Learning from the Greek ‘Betrayal’

Europe’s defenders of neoliberal economics — favoring the market interests of wealthy elites over the social needs of average people — marshaled their forces to crush the Greek challenge to “austerity,” with Greek Prime Minister Tsipras betraying his supporters, John Pilger told Dennis J Bernstein.

By Dennis J Bernstein

Filmmaker and columnist John Pilger sees the capitulation of Greece’s Syriza leadership to German-led demands for more austerity on the Greek people — in exchange for a new bank bailout — as a “betrayal.”

Pilger, who spoke late last week with Pacifica’s Flashpoints host Dennis J Bernstein, also called the Greek situation a moment of bracing clarity for activists confronting the powerful political forces arrayed against popular movements..

Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's Syriza party. (Photo credit: FrangiscoDer)

Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s Syriza party. (Photo credit: FrangiscoDer)

DB: What is your overview of what happened in Greece?

JP: Greece is important, obviously, for the Greek people, because they have suffered so much. But it’s also important for all of us because here was a government that promoted itself and was accepted, to a large degree, as different — dare I say radical — but different. It was going to take on these autocratic forces in Europe that have built this fortress of extreme capitalism. I repeat — extreme capitalism.

The neo-liberalism in the heart of the European Union is an extreme version. They were challenging that. They were saying, yes, we have debts, but the super wealthy in Greece incurred the debts. All of them were good neoliberals. The ordinary Greek taxpayer didn’t incur these debts and the debts of the Greek parliament are odious, illegitimate and illegal. This is not the Victorian times, or debtor prison times. The country is not going to be put in prison.

This is the platform that the Syriza government campaigned on. They not only campaigned on it, but then they held a referendum less than two weeks ago where a majority of the Greek people clearly voted against doing any kind of austerity deal. They’ve been betrayed. Lessons must be learned from this.

DB: What does this betrayal look like? It looked like a dramatic, profound and troubling…

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