Archive | December, 2012

The Athenian night

19 Dec

The scenario: The debt crisis in countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland drags down the entire Eurozone. Unemployment and poverty reach record heights, while racist political parties grow in strength. The euro falls apart, the economic union breaks up and pulls the world into recession and Europe descends into new wars. Is this just a nightmare dreamt up by the yellow press, or a clear and present danger?

The expert: Nikos Tzanakis-Papadakis, founding member of the Berlin branch of Greece’s main opposition party, SYRIZA.

“In Greece, the signs of social collapse are there. On the streets of Athens, you see lots of homeless people who had homes six months ago. More and more people don’t have access to health care, and diseases that shouldn’t be mortal under civilised conditions are killing people. Even malaria is making a comeback! Where I’m from, in Crete, everyone knows a person who has killed him- or herself as a result of the crisis.

In the Athenian night, you can see groups of 50-60 muscle-bound men patrolling the streets and attacking immigrants and leftists with clubs and knives. They wear black armbands with the logo of the Nazi party “Golden Dawn”, which looks a lot like a swastika. They got into parliament, but they also take over neighbourhoods and act like a racist paramilitary group. This is what it looks like when a society collapses.

Germany, the EU’s ruling power, needs the European south to keep exporting. If Greece were to leave the currency and cancel all its debts, then it would be much more expensive for countries like Spain or Italy to borrow money. They would get into their own debt crises and the countries of the whole EU would topple like dominoes.

Then again, leaving the euro is not the only nightmare scenario. Right now, the working people of Greece are bleeding in order to save the euro. This will lead to an increase of nationalism both in the north and the south. We’re talking about social cannibalism.

But whether that happens depends on the people of Europe themselves. We’re fighting for a leftist government in Greece that stops the austerity programmes. If we all fight together, we have a chance to avert this catastrophe.” JR