POETRY by MANOLIS ALIGIZAKIS/A REVIEW

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SENSUALITY in MANOLIS’ POETRY COMPARED TO CAVAFY AND YANNIS RITSOS

 

As history teaches us, the contrast between life and art has made it easy to think of Cavafy in the abstract, as an artist whose work exists free from tradition and attachment to a specific moment in time. This trend has been prompted by the two elements of his poetry for which he is most famous: his surprisingly contemporary theme (one of his themes, at least), and his attractive and direct style.

Certainly there have always been many readers who appreciate the so-called historical poems, situated in magical places of the Mediterranean during times that have been long dead and acrimonious with sociable irony and a certain tired stoicism. (“Ithaca gave you the beautiful journey, / without her you would not have put in the passage. / But now she has nothing to give you,” he writes in what may be the most famous evocation of ancient Greek culture: the journey is always more important than the fatefully disappointing destination.) This can be seen in the poem:

Thermopylae

Honor to all of those who in their lives

have settled on, and guard, a Thermopylae.

Never stirring from their obligations;

just and equitable in all of their affairs,

but full of pity, nonetheless, and of compassion;

generous whenever they’re rich, and again

when they’re poor, generous in small things,

and helping out, again, as much as they are able;

always speaking nothing but the truth,

yet without any hatred for those who lie.

And more honor still is due to them

when they foresee (and many do foresee)

that Ephialtes will make his appearance in the end,

and that the Medes will eventually break through

 

But it is probably fair to say that the popular reputation of Cavafy rests almost entirely on the remarkably preexisting way in which his other “sensual” poems, often not considered as this poet’s gift, deal with the ever-fascinating and pertinent themes of erotic desire, realization and loss.

The way, too, when memory preserves what desire so often cannot sustain. That desire and longing only makes it appear more contemporary, closer to our own times. Perhaps this is the case with Manolis’ poem:

Lamppost

 

After leaving our marks

on the sole lamppost

we parted

she to the west

I to the east

with a promise

to meet again

by this lamppost

and trace our marks

though we never thought of the Sirens

the Cyclops and the angry Poseidon

though we never thought of the pricey

ferryman

 

No one but Cavafy, who studied history not only eagerly but with a studious respect and meticulous attention to detail, would have recognized the dangers of abstracting people from their historical contexts; and nowhere is this abstraction more dangerous than in the case of Cavafy himself.

 

THE CITY

 

You said: “I’ll go to another land, to another sea;
I’ll find another city better than this one.
Every effort I make is ill-fated, doomed;
and my heart —like a dead thing—lies buried.
How long will my mind continue to wither like this?
Everywhere I turn my eyes, wherever they happen to fall
I see the black ruins of my life, here
where I’ve squandered, wasted and ruined so many years.”
New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will return to the same streets.
You will age in the same neighborhoods; and in these
same houses you will turn gray. You will always
arrive in the same city. Don’t even hope to escape it,
there is no ship for you, no road out of town.
As you have wasted your life here, in this small corner
you’ve wasted it in the whole world.

 

Surely his work is as good as great poetry can be and at the same time timeless in the way we like to think that great literature can be alchemizing details of the poet’s life, times and obsessions into something relevant to a large audience over the years and even centuries.

But the tendency to see Cavafy as one of us, as one in our own time, speaking to us with a voice that is transparent and admittedly ours about things whose meaning is self-evident, threatens to take away a specific detail one that, if we give it back to him, makes him look larger than life and more a poet of the future, as it was once described, rather than the time he lived in. This detail also pertains to the biography of Manolis who refers to mythical passages of his home-country and unfolds scenes of sensuality, abandonment and loss.

Cavafy’s style, to begin with, is far less prosaic, much richer although not musical, and rooted deeply in the nineteenth century in which he lived for more than half of its life. Some readers will be surprised to learn that many of Cavafy’s poems, even when he was almost forty, were cast as sonnets or other prepared forms of verse.

Manolis was born in Kolibari a small village west of Chania on the Greek island of Crete in 1947. At an early age his family took him first to Thessaloniki and then to Athens where he was educated, earning a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the Panteion University of Athens.

The subject in some of Cavafy which tend to be overlooked by readers as difficult are the poems deliberately placed in the dark, geographical and temporal margins of the Greek past: poems which seem not to have much to do with today’s concerns and are often passed in favor of works with more contemporary appeal.

Perhaps this is the case with Manolis who draws from the same Greek sources as Cavafy does making historical references to Greece, the cradle where his soul was born, when he creates the Greek myths interacted in his contemporary poetry. Even far from his motherland Greece where he resides now he still retains in his poetic memory, images and themes he channels through verve in this book and others.

 

Can Manolis channel the beauty as easily as he describes in his verse? “An ancient time leader / as an anointed and pious / a musical instrument of candor flowing free / ready to speak with words that relieve pain and free the soul?” Yes its main tool is its firsthand experience of the power of Eros. His psychological makeup attracts and conveys authenticity and happiness based on his worship and being adored by sensual and provocative female figures exposing him in an ecstatic transcendence through his bodies of lust and his deep love and dedicated understanding. It is obvious that he finds his purpose in falling in love passionately for his beloved.

He does not hide that before he emerged he wanted to become “a festival / movement song of a bird / a vesper / a simple sigh / that will heal the lips of his beloved.” If he feels impotent in the face of inconceivable and unlimited Destiny, he declares that a woman’s embrace beckons him and he likes to give in to his passion: “dark and vague circle / forever indeterminable / and this, the command / and this, the Obedience / This, the orgasm / and this, the Eros / and this is you.” He feels being favored by Eros he diffuses his burning passion with light that fills his erotic verses. As a gallant defender of lust and sensuality and the true emotions of love, he delivers the joy and joy to the soul.

 

Both idealism and pragmatism, messianism, but also the tradition in the languor of the senses, the subjects of love dedicated to ephemeral satisfaction and erotic drunkenness make up the changes of its vast poetic content. Having the maturity of an accomplished poet and the ability to create evocative images in a personal way, the poet introduces us to what constitutes the most brilliant expression of his most intimate thoughts and beliefs in front of the world of his time and age.

The way, too, where memory preserves what desire so often can’t sustain. That desire and longing were for other men only makes it appear more contemporary, closer in our own times as we see in this opening poem of Golden Kiss, which poem may seem obscene and prosaic created by a minor poet, but when creating by a poet as Manolis locks up the erotic aura of a Moravia.

 

like a bird stilled by camera lens

her scandalous vulva visits his mind

from days of that August

on the scorched island

in low tone siesta

in muffled moaning

lest the mirror would crack from tension

 

 

In the 1880s and 1890s, Constantine Cavafy was a young man with modest literary ambitions, writing verses and contributing articles, critiques and essays, mostly in Greek but in English (A language in which he was perfectly at home as a result of spending a few of his adolescence years in England), on a number of idiosyncratic subjects, Alexandria and Athenian newspapers. This similarity in biographies binds Cavafy with Manolis who lives in Vancouver and writes poems in Greek and English referring to both countries.

 

Yannis Ritsos was born in Monemvasia, Greece, on May 1, 1909, in a family of landowners. He did his early schooling and finished high school in Gythion, Monemvasia and after graduating in 1925, he moved to Athens where he began working on typing and copying legal documents. A year later, he returned to his home town where he spent his time writing and painting, another form of art that he devoted himself which along with his writing he kept for the rest of his life, perhaps the painting has given him elements of his sensual poems:

 

WOMEN

Our women are distant, their sheets smell of goodnight.

They put bread on the table as a token of themselves.

It’s then that we finally see we were at fault; we jump up saying,

‘Look, you’ve done too much, take it easy, I’ll light the lamp.

’She turns away with the striking of the match,

walking towards the kitchen, her face in shadow,

her back bent under the weight of so many dead –

those you both loved, those she loved, those

you alone loved . . . yes . . . and your death also

 

Listen: the bare boards creaking where she goes.

Listen: the dishes weeping in the dishrack.

Listen: the train taking soldiers to the front.

 

 

Sometimes the poems are invested with the fractured logic of the dream with images of dream events or they’re placed in a landscape of dreams that grows, as one reads more, more and more recognizable, less strange, always attractive. At the same time, their locations and quotations are redemptive of a completely recognizable Greece: the balconies, the geraniums, the statuary, women in their black attires and, in a lasting way, the sea. His touch is light, but its effect is profound. Much depends on the image that causes the narrative movement. Some poems are so small, so distilled, that the fragments of history given to us – the kids’ psychodramas – have an irresistible power. “The less I get the bigger it gets,” said Alberto Giacometti and the same powerful reticence is a feature in Ritsos’ shorter poems.

 

The content of Yannis Ritsos also deserves renewed attention – both the specific themes of the individual poems, which in fact keep the historical and the erotic in a single focus.

Eroticism is one of the appearances of man’s inner life. In this one deludes himself because one is seeking his fixed object of desire. But this object of desire responds to the internal desire. The choice of an object always depends on the individual’s personal tastes: even if it falls on the woman most would have selected, what comes into play is often an unspeakable aspect, not an objective characteristic of this woman unless she has touched the inner being of man she creates the force to choose her.

The notion of disorientation (similar, perhaps, to the effect of a mild virus), when heightened emotion puts us at odds with the world, when the aromas become sour, when a view of the garden becomes desolate, when household objects shed their purpose, is perfectly evoked in these ten lines. There is an immediate recognition of a precarious ontological state tied to a story until, a moment later, we realize that we can see that street, see that window, see through that door:

 

 

ALMOST

 

It was just luck: I open the door, the two women

side by side on the sofa

 

in his black handkerchief,

mother and daughter, perhaps,

 

staying immobile, unpronounceable, a mouthful of bread

on the table, a cat sleeping on the couch.

 

Looking away and the sun at the top of the waves, cicadas

the swallows attractions in blue. They look back.

 

I almost had it, I almost had it in one of them.

Then Mother got up and closed the door.

 

This poem by Yannis Ritsos refers us to another poem by Manolis but more sensual and right:

 

Nothing to hold onto

but ourselves in lust

and the cenotaph with

names engraved in marble

yet in this near futile void

a sudden speck of light

gleams on Suzanne’s breast

as a lightning flash like

when her eyes demanded

a deeper meaning to this: are we

to search for it during this dark night

with our two bodies as the only absolution?

 

The sensuality of the Mediterranean world may be in the Greek soul of the poets to a greater or lesser degree, as we have seen over the years and centuries, referring to the idea that the Greek gods though dead are alive in the souls of the Greeks: Eros and Dionysus are alive from the bygone days of yesteryears to today and even more so in the case of Manolis who lives in Vancouver but has not forgotten his Cretan roots, and he writes in both Greek and English and shows with his simple poem Golden Kiss the sensual and erotic connection between his poetry and that of Cavafy and Yannis Ritsos.

 

~Eric Ponty, poet, translator, Sao Paolo, Brazil, 2016

C. Cavafy//Κ. Καβάφης

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Ο ΘΕΟΔΟΤΟΣ

Άν είσαι απ’ τους αληθινά εκλεκτούς

την επικράτηση σου κύταζε πώς αποκτάς.

Όσο κι άν δοξασθείς, τα κατορθώματα σου

στην Ιταλία και στην Θεσσαλία

όσο κι άν διαλαλούν η πολιτείες

όσα ψηφίσματα τιμητιμά

κι άν σ’ έβγαλαν στη Ρώμη οι θαυμασταί σου

μήτε η χαρά σου, μήτε ο θρίαμβος θα μείνουν,

μήτε ανώτερος—τί ανώτερος—άνθρωπος θα αισθανθείς

όταν, στην Αλεξάνδρεια, ο Θεόδοτος σε φέρει,

επάνω σε σινί αιματωμένο,

του αθλίου Πομπήϊου τό κεφάλι.

 

Και μη επαναπαύεσαι που στην ζωή σου

περιωρισμένη, τακτοποιημένη, και πεζή,

τέτοια θεαματικά και φοβερά δεν έχει

Ίσως αυτήν την ώρα εις κανενός γειτόνου σου

το νοικοκερεμένο σπίτι μπαίνει—

αόρατος, άυλος—ο Θεόδοτος,

φέρνοντας τέτοιο ένα φρικτό κεφάλι.

 

 

THEODOTOS

 

If you are truly one of the chosen,

look carefully at how you gain your power.

No matter how much you are glorified, no matter

how loudly the cities in Italy and Thessaly

praise your achievements, no matter

how many decrees in your honor

are issued by your admirers in Rome,

neither your joy nor your triumph will last,

and how superior—what does it mean superior?

are you going to feel, when in Alexandria, Theodotos

brings you, on a blood-stained tray

the head of a despondent Pompeius.

 

And don’t content yourself with the fact

that in your banal, restrained, and regulated life

such phenomenal and terrifying things don’t happen.

Perhaps at this hour Theodotos—invisible, fleshless—

enters the well-ordered house of your neighbor

carrying such a hideous head.

 

CONSTANTINE CAVAFY — SELECTED POEMS, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Ekstasis Editions., Victoria, BC, 2014

 

http://www.manolisaligizakis.com

 

Tasos Livaditis//Τάσος Λειβαδίτης

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ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ ΧΡΗΣΗ
Βέβαια, όλα αυτά ήταν κάπως θολά, ίσως μάλιστα κι ανεξήγητα
γι’ αυτούς που σηκώνουν μ’ έμφαση το ποτήρι τους πάνω απ’ το
τραπέζι, χωρίς να βλέπουν ποιος το κρατά, ώσπου σιγά σιγά, η
καθημερινή χρήση μας κάνει θνητούς, έτσι προσπαθούσα πάντα να
κοιτάζω αλλού όταν χτυπούσε το κουδούνι, κι όταν ύστερα όλα
ησύχασαν, ήταν αργά, που είναι ο οικοδεσπότης, γιατί κρύβεται,
ακούμπησα στο τραπέζι για να μην πέσω, ύστερα με κεφάλι
σκυφτό άνοιξα την πόρτα κι ακολούθησα το δρόμο μου.
Και τα βράδυα, στο δείπνο, τους άκουγα να διηγούνται τις ιστο-
ρίες τους, αποσιωπώντας με τρόμο το σκοτεινό, απόμακρο έξω —
εκεί που είχαμε ζήσει.
DAILY USE
Of course, all these were somehow vague perhaps even inexplicable
for the ones who raise their glass emphatically over the table without
seeing who holds it until slowly the everyday use makes us mortal
thus I always tried to look elsewhere when the doorbell rang and when
everything was quietened: where is the host, why is he hiding?
I leaned on the table that I wouldn’t fall; then bowing my head
I opened the door and followed my path.
And at night, dinner time, in horror I listened to them narrating
their stories that in a way silenced the dark, remote outside — there
where we had lived.

~Τάσου Λειβαδίτη-Εκλεγμένα Ποιήματα/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη
~Tasos Livaditis-Selected Poems/Translated by Manolis Aligizakis
http://www.libroslibertad.ca
http://www.authormanolis.wordpress.com

Friedrich Nietzsche//Φρίντριχ Νίτσε

 

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Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history. Beginning his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy, he became the youngest-ever occupant of the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869, at age 24. He resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life, and he completed much of his core writing in the following decade. In 1889, at age 44, he suffered a collapse and a complete loss of his mental faculties. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother (until her death in 1897) and then his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, and died in 1900.
Nietzsche’s body of writing spanned philosophical polemics, poetry, cultural criticism, aphorism, and fiction while displaying a fondness for metaphor and irony. His thought drew variously on philosophy, art, history, religion, and science, and engaged with a wide range of subjects including morality, metaphysics, language, epistemology, value, aesthetics, and consciousness. Among the chief elements of his philosophy are his radical rejection of the existence and value of objective truth; his atheistic critique of religion and morality, and of Christianity in particular, which he characterized as propagating a slave morality in the service of cultural decline and the denial of life; his characterization of the human subject as the expression of competing wills, collectively understood as the will to power; and the aesthetic affirmation of existence in response to the “death of God” and the profound challenge of nihilism. His later work, which saw him develop influential (and frequently misunderstood) concepts such as the  and the doctrine of eternal recurrence, became increasingly preoccupied with the creative powers of the individual to overcome social, cultural, and moral contexts toward a state of aesthetic health.
After his death, Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche became the curator and editor of her brother’s manuscripts, reworking Nietzsche’s unpublished writings to fit her own German nationalist ideology while often contradicting or obfuscating his stated opinions, which were explicitly opposed to antisemitism and nationalism. Through these published editions, Nietzsche’s name became associated with fascism and Nazism, although 20th-century scholars have contested this interpretation of his work. His thought enjoyed renewed popularity in the 1960s, and his ideas have since had a profound impact on twentieth and early-twenty-first century thinkers across philosophy—especially in schools of continental philosophy such as existentialism, postmodernism, and post-structuralism—as well as art, literature, psychology, politics, and popular culture.
Φρίντριχ Νίτσε
Ο Φρίντριχ Βίλχελμ Νίτσε (γερμ. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche) (Ραίκεν, 15 Οκτωβρίου 1844[1] – Βαϊμάρη, 25 Αυγούστου 1900[1]) ήταν σημαντικός Γερμανός φιλόσοφος, ποιητής, συνθέτης και φιλόλογος. Έγραψε κριτικά δοκίμια πάνω στην θρησκεία, την ηθική, τον πολιτισμό, την φιλοσοφία και τις επιστήμες, δείχνοντας ιδιαίτερη κλίση προς την χρήση μεταφορών, ειρωνείας και αφορισμών.
Οι κεντρικές ιδέες της φιλοσοφίας του Νίτσε περιλαμβάνουν τον “θάνατο του Θεού”, την ύπαρξη του υπερανθρώπου, την ατέρμονη επιστροφή, τον προοπτικισμό καθώς και την θεωρία της ηθικής κυρίων – δούλων. Αναφέρεται συχνά ως ένας από τους πρώτους «υπαρξιστές» φιλοσόφους. Η ριζική αμφισβήτηση από μέρους του της αξίας και της αντικειμενικότητας της αλήθειας έχει οδηγήσει σε αμέτρητες διαμάχες και η επίδρασή του παραμένει ουσιαστική, κυρίως στους κλάδους του υπαρξισμού, του μεταμοντερνισμού και του μεταστρουκτουραλισμού.
Ξεκίνησε την καριέρα του σαν κλασικός φιλόσοφος, κάνοντας κριτικές αναλύσεις σε αρχαιοελληνικά και Ρωμαϊκά κείμενα, προτού εντρυφήσει στην φιλοσοφία. Το 1869, σε ηλικία 24 ετών, διορίστηκε καθηγητής στο πανεπιστήμιο της Βασιλείας, στην έδρα της Κλασικής Φιλολογίας, όντας ο νεότερος που έχει πετύχει κάτι ανάλογο. Παραιτήθηκε το καλοκαίρι του 1879 εξαιτίας των προβλημάτων υγείας που τον ταλάνιζαν σχεδόν όλη του την ζωή. Σε ηλικία 44 ετών, το 1889, υπέστη νευρική κατάρρευση, η οποία αργότερα διεγνώσθη ως συφιλιδική «παραλυτική ψυχική διαταραχή», διάγνωση η οποία αμφισβητείται. Η επανεξέταση των ιατρικών φακέλων του Φρειδερίκου Νίτσε δείχνει ότι κατά πάσα πιθανότητα πέθανε από όγκο στον εγκέφαλο, ενώ η μετά θάνατον σπίλωση του ονόματός του οφείλεται κυρίως στο αντι-ναζιστικό μέτωπο. Τα τελευταία χρόνια της ζωής του ανέλαβε την φροντίδα του η μητέρα του, μέχρι τον θάνατό της το 1897, και έπειτα η αδελφή του, Ελίζαμπεθ Φούρστερ-Νίτσε, μέχρι τον θάνατό του, το 1900.
Εκτός από την φροντίδα του, η Ελίζαμπεθ Φούρστερ-Νίτσε ανέλαβε χρέη εκδότριας και επιμελήτριας των χειρογράφων του. Ήταν παντρεμένη με τον Μπέρναρντ Φούρστερ, εξέχουσα μορφή του γερμανικού εθνικιστικού και αντισημιτικού μετώπου, για χάρη του οποίου ξαναδούλεψε αρκετά από τα ανέκδοτα χειρόγραφα του Νίτσε, στην προσπάθειά της να τα «μπολιάσει» με τις ιδέες του, αντιβαίνοντας ριζικά με τις απόψεις του φιλόσοφου, οι οποίες ήταν ξεκάθαρα εναντίον του αντισημιτισμού και του εθνικισμού (βλ. Η κριτική του Νίτσε στον Αντισημιτισμό και τον Εθνικισμό). Με την βοήθεια των εκδόσεων της Φούρστερ-Νίτσε, ο Νίτσε έγινε συνώνυμο του Γερμανικού μιλιταρισμού και του Ναζισμού, αν και αρκετοί μελετητές του στο δεύτερο μισό του 20ου αιώνα έχουν καταφέρει να αντιστρέψουν την παρερμήνευση των ιδεών του.
~Wikipedia in both English and Greek http://www.wikipedia.org

AUSTERITY MEASURES

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The only reason the EU would force Greece to leave the euro is to punish it
Date: July 2, 2015 – 12:34AM
~ Clive Crook
In my more than 30 years writing about politics and economics, I have never before witnessed such an episode of sustained, self-righteous, ruinous and dissembling incompetence — and I’m not talking about Alexis Tsipras and Syriza. As the damage mounts, the effort to rewrite the history of the European Union’s abject failure over Greece is already underway. Pending a fuller post-mortem, a little clarity on the immediate issues is in order.
On Monday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said at a news conference that he’d been betrayed by the Greek government.

A woman passes a banner supporting the No vote to the upcoming referendum in Athens. Photo: AP
The creditor institutions, he said, had shown flexibility and sought compromise. Their most recent offer involved no wage cuts, he emphasised, and no pension cuts; it was a package that created “more social fairness”. Mr. Tsipras had misled Greeks about what the creditors were asking. The talks were getting somewhere. Agreement on this package could have been reached “easily” if Mr. Tsipras hadn’t collapsed the process early on Saturday by calling a referendum.
What an outrageous passel of distortion. Since these talks began five months ago, both sides have budged, but Mr. Tsipras has given vastly more ground than the creditors. In particular, he was ready to accede to more fiscal austerity — a huge climb-down on his part. True, the last offer requires a slightly milder profile of primary budget surpluses than the creditors initially demanded; nonetheless, it still calls for severely (and irrationally) tight fiscal policy.
In contrast, the creditors have refused to climb down on the question of including debt relief in the current talks, absurdly insisting that this is an issue for later. On Tuesday, Mr. Tsipras made his most desperate attempt yet to bring the issue forward.
Far from expressing any desire to compromise, dominant voices among the creditors — notably German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who often seemed to be calling the shots — have maintained throughout that there is nothing to discuss. The program already in place had to be completed, and that was that.
Yes, the program had failed. No, it wouldn’t achieve debt sustainability. Absolutely, it was pointlessly grinding down Greek living standards even further. What did that have to do with it?
Juncker says the last offer made no demand for wage cuts. Really? The offer says the “wage grid” should be modernised, including “decompressing the [public sector] wage distribution”. On the face of it, decompressing involves cuts. If the creditors were calling for public-sector wages to be decompressed upward perhaps they should have made this clear. Regardless, the increases in value-added taxes demanded by the creditors mean lower real wages, public and private alike. As for no pension cuts, the creditors called for phasing out new early-retirement penalties and the so-called social solidarity payment for the poorest pensioners. Those are cuts.
The creditors called for a lot else, too. Remember that the Greek economy is on its knees. Living standards have collapsed and the unemployment rate is 25 per cent. Now read the offer document, and see if you think the advance in “social fairness” that Juncker stressed at his news conference shines through.
But I haven’t mentioned the biggest distortion of all. Noticing for the first time that Greece has EU citizens within its borders, Juncker addressed them directly on the subject of the July 5 referendum. Greeks will be asked whether they accept the offer presented by the creditors – an offer, by the way, that the creditors say no longer stands. “No [to the offer that no longer exists] would mean that Greece is saying no to Europe,” Juncker explained. President Francois Hollande of France clarified: The vote would determine “whether the Greeks want to stay in the euro zone”.
Nonsense. There’s no doubt that Greeks want to stay in the euro system – though I find it increasingly difficult to see why. If Greece leaves the system, it won’t be because Greeks decide to leave; it will be because Europe decides to kick them out.
This isn’t just semantics. There’s no reason, in law or logic, why a Greek default necessitates an exit from the euro. The European Central Bank pulls this trigger by choosing – choosing, please note – to withhold its services as lender of last resort to the Greek banking system. That is what it did this week. That is what shut the banks and, in short order, will force the Greek authorities to start issuing a parallel currency in the form of IOUs.
A truly independent European Central Bank, willing to do whatever it takes to defend the euro system, could have announced that it would keep supplying Greek banks with liquidity. If the Greek banks are deemed in due course to be insolvent (which hasn’t happened yet), that doesn’t have to trigger an exit, either. Europe has the wherewithal and a bank-rescue mechanism that would allow the banks to be taken over and recapitalized. These options are foreclosed because the supposedly apolitical European Central Bank has let Europe’s finance ministers use it as a hammer to extract fiscal concessions from Greece.
Nobody ever imagined that a government default in Europe would dictate ejection from the euro zone. The very possibility would have been correctly recognized as a fatal defect in the design of the system.
If the Greeks vote no, a Greek exit is a possible and even likely consequence. But if it happens, the reason won’t be that Greece chose to go. The reason will be that the European Union and its politicized central bank chose to inflict exit as punishment.

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