Greece

Greece: a society in a state of anomie

By Andrew Brady

When Émile Durkheim popularised the word anomie in ‘Suicide‘ (1897) it took on the connotations of a reaction against or a retreat from societal controls particularly when the economic standards of a country were dramatically reduced. The first time I heard the word anomie used in association with Greece is when the brilliant Yanis Varoufakis referred to it in one of our web conferences. This is exactly the predicament Greece finds itself in. The suicide rate increased by 37 percent between 2009 – 2011 while the latest statistics show that 27 percent of Greeks are unemployed, and among those under the age of 24, that figure is 62 percent.

Make no mistake – European Governments and associated institutions are fully complicit and active provocateurs in the dangerous downwards spiral.

Today The Guardian reports that there is a shortage of medicines “amid claims that pharmaceutical multinationals have halted shipments to the country because of the economic crisis and concerns that the drugs will be exported by middlemen because prices are higher in other European countries.” The government has assembled a list of more than 50 pharmaceutical companies it accuses of “halting or planning to halt supplies because of low prices in the country”. Companies are allegedly withdrawing more than two hundred products due to concerns about profits including treatments for arthritis, hepatitis C and hypertension, cholesterol-lowering agents, antipsychotics, antibiotics, anaesthetics and immunomodulators used to treat bowel disease.

In our recent post Zoe Mavroudi in an interview with RadioBubble based in Athens also described the situation where medicines for HIV patients have been withdrawn in one of the most compelling radio interviews I’ve heard on Greece. It was also announced two days ago that the Swiss Red Cross was dramatically reducing blood supplies to Greece because it had not paid its bills on time. The Swiss Red Cross confirmed reports that Greece had run up debts in the past and has decided to halve its blood shipments in the coming years in order to limit its financial risk – yet those historic debts have since been repaid.

These reports, however, are far from new. It represents a continuation of the deteriorating situation. The wonderful Greek documentary maker Aris Chatzistefanou was given access to Nikaia hospital to meet doctors struggling to keep patients alive. The situation more than a year ago illustrated poignantly a public healthcare system on the verge of total collapse. Be under no illusions – Greece is in a state of anomie.

With the Troika – comprised of officials from the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)- back in Athens this week to discuss the approval of the release of the next two tranches of bailout aid they will be making a fundamental decision which will elucidate the importance the place on a fundamental issue – paying back debt or denying people the medicines to live.

We know which one they will choose!

NOTES:

The video is titled: ‘Greece’s biggest hospital struggles as austerity cuts bite – video’ produced by Aris Chatzistefanou for The Guardian newspaper.

 

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