You may agree or not agree with the rather pessimistic and disappointing remarks of Dr. Retzios, still they present one of the possibilities of evolution of the situation in Greece and one scenario some people believe as realistic. Still nobody can really predict what kind of forces will be developed as Greece goes on with the “death spiral” it is locked in. As the July referendum proved, the “resistance DNA” of Greeks is still alive, as it was during centuries. But they are defeated by their own leaders, as so many times in History. Here is the letter Dr. Rentzios addressed to fellow members of the “Hellenic-Professors-PhD Electronic Forum”
Dear Friends of the Forum,
Let me review briefly where Greece stands after 8 years of recession, 6 years of crisis and 5 years of “rescue”:
A good summary would be that the country is in a total mess, unprecedented in the annals of western nations in the absence of war. The economic decline in Greece has far exceeded that of the US “Great Depression” in the 30’s. It is and it would continue to be an amazing phenomenon which will be the subject of many articles, books and theses for the foreseeable future.
Very few countries have suffered as deeply as Greece has during this period. Only countries that were forcibly occupied through war have seen their fortunes decline to such a degree. And the economic disaster is the least of the problems. The country has lost its sovereignty (it has been transferred to the ESM and his nameless bureaucrats), lost control of its income (all taxes funneled to troika accounts) and has lost control of its property which is sold in ridiculous prices by foreigners to foreigners. And as if this is not enough, the economic dislocation is set to continued; the refugee crisis accentuates all this; and the cherry in this “pie” is that the country is governed by the most incompetent and most clueless government it has seen for ages.
Some of you have expected the population to rise but it has not happened. Not very surprising, as it had never happened before. Finally, people have been disenchanted of the nationalist myths peddled in school about people’s response to loss of freedom and foreign domination. In occupation (and this is what is legally going on in Greece), the Greeks have responded very much as everybody else and in conformity with their history and social norms. Like everywhere else, people do not fight occupations or loss of freedom and loss of free speech. They cluster around family, they try to survive and provide to those in need, they continue working and continue to “debate” their status in work and in social groups very much as they had done before. This is more important to them than loss of freedom or loss of state property.
The myth is that people resist such changes en mass. No, they do not. A tiny number do, but the vast majority tries just to survive. We should not expect anything else and those who still hope for some kind of popular uprising against the continued range of tax increases and wage/pension cuts, are simply over-optimistic. Nothing of the sort is likely to happen.
Unfortunately for the conformists, the economic situation in Greece is getting so bad, that it may force drastic solutions. The system is not working and it is not about to work. There is no mechanism by which any kind of development is likely to based on. Industrial and agricultural production keeps on falling and there is no money anywhere to create an investment situation that would arrest the crisis. Thus, unless there is some kind of miraculous intercession, the return to the drachma will occur. Only the cowardice of those in power will inhibit this from happening for a few months. Considering the ineptness of those in power to deal with even moderate difficulties, I am not sanguine about the future.
I know that virtually all of you are of the same opinion. It is quite interesting that the EU and Euro “supporters” (or, simply, the “EU faithful”) have disappeared from this forum; and not just this forum: perusing Greek boards and publications, it is difficult to find anybody today in support of the EU or the Euro. They have lowered their heads and try to be inconspicuous, lest their fellow citizens see them and blame them for the disaster that they helped unleash.
Myths are powerful stuff. And the myth that Greece tied to Europe would be a quick way to riches and growth was one of those myths; it was a myth that totally appealed to the inferiority complex that besets most Greeks. Some, even in the midst of such a disaster, would not let go. The fear of dispelling the myth is even more powerful than the pain of the current situation.
A misguided population; the deepest economic crisis; foreign occupation; a fearful and inept political class: a great recipe for a great disaster.
Anastassios Retzios, PhD, San Ramon, California