« Previous | Main | Next »


Post categories:

Adam Curtis | 18:00 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

In the present crisis over Greece there is a furious argument about whether the Greek people should be allowed to vote on the proposed solution. Many of the voices against this come from the world of finance and economics. They say that the crisis is too dangerous to leave to the will of the people.

I just wanted to show why some Greek politicians - and especially George Papandreou, even though he may have retreated from a referendum - might think it important to allow the people a voice.

I have discovered a film in the archives that dramatically tells you why. It was made in 1974 and is an engrossing history of the Colonels' coup in Greece in 1967 - and what life was then like for the Greek people under the military dictatorship that held power for seven years.

As you watch it you realise, given what the Greeks have been through, it is no wonder that politicians, especially Papandreou, think the mandate of the people is important.

The present language of the finance technocrats, and their supporters in the media, portray the Greek people as just another group of lazy southern Europeans who have fed too long at the trough of state money. A bit like us - but more crap.

What is forgotten is that from 1967 to 1974 the Greek people lived under a harsh and violent dictatorship that tortured and murdered thousands of ordinary people. The Colonels also corrupted the society by handing out vast loans to individuals in towns and villages across the country - to buy their loyalty. At the same time the repression and torture bred a powerful resistance that finally burst out in incredible bravery in 1973.

This is the strange and twisted society that the present Prime Minister's father, Andreas Papandreou, inherited when he became the newly elected leader in 1981. He was faced by the task of rebuilding the peoples' trust in democracy and the state. Partly he did it through state spending - and in that policy lie many of the roots of today's crisis.

The discussion of Greece today in the press and the political offices of Europe is almost completely ahistorical - everything is couched in utilitarian terms of economic management. I just think it is important to put the present crisis in a wider historical context. Above all the extraordinary history of the military dictatorship and the savage effects it had on the whole of Greek society.


First - here is a short compilation of some of the best bits of the news coverage from the time.

Back in 1965 Mr Papandreou's grandfather, who was also called George, was the Prime Minister - leading the progressive Centre Union Party. Young right-wing officers in the military became increasingly concerned about the influence of George's son, Andreas who they saw as a dangerous leftist.

The officers were convinced that Andreas wanted to remove Greece from its frontline role in the Cold War - they believed this would open the door to communists. For eighteen months there was political chaos. Then new elections were scheduled for May 1967 - which George Snr. was certain to win.

So, on the 21st of April, the officers mounted a coup. They used a NATO plan for neutralizing a communist uprising in the event of a Soviet invasion.

The news coverage starts with a wonderful piece of reporting by the Panorama reporter John Morgan at the first press conference held by the officers after the coup. Then there are sections from other reports that both give a brilliant sense of the absurdity of the military men who now took control of the country, but also of the total fear they induced. I have included some vox pops taken by a crew inside the country in 1972.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Here is the film about life under the Colonels. It is called Greece - The Seven Black Years. It was made in 1974 - and broadcast in early 1975.

Its commentary is very much of its time - but the film has a power both in the details and in the way it is made. It shows that along with the terrible torture, the Colonels exercised control through financial means - or what one villager calls "the big money".

The film starts with these details and some great interviewees, and then builds to a very moving climax with the students who took over the Athens Technical University in November 1973 and stood against the military might of the Junta. There is extraordinary film of what then happened - and it also tells you a lot about the radicalisation of many of the Greek people today, and how important democracy is to them in the face of unelected elites who try and control them and their society. A belief in democracy born out of struggle - something that we may have forgotten.

But history also shows that coups don't always happen because of a power-hungry military. The Times pointed out today that the cuts being demanded of Greece are on a scale similar to the reparations imposed on Germany by the victors at Versailles in 1919. And look what that did to the belief in democracy.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


  • Comment number 1.

    This is terrific, cheers.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just to follow on from your last sentence, the power of Nightmares applies to more than one country. I think the average German has good reason to be terrified of the dilution of their currency.

    The Euro has in many ways been a sort of Socialist dream. At the heart of it is the notion that the wealth of *rich* countries can somehow be shared with those not so wealthy, even if only by allowing those *poor* countries to obtain loans at very low rates of interest.

    Back in the Cold War days the socialist nightmare we all used to be afraid of was the loss of democracy. You have just seen the terror democracy strikes into the heart of the Euro dream. Join the dots.

  • Comment number 3.

    Remember London with the refugees from the coup and their tales of horror. Then I remember an artist friend. She had said something wrong but she was American and found herself tortured. Her living body came back from Athens but her mind was gone. Most Americans cannot understand the consequences of American meddling. Many Greeks spit when one mentions Germans, the Resistance never forgets.

  • Comment number 4.

    "You know the saying, that ... when its wonderful to know that when the doorbell rings at seven o'clock in the morning, it's the milkman."

    That sentence alone speaks volumes.

    That Panorama piece was golden. I'll bet John Morgan wasn't very popular with the colonels. The bit at the end with several (one painfully beautiful, please allow me to say) people dodging questions about the junta is especially gripping.

    Thanks, Adam, for continuing to haunt the BBC archive, and to present not only the past, but the present, in such a straight up fashion. I can't get enough of this.

  • Comment number 5.

    It is an absurd idea, as Moor Larkin suggests, that the Euro is a socialist project.

    The market is king, here. Greece is trying to make decisions according to the dictates of her citizens and not the market.

    This is a crisis of capital, and a crisis brought about by unregulated capitalism.

    Germany and France are acting in the defensive of *capital.* Of course they are—the exercise of democracy in Greece threatens wealth and investment everywhere Euros are spent.

    The notion that Germany and France are somehow "socialist", and the European project somehow "socialist" because it's fractionally more regulated than the American model is, simply, an American fantasy. It isn't.

  • Comment number 6.

    "the Colonels exercised control through financial means - or what one villager calls 'the big money'."

    Like the parallels of the finance world excercising control, using 'the big money' through lobbyists and other means, on politicians and the media. How more isn't made in the media of the fact that all the average struggling workers are paying more in cuts for this continuing financial crisis while the financial institutions and hedge funds are making more and more money on the back of it, I'll never understand (apart from a sprinkling of voices like Mr Curtis and George Monbiot). I've almost finished reading a book called Supercapitalism by Robert Reich - https://bit.ly/uhsw2H - that has been a great read and one I definitely recommend - it gives a clear picture of how power has been lost to the financial world since 'The Not Quite Golden Age' and how our demands as 'consumers' and 'investors' has worn away our demands as 'citizens'.

    Finally, I also completely agree with the comment by Neil Bennun above against the comments made by Moor Larkin, I just can't see how this is a socialist issue?!

  • Comment number 7.

    Couple of side notes

    It's worth checking out Greece's contribution to another story Ad has mentioned on here - the Gaza flotilla raid.

    Also - if you look at the PIGS countries it they who were poorest 20 years ago, and it's they who have paid primarily in this crisis. It ain't an accident and it sure ain't socialism.

    The Euro and the Union appeals to a lot of people on the left, perhaps it's an anti-American thing. But the same forces are in play in both territories - as we're finding out now.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks for bringing this to light, Adam. The scale of the structural adjustment offensive in Greece and Europe certainly does summon up these kinds of ghosts.

    And there is an incompatibility between the savage austerity and the democratic space that has been carved out over the last six decades. But that does not mean that it is is only through coup d'etats or fascist takeovers that democracy is curtailed.

    For example, in Greece the democratic participation of students and faculty in the administration of universities is already under attack, under a social democratic government. The demand of the EU/ECB/IMF troika mean subordinating the decisions of Greek ministries to appointed troika officials who are to be ensconced in government buildings.

    While more dramatic steps, including resort to military intervention, should certainly not be ruled out. I think it's a mistake to see the manoeuvring of the zombie Papandreou government this week as a democratic rallying against some imminent military coup. (A palace coup to remove him by figures in his own party in cahoots with the political class and EU officials/leaders is a very different matter and is certainly in play.)

    But there is no evidence that George Papandreou's manoeuvre over the referendum had anything to do with securing democratic legitimacy. In the current horse-trading over the formation of a government of national unity he wants a lash-up to last for a considerable time in order to *avoid* elections until the latest austerity measures have been rammed home (some hope).

    It was about forcing the establishment, particularly the party of big business, New Democracy, to come out and fight for the austerity rather than leave all the pressure on his and Pasok's shoulders, which threatens to rip the party apart and destroy his family's political legacy.

    On another point in your useful commentary: I think it is wrong, though a journalistic commonplace, to claim that the roots of the present Greek crisis lie in the public spending of the early years of Andreas Papandreou's government in the 1980s.

    It's true that the nationalisation schemes did generously compensate the owners of, in effect, already bankrupt enterprises (rather like the British nationalisation of the coal industry in the 1940s). So these were hardly anti-capitalist measures.

    But the state-run electricity, water and other industries efficiently developed the infrastructure of the country. The villages got decent roads, clean water and electricity for the first time. The necessary infrastructure for industry and mass tourism was developed. Still today the total deficit that can by hypothecated to the public sector is dwarfed by the private debt the state has ensovereigned in response to the crisis and in the years preceding.

    We shouldn't, and don't have to, accept the ideological linchpin of the austerity drive - that the Greek people in their majority, through a too generous, corrupt and bloated public sector, have been living beyond their means.

    The main proximate problems are the weaknesses of Greek capitalism (much of its profits invested abroad) and the rapacity of its ruling class, combined with with the terms of the Eurozone, which is in fact a transfer union - it's transferred productive capital and capacity from the periphery to, especially, German enterprises for a decade and more.

  • Comment number 9.

    "What is forgotten is that from 1967 to 1974 the Greek people lived under a harsh and violent dictatorship that tortured and murdered thousands of ordinary people." Yes, and then there was the harsh and violent dictatorship twenty-five years before that as well. The Greeks are well aware of the issues around unpaid reparations, Greek gold, Germany being let off their debts in the 1950s.
    The European project appeals to those on the left partly because it was originally an attempt to avoid further European conflicts; is also appeals to that side in the UK precisely because it doesn't appeal to the right, who view it as a threat to their Churchillian perception of this country.
    Ulitmately however, a single "United States of Europe" may well be the only way for these nations to compete within a global capitalist system in which India, China, the USA, Russia and Brazil will all have bigger populations and more natural resources than individual Euro nations, and more of an ability to control those resources because they won't be fettered by the individual sentiments of the populations of small nation-states. So, not a socialist dream, but a capitalist one.

    The Americans probably disdain Europe for being so petty and unable to reach agreement (as usual, they think no doubt ) while at the same time they probably don't like the idea of the single Euro superstate either as it would be a much more powerful competitor.

  • Comment number 10.

    The simple fact is Greece is not doing anything everyone else is doing anyway except their rate of return was that they got here first.

    If Greece defaulted rather than excepted the bail out plan it would spread contagion across the banking sector.

    Trying to see the downside of that eventuality is perplexing because the debt burden being placed on us all never mind the Greeks is unaffordable and will lead to a collapse of the monetary system anyway. So while the markets may demand this or that response in the end its all going to end in fire. This means the only really logically response is to globally erase debt and restructure the source of new money by withdrawing the power of banks to conjure credit out of thin air.

    This would have the added bonus of allowing politicians to kick the financial technocrats out power and retrench faith in democratic institutions.

    everybody knows these bankers have to go. And the momentum for change is growing

  • Comment number 11.

    Neil Bennun

    Well said. It's incredible that the eurozone can be described as socialist when, frankly, a fundamental dislike of the EU is one of the few things that socialists and conservatives agree on.

    The EU, of course, was designed entirely to aid the neoliberal project. As you note, the desire to set up a large deregulated market. Low to non-existent trade barriers was one of its core aims.

  • Comment number 12.

    What's all this nonsense about the Euro being socialism, or that the Greek people are standing up to the will of capital? Adam you claim the media is calling the "Greek people as just another group of lazy southern Europeans who have fed too long at the trough of state money. A bit like us - but more crap." None of the above comments are getting to the heart of the matter are they?

    Let's be frank what's happened in Greece: Greece is a cheat's charter. The politicians are frauds. They doctored their financial statements before getting approval into the EU. If Greece was a country, it would be Enron. HUNDREDS of billions of dollars of infrastructure loans went in, and only TENS of billions of dollars of assets were built. Where did the rest go? Look in the swimming pools and fancy homes. Look in the bank accounts in Cyprus and Malta!

    The Greek public finances may be doing bad, but the Greek elite (the top 25%) have been squirreling away all those funds offshore, or benefiting from the same. And now the swinger's party is over and everybody's got the Greek clap!

  • Comment number 13.

    The Greek tax economy has long been known to be corrupt at every level, according to the BBC... ;-)

    From February 2010:
    "Anyone who has ever been at the mercy of the American health system knows that even if you are critically ill, many hospitals will not let you near a doctor until they have swiped your credit card. In Greece, if you try to pay for private treatment with a credit card, even the most distinguished surgeon might raise his eyebrows and click his tongue, which means: "What part of no don't you understand?" Because the doctor wants cash. Stelios is one of the few doctors who will give you a receipt. He declares his income to the taxman and pays his proper dues to the state. As opposed to many of his colleagues who are pillars of Greece's thriving black economy."

  • Comment number 14.

    There is quite a good documentary on Youtube.com called "Debtocracy" by Katerina Kitidi and Aris Hatzistefanou which focusses on the causes of the debt crisis in Greece, a survey of what Argentina and Ecuador have done to solve their own debt crises and what Greece must do to save itself.

    The documentary makes it quite clear that Greek people themselves should not be held responsible for paying off the country's huge debt as most of it if not all of it was incurred by successive governments imposing an unfair taxation regime that exploited the poor but was generous to corporations while at the same time borrowing heavily to fund a welfare state. The film also shows examples of illegal debts that were made in the form of bribes and gifts made to politicians by foreign firms like Siemens.

    My understanding also is that Greek politics is dominated by a few families whose members intermarry. Dispensing favours and calling on connections are also customary in Greek politics. It's also not unusual for governments to gerrymander electoral boundaries to keep their favoured parties in power.

    Another issue to consider is Greece's military expenditure. According to Wikipedia (Politics of Greece article), Greece spends 4.3% of its GDP on its military and in 2004 the country ranked 3rd in the world in arms purchases. This is a serious issue given that since 1821 Greece has viewed itself as being in the shadow of a large neighbour and rival (Turkey) and needs to defend itself against an invasion or takeover of Greek territory. As if the Turks these days care. The problem though is that even if Greek politicians wholeheartedly agree to reduce arms spending, there are various interested parties that do not want the country to reduce its expenditure, though they are keen for the country to reduce its social welfare, health and education spending. "Debtocracy" nails two such countries that want to keep Greece's snout in the feeding trough for arms purchases: France and Germany. Yes, one of these is the country that is tightening the screws on Greece.

    Just to rub more salt into the wound is that a historian interviewed in "Debtocracy" mentions that the only time Greece was a creditor nation was during the early 1940s when Nazi Germany invaded the country and forced Greece to send food supplies and essential materials to German forces in eastern Europe and the Balkans. Greece was also required to make a loan to Nazi Germany - incidentally, a loan that Germany has never repaid. The demands that the Nazis made on Greece were so severe that during the 1941/2 winter, some 300,000 people perished in greater Athens due to famine. Seems to me that Greece has more than paid its outstanding debts with blood.

    If you do come across "Debtocracy", you'll find it a very interesting film: it was made on the cheap and features some interesting animation.

  • Comment number 15.

    To the comment above "Seems to me that Greece has more than paid its outstanding debts with blood." i will agree..
    I am in no way justifying the Greeks, nor am i saying that the government has not been corrupt, the people have not lived a good life based on credits which the banking system more than happily provided...but lets just not forget that the Germany was biggest debt transgressor of 20th Century.
    Greeks are now really suffering. People that have been paying their taxes, an have been law abiding citizents too..
    And as history states, during the past century alone,Germany has become insolvent at least three times. After the first default during the 1930s, the US gave Germany a "haircut" in 1953, reducing its debt problem to practically nothing. Germany has been in a very good position ever since, even as other Europeans were forced to endure the burdens of World War II and the consequences of the German occupation. Germany even had a period of non-payment in 1990.

    Measured in each case against the economic performance of the USA, the German debt default in the 1930s alone was as significant as the costs of the 2008 financial crisis. Compared to that default, today's Greek payment problems are actually insignificant.

    You can read the rest on https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,769703,00.html

  • Comment number 16.

    The Greek economy in a generalised systematic way behaves no differently from any other. The simple fact is that the international backing system built on debt will/ and is collapsing. Somebody had to be first.

    If not Greece then someone else.

    There is no point blaming the Greek population for a fiscal crime everyone else is already committing but just has not caught up with them yet. This allows other EU populations to live a fantasy that their economies are not structured on unaffordable debt that demands an ever growing return in interest. While commentators can point out various details of the Greek story these details do not so much explain why Greece is in this mess as much as why Greece is in this mess FIRST.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Always fascinated by this blog. I've read my way through allsorts of POMO but in the end resigned myself to the "hardness of the logical must ". This is not to say that I don't believe in possibility of moral alternatives to any particular brand of capitalism, far from it. Put simply I don't believe there is any secret hidden way of writing the moral back story in any logic - Marcuse included.

    P.S enjoyed the film " The Bank Job" and it's angle on Michael X, the establishment, and all things Money.


  • Comment number 19.

    I cannot accept this talk about the political and economic unification of Europe being a socialist or a capitalist dream. My view is that Greece should default as Iceland did to preserve its sovereignty. For much of its history since it gained independence in 1829, Greece has been buffeted by the larger Western European powers such as Germany and Britain. Originally the newly independent Greece was to have been a republic with a Russian diplomat of Greek ancestry (Ioannis Kapodistrias) as the country's first president; but he was later assassinated and the republican form of government was replaced by a monarchy. The country's first king was German and the second king was Danish. That suggests that from the get-go, Greece was expected to be a sort of listening or staging post for the European imperial powers to monitor activities within a weakening Ottoman Empire.

    Circumstances have changed greatly but from the recent flurry of political activity with George Papandreou having to step down after being "summoned" to an audience with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy - and don't you just love the fact that he was "summoned" as though Greece were a servant of France and Germany? - and replaced by a unity government, days after the heads of the military forces were sacked to ward off a potential coup d'etat, we must assume that Greece's "independence" has effectively come to an end and the country is now the economic colony of France and Germany.

    Those military expenditures I mentioned in my earlier post are sure to continue with Greece's head being pushed lower into the trough while the people have to endure a deteriorating standard of living.

    Call this socialist or capitalist? I call it feudalistic. I don't see how a United States of Europe can possibly benefit Europeans. If such an entity is what you want to have, you are welcome to it and any advantages a large state might offer: increased opportunities for travel without the fuss of a visa or a passport, buying things online without having to pay tiresome import or export taxes. But you must also accept the diseconomies of scale that come with such an entity: the distance between citizen and State increases with a necessary and proportionate increase in bureaucracy, the expense involved in administering to a large and diverse population that speaks several languages and which does not share a common cultural or religious background.

    We cannot even say that Russia, India, China, Brazil and the United States as they are, represent the kind of state we should aspire to. All these countries may have signific

  • Comment number 20.

    Ah, the last paragraph was cut off. It should read:

    We cannot even say that Russia, India, China, Brazil and the United States as they are, represent the kind of state we should aspire to. All these countries may have significant problems in administration and managing their economies simply because of their immense geographic size and populations. In all these countries, there are wealthier, more developed regions that probably have to subsidise the less developed parts of the country. Corruption may be rife in these countries. There is the issue of providing and maintaining infrastructure in areas remote from population centres and subject to extremes of climate and environment. Russia, India and China in particular have numerous ethnic groups that feel aggrieved about their treatment by the central or federal government and which want self-rule of some kind or another.

    I think that eventually even people in the US will realise their political, economic and cultural interests may be better served by being in a very loose federation which may or may not imply the political break-up of the United States as we know it.

    I could say more but I think I've said enough already.

  • Comment number 21.

    I am very moved by your documentaries and today I found your blog. Yes, there are many problems in my country that have roots decades ago. I am 30 years old and I have lived or heared many events that tolerated my country, and the conclusion/rule is that always the innocent pay the price. Since my childhood, the only thing you heared is to find the right person (who usually was a politician) to find you a job in the civil sector. Entire generations were brought up with this dream, and if you achieved a job in the civil sector, then the only thing you had to do, is just wait to die. Everything else were taken care of by the state. From teachers and judges to workers cleaning the roads and picking up garbage, they created an "elit" of people with extreme salaries. To give you an example, a simple bus driver salary was about 4000 to 6000 Euros a month (14 paychecks per year) sometimes more for extra "hours" which were only worked in papers, or some benefits that all civil servants took like vacation bonus. This salary was the clear amount that they took every month. Insurance was payed extra by the state. The most extraordinary thing was that when they went on pension, they received about 100000 to 300000 Euros as a bonus/insuranse return. On the other hand, private sector was deminished starting from the early 90's. Huge companies closed because they moved to another place with cheaper labour hands, or there was no further development of their products. We were not producing anything! Everything came packed from abroad. So what's left? Guess!!! I hope you have heared the joke that Greek's heavy industry was tourism!!! Yes! And everyone believed this thing. Farmers are still taking money support from the EU for producing cotton and wheat! At the early 90's they took about 60000 to 500000 Euros today money as a subsidy for a deteriorated product. Not to mention the trick of weighed double and tripple times the same cargo to get the subsidy. And the bad thing is that all this money were spent on expensive cars, drinks, and bigger equipment that were then sold again to buy the smaller equipment that they sold the first time. Euro and Olympics was just the last drop in the full cup that already hold tripple the ammount of water that could fit in. The education system was destroyed. Teachers were payed to work for 3-4 hours a day and just watch the time go by. If you wanted to succeed and go to a university, you should have taken private lessons or extra classes and the most ridiculus thing is that you had to learn a book, that was written 20 years ago, by word. We can talk for years for what happened but the real problem now is that there is nothing that can be done anymore to correct the situation. It's a horrifying thing to see no future...
    Thank you for your time.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hahaha, I thought this was a complex issue with different sides, but Auntie Beeb made it very simple for me; simple as... as... a warm evening breeze shifting the foam on my glass of beer...


  • Comment number 23.

    @ Aris Gardelis: Hi there, you should watch that documentary I mentioned at Comment 14 (Katerina Kitidi and Aris Hatzistefanou, "Debtocracy") which is on Youtube.com and is in Greek with English sub-titles. I am sure you will gain more from it than I have. There are ideas in that film that might well inspire you and your friends to do something to improve if not correct your situation.

    Yes the pernicious thing about the situation in Greece is that it has encouraged a culture of corruption throughout your society. Probably the worst thing about Greece now that you have a government of EU-directed technocrats is that the bribery will get worse. With pay freezes and cuts to social services and other subsidies, the bribery, blackmailing and other forms of corruption will escalate. Rich people who can afford it will send their children to schools overseas and travel to other wealthy parts of Europe for medical services. I've just seen a Daily Telegraph (Australian paper) news article by an Australian reporter Amanda Dardanis who lives in Greece: she reports that already young people are thinking of leaving Greece to find jobs overseas and Greek men married to foreign women are urging their spouses to get dual passports for their offspring so if the worst comes to the worst they can all bail out.

    By the way, we have a considerable Greek diaspora in Australia, most of which dates back to the late 1940s when thousands of people fled Greece after the civil war in which republicans fought monarchist forces backed by the US and Britain. This sticks quite a bit in my mind probably because I have recordings by the Greek composer Iannis Xenakis who fought on the republican side and fled to France in 1947. Ironically in the early 1970s he composed the opus "Persepolis" for the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of Iran's founding by Cyrus the Great.

    @ everyone else: Gonzalo Lira has an article "A Beginner's Guide to the European Debt Crisis" on his blog gonzalolira.blogspot.com which explains how the current PIIGS debt crisis came about. Recommended if you don't find understanding the crisis simple and you haven't got a brain the size of this planet. The one thing Lira overlooks is that many countries were urged or even forced to buy up weapons and military gadgets as Greece was by France and Germany.

  • Comment number 24.

    Some of the slogans from the fall of the junta have become popular again today.
    Bread Education Freedom the Junta didn't Die in 1973 is one such slogan as the fist part was popularised and can be seen in the beginning of the video on Greece.

    Eye-witness reports are available for the first time in English in what has been happening in Greece in the book How the IMF Broke Greece....
    https://www.createspace.com/3700466since the arrival of the IMF

  • Comment number 25.

    Yes I saw that BBC article "Why Greeks venerate their 'inefficient' public sector". It only tells you part of the problem with Greece. Andreas Papandreou - the father of George Papandreou - did try to reunite and reconcile those who'd been sidelined by the monarchy and military government after the Greek civil war (ie those who had supported the republican side) by bringing them into the economy with his version of the welfare state. But this doesn't change what I said in the second paragraph in Comment 14: the welfare state co-existed with a corrupt tax system, generous concessions to corporations and borrowing to keep the whole system propped up. I have heard also that salaries and wages more often than not failed to keep up with the cost of living and this led to a culture of bribes and kickbacks.

    Interesting thing is that in April 2011, Forbes.com put out an article "The World's Hardest-Working Countries" in which South Korea and Greece ranked as the world's hardest workers with the average S Kor worker bee clocking up 2,357 hours a year at work and the average Greek worker putting in 2,052 hours per year. Italy rated 8th, the US rated 9th and the UK rated 20th on the list.

    It has to be said also that Greece suffers a huge tax evasion problem. According to the Tax Justice Network, there were more than 20 billion euros salted away in Swiss bank accounts held by Greek citizens.

    So no, it's not as simple an issue as it looks. The BBC is just dumbing us down.

  • Comment number 26.

    I just watched all of the last film - I'd had little or no awareness of this period of Greek history and I think it's a very important contribution that this post makes, by helping to put present Greek attitudes in proper historical perspective. To not vigorously oppose new, economic forms of totalitarianism, coming from a nation that has only recently shaken off totalitarianism, would be a moral failure and I think at this time Brits are the frogs who don't realise the water's beginning to boil.

  • Comment number 27.

    @ Costas68: Hi Costas, I clicked on that link you provided and got a "page not found" message.

    I've just read new Prime Minister Lucas Papademos's entry on Wikipedia. I am mightily impressed at the irony involved. So he was Governor of the Bank of Greece from 1994 to 2002 and oversaw the transition from the drachma to the euro. After that, he serves as Vice-President at the European Central Bank whose objectives and functions include maintaining price stability, issuing euro banknotes, taking care of foreign reserves of Bank of Greece among other central banks and generally monitoring the banking centre.

    Something inside me says Papademos should be spending time in the slammer where he will be of no harm to anyone as long as he is not allowed near the kitchen with a set of spreadsheets.

    @ G: Yes I've learned more about modern Greek history just by trolling here and looking up information on Wikipedia and elsewhere just to get a grip on it all, than I ever did at school. I guess when it's the turn of Italy, Spain and possibly France, my brain really will be stuffed.

    I had always wondered why Greek Australians usually voted for left-wing parties to the extent that the community was actively courted by these parties during election time. Now that I know something of the country's history from the 1940s on, I can understand why.

  • Comment number 28.

    @G - 22 - Wow. I can't believe that article. That isn't journalism.

  • Comment number 29.

    Thank you for sharing your research, generosity with information is our greatest hope.

    On another note a track by Ceephax Acid Crew entitled "Carflake" on the Ceeland cassette lead to Curtis collage images in my mind.
    The musician is neither a friend or relative.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hello Adam, apologies for the rather brief and forward comment, but I'm hoping to put together something about the music in your films, and your use of music in general. Could I get an email address to contact you on at all please? Mine is Ghostingseason[at]gmail[dot]com - thanks! Gavin.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ theartteacher2: "... he drains the last of his glass, and picks at the deep-fried halloumi nibbles ..."

    Some time after this point the BBC report cut out because the next thing that was said after "But Greece needs to go through ... a modern state" was: "Your place or mine?" I bet Vangelis was no ordinary Greek.

    Of course journalists at The Guardian and The Independent wouldn't write such low-grade creative fiction as this. (Never mind what the other UK newspapers write.) Except of course when the subject in question is Julian Assange in which case The Independent starts gabbling on about him being some kind of fruitcake messianic prophet surrounded by an adoring circle of Wikifundamentalist groupies and The Guardian fingers him as worthy of inclusion in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to come from the American Psychiatric Association.

    And I'll say that to declare support for nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown, despite revelations about the slovenly management of nuclear reactors in Japan generally by Tokyo Electric Power Company, the obfuscation by both TEPCO and the Japanese government as to what exactly has been happening at Fukushima since March this year, and various experts' doubts about the research on which the declared support is based, indicates a special class of genius writing.

    Uh-oh, gotta run!!!

  • Comment number 32.

  • Comment number 33.

    @Nausika - I don't know what the hell to think of the whole Assange thing. I really have no idea why people have stepped away, like The Guardian, if it's fear or what. I might go and see what I can find from some decent sources.

    On Fukushima my basic understanding is this - it's gone quiet, most people here (UK) have lost interest and there's not a great deal of coverage - I wish I had time to go through the major news sources here everyday but I'm a ordinary working type and that's hard. From other sources it sounds like what has happened there is catastropic and worse that Chernobyl.


  • Comment number 34.

    @ theartteacher2: I have complained to The Independent and The Guardian Weekly about their treatment of Julian Assange and about an obituary of Colonel Muammar Gaddhafi in The Guardian Weekly that omitted all mention of what he achieved in Libya, in particular the Great Man-Made River irrigation project. I think I am persona non grata at TGW now.

    I have seen something on the Internet that journalists at The Guardian and The Independent are under considerable pressure to conform to management directives about what they can report and what they can't.

    I saw an article on Media Lens that mentioned something about journalists at G and I being angry about the treatment dished out to them but can't remember what the piece was called. The editors were interviewing someone and I remember they mentioned the movies "Avatar" and "Starship Troopers". As you know, "Starship Troopers" is a satire on US-style fascism and borrows liberally from Leni Riefenstahl's 1930s documentary "Triumph of the Will". The interesting thing about "Avatar" was that James Cameron had considered filming a different ending in which the military revolts along with Jake Sully and turns on the corporation that operates the mines on Pandora. And to think that when I first saw "Avatar", I thought, wow, the movie would have been much better and more credible if all the soldiers had thrown in their lot with the Na'vi!

    You can try Rense.com which carries links to articles on the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown and the fallout from that (political, economic etc). You'll be bowled over by all the links and information. Yes, there is a lot of 9/11 conspiracy stuff there, Lyndon B LaRouche is there and so are the Institute of Historical Review, Kevin McDonald, UFO news, Illuminati stuff and other kinds of batshit but Jeff Rense trusts visitors to the website to use their common sense.

  • Comment number 35.

    OF COURSE!!! Google-search "Media Lens", "Avatar" and "Starship Troopers"! Aaah, ich bin Dummkopf!

    The article I referred to is "Hollywood - Weaponised Dream Factory: an Interview with Matthew Alford, Author of Reel Power". There are several websites and blogs carrying the article. Visit https://stanvanhoucke.blogspot.com/2010/10/media-lens-4.html or just go to www.medialens.org and scroll around a bit. I thought the article had the remark about journalists at The G and The I but now that I've read it again, I've obviously got two articles mixed up.

    Salon.com also had an article "The Pentagon's Strengthening Grip on Hollywood" which can be Google-searched and again there are websites and blogs carrying the article.

    The whole topic is worthy of a documentary in its own right.

    ... OMG, he's got a B&D electric drill out and fitting it with one of those newfangled combination drill / syringe bits that inject bullet ant poison or whatever the stuff is as it drills ... amazing the stuff he gets from his MI5 handlers these days ... my punishment for making that crack in 31 ...

  • Comment number 36.

    A coup by a cabal of financial technocrats. Well I suppose In a way they have been flushed out into the open and hold position center stage.

  • Comment number 37.

    The most importaint is that the real stories of the humble people, poor people and people with no power are not heared at all. In every sosciety there are people that are not interested at all about power and try to make their living with an open and honest way. There are a lot of such people in Greece. People that are not and never insterested to work in the public sector. These are usually the first people that pay the price of such situations. People that work in 3 jobs to make their living and pay their taxes at full. Sometimes even more because of various "mistakes". Trust me, it's hard to see people with absolutely no talent and perception to be in the public sector and be responsible for serious matters and on the other hand to see yourself working hard night and day trying to pay the bills.
    About the debtocracy documentary i have not a clear opinion. Yes, it's easy not to pay our debts, but what's next? Yes, I don't trust anymore the European Union, because I saw from the start that it had flaws. You cannot have a real Union with 20 different Goverments nor have people who live in this Union to refuse to give up their "National" conquests for a real 1 country Union. You can see everywhere that Germany has sucked up everything. There are many German supermarkets that are sucking money, industrial production is stopped due to Germany's cheaper and better quality products. In a first look, there's nothing wrong about this.... BUT... In a real union, the state would take taxes from the companies. In this model, the only one that benefits is only 1 country. The country that produces everything. German and other European Union products have flood Greece. You cannot even sell tomatoes, because German supermarkets are importing cheaper tomatoes from Turkey with absolutely NO TAXES!!! It's like being in a family that the father sells food to his children and paying rent for living in his home and then give them loans to pay for the rent and then go to the University. It's absolutely sure that the children will hate their father and want to get off this sick family.
    The other problem is that the private sector and by that I mean the big corporations have replaced the Goverments and States role. Everybody is talking about privatisation of all the goverment services. From electricity and water, to health and Education. Here also applies the same model. In a sosciety that all the vital things are private, you get nothing in return by paying taxes. The role of the state is completely replaced by a company that simply gets money. A profit that was made with an already estamblished infrastracture payed by the people.
    So, what's the solution? There are good news and there's bad news... The good news is that there's a solution, the bad news is that it's simply never going to happen. I don't want to say that the people are corrupted. There is a clear and obvious reason why everyone is behaving this way. I believe that noone wants to be the "bad guy" movie style. But in most cases my good is your bad. Usually there's an equilibrium but when this becomes the rule, then there's a problem. The system is so rotten that now everyone can see what's wrong. Germany has realised that the game is over, but will fight to the end. And that's normal. Germany will not give up the national rights that gained over the past years. Is absurd to start sharing resources for Greece. Especially when we are now labeled as corrupted. You can see the talks between Sarcosi and Obama for Papandreou. When you are the bad guy, you are expected to pay for your wrong actions. There's no matter if the people that accusing you have gained from you. You must pay!!! In what conditions? Noone askes. If you see the last agreement, it is absolutely sure that we are doomed. We are not protected in any way. It's EXCACTLY like Adam said in his last words.
    "The Times pointed out today that the cuts being demanded of Greece are on a scale similar to the reparations imposed on Germany by the victors at Versailles in 1919. "
    When this agreement is signed, there's no way back. The only way to get out is war. When a French, or German or even a UK agency will come to your home and tell you that this is not your property any more, you have nothing to loose but fight. Fight not only our European friends, but our goverment too, because they have agreed to take your home.... Our job is already taken and i don't mean the cuts on the public sector....
    What would YOU feel is an electric bill was brought to you and had a huge tax that you had to pay? And the "good" thing is that there's no matter if you don't have to pay, you MUST pay it or the electric company must cut the electricity... Well, stop imagining that and get real, because this is happening here.
    Anyway, this talk can never end and will never end. I hope, hope will never end....

  • Comment number 38.

    @ Aris: I can't predict what will happen eventually with the EU; at present it has turned Greece and Italy into technocrat satellites of the German political elite and doubtless will do the same to Spain, France and all other countries in the eurozone eventually. EU states not already in the eurozone will be under pressure to join.

    You may like to read the various articles on future economic, political and social trends on Anatoly Karlin's Sublime Oblivion blog site at https://www.sublimeoblivion.com. I only found this blog while looking for Esteban Morales's article "Lessons from Argentina's Economic Collapse" on Google which I was going to suggest you read. Looks as if several websites and blogs refer to this article and they may have links that enable you to read the entire article so just go ahead and Google!

    In particular Karlin posted an article "The Return of the Reich" to the site in 2009 which you might find interesting and scary!

    If you find Sublime Oblivion heavy-going and it can be, there are links to other blogs and websites Karlin considers important including the Exiled Online https://exiledonline.com which itself has a link to Kostas Kallergis's blog When the Crisis hit the Fan; Dmitry Orlov who I've mentioned elsewhere on Adam Curtis's blog; James Kunstler who's written a fair bit on American collapse scenarios; and others (choose the ones Karlin has highlighted or put in capital letters). I wouldn't read anything by Juan Cole these days though as he's squarely on the side of NATO in invading Libya.

    See how you go and let us know if you feel better or more depressed!

  • Comment number 39.

    Thank you, Adam. Performing a genuine public service, as always.

  • Comment number 40.

    My apologies for posting this comment here, but the Henrietta Lacks story is taking off again in the U.S.A. as word of mouth about the recent book propagates, and I can't find any other means of contacting Mr. Davis. Please consider re-opening the comments, or posting again. I have learned so much from the documentary and the book. I think the failure of the researchers and the 'system' to pay the Lacks family any of the practically incalculable millions that some people have made from HeLa cells is glaringly wrong. There was another case in the book which eventually was considered by the U.S. Supreme Court; how they arrived at their decision in favor of the medical/research establishment and against the man whose spleen cells were taken and used commercially without his informed consent, is worthy of a new documentary. How can it be that he has no claim to his own cells?! The judgement said that owing to his having laid no claim to his cancerous spleen after its removal, he had treated it as waste; rubbish. It seems to me that he would not have treated it as rubbish if he had known it was valuable, and the honorable thing to be done by anyone who finds something of value in the rubbish is to inform the person who has thrown it away, ask them if they are aware that what they have thrown away is of value, and ask permission to have it if they don't want it. I'd like very much to hear the argument against having a system akin to royalties for people who are the source of valuable/profitable biological material to share the proceeds.

  • Comment number 41.

    How the IMF Broke Greece, if you google it on amazon books it will come up, in response NausikaDalazBlindaz question about a broken link...

  • Comment number 42.

    Another great and interesting post. I loved the comment "You picked the wrong man to ask the right question."

  • Comment number 43.

    Just wanted to express appreciation to Adam Curtis for finding this amazing film - I was in Athens in September 1974, only 18 and really shockingly unaware of what had been going on. So brilliant to be able to pick up the detail of this - I met a lawyer who'd been involved in the first protest while on holiday in Crete as usual this year. Rightly very proud of his action in those days...

    The blog comments are fascinating, especially Kevin Ovenden's critique. But people don't seem to be picking up much on the way that this powerful really quite recent history must be having an effect on the way people are now, which is what I took from Adam's commentary and his motive for posting the film. Is it the case that the families that profited from the Colonels' handouts are also the ones laughing all the way to the bank these days?

    I'd love to know what Greek people think of this film and these blog posts.

  • Comment number 44.

    Adam I'm not really sure why you posted this material on Greece was it just for archival interest or do you actually believe that people can change the world - contary to your last BBC series? Looking at what happened in Greece and in Portugal in 1974 it shows that you were wrong. With this post are you doubting your own thesis?

  • Comment number 45.

    @Melville - I don't think the point of his last series was that people can't change the world. He was looking at why they feel they can't. It's a challenge, I think. It was very bleak and harrowing, really visceral stuff, and I thought it could be interpreted as pessimism. Perhaps it just reflects the extent of the problem.

    What the Greek people displayed was solidarity and bravery. And probably some loving grace, escaping their isolation, becoming powerful as part of something greater. And they did change the world.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.