September 20, 2011
Greece is facing an economic and social disaster, the result of its so-called rescue by the “troika” of the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. Greece must change course to avoid a grim future for its people: it must default on its debt and exit the eurozone.
Consider first the scale of the crisis. After contracting in 2009 and 2010, GDP fell by a further 7.3% in the second quarter of 2011. Unemployment is approaching 900,000 and is projected to exceed 1.2 million, in a population of 11 million. These are figures reminiscent of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The causes clearly lie with the programme of the troika. In early 2010 Greece was effectively bankrupt. In its wisdom, the troika imposed policies of severe austerity and deregulation consistent with the neoliberal ideology of the EU. Quite predictably, demand collapsed and banking credit became scarce, with the result that the core of the Greek economy was crushed.
The social implications have been catastrophic. Entire communities have been devastated by unemployment, losing the means to live as well as the norms, customs and respect of regular work. Barter has appeared among the poor and the not so poor. Medical services in working-class areas are running low on basic provisions. Schools and transport are disintegrating. People are abandoning cities to return to agriculture, a sure sign of social retrogression.