by Ash Brighton
While things are moving quickly in the United States, I’m keeping an eye on Greece. As someone who pays closer attention than Nigel Normie to what’s happening in the world, you probably recall the economic turmoil in Greece and the protests surrounding it a few years ago. Since then the media hasn’t paid much attention to what’s happening there. Greece is important to our movement for two reasons: it’s ahead of Western political trends, and its current economic woes reveal the agenda and mechanisms of the globalist elite.
First, let’s have a crash course on the relevant portions of recent Greek history. Greece came out of a military dictatorship in the early 1970s, and the government re-formed as a parliamentary democracy. While there has always been a multiparty system in place, for decades there were two major parties swapping power: PASOK, a soft-socialist party and New Democracy, analogous in economic policy to the Democrat Party of the United States in the 90s and early 2000s.
The socialist years saw massive growth in the public sector. Public sector workers enjoyed lavish benefits such as twice-yearly bonuses, guaranteed annual raises, and pensions that, in some cases, could be inherited. This led to a social dynamic of most citizens aspiring to work in government and thus share in the abundance and “easy life,” while those remaining in the private sector found it incredibly difficult to navigate the bloated, stubborn bureaucracy to get basic things accomplished. The most ambitious and talented Greeks tended to emigrate to other Western nations, work in professional fields, and then return to Greece to spend their middle-age and elderly years as pensioners with their families. Greece’s tourism-based economy made such a strategy viable for many decades, and it likely could have been sustained were it not for the massive make-work government jobs system also in place.
Meanwhile, the 80s saw the return of the doctrinal Communist Party, “KKE,” and the overt nationalist party “Golden Dawn.” KKE made a splash in 1989 when it took 13% of the vote and joined the coalition government. Since then it has been relegated to an opposition party. There were several other parties and sub-parties which rose and fell during that time. However, the public sector continued to grow, along with its massive financial obligations. This inertia carries to the present day, where hundreds of thousands of citizens who have built their lives around this public largesse continue to vote for the party which promises continuation of the benefits. This is a natural and predictable reaction, even if it’s ultimately based on an irrational notion in the face of financial reality.
Greece’s debt as a percentage of GDP crossed the 100% threshold in the early 90s, where it remained for about a decade before taking off again in the mid-2000s. In 2001, Greece joined the Eurozone, only to reveal a few years later that they had fudged their financial figures in order to enter the currency bloc. In the global recession of 2008, unemployment reached a historical low of around 5% before beginning a steady climb up to 25%. During this span, the debt-to-GDP ratio took a similar trajectory, leading to imposition of austerity measures by the European Union at the behest of Greece’s creditors.
The austerity measures, which started in 2010, were initially mild, common-sense reforms. Salary increases for public workers were frozen and there were very limited cuts to a few other salaries. Nonessential work travel was halted and bonuses received 10% cuts. Protests started popping up immediately, as unemployment and other consequences of harsh economic conditions due to the global recession became widespread.
In 2012, a new party named “Syriza,” best described as a radical-left party formed from a previously existing multi-party coalition, shot into power. A major part of its platform was reversal of the recently-imposed austerity measures, along with budgetary reforms to control the debt crisis. In 2015, Syriza took a majority of the votes and seats in parliament, as well as the office of the Prime Minister. Its logo features flags of three colors: green, purple, and red. The red stands for Marxist economics, the green represents environmental causes, and the purple is a nod to global social movements. The rise of Syriza was a major disruption to the Greek political dynamic, taking PASOK down to 4th place, halting the creeping resurgence of KKE, and leaving New Democracy and Golden Dawn as the other top 3 parties in the country by vote tally.
The leader of Syriza and current Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, is atypical for Greek leader. On top of being a lifelong Communist, he’s also an Atheist who broke Greek tradition by not baptizing his children or taking a religious oath of office in a country that has Orthodox Christianity as its official religion.
Subsequent austerity measures, however, became more severe and far-reaching. The Value-Added Tax (VAT) steadily rose from 4% to 24%. Additional taxes were levied on gasoline, vices like liquor and cigarettes, and phone and internet service. The income tax was increased, the minimum wage was decreased, and pension cuts took effect. A “temporary” property tax was imposed, and later doubled. As the measures grew more severe and living conditions of everyday Greeks were impacted, more people took to the streets. These were the “protests against austerity” which dominated the headlines. It’s worth mentioning that farmers, who got media attention for their creative protest actions, were hit especially hard. The property tax and VAT were a double-whammy, but they also had huge increases in taxes on very short notice, and had to pay the taxes in advance. Agriculture is a large part of the Greek production economy. These measures put many small farmers in a perilous situation.
In July 2015 Greece held a referendum on whether to accept more austerity. The Greek people voted “No” with the blessing of the ruling Syriza coalition. However, in a colossal political faux pas, this referendum was ultimately rebuffed by the members of the Greek Parliament, and more austerity packages were passed. The austerity bills culminated in the thirteenth package, a punishing set of measures that figuratively strip-mined the country of its assets. There are thousands of pages of legislation for this package, and I haven’t been able to find an acceptable translation, but Golden Dawn frontman Ilias Kasidiaris provided a good summary on the floor of the Greek Parliament:
By writing in special privileges and exemptions for members of parliament, foreign interests were able to pick at the scraps of Greece. Nothing was done to halt the exodus of the next generation of citizens or influence rock-bottom birth rates upward, leading to a present demographic calamity whose effects match or exceed that of a major war.
So that’s how Greece got to where it is today, and the situation isn’t any better than it was at the onset of the crisis. Greece is still carrying an unsustainable debt load that’s hardly eased. More bailouts are forthcoming, and now Greece must navigate this financial duress without the benefit of all its sold-off assets and a good portion of its talented youth, while contending with a crippling debt-payment regimen. Those youth who remain are facing unemployment numbers in the 30-40% range for their age groups. That same source shows that part-time employment has greatly increased, bringing unemployment numbers to the low-20% range, disguising a grim employment situation that is otherwise presented as a “turnaround.”
Not among those suffering in the wake of the economic crisis were the migrants, who lived in relative comfort. In 2016 alone, Greece claimed to have spent over 600 million euros on handling migrants. The actual figure is likely much higher. The migrants lived in relative comfort, while Greeks were putting their own children into orphanages in order to feed them, not getting paid for over six months, and abandoning their properties because of their inability to pay newly-imposed taxes.
The streets of downtown Athens are covered in Communist and Antifa graffiti (take a street view tour and see for yourself). The huge black market which has sprung up in response to the massive tax increases is dominated by foreign ethnic gangs each controlling its own sector. The few well-connected members of the Greek elite, who can make end-runs around the bureaucracy via bribery and personal favors, will manage fine from their many properties in the tourism economy. The members of the working and former middle class, not so much. In essence, the Greek people have been dispossessed and stripped of any power to resolve their financial situation via the sacrosanct democratic process. The most-talented of their youth can easily seek opportunities elsewhere in the EU or in other Western nations. Their elected parties have completely betrayed their promises and done nothing to alleviate the suffering or provide a feasible way out of the crisis. Greece’s means of production have been seized, not by the Greek state but by foreign governments and thousands of anonymous shareholders of international corporations.
Over a million migrants have passed through Greece on their way to Northern Europe, but tens of thousands have remained in addition to the hundreds of thousands of migrants from Albania, Turkey and other countries who were already residing in Greece decades prior to the migrant waves of 2015. These new migrant residents will provide an additional financial burden to a nation which already is staring into a financial abyss. The children of those migrants are now being introduced into the Greek public school system, which has been a source of national pride for generations. These schools will of course have to lower their high standards to accommodate these students, as has been seen countless times in American schools.
In short, everything about Greek life and Greece itself has changed in less than a decade. A generation from now, if things are left to the democratic process, Greece will be a land of alienated, impoverished people. Those who work will do so to fulfill Greece’s new raison d’etre: making massive interest payments to the nation’s various creditors.
But the tragedy currently playing out in Greece is merely the first step in a larger plan. Ill-advised, frivolous government spending led to an untenable debt situation, which has been leveraged in tandem with manipulation of the political process to rapidly plunder a country and leave its people with no hope for the future and no recourse against the demands of the globalist machine. Understand this, and what happens to other European countries in the coming years will be much easier to follow. Portugal, Spain, and Italy are on similar trajectories. It’s only a matter of time before the formula is applied to them as well. France and Sweden are close behind.
That’s not to say there’s no hope for Greece. For Greece to regain its sovereignty, it will likely require bold action by Greek patriots working on many fronts both inside and outside of the democratic process. Golden Dawn hopes to gain on Syriza’s flagging momentum, but they will have to contend with a hostile media, pensioners who desperately want to maintain the status quo, and the remaining establishment party, New Democracy. Every once in a while, check in on Golden Dawn. There’s a lot to learn from their long, hard road to being one of the most powerful nationalist parties in Europe. Their struggle is ultimately ours.