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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 March 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 18 MARCH 2017 21 GREECE their shoulders." When Syriza was first elected to government, or more rightly formed government, I was asked my view. I responded, "They will betray Greece. Varoufakis will resign." What has been gained by any 'leftwing' or 'progressive' political party anywhere in the world where it has compromised in accommodating the spectre of transnational forces? They shift some of their supporters against them. They contribute to the fomenting and rise of right wing populism, xenophobia, and misoxeny. Not even on the surface is Greece responsible for its debt crises. On the surface it is the EU that is responsible – for its diabolical financial mismanagement of its member states, and of its shambolic lending practices and black market-like repayment regimes. Greece's sins are whatever they may be: Greece is the victim and it is not the perpetrator. The Greece of today was made from outside its borders. Europe is on the cusp of generations of human tragedies. That Greeks effectively earn less income than during the Great Depression, and all the while debt increases, speaks of never-beforeseen miseries approaching. Greece is insolvent and that should have been the end of it all. As Brazil, saw out insolvency, retired debts, and humbly rebuilt within its context so too should Greeks be given respite. The Greek government betrayed Greece. The government borrowed unaffordable loans from the IMF. This is not just impropriety, it could be seen as corruption. In the steadfast refusal by Greek governments to stand up to the Medes, to try and protect Thermopylae, they comply with draconian austerity to Greeks, of such nature as would have riled Solon. Here, the government is responsible, not the EU. Greece can indeed say "No." Indeed, Alexis Tsipras was obliged to say "No" after the 2015 July referendum, after the Greek people had mandated it so. In the Corruption Perception Index, (L-R) Italian Minister of Economy and Finance Pier Carlo Padoan talking with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici. PHOTO: AP/THIERRY MONASSE fear of the Medes corralled Varoufakis into holding onto all one can have – dignity – his resignation validated his authenticity. Syriza's prowess as a political force was forged on the newsworthiness of truth in the face of power. But as the Greek authorities crack down on protesters, Syriza has become what it once railed against. The EU and the International Monetary Fund have cracked down on Syriza, who are now a rabble reduced to less than a whimper. What hope is there for Greece in the face of a sea of debt, of incoherent and unsustainable repayment plans? To pretend the way out is to accept generations of the bleakest indenture of the majority. Only decades ago, Brazil's debts to the IMF and World Bank were so huge that the majorly impoverished nation would not be able to repay without grievous suffering and bloodshed. The debts were retired. Not so for Greece. Today the presumption in this incoherently meritocratic world is for Greece to serve as some sort of warning. The slumlords reinforce a dichotomy: the oppressor and the oppressed. There are no binaries with an oppressor and oppressed; only dichotomies and impositions. Greece's problems will get bigger, much worse than today's violence, worse than today's endemic impoverishment, and mired deeper in in- tertwined social deprivations and reactionary forces that are more sinister than Golden Dawn. In the 1980s, I predicted the death of Greece as it was then, one of relative pro-social agendas that provided for the relative wellbeing of Greeks. There was no absolute poverty in Greece then. But the EU was approaching, with transnationals at the helm instead of propriety and probity. In 2004, while in Greece, I was asked what I imagined the future held for Greece – "It will get much worse and thereafter just continue to get worse." My fear is that by the time the bones of our generations are soaked into the earth, that conditions will have got so terrible people will look over Transparency International ranks Greece 69th of 176 nations. However Transparency International makes a connection between corruption and inequalities, as opposed to a standalone definition of corruption. Chair of Transparency International, Jose Ugaz, "In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity." This describes the European Union and transnationals more than it describes Greece and its governments. If we are to accept corruption and inequality as intertwined, we need to understand political responsibilities. Transparency International argues, "When traditional politicians fail to tackle corruption, people grow cynical. Increasingly, people are turning to populist leaders who promise to break the cycle of corruption and privilege." In this regard, the Greek government could be seen as 'corrupt', as opposed to cowardly, for not taking on the EU and the transnationals. Penultimate fault lies outside Greece, and there are no solutions within Greece while the lenders insist on mass poverty in order to make their profit. Greece's integrity is not in as much in question as is the EU's integrity. The swathe of the Union's 'accords' made permissible the buy up of Greece's institutions, the aggressive money lending, the induction of structural inequalities and power imbalances with transnationals taking control of Greece as soon as Greece entered the European Union. The transnationals determined Greece's median wage and indexation creep and inflation rates. Greece was drowned by transnational globalisation. Unless Greece stands up, unless Greek governments defy the European Union, the critical mass of broken lives, the deepening poverty will escalate from broken lives to ruined lives, to famine-like poverty and Greeks will scavenge from what dignity remains. All other stances are but lies. In 1963, physician and politician Grigoris Lambrakis marched alone in defiance of the near-dictatorial Greek state that had effectively little separation between the police and government. Today, Greeks have civil freedoms and rights that were not evident in April 1963 – one month later Lambrakis was assassinated. In theory, two centuries of the direst austerity is needed to pay off Greece's debt. If it were to be so, it will come at other costs; damage to the Greek psyche and to the spirit. Humanity will be reduced and the prisons will fill and overflow. Ghettoes and homelessness never before known in Greece, not even under the Ottomans, will become predominant and the suicide tolls will escalate. The 1973 uprising at the Athens Polytechnic brought about the downfall of the Greek military junta of 1967 to 1974. The tank crashing through the gates of the Polytechnic and the bloodshed could not be stymied into ghastly silences and bowed heads. Whether it was clear the Medes would win out or not, Greeks stood up: Mo'lon Laveh. There come times in our existence, no matter how frail our mortal coil, where we do have to be resilient in taking a stand coupled with vigilance in remaining uncompromising on the ways forward. Manos Eleftheriou said in 1974, "I underwent your tribunals – Since in Hades you'll find me to sentence me again to martyrdom and chastise me like a criminal." Or maybe all changes as it did then too and the junta at an end, so too the juntas of today must be railed against; of the transnational slumlords and of their European Union puppet. * Gerry Georgatos is a suicide prevention and prison reform researcher and advocate with the Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights. He is a member of national projects to further developing suicide prevention, and wellbeing and education programs in prisons. He is also a prolific writer in understanding racism and on the ways forward from racism. Gerry has regularly travelled to Greece – for the first time in 1971.
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