Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Greece Showing Up The Chimera of Euro Unity

So the increased suffering in Greece has started. Is anybody celebrating this great triumph of the strong over the weak? Some are, and all on account of the chimera of an idea that the Euro is a unifying force in Europe. No it isn’t. It’s never been and the cracks are showing more than ever now.

Definition of ‘chimera’

  1. (in Greek mythology) a fire-breathing female monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail;
  2. a thing which is hoped for but is illusory or impossible to achieve.
"the economic sovereignty you claim to defend is a chimera".

Synonyms: illusion, fantasy, delusion, dream, fancy, figment of the imagination, will-‘o-the-wisp, phantom, mirage, ignis fatuus.

In Homer’s time, the Chimera was an omen predicting storms, shipwrecks, volcanoes and other natural disasters. I guess you could classify the Greek situation as a natural disaster in that those who have caused it are following their natural bent. Cruelty.

You wouldn’t have thought so when the concept of the euro first took shape. The vision behind it was unity but in reality it was forged by people who don’t grasp that the fundamental and operative principle of unity is equality. So the euro is predicated on the powerful bending the weaker to their will. It’s not a sustainable social model, as history keeps showing and will always show and it sure ain’t about unity.

The bullies who have authored this Greek tragedy and forced austerity not only on the Greeks but on so many others either don’t understand or don’t want to that economics is about human beings who react when pushed beyond their capacity to bear suffering.

Ironically, given that Germany pushes everybody around because it’s so [allegedly] economically powerful, its ‘economic strength’ is tenuous.   

On the surface, it looked like a miracle of job creation a few years ago. But that miracle was the result of right-wing driven wage restraint and labor market reform which led to an explosion of low-wage jobs. Surprise, surprise. In 2012 some workers were getting less than 1 euro an hour. Even now, with the minimum wage signed into law in 2015—forced on Angela Merkel’s party by left-wing coalition party she had to align with because some of her electorate was tired of being exploited—companies can create ‘mini-jobs’ and pay whatever wage they want.

So no real solution was offered to those who sought a better quality life. That’s a short-term and, in the light of history, perfectly idiotic way of responding to what is definitely a crisis.

The ‘miracle’ has resulted in the German middle class slipping further and further down the ladder into the poorer class. When the middle class gets paid too little it loses its purchasing power and taxes drop. Even if the country relies on exports they’re manufactured by real live human beings, who ultimately wake up to the fact that they’re being exploited.

Last night I watched HardTalk try to get a word in edgeways with Stathis Kouvelakis, a member of Syriza’s central committee. His outrage at and articulacy about the way Greece has been hammered were a pleasure to watch. He pointed out what anybody with any sense is saying now; that Greece’s economy has been slaughtered by austerity, and that is the reason for its indebtedness now. He was furious and rightfully so, when he said that the Greek parliament was given one day to read through a thousand-page document listing the troika’s austerity demands.

Kouvelakis believes that Tsipras shouldn’t have conceded, because the Greek people have already spoken; they don’t want more austerity. Personally I understand why he did it; it’s one thing to vote no to austerity; it’s another to live with the consequences of refusing the troika’s terms. Dead if you do, dead if you don’t, though.

I don’t believe this story is over. Greece won’t be able to pay the next round of debt because the austerity measures are even worse than they were before. Here’s another definition that the troika and the European economists should take note of:

Stupidity: doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.

I feel deeply for Greeks and for Alex Tsipras, who I believe is an honorable man chained to a post in hell because he wants to do the best for his people and he’s got to choose between two hideous options. I know Greece would suffer tremendously if they exited the Euro but they’re already suffering and they’re going to suffer more anyway. Wouldn’t it be better for that suffering to at least result in them having control over their own destiny again?