Greece: A Brief Update

As my earlier post, The Last Colony, scrolls off the main page, our regular commenter on Greek affairs, L’Enfant de la Haute Mer, continues to keep us up to date on conditions and events in Greece. Two of her recent links to articles struck me as particularly relevant. First, an article in The Nation, Greece in Meltdown, by Maria Margaronis:

For decades, Greeks have had a relationship of antagonistic symbiosis with the state, resenting its inefficiency and petty bureaucracy while relying on the big party machines to keep them comfortable. … “[Now,] The whole political system has been discredited,” [former truck driver Nikolaos Koumbariotis] said. “At this moment, no one believes in anything. No one has any faith that there could be some sort of representation that could solve our problems.”

… But it’s also because Greek democracy has been suspended for some time. Both main parties have split under the pressure of the impossible choice—default or deeper austerity—extorted from Greece by its lenders; on February 12 each expelled some twenty members of Parliament for voting against the terms of the new loan deal, a 700-page document they were given one day to read. …

(Americans know about huge bills which legislators are given only a day or two to read… can you spell “PATRIOT Act,” children? Of course, that is the single law most destructive of American democracy in all of American history, and in more rational times with a less radical Supreme Court, it would be overturned as unconstitutional. Instead, it has become the basis of more infringements of civil liberties, e.g., the Military Commissions Act, and more draconian unitary executive policies from administrations of both major parties.)

The other link of note is to a YouTube video of an interview of Costas Douzinas, professor of law at Birkbeck University, London. The uploader of this video provides one brief transcription conveying the flavor of Prof. Douzinas’s commentary:

You can push people out of the way until they leave the country if they can or they live off the rubbish bins. At the moment we have 22 per cent unemployment, 50 per cent unemployment among the youth, and a huge increase in homelessness, which may result in a proportional increase in suicide

We in America think we live in hard times, and no doubt we do. But our suffering is nowhere nearly as bad as Greek suffering… and while our democracy is threatened, theirs is apparently completely gone.

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  • Heidi @ homeingreece  On Thursday March 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    thank you for posting. all I can say is that what Douzinas says is true. best wishes from small-town Greece.

    • Steve  On Thursday March 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Welcome, Heidi!

      American school children are taught (in very little detail) the history of Greece, and even grown Americans usually acknowledge Greece as “the birthplace of democracy” (with all its limitations) and, considering the ancient Greeks who were beyond question the finest scientists and mathematicians of their time (Archimedes, Euclid, etc.), we think of ancient Greece as one of the places of origin of modern logical and scientific thought.

      So, to many of us, it seems an outrage that this needless, ineffective austerity is being inflicted on the Greek people, by their government, in secret deals with banks, against the people’s wishes. I shall continue posting on the subject until Greece gets its democracy back!

  • MandT  On Thursday March 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    In California Governor Jerry Brown (D) is trying to cut IHSS (IN Home Support Services), which consist of nearly 1/2 million elderly, disabled, terminally ill clients, who want to remain at home, rather than be sent to custodial care in nursing homes etc. The cuts over two year will total nearly 30% on in home care hours, thus insuring the destruction of the program. Further, the State is trying to dismantle Sec. 8 housing, which qualifies low income, poor and elderly safe housing. It’s set up so that there is a cap on landlord rents, a fifty percent raise on the clients and a 40% of income stipulation that will result in thousands of Sec 8 clients losing their rental stipends. The Democrat legislature in California is the enemy, and we thought the Repubs were heartless. Welcome to the Obama Republic.

    • Steve  On Thursday March 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      And all of this, MandT, from the former Governor Moonbeam! Who could have imagined!

      If you wish, you may list the destruction of the social safety net in California as yet another of the million-odd reasons I dropped my membership in the Democratic Party. No one I know, of any age, wants the dismantlement of government programs you describe. It’s almost as if, if you want to remain a (small-d) democrat, you can no longer be a (cap-D) Democrat!

  • MandT  On Thursday March 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    PS. Our best wishes and solidarity to and with the Greek people. Thanks Enfant for keeping us informed.

  • L'Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Friday March 2, 2012 at 5:12 am

    in the mean time:
    Judge strikes down lawsuit against Olympia Co-op boycott of Israeli goods.

  • L'Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Tuesday March 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Cheap potato fever is spreading in austerity-pummelled Greece:
    Many thanks again for leaving comments open.

  • L'Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Tuesday March 6, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Most Germans own a second property
    It is called Greece:

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