Protesilaos Stavrou

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Greek parliament img
The Greek parliament. Picture credit: Wikipedia

Roughly every six to eight weeks, excluding holidays, the Greek governments from Mr. George Papandreou’s administration hitherto (from the start of the crisis that is), have been approving one ‘austerity’ package after another under the explicit threat that in the absence of these measures, Greece will be plunged into chaos.

Indeed the narrative has always been that unless ‘austerity’ is approved all of tartarus will break loose. Alas even though these policies are being implemented, the fate which is ostensibly sought to be avoided—chaos—is all that is brought upon the people residing in Greece.

Measures and methods that very few, if any, genuinely endorse are approved and used under stressful and desperate conditions, without any coherent strategy in place and a fortiriori without any knowledge of where this path leads to. The sad reality is that no government ever had any coherent plan to respond to the rising challenges, in part because the entire discussion was predicated on false political assumptions and presumptuous economic doctrines.

Unfortunately relatively few in Greece had the audacity to speak the one and only truth concerning the finances of the state: namely that the debts which were incurred by a kleptocracy, could not—and should not—be paid back, for they constituted an odious debt; and because what would be required to cover them, would effectively amount to the impoverishment, immiseration and deprivation of the vast majority of people residing in Greece, excluding of course the political elite with all of its corporate cronies.

Instead of conducting a thoroughgoing audit of the entire “national debt” (state debt), prior to any agreement with any foreign party or “partner(s)”, to discern what was legitimate and what was not; the Greek governments from Mr. Papandreou’s to Mr. Samaras’ have all been clinging on to an inane and self-defeating illusion that certain measures will be enough to fulfill the troika’s narrow-sighted demands and meet its delusional fiscal and macroeconomic targets.

The latest manifestation of this wildly unrealistic belief, is on extending the bailout programmefor another couple of years, with the pretense that extra time is all that is necessary to fulfill the obligations that were envisaged in the memoranda with the troika of official lenders (EU-ECB-IMF).

Several politicians across Europe, who apparently have no idea of what will be the economic and social effects of this proposal, in Greece and beyond, or who consciously seek to obfuscate reality and to perpetuate the myth of solidarity; are in favor of extending the bailout programme, with the conviction that this is all the Greek government needs to meet its obligations as these were enshrined in the bailout programme.

In such statements it is tacitly assumed that there is absolutely nothing amiss with the bailout programme as such, nor is there any real concern about imposing yet more tax hikes and in further reducing the purchasing power of individuals in Greece, in the midst of a depression; all this while in parallel the ECB is long-now implementing an inflationary policy that has sustained all toxic debts at the expense of zombifying the banking system; a policy which in this respect, increases the burdens on the lower and middle parts of the income distribution, statolatric litanies to the contrary notwithstanding.

There is, in other words, no comprehension of the fact that the real economy is being torn apart on both the fiscal and the monetary sides. On the fiscal front any disposable incomes are being drastically diminished to sustain a hypertrophic state and to keep alive the fantasies of the troika; while on the monetary side all channels to any affordable credit remain hermetically shut for the vast majority of individual economic actors, or more fully, remain open to a privileged banking elite, which uses whatever funds it borrows from the Eurosystem to either increase its capital adequacy or to speculate in the sovereign bonds market (to speculate against citizens/taxpayers that is).

Behold an inflationary depression that caters only to the particular interests of a corporate elite! Any syllogism or lemma which provides a patina of rationality to such or related policies is uneconomic, socially pernicious and politically catastrophic. What we are dealing with here is a systemic failure, or on a different note, a case of appalling state failures.

In response to the reveries of politicians in Greece and across Europe who expect from a mere two year extension the magical solution to a systemic crisis; it must be stressed that such a talismanic tool does not exist in the panoply of the troika and that Greece does not need more time to implement an ill-advised bailout programme. The more time it has, the more invidious the end result will be. This ought not be interpreted as an obstinate opposition to genuine reforms, but only as a realization that these much-needed changes will never come from the troika‘s schemes, nor from domestic political parties who are long-now bankrupt in the realm of ideas and who may only perpetuate their vegetative intellectual existence at the expense of almost all people in society.

Greece (Europe) needs a completely different approach, away from pro-cyclical, depressionary policies; a strategy which is profoundly different from what are, or appears to be the apocryphal desires of the political, technocratic and plutocratic elite of Europe. Whether this will ever be realized, for Greece and for all other countries facing similar challenges, actually depends on the open-minded initiatives of people who are strangers to the stratagems that now shape Europe’s (grim) future.

Looking at the Greek interior, I myself fear of the worst, though not out of an anxiety that “reforms” may not be implemented thoroughly, but because in the pursuit of chimeras, Greeks and their European partners created a monster that may well devour us all. This is no other than the irrational exuberance of a population that resorts to despicable ‘we-they’ syndromes as its last refuge in avoiding insanity. Exponentially more people are finding solace in a state of mind that is already engendering nationalistic, xenophobic and misanthropic attitudes and will one day possibly bring to power those whose very ideology is found on hatred and whose sole raison d’être is to sow terror and bring destruction.

With great sadness I and so many others are in fact bearing witness to the entropy of the Greek society. We see a human-made calamity unfolding before our eyes; a disaster whose deleterious effects have yet to be revealed to us in their totality, even though they have provided us with premonitions of more pain, suffering and agony.

The entropy of the Greek society | Protesilaos Stavrou.


  1. Sadly this article is long on analysis (as well as words) and criticism, albeit deserved of the Troika’s policies. However, it is very short on any introspection about how Greeks have got themselves into this mess and even shorter about what they should do to get out of it and how to avoid it happening again.

    The article rightly points to the shameless, destructive behavoiur of the kleptocracy in Greece, but other than the view about ‘ordinary’ Greek not being responsible for those debts and so not liable for them there is no further discusion.There is no outrage at the corruption that has festered and knawed away at Greek society entrenching its inequalities and preserving the privaleges of a self-perpetuating elite. There is no anger at the constituional protection that gives politicians a licence to steal public money. There is no demand for a fairer, more equitable and transparent tax system. And, of course, there are no proposals about how to construct an efficient economy and fairer society.

    Instead we have the same old, tiring, boring, delusional – but eloquent – story about how Greece is victimised by eveil foreigners, without whose money the country would probably be on a par with Albania.

    Please Greece, wake up!

    1. Thank you for the comment. Of course one blog post cannot possibly document every aspect of the subject. Any omissions were not meant to be substantive, but were necessary so that the article’s thesis could be forwarded.

      I am not saying that Greece is being victimized by anybody, but that some policies are not appropriate for the ends sought. I have written several articles which may provide you with a better picture of where I stand on the matter.

      (1) Golden Dawn is not the problem but the symptom:

      (2) Party politics in the Greek pandemonium:

      (3) Greece in complete denial: The failure of the political system:

      (4) Is higher inflation in Germany a way to help Greece?:

      (5) The free fall of Greece and the broken credit line:

  2. Greece must leave the euro. It has gained nothing from membership.

    If the latest EU forecast is correct that GDP will shrink by 4.5% in 2013, then on approximately 16 July next year the economy will return to the value it was at on the day Greece joined the euro.

    In other words, accession to the euro will have achieved precisely zero in terms of growth (notwithstanding demographic changes). Unemployment will be worse. I haven’t checked the figures for real wages, but I doubt they’ll be good.

    I cannot see a single benefit from Greece’s membership, except perhaps the faint hope that this crisis will improve the standards of governance.

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