Commentary on the Greek crisis, and why Greece should not leave the euro zone.
Why did German people support Hitler?
The Weimar Republic appeared to have no idea how to solve the problems of the Depression. The Nazis on the other hand promised to solve the problems (Nazism at the time was a small fringe movement seeking power through revolution). Hitler promised most groups in Germany what they wanted. Hitler used the Jews and other sections of society as scapegoats, blaming all the problems on them. To Germans at the time, Hitler made sense; he united everyone by providing explanations — though not necessarily solutions — for Germany's problems.
People in Germany were tired of their poor quality of life. Hitler promised to make Germany proud again – it was exactly what people wanted to hear. Hitler pledged something for every part of disillusioned German society:
He promised farmers higher prices for their produce — making up for all their losses during the Depression;
He promised unemployed workers jobs and security of jobs;
He promised to restore the profits of small business and the value of
savings for the middle class and to end the Communist threat.
To all Germans he promised to restore German honor by tearing up the hated Treaty of Versailles and by making Germany great again.
Now replace the Weimar Republic with the Hellenic Republic; the Depression with the Financial Crisis; Jews with immigrants; Germany with Greece; communism with capitalism; the Treaty of Versailles with the EU austerity measures, and replace Nazism and Nazis with every radical and extreme party in Greece that gained from obscurity seats at the Greek parliament.
Do you also see the resemblance?
Walter Lippmann explains about Hitler’s Germany: “The German experiment, except to those who are its victims, is particularly interesting... For the Germans are the most gifted and most highly educated people who ever devoted the full strength of a modern state to stopping the exchange of ideas; they are the most highly organized people who ever devoted all the coercive power of government to the abolition of their own intellectual life; they are the most learned people who ever pretended to believe that the premises and the conclusion of all inquiry may be fixed by political fiat".
It was a conditioned lack of mass self-awareness, along with love of ease, unwillingness to dispel social and moral delusions, headlong rush into the mindless attitude that "everything is okay" that “forced” the majority of the German people to follow Hitler. It was lack of the ability to think critically. A whole nation lived in denial, polarized by a leadership that cleverly and systematically “indoctrinated” its citizens by “selling” to them what they wanted and liked to hear; touched and entertained their complexes, to such an extent that discrimination was acceptable. Elimination of the thinking elements of their society was made tolerable because the people were somehow convinced that they were a threat, mass murder and torture as a means to an end, bullying and jingoism were all unobjectionable because the followers lacked critical thought and their leadership lacked thought – a society of madness.
Do you still see the resemblance?
The oxymoron is that although more than 70% of Greek voters would like to remain in the euro zone, the vast majority of them voted for far left-wing parties and far-right wing parties and the neo-Nazi Gold Dawn party, most of which either want Greece out of the euro zone or are fiercely against the EU austerity measures.
What is certain, rightfully or wrongfully, is that this vote means that Greek people are fed up with both the political parties that have ruled Greece for the past three decades. They believe that the euro zone as a whole should follow a new direction more focused on growth and less on austerity, pay cuts, and the like that have devastated the Greek economy. They also don’t believe that they should sacrifice everything to belong to the EU. They see that it is very difficult to get out of the crisis but are desperate to do so.
Oddly, this country once bred great thinkers and statesmen. In the 8th century B.C., Hesiod theorized on the entrepreneurship typical of the market (an early laissez-faire), identifying the effects of government debasement of the coinage that causes a decrease in its purchasing power (think Adam Smith, Keynes and post Keynes), arguing about the importance of competition and the importance of justice and the law in order to foster order and harmony in society. Solon talked about the balance between classes. Pericles spoke of open society. Socrates preached justice, virtue, self-realization, and critical thinking. Protagoras argued for the importance of pricing, discounting, commodity exchange, and management. Democritus explained the causes of economic phenomena and rational behavior for the fulfillment of psychological and economic needs. Aristotle devised an approach to the exchange process and private property. Xenophon commented on the division of labor, and Plato remarked on the same subject and devised a theory on the economy of specialization the contributions of which, are considered to be the basis of modern economic thought and management in the world of today. This is the same country that today is no longer in a position to provide for its citizens, and has thus engendered a disillusioned society.
Greece is a case of a state that failed, a case of despair that forced its citizens, those that are at least self-conscious, to exclaim the self-pitying: “I am sorry to be Greek”, instead of the more than valid: “I am proud to be Greek”. These are the same Greeks that abstained from voting in the recent elections or as an “immature” form of protest, voted for radical parties that now possess a catalytic say in the future of the country.
Overall, the average Greek has been bombarded with jargon, polarized by ignorant, populist, irresponsible, anachronistic, and scandalous political leadership and labor unions, and sacrificed in the name of power and political party benefits.
It is important to note that the citizens of the country are equally responsible for the crisis as the country’s EU partners.
The conditioned citizens of the Hellenic Republic accepted the love of ease, a mindless attitude that was provided to them via political favoritism and moral delusions, and lived by it for decades to such an extent that it became part of their DNA. For the vast majority of Greeks, not cheating on one’s income tax was as idiotic as being efficient and productive while working for the over-staffed public sector; to that effect, “corruption” found a new synonym in the eye of the average Greek: “Bravado” (Μαγκιά)!
The think tanks in the EU are inexcusable for not having foreseen such an outcome, and for not having taken into serious consideration that the crisis in Greece is not just a financial crisis but primarily a social crisis. Moreover, it took the EU ages to realize that this was as much a problem for Brussels as it was for Athens. It took Germany, France, and others much too long to react, as they were first trying to protect their own, and profit for their own while ignoring the larger picture. Additionally, the inability of both Brussels and Athens to respond promptly and effectively, gave abandoned weaponry to the circles that are antagonist towards the euro zone and aspire for its collapse. The inability of the EU to react promptly and efficiently to not only the Greek crisis, but also to the financial crisis in general, made room for financial speculators, investment houses, and hedge funds – who are of course doing what they have done since their existence: making money. They continue to roam the markets at the expense of the weakest, contributing indirectly towards making a complex problem worse.
The responsibility lies with everybody, but mostly with the Greek political leaders and citizens who have to see beyond themselves, their complexes, and current despair. Putting their personal and party interests aside, and with a spirit of collectiveness, they have to brawl for a European Greece. Only an idiot would even insinuate that Greece outside the euro zone would be a better Greece. The moment Greece exits the euro zone, Greeks will reminisce the Nazi occupation with fondness!
*[This article was first published by Pytheas.]
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.