Greece – the only country in the world paying creditors with blood

In a new four part film series economist and journalist Paul Mason goes behind the scenes of the Greek crisis to report on the rise of Syriza, the risks they took and the repercussions the party faced when they attempted to stand up to the global finance system.

Greece ncr

Guest post by Caroline Christie, Content Editor at 89up

In a new four part film series economist and journalist Paul Mason goes behind the scenes of the Greek crisis to report on the rise of Syriza, the risks they took and the repercussions the party faced when they attempted to stand up to the global finance system.

Premiering this week, #ThisIsACoup offers an unprecedented access to the politicians, activists and journalists who backed Syriza. Despite winning by an electoral landslide, the party’s aim of bringing about a new type of politics came to an abrupt end when they faced the giants of the Eurozone and were forced to back down.

Produced and narrated by Paul Mason and directed by Theopi Skarlatos, the series gives a unique account of the magnitude of crisis Greece faced this year and uncovers what it was actually like for the everyone involved.

Episode two ‘To pay or not to Pay’, follows Syriza’s watershed moment when the party decided to play a new kind of politics by refusing to play ball with the Eurozone and declining to pay back their ever increasing mountain of debt. Despite the backlash from both the European Union and central banks, Syriza are determined to stand by their word.

Elected just under a year ago, Syriza’s rise to power was supposed to pave the way for a new type of politics. In a country where unemployment was at 50% and the nation’s debt stood at 170% of GDP (the second highest level of any nation in the world), Syriza stood for a new type of accountability. A type of politics where politicians didn’t have to hold their hands up to the banks and surrender, but instead they would fight for a sense of self and sovereignty; where super star Ministers of Finance could ride up to the doors of diplomatic negotiations and do the unthinkable – refuse to repay their creditors.

But that isn’t the only radical move the party decided to make. In the episode, Paul interviews the prime minster, Alexis Tspiras, after he refuses to admit defeat and passes a law giving free food and electricity to the poorest people in Greece.

From a disaffected electorate left reeling from broken promises to a fractured political system, the series asks where Europe stands in the wake of the Greek referendum and if political optimism as a whole has eroded.

“We’re the only country in the world that pays our creditors with our blood” – Alexis Tspiras

#ThisIsACoup tells the story from the perspective of several main characters. From exclusive interviews with Prime minster Alexis Tspiras and Yanis Varoufakis, it also follows human rights lawyer Zoe Konstantopoulou and Euclid Tsakalotos, the Economy minster brought in to soften Greek stance in talks and eventually replaces Varoufakis when he’s sacked on the 6th of July.

The stakes for Greece are high – internally and in the wider political landscape. If they stand down, not only will they lose face but they also run the risk of losing the faith instilled in them by a new type of voter.

This year alone has seen a rise on the number of leftist European political parties prepared to take on the main staple of leadership and aim for a greater piece of the political pie. Pablo Iglesias’ Podemos is just one example in a long list of European parties aimed at addressing endemic issues of corruption, economic injustices and unemployment in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In just three days time, the Spanish electorate will cast a vote in an election whose outcome is set to seal the success of whether or not we can be persuaded that another way is possible.

#ThisIsACoup isn’t just an interesting account of when radical politics breaks down. It’s an insight into what the repercussions might be for new emerging forms of governance as a whole. With Brexit looming, next year we look towards the possibility of our own referendum. What, if anything can we lean from Greece, the birthplace of democracy, and has the promise of a united left movement across Europe burnt out alongside the demonstrations in Athens?

8 Responses to “Greece – the only country in the world paying creditors with blood”

  1. Brad JJ

    They could have declared temporary total communism, rationing and abolition of currency. Maybe not. For a poor country in trouble Greece has an awful lot of wealthy people doing fine.


    The radicals are supposed to be socialist and it is not their place to fix capitalism but replace it. However the radicals were not really radical and have signed up to capitalism. The Greek people now have the pretend left representing them. Why did they go to the bother electing them to be different!

  3. Brad JJ

    As I said in my very short remark – so it is hard to miss – they did not have enough power to effect a revolution.

  4. Rowdie111

    In the end they end up where socialism inevitably takes them….down the drain….Venezuela now gone…France on the way….where has Cuba been?….Live beyond your means…borrow beyond what you can recoup, end up always just paying interest on the money you borrowed until you end up borrowing money just to pay back the interest…..nothing left for anything else.. The moral….don’t borrow…live within your means and then you don’t end up like Greece.


    Did they want a revolution or just join in the system and collect their salaries while conning the people.

  6. @iGlinavos

    People agog with this piece of agitprop do not know much about Greece. Here is a review of Paul’s film from someone who is not a Syriza Journalist

  7. Sid

    Can the EU pay off my debts please?

  8. inisfree

    I have to agree with your analysis. I haven’t seen the documentary yet but I have read the Nation article. One long piece of total BS. Syriza are the worst thing that has happened to Greece. Dogmatic, incompetent and arrogant to the point that they think they can continually fool people. Look at Tsipras. He is sworn in and then makes a bee line to a memorial of people massacred by the Germans. Did he think this went unnoticed in Germany? Step #1 — piss off the people whose help you need. Next we have Varoufakis’s posturing and antics with the Eurozone. Step #2 — really, really piss off the people whose help you need. Then the referendum. The Greek people were asked to reject an agreement that had already expired. The referendum question was a mini thesis rather than a question, and in the campaign Syriza simplified it to ridiculous levels: essentially, “do you want to continue paying what you owe or do you wish to renege on your debts while staying in the Euro?” Phrased like that, it is surprising the NO campaign got only 61%. Step #3 — make the Eurozone take off the gloves and force Tsipras to sign the worst memorandum ever. The latest trick is the Parallel Program: Tsipras offers “help” to the Greek people knowing it is against the Tsipras Memorandum (he signed it). The Troika intervenes and looks bad while the schoolboy Marxist looks good. He will soon realise that Lincoln was right. “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time”.

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