Economics

The Greek dilemma

For more than half a century, the Greeks have lived at random times dominated by danger and risk. Going back to the thirties, they lived under a brutal dictatorship configured to the Nazi-style and endowed with a secret police similar to the Gestapo that sent dissenting voices to an island turned into a concentration camp. In such a circumstance, a peculiar conjuncture took place. Mussolini invaded the country. Under the challenge of preserving respect for themselves and their country, the Greeks put aside their hatred of the Metaxas dictatorship and united to fight against the foreign invaders.

The Greeks strove so positively in the defense of their country that Hitler had to postpone his invasion of Russia to come to the aid of the Italians. Such an initiative probably saved Stalin, since the delay forced the Wehrmacht to fight in the midst of mud, snow, and ice, and saved having to send British troops hastily to help Greece fight the Italians. However, he ironically saved the Metaxas dictatorship and the monarchy. The king and the high Greek authorities fled to Egypt occupied by the British and, as new allies, were declared part of the “free world”.

Meanwhile, in Greece, the Germans plundered most of the industries, maritime trade, and supplies. The Greeks began to notice the consequences of hunger and scarcity. As Mussolini observed, “the Germans have taken the Greeks to the shoelaces”

Next, the Greeks began to counterattack. In October 1942, they started a resistance movement that within two years became the largest in Europe. While France had to declare that it only had less than twenty thousand partisans, the Greeks could exhibit a force of around two million troops and faced at least two divisions of German soldiers, without outside help.

When the war ended, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined to return Greece to the type of government that preceded the conflict, characterized by the monarchy and the old regime, concerned about the communist influence in the resistance movement. He tried that the Anglo-American forces, ready to invade Italy, were instead engaged in attacking Greece. He tried to modify so drastically the war plans, that almost fractured the allied military alliance; Failing to do so, he launched all the soldiers he still controlled against Greece and precipitated a civil war that tore the country apart. The clandestine leaders were deceived and their movement was crushed. The bureaucracy, the security forces and the programs of pre-war dictatorship took over the situation.

When the United Kingdom ran out of funds and could not finance its policy, Churchill ceded Greece to the Americans, who applied the “Truman doctrine” and provided the necessary funding. The American money temporarily saved the situation, but the hard hand of the previous regime gave way to a new generation of aspiring democrats.

Such is the theme so well illustrated by the film Z by Costa Gavras, with Yves Montand in the leading role. As the film shows, the progressive movement was dominated by a new military dictatorship, the “regime of the colonels.” When the military junta was overthrown in 1974, Greece enjoyed a brief period of “normalcy,” but none of the open wounds in society had healed.

Regardless of the political party that appointed government ministers

Regardless of the political party that appointed government ministers

the issue is that the old bureaucracy was self-perpetuating and was still in charge of the situation, corruption was flourishing and, a very important factor, Greece had become a country that Aristotle would have qualified undoubtedly oligarchy. The wealthiest resorted to their riches to occupy all levels of the economy and formed a financial system basically outsourced. The port of Piraeus was filled to overflowing with large yachts, owned by people who did not pay taxes, and London was baited practically at the expense of the Greek economy. Cash and cash funds were prospering outside the country.

This scenario could have lasted many more years, but when Greece joined the European Union in 1981, European bankers (mainly Germans) saw an opportunity: they flocked to Greece to offer loans- Churchofgodanonymous payday loans no credit check. Even the Greeks without enough income to answer the loans disputed them and, later, the creditors demanded their reimbursement. In the grip of the economic crisis, companies began to falter, unemployment increased and good prospects vanished.

In effect, there is no possibility of repaying the loans. Neither should they have offered nor accepted. To stay afloat, the government has cut public services (except in the case of the armed forces) and the people have suffered the consequences. On the occasion of the 2004 elections, the Greeks had not yet gone badly enough to vote for the radical coalition led by the “Unity” party (Syriza). Only 3.3% of the voters voted for him.

Then came years of irritation, disapproval of the political class and penalties. The factor that led then to the electoral victory of Syriza was a combination of popular anger, which felt cheated by the bankers and their own folly, as well as by the hopelessness by the realization that there was no way out. After a series of failed attempts to secure the mandate, Syriza won the 2015 elections with 36.3% of the vote and obtained 149 of the 300 parliamentary seats. At present, the prevailing conditions that drove that vote are even more pressing: Greece’s national income has fallen by around 25% and youth unemployment has exceeded 25%.

In what situation does this scenario leave the negotiators

In what situation does this scenario leave the negotiators

The Greeks are prey to irritation. The penalties do not turn out to be a novelty. Hatred against the Germans is alive (this time, not against the soldiers, but against the bankers). Again and again, they have been denigrated and belittled by their own politicians. Alexis Tsipras must know that, if he is accused of being “sold”, his career is over. And the offer offered by the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank weighs like a slab against the Greek situation. The Greeks observe that what they weigh, leaving the euro is similar to the previous positions of the British and Swedes.

Accordingly, unless the proposed terms offer a genuine opportunity for a better life through the forgiveness of most of the debt, I consider it likely that the Greeks will vote on Sunday in favor of an exit from the euro.