We are now well into to the third year of the IMF/EU imposed austerity in Greece and it is clear to all but the market zealots that the measures have made things worse, not better. The only positive effect the measures had so far was that they "helped Greece bring down its primary deficit before interest payments, from €24.7bn (10.6% of GDP) in 2009 to just €5.2bn (2.4% of GDP) in 2011"
But, the wikipedia article on the European sovereign debt crisis continues, "as a side-effect they also contributed to a worsening of the Greek recession, which began in October 2008 and only became worse in 2010 and 2011.Overall the Greek GDP had its worst decline in 2011 with −6.9%"
Whenever there is a an article or a statement about Greece one has to expect an army of self appointed "specialists" ready to lecture the unruly, tax evading Greeks. I personally get lectured at least once a week by some random bigot who knows everything since he's been to Greece three times, once in a stag do. So it was with Christine Lagarde's freak comments about the Greeks and how they compare to the poor Africans for whom she's got.. more sympathy!
It is a feature of the early 21st century that people have lost their ability to see the forrest for the tree. For the apologists of the perma-tanned IMF boucher en chef have all failed to grasp the irony of Lagarde's statement. It is her institution, the IMF, that have devastated Africa and condemned millions of people in the ravaged continent to eternal poverty. It is her job to push through the privatisation of schools and hospitals in countries where the schools and hospitals were the only public services available to the poor and the needy. Perhaps it would be useful if Christine Lagarde could tell us exactly what the IMF are doing to Ghana and Nigeria.
But of course this inability isn't limited to the Guardian readers. People in Greece have completely lost it. Almost seven percent of the vote went to a party that praises nazism and refuses to acknowledge the devastation of Greece by the nazis and the atrocities committed during the occupation. In punishing the two mainstream parties who brought them here, the Greeks have now sent Syriza* to the second place. It is a healthy reaction but it might well prove fatal. One would have to be a masochist or indeed an ass to vote the parties that devastated Greece. How could anyone vote PASOK (the "socialist" party) when every day new outrageous details emerge of the extravagant luxuries enjoyed by the man who got Greece some unwanted submarines from Germany, keeping a hefty bribe for himself??
Applying moral rules pretty much the same way the client of the brothel does, the Germans cry "the Greeks are the most corrupt." Of course, the Germans know better since many of their biggest companies had special bribery offices and officers in Athens, to ensure that they would be awarded all the juicy contracts. If you think of arms, the tube, the airports, the railway, the telecoms, the motorways and security system for the Olympics.. well, you can see exactly who benefited on both sides of the European pond.
But to get back to my fellow Greeks, they are now about to vote in Alexis Tsipras, a man whose plan Daniel Kohn-Betit described as mad. I don't know about Tsipras' plan or non-plan. What I do know is that the Greek vote was met with threats by the EU, the IMF and Merkel personally. Those are new colonial days then, when Germans warn Greeks about their vote.
The Greek question attracts an army of idiots, moralising over indebted middle class Britons for example who are outraged by the Greek largesse. Presumably anyone other that the Brits and the European northwest do not deserve education, holidays or healthcare. According to a reader of the M.E.N. they do not even deserve to have the Parthenon which should be removed from Greece. This is hubris and it wouldn't be worth mentioning if it didn't highlight a core feature of the current situation. Namely, the nationalist dimension. Once again the south is lazy, the north is outraged and it is about time (once more) the northern frugal self-flagellating Angelas put those unruly mediterraneans in their place.
It is true that corruption is high in Greece, every major public work involved bribery and a lot of people avoided paying tax, from plumbers all the way to ship magnates. Talking of plumbers, I am not sure how many of them pay the tax here in the UK. With regards to the ship magnates, most of them are non-doms, residents in the UK with their money safe in Liechtenstein, Cayman islands etc, pretty much like Lord-Ashcroft and any other self-respecting arse, such as Bono and Geldoff. It is also true that the process of unifying the currency across such a wide area and so many countries would never be easy. It would mean, among other things, that a large part of the unofficial Greek economy should somehow become part of the official and start paying tax. Of course this cannot be done by squeezing the shit out of the victimised Greek majority who paid their tax always. This is what is happening now, with catastrophic consequences.
The fact that Greece was an easy target and that the Greeks so far have done everything to give ammunition to Lagarde and Merkel doesn't mean that the problem is Greece. Merkel is a capitalist weapon of the markets and so is Lagarde. Their plan is the continuation of what Thatcer started. Is the demolition of the welfare state, the abolition of minimum wage, free education and health care. This is what they want. Neither of them give a shit whether the Greeks live or die, whether they pay tax or not. What they both want is access to any remaining resources for their masters, a lease of airports, railways, ports, motorways and mines for life, for virtually no money. They also want the nicest homes in the Mani, in Myconos and Corfu and Messinia, with the best view, preferably without any unruly and noisy Greeks around. If those policies were enforced by an iron British lady then there would be much more resistance and outrage. But when they come from a country that so far has done alright, even bribing its way to lucrative contracts, then it's an altogether different story.
I don't know what is going to happen. I am pessimistic in that with or without the euro Greece is finished. My advise to anyone who can is to get out of there. Only a miracle can now save Greece and I cannot see miracles, nor do I believe in them. The Italian south, Portugal and Spain are in for the next run of "the markets" on society. Merkel wants more flexible workforce, less protection, less wages and the creation of special zones in the occupied south where the northerners can produce goods employing people for whom minimum wage regulations don't apply, in an arrangement by which the company will be exempt from local tax. It really is all about feeding the big euro monster with the body parts of Europe.
by Petros Diveris
Manchester, June 2012