By Amitabh Pal on June 16, 2011

The global austerity agenda is encountering a hurdle in Greece: The Greek people aren’t prepared to put up with forced deprivation.

In order to have loans to foreign creditors made good, international institutions, led by the European Union, are demanding ever-harsher assaults on Greek society. But the Greek people have fought back, protesting in huge numbers and causing the near collapse of the Greek government, which has been too willing to go along with creditors’ demands.

These are not just “the usual people that have been participating until now; they are people that have never been in the streets before,” Hara Kouki, a Greek doctoral student, told Amy Goodman. “For the last three weeks, we have had half a million people gathered in the square.”

Certainly, the Greek economy has a lot of structural problems that have caused things to come to this juncture. But the dark side of globalization has added to the country’s woes. The New York Times revealed last year that Goldman Sachs colluded with the Greek government to hide the size of Greece’s debt burden.

And once the country’s troubles began, speculators swarmed in, betting that the government would not be able to make good on its debt and pressuring it to make even more drastic cuts in social spending.

What is the best way out of this impasse?

Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, an astute commentator on global economics, has the right idea: Greece should exit the Euro and let the creditors take a haircut.

“A threat by Greece to jettison the Euro is long overdue, and it should be prepared to carry it out,” writes Weisbrot in the New York Times, contrasting the recent experience of Greece with that of Argentina, which resumed high growth rates after removing the peso’s attachment to the dollar and defaulting on its foreign debt. “As much as the move might cost Greece in the short term, it is very unlikely that such costs would be greater than the many years of recession, stagnation and high unemployment that the European authorities are offering.”

The Greek government needs to put its people ahead of the international investing class. By doing so, it could serve as a role model for Europe and beyond.

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "U.S. Still Relies on Nuclear Weapons."

Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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