The Apathy of the Greek People – Commentary of the Week

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

In Greece today it seems, unfortunately, that people are willing to accept just about everything. There is no other way to explain what is happening in the country. We are talking about a situation and a mentality which is deserving of scientific analysis. For years now, the majority of the Greek people have accepted, without much of a fight if at all, the first memorandum agreement, the interim memorandum agreement, the second memorandum, and the complete betrayal of the July 5th, 2015 referendum result and the passage of the third memorandum agreement, by the supposedly radical and leftist SYRIZA government.

Ah, but I forgot. Greece has been “saved,” again and again and again. We are told that Europe is giving Greece money, to “bail out” the country, that Greece has averted bankruptcy, and all of this while Greece, of course, remains “in Europe” and part of the vaunted European family and the Eurozone. Greece is being saved, day after day, allowing its people to live the so-called “European dream.”

This, of course, is why the Greek people are repeatedly told that the memorandums and austerity that they have endured are a “blessing.” And this, of course, is likely why Greece is now headed rapidly for memorandum agreement number four, for yet another so-called “bailout” and even more of that wonderful “European dream.” What’s this all about, you may be asking? A fourth memorandum? Wasn’t the third memorandum agreed to and ratified less than a year ago? Isn’t the oh-so-radical SYRIZA government negotiating as hard as it can with the IMF and its European so-called “partners” to protect the best interests of Greece? The same oh-so-radical government that purportedly stood up to the IMF following the latest WikiLeaks revelations? We hear the gullible and the clueless in Greece parroting the same things over and over again… “come on now, Tsipras is a good guy, he is trying hard, it’s not his fault he inherited the country in its current state, he’s doing the best he can, he doesn’t really want to do this.” This is what the oh-so-clever and certainly non-gullible Greek people keep saying, from the comfort of their couches and living rooms, excusing away the betrayal and the complete selling off of the country without even lifting a finger.

Recently, behind metal fencing and rows and rows of riot police, the “radical” Greek government which had, at one time, promised to put a halt to the privatizations of public assets and to disband the riot police that are now protecting it, signed the sell-off of one of Europe’s largest ports, the port of Piraeus, to Chinese-owned Cosco for the measly sum of 345 million euros. This was characterized as a “major foreign investment” by the corrupt president of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, but unless he was referring to an investment in the destruction of the country, he would be wrong. Just the facilities of the port of Piraeus alone are valued at more than 5 billion euros, while just a year ago, a container terminal in neighboring Turkey that is one-third the size of the port of Piraeus was also sold to Cosco, for over 845 million euros—almost three times the price. And yet, the internal hatred and divisions in Greek society, which have been carefully cultivated over many decades, are such that many people, instead of being infuriated at the wholesale selling off of valuable and profitable public assets, are celebrating because they feel that the public employees who worked there were overpaid. So, instead of advocating for better salaries for themselves, they’re essentially demanding that others take a pay cut as well, ignoring the impact this would have on the Greek economy and Greek society.

Ah, but once again, I forgot. Greece was “saved” and has remained “in Europe,” as if it would move to Africa or something otherwise. I guess this is why I saw absolutely no one in the streets protesting this selling off of public assets, privatizations which the current, so very leftist government had once promised to stop. But clearly, the Greek people, who think they are sooo clever and so difficult to fool, know better. That’s why they did not get up from their couches or log off of Facebook to take action. They know the country is in good hands, with the peace of mind that Greece has, quote, “remained in Europe.”

This is why, quite soon, we will see memorandum agreement number four be signed. And once again, I can guarantee you that the Greek people will not only accept it, will not only swallow it, but they’ll say thank you as well, for being “saved” once more. Who cares if this memorandum, a product of supposedly “fierce” negotiations, will include even further budget cuts to meet impossibly strict fiscal targets for 2016? Who cares if it will make permanent the supposedly “temporary” unified property tax, and indeed increase it? Who cares if pensions will be cut to 384 euros per month after 20 years of employment? Who cares if it will include higher taxes on electricity and water and other utilities? Who cares if it foresees the privatization of 27 large-scale public assets, including the public power company, the port of Thessaloniki, and the remaining public share in 14 regional airports and the port of Piraeus? Who cares if it foresees the future privatization of the water utilities of Athens and Thessaloniki? Greece is being “saved” and gets to remain, quote, “in Europe,” and for that we should be grateful!

Where were all the Greek people, who supposedly have protest in their blood, when Greece’s supreme court ruled recently that if an employee is injured on the job and has to take time off of work, he has to reimburse his employer, and not the other way around? Where are all the Greeks today, as NATO and the Turkish military are doing whatever they please in the Aegean Sea? Where are all the Greeks to protest the impending expiration of the statute of limitations for those wealthy individuals accused in the so-called “Lagarde List” of hoarding millions overseas and evading taxes? Where are all the Greeks protesting recent legislative changes that are set to destroy the Greek dairy industry and the precious commodity known as “Greek yogurt”? Why didn’t anyone protest Greece’s rotten injustice system all these years, the rotten education system that favors rote learning and expensive, time consuming private tutoring to supplement coursework? Where are all these supposedly clever, non-gullible Greeks? I’ll tell you where they were, and where they are. Sitting on the couch, watching TV, buying cheap imported products in chains owned by multinationals, and continuously sucking up to their local member of parliament, the same member of parliament that is destroying their lives but who might do them a personal favor or two in exchange for a household’s worth of votes. And every once in a while, they will head down to protest, always in Syntagma Square in Athens and always after their political party has invited them do, herding in the cattle and then herding them back out again. That’s why we saw hundreds of thousands of people on the streets in favor of “no” prior to last summer’s referendum, and when that overwhelming “no” was betrayed, you could practically count the protesters on your fingers. No one was there to herd them in anymore, so they stayed home. This is also why when many Greeks talk about the pre-Euro days now, they refer to those times as if it was the Stone Ages, as if there was no TV, no cars, and no imported cheese from Holland for their sandwiches. The fact that all of the major recent public works projects of Greece began when the country still used the drachma, that the country had a national air carrier that served five continents and was one of the safest in the world, and that Greece was an international beacon of culture in the 60s and 70s, with two Nobel Prize winners, escapes them entirely.

I am truly, truly ashamed of the current sorry state of the country and its people, and particularly those who are in my age bracket, the young people, who care more about trimming their hipster beards and which American flag or British flag t-shirt they will wear and what bar they will go to, instead of what is happening in society, all around them. Ah, but they have the solution: migration. They are, after all, taught that they are European now, not Greek. So they have no qualms about leaving without even putting up a fight for a better future in their own country, and I can guarantee you, most of them will never return. This is also why Greeklish and the English language rules the roost in terms of how these young people in Greece communicate. This is why younger and older generations alike have peed their pants in fear of what would happen if Greece is ousted from the Shenghen treaty. Heaven forbid they lose the opportunity to easily migrate to “civilized” countries like Germany or to travel to Milan for espresso without a passport. And this is why people look at me like I have two heads when they find out that I learned the Greek language almost entirely on my own, instead of learning a more “lucrative,” as they put it, language.

Thank goodness today’s Greek youth did not exist during the World War II era. Otherwise, not only would they have waved the white flag without even a fight, but they would also run off to “civilized” Germany to work and to live the European dream as part of the Third Reich, without the slightest concern about what is happening back in their homeland!

So let’s all park ourselves on our couches and on Facebook and enjoy and appreciate the manner in which Greece, each and every day, is being “saved,” again and again, enjoying the fruits of the so-called “European dream” and the European Union. A European Union whose leaders are unelected and all seem to come from the same posse of northern European countries, and which is preparing to reject yet another overwhelming referendum result which doesn’t suit its interests—the result seen in Holland just a few days ago. Let’s continue sitting on our couches while the professional saviors in suits, and with or without neckties, do the saving and the thinking for us, lest we hurt our heads if we do so ourselves. Enjoy that nice Easter lamb that’s coming up and run off to live the “European dream” overseas, in the very same countries that are forcing you to migrate in the first place.

It is truly, truly a shame that people I knew in college or grew up with in the United States had the opportunity to go back to their homelands or countries of ancestry, to countries like South Korea, Romania, Israel, and Turkey, and to make a living there and give back to those countries, while it is so hard to do so in the case of Greece, and in a country which is not respected by its own citizens. But clearly, they must know better. Not only are the people of Greece oh so clever and hard to fool, but they are “European” now as well, and are being “bailed out” each and every day. As far as I’m concerned though, they can take this Europe and this so-called “European dream”—which is, in fact, a nightmare that they have not woken up from yet—and they can stick it where the sun don’t shine. That’s all for now, I’ll give you all about a month to think about all of this.

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