Monday, March 16, 2015

Views Of A "Man Of The Left"

Manos Matsaganis describes himself as a 'man of the left'. He fells that there are several things about the rise of SYRIZA that absolutely terrify him. A very interesting article with a wonderful conclusion:

"What worries me is that the revival of the European project requires citizens who feel proud to be European as well as Greek, German etc. Instead, a key development of recent years is growing mutual incomprehension, at times verging on outright hostility, between Greeks and Germans (and other Europeans). It would have been nice if Greeks accepted responsibility for the disconnect between rising living standards and deteriorating economic performance pre-crisis, of which the fiscal deficit was only one manifestation. And it would also have been nice if other Europeans accepted that the Greek bailout was (at least partly) a bailout of German and French banks, who had been unwise enough to throw huge amounts of money into loans to Greeks (and other south Europeans). As we all know, none of this happened. Greeks went into denial, and Germans reverted to the moralistic finger-pointing which eventually proved so successful in paving the way for the rise of anti-establishment / anti-EU forces in Greece and elsewhere.

And this could well turn out to be the greatest political failure of all".


  1. A very good article indeed.

    For anyone who has the time here is longer text Matsaganis wrote together with Doxiadis in 2012:

    They analyse the troubling rise of Greek national populism and xenophobia in parties like Independent Greeks, Golden Dawn and SYRIZA. In one section they describe the emergence of "charlatan economics" based on extreme anti-capitalism and various conspiracy theories, which rapidly took hold on popular imaginations.

    I think everyone of us who has tried to discuss politics with Geek people in Greece has also had the experience that the discussion soon was dominated by quite bizarre interpretations of what was doing on.

    For those able to read German, there was an interesting article in Die Zeit yesterday:

    It traces the intellectual roots of SYRIZA back to radical leftist universities in the UK. Varoufakis, Rena Dourou, Fotini Vaki, Giannis Dragasakis, Giorgos Stathakis, Euclid Tsakallotos, and CostasLapavitsas have all been there, and developed the theoretical foundations and programmes for the politics of the current government under the influence of Marxist writers like Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe and Nicos Poulantzas.

  2. The more I read about the subject "Greece", the more I notice that as many people there are, as many opinions about Greece and reasons exist.

    I notice that there can be similarities in thinking, also contradictions, but what surprises me is, that nobody saw, realized, what Syriza represented, in time.
    All the shocks that have been created after their election, were obviously needed to wake up people. But all was already clear before the elections.

    All what is reality now was already foretold by my own Greek source, a person who has excellent ears, and can calculate not only with figures, also with common sense.
    He has really suffered a lot (Greeks stay Greeks, even when living abroad), was often completely sick of Syriza, really heavy emotional, during a long time of listening to what Tsipras and others of his party had to say, to shout, to contribute to hate speech, to lies, false accusations, to dreams that never can be realized.

    It surprises me that even the author of the recommended article, a professor, who really watches deeper than the surface, as I sense when reading, needed such a long time before writing this.
    The question is indeed how it could happen that Syriza's popularity grew so explosively, but isn't the reason then the lack of reality, the not being able to think really, constantly, constantly being awake, alert, as is usual in "western" Europe?

    Isn't this the same problem as where I tried to talk about in my comments of yesterday, that on Greek schools people do not learn to think, but to copy and paste, to accept what is in the books as true, without any discussion?

    I did not agree with Europe's help to Greece, not because I am without any empathy, or willing to help, but because my own amateur but excellent working knowing was and is that it does not help to help others with money when they do not have learned to use money in the right way.

    The lack of reality, where indeed also the author talks about, the Greek's wish to buy more while having lesser money, is again a part of being in a state of dreaming, without willing to wake up. Syriza kept them in the dream. Syriza was going to realize it. They believed it. Greeks have learned to believe all and everything because of a failing school system. Children were (are?) often punished via terror, psychological terror, and even corporal punishments. That kills something inside, the own free will to think, and selftrust. It awakens also something: hatred.

    All school systems, world wide, are failing. But in the western part of Europe we have at least discussion panels with extremely high quality journalists and they educate us, how to think, deeper, because they think deeper, and take us with them in their own thinking process.

    In Greece Mega (TV) rules, and Mega is pro Syriza. Not any Greek journalist can be compared with western journalists, who work in TV specials, documentaries, etc, and have the intelligence to ask, deeper, deeper, to the bottom. No matter who. And: there are rules in "debating", in discussing.

    Important part is to listen to a question, and to wait till the question is complete. In Greece one answers already after some words, without knowing the full question. NOBODY listens. Where is the cause of this problem? On schools. In families. Children learn not to listen anymore, apathy is normal and explained as well educated. They grew up, and could finally find the space to talk. Endlessly. Without listening to others, doing the same with their children. This vicious circle has to be broken to create progress.

    1. "In Greece Mega (TV) rules, and Mega is pro Syriza."

      LOL, another "fact" about Greece by Ms. Antoinette Janssen. Please, anybody, do your own research and take with a giant grain of salt this lady's comments. It's only been a month since Mega "became" pro-Syriza, but no one forgets their role during the former years.

      Oh, and Mr. Matsaganis can describe himself however he wants, but he used to work as an adviser (1998-2001) to the Simitis' government and he was a candidate for DIMAR (a coalition partner of Samaras' government) in 2012. So I wouldn't call him exactly "a man of the Left".

    2. PASOK and DIMAR not left?!

      Only in Greece..

  3. here is a nice article for all....


  4. Herr Kastner,

    You must understand a simple notion in Greece. For practical and demagogic purposes, anything from PASOK and to the left of it, in Greece is considered "leftist". Anything from New Democracy and to its right is considered "right". The center is torn between them.

    A PASOK voter, for 30 years could qualify as being "man of the left". But make no mistake. The "man of the left Matsaganis" (economic advisor to Simitis as mentioned above) with the "man of the left Tsipras" and the "man of the left Lafazanis" or the "man of the left Koutsoumbas" are very far apart from each other. Matsaganis was candidate with Dimar, which i remind you was part of the Papademos goverment. Dimar in reality had no particular reason to exist outside PASOK, which is why it is effectively dead now.

    So, please, call him what you want, but don't believe he is anything related to SYRIZA...

  5. Read carefully the numbers and then think PEOPLE. Not Greeks, Germans, Spanish etc. Think human beings. If there is humanity in you...

    It is a common belief that the Greek government is seeking special treatment relative to other stressed eurozone members. We are not; we are seeking equal treatment.
    Since the onset of the crisis, our economy has shrunk 26 per cent; unemployment has risen from 8 to 26 per cent; and wages have declined 33 per cent. These outcomes are worse than those experienced by any country during the 1930s and far worse than those projected under the two Greek adjustment programmes. This is why the Greek government has criticised these programmes.
    Our fiscal adjustment has been larger than in other countries. Since 2009, spending cuts and tax increases amounting to more than 45 per cent of household disposable income have been implemented. In Portugal it was 20 per cent; in Italy and Ireland 15 per cent.
    Not only have the fiscal measures been larger, but for each percentage point of consolidation, the economy has contracted more. This is because the Greek economy is less open than others; any decline in demand hits domestically produced goods more than imports. Successive rounds of austerity exacerbated the contraction in gross domestic product. And with that the ratio of debt-to-GDP rises, making debt dynamics unmanageable. Greece is borrowing ever more to pay back earlier debts.
    We entered the crisis with a large external deficit. With inflation close to zero, the cuts in relative prices required to lift competitiveness came at a high cost for stressed eurozone countries. Output had to contract, generating deflation and worsening the debt dynamics. Large debts are hard to stabilise when deflation increases the real value of debt. In the 1920s, the UK ran large primary fiscal surpluses, yet deflation increased its debt-to-GDP ratio.
    While the crisis has made matters worse for Greece and others, it has had unintended — but positive — consequences for “core” eurozone countries. Germany and others have benefited from exchange and interest rates that are lower than they would have faced had they still had their own currencies.
    The European Central Bank’s securities market purchase programme aimed to reduce the cost of borrowing of stressed countries by buying their sovereign debt. It also essentially eliminated the Greek debt held by banks in the core. Greek banks, however, continued to hold large amounts of that debt and the cost of restructuring had to be paid by the Greek taxpayer.
    Capital flows from stressed countries have drained liquidity from their banking systems while increasing the lending capacity of the banks in the core. The exodus of skilled labour has diminished the productive capacity of the stressed countries. The effects of this will take a generation or more to reverse.
    The euro’s progenitors envisaged a monetary union resembling the classical gold standard, under which adjustment between countries with external surpluses and those with external deficits was symmetric. Under the euro, the burden of adjustment rests on deficit countries. Between 2008 and 2014, the external balances of the stressed countries have swung from huge deficits to surpluses. The external surpluses of the core are unchanged.
    As a result, the country is in a position like that of Sisyphus — a man condemned to roll a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll down again. Greeks have implemented austerity and have suffered much more than expected. Many of the 60 per cent of young people out of work will one day be reclassified as long-term unemployed. We risk condemning an entire generation to a future without hope. To avoid that, what we ask from our eurozone partners is to treat Greece as an equal and help us escape from this Sisyphean trap.

    1. well put...


    2. Greece is not being treated equally with other EU partners; Greece is being treated far better! No other country has 80%+ of its debt with official lenders who offer phenomenal conditions like average tenors over 30 years, rates close to zero and interest moratorium until, I believe, 2023.

      Other EU partners are treating the EU far better than Greece does, not only since SYRIZA. Have you ever thought why it is that Greece has been on frontpages for 5 years now whereas one has heard comparatively little about Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, etc.? Just today an IMF comment was leaked where they said that Greece is their most unhelpful client ever in its 70-year history. There is a cause-and-effect relationship between being unhelpful and not getting enough support.

      The issue about the 25% GDP-decline is "soap" in my opinion. You have to consider what you are comparing with. Greece's GDP in 2009 was totally inflated by over 30 BEUR in annual net inflows of funds from abroad. That GDP could have only been upheld if 30 BEUR would have continued to flow anually into Greece. The further you blow up a balloon, the greater the exhaust when it explodes.

      I agree that Greece's fiscal adjustment has been phenomenal and larger than anything the world had seen before. But I am not sure whether the world had seen before the kind of financial madness which Greece excesses during the 2000s.

      I really have to chuckle when I read (and hear daily from Alexis Tsipras) that austerity has been imposed on Greece. There is some basic lack of understanding. No one stopped funding Greece's budget deficit. All they said was we don't want to send as much money to you as before, so you have to act accordingly with the deficit. From 2010-12, 'only' 41 BEUR out of the 247 BEUR in 'rescue loans' stayed in Greece. That was Greece's austerity!!! Had the EU sent 82 BEUR instead of 41 BEUR, there would have been less austerity but the EU didn't want to. The plan was built around the preparedness to lend money and not the other way around.

      Since the beginning of the crisis, the Euro has depreciated about 40% against third currencies. Greece, at the same time, has become cheaper. So someone needs to explain to me how Greece has taken advantage of such enormous opportunties.

      Bottom-line: the program was never a 'Greek program'. Papandreou had a way of saying that this was imposed by the creditors. Failure is only the natural consequences if those who should feel like the 'owners' of a program become its critics. Too bad Papandrou didn't have Tsipras on his side back in 2010. Then he would have learned how one can transform 'their' program into 'our' program.

    3. Just want to point out that comment above by Anonymous 1.53 PM is a copy/paste of Dragasakis, Varoufakis and Tsakalotos recent opinion piece in


  6. Just wondering how Manos Matsaganis would comment the latest development described at

    If that information is true then the truly hard confrontation is scheduled for the real near future.