Rage – Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters’ souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.
The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles
Reading the immortal opening lines of The Iliad, I understand why so many voters in Greece will cast their votes tomorrow for SYRIZA.
In contrast to the May 6th election, the majority of people I know who have shared their electoral preference with me will vote for SYRIZA. These are people with multiple university degrees and serious work experience in Greece and abroad.
Why? Quite simply, the reason is rage.
There is rage at the political and economic elite of Greece, who for thirty years has pillaged the country, and now claims to be its saviour. New Democracy’s electoral position of “vote for us and the Euro, or for bankruptcy and the drachma”, is rank hypocrisy. It was New Democracy’s policies between 2004 and 2009 which led to Greece’s financial collapse. Many of the same people in the Karamanlis governments from this time remain in New Democracy, and are now vying for election.
There is rage at the fact that the mix of policies advocated by the Troika has failed the Greek people so miserably. As long as austerity was restricted to the public sector, it was bearable. But the Troika’s demand to end collective bargaining agreements and reduce the minimum wage has catapulted millions of private sector workers into wage slavery in a country where labour laws have never been properly enforced. Given that neither bank loans nor rents nor cost of living has been “devalued” in line with wages, one wonders exactly how this policy of impoverishment was supposed to work.
There is rage at the fact that Greece has been forced into a series of false choices by its European partners, and then condemned as being lazy and feckless by those same partners. Every Greek knows the story of defective German submarines and the bribes given to Greek politicians for these. Every Greek knows of Germany and France’s insistence to sell frigates, planes and tanks to Greece as a condition of the first bail-out.
There is rage at the fact that Greece was lent money at 5% in the first bailout by France and Germany to refinance French and German banks at face value, at a time when these same discounted Greek bonds by 30-40%.
There is rage at the fact that the ECB has lent banks EUR 1 trillion at 1%, so that these same banks can buy government bonds at 6%, while credit in the domestic market has evaporated, and many of these same banks are shorting both Greece and the Euro.
The results will be clear on Sunday evening. But whichever party is elected, it is difficult to see how the shining promises of European solidarity and a common future can be restored after what has happened—and continues to happen—in this country.
© Philip Ammerman, 2012
Philip Ammerman is Managing Partner of Navigator Consulting Group and European Consulting Network. He works in the field of investment management and due diligence in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East.