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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter

July 3, 2015

This week: Greece, Debt, and Crises

Our spotlight this issue is on the debt crisis facing Greece. To understand the crisis, one has to look beyond the mainstream media to alternative sources of information. We’ve done that, with articles that set out to analyze the nature of the debt burden that has been imposed on the citizens of so many countries, not just Greece.

As several of our featured authors point out, many of these debts fit the definition of ‘odious debts’, that is, debts that were arranged between corrupt lenders (banks) and corrupt borrowers (rich oligarchs), without the knowledge of the people in whose names the debts were incurred. The ordinary citizens of Greece (and other countries) never saw the money loaned to ‘Greece’ and derived no benefit from it. Yet they are expected to suffer the elimination of their jobs, wages, pensions, health and social services, etc., in order to repay the money looted by the oligarchs. Paul Craig Roberts and Tariq Ali point out that this kind of debt is a tool used to crush hopes and movements for change. An article from Solidarity argues that the only solution for Greece is to repudiate the debt and leave the Eurozone.

We also commemorate birthday of the American revolutionary Grace Lee Boggs, who turned 100 on June 27. Her early accomplishments include translating Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 into English for the first time. In the 1950s, she, along with C.L.R. James and Cornelius Castoriadis, co-authored Facing Reality, a key work which laid the groundwork for new radical Marxist movements which rejected the concept of the Leninist vanguard party. Later, she devoted herself to the civil rights and black power movements. Her activism led the FBI to label her one of the most dangerous black radicals in the U.S.A. – an unusual distinction for someone whose parents were both Chinese-Americans. Still later, she devoted herself to community organizing in Detroit, where she still lives, always insisting that while organizing should be locally based, the ultimate goal of organizing has to be revolution.

As always, we invite you to share this newsletter with your friends. You can forward this email, or send them the link to the Other Voices home page on the Connexions website at /Media/CxNewsletter.htm.

Topics of the Week: Greece and Debt

This issue we’re featuring two topics of the week:
Greece and Debt.

The Greece page in the subject index has a number of excellent articles analyzing the history and context of the Greek crisis over the past half-decade, as well as resources about Greek social movements and struggles and Greek history. You’ll find information and analysis that you won’t find in the mainstream media.

The Debt page has resources on debt ranging from the current debt burdens imposed on the countries of the global South and the industrialized countries, through the anti-debt campaigns of the 1990s, and reaching all the way back to the history of debt. In addition to the main Debt page in the Connexions subject index, you might also want to explore related topic pages such as Odious Debts and International Debt Crisis.

This Week on Connexions.org

Wall Street and the Greek Financial Crisis

Michael Hudson and Bill Black zero in on some of the key elements of the crisis. They point out that it is not really ‘Greece’, let alone the Greek people, who have contracted this debt and who have been bailed out until now. Any money that is loaned to ‘Greece’ moves in a circle, from the international financial institutions (European Central Bank, European Commission, and IMF) to the Greek banks, and then to the foreign creditors (banks and hedge funds). Hudson argues that these debts should be treated as ‘odious debts’, meaning that they were not legitimately contracted and shouldn’t be repaid. Read More

Keywords: Bailing out the Rich - Odious Debts

An Alternative for SYRIZA

Countries integrated in the globalized economy clearly have almost zero degrees of freedom. The more attached they are to globalizing institutions, the more distant the potential of escaping the grasp of neoliberalism becomes. In Europe, the dominant institution of global capitalism is no other than the EU. Therefore, it becomes crystal clear that in order to regain sovereignty, a country has to exit not only the EZ, if a member, but the EU itself.

Issue a national currency, and immediately impose unilateral debt write-off. Liberated from the noose of the EU treaties and regulations, Greek people will have the freedom to follow a sovereign monetary and fiscal policy and form trade and international alliances to the best of their interests. Pressured by the people, the government will be able to increase and reprioritize public spending so as to effectively and rapidly fight unemployment, to control capital movement and achieve redistribution of wealth through taxation, to enhance and reconstruct domestic production, to strengthen democracy, transparency, and social control of all aspects of public life. Read More

Keywords: Euro (Currency) - European Union

Greece again Can Save the West

According to Paul Craig Roberts, “The ‘Greek crisis’ is not about debt. Debt is the propaganda that the Empire is using to subdue sovereignty throughout the Western world.” “The German, French, and Dutch governments together with Washington and the western financial system have come down in favor of looting. For a country to be looted, its people’s voice must be silenced. This is why the Germans and the EU object to the Greek government handing the ability to decide the future of Greece to the Greek people.

In other words, in the West today, the sovereignty of peoples and accountability of governments are inconsistent with the financial interests of the One Percent who control the financial and political order. To conclude: If democracy can be destroyed in Greece, it can be destroyed throughout Europe.” Read More

Keywords: Capitalist Crises - U.S. Imperialism

Greece and the Future of European Democracy

Tariq Ali says that the EU could write off the Greek debt if it chose to, but refuses to do so because they want to punish Greece for electing a left-wing government. They want to use Greece as an example so that the citizens of other countries, like Spain and Portugal, won’t be tempted to elect left-wing governments. Ali says that Syriza’s best option is to say “No, this is not a debt which has been incurred by the Greek people. This is a debt incurred by the elite” and refuse to pay. Read More

Keywords: Financial Crises - Greece

Pope’s statement on environment and exploitation: Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on the Care for our Common Home

“The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation.” Read More

Keywords: Environment - Environmental Stewardship

Orwell’s Triumph: How Novels Tell the Truth of Surveillance

Novels may be the best medium for describing a dystopian world in which everyone is under constant surveillance. Read More

Keywords: Police State - Surveillance

People’s History

Detroit celebrates Grace Lee Boggs’ 100th birthday

A weeklong celebration of the life of Grace Lee Boggs, culminating in an anti-violence march. Read More

Social Activist Grace Lee Boggs on Shaking Up the Status Quo in America

An interview with Grace Lee Boggs, ranging widely from her views on the difference between riots, rebellion, and revolution, to effective organizing, to the importance of gardens. Read More

From the Archives

Close the IMF, Abolish Debt and End Development: A Class Analysis of the International Debt Crisis, by Harry Cleaver

Writing in the 1990s, Harry Cleaver argues that the imposition of debt is a form of class struggle, and so is the resistance to debt. Read More

Keywords: Class Struggle - Debt

Jubilee 2000, by Noam Chomsky

Chomsky says that debt is a social and ideological construct, not a simple economic fact. Furthermore, as understood long ago, liberalization of capital flow serves as a powerful weapon against social justice and democracy. Recent policy decisions are choices by the powerful, based on perceived self-interest, not mysterious "economic laws." Read More

Keywords: International Debt Crisis - Odious Debts


The Theology of Consensus

L.A. Kaufman says that consensus decision-making has dominated social movements for forty years – and failed over and over and over again. She argues it’s time to adopt forms of democratic decision-making that actually work and that serve to energize people rather than drive them away. Read More

Keywords: Consensus decision-making - Tyranny of the Minority

Website of the Week: International Forum on Globalization

A North-South research and educational institution composed of activists, economists, scholars, and researchers providing analysis and critiques on the cultural, social, political, and environmental impacts of economic globalization.

Keywords: Global Climate Change - Globalization

Book of the Week: Business as Usual: The Economic Crisis and the Future of Capitalism By Paul Mattick Jr.

In Business as Usual Paul Mattick explains the recession in jargon-free style, without shying away from serious analysis. He explores current events in relation to the development of the world economy since the Second World War and, more fundamentally, looks at the cycle of crisis and recovery that has characterized capitalism since the early nineteenth century. Mattick situates today’s crisis in the context of a capitalism ruled by a voracious quest for profit.

Keywords: Capitalist Crises - Economic Crises

Film of the Week: American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

A documentary about the ideas and activism of Grace Lee Boggs, covering her lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century; from labour to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond. Boggs’s constantly evolving strategy - her willingness to re-evaluate and change tactics in relation to the world shifting around her - drives the story forward.

Official website: http://americanrevolutionaryfilm.com/

Keywords: Activism - Social Change

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Connexions Calendar

July 5, 2015

International Day of Cooperatives


July 11, 2015

World Population Day


July15, 2015

5th International Conference on Environmental Pollution and Remediation

Barcelona, Spain

Toronto, Canada

The Connexions Calendar is an online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password.

Read more →

Seeds of Fire

July 2, 1809

Tecumseh calls for resistance: Alarmed by the growing encroachment of whites squatting on Native American lands, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh issues a call to all Indians to unite and resist. By 1810, he has organized the Ohio Valley Confederacy, which unites Indians from the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Winnebago, Menominee, Ottawa, and Wyandotte nations. For several years, Tecumseh’s Indian Confederacy successfully delays further white settlement in the region.

July 5, 1857

Birth of Clara Zetkin: Birth of Clara Zetkin (1857-1933), a German Marxist and leading activist in the socialist women’s movement and the labour movement. In August 1910, at a meeting of an International Women’s Conference preceding a meeting of the Socialist International, Zetkin proposes the establishment of an International Women’s Day. The proposal is accepted and the following year, on 18 March, 1911, IWD is marked for the first time, by over one million people. Zetkin breaks with the SPD over its support for the German state in the First World War, and is arrested several times for her anti-war activism. She is among the founders of the anti-war Independent Socialist Party in 1917, and of the Spactacist League in 1918. When Hitler takes power, Zetkin goes into exile, and dies a few months later at the age of 75

July 6, 1919

Institute for Sexualwissenschaft: The Institut fär Sexualwissenschaft is founded in Berlin by Magnus Hirschfeld. It continues its work until May 6, 1933, when the Institute and its libraries of thousands of books are destroyed by the Nazis.

July 6, 1944

Irene Morgan kicks sheriff in the balls: Irene Morgan, a 28-year-old black woman, is arrested in Virginia for refusing to give up her seat on an interstate bus to a white person. The driver stops the bus and summons the sheriff, who tries to arrest Morgan; she responds by kicking the sheriff in the balls. Morgan’s subsequent conviction for violating segregation laws (Jim Crow laws) is eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, in a decision striking down state laws requiring segregation in interstate transportation.

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Thanks to Ulli Diemer and Darien Yawching Rickwood for their work on this newsletter.


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