More power to the Greek agitation!

Published: March 5, 2012 - 15:10 Updated: March 5, 2012 - 15:15

Just the other day there were disturbing reports from tragic Greece of how economic crisis was striking a death blow to the family as an institution. Many parents were giving up their children for adoption or to care homes as they did not have the money to feed them. More such reports are coming out from other European countries, where the banking crisis has hit the common man hard. Spain, Portugal and some East European countries are in terrible shape, their misery compounded by claustrophobic austerity measures. Governments have resorted to downsizing, hurting jobs, welfare policies and everything else.

The Greeks are livid with the implications of bailout packages and how the welfare of bankers is given precedence over that of ordinary people. They have suddenly lost their say, with democracy losing its meaning in the face of this calamity. Elected
leaders, who resist austerity measures, are disgraced and forced out of office as their continuance is considered dangerous for all humanity.

The implications of the happenings in Europe are too mind-boggling to comprehend as different layers of this complex reality unfold every day.

The interests of Greece would have been served if it had been allowed to step out of the Eurozone and go back to its own currency, but Germany and France as well as banks like Goldman Sachs would have none of that. Better that countries are ravaged rather than devalue the euro: this seems to be the guiding credo of the bailout artists who are keen to save the investments made by banks.

Ordinary people in Greece, however, refuse to take all this lying down. They are reacting violently to the injustice that is being done to them. They are burning cars, organizing sit-ins, setting up communes, and trying to find new ways to survive in a world where there is little sympathy for them.

Huge sections of the working class seem to be joining together in these times of crisis – in a way that would have filled old-fashioned Marxists with the joy of triumphant hopefulness. The truth on the ground, however, is not that epiphanic. The proletariat maybe coming together, but the revolution, certainly, is nowhere in sight!

Far from anything revolutionary, what we are witnessing in different countries of the world since 2008 can be summed up as survival strategies to buy time before the market bounces back and the credit card can start working again. Even as bankers and financial institutions are rubbished, no one has a clue to what can replace the status quo.

Surely not the Left parties or the communists! The banking crisis of 2008 may have vindicated the theories of Karl Marx, but it has not led to people voting for the communists or their various avatars anywhere in the world. What people want is more money to take care of their over-leveraged lives. In such a scenario, who wants to lead a life of parsimony and continence?

Ordinary people in Greece are burning cars, organizing sit-ins, setting up communes, and trying to find new ways to survive in a world where there is little sympathy for them

Historians have competed with economists to predict the implications of this calamitous crisis that threatens to prove true Nostradamus's visions of doom. Following the Keynesian prescription, governments have tried to spend their way out of this situation, but this has brought only short-term relief. Worse, the bailout packages have helped fatten the rich, especially the bankers, at the expense of the middle class. Statistics show how wealth is increasingly being transferred from the masses to a thin sliver of the rich and indifferent.

This realization, however, is not enough. What is needed is a paradigm shift in the way economic reality is perceived. Big money is not bad, it is only the governments that have to be trashed: this widespread belief makes it possible for every crook in the business to wink at the law of the land, make whopping profits, and take a lion's share in any bailout package. And it's the same story in India, which is maniacally ravaged by large-scale corruption.

Here again the corrupt nexus of crony capitalists and their patrons loots billions, caring two hoots about the impact on ordinary people, who have to scrounge for a living. What we see today in Greece and other parts of the world does not surprise us. Large masses of Indians have lived their lives in worse conditions, and desperate for a solution, any solution, many have even tried to see god in their everyday misery. Did this work? It's Greek to me and it's Greek to the Greeks too! More power to their agitation.

Editor of Delhi's Hardnews magazine and author of Bad Money Bad Politics- the untold story of Hawala scandal.

Read more stories by Sanjay Kapoor

This story is from print issue of HardNews