Greek, European and Ukrainian/Middle Eastern crises (the Delphi conference)

By Dimitris Kontantakopoulos

Greece remains, undoubtedly, one of the main points in earth where our global future is “prepared”. This country of South-Eastern Europe bears an enormous historical and spiritual heritage and, at the same time, it is located at the crossroads of the Slavic, Middle Eastern and Western worlds. It has been selected as the object of a “great experiment” by world Finance and European elites, at its service, on how to “reconstruct”, in a fundamental way, the political and social regime prevailing in Europe after the 2nd World War (if not during the two to three last centuries of European history).

An international conference was held in Greece on the 20th and 21st of June in order to debate Greek/European crisis, the possible alternatives to the system of “euroliberalism” and ways to stop the course towards war with Russia. Tens of intellectuals, politicians and activists, from various European countries, including Russia, have participated to the conference – including some critical economists from USA.

The event was organized by a group of radical intellectuals, who are opposed the complete domination of financial capital and its neo-liberal project on European politics and institutions. In the same time they are opposed to the rebirth of imperial projects with the help of arms, be it in Ukraine or in the Middle East. It was supported by the World Forum of Alternatives, presided by Samir Amin, the Lyssarides Foundation of Cyprus, the Greek Institute for Governance INERPOST, run by ex-socialist minister Gerasimos Arsenis, the Institute for Globalization and Social Movements, presided by Boris Kagarlitski and the “” website.

The conference was held near the town of Delphi which used to be the center of the ancient Greek world. It was during the ascendance of this world and in its very context that appeared Protagoras, the student of Democritus and the mentor of Pericles, to profess that “Man is the measure of all things” (and not “money is the measure of all things”, as goes the moto of the Empire of Finance, attacking now European nations and what remains of their civilization).

Those days there is a lot of talk and conferences held in Europe and US where you can hear much against austerity policies (a term misplaced as we will try to show), denunciations of the new cold and hot wars or wishes for peace in Europe and in the world. Why a need for one more, an observer could ask.

We need a strategy, not just denunciations

A number of considerations pushed the organizers to hold this conference in Greece before the (predictable) summer crisis. One of the main ideas behind the initiative was the realization that it is not enough to denounce “austerity” or war. We need also begin developing political strategies and necessary tools and networks to fight against them. This is of course a process that needs to evolve in interaction with the development of an alternative vision. Without such a strategy and such a vision, which hardly exist in European left, even if it will be able to have partial victories, it will be maybe possible to have partial victories against neoliberals and/or neoconservatives, but soon they run the risk to turn into defeats.

In reality we are already in an environment of a long hybrid world war, launched by the most extremist and politically coherent wing of international finance and the most extremist geopolitical forces of the US military-industrial complex, around neoconservatives. But we are not thinking and acting accordingly. We don’t really believe we are there and we don’t want to be there. When the crisis will come, it gets us unprepared (one important lesson to keep also from the SYRIZA debacle of this summer)

The forces concentrated around neoliberals and neoconservatives believe that now, after the collapse of USSR and the decay of Europeans political elites (be them socialdemocratic or Gaullist, like in France) and also of the nationalist regimes of the Third World, they have a unique, historic opportunity to change, in a radical way all social and international relations on the planet and shape its future. They want to do it anyway but also they believe they have to do it now. They don’t want to look passively to the ascendance of alternate centers of world economy which can become a threat to their domination.

They are using the Greek crisis, EU “integration” progress, Ukraine, the Middle Eastern crisis, in such a way as to launch their global “revisionist” project.

A new totalitarianism

Another factor in work here is that, for the first time in human history, the extraordinary advances of information technologies, of neurosciences, of social sciences mainly directed to war, of new mathematical tools like the chaos theory have created the objective, material means and tools for a new global totalitarianism, for the realization of the black utopias (dystopias) of Zamyatin, Orwell or Huxley, which will make Hitler look like an alchemist compared to modern chemists. Assange and Snowden give a much better glimpse on the real and invisible world governing us that many economic, political and social analyses we are able to do.

But the victims of such policies lack the necessary will and also the necessary strategy and counter-vision to answer in a systematic way to the “war” launched against societies and nations, by the proponents of this new totalitarian power. They are reacting here or there, usually when it is already too late. They often prefer to conserve what they dispose and to accommodate the dominating forces, making the economy of the efforts and the risks associated with any serious attempt to stop them.

The French experience

This is for example what happened with the enormous victory against “euroliberalism” which was the French referendum in 2005 and the social revolts that followed it. Neither the critical intellectuals behind the great No of the French people, who were able to provide us with some of the deepest critiques of European “construction”, were able, neither the supposedly leftist forces calling from No (from the left wing of the Socialists to the Trotskyite LCR) wanted to develop a credible alternative to what they had persuaded the French people to reject. Sarkozy was able to manipulate the situation and now even Le Pen is posting as the main candidate to express dissatisfaction.

The Greek experience

Another, even more tragic example is the Greek one. The leaders of SYRIZA refused to develop any comprehensive economic program and also any coherent international strategy to address the very serious problem the country was facing. Instead, they trusted blindly forces from USA and obscure financial circles to help them cope with Merkel. Those forces were finally able to manipulate them in a very successful way. Not only they put them in the path of defeat and capitulation but they transformed them into instruments of their own policies, with devastating political results for the Greek people and for the European left. They were able not only to defeat (at least for the time being) the Greek revolt, they were able to organize even elections for Greeks in which Greeks were called to choose the executioner they prefer.

“Greece is not bluffing”, assured James Galbraith (advisor to Varoufakis) the participants to the Delphi conference, many of them (including ministers and high ranking cadres of SYRIZA) were rather skeptical about aspects of the policy and tactics followed by the Greek Left, already in government. But, soon afterwards, it was proven that, indeed, “Tsipras was bluffing”.

In order to develop strategies and tools we need to know well what is exactly happening. Speaker after speaker at Delphi analyzed in detail the depth and the extent of the enormous economic, social, demographic and, also, the psychological-moral disaster we have witnessed in Greece in the last five years as a result of the “bail-out” program. This disaster is comparable to what happened at the last phase of the Weimar Republic or in USA during the Great Depression. You will find anything even remotely comparable to that in all post-War history of capitalist Europe. Participants in Delphi were rather informed people. But even they were astonished to hear for instance Professor Kasimatis, the top Greek expert in constitutional law, analyze in detail the legal terms of the clearly neocolonial Loan Agreements imposed to Greece by its “partners” in EU, the ECB and the IMF. These terms are not only a massive violation of the provisions of the Greek constitution, of the European treaties and of international law. They are in reality the blueprint of a new totalitarianism.

Now if we assemble these elements we have a clear picture of what is really happening in Greece, which is the first step to understanding why it is happening. This is an absolutely necessary process, if we want to stop projecting our own preferences and preconceptions into reality.

Is it really possible to describe such a huge catastrophe as just a crisis, as a mistake, as a simple “extremity” of the system? Even to speak of austerity is an euphemism, you don’t say “austerity” for a program that denies the material preconditions for the reproduction of a given social formation and, by that, of a nation and its state.

By analyzing the objective data on Greece (GDB, unemployment, investments, social statistices and evolution of the debt) we can substantiate the claim that the program imposed by the “Creditors” (acting as a Kafka triubunal) is clearly an effort to destroy a nation-state and devoid its institutions of any real content. If this will succeed in Greece, it can be generalized gradually in all Europe.

We believe they are doing this because only by doing it they can advance their very radical agenda of “regime change”, that is to transform western “democracy” into a sheer formality and to abolish completely the most elementary social rights like the right to a decent living and pension, to health care, education etc., which constitute one of the fundamental achievements in the history of human civilization. They abolished them in the ex-“socialist” world, now they want to abolish them in Western Europe, beginning with Greece. If anybody has a better explanation for what is happening let him advance it.

I tried to expose such ideas to Alexis Tsipras some years ago. He looked to me in great disbelief. He could not believe that we live in a “so bad world” that could wish the destruction of Greece. Αs for Yianis Varoufakis, I remember him telling me, some years ago, that he does not believe to conspiracies. This is another way to state that we are living essentially in a more or less good world with more or less good guys governing us. He was also to discover, the hard way, that his fellow Ministers of Economics were not interested to his economic arguments. They were executing orders of the Finance.

Now, after the disaster, Varoufakis along with Lafontaine, Melanchon and some others they have stated the necessity to develop alternative strategies (an idea we clearly stated also in what became known as the “Mikis-Glezos appeal to save Greece and the peoples of Europe” of October 2011, but without any practical results). Better late than ever. We hope their efforts along with those of many others they will soon begin to bear results.

“Nation”, “euro” and other “difficult” questions

A second consideration behind the Delphi conference was that we need, in order to develop alternative strategies, to address seriously some very difficult questions like ethnicity, nation and nationalism, the problem of what kind of European integration we should fight for, the question of protectionism and of the articulation between the nationally developed political struggles and a European alternative. The question of the euro is a very important one and not one which can easily be answered.

It is clear, at least to some of the Delphi conference participants, that euro and the Maastricht treaty are not simple tools of a currency Union between states or for imposing a neoliberal economic policy in all Europe or of a way to transfer permanently resources from Southern to Northern Europe. It is all that but it is even something else and more fundamental.

It is a way to take sovereignty from nation-states and transfer it to the representatives of international finance, acting through the rules established by Maastricht, through the domination of their neoliberal dogmas in economic practice, but also through their enormous, their “targeted” capacity of influence in the “markets” and in politics. The great majority of political, intellectual and media elites in Europe are now controlled by international and not necessarily European Finance. They say the euro was a mistake, because it is a currency without state. But there is a state behind it, simply it is a “state” of a new form, the state of Finance.

Maastricht is the cornerstone of a gigantic and deep project of regime change from a system, at least theoretically based on the principle of popular and national sovereignty, as instituted in Europe after the English and French Revolutions, towards a system based on the Domination of Money, enshrined in the “principles” of permanent anti-inflationary policy (that is also a way to saveguard the value of money), of “independence” of ECB (which translates into its dependence from … Goldman Sachs and other international banks!) and to the “no bail out” principle, which paved the way for the attack against the Greek nation-state.

Then one solution seems quite logical. Just leave the Euro club. Such an option should not be excluded, but it is a great lack of responsibility to believe such an exit will be an easy promenade. A lot of problems are put that we are not able to treat properly in the limited space we dispose, but which became also partially clear during the Cypriot and Greek experiences.

The two main of them are first the weakening of the nation-state, both objectively and subjectively, during a long period of time, which preceded the attack against it beginning with Greece in 2010 and second the difficulty to defend it (which is necessary) against the enormous pressure of World Finance (the “markets”, the “globalization”), based only on the limited capacities and possibilities of any European nation-state.

The question of the currency is an essential one and anybody who wants to develop an alternative needs to address it in one way or another. This is a technical economic question, but the technical-economic question should not hide the huge political challenge behind it. The introduction of a national currency can be a necessary step for any country wishing to resist the European neoliberal order. But it is not sufficient to face the problem. It has a “progressive” meaning only in the context of a generalized “war” against the already imposed financial dictatorship in Europe.

Neoliberalism and neoconservatism

A third idea, which we tried to expose, I think quite successfully in Delphi, was the organic unity between the neoliberal and the neoconservative project, the one being the transposition of the other when you go from the field of economy into geopolitics and vice-versa. They are but two faces of a gigantic world revisionist project and they should be treated as such. You cannot fight the one without fighting the other.

If the efforts to deny to western European popular classes their most elementary political and social rights succeed, then a war of some form against Russia will be greatly facilitated. The opposite is also true. An atmosphere of external war, with Russia or with Islam, will greatly facilitate social and political regression in Western Europe.

It is not by chance that, from the time of the 1st World War to the military campaigns of our days against Yugoslavia or against Libya for instance, the position towards external war has become also a sort of dividing line inside “European socialism” and all currents of European Left.

The Russian factor

The forth idea developed in Delphi was that Russia in an integral part of Europe. Western Europeans should treat Russia as they treat any other European country and Russia should also feel and behave as a European country with all its rights and obligations and without any complexes. In the conference itself Russians have participated as an integral part of a European dialogue. Shergei Glaziev, the famous researcher on Kondratieff long economic circles and also an adviser to the President of Russia, has attracted great interest from participants with his intervention, as he developed his idea that Greece has no future inside the EU, but it could have a rather bright one in the context of Eurasian integration. He had to intervene by skype, as he is sanctioned by EU.

This idea of Russia being an integral part of Europe is cardinal if we don’t want to forbid forever, to the continent, the means of its independence.

Nation and internationalism

A fifth, also very important idea, is that Germany and European elites have a regional strategy, Finance and neoconservatives have a world strategy. But forces resisting them have only national political and strategic tools. You can have partial victories in this war based on a national level, but this war cannot be won on this level. We have to begin an osmosis of people from different European nations. We should develop an alternative in a language which will be able to be spoken by everybody. This was also one of the reasons the organizers invited people from nearly all European regions to participate.

The Delphi conference could not of course “solve” all problems raised above. It was an effort to put them as clearly as possible and we believe to put the right questions represents at least half of the answer. Many participants expressed their will to go on with launching a kind of Delphi Initiative. We hope it will become possible in close cooperation with all other forces and personalities interested for the same goals.

Athens, September 2015
(*) This article was published in the Russian review Katehon (No.1, 2015)