Tsolakoglou

I know many have already commented on what happened last week outside the Greek parliament building in Athens.  But it’s difficult not to express a feeling of anguish and anger together.  A cash-strapped Greek pensioner shot and killed himself outside parliament in Athens on Wednesday.

Dimitris Christoulas was a retired chemist, with a wife and a daughter, who had sold his pharmacy in 1994.   In a suicide note found by police, he said: “This Tsolakoglou government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state.  If one Greek had taken a Kalashnikov into his hands, I might have followed him and done the same but because I am of an age that makes it impossible for me to take strong action on my own, I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance.”

Tsolakoglou is a reference to the wartime Nazi collaborationist Greek government.  George Tsolakoglou was a Greek military officer who was appointed by the Germans in 1941 as Greek prime minister.  Mr Christoulas correctly identified the nature of the current banker-led Greek government that has agreed to a crippling destruction of Greek living standards, public services and jobs in order to bail out Greece’s creditors, Europe’s banks, insurance companies and hedge funds – and to lie down before the neoliberal policies of the dreaded Troika (the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF).

In his last statement to the world, Mr Christoulas went on: “I believe that young people with no future will one day take up and hang this country’s traitors in arms in Syntagma Square just as the Italians hanged Mussolini in 1945.”

Unfortunately,  Mr Christoulas’ act is not an isolated one.  The suicide rate in Greece used to be the lowest in Europe but it has soared during the crisis.  The latest data shows suicides jumped 18% in 2010 from the previous year as rising unemployment, higher taxes and shrinking wages drove ordinary Greeks to despair.  Last year, the number of suicides in Athens alone jumped over 25% from a year ago.

“This is the point to which they’ve brought us. Do they really expect a pensioner to live on 300 euros?” asked 54-year old Maria Parashou, who rushed to the square to pay her respects after reading about the suicide.  “They’ve cut our salaries, they’ve humiliated us. I have one daughter who is unemployed and my husband has lost half of his income, but I won’t allow myself to lose hope.”

I remind you of a previous post (Greece: a Sisyphean task, 13 February 2012) that repeated what Greece’s top bishop said about the state of Greek society under the jackboot of the Troika and the collaborationists. Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece sent a letter to the banker prime minister Lucas Papademos saying that “the phenomenon of the homeless and the famished, a reminder of WWII conditions, has taken the dimensions of a nightmare,” adding that “the homeless increase by the thousands everyday, while small and medium-sized enterprises are forced to go out of business. Young people, the country’s best minds, choose to emigrate, while our fathers are unable to live after the dramatic cuts in pensions. Family men, particularly the poorest, those with many children, wage earners, are in despair due to repeated wage cuts and unbearable new taxes. The unprecedented tolerance of the Greek people is being exhausted, rage pushes fear aside and the risk of social upheaval cannot be ignored anymore by those who are in the position to give orders and those who execute their lethal recipes.”  He went on: “in these difficult and undoubtedly, crucial times, we should realise that every Greek home is plagued by insecurity, despair and depression, which unfortunately, have caused, and sadly enough, continues to cause the suicides of those unable to bear the ordeal of their families and the pain of their children.”

Elections are about to be announced after Easter.  The date is likely to be 6 May.  The two main collaborationist parties, the conservative New Democracy and the laughingly named ‘socialist’ PASOK are desperately trying to drum up enough votes to keep the bankers government in office.  Given that they will get most of the TV time and have the overwhelming backing of the main newspapers, they may yet succeed.  That’s partly because the anti-austerity parties, although doing well in the polls, are hopelessly divided and refusing to work with each other.

The horrible irony that proves Mr Christoulas so right is that whatever the pro-austerity coalition does, it will not be able to meet the draconian demands of the Troika.  The Greek capitalist economy is diving at about 6% yoy and has contracted by about 16-20% since its peak.  Unemployment is accelerating towards a 24% rate, with youth unemployment heading towards a staggering 60%.  Those who can leave the country are doing so.

There just won’t be enough to squeeze out of the Greek people to pay the demands of the Troika.  The government will fail to meet the fiscal and spending targets and then the Euro leaders will have to decide whether yet another ‘bailout package’ must be formulated, with yet more conditions or whether they will decide to ‘let Greece loose’.

The Euro leaders do not want to do the latter because of the ‘contagion’ effects throughout Europe’s financial markets that would lead to Portugal and Ireland also failing and more important onto Spain and Italy, which are also struggling under the heel of austerity.   So the leaders may opt for another package – PM Papademos and friend of neoliberal economist Mario Monti in Italy, has already hinted that it may be necessary.

The May elections are the next twist in the Greek tragedy, which has already spilt the blood of many.

7 Responses to “Tsolakoglou”

  1. Yiannis A. Says:

    Elections? I’ m not so sure that we are going to have elections… The Bank Recapitalisation programme is still undefined. The polls show that the two collaborators, as you very wisely said, do not match the votes they need to establish a new goverment. And my friend, since you are from the US i’m gonna tell you a historical “secret”. Do you know where did the US goverment first used the napalm bomb?
    In the greek civil war 1946-1949… If elections could change our lives they would be illegal…
    I’m gonna give some personal details. I work as a journalist. My salary in 2009 was 2.000 euros monthly. Now i get less than 1.300 euros AND I’M GOOD comparing to what is hrappening over here. The thing is though that all prices in these two years have risen sky high. So the actual cutoff is even bigger.
    This simply cannot be continued. Something is going to happen in Greece but i don’t know what it will be. The left parties are rising and that’s hopeful but at the same time for the first time ever we see that is very propable the nazis to enter the parliament!
    Anyway since you ‘re an economist i think that the form of the state nation is historicly over. I think what we are viewing now is the pain of the birth of a new world. Let’ s all try to make it better

    Sincerely yours
    A struggling Greek who tries to survive in dignity
    YA
    PS Forgive my english

    • michael roberts Says:

      Yiannis

      Your English is fine. I won’t try Greek – unfortunately I did German at school. I’m not from the US actually but a Brit. But I did not know that about US bombing. It reminds of that other secret that the British military bombed rebellious forces in Oman during the 1920s to keep a sultan in power.

      Economists talk of 30% fall in living standards but your story shows what that means for the individual.

  2. Yiannis A. Says:

    If you are British that’s even better. In the sense that we can understand each other in a deeper way. Allow me a prediction. The things will come that Greece will “fell” once again in Great Britains arms. You know that we became an independent state because it fullfilled the British interests against the Ottoman empire at the time.
    But now we, the people, must care about foreign policies and how the goverments will move. I tell you there must a european people’ s front against neoliberals. Maybe the Greeks or the Spanish or the Irish will lit the spark. However the fire of liberation must be spread all over Europe if we really want to have a chance for a better future.
    Anyway if you’re feeling like you want first hand information from the situation here fell free to contact
    My email yiaposto@yahoo.gr

    Never forget. Utopia is achievable…

  3. Yiannis A. Says:

    Sorry must NOT about foreign policies etc…

  4. matthewrusso9 Says:

    Yiannis,

    I’m writing from the U.S.A. (California) so feel free to fell less sympathy🙂

    Viewing from afar, and with an awareness of the limitless criminality of “my” government, it seems clear that the Troika, etc., are deliberately as a matter of policy singling out and subjecting Greece to this barbarity as a sort of “test case” on what they regard as “only” a small country, so it won’t matter anyway.

    They want to see how far they can go and what they can get away with. If they can get away with “all”, they will move on and without pity apply the same to the next country.

    On the napalm, while I’m sure the U.S. did supply it to the Greek counterinsurgency, technically it was not the first use. It was first used in massive quantities against Japanese civilians in 1945; indeed napalm was specifically designed with Japanese housing, mostly made of wood and paper, in mind. The US Air Strategic Command under Curtis LeMay burned down every city of any size in Japan in this way, halting only when they ran short of napalm – *except* for those few cities that were on the “short list” for being possibly atom bombed – they were deliberately left unbombed to ensure scientific “accuracy” of the “results”, and indeed the atom bombed cities were among the first sites that the American rushed to occupy after the war ended. All in all, a monstrously unparalleled racism-fueled orgy of deliberate, conscious mass murder of 2 million civilians. Oh, and the deliberate targeting of civilians for mass murder was the brainchild of Winston Churchill. He and the British General staff sold it to the Americans, initially “horrified” to be mass murdering white people. The prospect of using it against East Asian “monkeys”, especially the hated Japanese against whom the entire American population had already been whipped up against in the crudest, most primitive sort of race-hate imaginable, surely “eased their consciences”.

    We confront the descendants of that same ruling class today, with the same morality, in the case of Greece.

  5. lbattisti80 Says:

    I really think that the only solution fro greece is the KKE.

  6. purple Says:

    The latest polls show the far-right increasing their support significantly.

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