Thursday 10 May 2012

Greece in Europe?

Greece’s European Union history is long and varied. Greece came out of the WWII on the side of the winners. However, this came at a heavy cost. Total loss of human life amounted to around 4-11% of the total population. For comparison French losses were 1.4%, Italian 1%, and British 1%. The Greek numbers are comparable to those of Germany 8-10% and USSR of 13.5%.
The economy was devastated not least because of one of the highest hyperinflations caused by the Nazi occupation. As if this was not enough, the Greeks engage into a destructive civil war between the hardline communists and British backed nationalist. Unknown to most communists at the time, Stalin had given Greece to the West in a deal with Churchill. Thus the soviet communist paradise was lost for the Greeks but remained as a myth in the collective conscience. In fact, the actions of the later Greek government instead of healing the wounds drove deeper the social and economic division.

A combination of politically motivated executions, imprisonments, economic exclusions, secret police filing and exiles in remote islands reinforced the myth of the lost paradise.  Many Greeks emigrated to Germany that needed the manpower to rebuild and to the coalmines of Belgium. Despite these inhuman and undemocratic practices Greece remained a member of the free West. In 1967 the military junta sealed the fate of the political debate. The left won the hearts and minds of most Greeks. The West, the evil American capitalists and NATO was the real force that deprived the Greeks from freedom, democracy and as some claimed the soviet paradise. 
The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was created in 1951 and in 1959 it was transformed into the EEC. Greece applied for European membership in 1959 and was accepted as an associate member in 1961. Unfortunately, the full member application was disrupted in 1967 when the Greek colonels decided to save Greece from the “communist threat”.  Greece reopened the talks with the EEC in 1975 and despite the fierce opposition from the left and PASOK (socialists who government Greece 22 out the last 30y). In fact, PASOK campaigned and won (48%) the 1981 on an anti-European, anti-West, anti-NATO platform. PASOK made a U-turn on policy because they saw the European money and agricultural subsidies as manna from the European heaven. But the real anti-west, anti-European rhetoric never died. Conspiracy theories about the motives of the xenoi (foreigners) and the superpowers abound. The mixing of myth, lies and facts is clouding the ability of many Greeks and political activists to discern reality from fiction. The collapse of the two main parties who misgoverned Greece brought to the surface the odious feces. Listen to politicians and activists on Greek radio or tv and you would gain very fast advance qualification in irrationality, psychopathy and paranoia.

Would Greece exit the Euro?
Many ask this question. It is the wrong question to ask. The real question is; Can Greece remain in the Euro or Europe? This is not a financial question. It is not a question about salaries, debt and austerity measures. It is a question of culture, ideas and common ground. Do the Greeks, the Greek political parties the Greek state share the values that created the united Europe or not? Are they inside just for the free ride on the EU budget or do they really share the values that shaped modern Europe? Back in 1981, many Greek politicians aware of this discrepancy said that EEC membership would force the Greeks to become European.  Clearly, the success was partial. The “barbarous” memorandum forced by the Troika addresses only the financial dimension of the Greek crisis. It does not address nor can it ever address the wider cultural problems of Greece. Only education and perhaps time to reflect can. The Greek crisis is not a black swan. It was a disaster long overdue. It was not directly caused by excesses in banking practices despite the left’s populist claims. It is a society in crisis and no amount of EU help can address it. Euro or Drachma the Greeks would have to resolve their existentialist problems on their own.