Greece is neither an ideal country nor an ideal society. We have our own negative and positive aspects, just like all other countries and societies. After all, there’s no ideal place under the sun, there’s no country of angels only and no country of devils only!
By accepting this simple truth, we can all understand much better and easier what really happens in the world today. Ever since the spread of the globalization concept, there has been a tendency that all countries and all people adhere or adapt to a very specific model of life, work and thinking. Whether this is an American model, as some say, or a German one, as others insist, is of no consequence here.
People are not the same and this is why they cannot live, work or think in the same way. The way one goes about their life in any given country has to do with specific circumstances, weather conditions, traditions, customs, sets of values and needs which vary a lot from country to country. These differences are responsible for national cultures and the interactivity or even the conflict of national cultures is the stuff human evolution and world history is made of.
I don’t mean to say that Greece and the Greek people are absolutely innocent. We have our problems and we also have erred and even sinned in quite a few fields in the recent past – just like all others around us, more or less. A well tuned domestic and foreign propaganda mechanism has been trying to portray us as some kind of criminals or international bastards who should be punished - but we know better than that! Our elected politicians have been guilty of corruption and incompetence and our society has been more tolerant towards them than it should. The Greek penal system and the laws that apply specifically to elected officials have been helping them to go unpunished while the electorate tends to vote for them anyway instead of sending them back to their home and private life – to say the least.
We have been big spenders as well! As individuals and as a country we chose to borrow more than we should to keep up with the consumption standards determined by today’s way of life and the TV ads and also by our European partners, who gave us generous loans, so that we could buy their products. Consumer products, such as cars, TV sets, cell phones and PC’s, and - mainly and much more importantly - ridiculously expensive and particularly useless weapons, such as fighter planes, tanks, ineffective submarines etc.
Our partners have been crazy or smart enough to lend us and we have been thoughtless enough to borrow from them, without thinking about how these loans could be paid back once the bubble of global economy would explode. This actually happened in 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the US and spread fast across Europe.
The European Union and particularly the European South, including Iceland and Ireland, was not ready for this. Greece was the first country of the Euro zone to go down in 2010 and since then it has been the target of harsh criticism and bad publicity by those who gave us the loans and have made huge fortunes out of our nation’s ambiguous consumer’s behavior. Moreover, Greece has been the field of financial experimentation of the worse kind, the first ever developed country being forced to her knees through the enforcement of the strictest austerity measures. After two long years these measures have only resulted in driving huge numbers of people to unemployment, hunger and poverty. They did not solve any of the problems of our economy which sinks lower and lower. Unemployment level hit 21%, inflation is steady at 3-4%, recession is at 7% and there is no end of this ordeal in sight – not until 2020.
It is clear now that chief bureaucrats and economists of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund along with German and French politicians have been playing with Greece, experimenting with our economy and punishing the people of Greece instead of suggesting effective correction measures, pressing for realistic changes to take place within realistic time schedules. National economies that work in one way or another for many decades simply cannot change overnight. Moreover, changes of this caliber cannot be enforced without taking into consideration the fundamental human rights and the lives of the people involved. Politicians and international institutions are elected and established with the primary aim of securing and guaranteeing our welfare, the basic living standards of ordinary people. As they fail to do this and as they choose to protect the rights of the Banks, the financial markets and the hedge fund vis a vis the rights of the people they put at risk the social stability which finally is the foundation of all economic growth. The social unrest observed in Greece and spreading fast along the European South is the natural reaction of people driven suddenly over the edge, of citizens of rich and developed countries who are experiencing insecurity or the complete disaster of their lives and families, because of the lethal recipe enforced: repeated salary cuts and heavy, inhumane, taxation… As the recipe for Greece fails dramatically, we may see the European Union failing as a whole!