Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Today is a special day. The Greek government is deciding on whether to accept the austerity conditions demanded by the ECB (European Central Bank) and IMF for receiving the next slice of the bailout credit. I am fortunate to be in Greece and see and "feel" the situation in person. General strikes have been called for yesterday and today. In one city and one town I have seen permanent tent cities in public squares to protest. These tent cities are similar to the ones found in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain. There, in Spanish, the protesters are called "Los Indignados", the indignants, the angry ones. These groups across various European countries have united under the motto "Direct Democracy Now" or "Real Democracy Now". The site of the Greek branch of this European wide movement is www.real-democracy.gr/en.

Graffiti is on the walls in many places and flyers posted on many shop windows. They are expressing the feelings of the average people of the street. Where I have been the general strike was a partial one. I had no problem with the public transport and many shops, if not most, were open. One store used the term "Crisis Prices" instead of "Sales" to attract customers. A Greek friend commented that his salary was lowered 20% and that the politicians are discussing to lower it by 20% for a second time. Gas prices have gone from €0.80 to €1.75, i.e. they have more than doubled in a single year. To be truthful I have to say that I was nervous about the decision of the Greek government. I favored a rejection of the credit conditions, but that in turn could be the trigger to a domino effect across nations and economies.

A Greek friend expressed his view as follows. He sees this as a giant battle between banks and governments. Not only on a Greek scale, but on a global scale. In my mind a picture emerged like a Greek tragedy with elements from the Greek mythology; in my head a picture of two snakes formed, one representing a few elite world bankers, the other snake representing the world's governments. He continued to explain that he sees it as a fight between financial power and the political system. Furthermore he sees it as a sort of pilot project. If the banks win over democracy then they will take the Greek case study and rubber stamp it on other nations worldwide. He sees it as a reference case that will be repeated and replicated in the near future in other countries.

At the end of the day the Greek government accepted the bailout conditions and in my friend's view the political system gave in to the financial powers. My friend was disappointed with the decision. The political system and the Greek people are no more than slaves to the banking system. With the acceptance of the credit slice the problem is not averted, and certainly not solved. Everybody knows that it is just delayed by exactly 3 months until September when the next credit payment is due. So, the whole Greek tragedy will repeat itself shortly. Each time it will be worse. The only question I have is: How often will it repeat itself?

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