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Lessons from this summer’s calamitous Greek forests inferno – The Guardian

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/08/2021 - 8:44pm in

After the second world war, Greece’s countryside experienced two debilitating human surges – an exodus of villagers, then a most peculiar human invasion of its fringes. These two surges, aided by a weak state and abetted by the climate crisis, have turned the low-level drama of naturally redemptive forest fires into this summer’s heart-wrenching catastrophe.

After heatwaves of unprecedented longevity, wildfires across the summer months have so far destroyed more than 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of ancient pine forests. They have blackened swathes of Attica, scorched parts of ancient Olympia and obliterated north Evia’s magnificent forests – whose rural communities lost their homes, not to mention their livelihoods and landscapes.

To grasp why this is happening, we need to understand the trajectory of urban and rural development in Greece. War and poverty caused a mass exodus from the countryside that began in the late 1940s. Villagers who did not migrate to countries such as Germany, Canada and Australia descended upon Athens. Combined with lax urban planning, this surge of humanity quickly turned the Greater Athens area into a concrete jungle. Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, the same people dreamed of a partial return to the countryside, of a summer home in the shade of some pine trees, close to Athens and, preferably, in some proximity to the sea.

To these petty-bourgeois dwellings, which by the 1980s were strewn all over Attica, the mid-1990s added middle-class suburbia. Villas and shopping malls gradually invaded inland wooded areas bordering Athens, at a speed that reflected the economic growth fuelled with money borrowed from EU banks or provided via EU structural funding.

It is as if we were looking for trouble. Fire is a natural ally of Mediterranean pine forests. It helps clear the ground of old trees and allows young ones to prosper. By helping themselves to the wood daily and by employing tactical burning every spring, villagers once prevented these fires from running amok. Alas, not only did circumstances force the villagers to abandon the forests but, when they and their descendants returned as atomised urbanites to build their summer homes inside the untended forests, they did so bearing none of the traditional communal knowledge or practices.

Europe’s famous north-south economic divide has a counterpart in Greece’s forests. In countries such as Sweden or Germany, forests were intensely commodified. While this spelled the demise of ancient forests, and their replacement with arid plantations, farmland or grazing pastures, at least the countryside was not abandoned the way Greece’s was. In a sense, the sorry state of Greece’s countryside, the swift and unregulated urbanisation, and our feeble and corrupt state are all reflections of the country’s atrophic capitalism.

Volunteers try to extinguish a wildfire burning in the village of Markati, near Athens, on 16 August.

Two new wildfires in Greece trigger evacuation alerts for villages

Greek governments had been aware of the unsustainability of our model of land use since wildfires began to take revenge on us in the 1970s. Deep down, they knew: we had, collectively, violated nature, and now nature was exacting its long and drawn-out revenge. Convinced, however, that their re-election chances were doomed if they dared tell voters that maybe they should give up on the dream of that cabin in the forest, abandon the plan to suburbanise pine forests, governments chose the easy path: they blamed warm winds, fiendish arsonists, bad luck, even the odd Turkish saboteur.

Collective responsibility was the first casualty of every inferno. On 23 July 2018, at a seaside settlement north of Athens known as Mati, a demonic fireball incinerated 103 people within minutes – including a friend. The cause was obvious to anyone willing to take a disinterested look at the way the dense settlement had been inserted into an ageing pine forest, with narrow lanes offering no realistic chance of escape from the inevitable fire.

Alas, neither the government nor the opposition dared to admit the obvious: that we should never have allowed that settlement to be built. Instead, they yelled at each other endlessly, playing a blame game that disrespected the victims, society, nature.

Even when governments tried their hand at modernising their practices, they made things worse. In 1998, in a bid to professionalise firefighting, the bush firefighting unit (hitherto run by the forestry commission) was disbanded and folded into the urban fire brigade. The resulting economies of scale came at a cost: the termination of the large-scale forest clearing effort that the bush firefighting unit used to undertake every winter and spring.

Following an urban bureaucracy’s natural instinct to favour hi-tech solutions, and to look down upon traditional practices, the unified fire brigade effectively withdrew from the forests and concentrated instead on a strategy of setting up firewalls around built-up areas, while bombarding forest fires from the air – using aircraft that more often than not cannot fly due to adverse conditions.

Then, in early 2010, came the Greek state’s undeclared bankruptcy. Soon, dozens of EU and IMF officials – the infamous troika – would arrive in Athens to impose the world’s harshest austerity programme. Every budget was ruthlessly slashed, including those aimed at citizen and nature protection. Thousands of doctors, nurses and, yes, firefighters were fired. In 2011, the fire brigade’s overall budget was cut by 20%.

In the spring of 2015, a senior fire brigade officer told me that at least another 5,000 firefighters were needed to offer basic protection in the following summer. As Greece’s finance minister at the time, I drew up plans to exact savings from other parts of the budget to rehire a modest number of firefighters and doctors (2,000 altogether). Upon hearing this, the troika immediately condemned me for “backtracking” and issued a clear warning that, if I insisted, the negotiations at the Eurogroup would be terminated – shorthand for announcing the closure of Greece’s banks.

Since then the only real change has been the steady rise of temperatures, courtesy of accelerating climate breakdown. This summer’s firestorm was utterly foreseeable – as was the inability of our state to respond effectively. And the EU? Did it send dozens of staff to micromanage events on the ground, like it had done when imposing austerity? Unlike the assistance Greece received from individual European governments, including post-Brexit Britain’s, the EU institutions were conspicuous by their absence.

The terrifying question is: what next? The spectre of a new threat to Greece’s forests is hanging over the land. It is the current rightwing government’s eagerness to subcontract reforestation to private multinational businesses. In search of a quick euro, they peddle fast-growing, genetically modified trees that have no place in the Mediterranean and are inimical to our flora, fauna and traditional landscape. Unlike the awful impact of the state’s bankruptcy on our people, which one day we hope to reverse, this assault on our native forests will be irreversible.

For the Guardian’s site click here

The post Lessons from this summer’s calamitous Greek forests inferno – The Guardian appeared first on Yanis Varoufakis.

Square of hope and glory : On the 6th anniversary of the magnificent OXI rally at Syntagma Square

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 03/07/2021 - 8:32pm in

Tags 

English, greece

The night the Demos found its voice,
for a brief, wonderful moment
On the afternoon of Friday, 3 June, as the working day drew to a close, I breathed a sigh of relief. A week of closed banks was almost over. Despite the long queues at ATMs and the uncertainty of what awaited us the following Monday, there had been no violence, no panic, no civil unrest. The Greeks had proved themselves a sensible people.

The media, however, had managed to fall below their already absurdly debased standards, competing with one another to find the most innovative ways to frighten the public away from voting no. Much of the reporting of the no sponsors and supporters would in other countries have been deemed incitement to violence. The opinion polls consistently predicted that yes would win with more than 60 per cent of the vote, while comment writers foamed at the mouth at the government’s audacity in holding a referendum against the creditors’ wishes. Meanwhile, the parliamentary opposition had managed to persuade its supporters to take to the streets in some numbers, waving EU flags and placards proclaiming, we are staying in europe!3

Later that Friday afternoon I received an email from Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s bailout fund. It was a reminder that he had the legal right to demand from me full and immediate repayment of the €146.3 billion lent to Greece as part of the first two bailouts. It was phrased in such a way as to suggest that I was personally liable, not least because as finance minister my name was on the loan agreement. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. I instructed my office to reply to our main creditor – to the man who had advised me to default to my pensioners instead of the IMF – with two ancient words. These were the defiant response of the king of Sparta, leader of the three hundred men who attempted to resist the entire Persian army at the legendary battle of Thermopylae in 480 bc, when instructed by the enemy to throw down their weapons: ‘Μολών λαβέ’ – ‘Come and get them!’

That evening two rallies took place, one in favour of yes, outside the ancient Olympic stadium where the first modern Olympics were staged in 1896, and one at Syntagma Square for the no campaign. The yes rally was held in the late afternoon, and was large and goodnatured, but the no rally at Syntagma was one for the ages. Since I was a boy, I had attended some magnificent, life-changing rallies at Syntagma Square, but what Danae and I participated in that night was unprecedented.

We walked to Syntagma from Maximos with Alexis and other members of the cabinet, their partners and aides. On the way we were mobbed by rapturous supporters. As we approached the square, the crowd’s energy exploded. A sea of five hundred thousand bodies consumed us. We were pulled into its depths by a forest of arms: tough-looking men with moist eyes, middle-aged women with determination written all over their faces, young boys and girls with boundless energy, older people eager to hug us and shower us with good wishes. For two hours, struggling to hold hands so as not to be separated, Danae and I were absorbed by a single body of people who had simply had enough.

People from different generations saw their distinct struggles coalesce on that night into one gigantic celebration of freedom from fear. An elderly partisan from the Second World War pushed into my pocket a carnation and a piece of paper bearing the phrase ‘Resistance is NEVER futile!’ Students forced to emigrate by the crisis who had returned to cast their votes begged me not to give up. A pensioner promised me that he and his sick wife did not mind losing their pensions as long as they recovered their dignity. And everybody, without a single exception, shouted at me, ‘No surrender, whatever the cost!’

I believed they meant it. The banks had already been closed for a week. The hardship imposed by the creditors was plainly visible. And yet, here they were, these magnificent people saying in one word everything that had to be said: ‘No!’ Not because they were recalcitrant or Eurosceptic. They craved the opportunity to say a big fat yes to Europe. But yes to a Europe for its people, as opposed to a Europe hell-bent on crushing them.

That night, as Danae and I eventually found ourselves walking up the marble steps leading to parliament, the phrase I had been looking for to describe what all this was about finally came to me: constructive disobedience. This was what I had been trying to practise in the Eurogroup all along: putting forward mild, moderate, sensible proposals, but when the deep establishment refused even to engage in negotiation, to disobey their commands and say no. The war cabinet had never understood this, but the body of humanity that filled Syntagma Square that night surely did.

That night the months of frustration, each terrible moment in Maximos, every disappointment along the way, all the nastiness and the stress had been wiped away, leaving nothing but contentment, and yet I was still not convinced that the no campaign would win the referendum. The demonstration suggested support for the cause had risen, but with the banks closed and the media screaming blue murder at anyone who even contemplated voting no, success looked unlikely.

Over dinner with Danae, Jamie and some other friends at an outdoor restaurant in the neighbourhood of Plaka, I was asked if Alexis and Euclid would resign were yes to win. ‘Alexis will form a coalition government with the opposition,’ I predicted, ‘after most of the true believers resign or are pushed.’ And I would be long gone by then, I said. But Jamie insisted I was wrong. No would win, he believed, and my leverage with Alexis would skyrocket, as I would have played a large part in delivering the result. Unconvinced, I nonetheless raised my glass to toast Jamie’s optimism. ‘¡Hasta la victoria siempre!’ he said with an intense and committed look – ‘To victory, always!’

Extract from ADULTS IN THE ROOM (Chapter 13), London: Penguin 2017/8

The post Square of hope and glory : On the 6th anniversary of the magnificent OXI rally at Syntagma Square appeared first on Yanis Varoufakis.

Direct Job Creation in Greece

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/04/2021 - 1:54am in

Senior Scholar Rania Antonopoulos recently participated in a webinar for the European Trade Union Institute, during which she discussed the rationale behind and experience with the implementation of the “Kinofelis” direct job creation program—a limited job guarantee for Greece. Watch her presentation below (accompanying slides are here).

The Levy Institute’s previous Strategic Analysis for Greece found that supplementing EU Recovery Funds with a more expansive job guarantee program (employing up to 300,000 people by 2022Q1) would help lift the Greek economy closer to its pre-pandemic growth trend.

Direct Job Creation in Greece

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/04/2021 - 1:54am in

Senior Scholar Rania Antonopoulos recently participated in a webinar for the European Trade Union Institute, during which she discussed the rationale behind and experience with the implementation of the “Kinofelis” direct job creation program—a limited job guarantee for Greece. Watch her presentation below (accompanying slides are here).

The Levy Institute’s previous Strategic Analysis for Greece found that supplementing EU Recovery Funds with a more expansive job guarantee program (employing up to 300,000 people by 2022Q1) would help lift the Greek economy closer to its pre-pandemic growth trend.

Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/02/2016 - 8:53am in

Motto: The EU will be democratised. Or it will disintegrate

Mission: TO DEMOCRATISE EUROPE!

A manifesto for democratising Europe

For all their concerns with global competitiveness, migration and terrorism, only one prospect truly terrifies the Powers of Europe: Democracy! They speak in democracy’s name but only to deny, exorcise and suppress it in practice. They seek to co-opt, evade, corrupt, mystify, usurp and manipulate democracy in order to break its energy and arrest its possibilities.

For rule by Europe’s peoples, government by the demos, is the shared nightmare of:

  • The Brussels bureaucracy (and its more than 10,000 lobbyists)
  • Its hit-squad inspectorates and the Troika they formed together with unelected ‘technocrats’ from other international and European institutions
  • The powerful Eurogroup that has no standing in law or treaty
  • Bailed out bankers, fund managers and resurgent oligarchies perpetually contemptuous of the multitudes and their organised expression
  • Political parties appealing to liberalism, democracy, freedom and solidarity to betray their most basic principles when in government
  • Governments that fuel cruel inequality by implementing self-defeating austerity
  • Media moguls who have turned fear-mongering into an art form, and a magnificent source of power and profit
  • Corporations in cahoots with secretive public agencies investing in the same fear to promote secrecy and a culture of surveillance that bend public opinion to their will.

The European Union was an exceptional achievement, bringing together in peace European peoples speaking different languages, submersed in different cultures, proving that it was possible to create a shared framework of human rights across a continent that was, not long ago, home to murderous chauvinism, racism and barbarity. The European Union could have been the proverbial Beacon on the Hill, showing the world how peace and solidarity may be snatched from the jaws of centuries-long conflict  and bigotry.

Alas, today, a common bureaucracy and a common currency divide European peoples that were beginning to unite despite our different languages and cultures. A confederacy of myopic politicians, economically naïve officials and financially incompetent ‘experts’ submit slavishly to the edicts of financial and industrial conglomerates, alienating Europeans and stirring up a dangerous anti-European backlash. Proud peoples are being turned against each other. Nationalism, extremism and racism are being re-awakened.

At the heart of our disintegrating EU there lies a guilty deceit: A highly political, top-down, opaque decision-making process is presented as ‘apolitical’, ‘technical’, ‘procedural’ and ‘neutral’. Its purpose is to prevent Europeans from exercising democratic control over their money, finance, working conditions and environment. The price of this deceit is not merely the end of democracy but also poor economic policies:

  • The Eurozone economies are being marched off the cliff of competitive austerity, resulting in permanent recession in the weaker countries and low investment in the core countries
  • EU member-states outside the Eurozone are alienated, seeking inspiration and partners in suspect quarters where they are most likely to be greeted with opaque, coercive free trade deals that undermine their sovereignty.
  • Unprecedented inequality, declining hope and misanthropy flourish throughout Europe

Two dreadful options dominate:

  • Retreat into the cocoon of our nation-states
  • Or surrender to the Brussels democracy-free zone

There must be another course. And there is!

It is the one official ‘Europe’ resists with every sinew of its authoritarian mind-set: A surge of democracy!

Our movement, DiEM25, seeks to call forth just such a surge. One simple, radical idea is the motivating force behind DiEM25:

Democratise Europe! For the EU will either be democratised or it will disintegrate!

Our goal to democratise Europe is realistic. It is no more utopian than the initial construction of the European Union was. Indeed, it is less utopian than the attempt to keep alive the current, anti-democratic, fragmenting European Union.

Our goal to democratise Europe is terribly urgent, for without a swift start it may be impossible to chisel away at the institutionalised resistance in good time, before Europe goes past the point of no return. We give it a decade, by 2025.

If we fail to democratise Europe within, at most, a decade; if Europe’s autocratic powers succeed in stifling democratisation, then the EU will crumble under its hubris, it will splinter, and its fall will cause untold hardship everywhere – not just in Europe.

WHY IS EUROPE LOSING ITS INTEGRITY AND ITS SOUL?

In the post-war decades during which the EU was initially constructed, national cultures were revitalised in a spirit of internationalism, disappearing borders, shared prosperity and raised standards that brought Europeans together. But, the serpent’s egg was at the heart of the integration process.

From an economic viewpoint, the EU began life as a cartel of heavy industry (later co-opting farm owners) determined to fix prices and to re-distribute oligopoly profits through its Brussels bureaucracy. The emergent cartel, and its Brussels-based administrators, feared the demos and despised the idea of government-by-the-people.

Patiently and methodically, a process of de-politicising decision-making was put in place, the result being a draining but relentless drive toward taking-the-demos-out-of-democracy and cloaking all policy-making in a pervasive pseudo-technocratic fatalism. National politicians were rewarded handsomely for their acquiescence to turning the Commission, the Council, the Ecofin, the Eurogroup and the ECB, into politics-free zones. Anyone opposing this process of de-politicisation was labelled ‘un-European’ and treated as a jarring dissonance.

Thus the deceit at the EU’s heart was born, yielding an institutional commitment to policies that generate depressing economic data and avoidable hardship. Meanwhile, simple principles that a more confident Europe once understood, have now been abandoned:

  • Rules should exist to serve Europeans, not the other way round
  • Currencies should be instruments, not ends-in-themselves
  • A single market is consistent with democracy only if it features common defences of the weaker Europeans, and of the environment, that are democratically chosen and built
  • Democracy cannot be a luxury afforded to creditors while refused to debtors
  • Democracy is essential for limiting capitalism’s worst, self-destructive drives and opening up a window onto new vistas of social harmony and sustainable development

In response to the inevitable failure of Europe’s cartelised social economy to rebound from the post-2008 Great Recession, the EU’s institutions that caused this failure have been resorting to escalating authoritarianism. The more they asphyxiate democracy, the less legitimate their political authority becomes, the stronger the forces of economic recession, and the greater their need for further authoritarianism. Thus the enemies of democracy gather renewed power while losing legitimacy and confining hope and prosperity to the very few (who may only enjoy it behind the gates and the fences needed to shield them from the rest of society).

This is the unseen process by which Europe’s crisis is turning our peoples inwards, against each other, amplifying pre-existing jingoism, xenophobia. The privatisation of anxiety, the fear of the ‘other’, the nationalisation of ambition, and the re-nationalisation of policy threaten a toxic disintegration of common interests from which Europe can only suffer. Europe’s pitiful reaction to its banking and debt crises, to the refugee crisis, to the need for a coherent foreign, migration and anti-terrorism policy, are all examples of what happens when solidarity loses its meaning:

  • The injury to Europe’s integrity caused by the crushing of the Athens Spring, and by the subsequent imposition of an economic ‘reform’ program that was designed to fail
  • The customary assumption that, whenever a state budget must be bolstered or a bank bailed out, society’s weakest must pay for the sins of the wealthiest rentiers
  • The constant drive to commodify labour and drive democracy out of the workplace
  • The scandalous ‘not in our backyard’ attitude of most EU member-states to the refugees landing on Europe’s shores, illustrating how a broken European governance model yields ethical decline and political paralysis, as well as evidence that xenophobia towards non-Europeans follows the demise of intra-European solidarity
  • The comical phrase we end up with when we put together the three words ‘European’, ‘foreign’ and ‘policy’
  • The ease with which European governments decided after the awful Paris attacks that the solution lies in re-erecting borders, when most of the attackers were EU citizens – yet another sign of the moral panic engulfing a European Union unable to unite Europeans to forge common responses to common problems.

What must be done? Our horizon

Realism demands that we work toward reaching milestones within a realistic timeframe. This is why DiEM25 will aim for four breakthroughs at regular intervals in order to bring about a fully democratic, functional Europe by 2025.

Now, today, Europeans are feeling let down by EU institutions everywhere. From Helsinki to Lisbon, from Dublin to Crete, from Leipzig to Aberdeen. Europeans sense that a stark choice is approaching fast. The choice between authentic democracy and insidious disintegration. We must resolve to unite to ensure that Europe makes the obvious choice: Authentic democracy!

When asked what we want, and when we want it, we reply: IMMEDIATELY: Full transparency in decision-making.

  • EU Council, Ecofin, FTT and Eurogroup Meetings to be live-streamed
  • Minutes of European Central Bank governing council meetings to be published a few weeks after the meetings have taken place
  • All documents pertinent to crucial negotiations (e.g. trade-TTIP, ‘bailout’ loans, Britain’s status) affecting every facet of European citizens’ future to be uploaded on the web
  • A compulsory register for lobbyists that includes their clients’ names, their remuneration, and a record of meetings with officials (both elected and unelected)

WITHIN TWELVE MONTHS: Address the on-going economic crisis utilising existing institutions and within existing EU Treaties

Europe’s immediate crisis is unfolding simultaneously in five realms:

  • Public debt
  • Banking
  • Inadequate Investment, and
  • Migration
  • Rising Poverty

All five realms are currently left in the hands of national governments powerless to act upon them. DiEM25 will present detailed policy proposals to Europeanise all five while limiting Brussels’ discretionary powers and returning power to national Parliaments, to regional councils, to city halls and to communities. The proposed policies will be aimed at re-deploying existing institutions (through a creative re-interpretation of existing treaties and charters) in order to stabilise the crises of public debt, banking, inadequate investment, and rising poverty.

WITHIN TWO YEARS: Constitutional Assembly

The people of Europe have a right to consider the union’s future and a duty to transform Europe (by 2025) into a full-fledged democracy with a sovereign Parliament respecting national self-determination and sharing power with national Parliaments, regional assemblies and municipal councils.

To do this, an Assembly of their representatives must be convened. DiEM25 will promote a Constitutional Assembly consisting of representatives elected on trans-national tickets. Today, when universities apply  to Brussels for research funding, they must form alliances across nations. Similarly, election to the Constitutional Assembly should require tickets featuring candidates from a majority of European countries. The resulting Constitutional Assembly will be empowered to decide on a future democratic constitution  that will replace all existing European Treaties within a decade.

BY 2025: Enactment of the decisions of the Constitutional Assembly

Who will bring change?

We, the peoples of Europe, have a duty to regain control over our Europe from unaccountable ‘technocrats’, complicit politicians and shadowy institutions.

We come from every part of the continent and are united by different cultures, languages, accents, political party affiliations, ideologies, skin colours, gender identities, faiths and conceptions of the good society.

We are forming DiEM25 intent on moving from a Europe of ‘We the Governments’, and ‘We the Technocrats’, to a Europe of ‘We, the peoples of Europe’.

Our four principles:

  • No European people can be free as long as another’s democracy is violated
  • No European people can live in dignity as long as another is denied it
  • No European people can hope for prosperity if another is pushed into permanent insolvency and depression
  • No European people can grow without basic goods for its weakest citizens, human development, ecological balance and a determination to become fossil-fuel free in a world that changes its ways – not the planet’s climate

We join in a magnificent tradition of fellow Europeans who have struggled for centuries against the ‘wisdom’ that democracy is a luxury and that the weak must suffer what they must.

With our hearts, minds and wills dedicated to these commitments, and determined to make a difference, we declare that.

Our pledge

We call on our fellow Europeans to join us forthwith to create the European movement which we call DiEM25.

  • To fight together, against a European establishment deeply contemptuous of democracy, to democratise the European Union
  • To end the reduction of all political relations into relations of power masquerading as merely technical decisions
  • To subject the EU’s bureaucracy to the will of sovereign European peoples
  • To dismantle the habitual domination of corporate power over the will of citizens
  • To re-politicise the rules that govern our single market and common currency

We consider the model of national parties which form flimsy alliances at the level of the European Parliament to be obsolete. While the fight for democracy-from below (at the local, regional or national levels) is necessary, it is nevertheless insufficient if it is conducted without an internationalist strategy toward a pan-European coalition for democratising Europe. European democrats must come together first, forge a common agenda, and then find ways of connecting it with local communities and at the regional and national level.

Our overarching aim to democratise the European Union is intertwined with an ambition to promote self-government (economic, political and social) at the local, municipal, regional and national levels; to throw open the corridors of power to the public; to embrace social and civic movements; and to emancipate all levels of government from bureaucratic and corporate power.

We are inspired by a Europe of Reason, Liberty, Tolerance and Imagination made possible by comprehensive Transparency, real Solidarity and authentic Democracy.

We aspire to:

  • A Democratic Europe in which all political authority stems from Europe’s sovereign peoples
  • A Transparent Europe where all decision-making takes place under the citizens’ scrutiny
  • A United Europe whose citizens have as much in common across nations as within them
  • A Realistic Europe that sets itself the task of radical, yet achievable, democratic reforms
  • A Decentralised Europe that uses central power to maximise democracy in workplaces, towns, cities, regions and states
  • A Pluralist Europe of regions, ethnicities, faiths, nations, languages and cultures
  • An Egalitarian Europe that celebrates difference and ends discrimination based on gender, skin colour, social class or sexual orientation
  • A Cultured Europe that harnesses its people’s cultural diversity and promotes not only its invaluable heritage but also the work of Europe’s dissident artists, musicians, writers and poets
  • A Social Europe that recognises that liberty necessitates not only freedom from interference but also the basic goods that render one free from need and exploitation
  • A Productive Europe that directs investment into a shared, green prosperity
  • A Sustainable Europe that lives within the planet’s means, minimising its environmental impact, and leaving as much fossil fuel in the earth
  • An Ecological Europe engaged in genuine world-wide green transition
  • A Creative Europe that releases the innovative powers of its citizens’ imagination
  • A Technological Europe pressing new technologies in the service of solidarity
  • A Historically-minded Europe that seeks a bright future without hiding from its past
  • An Internationalist Europe that treats non-Europeans as ends-in-themselves
  • A Peaceful Europe de-escalating tensions in its East and in the Mediterranean, acting as a bulwark against the sirens of militarism and expansionism
  • An Open Europe that is alive to ideas, people and inspiration from all over the world, recognising fences and borders as signs of weakness spreading insecurity in the name of security
  • A Liberated Europe where privilege, prejudice, deprivation and the threat of violence wither, allowing Europeans to be born into fewer stereotypical roles, to enjoy even chances to develop their potential, and to be free to choose more of their partners in life, work and society.

Carpe DiEM25

www.diem25.org

Diem25ii

Greece: signs of growth come as austerity eases | Mark Weisbrot

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/01/2014 - 10:36pm in

The IMF's austerity plan hasn't worked. Greece's possible recovery is down to a construction programme boosting the economy

It was nearly four years ago that the Greek government negotiated its agreement with the IMF for a harsh austerity programme that was ostensibly designed to resolve its budget problems. Many economists, when we saw the plan, knew immediately that Greece was beginning a long journey into darkness that would last for many years. This was not because the Greek government had lived beyond its means or lied about its fiscal deficit. These things could have been corrected without going through six or more years of recession. It was because of the "solution" itself.

Four years later, Greece is down by about a quarter of its pre-recession national income – one of the worst outcomes of a financial crisis in the past century, comparable to the worst downturn of the US's Great Depression. Unemployment has passed 27% and more than 58% for young people (under 25). There are fewer Greeks employed than there have been at any time in the past 33 years. And real public healthcare spending has been cut by more than 40%, at a time when people need the public health system more than ever.

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