BLACK FLAG, Anarchist Counter-Bulletin and Action issue no. 64, November 2012

Translation by: bananasraw

A testimony from the hellhole at Police Headquarters in Athens

The text below contains excerpts of recorded transcripts of a conversation with one of the comrades arrested at the anti-fascist motorcade on September 30th. A deliberate pause on the torture that took place inside the police station – which the state tried fiercely to conceal, surpassing absurd extremes. We are well aware that what happened does not constitute a deviation. This disclosure is intended to convey the experiences of comrades and to break the silence that allows for its recurrence. All that has happened has become a motive to reveal the obvious, but has been systematically silenced: That fascist pogroms could not continue without the help of the police, that hastens to assault those in society who erect barriers against Nazi gang activity. That the state is not “neutral” towards “extremists groups” as is often claimed by propaganda, by equating those people struggling against state and capitalist brutality to fascist thugs who serve their bosses, assaulting activists and the most vulnerable social and class groups. And on the other hand, the only weapons of terror and suppression, used for confrontation by a rotten political system, are not enough to suppress dignity, resistence and solidarity. Because this disclosure of brutality is not a reason for subordination, but a reason for awakening and for an uprising of awareness.

Q: Would you like to begin by describing the events of the motorcade?

A: On Sunday, September 30, a third antifascist motorcade took place. There had been another two previously in September. The first one in the Metaxouryio, Ayio Pavlo and Omonia neighbourhoods and the second at Monastiraki, Ermou and Thisio. That night we began from Exarhia around 8 in the evening and rode towards Amerikis Square and the surrounding streets. The purpose of the procession was to strengthen immigrants a few days after the racist pogrom. It’s true that when passing through these neighbourhoods, there was incredible excitement from immigrants. They raised their fists, they clapped, they made the sign for victory, they said “thank you”. This was a few minutes before we were attacked. It is the last image I have before the police attacked.

Q: At that time were there about 80 motorbikes?

A: Yes, two riders on almost all the bikes, about 150 people.

Q: And the police?

A: We couldn’t see well because it was night and their motorbike lights were on us. There were many policemen from the Delta force, upon our arrival to the zone where the fascist pogrom had smashed immigrants’ shops. We made a stop at Filis Street and yelled slogans. I don’t know how it all began exactly because the volume of the procession was large and the street narrow, the bikes were spread lengthwise down the street. From the back of the procession I heard bang-bang and flashes from weapons being fired continuously one after the other. The police had been following the protest, so they were located at its end. So the attack took place from there. Chaos prevailed. Smoke from what they were hurling at us was everywhere, we couldn’t see each other clearly. The flash weapons were exploding beside us, on us, everywhere. The police were beating the protesters with batons. Cars were parked on the right and left. Many motorbikes were immobilized and couldn’t proceed due to the volume of the procession. This lasted quite a few minutes. We somehow tried to proceed to avoid any more being injured. I was stopped, together with the driver of the motorbike we were riding were stopped by a patrol car, a little further down. And we were led to police headquarters. Upon arriving to police headquarters I saw another 13 people, who were in critical condition, having been badly beaten. Some were bleeding from the head, others from the arms and legs. There was a lot of blood. Some couldn’t walk.

Q: Where were you taken exactly?

A: We were on the 6th floor, outside the offices, in the hallway. There were two benches. Some had been handcuffed and bleeding. We requested tissue to stop the bleeding but were not given any at all. I happened to have a packet of tissues with me and tried to help, that is, to try to blot the blood a bit. But the packet wasn’t enough because it wasn’t just one injured, there were many who were bleeding. When we asked for paper, the police answered, “you won’t have anything, you’ll stay as you are”. As time went by, more policemen from the Delta force arrived. There was a small desk at the other end of one of the benches where they were all gathered. They called our names out and wrote on a paper what clothes we wore, our general description. This is how our supposed identifications took place to give them the time “to cook” their statements of where our arrests took place and under which circumstances. We understood all this a little later, once we saw the charges brought against us. They are all total lies, ie apart from errors they made about the place of arrest, they have even made mistakes in descriptions. They couldn’t even do that right!

Q: Okay, it’s obvious that the accusations are unjustified. They just had an order to knock the procession down and arrested anyone they could as it was dissipating, even from a long distance away. The “crime” is essentially participating in an anti-fascist anarchic march.

A: That was their aim: to knock over the procession, especially at that site where the pogrom had previously taken place. So, the made-up charges, together with a pile of other crimes, cannot hold. On the contrary, everyone was very seriously injured on all parts of their bodies. As was in the case of one young man who was attacked with a taser. During the time of his arrest, he was attacked in the back by a taser gun. He told us that at that time, his whole body became paralyzed and he fell down. We also saw him at headquarters later, he has a hole in his back, a deap wound from the taser. Anyway, many hours went by while we waited there on the benches. Also, we had no water. We had nothing, they had taken all our personal items. They denied our request for water. In the garbage we found a small bottle and a second one under the bench. We had those two small plastic bottles which we filled only when one of us asked to go to the toilet and a policeman decided to accompany one of us. Because, using a number of different excuses, they would deny even that. We drank water in this manner, one gulp between each 15 of us, every 2-3 hours. There was a door adjacent which the delta police entered one at a time to give their testimonies. There were about 30 of them, most of them sat around the small desk that I mentioned, across from us and the rest, along the wall of the corridor. We were told a lot there. It’s hard to remember. Threats like “You’ll see who you’ve gone against” and “you’ll see if you’ll ever make an anti-fascist (demonstration) again”, “you went against Golden Dawn and you’ll see. We are Golden Dawn also”, “you’ll die like your grandfathers at Grammo and Vitsi”. They made sexist comments for us girls, very vulgar language, things that you never hear anywhere or from anybody out on the street.

Q: How many girls were you?

A: We were two girls. They had focused their wrath against us, they were engaged with only us for many hours, cursing and threatening us. Afterwards, they would refer to dead fighters, Lambros Fountas, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, Christoforos Marinos, saying that the rest of us will go find them soon. In the middle of all this, there was a tall Delta police who had his left arm bound up. We could tell who were Delta from their uniforms. He would come in between us, stepping on our feet with his boots, smoking and throwing the ashes on us. He later took his mobile out and started filming us. He took our pictures saying “we have your addresses, we have your names and now we have your faces and now Golden Dawn will have everything”. If one of us tried to resist, meaning verbal complaints, he would punch and kick that person.

Q: This person specifically?

A: He beat us mostly and the others would accompany him. They cursed, loomed over our heads and punched us or banged our heads against the wall. The level of torture isn’t just the beating, there are also the threats, attempts at humiliation. They are also forms of torture. But there were also physical assaults. I couldn’t take seeing those who were bleeding, were being beaten even more. The most injured was one who’s head had been bashed and had been bleeding for hours, he was in constant pain and calling for a doctor and whenever he spoke, he would get beaten. Whenever he asked for something, they would assault him with slaps and punches. Also, because many hours had passed – we had managed to hold onto a watch and could tell the time – we would try to close our eyes to rest for a couple minutes. We were exhausted, especially those injured. At some point, the young man who was bleeding from his head, closed his eyes and laid down. They wouldn’t let him, they screamed “Get up, you won’t sleep, get up”. Another one beaten in the face, was bleeding from above his nose and from his arm. Others had been beaten in their backs, they had baton scars. During their arrests, they had been thrown to the ground and were beaten while immobilized. And while thrown to the ground, the police tried to remove the bikers’ safety helmets with fury and in danger of choking them since the helmet are tied at the neck. Baton injuries were on all parts of their bodies: back, belly, legs, arms. Because of the direction of the bench, I kept my legs tucked and my head stooped to avoid them photographing my face with mobiles. That specific Delta policeman came over to me and started pulling my hair to lift my head to take my picture. The first time that happened, one of those arrested sitting next to me, protested. He was assaulted because of his protests. The second time I protested when the Delta police came, and I was hit. Because I had my arms in front of my face, keeping my elbows high, I was punched in the neck. Wherever he succeeded in punching me beause he couldn’t get to my face. He would pull my hair and while slapping and punching me.

Q: That specific one? The same one who said that he’s taking pictures to send to Golden Dawn?

A: Yes, and I remember him because his arm was bound. Then he started shooting a video. The third time he came over to me, threatening that he knows my home and where I live, I still didn’t lift my head and he started beating me again. That’s when I broke into an outburst. I pushed him away from me and started to yell and scream to leave us alone, that we have been arrested and has no right to do this. During all this chaos I can’t recall what I said exactly, but I was shouting very loudly. So, because of my screams, someone wearing civilian clothes came into the hallway, maybe it was the Duty Officer, who held him back from assaulting me anymore and told those Delta policemen who had testified already, to leave. Which means that most of them had already testified hours before and just stayed there to continue all this. And from that moment on, he left. I forgot to mention that he wasn’t the only one videoing and taking pictures. He had the closest shot because he would walk about among us. The others sitting at the desk would video their colleague doing those things to us. The assaults stopped but everything else continued. They had a lazer with a red beam which they would aim at our eyes whenever we would close them to rest a bit. Then they would close the hallway lights and lit a torch on us saying “this is how an interrogation is done” and “now I’ll show you how it’s done”. And again one of them would come towards us with the torch while the lights were out. They would also play with the air-conditioner, resulting in our freezing or over-heating. I stopped asking to go to the bathroom because whenever I was taken passed the under-cover and Delta policemen in the hallway, they made most horrible remarks. Sexist, cursing, threatening, everything. And there were some with their mobiles ready to photograph me as I continued on.

Q: When did this stop?

A: Around 7 in the morning, when all the Delta police left. We had been arrested a little past 9 at night. All these hours we didn’t have any contact with a lawyer. The lawyers arrived a little after 3 on Monday afternoon. We had been on the sixth floor of Police Headquarters for approximately 19 hours. The injured comrade was taken to hospital on Monday morning. He had stitches to his head, was bandaged up and had a broken arm. The rest of the injured were not seen by doctors. They went directly to the Forensic Surgeon on Tuesday. I forgot to mention that: When we were on the sixth floor, we were asked to enter an office to be searched one at a time. That is, to have a body search, to strip. A body search had already been done on Sunday night. We were then taken to the Prosecutor’s offices. The Prosecutor told us that we would be held till Thursday. When we returned to headquarters, we were taken to the seventh floor where the cells are located. They called us again, one at a time, for body searches. I protested and said that there’s no sense for a second check since I’ve been accompanied by police continuously. The policewoman said that these are the regulations, she led me to a place – before the holding cells there are offices and on the right there is a small room like a storage room. I entered and waited for the door to close. She tells me that this door doesn’t close and she will search me this way. I say, “what are you talking about? You are going to search me with the door open?” Exactly across there was a desk with a policeman working there and other policemen coming and going to the offices and to the cells. We were directly across, there was no partition, I was in front of an open door.

Q: Similar reports were made by those detained and arrested on Monday, during the attack of riot police at a solidarity gathering inside the Evelpidon Courts.

A: Yes, 25 people were detained and four arrested. One was a young lady, they brought her later into the cells together with us.

I would like to say something very important to us that even from the first day that we were led to the Prosecutor’s office and on Thursday and Friday – after 20 hours in court and finally set free on bail and restricting conditions – all these days, the solidarity we received from people gave us incredible strength. We gained strength seeing our comrades shouting slogans. Without solidarity I really don’t know if we could stand as strong as we are now.

Lastly, I would like to note that the reason we are stating and reporting the torture from police, is not for reasons of victimizing ourselves. The state has always tried to continue in it’s attempt to terrorize in any way and with any means available. Our proportion is to highlight the events and through this we become more aware, stronger in the fight against the brutality imposed upon us.

* Note: On October 27th, a fourth antifascist motorcade took place shouting slogans and crossed central streets of Athens with red and black flags.

Nov 212012
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

LA DECLARACIÓN DEL MERCOSUR “ES CASI SURREALISTA” DIJO PETRAS: “ESTA ES UNA GUERRA IMPLACABLE DEL TERRORISMO ISRAELÍ CONTRA EL PUEBLO PALESTINO”

En Palestina “hay una guerra implacable del terrorismo de Estado. No es una guerra simplemente contra Hamás, eso es una gran mentira. Es una guerra contra el pueblo palestino”, dijo el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras (*) en su columna semanal, en español, de este lunes en CX36 Radio Centenario de Montevideo.  “Hoy están usando misiles para desplazar a los palestinos, pero al mismo tiempo, están usando los buldózer –máquinas topadoras- para tomar tierras en  la franja occidental. En todo caso, con misiles o buldózeres, Israel está tomando todo el territorio de Palestina para una limpieza completa” agregó. En ese marco afirmó que “Lo que permite esta agresión de Israel es la ofensiva imperialista que como hemos notado empezó el año pasado con la invasión de OTAN contra Libia y ahora contra Siria, y mañana tal vez contra Irán”. 

He aquí la transcripción íntegra del análisis de James Petras.

Efrain Chury Iribarne: Buenos días James Petras. Bienvenido. ¿Cómo estás?

James Petras: Estamos bien, esperando la llamada de CX36 desde Uruguay para conversar sobre el genocidio de Israel contra los palestinos en Gaza.

EChI: Bien. Me parece muy bien, porque mientras eso sucede y siguen muriendo asesinados niños, mujeres y hombres en Palestina en manos del Estado israelí, del sionismo, en Uruguay el gobierno frenteamplista sigue estrechando lazos con el gobierno israelí. Así que escuchamos tus comentarios.

JP: Bueno. En primera instancia, tenemos cifras preliminares que hablan de más de 93 muertos, la gran mayoría son civiles; hay más de 700 heridos, todos civiles; hay más de mil sitios que están bajo ataque de bombas cayendo a toda hora, con la consiguiente destrucción de infraestructura, destruyendo los centros de prensa internacionales; atacan médicos, enfermeros, a la Cruz Roja musulmana, etc.

Hay una guerra implacable del terrorismo de Estado. No es una guerra simplemente contra Hamás, eso es una gran mentira. Es una guerra contra el pueblo palestino.

La meta está muy clara, el Ministro de Transporte de Israel dijo textualmente que los palestinos deben salir de Palestina e ir al desierto de Sinaí, porque Israel es dueño de todo lo que llaman “Israel Grande”. Y la táctica de terrorismo busca hacer una situación inhóspita, que el pueblo no tenga posibilidades de vivir, trabajar, y forzosamente tengan que irse ya que el objetivo es la anexión del territorio palestino.

Hoy están usando misiles para desplazar a los palestinos, pero al mismo tiempo, están usando los buldózer –máquinas topadoras- para tomar tierras en  la franja occidental.

En todo caso, con misiles o buldózeres, Israel está tomando todo el territorio de Palestina para una limpieza completa.

Lo que permite esta agresión de Israel es la ofensiva imperialista que como hemos notado empezó el año pasado con la invasión de OTAN contra Libia y ahora contra Siria, y mañana tal vez contra Irán.

Dentro de este panorama de agresiones occidentales, Israel aprovecha para avanzar en su propio proyecto que s la anexión y la guerra contra los palestinos. Por eso los países occidentales, como Inglaterra, Francia y Estados Unidos, están apoyando a Israel e inventando la mentira de que Israel debe defenderse.

¿Defenderse con miles y miles de bombas marítimas y aéreas destruyendo un país, mientras no hay ni un muerto –o hay solo tres israelitas- frente a la masacre de los palestinos?

No hay ningún edificio afectado en Israel.

No es una guerra, los que hablan de conflictos, mienten, no hay ninguna posibilidad de que los palestinos puedan afectar de ninguna manera lo que Israel está haciendo, no tienen fuerza aérea, ni fueraza marítima, no tienen armas que puedan hacer el mínimo daño en Israel, los misiles palestinos caen inefectivos en tierras abandonadas, sin población.

Entonces, debemos anotar que el apoyo de Estados Unidos está neutralizando todos los esfuerzos de buscar una tregua. Aquí en Estados Unidos casi el 99% del Congreso y del Senado, respaldan el genocidio israelí. El presidente Obama muestra su política incondicional con los sionistas, declarando su apoyo a Netanyahu y el terrorismo. Y atrás de todo esto son las 52 principales organizaciones judías -religiosas, cívicas y grupos de poder- que como siempre son incondicionales con cualquier crimen de Israel. Esa configuración deja solo la posibilidad de algún apoyo ente los países árabes, pero como los países árabes están comprometidos con las agresiones occidentales contra Siria, Libia e Irán, no tienen ninguna voz independiente.

Hasta ahora no han hecho nada contra Israel, ni boicot ni nada; solamente  Egipto ha retirado a su embajador, que es un acto simbólico sin grandes consecuencias. Hay que saber que Egipto no ha abierto su frontera con los palestinos, sigue manteniendo el acuerdo con Israel para bloquear a Palestina. Ese es supuestamente el gobierno musulmán que muestra más solidaridad con Israel que con los palestinos.

Por esta razón no debemos esperar mucho.

El primer ministro de Turquía, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hizo declaraciones folclóricas mientras apoya la lucha armada contra el gobierno legítimo en Siria, no se atreve a levantar un dedo contra Israel. Por tanto, Erdogan, (el presidente egipcio Mohamed) Morsi, personajes que han declarado su apoyo a los palestinos y que dicen defender Gaza, cuando la crisis se agudiza, cuando el genocidio empieza, están muy marginados de cualquier acción de significación.

Ahora más allá de eso, lo que es muy triste es la declaración del Mercosur (1), que en vez de denunciar el genocidio, en vez de tomar posiciones contra Israel, declara “contra la violencia”, pide una “solución negociada”, condena “la violencia de ambos lados”, los miles de muertos y heridos palestinos y los tres israelitas muertos…. Es algo casi surrealista y poco serio, y no se quién es responsable de esto, si es la posición de Dilma Rousseff (Brasil); de Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Argentina) o del Presidente de  Uruguay (José Mujica).

Venezuela tomó una postura bien firme (2), declaró el apoyo incondicional a los palestinos y condenó a Israel. Pero, cuando se reúnen en Mercosur, los otros tres países, de alguna forma, diluyeron la declaración inicial del presidente Hugo Chávez. Veremos como se arregló esta posición infame entre países que deben saber mejor que nadie los efectos del colonialismo y del imperialismo.

EChI: No se qué país influye más en Merocsur, lo que se es que Uruguay es pro- sionista es servidor del sionismo y está haciendo “parques de la amistad” con los sionistas, en actividades muy sonrientes con el presidente José Mujica, con la intendenta de Montevideo, Ana Olivera.  No hay dudas que está a favor de Israel en todo lo que hacen, así que en el Mercosur el primer voto a favor de Israel debe ser el uruguayo.

Pero quería hacer hincapié en eso que decías de que Israel juega a varias puntas, porque además de atacar Gaza, se acerca para tratar de incidir en una decisión final contra Siria e Irán.

JP: Obviamente, la agresión de Israel contra los palestinos es parte de esa ofensiva de la que hablamos, que llevan adelante los países occidentales.

Incluso el gobierno seudo socialista de Francia, de Francois Hollande, ha reconocido a los terroristas sirios como un “gobierno provisional” y ha mandado a un embajador a conversar con los supuestos ‘rebeldes’ mientras canaliza dinero y armas a los terroristas. Y este comentario muestra lo que es el famoso socialismo europeo.

Lo hemos visto en España con el gobierno del PSOE, como llevaron al país al abismo; vimos en Grecia como los socialistas fueron los más grandes ladrones en toda la historia griega; y lo vemos ahora como el gobierno del partido Socialista francés es el principal al momento de reconocer a los terroristas como un “gobierno paralelo”, van mucho más allá de lo que es el resto de los gobiernos occidentales.

Ahora, ¿cómo entendemos esta política de los llamados socialistas franceses? El tema es que hay una gran discrepancia entre los líderes del Partido francés y sus votantes, y no hay ninguna correspondencia. En la campaña electoral los socialistas plantearon algunas reformas sociales que no cumplen; mientras que en política exterior, están muy pero muy implicados en la OTAN y la política imperial.

En otras palabras, los socialistas franceses son lo que llamamos históricamente socialimperialistas y los grupos radicales supuestamente, como el partido anticapitalismo, hablan de dar apoyo crítico a los socialimperialistas. Esto es solo un comentario sobre la degeneración sobre lo que era en una época la  izquierda radical, a partir de sus vínculos con la socialdemocracia, esta infame frase de “apoyo crítico” ha traído al país hacia la política más imperialista de todos los países europeos.

Hay una cosa más antes de terminar hoy que debemos considerar.

Frente a esta ofensiva  occidental en Medio Oriente, encabezados ahora por el genocidio israelí, hay otra parte del mundo que siente la expansión imperial o la política de confrontación, que es la actual visita de Obama a Birmania, Cambodia y Tailandia.

Supuestamente es una visita diplomática para mejorar las relaciones con Asia. Pero esta visita de Obama es parte de una nueva estrategia, que apunta a extender la influencia y establecer un cerco alrededor de China. Parte de esta política empezó el año pasado con la instalación de bases militares en el norte de Australia, con la intervención de Hillary Clinton en las disputas territoriales entre China y sus vecinos sobre los límites fronterizos; y ahora está en Birmania utilizando la bandera de reforma, de derechos humanos, etc. para debilitar lo lazos con China y extender la influencia norteamericana.

Especialmente en estos momentos, cuando hay una transición en China, Washington quiere poner muros sobre la posibilidad china de extender sus influencias y relaciones económicas y comerciales con los países asiáticos.

Esa es la situación que vivimos, un período en el que Washington con la reelección de Obama está en una nueva fase de agresividad y otra vez tenemos que anotar que la gente a nivel mundial, cree que Obama es un mal menor, pero en la práctica es el peor porque es el político más belicista que hemos visto en los últimos años, es el gobernante que ha lanzado más guerras en Medio Oriente, es un Presidente que sigue extendiendo su agresividad en Asia y es una situación que genera mucho desencanto en todas partes. Pero ¿cómo pensaban antes que Obama no iba a repetir lo que hizo antes? Y ahora que no tiene que pensar en reelección va a ser más agresivo todavía.

EChI: Para terminar Petras, ¿lo único que queda en Gaza es un horizonte de muerte?

JP: El horizonte es peor que de muerte, es de destrucción total. Es destruir una manera de vivir y de forzar la salida de los palestinos, es limpiar el territorio de los palestinos. Eso lo dijo un Ministro israelí, dijo: “Palestina es nuestra”, en realidad dijo “Gran Israel es nuestro”. Y con eso justifican la destrucción de la vida y la expulsión de un pueblo.

¿Cómo se puede vivir entre la destrucción de toda la infraestructura, -hospitales, escuelas, caminos, etc.- y el bloqueo económico de todo alimento?  Es un plan bien calculado para expulsar a los palestinos.

No debemos quedarnos solo en los muertos, porque la visión estratégica de Israel es crear un desierto en palestina para que la gente tenga que irse. Es la peor ‘limpieza’ que hemos visto en todos nuestros años.

EChI: Petras te agradecemos mucho este análisis y nos reencontramos el lunes.

JP: Bueno, muchas gracias y espero que las cosas mejoren en alguna parte del mundo.

(*) Escuche en vivo los lunes a las 11:30 horas (hora local) la audición de James Petras por CX36, Radio Centenario desde Montevideo (Uruguay) para todo el mundo a través de www.radio36.com.uy

Notas de Redacción:

(1) “Mercosur condena violencia entre Israel y Palestina

A través de un comunicado oficial, emitido este sábado por el bloque suramericano de integración regional, manifestaron su preocupación por “el uso desproporcional de la fuerza” en la Franja de Gaza y solicitaron al Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas asumir “plenamente sus responsabilidades”.

Además, Mercosur expresó su apoyo a la solicitud del Estado de Palestina de adquirir estatus de miembro observador de Naciones Unidas.

Los países miembros del Mercosur expresaron su más firme condena a la violencia, que se ha intensificado en las últimas horas, y lamentaron la pérdida de vidas humanas. “El camino para la superación de la presente crisis pasa por la diplomacia y el diálogo”, fue el claro mensaje que enviaron los presidentes del bloque suramericano. (Agencias)

(2) Venezuela expulsa al Embajador y al cuerpo diplomático de Israel, por los ataques al pueblo palestino (Sábado 17 de noviembre de 2012)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=l3IyZ9n2QG4

Bolivia Rompe Relaciones Diplomáticas con Israel y Denunciará Ante la Corte Penal Internacional (Sábado 17 de noviembre)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ1aQ1kmGls&feature=player_embedded

Nov 202012
 

THE VELVET REVOLUTION   

Speaking of democratic revolutions… Play dedicated in memoriam of “Grovel” Havel for services to the Empire beyond the call of duty.

_______________________________

Act 1, Scene 1

(A cafe in upper west side of Manhattan not far from Columbia University. Grovel Havel sits with an editor of N.Y. Review of Books and a professor sympathetic to the New Left… drinking coffee… a cigarette hangs from his lip in the style of Jean Belmondo. He is wearing casual clothes.)

GH: Nothing works under Communism but everybody does his job. The workers pretend to work and the regime pretends to pay them. It is a form of resistance… Czech style.

NYRofB Editor: It must be terribly difficult to work under a Stalinist regime.

GH: They control everything: radio, television, book publishing; they have a small group of mediocrities who run the Writers’ Unions and the major journals. We survive, thanks to Western solidarity.

Prof: Doesn’t the financial speculator Soros fund many of the Czech dissidents?

GH: Yeah, what do you expect when you face a totalitarian monster, you take support from wherever you can. In the US, you can afford to question some of these foundations – for us they are a lifesaver.

NYR of B: Most of the Left in this country use double-standards, denouncing US policy in Indochina but they always have reservations about criticizing Soviet abuses in Eastern Europe.

Prof: (Indignant) That’s not true!

GH: (Grins) Come on.. .This is all in the family. I sympathize with the students’ rebellion, the Civil Rights movement in the United States. It’s the same libertarian spirit as in Prague 1968. We identified with Paris, Berkeley; we were all part of the same struggle against all the authoritarian crap. It’s all about freedom. Only it’s easier to fight in the West because, despite all the atrocities, you are democracies. I know… (he nods to the Professor) capitalist democracies.

NYR of B: Basically the Communists are “bourgeois” without our democratic values.

GH: (Grins) They like the old palaces, the neckties and shirts, and they fall over themselves to have a dacha in the countryside, while they condemn the “bourgeois life style” of the dissident intellectuals. They drool over the svelte daughters of the old aristocracy. .. ‘Ape and grope’ Communists.

NYR of B: How long did you stay in the Gulag?

GH: (Fidgets in his seat, hesitates) Well, it was a prison not a concentration camp – about 4 weeks.

Prof: Did they torture you?

GH: Psychological pressures – interrogations, repeating the same boring questions. The worst of it was they didn’t let me read or write or talk to my friends.

NYR of B: Just like the Chilean secret police that Washington put in power.

GH: (Hesitates, mulls over his response) Well, in a way, you’re right. Dictatorships have their own logic.

Act 1, Scene 2 – Cafe in Prague 1989

GH and four of his friends, a musician, a journalist, a philosopher and a free lance writer active in the human rights movement.

GH: They fell without glory and without regrets, like a big tree with rotten roots. The people were magnificent. What happened the last few weeks was historically unprecedented. Millions of people peacefully protesting and the regime in retreat… finally they admitted their bankruptcy and handed over power. A Velvet Revolution. Salud! (He raises a glass of whiskey, the others follow.)

Musician: We are having a concert to celebrate. Now we can play what we want, where we want. We can travel and read and talk freely. They thought just because we had paid, permanent positions that we should read our notes and have no opinions. Now we’ll have it all. ..freedom and a civilized life, just like the West!

Journalist: Yeah, maybe. Now you’ll compete with rock, video and cassettes from the big music companies in the US and England and Germany. But you’re right, I’d rather be starving than feed at the state trough and write lies in the Party Press.

Philosopher: This is a great opportunity to change things… to become like Sweden or Germany.. .a welfare state and freedom. I’ve been going from one assembly to another. It’s amazing, there are discussions everywhere. People want to talk and debate. All sorts of views have emerged, liberal, nationalist, democratic socialists, even free marketers, ex-landlords and pre-war right-wingers.

Free-lance writer: Maybe we’ll have a Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan for President. They are the most popular Western politicians (some frowns and laughter in the group).

Philosopher: That’s natural, they were the most anti-Communist. “The enemies of our enemies are our friends.” Most people don’t know anything about “the West” and if they don’t learn fast, they’ll get their pocket picked again.

GH: Come on, what do I hear some nostalgia for the fallen regime? We have our destiny in our hands. We have to be responsible. We can celebrate our independence, but we must also recognize that we are part of the West. Our culture, our traditions. Before Communism we were part of Western civilization not Slavic

Free-lance writer: Should we split off from Slovakia?

GH: (Dismisses him with a wave of the hand.) You’re impossible. We have a historic relation with the Slovaks. We will provide the leadership and they will follow.

Act 1, Scene 3 – Cafe in Washington, D.C

(GH sits with a group of US congress people and aides.)

Congressman for a Southern State: That was a wonderful speech Grovel – you’re not offended if I call you by your first name?

GH: Of course not, it is my name. (Jovial laughter)

Congressman from the South: “You know that critique you made of Marxism’s materialism was right on the mark. I remember when I was a poor kid on my father’s farm. I was inspired by the local minister who preached a similar lesson about how the spirit conquers bodily needs. I sure appreciated that because there were many time we didn’t have enough to eat.

GH: (Fidgets a bit uncomfortable.) Well, who knows if I don’t make it as President. I can turn to the pulpit (everyone laughs).

Senator from New York: That a brilliant turn of a phrase, turning Marx’s dialectic on its head. “Consciousness determines existence, not vice versa.”

GH: (Smiles). Yeah. A Russian writer in the fifties wrote a book called “Not by Brad Alone” that touched a sensitive nerve. (GH picks at a juicy morsel of filet mignon.)

Congressman from the West: (picks up a piece of bread) Well I agree to a certain point. Only I wouldn’t want to go too long without any material sustenance.

GH: Of course that was only a metaphor…

Congressman from Texas: You know Grovel we sure appreciate your recognizing the beauty of our democracy. I mean, we have some problems in our urban cities but you put it all in perspective. This is the best of all democracies and we know that, as an intellectual with a critical eye, you didn’t flatter us to get any foreign aid handouts.

GH: (a serious and sincere look crosses his face): I meant every word of it. You can’t reduce people to their class positions or class interests. People have other more basic spiritual and cultural identities.

(All in chorus – “That’s right!”)

Congressman from Northwest: I bet you got a lot of rebuilding to do. The Communists ran everything into the ground. I hear they gave you a parachute along with your ticket when you got into one of those Soviet made airplanes.

GH (laughs): Not quite. But it’s a good idea to bring a cushion to sit on (everyone laughs.)

Congressman from the Northwest: Well if you decide you want to upgrade your air fleet, give me a call and I’ll put you in touch with some friends at Boeing.

Congresswoman from the Midwest: Oh come on, this is no time for business.

GH (takes card from Congressman): I’ll keep it in mind. I greatly appreciate all the support the US gave us over the years in throwing off the Communist yoke.

And I don’t just mean the material support – the moral inspiration of a living democracy was just as important.

(Everyone lifts their glass to toast GH. They begin to chant “Grovel, Grovel.”)

Southern Congressman: “Morality determines existence”, isn’t that another way of saying it?

(GH nods).

Act II – Scene I (Presidential Palace)

(GH with open neck sport shirt sitting on a desk covered with papers under a fine crystalchandelier besides gold gilded walls. His aides dressed in sport shirts and designer blue jeans stand around casually joking.)

GH: (Smoking) Where is the court jester, the honor guards? (He looks around at the lavish decor with an ironic smile.) So this is what the Velvet Revolution was all about?

(The aides laugh.)

Aide one: We are role models for the good life under capitalism.

Aide two: It isn’t the form, it’s the substance that counts.

Aide three: Nothing is too good for the democrats.

Aide four: What will my ex-trotskyist comrades in Paris say?

GH: (lights up a cigarette) Well, we’ll put up with it for now. This is Chat political people wanted. The President should live in the Presidential Palace. So we’ll put up with it. I’ll sleep in a different bedroom each night ‘till I get used to it.

GH: (Puts feet on the desk, puffs away on his cigarette) What’s on the agenda?

Aide one: A meeting with an executive from Volkswagen. They want to buy into Skoda.

Aide two: A committee of former landowners who want to reclaim their farms.

Aide three: A representative from the Vatican who has a list of Church property to be reclaimed and reconstructed.

Aide four: Two unemployed women from the Actors Union who want us to restore the state subsidy to the theater. They are very good looking, by the way.

GH: (Smiles) Let’s start with the theater group. That’s what we know the best.

(Enter two attractive women. GH rises to greet them. Tthe aides stand exchanging greetings with them. Some of the aides seem to know them)

GH: (Jovial, with a wry ironic smile.) Welcome to the People’s Presidential Palace. Have a seat. (He sits casually on the edge of the desk.)

Actress 1: Thanks for responding to our petition so rapidly. Sorry to be so insistent, but the theater world is in turmoil; the elimination of the state subsidy has been a crushing blow Over 80 percent of the actors and actresses are out of work.

Actress 2: When we went to the Ministry of Culture they told us that we should forget about the old Stalinist system. They told us we are free and should find our own money.

Actress 1: You know Grovel, we were all in the struggle against Stalinist censorship. After I signed the Helsinki petition, I couldn’t get an acting job for a long time…

GH: (Interrupts) I know, I know. I had a girlfriend who was in your theater group. She told me all about your struggle. (He smiles.) That was a difficult time, but we managed to have some beautiful moments together. Sharing meals…

Actress 1: Yeah but we didn’t get any of the Soros Foundation dough either. It always went to the better known dissidents.

GH: (Slightly annoyed at what he perceives to be a poison dart.) Well look, the times have changed. Freedom has a price and if we are going to be like the West we can’t have the State do everything. It’s because the State funded everything that they could censor.

Actress 1: I don’t follow. That was the Communist state. This is a democratic state. You can subsidize without censorship.

GH: Of course, of course (he quickly interrupts her with a sheepish grin.) Look, I’ll talk to the Ministry and see if we can restore some kind of funding. But I suggest you talk to some private sources. You know in the US most of the cultural activity is funded by big corporations. Talk to Volkswagen. Yeah, why not Soros?

Actress 1: They left after the Communist regime fell.

GH: (Looks at his watch.) Look, why don’t you leave your telephone number with one of my aides and we’ll arrange another meeting with people from the Ministry. It’ll work out, take my word for it.

(As they leave, he lets out a sigh of relief.)

Aide 1: These artsy, fartsy types are still living in the past. Don’t you think? (The other aides look to see how Gil will react.)

GH: Well, they have a problem, but you know the transition is going to be very complex. A little pain before prosperity. We’re going to change a lot of hats before it’s over. (All the aides nod in agreement.) Especially the cultural issues in a market economy.. .that’s a thorny issue..

GH: (Becomes ironic again.) Bring in the German comrade from Volkswagen. That will be easier to deal with. What with German capital and technology and Czech skills we can do wonders.

Aide 1: And our wages are one-fifth of what they pay over there.

Aide 2: They’ll find markets.

Aide 3: We’ll have a foothold in the Common Market.

Chorus of Aides: We will become part of the West.

Act II – Scene 2 Cafe in Prague

(The two actresses sipping a coffee with a pair of writers.)

Writer 1: (Looking at the want ads in the paper.) The Housing Authority returned my apartment building to an ex-Nazi sympathizer and he immediately quadrupled the rent and tried to throw out some old retirees who have been living there for 30 years.

Actress 1: (Reading the newspaper.) Here’s an apartment just for you, “artistic studio in the old center” – only $500 (in dollars no less) a month.

Writer 1: That’s my salary for the month!

Actress 2: Price of freedom my boy, that’s what Grovel told us.

Writer 2: What did he tell you?.

Actress 1: Knock on the doors of Volkswagen, McDonalds – see if they’ll fund you.

Writer 2: Why not try the porno circuit. They have ads looking for “open-minded actresses willing to learn on the job.”

Actress 1: Don’t laugh. One of the ballerinas has taken up an occasional gig to pay the rent.

Writer 1: Who read books anymore? A friend of mine who is a bookseller told me they just warehoused Grovel’s last book, Consciousness and Existence, to make space for the latest Stallone and Schwartzenegger videos.

Actress 2: That’s consciousness over existence for you.

Writer 2: Yeah, anybody who can forge a property title and get a credential verifying that they are a bona fide political exile coming back to claim their piece of real estate.

Actress 1: McDonald’s is negotiating with the bishop to lease space in the Cathedral.

Writer 2: The Pope’s coming to give a mass and mobilize the faithful. He has a long list of property to reclaim before the Americans and Germans gobble it up.

Actress 1: Hey, maybe. Disney will buy the State Theater.

Actress 2: Didn’t you hear it’s going to become a disco? The Russian Mafia and a group of NY real estate developers are buying it. It’s a good way to launder drug money.

Writer 1: (Sarcastic.) Rumors, rumors. The point of the matter is you have to adapt to the new times. I’ll go to work writing advertisement jingles to sell deodorants.

Actress 1: Plenty of malodorous smells.

(A group of tourists walk by, one asks to take a picture of them. They ignore them.)

Actress 2: Maybe we should charge to pose for the tourists. “Unemployed leftovers from Communism.”

Writer 1: No, they are American. We should advertise ourselves as “the Former Freedom Fighters turned entrepreneurs!”

Actress 2: Yeah, selling child porn to clean old Brits.

Writer 2: Are you going to call Grovel’s aide? Maybe they can send you on tour, if you sleep with him.

Actress 1: (Blows smoke in his face.)

Act 2 – Scene 3 The Presidential Palace

(Grovel is wearing a button-down pin stripe shirt with a subdued tie and dressy suspenders. His aides are dressed in suits and ties. His secretary, receptionist and administrative assistant file in and out of his office bringing him papers to sign, ushering visitors in and out.)

Secretary: Ms. Olc is here to see you President Havel.

(He rises and waves her in. She is a woman in her late 50s to early 60s, elegantly dressed with silver streaks of hair.)

MO: “Grovel, how good to see you. When was the last time? Wasn’t it at the fundraiser on the upper east-side with all those Peace and Democracy types and those wealthy Jewish investment brokers?

GH: (Cool and businesslike.) You have a good but selective memory. What can I do for you?

MO: (She looks him straight in the eye.) We have a property claim, you know. The Communists confiscated our country estates along with our financial assets and family holdings in Prague.

GH: That’s being looked into by our Commission to Return Properties.

MO: (As a teacher to a student.) My dear Grovel, that’s a start but its not good enough. You know there are still many old line Communists in positions of power – the current judicial process could take years. (Raises her voice, indignant righteousness.) In the meantime, all those state farmers continue to exploit our land.

GH: Do you want me to throw them off the land? (He becomes a bit testy.)

MO: (She fixes an icy glare.) I think it would be a positive signal to the World Bank and our friends in the US government and the European Union that this government really wants to make the change to a market economy irreversible.

GH: (Heaves a slight sigh.) You’re right, it’s very important to give the right signals to The EU. I’ll look into signing a Presidential decree.

MO: You’re a wise, President Grovel. The people will love you. We’ll invite you for dinner once we get the country house fixed up.

GH: (Murmurs under his breath.) The “right people” already love me. (She takes her leave). While Grovel calls in his secretary to dictate a decree “enabling former landowners to reclaim their land in order to prepare the soil for the planting season.”

(The receptionist announces the Finance Minister, Klaus Louce. The administrative assistant leads him into the office.)

KL: Good morning, Mr. President. I have the list of enterprises to be privatized

GH: (Glances at the list.) It includes everything except the water, air and pavement. (slightly ironic.) How did you miss them?

KL: We are working on finding a private water company, but the one in England has a record of high E. coli content and excessive rates.

GH: Of course, efficiency must be balanced with public safety.

KL: We’ll put them on the auction bloc shortly: 50% to foreign buyers, 50% for the wage earners.

GH: How will that work?

KL: The workers will get shares, but investors will run the firm – hire, fire, etc.

GH: That’s fair enough. What about the price?

KL: Mr. President, the price is secondary. It’s getting the firms into the market, making capitalism irreversible. It’s a good policy to sell cheap and get the connections with the Germans and the Americans.

GH: That means entry into NATO and the EU. You have my support. (They shake hands. As KL leaves, Grovel mutters) “as if it mattered, he announced the privatization in yesterday’s newspapers.”

(The secretary announces a Party leader from a Czech nationalist group. He enters boldly – they embrace.)

Otto Benclic: Greetings President Havel.

GH: Let’s not be formal. What’s on your mind?

OB: The Slays and their emotional nationalism, their inferiority complex will wreck the country.

GH: (Looks pensively.) Too close to Russia too far from the West.

OB: They say we are hogging all the government subsidies, that we are closing all their defense industries.

GH: (He rises from his chair and paces the room, stroking his tie.) Let them go their own way. It’s a tragedy. I have tried to convince them that this transitional period will be painful for all of us and that they have to share their part of the burden.

OB: All they talk about is the fact that their economy depends on the arms industry. That unemployment is double the rate here.

GH: (Yawning, a bored look.) We can only try to persuade them to stay with us. Ultimately they will decide and have to live with the consequences of a separation. We have Germany, We don’t need them.

OB: But a break up will make us a smaller country.

GH: (Putting on a grave face.) Yes it will be a tragedy. They are stuck in the old Stalinist model of heavy industry and arms exports. Isn’t it more humane to have more unemployed and fewer arms? It’s a tragedy.

GH: (Strokes his silk tie. Walksaround the desk and leads OB out of the room. Walks around the office engaging in a soliloquy.) So much has changed. Who would have imagined that we democrats would be leaving the Warsaw Pact to join NATO; choose to be junior partners with Germany rather than stay with the Slovaks. Evict collective farmworkers to return land to the landowner. (He stops and brightens up and becomes ironic.) Yeah and the Marxists would say that my policies or consciousness reflects my bourgeois existence. Who needs to bother with them anymore… they don’t exist. Whatever the social costs, they are secondary. We are becoming a civilized Western country again.

Act III – Scene I

(Prague a former cafe turned into a fast food hamburger joint. It’s a get together of GH’s old intellectual friends, the musician, journalist, philosopher and free lance writer. They sit on plastic chairs, drinking coffee out of styrofoam cups, under neon lights.)

Journalist: So you’re off to New Zealand. Volkswagen won’t pay for a second violinist at the Prague symphony?

Musician: It was that or playing background music in an upscale bordello for visiting Italian businessmen.

Journalist: And you my versatile philosopher, you converted your mother from a Communist to Judaism and are off to Israel.

Philosopher: They offered me a post at Negev University teaching re-educated Palestinian prisoners the ethical imperatives of new Jewish land settlements around Jerusalem.

Journalist: Very ecological. You will lower the electrical bill for the Shin Bet.

Philosopher: It’s a job with a decent apartment and beautiful view of the desert.

Journalist: (Ironic) And I stay around here and try to uphold the principles of the Velvet Revolution. Yesterday I was almost lynched when I wrote about all the Marxist books that were removed from the library and all the professors kicked out of the University. They said I was a Stalinist nostalgic.

(The Musician looks off at the next table at a teenage hooker who is drinking a coke. Her dress is up by her umbilical, her boots half-way up her thighs.)

Musician: Ah, this is the new Prague spring. All the orifices are being ventilated.

Free-lance writer: I am paying the rent writing subtitles for soft core porn that features Lithuanian adolescents and unemployed Romanian soccer players.

Journalist: ‘What a cosmopolitan culture. What do you think Grovel would say about it?

All together: “It’s the price of democracy.” (They laugh a bit too long )

Philosopher: (looks out the window as a funeral car goes by) Someone died and they’re stuck in a traffic jam.” (Car horns blare, people curse…)

Free-lance writer: As Grovel would say, “we have become a civilized nation again.”

Musician: But you know despite the lay-offs after privatization and the collective farmers getting kicked off the land, Grovel is still very popular in the polls.

Philosopher: Why not? The harder you kick them the better they like it.

Free-lance writer: Wisdom from the future sheepherder’s violinist. Come on that’s émigrés sour grapes. He’s a great President; he told us we would resurrect a national culture and we are inundated with Hollywood trash and a quartet of middle age Englishmen singing 1960s songs in falsetto voices, short pants, emerging paunches. He said we would have an independent policy and, we run with the begging cup to the Germans, go on our knees to be buggered by NATO. Grovel’s a fantastic dialectician.

Journalist: The visit of the American Secretary of State evokes an erotic image. Albright mounting Grovel while he tells the world it’s different from when the Bear squeezed us.

Philosopher: (Musing and in relation to nothing.) Everyone is out for himself today.

Musician: And before?

Free-lance writer: You had an apartment you could afford, a month’s vacation, a secure job and sense of solidarity against the authorities. Now we suck up to the West Germans, run to three different jobs and get evicted to make room for a U.S. investment broker who want to ‘imbibe European culture in the old quarter of Prague’.

Musician: You’re an incurable nostalgic. (Pretends to play a violin and sings “Bring back the good old days!”)

Free-lance writer: If we succeeded in ‘68 with Dubcek it would have been different.

Journalist: Would be.. .could be… You got Grovel so forget Dubcek. You got Klaus and not Sik. So make the best of it; learn German, English and get a job writing press handouts for the new men of power. That’s what intellectuals do in the free market these days.

Musician: (Gets up.) I prefer the New Zealand shepherds.

Philosopher: I prefer the sunsets over the Negev.

Free-lance writer: I think I’ll ask that teenage hooker if she wants me to find her a clean Canadian diplomat.

Journalist: What happens when you pick up crap with a velvet glove?

Act III – Scene II

(In the Office of the President. Grovel paces the floor anxiously awaiting his next visitor. The receptionist announces US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.)

Grovel: (Moves forward to meet her, arranges his tie, puts on an ingratiating smile. She nter. He extends his hand a bit prematurely.) Secretary Albright, what a pleasure to have you visit us. (They shake hands.)

Albright: Yes, I enjoy being back here after so many years. You know, the city has changed, so much traffic and pollution.

Grovel: That’s the cost of prosperity – everybody has a car now.

Albright: Of course! Let’s get to this business about your application to join NATO. Is your government ready to abide by the rules of NATO?

Grovel: (Sententiously.) It’s a great opportunity for, us to be part of the West. It’s the best way to consolidate our democracy and deter the Russians if Yeltsin drinks himself into the grave.

Albright: (Smiles for a second and then becomes business like.) We provide protection but there is a price; reciprocity. We want to be able to build bases and to relocate missiles and nuclear warheads when we decide its a strategic necessity.

Grovel: (Frowns for an instant) That will have to be discussed with the parliament and…

Albright: (Interrupts him.) Grovel. This isn’t a literary exercise. You’re the President. Do you want to be part of the West? You have to shoulder part of the burden.

GH. (Fawning) Of course. Don’t get me wrong. I have no objection but we have a democracy. I’ll have to call the party leaders. There won’t be any problems. It’s of the utmost importance for our independence to be under US leadership in NATO.

Albright: (A mixture of cynicism and thinly veiled contempt.) There’s only one superpower today, Grovel. Your are making the right choice. The only choice.

Grovel: (Smiles weakly) It’s our own free choice and the great majority of the people support it.

Albright: (She gets up, shakes hands and starts to walk out.) Goodbye.

Albright: (Soliloquy in the doorway) Where does he get off with all that spiritual bullshit and holier than thou attitude? Telling us what the “real meaning” of NATO is all about.

Ha. We only organized it, put it under our command and showed our European allies how to shine our boots. (Stops, reflects.) I guess he’s so used to, mouthing all that mushy gook to his liberal camp followers he really believes he can walk on the Danube. How did he put it in that article of his… “We the free people of the Czech Republic will provide a new definition of the purpose, mission and identity of NATO…” Listen Grovel, NATO is about U.S. power, get it, telling the world we are ‘Number One’. (Face reddens, stops, reflects and brightens up.) I guess there’s no harm in letting Grovel put a moral varnish on our march to the Russian border. Sometimes I wonder if he’s bucking for my job, describing the “new NATO” as “a guarantor of Euro-American civilization and thus as a pillar of global security.” I like it… Makes you feel good while we’re sticking it to the Russians. Oh Grovel, if you ever lose your job I’ll get you a position at the United States Information Agency. S  till he’s a pompous ass. Every time you talk to him it seems like he’s reading a draft of a piece he’s submitting to the New York Times op-ed page or an open letter to New York Review of Books Still that high-falutin rhetoric makes it easier for liberals to swallow our power politics. (Smirks.) For a guy with such high moral standards, he could borrow Monica’s knee pads. (She laughs gleefully.)

Grovel: (Soliloquy) She’s more of a mediocrity than I thought. But you know if you represent a great power, you can spell your name backward and still get respect. Look at Reagan, he fell asleep at meetings and still everyone in Europe thought he was a genius. Ach… What an opportunist she is. Anything to curry favor. First she is a hatchet person at the U.N. for the Neanderthals in Congress. Then she is a woman and gets in the Cabinet, then she is a Czech to talk to the Europeans, then she discovers she’s Jewish to verify her credentials to make Middle East policy. (He throws hands up in a dramatic gesture.) What I have to sacrifice for this country…

(Knock on the door.)

GH: Come in.

Secretary: (Walks in.) There is a group of writers. They claim they have an appointment.

Grovel: I don’t want to see them. They’re probably looking for a job. Send them to the Ministry of Culture.

Secretary: They said they got purged for their ideas.

Grovel (Indignant) Part of the nomenclature hacks probably from the Stalinst Writers Union. (Presses buzzer, an aide rushes in.) Escort those unemployed Stalinists out.

Aide: You mean those middle-age professors of literature?

Grovel: How do you know they teach literature?

Aide: One of them was my professor. He supported Dubcek and got kicked out by the Stalinists and taught classes in his tiny apartment for a while.

Grovel: Alright, you go talk to him. Maybe find him a job in some high school.

Act III – Scene 3

(3 years later, 4 intellectuals return to cafe. Noisy background of US music, neon lights, plastic tables, Starbuck coffee.)

Free-lance writer: Welcome to the class reunion. Or maybe we shouldn’t use such outmoded jargon.

Musician: I came back because the airfare from the US has been discounted and I need to sell my deceased mother’s apartment.

Philosopher: You left New Zealand?

Musician: Yeah. The Labor government, following in the footsteps of Grovel, ended the state subsidy for the symphony. We were told to find a patron among the sheep farmers to subsidize our chairs.

Philosopher: And in the US there is public funding?

Musician: Some, but mostly there are professional fundraisers who get money for all of us. The moneybags deduct it from their corporate taxes and get their names written into the program with their spouses. (Turns and faces the philosopher.) And you my dear Maimonides, do you still give lectures at the Negrev on the justice of blowing up the family houses of suspected terrorists?

Philosopher: (Stiffens up.) The anti-Semitic undertones in Central Europe are surfacing again. I now teach at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I have a chair endowed by a distinguished New York garment manufacturer and his family. It’s wonderful. I give only one graduate seminar a year and a series of lectures for philanthropic groups like the Hadassah on topics like “What it Means to be a Jew” or “Mixed Marriages: Threat or Opportunity?”

Journalist: That’s very exciting. Almost as exhilarating as my rewriting scripts of old US soap operas for Czech TV audiences. But it pays well and I got my kids in a private school with all the brats of the junior managers working for multinational corporations.

They now speak Czech with a German or English accent. They’ll do better than I’ve done.

Free-lance writer: I’m out of luck. I wasn’t circumcised. I couldn’t find a CEO to subsidize my computer and I didn’t have the stomach to drink myself into refrying US soap operas.

Philosopher: You’re an anti-Semite and full of resentment.

Musician: You’re stuck in the past.

Journalist: So, how do you ‘make a living?

Free-lance writer: Selling Grovel’s books on the street corner at a 90% discount.

Writer: How do you make a profit?

Free-lance writer: I get them free from a warehouse.

Musician: Just selling Grovel? Do you sell that many?

Free-lance writer: The foreign tourists buy the translated versions of Grovel especially when I forge his signature and dedication. It’s strange, a lot of Americans with a peculiar drawl ask for a book called the “Spirit Over Existence” that one of their politicians recommendes. I sell them what I got and tell them it’s a problem of translation. But I also sell the old Marx, Lenin collections to antiquarians. Those cheap editions of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Gorky sell for at 50 cents a copy to a few grey haired Czechs who still read. I write in the morning and sell in the afternoon.

Philosopher: And in the winter?

Free-lance writer: My wife works for an advertising agency and I write travel stories about places I never visited.

Journalist: That’s imaginative writing. What happened to your novel on the Velvet Revolution?

Free-lance writer: (Starts to talk, but notes that there is little interest. The philosopher is watching the thinly clad tourists. The musician is glancing at the Financial Times and the journalist is suppressing a yawn.) It’s about two-thirds finished. It’s about the betrayal of the revolution. How everything we fought for has been perverted. (He stops.)

Philosopher: Well gentlemen. I have to be leaving. I have a meeting with a joint businessmen-philosophers’ conference on ethics and leverage buyouts.

Free-lance writer: How to say you’re sorry when you get caught, eh?

Musician: I’m off too. We are rehearsing a special performance for Grovel and his honored guest the Viceroy Albright.

Free-lance writer: Stick a cigarette in his mouth and tell him he hasn’t changed a bit.

Journalist: (Tightens his lips and nods his head in dismay at the writer..) You’re so self-destructive. You know it was clever to be an outsider when you were younger and fought the good fights against the Stalinists, especially when you had the West by your side.

Soros pouring millions, Amnesty running around publishing reports, National Endowment for Democracy paying the rent. Anything you wrote, creative or crap, that was critical was picked up by the N.Y. Times, Le Monde or the New York Review of Books (Stops and speaks slowly and emphatically.) But that time has passed. They got what they want. The CEOs squat around the boardrooms in their high rises making deals with Klaus, Grovel and the rest of them. They aren’t interested any more in dissidents criticism. Now it’s time to be a promoter, an entrepreneur, a celebrant of the good times.

It’s self-destructive to keep writing about the new porno-culture, the inequalities, the ripoffs of privatization, the new rich. Who cares? Not the young people. Look around you. The high school girls trying to seduce German businessmen so they can buy Calvin Klein jeans and spend the night in a disco, while their boyfriends piss their beer on the side of the Cathedral. And the, Pope praises Grovel and present him with a list of 327 rent-yielding properties to be reclaimed.

Free-lance writer: You’re an inspiration. You should write my book.

Journalist: Look, I know what you think of our former comrades. They sold out and I have too, but at least I know it.

Free-lance writer: The old Czech way, fight the battle inside while conforming on the outside. Isn’t that what we railed against for so many years during the post-Dubcek years?

Journalist: You’re right, but you got nothing to show for it. And worse, who’s going to back you today? When you’re fighting global capitalism? It’s better to try to fight for little things on the inside.

Free-lance writer: Like have one of your soap opera hero’s recycle his condoms – green safe sex.

Journalist: Meanwhile you’re on roller skates going from one job to another and selling the books of your arch enemy, Grovel Havel.

Free-lance writer: Don’t you see, I’m getting back at him selling “Consciousness Over Existence” for 25 cents.

Journalist: You think he cares? He can’t even remember the title of that book. He’s writing a new book called Green Velvet. The opening sentence begins, “Here come the stock brokers – open your legs and enjoy it”.

Free-lance writer: (Wry smile.) This will run its course. The Czech people are not donkeys. The workers will someday wake up to the fact that they make one- fifth what they make in Germany and work longer hours.

Journalist: You’re really a dreamer. The older workers know they lost something: security, health plans, vacations, but they are holding out for their pensions. The younger ones work to consume. The last thing they think about is rebelling. They want their stereos, their own Volks, even if they beat all the work norms to get them. The capitalists get out of the workers what the Communists only tried: higher productivity, bigger profits..

Free-lance writer: It’ll take time. Meantime if you need a ghostwriter to help you re-write a soap or two give me a call.

Journalist: No way. If you didn’t exist, I wouldn’t include a hero recycling condoms.

Nov 192012
 

By Iddhis Bing, 99GetSmart

A GIGANTIC FUNNEL IN LUXEMBOURG

Invisible Money 4

At the end of Invisible Money 3, the ink was drying on the latest tax evasion scheme in Marius Kohl’s office at 18, rue du Fort Wedell in Luxembourg’s capital. Kohl, head of the tax bureau at Sociétés 6, was formalizing the tax deal for the world’s third largest pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline. He and the Bureau d’Impots are happy to provide fast service for an untold number of companies – Amazon, Google, The Guardian (yes, that Guardian, through the Eden Company), iTunes, Procter & Gamble among them. His is a busy trade and still very much ongoing in luxurious Luxembourg, which profits from loopholes in antiquated European tax law. 40,000 pages of such instances give some hint of how widespread the tax avoidance business is.

Marius Kohl is the head of a department in a small government apparatus dedicated to tax affairs. But he is not the man who sets the policy. He has bosses above him who do that, persons readers will soon know more about. If Marius Kohl ever deviated from considered policy, if his actions were at variance from his superiors’ dictats, Marius Kohl would be gone at the end of the day, whether he had set a whole new raft of origami organizations afloat or not.

Let’s freeze Marius Kohl with his pen an inch away from flourishing that marvelous signature of his. Leave him right where he is, while we turn around to take a quick look at the landscape in which Luxembourg operates, a landscape which makes the financial funnel in Luxembourg possible.

It has been a busy month or so in politics and on the tax/debt front. Are the two inextricably linked? Of course they are. “The fact that many men are occupied in making clothes for one individual is the reason so many others go without.” Does that make sense?

In Athens in October, protesters greeted Angela Merkel with a banner in front of Parliament that read “Angela weine nicht. Da ist nichts im Shrank, was zu holen wäre” – “Don’t cry, Angela. There’s nothing left in the cupboard for you to take.” The line is originally Bertolt Brecht’s.

Is Chancellor Merkel the uncrowned Queen of Europe? Europeans might be forgiven for thinking she is. So when Ulrich Beck, a German sociologist, published an article last week depicting Merkel as a devoted student of Machiavelli, it was widely read across the continent and gave rise to a new moniker for Germany’s leader: Merkiavelli. The empress has a new set of clothes.

Beck argues that Merkel must walk the fine line between being loved at home – enough, anyway, to be reëlected – and loathed outside Germany – but not so loathed as to be detested and lose her preëminence. “Merkiavelli’s power rests upon the desire to do nothing, her penchant for avoiding action, acting later, hesitating. This art of selective delay, a mixture of indifference, a refusal of Europe and European engagement, is the source of Germany’s powerful position in a continent stumbling through the crisis.”

“Madame Merkel prefers – and this is the full Machiavellian irony of her position – to make the willingness of Germany to provide assistance to indebted countries dependent upon their acceptance of the German policy of stability.”

“Politically, inside Germany the Chancellor reassures Germans, who fear for their retirement, their little house and their economic miracle, and with a very Protestant rigor she defends the politics of No in measured doses, all so that she gives the appearance of being the one instructor at school capable of teaching Europe a lesson.”

“The more Germans become critical with respect to Europe, the more they feel encircled by countries peopled with debtors who only want to get their hands into German wallets, the more difficult it will be to maintain her two positions.”

None of it is really working. It is worth pointing out that of the ‘bailout’ loans Germany sends to a country like Greece, not a penny goes to the people but is instead “paid into an ‘escrow’ account and is used exclusively to repay past loans and to re-capitalise near bankrupt private banks.” This is the essence of the message that Alex Tsipras delivered to Merkel upon her arrival in Athens in October. One has to assume that every current head of state knows this, and yet none of them says a word. Why? It’s a modern version of omerta: be very careful what you say and above all, do nothing, because if you take action, the great financial powers will invoke their often employed, quasi-mystical “crisis of confidence,” and that government will soon be on its knees. This is the fine line Merkel treads.

But, Beck argues, it cannot go on forever. “It is nevertheless possible that la méthode Merkiavel is little by little hitting its limits, if only because it must be confessed that the politics of German austerity has yet to record a single success. To the contrary, the debt crisis is now threatening Spain, Italy and perhaps very soon even France.”

They put on a good show in Parliament in the UK last week. The Public Accounts Committee held hearings, and Committee chair Margaret Hodge put executives from Amazon, Google and Starbucks through the ringer. Amazon grossed £3.3bn in UK sales last year and yet somehow – need I whisper the name of a certain Duchy to you? – it paid not so much as a pound in corporate tax. The government’s chief auditor, Amyas Morse, found the evidence submitted by the Big Three Friendlies “insulting.” The suit from Amazon was dismissed like a junior staffer who’d shown up in the wrong hearing room./ like a subaltern who’d moseyed into the sacristy by mistake.

Coalition leaders and in Labour’s shadow government say they are angry, even furious with the multinationals. The English, who know something about tongue lashings and moral tirade, will, in the persons of Cameron or Osborne or Cable, deliver jolly, blistering speeches and nothing will come of it. Were they completely out of the loop until now? Doubtful. They are afraid of omerta.

The best was saved for last in those hearings. On video, the committee heard a few words from Prince Phillip, taking a break from driving his buggy around the royal estates. “All money nowadays seems to be produced with a natural homing instinct for the Treasury,” he opined. Well said by a man who has lived his entire life on the public dole, or as Polly Toynbee put it neatly in the Guardian, straight from the Treasury to his trouser pockets.

Even tiny Antigua – hereditary ruler, one Queen Elizabeth II, also known as Phillip’s wife – is getting shivers that it may be “game over” for their brand of off-shore banking. “The large financial centres are going to try, and have been trying, to strangle the Caribbean banking sectors,” said Barbados-based investment guru Avinash Persaud in early November. “They are imposing regulation that is risk intolerant, that is size intolerant and therefore we have to invest as much in anti-money laundering as large centres. They are going to make it expensive to operate in the Caribbean.” Persaud argued that since most money laundering takes place in the largest financial sectors, they, and not the Caribbean, should be investing more in regulation.

Antigua, Barbados and the Caymans now realize they might be offered up as sacrifices on a platter if the Big Boys to the north become desperate enough to preserve their fiscal paradises. Au diable avec vous les Noirs!

And meanwhile back in France, with strong majorities in his favor in both regional and national legislatures, François Hollande – the same François Hollande who campaigned as an enemy of the world of finance – has proposed a budget as austere as anything Nicholas Sarkozy ever hustled into law.

Several possibilities loom on the horizon, and not so far away that one can’t make out their shapes in the haze.

Just as, once upon a time, the crowned heads of Europe did roll down the hill, the current crop of leaders from Norway to Greece, incapable of an honest discussion about the financial crisis out of fear of retribution, will roll down the hill and into the obscurity of historical abyss, a footnote at the bottom of the page. Cameron in the UK, Mario Monti in Italy, Mariano Rajoy in Spain, Antonis Samaras in Greece, President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel – no one will remember a single thing about them. There is a good chance they will be replaced by far right nationalists or spineless “centrists” but the drift will be the same: A ‘new’ Europe based on “cheap labor, deregulation of the labor market, low public spending and tax exemptions for capital.” Those are Alex Tsipras’s words, and he ought to know, living in the country where it is already being put into practice. Take a look at what is happening in Hungary and Spain.

We are nearing critical mass with fiscal paradises, a first plateau in a long hike. Word is getting out. Politicians, habitually used to funking an issue beyond the endurance of mere mortals, are feeling a bit of heat. No concrete measures, for sure. Those are still a long ways off. But hearings, a few scattered speeches – a kind of smoke signal. All the elements of real drama are in place: indefensible greed, outrageous circumstance, secret manouevres, nations at odds, corporate disarray. The moment awaits one brave man or woman in office to seize the issue and run with it, to lead the charge.

The U.S. has made some initial moves towards demanding transparency from the oil companies on a country by country basis but nothing is really happening yet in Europe. In France the Senate spent several months investigating tax fraud this year. They contacted Ed Perrin to see what he knew. And when they were done they advocated prosecuting VAT-evaders and cigarette smugglers riding donkeys over the Pyrannees from Andorra. Meanwhile billions go missing from the ledgers of wealthy corporations and governments mired in feckless austerity.

For Invisible Money 5 we unfreeze Marius Kohl in his office on rue Fort du Wedell and snoop around for his superiors. Stay tuned.

Iddhis Bing writes about politics and culture from Paris.

“…Many men are occupied in making clothes…”: Montesquieu.

Beck’s essay appeared as Angela Merkel, nouveau Machiavel, in Le Monde, November 13, 2012.