Oct 282015

By Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart


On October 28, Greeks around the world will commemorate the anniversary of Oxi Day, the day on which in 1940 the Greek government said “no” to the demands of Mussolini to pass his troops through Greece unimpeded. This no has become an annual commemoration in Greece and is remembered as a moment of great resistance for Greece and its people, despite the fact that it came from a fascist, far-right government in its own right.

Today though, the word “no” has been stripped of its significance in Greece. After the supposed referendum of July 5th, a referendum without a clear question posed to the voters and, despite the 62% that voted no, without a clear message on the part of the voters, as the events since then have shown, we have seen the word “no” converted to yes, yes, YES, yes to even harsher austerity measures and cuts than those which were purportedly rejected in the referendum. And in contrast with 1940, there is no longer any semblance of national pride or a national identity in Greece, no backbone to truly stand up to this onslaught.

On the night of July 5th, the people of Greece knew how to spill out onto the streets and the squares to celebrate the supposedly heroic, historic vote of “no.” Celebrations which in my opinion were premature, as the government of the so-called “first time left” had demonstrated much evidence of its insincerity and willingness to sell out the people. I expressed this opinion in no less than four separate articles which were written shortly before and after the referendum and which are still available online.

However, I was the “bad guy” then for saying these things. I was the “bad guy” because I didn’t participate in the celebrations for the no vote. The “bad guy” because I wasn’t celebrating the “heroic” Tsipras, Varoufakis, or Konstantopoulou. The “bad guy” because I was simply saying the raw truth: that the SYRIZA-led government had been staging an elaborate show of supposed resistance and negotiation with the troika, which it had renamed to the kinder, gentler “institutions,” instead of stating a clear and resounding “no” of its own to the blackmail and harsh demands of the troika and instead of preparing plans to lead Greece out of the European Union and the Eurozone. I was the “bad guy” because I had seen the “first time left” government continuing the austerity measures and agreements of the previous governments, enforcing presidential decrees in order to loot the national treasury and pay the IMF after saying that it would not continue the previous government’s practice of ruling by decree. I saw this government elect the corrupt conservative former government minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos as president of the Republic, and I saw it telling the people of Greece that it was their patriotic duty to pay the unified property tax, which prior to the January elections SYRIZA had deemed unconstitutional and promised that the tax would be abolished. And, just so I can be even more of a “bad guy,” I will remind you that the members of the breakaway party Popular Unity (Laiki Enotita) voted yes to almost all of the aforementioned measures, while now presenting themselves to gullible voters as some sort of radical, anti-austerity alternative.

And just what can we expect now from the government which was once championing “no,” now that it has passed a new comprehensive bill containing dozens of new austerity measures demanded by the troika? I’ll become even more of a “bad guy” by telling you: elimination of the minimum pension, continuation of the illegal unified property tax, an increased interest rate for those paying for the tax in 100 installments, an increase in the price of tickets on public transportation, abolition of tax exemptions for farmers, the legislative abolishment of Greece’s pharmaceutical industry, a mandatory tax of 100 euros per month on all free-lancers whether or not they had income, and foreclosure of a household’s primary residence via electronic means are just some of the many measures included in the new law voted by the members of the now-“second time left” government of the “charismatic hero” Alexis Tsipras and the “patriotic” Panos Kammenos. Ah, but if you are a Greek homeowner in danger of losing your primary residence, don’t worry. As stated by the government, foreclosures will only take place against those households which are “uncooperative” with the banks.

Indeed, this same government, which prior to the January elections had promised that it would curtail the power of the oligarchs in Greece, is now preparing to issue licenses to only four national broadcasters, fewer than exist today, and to auction off these licenses to the highest bidder, ensuring that only the deepest, most oligarchical pockets will be able to afford them. The government is also preparing to do the same to the radio landscape, which means that if our listeners in Greece can no longer hear us in a few months, this will likely be the reason.

The “second time left” government of “hope” and “change” is claiming that by enforcing this “bitter medicine,” that the country will once again be close to returning to economic growth, growth which has been promised each and every year since 2011 but which somehow still remains elusive. This is why, apparently, Greece must now sell off 14 profitable publicly-owned regional airports, all in the name of supposed economic growth. This is why a mainstay in the Greek urban landscape, the kiosk, has been legislatively abolished, because apparently, it was these kiosks that sell ice cream and bottled water that were the impediment to economic growth in Greece and the attaining of the so-called European prospect, or dream. A “European dream” which will allow the Greek people to “efficiently” travel from German-owned airports and Chinese-owned harbors at the same time that such infrastructure remains largely publicly owned in countries like Germany and the United States, along with water systems, power companies and highways. The “European dream” which will allow the Greek people to buy their cigarettes and chocolate bars the “civilized,” European way, from multinational supermarkets instead of the corner kiosk. And in the meantime, the “second time left” government boasts members of parliament such as Evi Karakosta, who voted yes, yes, YES to the selloff of Greece’s biggest harbors and then brazenly took part in public demonstrations against the selloff of the harbors, proving that schizophrenia is a prevalent trait amongst politicians today, as also seen by the placement of the absolutely corrupt former leader of PASOK Evangelos Turkoglou (Venizelos) as secretary of the Greek parliamentary commission on transparency, as seen by the removal from the Greek parliament’s website of any mention of the involvement of the new speaker of the parliament, Nikos Voutsis, in the parliamentary debt audit commission or the commission which was investigating the Siemens scandal, as seen also by the recent statements by economy minister Giorgos Stathakis where he claimed to have simply “forgotten” to declare one million euros in income on his 2012 tax return.

And now, we have the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici shaking a big stick at Greece and saying that there can be no discussion about debt relief, on the same debt which has been determined to be illegal and odious of course, until Greece follows through with its so-called” reforms,” referencing the staged, corrupt, completely discredited public opinion polls from Greece which claim that 80% of the Greek people wish to remain in the Eurozone at all costs, polls which are now being used as a weapon by the European Union against Greece. Then we have Nobel Peace Prize nominee Angela Merkel, who from the golden throne she was sitting on during her recent visit to the Sultan Erdogan in the neo-Ottoman Empire of Turkey, proposed that Greece and Turkey run joint patrols in the Aegean Sea to go after the Syrian refugees. This is the same Merkel that is housing such refugees in former concentration camps in Germany.

If you have ever taken a moment to wonder why the public sector in Greece is so inept, why Greece’s universities are rotting away, why so many public works projects are rusting away, why Greece’s TV stations have not been licensed at any point in the past 25 years, why Greece’s agricultural production has been decimated, why schools in Greece enforce rote learning and why students are forced to learn two foreign languages when in many other European countries this is not a requirement at all, why Greece’s injustice system operates in the way that it does, and why the Greek state consistently seems to create obstacles for any new or innovative business idea, the reasons are the very same as the reasons why the government, at the behest of the troika, is now getting ready to destroy Greece’s pharmaceutical industry, shutter the kiosks, and sell off airports, harbors, and water and electric systems. The reason is that this is exactly what the powers that be: the US, Germany, UK, France and others, want: a country in a geostrategic location that is essentially a neocolony, forever mired in mediocrity with no voice of its own, and whose promising young and educated workforce will simply migrate and benefit the economies of the economic superpowers instead of Greece, while foreign multinationals come in and dominate the Greek market, leaving no room for domestic industry or production. In the meantime, Iceland has sentenced 26 separate bankers to jail sentences totaling 74 years. It’s too bad Iceland has rejected the “European dream” in such a way. What a shame.

This is why, as the October 28th commemoration approaches, I will state my own “no.” No to the corrupt, traitorous, pro-austerity parties of SYRIZA, the Independent Greeks, PASOK, New Democracy, Potami and others and to the voters of these atrocities, no to corruption and patronage, no to the injustice system of Greece, no to Greece’s completely corrupt oligarch-owned media and to the absolutely pathetic, talentless hacks who serve as foreign correspondents and freelancers based in Greece, and no to the Euro, the European Union, and the never-ending pro-Europeanness, self-loathing, and national inferiority complex of Greece.

Oct 262015

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Be a part of The Secret City’s new season and spread the joy of this beloved artistic tent revival.

IT’S OUR MOST EXCITING SEASON YET! Hard to believe we’re launching our 9th season. Incredible. It’s been an amazing year: we dedicated ourselves to building infrastructure: hiring 2 staff members, increasing our annual budget by $20,000 and paying more of our artists. And the impact has been HUGE! Not only is the organization running a lot more smoothly but our events are more powerful and more packed than ever. (Funny how that works…)

This coming season, we’ve got even more fantastic stuff coming up: we’re going to begin making podcasts of our live events so that folks all over the world can get in on the fun. (Right?) We’re holding our first evening service for the winter solstice in NYC. And, fingers crossed, we’ll be having our first gathering of The Secret City Brooklyn! On top of all that, we’ll be presenting more performance, visual art, food, live music, games, community interaction, storytelling and all of the other juicy stuff that folks have come to expect from our events.

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO? This campaign accounts for $20% of our annual budget. But how does that break down, exactly? We’ll tell you.

  • $25 — pays for gas and partial tolls for Chris and Bobby to drive into NY city for each monthly service–one way!
  • $50 –covers childcare for one service.
  • $100 — pays for a stage manager for one service.
  • $150 — pays for two featured performers or one session of rehearsal space.
  • $200 — covers the costs of one coffee hour.
  • $500 — covers our rent for one service at Dixon Place or at the Byrdcliffe Theater in Woodstock.
  • $1000 — covers musicians and artists for one month. Or, pays for airfare and rental cal for Chris and Bobby to get to LA.
  • $2500 — covers half the cost of one service.

THE IMPACT. The Secret City continues to grow in the most amazing ways. Thousands of people have taken part in our events in NYC, LA and Woodstock. We’ve done so much with the participation of our amazing donors and friends. With your continued support, we’ll continue to present the most exciting mix of artists and performers and to make the events that only The Secret City can make, providing community interaction, artistic engagement and our own special brand of spiritual haven to artists and art lovers.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS TO THIS CAMPAIGN SUCCEEDING? You may be thinking, “Hey, The Secret City is  a non-profit corporation now with a growing annual budget, why do they still need me?” The truth is, yes, we’ve been growing steadily since we started, but we still depend on this annual crowd-fund. Our organization was born at the dawn of social media and the foundation of our donor base comes via crowdfunding. So, please know how crucial it is for us to make this goal.

THE BIG FINISH! Ok, all you art lovers, you know how this part goes: please give as generously as you can and then share this campaign with your friends, family, co-workers and community at large. And, you can share our fantastic pitch video anywhere you like–cuz it’s funny and short and cute.

THANKS! We’re gonna go BIG this season and we’re are so excited to have you continue the amazing, joyful, colorful ride with us. THANK YOU for being such a vital part of our program, our growth, our exciting new season: thank you for being OUR COMMUNITY.

With love.

Chris Wells
Founding Artistic Director

Please donate here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/art-community-joy-give-to-the-secret-city#/story

Oct 232015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



Democratic critics of military seizures of power commonly refer to them as military coups. They adopt a very narrow and misleading conception of what is taking place.

Likewise, human rights activists and progressive analysts who conceptualize the reign of violence which follows, a ‘coup’ as state terror fail to take account of the systemic forces – the capitalist social order and class relations – which determine the classes which wield state power. They ignore the specific classes and groups which are targeted and which classes direct and benefit from terror.

Concepts like ‘state terror’ and ‘military coup’ obscure as much as enlighten. Moreover, the narrow focus on the military limits the political changes in the class structure required to avoid the repetition of the violent overthrow of democratic governments.

In this essay we will focus on the case of Argentina, where the Central Bank has opened its archives to judicial investigators looking into the relationship between the military dictatorship (1976-83) and major capitalist enterprises.

We will also cite the empirical research of Professor Juan Carlos “Lito” Marin, one of Argentina’s leading scholars on the violent overthrow of the elected government. His specialty was on the social relations and class context of the killing of 30,000 Argentines during the military dictatorship.

We will especially draw on his statistical analysis of the victims found in his book (“Lucha de calles, lucha de clase’ –  Street struggles, class struggle).

Capitalist and Military Rule

According to the documentary evidence presented by the Argentine Central Bank, immediately after the military seized power, the leading manufacturers presented the military with a comprehensive list of all the trade union leaders, delegates and activists to be eliminated. In other words the capitalist class give the military their ‘marching orders’. They dictated who was to be arrested, tortured, killed and/or disappeared. The military executed the orders of the capitalist class – of the 30,000 Argentines who were murdered, the vast majority were unarmed industrial workers involved in workplace industrial action.

The Central Bank documents confirm the earlier detailed study of Professor Marin. He found that over eighty percent of the ‘disappeared’, the victims of the military regime, were trade unionists, urban neighborhood activists and rural organizers. Less than twenty percent were in any way affiliated with the urban or rural guerrillas.

In other words it was not state terror in the abstract – but violent class struggle organized according to the priorities and demands of the capitalist class which accounted for the vast majority of killings. And the massacre set the stage for the second priority of the capitalist class, the introduction of the neo-liberal economy. The mass slaughter allowed the military to hand-over lucrative public enterprises to the capitalist class who proceeded to fire large number of employees without the problem of worker opposition.

The intellectual authors and beneficiaries of the mass murder were not a band of power hungry military officials; but highly respectable leaders and upholders of the capitalist social order.

In the run-up to the coup the capitalist class, for the better part of a decade, was engaged in a bitter class struggle with militant trade unions, which organized several successful general strikes in Cordoba (the ‘Cordobazo’, el ‘Viborazo’), Rosario, and greater Buenos Aires.

Between 1970-71, some 5 years before the military takeover, I conducted interviews with leaders of Argentina’s principle industrial association (Argentine Industrial Union). Without exception they looked at the “Brazilian example” as a model for Argentina. Brazil was ruled by a business-military regime resulting from the overthrow of a democratic government in1964. In other words, the strategic decision to seize power was taken by the capitalist class; the military made the tactical decision of when and how, in consultation with US military attaches at the Embassy

The capitalist class set several tasks for the military, according to the Central Bankdocuments.

First and foremost, the capitalist class demanded a comprehensive and violent purge of all levels of leaders of the working class, at work and in the neighborhoods. But the largest percentage of killings affected militant grass roots leaders, especially shop floor delegates.

Secondly, the capitalists demanded the expropriation and dispossession of enterprises and farms owned by sectors of the nationalist, “Keynesian”, bourgeoisie and their handover to the neo-liberal business elite. This led to the concentration and centralization of ownership and capital. Among the beneficiaries was a powerful media conglomerate (the Clarin group) which served as a propaganda megaphone in favor of the dismantling of labor and social legislation and the privatization of public enterprises.

Thirdly, the capitalist class demanded and secured the military purge of the judiciary, police and civil service of independent voices and the appointment of  hard right officials.

In other words the capitalist social order supported and directed the military seizure of government; dictated the transformation of state institutions and targeted the social class representatives to be eliminated.

The Capitalist Coup ad the Transition to Democracy

Subsequent to the so-called “transition to democracy”, when the military ceded governance to civilian electoral parties and politicians, the entire judicial, police and administrative structure organized to promote neoliberalism and defend the power, privileges and prerogatives of the capitalist class, remained intact.

Even more important, up until the present, the capitalist class which actively participated in the identification, purge and murder of the vast majority of workers killed by the military, was never brought to trial. In some cases, the military executioners were tried for crimes against humanity, and in Argentina (but not elsewhere), some were jailed.

The social order, the capitalist system, which presided over  mass murder was never called into question. The whole issue of class violence was reduced to an issue of “human rights” violations committed by the military elite.

The larger context of class conflict and class struggle, which precipitated the violent seizure of power which culminated in mass murder was obfuscated.

The key to understanding why the capitalist class prospered during the dictatorship and escaped any punishment and prosecution afterwards is found in the fact that the vast majority of worker and community leaders who would have led the majority in the quest for justice were murdered.

In other words the capitalist class’s violent political power grab and mass murder ensured the growth of profits and the consolidation of growth during the military regime, and the obfuscation of their role in the mass killings secured their illicit property grab and wealth with the restoration of electoral politics.


Labeling the violent seizure of power as a military coup is to adopt a one-dimensional view. Instead, if we examine the coup as an integral element of the internal dynamics of the class struggle, which allowed the capitalist class to deepen and extend its power, we have a fuller understanding of its deeper meaning. The continuation of capitalist power within the electoral political system allowed the bourgeoisie to continue organizing and promoting profoundly anti-democratic, anti-working class activity.

Not all military coups or reigns of state terror are linked to class struggle between capitalists and workers. Even in Argentina, the coup served to resolve intra-capitalist conflicts between neo-liberal and nationalist-protectionist business elites.

In Africa, Asia and in nineteenth and early twentieth century Latin America, military coups were largely elite shifts in power. However, with the growth and emergence of capitalist class relations and class conflict, the military’s role as an autonomous force diminished, as it became integrated and subordinated to the emerging capitalist order.

By the middle of the twentieth century onward, especially as class conflict intensified and class polarization deepened, the military coup became a strategic weapon of the capitalist class to advance its class interests. This was especially the case where they could no longer retain their profits and prerogatives in a democratic electoral framework.

In other words as capitalism expands and defines the nature of the social order, the military coup is redefined as capitalist coup; and state violence deepens and expands to encompass larger sectors of the working population.

In each and every capitalist coup and in each example of organized state terror, the US imperial state is directly involved at the behest and on behalf of the capitalist class – be they multi-national corporations or banks. The US imperial state coordinates with their multinational corporations and the Latin American capitalist class the objects and targets of the capitalist coup as well as the composition of the post-coup regime. The US military influenced the political timing of the Argentine coup – as a former US military official operating out of the Argentine embassy once told me. The US CIA compiled lists of working class and social activist to be targeted (murdered) in Chile after the 1973 coup, especially of those employed by US multi-nationals, as was revealed by US Senator Church’s Congressional investigation between 1974-76.

In other words, the capitalist coup and terror state has a strategic international character. It is also an integral part of imperialist conquest and anti-imperialist struggles. The class struggle and the anti-imperialist struggles are two sides of the same process.

Oct 222015

By Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart


Dear listeners and friends,

Gürkan Ozturan

Gürkan Ozturan

Beginning TODAY and all this week on Dialogos Radio, the Dialogos Interview Series will feature a timely and exclusive interview with Turkish journalist, blogger, academic and activist Gürkan Ozturan, who played a key role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey and who, as a result, is a wanted man by the Erdogan government in Turkey. 

Ozturan will speak to Dialogos Radio about all of the latest developments in Turkey and the wider region, including the recent terrorist attaks in Turkey, police and state violence in Turkey against protesters and the left, censorship that is imposed in the Turkish media and on the internet, the 2013 Gezi Park protests, the armed conflict against the Kurds, the ongoing war in Syria and the Middle East and Turkey’s involvement, and the refugee crisis which has resulted.

Along with this interview, we will feature our commentary of the week segment, as well as some great Greek music. All this and much more, this week exclusively on Dialogos Radio.

For more details and our full broadcast schedule, which begins today, visit http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=5662.

Our Interview with Déborah Berman-Santana Featured in Truthout!

Our recent radio interview with Déborah Berman-Santana, retired professor of Geography and Ethnic Studies at Mills College in Oakland, California, on the ongoing economic crisis in Puerto Rico, the island’s long history of colonial subjugation, and the similarities with the situation in Greece, has been featured in Truthout and 99GetSmart! 

Check it out here: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33275-puerto-rico-s-debt-crisis-greece-isn-t-alone-in-struggling-against-austerity.

And here: http://99getsmart.com/puerto-ricos-debt-crisis-greece-isnt-alone-in-struggling-against-austerity/


Dialogos Radio & Media
Αγαπητοί ακροατές και φίλοι,
Αυτή την εβδομάδα στην εκπομπή μας, παρουσιάζουμε μία εξαιρετικά επίκαιρη συνέντευξη με τον Τούρκο δημοσιογράφο, μπλόγκερ, ακαδημαϊκό και ακτιβιστή Gürkan Ozturan, ο οποίος ήταν βασικός συντελεστής των διαδηλώσεων του πάρκου Γκεζί το 2013 και που είναι πλέον στοχοποιημένος από την κυβέρνηση Ερντογάν για τον ρόλο του στις διαδηλώσεις. 
Ο Ozturan θα μας μιλήσει για όλες τις τελευταίες εξελίξεις στην γείτονα χώρα και για σημαντικά ζητήματα όπως τις πρόσφατες τρομοκρατικές επιθέσεις, την κρατική και αστυνομική καταστολή στην Τουρκία, την λογοκρισία που επιβάλλεται στα Τουρκικά μέσα ενημέρωσης και στο διαδίκτυο, τις διαδηλώσεις στην πλατεία Τακσίμ και στο πάρκο Γκεζί το 2013, τον πόλεμο κατά των Κούρδων και τον πόλεμο στη Συρία, και για την προσφυγική κρίση.
Μαζί με αυτή την ενδιαφέρουσα συνέντευξη, θα παρουσιάσουμε τον καθιερωμένο μας εβδομαδιαίο σχολιασμό της επικαιρότητας. Όλα αυτά και πολλά άλλα, αυτή την εβδομάδα αποκλειστικά στο «Διάλογος».
Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες και το πλήρης πρόγραμμα μεταδόσεων της εκπομπής μας, μπείτε στο http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=5659.
Διάλογος Radio & Media
Oct 212015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



The October 12, 2015 terror bombing in Ankara, resulting in the death of 127 trade unionists, peace activists, Kurdish advocates and progressives, has been attributed either to the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime or to ISIS terrorists.

The Erdoğan regime’s ‘hypothesis’ is that ISIS or the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) was responsible for the terrorist attack, a position echoed by all of the NATO governments and dutifully repeated by all of the Western mass media. Their most recent claim is that a Turkish member of ISIS carried out the massacre – in a ‘copy-cat action’ after his brother, blamed by the Turkish government for an earlier bombing which left 33 young pro-Kurdish activists dead in July in Suruc, on the Syrian border.

The alternative hypothesis, voiced by the majority of the Turkish opposition, is that the Erdoğan regime was directly or indirectly involved in organizing the terrorist attack or allowing it to happen.

In testing each hypothesis it is necessary to examine which of the two best accounts for the facts leading up to the killing and who benefits from the mayhem.

Our approach is to examine those behind various acts of violence preceding, accompanying and following the massacre in Ankara. We will examine the politics of both the victims and the Erdoğan regime, and their conception of political governance, especially in light of the forthcoming November 2015 national elections.

Antecedents to the Ankara Terror Bombing

Over the past several years the Erdoğan regime has been engaged in a violent crackdown of civil society activity. In 2013, massive police action broke-up a major social protest in the center of Istanbul, killing 8 demonstrators and injuring 8500 environmental and civil society activists defending Taksim Gezi Park from government-linked ‘developers’. In May 2014, over 300 Turkish coal miners in Soma were killed in an underground explosion in a mine owned by an Erdoğan supporter. Subsequent demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the state. The formerly state-owned mine had been privatized by Erdoğan in 2005 – many questioned the legality of the sale to regime cronies.

Prior to and after these violent police actions against civilian demonstrators, thousands of officials and public figures were arrested, fired and investigated by the Erdoğan regime for allegedly being supporters of a legal Islamic social organization – the so-called Gülen movement.

Hundreds of journalists, human rights activists, publishers and other media workers were arrested, fired and blacklisted at the behest of the Erdoğan regime, for criticizing high level corruption in the Erdoğan cabinet.

The Erdoğan regime escalated its domestic repression of the secular opposition in order to concentrate power in the hands of an Islamist cult-ruler. This was particularly the case after the government deepened its support of thousands of foreign jihadi extremists and mercenaries streaming into Turkey on their way to the Syrian jihad.

From the beginning of the armed uprising in Syria, Turkey became the main training ground, arms depot  and entry-point for armed Islamist terrorists (AIT) entering Syria. The Erdoğan regime directed the AIT to attack, dispossess and destroy the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds whose fighters had liberated a significant section of northern Syria and Iraq and served as an ‘example of self-government’ for Turkish Kurds.

The Erdoğan regime has joined the brutal Saudi monarchy in financing and arming AIT groups and especially training them in urban terror warfare against the secular government in

Damascus and the Shiite regime in Baghdad. They specialized in bombing populated sites occupied by Erdoğan’s enemies or the Saudi targets especially secular Kurds, leftists, trade unionists  and Shiites allied with Iran.

The Erdoğan regime’s intervention in Syria was motivated by its desire to expand Turkish influence (neo-Ottomanism) and to destroy the successful Kurdish autonomous government and movement in Northern Syria and Iraq.

To those ends, Erdoğan combined four policies:

(1) He vastly expanded Turkish support for and recruitment of Islamic terrorists from around the world, including Libya and Chechnya.

(2) He facilitated their entry into Syria, and encouraged them to attack villages and towns in the ethnic Kurdish regions.

(3) He broke off peace negotiations with the PKK and re-launched a full-scale war against the militant Kurds.

(4) He organized a covert terrorist campaign against the legal, secular, pro-Kurdish electoral party, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

The Erdoğan regime sought to consolidate dictatorial powers to pursue and deepen its ‘Islamization’ of Turkish society and to project his version of Turkish hegemony over Syria and the Kurdish regions inside and outside Turkey. To accomplish these ambitious and far reaching goals, Erdoğan needed to purge his Administration of any rival power centers.

He started with the jailing and expulsion of secular, nationalist Kemalist military figures. He continued with a purge of his former supporters in the Gülen organization.

Failing to gain a majority in national elections because of the growth of the HDP, he proceeded with a systematic terror campaign: organizing street mobs made up of his followers in the ‘Justice and Development Party’, who burned and wrecked HDP offices and beat up activists. Erdoğan’s terror campaign culminated with the July 2015 bombing of a leftist youth meeting in Suruc whose activists were aiding Syrian Kurdish refugees and the beleaguered fighters resisting Islamist terrorists in Korbani, a large Syrian town across the border controlled by the Erdoğan-backed ISIS. Over 33 activists were murdered and 104 were wounded. Two Turkish covert intelligence officers or ‘policemen’, who knew in advance of the bombing, were captured, interrogated and executed by the PKK. This retaliation for what was widely believed to be a state-sponsored massacre provided Erdoğan with a pretext to re-launch his war on the Kurds. Erdoğan immediately declared war on both the armed and unarmed Kurdish movements.

The Erdoğan regime trotted out the claim that the Suruç terrorist attack was committed by ISIS suicide bombers, ignoring the regime’s ties to ISIS. He announced a large-scale investigation. In fact it was a perfunctory round up and release of suspects of no consequence.

If ISIS was involved in this and the Ankara massacres, it did so at the command and direction of Turkish Intelligence under orders of President Erdoğan.

The Suruç Massacre: A Dress Rehearsal for Ankara

Suruç was a ‘dress rehearsal’ for Erdoğan’s terrorist attack in Ankara, three months later.

Once again the main target was the Kurdish opposition electoral party (the HDP) as well as the major progressive trade unions, professional associations, and anti-war activists.

Once again Erdoğan blamed ISIS, without acknowledging his ties to ISIS. Certain facts point to Turkish state complicity:

1)      Why were the bombs placed in the midst of the unarmed demonstrators and not next to the police and intelligence headquarters within a block of the carnage?

2)      Why did Erdoğan’s police attack and prevent emergency medical assistance to the demonstrators in the immediate aftermath of the bombing?

3)      Why did he block popular leaders, independent investigators and representatives from targeted groups from examining the bombing site?

4)      Why did Erdoğan immediately reject a cease-fire offer from the PKK and launch a vast military operation while promoting rabidly chauvinistic street demonstrators against Kurds engaged in legal political campaigning?

5)      Why did the police attack mourners at the subsequent funerals?

Who Benefited from the Terror Attacks?

The terror attacks benefited Erdoğan’s immediate and long-range strategic political goals – and no one else!

First and foremost, they killed activists from the HDP party, anti-war leftists and trade unionists. The violent government attacks against the HDP in the aftermath of the massacre has increased Erdoğan’s chances of securing the electoral majority that he needs in order to change the Turkish constitution so he can assume dictatorial powers.

Secondly, it was aimed at (1) reducing the ties between the Turkish and Syrian Kurds; (2) breaking the ties between progressive Turkish trade unions, secular professionals ,peace activists and the Kurdish Democratic Party; (3) mobilizing the rightwing ultra-nationalist Turkish street mobs to attack and destroy the electoral offices of the HDP; (4) intimidating pro-democracy activists and progressives and silencing dissent to Erdoğan’s domestic power grab and intervention in Syria.

To the question of who is responsible for serial violent attacks on civil society organizations, opposition political parties, and purges and arrests of independent officials in the lead-up to the terror attack? The answer is Erdoğan.

Who was behind the campaign of violence and bombing in Kurdish neighborhoods in Istanbul and elsewhere leading up to the Suruç and Ankara terrorist attacks? The answer is Erdoğan.


We originally counter -posed two hypotheses regarding the terrorist attack in Ankara: The Erdoğan regime’s hypothesis that ISIS – as a force independent of the Turkish government – or even the PKK were responsible for brutally killing key activists in Turkish and Kurdish civil organizations; and the opposite hypothesis that the Erdoğan regime was the mastermind.

After reviewing the motives, actions, beneficiaries and interests of the two hypothetical suspects, the hypothesis, which most elegantly and thoroughly accounts for and makes sense of the facts is that the Erdoğan regime was directly responsible for the planning and organization of the massacres through its intelligence operatives.

A subsidiary hypothesis is that the execution – the placing of the bombs – may have been by an ISIS terrorist, but under the control of Erdoğan’s police apparatus.

Oct 202015

By Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart

Puerto Rican Flag via Shutterstock

Puerto Rican Flag via Shutterstock

Over the past several years, global headlines have frequently been dominated by the ongoing financial crisis in Greece. Far less has been heard about a similar crisis that has been unfolding during this same time period in Puerto Rico, which officially remains a colony of the United States. Despite the different political status of the two nations, the crises in both Puerto Rico and Greece bear similar hallmarks. The political and economic responses to the crises have also been remarkably similar, involving the implementation of strict austerity measures, privatizations of key public assets and the threat of further cuts in the future.

Déborah Berman-Santana is a retired professor of geography and ethnic studies at Mills College in Oakland, California. Throughout her academic career, she has closely studied the forces of colonization and neoliberalism and their impact on Puerto Rico and other nations, and has taken part in the struggle for the freedom of Puerto Rico. She spoke to Truthout recently about the current crisis in Puerto Rico, its colonial roots and its many similarities to the crisis in Greece, a country she recently visited, while also describing her own personal process of decolonization as a Puerto Rican.

Michael Nevradakis: Share with us a brief history of the colonial exploitation of Puerto Rico.

Déborah Berman-Santana: Puerto Rico [and] Cuba were the last of Spain’s colonies in the Western Hemisphere and were both on their way to independence. Puerto Rico had an autonomous situation and Cuba was winning a war against Spain when the US intervened in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Cuba received a conditional independence, and Puerto Rico was outright given to the US. It was, you might say, war booty, and since then, the United States has enforced strategies of exploitation of the natural and human resources of Puerto Rico. First with the sugar cane exploitation, then after World War II, the world’s first third-world development via [an] export-led industrialization program, known as “Operation Bootstrap,” which depended on generous exemptions to foreign (mostly US) corporations.

In the 1990s, there was a transition to eliminate some of these exemptions, which was completed in 2006, and with the end of those exemptions, a lot of corporations left, but there was a tremendous expansion of big-box corporations such as Walmart. Puerto Rico actually has more Walmarts per square inch than anywhere else in the world, and before that it was the world capital of pharmaceuticals.

The latest method of exploitation is through the debt and the demands of the creditors, who are now mostly vulture funders, to impose the harshest austerity and privatization regime on Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico has been referred to in the press as the “Greece of the Caribbean,” while Greece has also at times been referred to as the “Puerto Rico of the Mediterranean.” Describe for us the so-called debt crisis in Puerto Rico as it is manifesting itself today, who is actually responsible for it and what the people are being told about it.

If you listen to the media, you will think the government has been spending beyond its means, it has taken on much more debt than it could pay for and the people of Puerto Rico are simply not industrious enough. [You would believe] that we have expensive first-world tastes but third-world pockets, and that now we have to take some “bitter medicine.”

But if you actually look at the crisis you will see that it is a very small percentage of those in Puerto Rico who have benefitted, mainly the local oligarchy and the big corporations, mostly from the US. If we did an audit, they would probably find that much of the debt is odious and/or illegal, but I would say that since we are a colony and don’t have sovereignty, the United States is responsible for this debt.

One of the ironies here is that when the United States took over colonial control after defeating the Spanish, it refused to take over the debt that had accumulated under Spanish colonial rule. Now the United States is insisting that the people of Puerto Rico burden this new debt. Is this indeed the case?

Yes, it is. When they were negotiating the terms of the Treaty of Paris, Cuba was supposed to become independent, and the Spanish insisted that the Cuban government had accumulated a tremendous amount of public debt. The US argued that [the debt] had been accumulated under a colonial regime and therefore was odious debt, and therefore should not be paid by Cuba, and in effect it was not paid.

This is part of the basis for the whole idea of odious debt, unsustainable debt, that we see the anti-debt movements use. It’s ironic that the US helped Cuba to not pay that debt with that argument, but there’s not even discussion of anything similar happening with its own colony, Puerto Rico.

What has the official response to the debt crisis been on the part of Puerto Rico’s government and on the part of Washington? It seems similar to what has happened in Greece, with new austerity measures and authority granted to unelected technocrats.

We have two alternating colonial parties, one that says that we can improve the current political status, while the other says that we need to become a [US] state. The current government has said that the debt is not sustainable and we need to find a way out of this. Washington says that it can “help” with some technical assistance, but that it’s not their problem.

What they mean by “technical assistance” is they will tell the government of Puerto Rico to contract certain “experts” from the US to take care of this problem. Of course, it is with the Puerto Rican people’s tax monies that we’re paying for these “experts.” Who are these “experts”? To give an example, Puerto Rico is not an independent country, so we don’t deal directly with the IMF [the International Monetary Fund]. However, one of the more important reports that have come out recently is called the “Krueger Report,” from Ann Krueger, a former chief official of the IMF. She is now working on her own and has other former IMFers that have been contracted by the government of Puerto Rico to prepare a report. It’s very lucrative for these top firms in New York.

They were paid half a million dollars to spend three to four months in Puerto Rico, interviewing some Puerto Rican economists and taking a report from the New York Federal Reserve, and they came out with, for their half a million dollars, a 26-page report that cherry-picked some information, only looking at Puerto Rico’s economic situation since 2000, and their recommendations all come from the IMF playbook. The judge who presided over the bankruptcy of Detroit has also been contracted by the government of Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican authorities have recently released their own “fiscal adjustment plan.” This phrase should be familiar to anyone who has followed the crisis in Greece. What are the similarities in the two cases?

I’ve taken a look at the memorandums and while there are certainly differences, I find a lot of striking similarities in the language. They speak about the “sustainability” of the debt and about the issue of making Puerto Rico more “competitive,” for example, reducing or eliminating the minimum wage for young workers. Also, streamlining the bureaucracy and making Puerto Rico a more “business-friendly” or “investment-friendly” environment, as if a colony isn’t friendly enough, and getting rid of the Christmas bonus for public employees, because that’s supposed to be a really terrible thing that’s very wasteful. Additionally, [they speak about] the “restructuring” and the privatization of the electric energy authority, the water and sewer authority and our highways. One of the highways has already been privatized, and guess who’s running it: It’s Goldman Sachs.

What has been the impact of “foreign investment” in Puerto Rico, and how has this also impacted local business and industry?

Walmart has received subsidies and tax incentives in order to establish itself in Puerto Rico, far more than the local businesses receive. As is true elsewhere in the world, where Walmart establishes itself, it tends to drive out local businesses. Instead of full-time employment, with circulation within Puerto Rico of our income and our spending, you have part-time workers with no benefits, and Walmart takes most of the profits outside of Puerto Rico.

I’ll say a bit about Donald Trump. He has this reputation of being a billionaire who, if he is interested, is going to bring in a lot of investment, and of course he gets heavily recruited. He was going to do the “Trump Estates,” a luxury golf resort. He [makes these investments] through his various businesses, and he didn’t actually invest his own money; he received a big loan from the Puerto Rico Development Bank. Not only did he not build this luxury investment, but that particular company went bankrupt and Puerto Rico cannot collect on that money. So Donald Trump can go bankrupt and owe Puerto Rico money, but Puerto Rico does not have the right to go bankrupt.

Additionally, there is some interest in trying to connect all of the islands of the Caribbean and to generate energy in Puerto Rico, more than we need, in order to sell to the rest. There is a project, which Puerto Ricans are fighting against, to build a giant incinerator, supposedly a waste-to-energy incinerator, which will fill up Puerto Rico with toxic waste. And, since we don’t have enough garbage, they would be looking to burn the garbage of other places.

What has been the impact of the cabotage rules [rules governing trade or transport in coastal waters or airspace or between two points within a country] being enforced by the United States in Puerto Rico?

Since the early 20th century, Puerto Rico has been forbidden from having anything come into or go out of the country except on US-registered ships with US crews. The US merchant marine is the most expensive, least efficient, most obsolete and least competitive on the planet. If we were able to do our business with anyone else, Liberia, Greece, anybody, it would immediately lower our costs for everything.

We have been lobbying for years to get this changed, and this is a point of agreement among all of the political persuasions in Puerto Rico. The US Virgin Islands don’t have this, and the reason why we have it is that the US merchant marine would probably disappear if it were not for Puerto Rico.

Something that is often heard in Greece is that the country does not produce enough food and resources in order to sustain its population, so that the country cannot survive without the European Union and the eurozone. Is this a narrative that is heard, even about issues such as food production, in Puerto Rico?

Absolutely. At the time that the US invaded and occupied Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico was not only self-sustaining, but was exporting to other islands as well. Nearly all arable lands were then taken over by sugar, and the local production of foods dropped dramatically. [As a result], the big corporations, for example California Rice, began to import into Puerto Rico to feed people. [We were told] that we need to industrialize, that our water resources weren’t that important, our soil wasn’t that important, that we needed to fill them up with cement, industrialize, urbanize, that we could import all of the foods we needed.

What has happened in Puerto Rico is a preference has been created for imported goods. To this day, somewhere between 70-80 percent of the food consumed in Puerto Rico is imported, and it’s not the good stuff. It is the eggs and the chicken that they can’t get rid of in the United States. Not coincidentally, the incidence of diabetes and cancer and all kinds of hypertension and gastrointestinal diseases has increased.

What is the political and electoral system like in Puerto Rico, what representation does the island have in Washington and what is the mentality of voters in Puerto Rico toward the political parties?

Puerto Rico has been defined by the Supreme Court as an “unincorporated territory, belonging to but not a part of the United States.” In the early 1950s, the US promoted a cosmetic change in the government of Puerto Rico and defined it as a “commonwealth” or “associated free state.” We say that we’re not associated, not free and not a state. This was meant to get Puerto Rico taken off the United Nations’ list of non-self-governing territories because if you’re on that list, the colonizer needs to report every year. For the past 33 years, Puerto Rico has come before the committee on decolonization in the UN; they have voted every year to bring it before the General Assembly, and the United States has vetoed it every year.

We have two houses, we have a governor, and we vote every four years. We also have a non-voting resident commissioner who sits in committees in the House of Representatives in Washington but does not have a vote. He does vote on committees and can speak, but he cannot vote on the floor. So that is our representation, which is less than what we had under Spain. We cannot make our own economic treaties; if there’s ever any issue, the US can step in and veto it. We have the US federal court, which is only in English. The judges are all Puerto Rican, but you have to do everything in English. You go in there and they’re all speaking in English, even though most Puerto Ricans do not speak English. They call it “el difícil,” the difficult one, because people don’t want to speak it. In the federal court proceedings, people will not speak Spanish, so you have to have a translator, and many times the translator knows less English than the people in the audience. So this is a real carnival.

At the same time, the Puerto Rican courts are based on Roman law, just like all of the Latin American and the Mediterranean countries, whereas the federal court is based on Anglo-Saxon law, and one will supersede the other.

To give an example, Puerto Rico does not have the right to declare bankruptcy, Chapter 9, as do the states. So in order to try to deal with this debt crisis, the Puerto Rican government actually passed a law, our local Chapter 9, and the creditors sued in federal court and won. So we can’t do that either.

An issue that is a political hot potato in Puerto Rico is that of independence, similarly to how “Grexit” is a hot potato in Greece. How is the issue of independence viewed in Puerto Rico?

The issue of independence has been criminalized in Puerto Rico. There has been tremendous repression. We have had many political prisoners, including one at the moment named Oscar López Rivera, who has been in prison for 34 years of a 75-year sentence for “seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States in Puerto Rico.” He has not been accused of or convicted of any violent crime, and there is currently an international campaign to pressure President Obama to free him.

There have been many violent deaths, many forced exiles, a tremendous amount of fear and repression, and we’ve been taught that Puerto Rico does not have either the human capacity or the natural resources to be independent, and most people believe this. [In schools] in Puerto Rico, there used to be a geography book, by a North American named Mueller, which said that “Puerto Rico is a small island without natural resources and it’s overpopulated, and so it cannot be independent and it needs to rely on the United States.” That was the first thing you learned.

One of the things I have had to do is to decolonize myself. This has been one of my inspirations for going off to school and becoming a professor. It was the whole idea of “why am I told that I’m less than everyone else? Why am I told that I have to depend on someone else?”

Currently, the people who openly support independence – and there’s open and also hidden support for independence – is small. We do have an Independence Party that gets maybe 4-5 percent of the vote. Most pro-independence supporters don’t actually support the party because there’s a tremendous amount of division among the Puerto Rican independence supporters. When we unify, we can achieve some wonderful things, but we are incredibly divided for many reasons. Other people will vote for one of the majority parties for some strategic reason, to keep the other one out. Some people will actually vote for the statehood party because they think that if Puerto Rico asks for statehood Congress will say no, while others will vote for the colonialist party, saying we can’t vote for statehood under any circumstances, that maybe we can get some autonomy. And there are many people who refuse to vote because it is a colonial process.

I believe that we really have no way out unless we can take some responsibility and have some power to decide our own future. Independence does not guarantee it by itself, but there is no way that you have the possibility of having enough sovereignty to make your own decisions without independence. We could join with the wonderful unifying collaborations that are happening in Latin America right now. We are a Latin American country. There is a saying in Latin America that the independence of Latin America is not complete without Puerto Rico. I believe that. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Latin America, and the thing that’s always impressed me is that we have been so isolated, so part of a “iron curtain” of colonialism, so affected by an embargo at least as strong as that of Cuba and less known, that we don’t even know that we’re not isolated, don’t even know that we have a “patria grande,” a greater country, and that’s Latin America. I believe it’s our destiny; I believe we won’t survive unless we do it.

Based on your own experience from Puerto Rico, and having visited Greece and having followed the developments there, would you characterize Greece as a sovereign country or one that resembles a colony?

Speaking as an outsider, Greece of course officially has all the trappings of a sovereign country. It reminds me of Latin America before the last 20 to 30 years, where you have those trappings of sovereignty, but in terms of real governance [it was] very colonial, with an oligarchy that benefitted from this and was only too happy to serve the interests of the outside powers.

It seems to me that the membership in an unequal union, such as the EU and especially the eurozone, has taken away much of Greece’s sovereign ability to make its own decisions. If you want to do things with your economy, say devalue the currency, control what comes in and what goes out, it’s impossible to do in the eurozone. [In Greece], I found it very interesting to see the EU flag next to the Greek flag almost everywhere. All I could think of is Puerto Rico, where we are often forced to have the United States flag next to the Puerto Rican flag. We call the US flag “la pecosa,” which means “the freckly one,” and I was looking at the EU flag and I was saying, “That’s another pecosa.”

“Where would we be without her?” That’s a saying in Puerto Rico for the people who are pro-statehood. I find that so similar to the things that I’ve heard from Greeks in discussing their fears about going back to the “bad” days of the drachma. There’s a part of me that says, “What are you afraid of?” You at least have the trappings of sovereignty. We have much further to go than you do. And I’m saying, as a Puerto Rican, do it and give us hope that we can do it too.


Michael Nevradakis is a Ph.D. student in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin and a US Fulbright Scholar presently based in Athens, Greece. Michael is also the host of Dialogos Radio, a weekly radio program featuring interviews and coverage of current events in Greece.


Oct 192015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



In 1975 the people of Vietnam successfully ended one of the longest and bloodiest anti-colonial wars in world-history – defeating the US, the world’s biggest imperial power, after 20 years of struggle.

Barely forty years later the Vietnamese regime signed off on the US-Japanese dominated Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (TPFTA), which essentially converted Vietnam into a vassal state.

Vietnam has gone full circle: From a neo-colony ruled by puppet dictators backed by an American occupation army involving 500,000 troops from 1955-1975, to its current ‘Communist’ rulers who have turned-over its markets, industries, ports, resources and labor to the 500 largest Western and Asian multi-national corporations.

Contrasting Historical Moments: 1975 and 2015

In 1975, the revolutionary government closed all US military bases and expelled all US military personnel. Today the Vietnam ‘vassal regime’ allows US naval visits and signs military agreements to tighten the imperialist military encirclement of China.

In 1975, the revolutionary leaders promised to end imperial exploitation of plantation and factory labor; today the vassal rulers offer the imperial states cheap labor, at wages less than half that paid to Chinese workers to ‘entice’ multi-nationals.

In 1975, the government intervened in favor of workers, taking over plantations and factories; today the vassal state savagely represses striking workers and outlaws class-based unions.

In 1975, the revolutionary government declared its solidarity with workers’ and peasants’ struggles around the world; today the vassals declare their unconditional support of all of the major imperial organizations – from the World Trade Organization to the Trans-Pacific Treaty organization.

What explains this total reversal of politics and allegiances? What accounts for the transformation from revolutionary vanguard to submissive vassal of imperial powers? What factors led to the degeneration and decay of a revolutionary movement of millions and the ascendancy of a corrupt and servile political and socio-economic elite? Why did this counter-revolution occur without any major mass popular upheaval?

Stages and Circumstances of Vietnam’s Degeneration

Liberated Vietnam facing Military Siege

Internal and external events and forces played a major role in undermining the promise of social transformation proclaimed by the Vietnamese revolutionaries.

Beginning with the US destruction of the economy and Washington’s subsequent refusal to pay reparations and vindictive policy of post-war boycott and sanctions, the Vietnamese faced monumental tasks with few financial resources.

The US ground and air war devastated the infrastructure and productive enterprises of the country. Napalm and chemical warfare (Agent Orange) devastated villages and poisoned the rice fields, water and soil. Millions of cluster bombs maimed scores of thousands of peasants.

The US secretly supported the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian terror regime, in its war on liberated Vietnam. This further damaged Vietnam’s shattered economy and diverted scarce resources needed for peacetime reconstruction to military operations.

China launched a border war on Vietnam’s northern frontier, increasing the burden on the depleted resources of the Vietnamese state.

The Difficult Transition

The Vietnamese revolutionary government, during the first decade of its existence, struggled to make the transition from a war to a peace economy

Given the scarcity of resources, skilled manpower and revenues, and under stress to protect its borders, the Vietnamese government attempted to ‘socialize’ the economy with few personnel and limited external support from the Soviet Union and its allies.

Power was concentrated, political militants and loyalists took command, although many lacked experience or expertise in economic development. Economic recovery was understandably dictated by political and military priorities. Politics was in command – trained orthodox economists were in retreat. The choice was ‘red’ over ‘expert’.

After decades of deprivation and sacrifice, many cadres sought and obtained access to scarce resources. A privileged elite emerged, especially in South Vietnam, where the US military occupation had spawned a huge black-market economy, and a large stratum of wealthy ‘middlemen’ who acted as ‘brokers’ with wealthy overseas Chinese businesspeople, especially in Hong Kong and beyond.

The Vietnamese defeated the Pol Pot terrorist regime at a heavy cost and backed a friendly client regime.

By 1980, China began its transition to capitalism and showed no interest in  providing aid or investment to hasten Vietnam’s socialist reconstruction. By the mid 1980’s, with the ascendance of Gorbachev, Russia cut off its economic assistance to Vietnamese state enterprises, denigrated socialist planning and backed ‘market solutions’.

External ‘Allies’ Promote Internal Enemies

In sum, Vietnam’s external allies were moving in a direction, which favored Vietnamese technocrats and ‘capitalist holdovers’ from the colonial and neo-colonial period.

The ‘new rich’, including privileged sectors of the revolutionary regime, took advantage of the ‘shortage of capital flows’ and the years of shortages and sacrifices to advocate an ‘opening to the market’ and to promote the entry of foreign capital. This was accompanied by the privatization of public enterprises (dubbed ‘joint ventures’) and ‘incentives’ (high profits) to manufacturers, especially from Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

Internal Factions and the Victory of the Capitalist Technocrats

By the late 1980’s, four tendencies competed for influence in the Communist Party:

(1) A revolutionary faction, including some of the historic leaders of the Liberation struggle.

(2) A centrist or reformist faction of privileged officials who sought to protect and promote state enterprises – a source of their own enrichment. They supported the “partnership” with foreign private capital supposedly as a supplement to the so-called “socialist sector”’

(3) A third faction of technocrats, who favored the gradual conversion to a private capitalist economy, except in some ill-defined ‘strategic sectors’.

(4) A fourth faction, composed of Western educated and connected economists, who sought and secured submission to overseas capitalist and international financial institutions. They joined forces with the technocrats and privileged, corrupt Party elite and became the eventual rulers of Vietnam.

The Counter-revolutionary ‘Unholy’ Alliance

In the course of the following decade, an alliance of technocrats, corrupt and enriched officials (with their families), who had become business partners, and pre-revolutionary elites took control of the economy. By the middle of the 1990’s, Vietnam could no longer ‘balance’ between the USSR and China on the one-hand and Western capitalists on the other. The USSR had disappeared. Russia was in chaos. China was in headlong pursuit of capitalist growth at any cost, through any means, especially via the privatization of major enterprises and  stripping workers of all labor and welfare rights.

The Vietnam revolutionaries were ‘retired’ or relegated to the historical museum as respected but impotent figureheads. They were trotted out on special ‘national’ occasions.

The ‘statists’ – the Party CEOs fought rearguard struggles trying to retain lucrative  fiefdoms in public enterprises, but lacked any strategic allies abroad or internally. They had immobilized the working class and had themselves embraced the privileges of power, luxury and corruption – (with few notable exceptions).

By the turn of the millennium, the technocrats and capitalist ideologues had taken full command of economic decision-making. They embraced the politics and economics of ‘globalization’ and the insertion of Vietnam into the World Trade Organization (WTO). They cited Vietnam’s rapid growth, lauding its abundant disciplined, cheap labor, kept in line by the centralized Party. Communist Party leaders exhibited all the features of the authoritarian personality: arrogant and abusive to the workers under them, submissive and servile to the foreign investors above them.

The Party had become the instrument for repressing outbreaks of industrial strikes, rural protests and public disaffection.

Many of the corrupt officials embraced the ‘free market’ to legitimate their corrupt appropriation of public goods and the laundering of illicit earning.

The ideology “getting rich is good” pervaded the top and middle echelons of the Party, which was ‘Communist’ in name only.

The party-state lost its legitimacy along with its revolutionary legacy. The former colonial enemies, Japan, the US and their allies were eagerly courted as the Vietnamese elite’s new ‘partners’ and mentors for the upwardly mobile technocrats and economists who served them.

With the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), US imperialism easily secured in luxury conference rooms what they had failed to achieve in twenty years on the battlefield: Total access to all of Vietnam’s major economic sectors, a captive labor force without rights or protection and a ruling elite willing to serve as an accomplice to its militarist policy of encircling  China.

Imperial Dominance by Invitation

The US political-economic conquest of Vietnam was accomplished by the invitation and complicity of the Vietnamese ruling Communist Party and not by the force of arms, not by a puppet ruler or a bought and bound ‘Generalissimo’.

The main beneficiaries of its vassalage are the Vietnamese collaborators, intermediaries, importers, exporters and labor contractors, who  receive legal and illicit commissions for selling out the nation’s wealth. This includes a small army of ‘service operators’, embedded in IT start-ups, Chinese-Vietnamese business associates of Hong Kong sweatshop manufacturers, new university graduates turned business consultants and public officials who ‘sign-off’ on tax exemptions, and  fabricate compliance with labor and environmental protection laws. These are the ones who grow rich in the new ‘market economy’.

As the major US, Japanese and overseas Chinese corporations take control of Vietnam’s manufacturing, banking, retail and wholesale sectors and local and overseas trade, small-scale local businesspeople will go bankrupt. State enterprise will be sold or closed. Small farmers and peasants will a lose access to credit while cheap imported rice will flood the market and bankrupt local farmers.

Vietnamese workers and peasants, once heralded as the vanguard of the liberation struggle, will be savagely  exploited by the Communist – capitalist ‘partnership’. They are now among the poorest of the poor in all of Asia.


The ascendancy of a pro-imperialist collaborator elite in Vietnam was not inevitable; it was a relatively gradual process, in which the negative external environment gradually eroded the will and capacity of Vietnam’s heroic and historic leaders to combine the revolutionary reconstruction with popular democratic institutions following the defeat of the US military. In a repeat of the Imperial Roman scorched and salted earth policy, the US took revenge for its humiliating defeat by leaving a devastated country, refusing reparations and imposing vindictive economic sanctions on the Vietnamese people and nation. The demise of the USSR and China’s turn to capitalism forced Vietnam to look for alternative sources of external finance.

Added to these harsh external conditions, difficult internal problems complicated the transition: Vietnam’s revolutionary leaders, who were magnificent and victorious strategists of politico-military struggle, were mediocre economic strategists. They turned to the pre-revolutionary Chinese-Vietnamese business elite, linked to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland business families, to navigate the economy.

The young, educated post-revolutionary generation was drawn heavily from privileged families, especially from Saigon; they inexorably adapted and imposed their neo-liberal ideology on the regime.

The marriage of corrupt repressive statist officials to the traditional privileged clans and classes brought the new post-revolutionary educated technocrats to power.

The authoritarian Party elite ensured the de-radicalization of the workers and peasants, the exclusion and repression of leftwing activists and the unhindered application of neo-liberal, pro-imperial economic policies.

The Vietnam experience provides us with several important historical lessons:

The first lesson is the importance of democratizing and socializing production, distribution and culture following national liberation to check against the post-revolutionary seizure of power by Party and military leaders and to limit the advance of the old privileged classes.

Secondly, the educated classes must serve the interests of the revolutionary masses, and admission to institutes of higher education should favor the sons and daughters of the working class, not the children of the traditional comprador elite.

University students should be integrated into democratic class organization to further and deepen their links to the past and present revolutionary heritage

Public resources should be concentrated on economic and social programs that improve the lives of wage and salaried workers and local producers. The presence of private, local and foreign investors should be rigorously controlled via time- bound agreements.

The administration and decision-making in cooperative, self-managed and local enterprises should be decentralized.

Political education should be based on egalitarian ethics. Anti-corruption, disciplinary committees, elected by workers, peasants, employees, accountants, consumers and environmentalists should be established throughout the economy.

State expenditures on social and private consumption should be balanced with emphasis on public transport, health, education and leisure facilities.

Solidarity and support for on-going liberation struggles around the world should be the rule. Social practice in everyday life should be combined with individual and collective learning of technical, historical, social and literary subjects, which enrich and deepen understanding of the revolutionary roots of contemporary society.

The state should combat the tendency of organized local ethnic groups to serve as agents loyal to foreign regimes. Material and symbolic rewards for excellence should be combined and lifetime accomplishments recognized. Those guilty of illicit economic and social activities, especially those related to nepotism or kin/clan enrichment, should be marginalized and punished.

The post-liberation defeat and reversal of Vietnam’s revolutionary gains was not inevitable. Negative lessons should be studied and serve as guidelines for future revolutions. There are grounds to believe that the Vietnamese revolutionary legacy is not dead. The revolutionary grandparents in ‘retirement’ can and will transmit their vision and experience of  an alternative class struggle to their grandchildren, who are going to suffer savage exploitation, dispossession and de-nationalization following Vietnam’s entry into the imperialist Transpacific Partnership Agreement.

Leaders, who have grown rich from the TPP, will face anger and revolt by the Vietnamese masses who are destined to pay heavily for their leaders’ sell-out.

The Vietnam’s leaders have embraced the aggressive US-Japanese militarist policy against China; this betrayal of the people’s struggle will have long-lasting negative consequences.

Once against external and domestic developments will converge – hopefully, this time ushering in a new phase of revolutionary change.

Oct 162015

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


Dear listeners and friends,

This week on Dialogos Radio, the Dialogos Interview Series will feature a timely interview with Bill Kalivas, a Greek-American aviation expert who is also leading an online campaign for additional nonstop routes to be added from the United States to Greece. Kalivas will speak to us about his campaign, as well as broader trends and issues pertaining to the airline industry in Greece and around the world, plus prospects for tourism in Greece.

In addition, in response to listener demand, this week we will air from the Dialogos Interview Series archives our interview with bestselling author John Perkins, author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.”

Finally, we will also air our commentary of the week segment, plus some great Greek music! Tune in for all this and more, exclusively this week on Dialogos Radio!

For more details and the full broadcast schedule for this week, visit http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=5605.

GreekTV.com features Dialogos Radio

Check out the recent feature of GreekTV.com on Dialogos Radio, including an interview with producer and host Michael Nevradakis, which was recently published! In this feature, Nevradakis discusses the history of Dialogos Radio and what inspired him to launch the program in 2010, the philosophy which guides Dialogos Radio’s programming, the use of new media and technological tools to expand the range of our broadcasts, and interesting moments from the show’s history.

Find this interview here: http://greektv.com/qa-with-michael-nevradakis/.

Best regards,

Dialogos Radio & Media


Αγαπητοί ακροατές και φίλοι,

Αυτή την εβδομάδα στην εκπομπή μας, θα παρουσιάσουμε μία ενδιαφέρουσα συνέντευξη με τον Ελληνοαμερικανό ειδικό για θέματα αεροπλοΐας και τουρισμού Bill Kalivas, ο οποίος θα μας μιλήσει για την διαδικτυακή πρωτοβουλία που έχει αναλάβει για να προγραμματιστούν περισσότερες απευθείας πτήσεις προς την Ελλάδα από τις ΗΠΑ, αλλά και για ευρύτερα θέματα που αφορούν την αεροπορική βιομηχανία και το τουρισμό.

Επίσης αυτή την εβδομάδα, θα μεταδώσουμε σε επανάληψη την συνέντευξη μας από το Νοέμβριο του 2013 με τον John Perkins, συγγραφέας του βιβλίου «Η Εξομολόγηση Ενός Οικονομικού Δολοφόνου».

Επιπλέον, θα μεταδώσουμε τον καθιερωμένο εβδομαδιαίο σχολιασμό μας. Όλα αυτά και πολλά άλλα, αυτή την εβδομάδα αποκλειστικά στο «Διάλογος».

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες σχετικά με την εκπομπή, και το εβδομαδιαίο πρόγραμμα μεταδόσεων μας, μπείτε στο http://dialogosmedia.org/?p=5602

Παρουσίαση του «Διάλογος» στο GreekTV.com!

Διαβάστε την πρόσφατη συνέντευξη της ενημερωτικής ιστοσελίδας GreekTV.com που είναι αφιερωμένη στο «Διάλογος» και στον παραγωγό και παρουσιαστή της εκπομπής Μιχάλη Νευραδάκη! Σε αυτή τη συνέντευξη, ο Νευραδάκης μιλάει για την έμπνευση του να ξεκινήσει την εκπομπή το 2010, για την φιλοσοφία που οδηγεί την εκπομπή, την χρήση νέων τεχνολογιών για την μετάδοση και διάδοση των εκπομπών, και για ενδιαφέρουσες στιγμές από το παρελθόν της εκπομπής.

Βρείτε αυτή τη συνέντευξη (στα Αγγλικά) εδώ: http://greektv.com/qa-with-michael-nevradakis/.

Η συνέντευξη μας με την καθηγήτρια Déborah Berman-Santana για την κρίση στο Πουέρτο Ρίκο και της ομοιότητες της με την κρίση στην Ελλάδα, στο freepen.gr

Η πρόσφατη ραδιοφωνική μας συνέντευξη με την επίτιμη καθηγήτρια Déborah Berman-Santana του πανεπιστημίου Mills στην Καλιφόρνια για την κρίση χρέους που βιώνει το Πουέρτο Ρίκο και τις πολλές ομοιότητες με την Ελληνική οικονομική κρίση, έχει δημοσιευθεί στην Ελληνική ενημερωτική ιστοσελίδα freepen.gr!

Διαβάστε αυτή την εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρουσα συνέντευξη εδώ: http://www.freepen.gr/2015/10/blog-post_969.html.


Διάλογος Radio & Media

Oct 142015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



The major influential western print media are engaged in a prolonged, large-scale effort to demonize Russian President Putin, his politics and persona. There is an article (or several articles) every day in which he is personally stigmatized as a dictator, authoritarian, czar, ‘former KGB operative’ and Soviet-style ruler; anything but the repeatedly elected President of Russia.

He is accused of hijacking Russia from the ‘road to democracy’, as pursued by his grotesquely corrupt predecessor Boris Yeltsin; of directing the bloody repression of the ‘freedom loving Chechens’; of jailing innocent, independent and critical oligarchs and robber barons; of fomenting an uprising in the ‘democratic, newly pro-Western’ Ukraine and seizing control of Crimea; of backing a ‘bloody tyrant’ in Syria (elected President Bashar Assad) in a civil war against ISIS terrorists; of running the Russian economy into the ground; and of militarily threatening the Baltic and Eastern European  NATO member countries.

In a word, the media have propagated an image of an ‘out-of-control autocrat’, who makes a mockery of ‘democratic’ norms and ‘Western values’, and who seeks to revive the ‘Soviet (aka Evil) Empire’.

The corollary is that ‘Western powers’, despite their peace-loving propensities and fraternal attempts to bring Russia into the democratic ‘fold’, have been ‘forced’ to now surround Russia with NATO military bases and missiles; to finance a violent coup in the Ukraine (on Russia’s frontier) and arm the Ukrainian putsch government and neo-fascist militias to ‘restore democracy’ and violently suppress ethnic Russian ‘separatists’ in Eastern Ukraine. We are told that US and EU sanctions against Russia were carefully crafted ‘diplomatic’ measures designed to punish the Moscow ‘aggressor’.

In reality, the Western media has relentlessly demonized Vladimir Putin in a campaign to further NATO military expansion and undermine the Russian economy and its national security. The goal is ultimately to force a ‘regime change’, restoring the neo-liberal elites who had pillaged Russia’s economy during the 1990’s and whose brutal economic policies led to the premature death of over 6 million Russians due to deprivation and the collapse of the healthcare system.

Putin: Demon or Realist, Autocrat or Democrat, Vassal or Independent Leader?

The Western media has backed every oligarch, gangster and fraudster who has gone on trial and been convicted during Putin’s term in office. The propagandists tell us the reason for this affinity between the Western media and the gangster-oligarchs is that these convicted felons, who claim to be ‘political dissidents’ and critics of Putin’s rule, have been dispossessed, and jailed for upholding ‘Western values’.

The Western media conveniently ignore the well-documented studies on the source of the gangster-oligarchs’ wealth: The violent and illegal seizure of multi-billion dollars-worth of natural resources (aluminum, oil and gas), banks, factories, pension funds and real estate. During the Yeltsin period the oligarchs controlled thousands of armed gangsters and engaged in internal warfare during which thousands were killed, including top government regulators, police officials and journalists who dared to oppose or expose their pillage and property grabs.

Putin’s prosecution of a mere fraction of the most notorious oligarch-gangsters has won the support of the vast majority of Russian citizens because it represents a return to law and order and the return of stolen public wealth.

Only the Western media has dared to refer to these convicted felons as ‘political victims and reformers’. They did so because the oligarchs had become the most loyal and submissive assets in the US and EU governments’ efforts to convert Russia into an irreversibly weak vassal state.

The Western media constantly refer to President Putin as the ‘authoritarian ruler’, despite the fact that he has been repeatedly elected by large majorities in competitive elections against Western backed and funded candidates. His popularity is attested to by opinion polls conducted by Western agencies.

In 2015, President Putin’s support soared to over 85%. The pro-Western Russian neo-liberal politicians scored in the low single digits according to the same independent polls.

Clearly the Russian public does not want to return to the poverty and chaos of the Western-backed gangster politics of the 1990’s.

Whatever reservations working and middle class Russians have over President Putin’s style of decision-making, they clearly value his crackdown on gangster-controlled elections, Chechen terrorism, and his restoration of Russian military defense of its frontiers, including the annexation of Crimea, following the US-engineered coup in Ukraine.

Every day, the Western media recycle reports of the ‘decline and demise’ of the Russian economy, blaming ‘statist’ mismanagement of the economy by Putin. They claim ‘declining living standards’, the ‘negative growth’ of the economy and the ‘growing isolation’ of an ‘expansionist’ Russia in the face of Western sanctions.

These media claims are laughable. Readily available data demonstrate that living standards of the vast majority of Russian citizens have significantly increased under President Putin’s administration, especially after the utter collapse under the free marketers of the1990’s. Russian workers receive their pay, pensioners their pensions, enterprises their loans – on time. During the ‘free market’ days of Boris Yeltsin, workers went up to a year without pay, pensioners were selling their heirlooms in the street to survive and enterprises paid extortionate interest rates to oligarch-gangster controlled banks! Comparative data, easily obtained, are deliberately ignored by the mass media because it doesn’t fit the demonological narrative.

The mass media present the neo-liberal ‘opposition’ and ‘liberal critics’ as Russian democrats defending ‘Western values’. They forget to mention that these ‘liberal critics’ have been directly funded by Western foundations (National Endowment for Democracy, Soros Foundation, etc.) and Russian non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) with longstanding ties to US and EU governments, intelligence agencies and exiled Russian billionaires. The so-called ‘Russian’ democratic opposition revealed their abject servility to Western interests when they openly supported the Ukrainian coup and Kiev’s bloody assault on ethnic Russian-Ukrainians in the eastern ‘Donbas’ regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Odessa. Whatever shreds of respectability and credibility the ‘democratic opposition’ retained with the Russian public, up to that point, was lost. They were seen for what they are: propaganda arms of Western imperialism and mouth-pieces for neo-fascists.

The Western mass media charge Putin’s government with the same crimes that their own governments commit. After the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland admitted to channeling $5 billion to fund the 2014 coup in Ukraine and after the Polish regime boasted of training far right street fighters, whose mob violence served as a pretext for the coup, and after neo-fascist coalition partners in Odessa of burned alive four dozen ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens opposed to the coup, the Western mass media accused Putin of ‘intervening’ in Ukraine. This was because Russia had convoked a referendum in Crimea, in which over 80% of the electorate voted to secede from the illegitimate Ukrainian coup regime and rejoin Russia.

In truth, the Putin government is a victim of the Western power grab in the Ukraine, with Russia having to absorbed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russian refugees driven out of the Donbas, yet the Western media portray Putin as the executioner. Meanwhile the Western coup-makers and their far-right allies are depicted as victims … forced to bomb and decimate the Donbas region.

The charade continued. The Western media portray the subsequent punitive, economic sanctions imposed by the expansionist US and EU on Russia as a result of Putin’s ‘aggression’, referring to Russia’s defense of Crimea’s self-determination and the rights of the millions of bilingual ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine.

The absurdity and convoluted nature of Western demonological propaganda has reached new even more bizarre heights with their hysteria against Russia’s military support of the secular Syrian government against ISIS and other jihadi terrorists.

The Western mass media have launched a global campaign charging that the Russian air force  bombs ‘non-ISIS military bases’, presumably the bases of Western-backed ‘friendly’ jihadi terrorists. This ridiculous ‘reportage’ and its accompanying ‘photos’ were published before the Russian air strikes even took place!!

Apparently timing doesn’t matter in Washington’s ‘alternative universe of lies’!

NATO passed its political line to the media that Russian support for the legitimate regime of President Assad must be discredited; that the Russian presence is ‘provocative’ and responsible for ‘creating tensions’ in the region – after years of Western-sponsored jihadi terrorism against Syria!

Obedient to its masters, the Western media breathlessly ‘reported’ that the Russians were ‘really’ engaged in Syria in order destroy the pro-Western ‘fighters’ leaving ISIS alone.

No credible evidence for this propaganda was ever presented. They trotted out aerial photos of wreckage, which had likely been lifted from previous US bombings.

The media’s clumsy execution of the Pentagon’s line managed to embarrass even the US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, who backed off of such claims and called for an explanation from Russia. Even Secretary Kerry, who now seeks to secure Putin’s military support for the US against ISIS while withdrawing Russia’s political backing of President Assad, has cautioned the media to modify its line, now that the US favors ‘greater coordination’ with Russia – but under US leadership. The media has recently conformed to this line, although it has not managed to explain how Washington could now work with the demonic President Putin.


Western media is engaged in an intense long-term propaganda campaign to demonize President Putin. Its role is to convince world public opinion and world leaders to blindly follow the US and EU, as well as their ‘allies’ and vassal states, in a campaign to degrade and undermine Russia, and consolidate a unipolar empire under US tutelage.

The Western mass media is important; but it must be remembered that the media is an instrument of imperial state power. Its lies and fabrications, its demonization of leaders, like President Putin, are one part of a global military offensive to establish dominance and to destroy adversaries.

The more intense the imperial campaign, the riskier the power grab, the greater the need to demonize the victims.

This explains how the escalation of the rabid anti-Putin propaganda campaign coincides with the single biggest Western power grab – the Ukraine coup (‘regime change’) – since West Germany annexed East Germany, and NATO and the EU incorporated the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and the Balkans into the West’s strategic alliance. The West’s bloody break-up of the Yugoslav federation was part of this strategic program.

The problem with the Western demonization of adversaries, whether it is Russia, Iran and China today, or earlier Cuba, Libya and Yemen in the past, is that Washington and the EU face severe economic crises at home and military defeats abroad by armed Islamic and nationalist resistance movements.

The US had invested hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up a shaky puppet regime in US-occupied Iraq, yet the US-trained and supplied Iraqi Army fled as the Baathist-Islamist ‘ISIS’ quickly over-ran half the country.

US troops have occupied Afghanistan for fourteen years, losing tens of thousands of lives and limbs and yet the nationalist-Islamist Taliban can easily take over Afghanistan’s third largest city, Kunduz (population 300,000), and occupies three quarters of the rest of the countryside.

Libya and Somalia are a disaster. And still Washington allocates a half billion dollars to train pro-Western mercenaries to overthrow Syria’s President Assad – mercenaries who give up their arms or join ISIS the moment they cross the border from Jordan or Turkey. The US trained mercenaries have handed over untold millions of dollars worth of heavy and light weapons and armored carriers to ISIS and Al Qaeda. The EU and the US face the dismal reality that Libya, Somalia and Syria are over-run by anti-Western Islamic fighters.

In Asia, China is demonized in the Western media, portrayed as being on the verge of collapse, facing a hard landing, even as China grows at 7%. The Western media wring their collective hands over the crisis in China while Beijing finances two new international development banks for $100 billion, raises its contribution to the IMF and brings 50 countries, including most of the EU but minus the US and Japan, into a new infrastructure lending institution.

Two big questions face the US and EU:

Why do the Western media launch a campaign of demonization that doesn’t correspond to reality? What is the goal of such demonization, which objectively undermines the possibility of forming tactical alliances to end the US’ military losses, political defeats and diplomatic isolation? The US needs Russia to defeat ISIS.

For Moscow, the fight against ISIS is crucial to Russian national security: Thousands of Chechen terrorists (some trained by the US) are fighting with ISIS and threaten to return to the Caucuses and terrorize Russia. Unlike the US public’s opposition to Washington’s role in forcing ‘regime change’ in Syria, the Russian public supports Moscow’s military support for the Syrian government because the Chechens’ campaign of terror within Russia, especially the 2004 massacre of hundreds of school children, teachers and parents in Beslan, is seared into their memory – a fact conveniently ignored by Western media when it ‘sympathizes’ with Chechen ‘freedom fighters’.

In reality, Washington should have a common interest to ally with Russia in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. However Obama is committed to ousting Assad (Russia’s ally) to expand US dominance in the Middle East in partnership with Israel and Saudi Arabia. Clearly there are insurmountable contradictions between short-term military objectives (fighting ISIS) and strategic imperial political imperatives (consolidating US-Israeli hegemony over the Middle East and Iran).

Washington has moved to end its isolation in Latin America by re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Meanwhile, Washington retains the economic blockade of Cuba and its huge US military base in Guantanamo. Cuba is seen as a tactical political ally in ‘moderating’ the leftist government of Venezuela and pressuring the Colombian FARC to disarm, even as Washington deepens its military presence in the continent.

Obama signed off on a nuclear agreement with Iran (but the crippling sanctions and blockade remain in place) in order to secure Tehran’s support for the war against ISIS in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Temporarily, the Western mass media has ‘toned-down’ its demonological reporting on Iran and Cuba, for tactical purposes.

The Obama regime has adopted a ‘good cop/bad cop’ (or schizophrenic) posture with Russia on Syria – Secretary of State John Kerry speaks of joint co-operation with Moscow while Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter proposes to militarily confront ‘Russian aggression’. The media hasn’t made the switch because they don’t know which orders to obey or which line to ‘parrot’.

In the meantime, the domestic economic crisis deepens, ISIS advances, the Taliban approaches Kabul, the Russians are arming and defending President Assad and millions of refugees, fleeing the war zones, have over-run Europe. European border wars are raging. And Obama wrings his hands in impotence. Demonology offers no allies, no solutions and no positive path to peace and co-existence.

Oct 132015

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Michael Nevradakis of Dialogos Media

Michael Nevradakis of Dialogos Media

Interview by Evie Mpras, Editor / GreekTV:

Michael Nevradakis is a Ph.D. student in Media Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, and was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Greece for the 2012-13 academic year. He is the producer/host of Dialogos Radio, a weekly radio program featuring interviews with notable Greek and international personalities which airs worldwide on 18 radio stations, and is also a contributor to Truthout, the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, and Hot Doc.

You have experience in many forms of digital media. What drew you to the medium of radio?

Though I am a fan of all media forms, radio was and remains my first “love” as far as media go. There’s a number of reasons for this. Radio, in my opinion, is a magical medium. It allows you to use your own imagination and to create pictures in your own mind about what you are listening to, whether it is news, an interview, or music. It’s a medium which allows you to listen while also doing other things, whether you are at work, driving, cooking, or cleaning your home. It’s a medium which allows you, as a programmer and producer, to be judged on the quality of your content and not how photogenic you are.

From a technological point of view, radio remains an extremely practical medium. It is inexpensive and easy to use, both for the end user and for the broadcaster, and it is a technology which works everywhere. In the era of “digital,” it is easy to forget that radio is the original “wireless” technology, and it’s a shame that so many of us assume today that so-called “old media” are dead. Oftentimes, it’s easy to assume that podcasting and streaming have overtaken radio, but the reality is that good old radio broadcasting still has exponentially more users than any of these new technologies. “New” media, in many regards, still have a lot of catching up to do to equal the prevalence and usability of radio.

In terms of how Dialogos Radio itself was born, there were three factors which led to its creation. One is my aforementioned love of radio as a broadcast medium. The second reason was that I was in the second year of my doctoral studies and looking for a diversion, an activity of sorts which would break the monotony of graduate student life. The chance to become a member of the student-run radio station at my institution (The University of Texas at Austin) was the perfect opportunity for me to accomplish this.

Perhaps most importantly though, at the time that Dialogos Radio began, in August 2010, Greece and the Greek people were being absolutely battered in the international press, with story after story about how Greece was a “failed state,” how the Greek people were “lazy” and “lived beyond their means,” and so forth. I wanted to present another perspective on Greece and on Hellenism more broadly, with a positive perspective on Greek culture and good things that were coming out of the worldwide Greek community. And so, Dialogos Radio, which was initially known as Austin Hellenic Radio since it initially only aired locally in the Austin, Texas area, was born.

You present live musical performances during cultural segments. Which has been the most moving?

I actually wish that we could feature more live recordings and performances on Dialogos Radio! The practicalities of producing and recording the program today, in two different languages (Greek and English) and disseminating it to over twenty radio stations worldwide have made this much more difficult.

That said, whenever we have the opportunity and can set it up ahead of time, we welcome the opportunity to welcome live performances on our broadcasts. Perhaps the most memorable performance was that of a Greek rembetiko music band which existed in Austin, Texas at the time that I was still producing my program there. This band was known as “The Souliotes,” and the interesting thing about the band is that it only had one member of Greek descent, a Greek-American from Ohio who had moved to Austin.

The remaining members of the band were non-Greek, but they had learned not just to perform rembetiko music, but the entire historical significance of this genre of music. The Souliotes actually discovered my program, reached out to me, and they came in to the studios of KVRX (the student-run radio station which aired my program) for a live performance. To this day, the podcast of this performance remains extremely popular.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve had on the Dialogos and why?

Wow, where do I begin? After five years of conducting weekly interviews, it’s really difficult to pick just one individual that stands out. One memorable interview which comes to mind comes from the days when I was still producing the program in Texas, when I found out that a cousin of the famous musician Nikos Xylouris, Niky Xylouri, lived in the area. She had grown up with Nikos, and I had the opportunity to interview her about her childhood memories of him and what his music means to her.

She also personally selected her 10 favorite Nikos Xylouris songs, which were aired as part of this broadcast. Not only was this an excellent interview, but Niky Xylouri was an extremely gracious individual who maintained the traditional Greek qualities of “filotimo” and “filoxenia” despite living in the United States for several decades.

Another interesting individual which I had the opportunity to interview while in Texas was Greek-American artist Paul Hatgil, a longtime professor at The University of Texas at Austin. He was already in his late 80s when I interviewed him, yet he had the energy to provide an extremely interesting interview which discussed his artwork (which is featured in many locations throughout Austin and in other cities in the United States), as well as fascinating anecdotes about the history of the Greek-American community in Austin.


The actress Katerina Moutsatsou was another extremely fascinating individual whom I had the opportunity to interview. When I interviewed her, it was right after she had released a YouTube video which had very quickly become a social media “sensation” of sorts, titled “I Am Hellene.” The reaction that this video, which was meant to uplift the worldwide Greek community at a time when much self-doubt and even self-loathing had set in as a result of the ongoing crisis, won over a lot of fans, but also a tremendous amount of sarcasm and nasty criticisms, particularly from certain sectors of Greek society who are quick to brand anyone who proclaims pride in their Greek ethnicity and heritage as a “nationalist” or a “fascist.” I was amazed at the grace with which Moutsatsou responded to these attacks, her explanation as to why she chose to produce this video, and at how outspoken she was about key issues impacting politics and society, issues which many celebrities often tend to shy away from.

Other very interesting interviews which remain memorable in my mind include one with Paul Ioannidis, the honorary vice president of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, who had recently published an autobiography where he detailed his professional relationship and friendship with Aristotle Onassis and his family, as well as his own personal role in the Greek resistance against the Nazis during World War II.

I’ve twice had the opportunity to interview James Petras, a Greek-American scholar and political analyst who has served as an advisor to major political personalities such as Salvador Allende, Hugo Chavez, and Andreas Papandreou in his early days as prime minister of Greece, and who nevertheless remains largely unknown within the Greek community but is much more well-known in Latin America. Greg Palast, whom I’ve interviewed three times, is a New York Times bestselling author and investigative journalist who has appeared regularly on the BBC and in The Guardian, who has investigated some of the root causes of the economic crisis in Greece, and who has spoken with more genuine passion about Greece and its people than I usually hear from most Greek people themselves.

Beyond that, the major personalities are always memorable in their own right. I’ve had the opportunity to interview Noam Chomsky, Yanis Varoufakis (even though I believe that his “celebrity status” is unwarranted!), Tariq Ali, John Perkins (author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”), Greek diaspora comedians and entertainers such as Angelo Tsarouchas and Yannis Pappas, who is famous for the “Mr. Panos” character, and many others.


You have recently interviewed a variety of notable economists, scholars, and journalists recently regarding the current Greek state of affairs. Briefly, what are a few perspectives that have illuminated your understanding of the country’s issues?

One of the main philosophies behind what we do at Dialogos Radio is the belief that we have a responsibility to offer something different to our audience, particularly through the presentation of viewpoints and perspectives which have been shut out of the hegemonic media narrative. By doing this, we have been able to develop, through our broadcasts and our associated published work, a number of perspectives which unfortunately rarely see the light of day elsewhere.

One major perspective that we have made many efforts to present is the fact that there are, and have been, several “plan B’s” available for Greece, in terms of policy that it could adopt and implement in order to attempt to emerge out of the economic and political crisis that it has been facing for the past several years. Interviews with economists and analysts such as Roger Bootle, who won a prestigious economics award for his proposal on how a Eurozone member-state could manage an orderly exit from the euro, plus Dimitris Kazakis, Stergios Skaperdas, Leonidas Vatikiotis, and Greg Palast, who infiltrated the so-called “Chicago Boys” during his days as an economics student at the University of Chicago, all have presented detailed, specific economic proposals for Greece which are markedly different from the economic dogma which successive Greek governments and the “troika” have followed these past few years, and which are largely promoted by the major media outlets. Whether one chooses to disagree with these alternative proposals, the fact is that alternatives do exist, and we’ve made many efforts to present them.

Dialogos Radio also been very careful not to get swept up in the political enthusiasm of the day, regardless of what that enthusiasm represents. For instance, prior to the January elections, Greece was suddenly thrust into the global spotlight, in particular because of the supposedly radical message that was being delivered by SYRIZA, which ended up winning the elections. This enthusiasm continued during the first few months of the SYRIZA-led coalition government.

Yet, from prior to the elections, Dialogos Radio adopted a more skeptical tone. I believed that the signs were already there for what ultimately did end up happening, which was none other than a 180-degree policy turn by SYRIZA and a full-blown rejection of its previously “radical” anti-austerity rhetoric, particularly through its rejection of the July 5 referendum result in Greece. Despite the fact that this led to attacks and criticism against Dialogos Radio and me personally, I stuck to a position that was unpopular and largely ignored elsewhere, but which I believed was supported by the political reality, once one cut through all of the enthusiasm of the day.

Relating to this, we’ve attempted to present a critical perspective on how the mainstream media does (or doesn’t do) its job. As a student of Media Studies, I love to analyze media coverage, how news stories and the news agenda are framed and shaped and often manipulated, and how all of this impacts public opinion. I’ve really come to realize, after five years of producing Dialogos Radio, just how many quality, educated, respectable people are completely shut out of the public discourse, simply because their arguments are incompatible with the news agenda that is being promoted.

It simply amazes me how public opinion polls in Greece, which have been repeatedly discredited, continue to be reported on as if they represent reality, and I’ve tried to deconstruct this in analyses that have been presented on Dialogos Radio, and in interviews with other journalists and analysts that have aired.

What kind of new technological methods are you using to expand your broadcast reach?

From the beginning, I’ve tried to make Dialogos Radio much more than just a conventional radio program. Early on, this was partially due to necessity. My first timeslot on KVRX in Austin was from 5 to 7 am, once a week. As such, I began to seek out ways to broaden the show’s audience through the utilization of various new media tools. This was quite a learning experience for me. I had never podcasted before, nor had I ever edited audio before. I was forced to learn all of this on the fly, and early on, I developed a podcast and began to upload archived copies of full broadcasts of my program, to allow those who could not listen to the program live to hear the show at their convenience.

This same philosophy continues to this day. Dialogos Radio continues to make podcasts freely available of all of its interviews and commentaries, and these podcasts are available on platforms such as iTunes and TuneIn, as well as through the Dialogos Radio apps that have been developed for Android, Kindle, and BlackBerry devices. Dialogos Radio also launched, in 2013, an online radio station, Dialogos Radio 24/7, which carries a mix of quality Greek music and archived Dialogos Radio programming and interviews.

Archived recordings of our full broadcasts, as well as our special musical and cultural segments, are available on demand via our website. The 20+ stations which air our program also stream their programming online. Of course, Dialogos Radio also has a presence on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.


Despite the emphasis on new media, Dialogos Radio continues to make many efforts to expand in so-called “old media” outlets as well. The number of worldwide FM and AM radio stations which carry the weekly Dialogos Radio broadcasts continues to grow, and recently, a Greek community radio station in Perth, Australia was added to this list, while Dialogos Radio also recently aired on a “trial” basis on a prominent FM radio station in New York City. The real irony here is that the absolute most difficult place to get Dialogos Radio aired has been in major Greek cities, particularly Athens.

Unfortunately, in Greece the media landscape has developed in such a way that practically all of the existing television and radio stations belong to a select few oligarchs and politically connected individuals, with no interest in airing anything that deviates from their own agenda. Community and non-commercial radio is essentially non-existent in Greece, whereas the bulk of Dialogos Radio’s worldwide broadcast network consists of community radio stations, in the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa.

Aside from this, many Dialogos Radio interviews are featured in print, on various outlets including GreekTV.comTruthout99getsmartfreepen.gr and others, alongside occasional articles and analyses of my own.

Do you have any anecdotes of spontaneous, unexpectedly funny occurrence during one of your discussions on Dialogos radio?

The nature of the show is such that most of the interviews that are aired have been pre-recorded, for practical reasons. This unfortunately takes away some of the spontaneity that is otherwise possible in a live radio broadcast. However, this hasn’t meant that there haven’t been several funny, unexpected, or unintended moments throughout the five years that this program has been produced.

Perhaps the most hilarious and unplanned moment that I can think of goes back to the show’s Austin days, when I aired the show live from the KVRX studios on the grounds of the University of Texas at Austin. My show was, that first year, on the air from 5 to 7 am as I was still “getting my feet wet” as a broadcaster. The station had a rule that the studio had to remain manned by a live body at all times. This meant that if the next programmer or DJ didn’t show up, it was your responsibility to remain in the studio and on the air until someone else was able to come in to replace you. In one particular instance, the DJ who was scheduled to be on the air from 7 to 9 am unexpectedly didn’t show up, and I was only prepared with just enough music and content for my scheduled two-hour broadcast.

The DJ after me produced a radio program which featured country, folk and blues music, which I’ll admit I do not know much about as genres. In keeping with the programming philosophy of KVRX, however, I not only stayed on the air, but found as many country, folk, and blues CDs as I could in the studio and frantically began cueing up music in the studio, choosing songs on the fly to air on the KVRX. As one country or folk song aired, I was listening on my headphones to the next CD, trying to choose a song that simply “sounded good.” And so it went for two hours. It was really a lot of fun, and the best part was that a couple of listeners even called in to say that they were loving the music! That’ll always remain memorable to me, and it harkens back to my comments about how the medium of radio has the capability of being truly magical at times.

 , Athens, Greece 

Evie Mpras is an editor for GreekTV. She directs films, writes, and teaches Communications in Athens, Greece.