Over the summer I flagged up to you here the rise of Greece’s Nazi Golden Dawn party. They really are a horrible bunch of folks who “make the BNP look like Julie Andrews” according to one academic quoted in today’s papers. Belatedly the deadwood press has picked up on what is happening. In a while it will work out who is to blame – the answer being the winner of the Nobel Peace prize, the Evil Empire itself.
In case you have forgotten who the fetching bird in this article is, she is Voula Papachristou, a triple jumper who was booted out of the Greek Olympic team this summer for making a racist joke on twitter. She should count her lucky stars. Had she made the tweet while at the Olympics in Britain 2012 she would have been arrested and banged up in Holloway for three months. Voula is perhaps not the brightest spark in the solar system but she is a supporter of Golden Dawn and after that incident became a pin-up girl across Greece.
And so I should spring to the defence of the Evil Empire (in part) in saying that the rise of fascism in Greece ( as outlined in this article in today’s Daily Mail) is in part the fault of the Greek political elite. Since 1974 Greece has been – effectively – a two party state. Pasok and New Democracy are not really that different ideologically, they are just parties run by old men who grew fat on taking bribes from different vested interests. The fat old pie-eaters of the two old parties created a corrupt State and society and thus left Greece in a position where she was in no fit state to join the Euro. But sensing that there were more pies on the way if Greece did join, the fat old men told lies and got Hellas into the Euro club.
So if you are a Greek who do you blame for the mess that is Greece and would you trust those same men to solve the crisis?
The reaction to Voula also showed how out of touch Greek leaders are. Clearly immigration is an issue for Greeks. Frankly I cannot see why someone would go to Greece as an economic migrant, I’d have thought that it would be Athenians trying to smuggle themselves into Upper Volta in search of a better life, not the other way round. But there is unhappiness. Greek leaders should have debated Voula and shown her up for the dumb blonde she is ( trust me, she is thick) instead they made her a martyr. Folks wondered if maybe she had a point and if their leaders were trying to stifle debate.
But to say that Greece’s leaders are bumbling crooks so make it easy for Golden Down ( now running at almost 25% in the opinion polls and rising) is only part of the problem.
I know that Greece needs wholesale reform: mass privitizations, a fall in prices and so the standard of living, and big cuts in Government spending. Academically and as a dry exercise I know that there is no alternative. However the EU imposed austerity programme is destroying Greek society. Real unemployment ( do not believe official Government lies, oops I meant statistics) is 30%. Youth unemployment is 60%. In Athens between one third and 40% of businesses are now shut. Greece has suffered 5 consecutive years of GDP contraction ( something never seen before in peacetime Europe). Greece is seeing folks leave the Cities and go back to family homes in the countryside to eke out a subsistence living – we have NEVER seen an urban to rural move in Europe before. Soup kitchens cannot cope with demand in Athens and the other major cities.
This is unprecedented in modern day Europe. The closest we have seen is post WW1 Germany where the economy just shrank whilst at the same time the State was forced to make large reparation payments (i.e. had its economy controlled) to other richer countries in Europe. And what happened next in Germany? Answers on a postcard please Reichsfuhrer Merkel.
What the winner of the Nobel Peace prize is imposing on Greece is destroying Society as we know it and causing poverty and misery on a scale you simply cannot comprehend. And that is the main reason why folks are prepared to countenance supporting those who offer extreme solutions.
Greece has enjoyed democracy for just 38 years. If we continue in the current vein it may well be that democracy is replaced with something else or, arguably worse, that a democratic society opts to elect – as Germany did in 1932 – a Government whose policies are just unbelievably vile. It’s the Generals or the Nazis/other groupings of nutters. Your call EU. It could, of course, all work out differently but it does not seem to be heading for a happy ending right now.