Immigrant Hatred: Greece

Immigrant hating is often the first card played when the right-wing comes to sit at the table, so Greece isn’t particularly different from other countries around the globe.  What is amazing is that Greeks have been the immigrants par-excellence, all over the Mediterranean and Asia-Minor for centuries; tens of centuries.  Greek colonies around the Black Sea, Greeks along the Turquoise Coast in (now) Turkey; Greeks in Antioch the fabulous Egyptian city.  I’m sure there were incidents when locals didn’t welcome them, beat them or burned their shops, but thrive they did, grew and prospered, raised their children who spoke the local languages and yet remained Greeks.  How nice it would be were History a better teacher.

ATHENS — A week after an extremist right-wing party gained an electoral foothold in Greece’s Parliament earlier this summer, 50 of its members riding motorbikes and armed with heavy wooden poles roared through Nikaia, a gritty suburb west of here, to telegraph their new power.

As townspeople watched, several of them said in interviews, the men careened around the main square, some brandishing shields emblazoned with swastikalike symbols, and delivered an ultimatum to immigrants whose businesses have catered to Nikaia’s Greeks for nearly a decade.

“They said: ‘You’re the cause of Greece’s problems. You have seven days to close or we’ll burn your shop — and we’ll burn you,’ ” said Mohammed Irfan, a legal Pakistani immigrant who owns a hair salon and two other stores.

NY Times

and for more on the appearance of Greek Fascists, see Spyros Marchetos in the Guardian

Fascists did not suddenly multiply in Greece. Rather, extreme right ideas and values gradually permeated public consciousness, and became mainstream in the last 20 years. Then the troika (of the European commission, European Central Bank and the IMF) imposed measures of violent pauperisation, and even created widespread perceptions of decay and victimisation, and feelings of national persecution and humiliation. All these, as the US historian Robert Paxton argues in his magisterial Anatomy of Fascism, help fascism rise. Finally, when the crisis stole the clientelist appeal of the ruling parties, many of their voters turned towards those who professed openly what traditional politicians only implied

Al Jazzera has an extensive collection of pieces Greece and the New Dawn fascism


On Those “Lazy” Greeks….

From Paul Krugman, the day after the squeaker election on Sunday:

  …many things you hear about Greece just aren’t true. The Greeks aren’t lazy — on the contrary, they work longer hours than almost anyone else in Europe, and much longer hours than the Germans in particular. Nor does Greece have a runaway welfare state, as conservatives like to claim; social expenditure as a percentage of G.D.P., the standard measure of the size of the welfare state, is substantially lower in Greece than in, say, Sweden or Germany, countries that have so far weathered the European crisis pretty well.

So how did Greece get into so much trouble? Blame the euro.

And, as he says at the end, the election “ended up settling nothing.”  Or, it kicked the can further down the road.  Baring a miracle far greater than multiplying loaves for a few thousand, a reckoning will come due, well within our life-times.

Markets rejoicing short lived.

Kicking the Can.

for more Krugman, here’s some couched praise by Economist writer, Matthew Bishop of Krugman’s new book: End This Depression Now!

Longtime readers of Krugman will know there are at least two of him. One is the gifted winner of the Nobel in economic science, respected throughout the academy for his mastery of the dismal science; the other, the populist polemicist and baiter of the right who writes columns in The New York Times. “End This Depression Now!” is a collaborative effort by the two Krugmen. Professor Krugman usefully contributes plenty of mainstream economics in support of his stimulus plan and in order to debunk the idea that austerity policies in today’s circumstances can boost an economy by increasing confidence. (As he points out, Britain, the leading country to embrace austerity voluntarily, is hardly setting the world on fire.) Yet no opportunity to preach to the choir is missed by the populist Mr. Krugman, nor any chance to mock those he calls the “Very Serious People” who disagree with him.


That Bailout Money for Greece? Hah!

Once again the adage is proven: when trouble is brewing, protect your own. In this case, bankers protecting bankers with the aid of the bankers’ closest allies – their governments….

Its membership in the euro currency union hanging in the balance, Greece continues to receive billions of euros in emergency assistance from a so-called troika of lenders overseeing its bailout.

But almost none of the money is going to the Greek government to pay for vital public services. Instead, it is flowing directly back into the troika’s pockets.

The European bailout of 130 billion euros ($163.4 billion) that was supposed to buy time for Greece is mainly servicing only the interest on the country’s debt — while the Greek economy continues to struggle.

… the money dispensed by the troika — the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fundand the European Commission — comes from European taxpayers, many of whom are increasingly wary of the political disarray that has afflicted Athens and clouded the future of the euro zone.

As they pay themselves, though, the troika members are also withholding other funds intended to keep the Greek government in operation.

Alderman and Ewing in NY Times


The Euro: Unscrambling the Omelet

Informative column by Eduardo Porter in NY Times Business section on the motivation behind the creation of the Euro, why it has failed to do what was intended, and in fact is doing the opposite, and what the prospects are today:

Despite its flaws, there is one powerful reason to stick to the euro that even some of the most skeptical economists accept: the prospect of breaking away from the euro is very scary. It’s difficult to forecast how such a dissolution would unfold. There is, in fact, no legal way to leave. And it would be searingly painful for many countries.

Read more of this post


Greece: Anti-Austerity Anger

From Link TV

 

Protests have erupted in the Greek capital with thousands of people joining strike action over the prospect of more budget cuts. Unions say the economy is being driven downwards by the government. Greece’s EU partners are also frustrated but they blame the government’s failure to implement reforms. Despite all night talks with the “troika” of lenders, the EU, IMF, and the ECB, Greece’s Finance Minister, Evangelos Venizelos, said more time is needed to agree on the right package.