Friday,20 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1255, (23 - 29 July 2015)
Friday,20 October, 2017
Issue 1255, (23 - 29 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Angela in Griekenland

Alice is Angela, and Wonderland is Griekenland, envisions Gamal Nkrumah

Al-Ahram Weekly

“We’re all mad here” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Greece’s creditors only activate the Greek crowds, as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in protests against the new austerity measures imposed by the European Union after the latest deal with Europe. 

Cash strapped Greece is no stranger to tragedy. Indeed, tragedy is a Greek word, and so is crisis. Germany promised debt relief. “We are entering a new stage which we all hope will be one of normality,” Luka Katseli, head of the Greek Bank Association, proudly proclaimed. Wishful thinking? Well, not quite so. 

Greek banks opened Monday. But no money is permitted to be filtered abroad. Berlin could not, in the end, flex its financial muscle. 
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble played bad cop, even as German Chancellor Angela Merkel played good cop. So what happened to the much-hyped 5 June deadline for Greek payment to International Monetary Fund? Greece ignored the deadline and there was no “Grexit”. 
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice confirmed in a statement that Greece had repaid the totality of its arrears. So what does that mean in precise terms? Merkel doesn’t want to go down in history as the leader who dismantled the Eurozone. 

“Mad Hatter: ‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?” Is Greece the raven in question? 
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.

“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.” Nor has anyone in Europe or the world, either. 

US President Barack Obama put pressure on the German chancellor to reach an agreement with the leftist government of Greece come what may. Yet neither Brussels nor Berlin nor Washington for that matter wants an independent anti-imperialist government in Greece. Washington, after all, supported the brutal military in Greece’s civil war (1946-1949) and backed the Greek military dictatorship (1967-1974). The United States cannot afford to lose Greece; it is, after all, in great strategic position and is symbolically the mother of democracy in the Western world. 

There are plans afoot for Greece to participate in Russia’s proposed gas pipeline project, drawing Greece into the Russian orbit. Something the West cannot stomach. The IMF projected growth of 2.5 per cent this year. The unheralded desideratum of the West is to cripple political support for the leftist Syriza government.

The Greek Communist Party (KKE) and the leftist Syriza, and left-wing movements, trade unions and motley parties are garnering support for propping up the Greek economy. Greece missed its first repayment to the IMF on 30 June and another on 13 July, but so what? Greek maritime industries have managed to stay afloat in spite of the economic turmoil, and that is a most important signal that the Greek economy is on the mend. At any rate, Greece’s shipping industry is levied through a tax on tonnage capacity rather than on profits. The port of Piraeus, the hub of the country’s prosperous shipping empire is bustling as it always has done. And tourism is booming with the reluctance of Europeans to venture to the Arab shores of the Mediterranean, in fear of terror. 

The bottom line is that Europe cannot afford to lose Greece as a member state. Grexit would have serious repercussions. Greece cannot exit, either the Eurozone or the European Union. 

And we must not forget the vital role played by the European Social Forum, grouping Die Linke, Izquierda Unida, and Front de Gauche, as well as Greek’s Syriza. Greece is not a developing country. Greece is among the high-income, highly educated nations of Europe. That is why it has become a magnet for illegal immigrants from Africa and Asia. But these immigrants see Greece as an entry port for Europe proper: Germany and Britain, or Scandinavia to be precise.

And, let’s face it. The so-called “Troika” the European Central Bank, European Commission and the IMF have failed to save Greece from bankruptcy. “‘I don’t think... ’ then you shouldn’t talk, said the Hatter.” Greece is no Mad Hatter; the international capitalist system is.

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