By Andrew Brady
Today the people of Greece take to the streets to vent their fury at the imposition of austerity and the dismantling of society in a General Strike. At Union Solidarity International we want to express our wholehearted support, solidarity and admiration for the exhausted people of Greece.
The Greek Government’s appeasement of the institutions of the European Union has put the interests of foreign investors and financial institutions ahead of the people of Greece. This is not an assertion – it is a fact. You should check out our conversation with the fantastic economist James K Galbraith on the reasons for the deliberate execution of this strategy.
For how else can you explain youth unemployment at sixty-two per cent and general unemployment at twenty-seven per cent? This masks the real unemployment level so the situation on the ground is far worse than these awful figures indicate.
How else can you explain pushing millions of people into poverty if it is not about serving the interests of capital? A study by Greece’s largest trade union, GSEE, released this week projected that more than a third (3.9 million out of Greece’s total population of nearly 11 million) will be officially living in poverty by the end of the year. The poverty line in Greece is set at a personal income of less € 7,200 per year.
Although Greece is not yet the Weimar Republic it continues a downwards spiral that will inevitably lead to similar conditions if a different course is not pursued. Have a people suffered a reduction in living standards – estimated to be over a third – over such a short space of time since then? This is the point Paul Mason addressed in his article last year drawing parallels with the 1930s. It is a point repeated time after time in our Critical Economics series involving some of the world’s best progressive economists.
The economy contracted a further 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 from the previous year. This proceeds contractions of 6.7, 6.4 and 6.7 percent in the previous three quarters of 2012. Greece has not experienced any form of growth for six years but even if a miracle did happen what would be the point of economic growth if it came at the expense of growing unemployment?
Society is hanging by a thread as the Neo-Nazis (Golden Dawn) have frightening levels of support built upon blaming foreigners, migrants and asylum seekers for the position Greek citizens find themselves – drawing parallels with Weimar again – with elements of collaboration, support and infiltration by the Far Right in the police as reported by Aris Chatzistefanou for The Guardian.
Again, Paul Mason on last night’s Newsnight programme produced a report highlighting the issue of abuse and the awful conditions experienced by asylum seekers and migrants. The situation completely justifies why our organisation is supporting a documentary on women sex workers being incarcerated for months without committing a crime.
USi will be visiting Athens in the coming weeks to show meaningful solidarity and to continue working with our comrades in trade unions and at RadioBubble to get the experiences of the people of Greece out to the widest possible audience. Greece does not need our sympathy but our active support.
You can donate to our Greek documentary here.
For more information on Greece visit here.
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