I felt I had to watch this so-called documentary as I do not find it appropriate to criticize in the abstract. Also, Varoufakis complained today that there is no serious response to the messages in the film. Here we go therefore, an attempt at a thoughtful view. I will not pretend to be balanced, neither does Mason in fact. Remember though, I am an academic, not a “Party Journalist”.
Episode 1 starts with the 2015 election results. Shows Tsipras jubilant as we all were (even me). Paul Mason repeats the idea that this was the first left government of Greece. This rather ignores Papandreou in 1981. It presents the hardship of 2010-15 as the consequence of the bailout and the Troika, as opposed to an internal collapse. It presents Syriza as the only party that promised to fight austerity. This very much looks like a Syriza propaganda video.
The episode is very much built around Giamali, presented as a Syriza journalist. Last time parties had journalists was in Pravda. It is interesting that the people who brand everyone else a traitor, a paid commentator, have no problem identifying themselves as Party hacks. The interviews presented play into the usual Greek myth that the country was basically ok and it got ruined by an attack of foreign interests, primarily the Germans, the descendants of the Nazis lets not forget (we are told, aplenty). A lot of the wisdom of this episode comes from a dock-worker giving you the standard thoughts of a Golden Dawner.
Kostantopoulou makes an appearance in this episode, giving us lessons on democracy, this would have done better than the LAE taxi driver-based political ads. For all her youth she is something very old indeed, the old of the self-righteous fanatic, drunk on power and shameless in its use. We also have the often appearing actress hoping that Greece would say fuck you to Europe. Radical calls to inflict an apocalypse on the population abound, the suffering of said population a true indignado is not interested in. It is pure, it is true, it is criminally stupid. The episode rehashes the shamefully ignorant and incompetent conclusions of the so called Truth Commission of Kostantopoulou. A commission I remind you that even Lapavitsas, its intellectual father, had nothing to do with. We have the usual and expected (from Mason) adoration of God Varoufakis.
This is the interesting bit, where we get into the glorious Greferendum. Varoufakis is seen here anticipating the bank closures he publicly proclaimed at the time were not considered, or possible. We go back to our loved dock-worker wishing for Armageddon. The Pro-Euro supporters get a few seconds mention too, which is excellent for a ‘balanced’ view. The episode predictably blames the bank closures on the Troika, rather than Mr Tsipras suicidal decision to hold a referendum on a non-question (the fakeness of the question is not addressed). The Party Journalist hopes for Armageddon too, but with pride. Indeed it fills me with pride to see the ‘protestors’ with their branded t-shirts and iphones fighting against neoliberalism. I really enjoyed the happy dancing in Syntagma Square after the OXI. Tsipras is seen crying after his ‘win’, probably out of the very fear that he convinced everyone else to overcome.
This episode carries the thesis as to the ‘coup’ that led Tsipras to disregard his own ‘win’ in the Greferendum. It presents the Party loyalists being disappointed that Tsipras did not pull the trigger of the gun he had to their heads. It does not say much about the departure of Varoufakis, but foregrounds the Lafazanis ‘revolt’. The basis for the coup claim is the European supposed ultimatum –do a deal or Grexit-. The evidence for this? Twitter of course, the #ThisIsACoup is its own validation. Very post-modern, well done to Paul. If so many people are tweeting it, it must be true. The actress is indeed sad (repeated clip from the previous episode as to how they “fuck us”). The Syriza Journalist is also sad. The September election is briefly covered, described as bitter, with the ‘rebels’ of the apocalypse having run off. Tsipras is interviewed trying to explain. To his credit he explains that sticking to his own OXI would lead to disaster. This is of course blamed by Mason, not on Tsipras, but on the Europeans.
Talking about the Europeans Mason says: “Nobody knows what they will try next”. Indeed, maybe they will leave us alone and free to starve with dignity.
I need no lessons from Mr Mason on what the left is and what Greece is like. I have written two books on neoliberalism, capitalism and reform and was studying these long before he started blogging on the matter. This is a propaganda film, the likes of which I have seldom seen before. Perhaps only the Parliament TV agitprop on the debt under the Konstantopoulou regime comes close. It is a shockingly partisan piece of work that informs on nothing, yet offers easy outlet to cheap, pre-packaged rage for the anti-capitalist permanently outraged.
Sad as this is, my blog will give you a better education on what happened in Greece in 2015 than Mr Mason’s sleek effort. Ask yourself, do you care for the actual people living in Greece today, or do you care about an abstract theoretical ‘people’? This is the difference between me and Mr Mason (and Prof. Varoufakis), I care about those living now, not the ‘struggle’ of the textbook oppressed. The rupture Mason seems to yearn for, would not fall on his head.
The documentary ends, Greece is stuck with Syriza.