At this sad and very dangerous juncture of the unfolding events surrounding Greece and the crushing demands of the Troika, it becomes clear that all this would never have come to pass had the Greek people not felt guilty over their country’s debt situation. As a consequence of their feeling guilty since the crisis began in October 2009, the situation is rapidly turning into a human tragedy where an entire people are now faced with likely destruction.
In a previous post I argued that the former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was a Trojan Horse for the oligarchs, both inside Greece and outside, who is deliberately leading the Greek people on in order to crush them and any hope for debt softening or write offs.
On May 5 Greeks voted in a special referendum whether to accept the Troika further austerity as condition to stay in the Eurozone or to say “No.” Some 61% of the voting said a resounding No to Troika austerity. Tsipras and Varoufakis had pleaded for that No, lying to voters that that would give them a “stronger hand” in Brussels and Berlin to extract better terms from the Troika.
Instead, on July 9 Tsipras announced he had submitted a new proposal that, as details emerged, was virtually identical to the Troika demands Greek voters had just vehemently rejected. That betrayal is demoralizing and worse. After the July 6 resignation of Varoufakis immediately after the vote, Tsipras named a new Finance Minister, Euclid Tsakalotos. Tsakalotos is an Oxford-educated “Marxist” economist, a pal of that other café “Marxist, ” Yanis Varoufakis, and a scion of a wealthy oligarch shipping and land-owning Greek military family. That may seem a bit curious for a government pretending to be crusading against the Troika, the IMF and against their system of debt slavery.
It now emerges that Tsipras and Finance Minister Tsakalotos drafted the capitulation offer of new austerity measures on the counseling of senior French bureaucrats sent personally to Tsipras by French President Hollande. By every definition the Syriza government has committed perfidy or treason against the Greek people, selling out the trust they had won in the referendum.
It is more and more clear this entire Greek crisis since 2009 is being orchestrated in detail from outside Greece and inside. It has only been possible because the Greek people believed in 2009 they were guilty and must be punished by paying the bankers. For the same reason they believed they were guilty they voted a series of governments after Papandreou that punished them with one austerity after another. That same guilt led them to wish to remain inside the destructive Eurozone despite all suffering.
Guilt and the Great Schism
Guilt is a horrible feeling. In a person, it can lead to horrendous consequences. Often the feeling of guilt–an entirely useless feeling as it solves nothing but makes our situation only far worse–leads an individual to lie to himself, and to others, in a silly attempt to hide the fact we feel guilty about something. That lying to cover our guilt has itself severe consequences even if we do not recognize them. We have violated some moral code of our society and no one must know, so we lie. Typically we feel ashamed of our feelings of guilt.
Every major world religion has cultivated feelings of guilt among its believers, none more expertly than the Roman Catholic Church with its dogma inspired by St Augustine, that insists we all are born in sin, guilty from the get go before we even take that first breath, the Doctrine of Original Sin.
Not irrelevant to the present Greek crisis is the historical fact that the Christian Church which arose out of Byzantium some seventeen hundred years ago, underwent a traumatic split around AD 1054 , known in church history as The Great Schism. At the center of the theology of that split was the refusal of what came to be known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, to accept the Roman Catholics’ Doctrine of Original Sin. The Orthodox refuse to believe man is born guilty of the sins of his ancestors, guilt that must then be atoned.
The cruel irony of the Greek situation today is that despite that cultural heritage, a heritage that imbues Greek culture, today the Greek people feel a collective guilt that they have done something very, very bad and in a sense deserve what they are getting. The Greeks have been made to feel no longer good, but bad and guilty as causing this grave European crisis that was exposed in 2009.
Guilt feelings in a people can lead to horrendous consequences. German people know that only too well. The victorious Allied Powers in 1919 forced the German government to sign the infamous Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty, the War Guilt Clause. It stated, “…Germany accepts responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany her allies.”
That forcing Germany to accept sole guilt for the Great War, and the subsequent forcing Germany to accept the dictated punishment of paying war reparations to the Allied victors—USA, Britain, France and Italy—set off a sequence of events that led directly to the Third Reich and a second brutal defeat of Germany in 1945. Swiss psychoanalyst C.G. Jung wrote an essay in 1945 that the German people felt a collective guilt (Kollektivschuld) for the atrocities committed by their fellow countrymen. Jung said it “…will be one of the most important tasks of therapy to bring the Germans to recognize this guilt.”
After the war, the British and US occupation forces promoted shame and guilt with a publicity campaign, which included posters depicting concentration camps with slogans such as “These Atrocities: Your Fault!” (Diese Schandtaten: Eure Schuld!).
The Original Greek ‘Sin’
Let’s return to the present Greek debacle. If you will, in terms of the Greek debacle of unpayable debt and unendurable austerity, the roots go back to the lying that the Greek government used in 2000 to sneak into the charmed inner circle called the Eurozone.
Goldman Sachs was an active partner to the lie that Greece had fulfilled the Maastricht requirements of a ceiling of 3% Budget deficit to GDP and 60% public debt total to GDP. The Greek government did so by using a complex currency gimmick the financial rocket scientists at Goldman Sachs proposed to them. To clinch the Euro deal the government also hid from Brussels €1.6 billion in military purchases.
We are supposed to believe that the PASOK social democratic government of Costas Simitis, where George Papandreou was Foreign Minister in 2000 when Greece entered the Euro, was able to keep its dirty secret from the officials of the European Central Bank and of EUROSTAT, the official statistics agency of the EU.
Now the official line is that when the same Papandreou formed a new PASOK government as Prime Minister in October 2009, bizarrely, he decided to reveal the secret he knew when he was Foreign Minister in Simitis’ regime in 2000. Papandreou announced that he had “discovered” that Greece’s annual deficit was not 3% but 12.7%. That news in and of itself need not have caused the debt explosion that ensued.
The effect of Papandreou’s declaration was to turn a Greek recession, a consequence of the global financial crisis set off in September 2008, into a major internal Greek crisis. When he announced it, Greek unemployment was already at 10% and the New York rating agencies were lowering Greece’s sovereign debt credit rating to BBB+, the lowest of any Eurozone country.
The person who advised Papandreou to respond in what was then a deep recession with severe austerity was Yanis Varoufakis, the just-resigned Finance Minister of Syriza who did such a marvelous job putting Greece today into the mess it is in.
Papandreou followed Varoufakis’ advice and imposed draconian austerity that made the situation into a full-blown national crisis. The government slashed spending, raised taxes, froze hiring, raised retirement age and cut public sector wages by 10% leading to nationwide anti-austerity strikes.
There is a carefully cultivated myth that the billions of financial credits for Greece from the EU, the ECB and the IMF have gone directly to the Greek people who, as mainstream media endlessly stresses, have an over-generous state pension system and a population that refuses to pay taxes. Naturally that creates a hefty anger during the Stammtisch grumblings across German and other EU pubs where we usually form our consensus..
There is only one thing wrong with the picture. It isn’t the truth. Since the crisis became full-blown, complete with hedge fund attacks against the Greek bond market and the Euro led by mega-speculator George Soros in February 2010, pushing the interest rates on Greek government through the roof, the Troika has extended loans and credits to the tune of some € 240 billion.
The real question never answered in mainstream EU media is what happened to that money? Greek economist Yanis Mouzakis of the Athens University calculated that of the € 240 billions, € 83 billion went to pay off old debt held by creditors consisting mainly of French and German banks. Another €41 billion went to maintain interest payments on existing government bonds held as well by mainly non-Greek EU and other banks. Another € 48 billion went to bailout the private Greek banks largely owned by Greek oligarchs who by Greek law pay no taxes in Greece. Another €35 billion in Troika loans went to finance the 2012 debt “haircut.” That totals € 207 of the total € 240 billion to Greece to date. That’s 86% of the total, most going to save the fooolish French and German banks that piled into Greek debt knowing that when the bubble burst, they would be “Too Big To Fail.” The ECB and EU would be forced to bail them out, precisely what happened.
A mere € 27 billion of the € 240 billion has gone to the Greek government budget or investment in infrastructure. And for this credit the Greek government assumed the debt obligation of the reckless banks, including Greek banks.
In sum, Greece and the Greek people have been lied to, frauded, robbed and now betrayed by Syriza and Prime Minister Tsipras, who they hoped would fight for their existence in a nation. Since early 2010 Greeks have undergone what has been described by Holger Schmieding of Berenberg Bank as the “most severe austerity program imposed by any Western nation in peacetime.”
No government could have gotten away with what Papandreou and Varoufakis imposed on their fellow Greeks after February 2010 had the Greeks themselves not felt guilty of financial fraud. They were and are not guilty of any financial fraud beyond the possible tax minimization practices they imitated from their tax-cheating oligarchs, but the media barrage inside Greece from oligarch-owned media and from all EU outside media convinced them, obviously, that they had “sinned,” and bore the guilt.
It’s worth noting that in every major religion, the word for sin and for debt are the same. A coincidence? I don’t think so. Behind those “debts” (Schulden in German) are creditors demanding their pound of flesh from the “guilty sinners.” Go back to the blood-stained true history of the Great Crusades, wars declared by the Pope in Rome, initially to capture Constantinople and surroundings from the Eastern Orthodox Church following the Great Schism of 1054 AD and to put it under the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1146, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a letter to the Knights Templar, the most powerful and wealthiest military order during the era of the medieval Christian Crusades against “infidel” Islam. Bernard declared to the Templars, “The Christian who slays the unbeliever in the Holy War is sure of his reward, the more sure if he himself is slain.” (De Laude Novae Militiae, III—De Militibus Christi).
The charismatic French abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux, mobilized tens of thousands of poor, illiterate peasants from southern Germany and France. His battle cry was, “Hasten to appease the anger of heaven. . .Hasten then to expiate your sins by victories over the Infidels, and let the deliverance of the Holy places be the reward of your repentance. . .Cursed be he who does not stain his sword with blood.”
Bernard put the fear of God into the peasants and convinced them that the only possible way to atone for their guilt for being born in sin was to butcher infidels. Along the way they should capture Byzantium for Rome from the Orthodox Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos. Today the role of the Crusader Kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, is being played by President Hollande and Sapin his wily Finance Minister and by Chancellor Merkel and Schäuble her rigid heartless Finance Minister.
Guilt and fostering of guilt feelings in a person or entire nations is one of the deadliest ways churches and bad political leaders have found to manipulate their people. The guilt becomes an irrational fear of punishment. The Greek people are indeed being punished for sins they are innocent of. No French banker, no Goldman Sachs banker, no French IMF Director General Lagarde goes to jail for their role in the crisis. Mario Draghi, a former Goldman Sachs banker, is treated as a hero when he precipitates the present phase of Greek crisis on February 11 when he announced he would stop accepting Greek state bonds as collateral for ECB credits, precipitating the crisis that Varoufakis and Tsipras have used to betray their people.
The perfidy was for Tsipras to say “yes” to the Troika four days after Greek voters said a clear “no” to more Troika austerity.
Greeks, especially before their politicians and oligarchs lured them into the EU and then the Euro, were, and to a great extent as I can judge still are, wonderful, warm, calm people. They are social and enjoy what is good in life–good food with good company and good music and dance. That goodness is being destroyed by people who feel threatened by it.
Through what is clearly a long-planned operation of betrayal of the Greek people from the inside by Greek oligarchs and their political hangers-on such as Varoufakis, Tsipras and now oligarch Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, and from the outside interests behind the Troika, Greek people face the temptation of the next sequence in the guilt cycle—going from fear of punishment to a growing desire for revenge on those they believe did this all to them. God forbid if that stage now comes. Revenge is always self-destructive, no matter who it targets. Only by realizing there is no guilt, but rather criminal actions to destroy the Greek people will Greeks find the inner strength to do the good and resolve the crisis. The alternative is murder and suicide, and that we have had enough of.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.