Friday, 5 February 2016

₪ The Chronicle of a Crisis

   You know you grow older when you find yourself challenged to feel satisfaction by watching a film. The latest years, most films are just action movies with computer animated visual effects, and a superhero that raises cities to the ground to serve some freedom and democracy. Direction is now done through a Macintosh, the actors are now athletes or supermodels, and most scenarios could easily get challenged by my 5 years old son's role playing fantasies and concepts. A week ago, an unusual work premiered worldwide; The Big Short a film that takes us back where the biggest economical recession of our time would start; 11 Wall Street, New York, and gives us a small idea for what triggered this financial crisis. Despite the fact that this crisis starts in the United States, many whispered a word along this economic apocalypse; Greece, and everyone has now associated the two, having more or less an opinion that was delivered to them by the media. The question though is; how well do we know what happened, or even know anything about Greece at all?

"Greek War of Independence"
Theodoros Vryzakis 1851
When someone thinks about Greece, would immediately think of her ancient history, being the birthplace of  Science, Philosophy, Arts, and other things, but most characteristically; Democracy.
If there would be some words that could almost be synonymous to the very sound of the word Greece, ancient would surely be amongst them.
   Many would argue of how old this nation actually is, but it is in fact an oxymoron that despite Greece's thousands of years of existence, and the foundation of democracy in Athens, Greece is a very young country as a single unified de jure state of ethnic Hellenes, and her modern history starts with the liberation from the mighty Ottoman Empire right after the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century.

   When Athens became the official capital of the newly founded state, it was but a shadow of its past glorious self. Athens; once a city that was the de facto cultural centre of the ancient world, would see a constant cultural decline after Alexander's death and the sequential war between Rome and the Successors that led into the invasion of the Hellenic world. The new religion, and the rise of Constantinople, resulted into a macchiavellic resentment against anything Hellenic -religious or cultural- that would start with Theodosius Augustus and finish with Emperor Justinian that saw the destruction of any building or construction that hosted Greek and Graeco Roman religion, arts, science, philosophy, history and other, including the discontinuation of Plato's Academy in 529CE, a turning point in history that according to most historians is the trigger of the Middle Ages.
"The Explosion of Parthenon"
Jacques Carrey 1674
   Despite that many would think the Ottomans as the worst enemies of the Greeks, they never did as much harm as western Europeans did. Greece was the theater of the Ottoman–Venetian Wars and Athens would have most of her buildings plundered and destroyed, suffering the bombardment and destruction of the Parthenon of the Acropolis in 1687 by the Venetians. Later, the Ottomans would give permission to any wealthy noble that wanted to have some nice authentic souvenirs, having literally whole temples removed. The most unfortunate highlight was the extraction of what was left from Acropolis by Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, and the transportation of Parthenon's Marbles to the United Kingdom.
   The dawn of the 19th century finds Athens as small village of only 7000 people, most of them farmers and shepherds, and with that majority being illiterate.
The city had no public infrastructure. There were no roads, no bridges, no water supply or sewage, there was absolutely nothing there other than farms, stables, the ancient Greek temples, and some Venetian and Ottoman constructions. It was clear to the newly appointed King of Greece, the young Prince Otto of Bavaria and his council, that the new capital would have to get a city plan and get build from scratch. Some of the best architects and grand masons from the German Empire were invited to court, and soon the young King would choose Cleanthes, the Bavarian Von Klenze, and the Prussians Schaubert & Schinkel to build his city, the New Athens. The initial concept was to build a city in a Neoclassical rhythm following Paris and Berlin. This union soon ended in disagreement, all plans changed, and the result was catastrophic; there was no grid, urban or city plan, no money, no will, and still no water, while nonstop political turbulence and war, would deny Athens a better future.

   Ironically enough, Greece has seen only 65 years of peace, since the Napoleonic Wars until now, and about the same time as a true republic. In the 20th century only, Greece had the honour of 9 wars, including the Balkan Wars, the World Wars, two Civil Wars and a Dictatorship that decimated the country and left their stigmata deeply carved in what is today’s Greek society and consequently in its culture and lifestyle.
   Socially speaking, the most significant era, is right after the Junta of 1967’, as the Greek society saw a mass turn from the nationalist period of early 20th century, into the socialistic current that followed the happenings in San Francisco and Paris of 68’. The students in Greece of 70’s would forge the New Wave, the Athenian Polytechnic Uprising led to the massacre of the students inside the university, and these students would reestablish democracy, making Greece for the first time a true republic. 
Olympic Games
Athens 2004
This new wave would change Greek culture as it was in every level through culture; 
athletics, arts, music, literature, theatre, poetry, cinema, and many other, would now bloom more vibrant than ever before through the freedom of speech. Greece will see progress everywhere and soon would be again the major player in the Balkans. A continuously upward course would turn Athens into the cultural centre and commerce hub of Eastern Europe, and would reach its zenith, with the Olympics of Athens in 2004. 

Then the Crisis hit, and changed everything to a level, that has turned Greece into a completely different country, culturally and socially.

❖ Etymologically speaking, the term Crisis is a direct loan from Greek to Latin and from there to the rest:
1.1Crisis‣ Latin 
1.2・Κρίσις‣  ⎜pron.  Kréeses ⎜ ‣ Hellenic for separate, decide, or judge.  

☛ The term was initially used in the English language with its' medical meaning which was also used by the ancient Greeks for the critical turning point of a disease, as seen in readings of Hippocrates and Galenos.
The term would be the core for a plethora of other words that we use today in the English language. Some interesting words: 

❖ Crime
2.1・Crime English
2.2・Crimne Old French
2.3・Crimen Latin v.  for Crime, Fault, Offense
2.4・Cretus ‣ Latin n. for Separate 
2.5・Crisis ‣ Latin 
2.6Κρίσις ‣ Hellenic

❖ Secret
3.1・Secret ‣ English
3.2・Secretus ‣ Latin for Hidden, Concealed
3.3・Secernere ‣ Latin past participle for Apart, Exclude
3.4・Se + Cernere ‣ Latin f. Properly + Separate
3.5・Cretus ‣ Latin f. Separate
3.6・Crisis ‣ Latin 
3.7Κρίσις ‣ Hellenic

❖ Riddle
4.1・Riddle ‣ English
4.2・Ridelle Middle English for Coarse Sieve 
4.3・Hriddel / Hridder ‣ Old English for Sieve
4.4・Hrida ‣ Proto Germanic for Sieve
4.5・Kri / Krei ‣ Hellenic / PIE for Sieve, Distinguish, Decide, Separate  

   Back in September 2008, the crisis erupted in the USA, and instantly Europe followed.
France, Spain, Italy, and other countries with Greece amongst them, had the biggest of the problems and the following year after controls, the current and previous Greek governments were found to have forged almost all financial documents about the true numbers of the situation. The balloon explodes, and immediately everybody turns their heads to Greece. The socialist prime minister, G.Papandreou shall state that everything is alright, that "there is money" and from that point and on; a domino of disaster starts falling.
   The international media rage against Greece, and after millions of humans lost everything in USA and Europe, Greece was the ideal scapegoat to lift that burden.
The media will cry Havoc for how Greece pretty much brought the world economy down, how the they have abused European and other money, and focus greatly on the luxurious lifestyle of the Greeks.
   What I personally perceive as a fact, is that the Greeks have a great deal to blame for what was to follow, in praxis or in directly. The banks went crazy back in early 2000 and gave loans to everybody about anything. Anybody could now get a house or car loan, as many credit cards they wanted, even vacation or shopping loans, without the slightest criteria of ability of actually paying back these loans. Nobody forced anyone there to get credit or mortgages, the Greeks gladly took these loans and used this money. Everyone now had two houses, including a vacation house, each family had two cars, the latest models of electronics in the market, high fashion brands, dining in the finest restaurants, while public employees would go to work if they wanted, when they wanted and leave at their own will, they would evade taxation, and abuse the system with the blessings of their friends and associates in each party and reigning government.
"Corrupt Legislation"
Elihu Vedder 1896
   This is not just an opinion, mine or another's, this is a fact. By all means, I was there, I witnessed it happening growing up inside a world of private and public corruption, where each and any party in power would charge billions for a public work that was assigned by them to their tycoon friends, they would do a pathetic job of half a million euros, they would claim that it would even cost half a billion, and they; politicians and multinational magnates, would feast on the rest. And the Greek people would elect them, over and over again for almost a whole century, some out of simple stupidity and some more privileged for their own interests and perks; a job in the public sector, a favourable transfer, and other conveniences. They were all participants in this.
Paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin, I think that those who give up essential Liberty and Democracy, to have a little temporary Safety, deserve neither.

   Here is a point that I’d like to introduce to you, another point of view, not to be necessarily correct, but one that expresses the majority of the Greek people.
The Greeks were violently introduced into another reality; they quickly saw that all media were now targeting them for what appeared to be the end of the European Union, politically and financially. They quickly realised that everybody hated them. Problem was, no one seemed to know why.
   Suddenly, the biggest domestic media would start a phenomenal effort to convince all population that this is the end, and that the people would have to accept austerity measures to tackle the upcoming apocalypse. This would seem fair to the most of us, but there was still a factor that hadn't been taken under consideration; the fact that the majority of these people were not corrupt, but good citizens that their only mistake was to believe -and consequently elect- rotten parties.
These austerity measures and their terms, were unprecedented in European history thus far.
Some key points were that the Hellenic Republic would have to resign from every sovereign immunity of its own land. All of Greek public assets; movable, immovable, cash, securities and other rights, sources of ground, underground and underwater wealth as gold, uranium, gas, oil and other were to be committed. The lenders were solely empowered, to transfer their rights in third parties, such as companies, organizations, states, etc. There are no legal rights for the debtors. The armed forces were to pass under administration, and all military equipment would be withheld upon command. Most public services, and national assets would be privatised and be sold for nothing to European multinational tycoons.
Lady Justice
Frankfurt, Germany
   To make things worse, the president of the Hellenic Republic would actually would swear that;
"The national borders and a part of our national sovereignty will be limited for the sake of peace, prosperity and security in a larger Europe, human rights and citizenship will undergo changes as they can be violated by authorities and powers beyond the known and established and, democracy will encounter challenges and will be tested by potential new forms of governance".
   The Minister of Finances in Greece along with the Prime Minister, would in one night cease the Official Journals of the Government that made Parliament action’s public, and empower themselves to pass laws of their own, only with their sole signature, which they did.
   The European Commision, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank would eventually demand the resignation of the Greek prime minister, and for the first time in European Union’s history, a non elected head of state would be appointed by the European Troika. This man was Lucas Papademos, an economist employed by the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, both Goldman Sachs & Rothschild controlled mechanisms and both responsible for the global depression on the first hand.
   These terms had never been seen in Europe before, even in ultimatums in a state of war, or enforcing client states and vassals.
The Memorandum, was to violate pretty much every single law in the Human Rights protocols, the International Law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European Union Association Agreements, the Declaration on Fundamental Labour Principles and Working Rights, and finally, the very Constitution of Greece itself.
   With democracy in a coma and the constitution torn, it was clear to the Greek people that this was not just a financial crisis, but that the country was in praxis in a state of silent occupation. The people reacted to this situation, and quickly thousands would surround the parliament in protests. This was a situation that the media -both domestic and international- tried to manipulate and interpreted from a very different point of view.
   The people in the streets, thousands of citizens from all ages, classes, political sides, protested for the same purposes: the application of the constitution, the clear action of the state as a republic and the violation of human rights. The police and city militia moved into a directed assault, targeting women, children and elders with unseen violence and the media, presented the happenings as protests of just a few people, lazy and unwilling against fair measures, and tried to blame the people as uncooperative.
   Private footage of the protests was published on the internet and the social media.
The participants were 1.3 million people. Soon the protests became riots and the situation got out of control for all sides. The international media, would present the entire population as anarchist criminals, and the German press was the tip of the spear.

    Things got immediately a nationalistic dimension from both sides and with that; out of hand in the centre of Athens. The war was apparently not forgotten to many that suffered during WW2, and it is a fact that Nazi doings in Greece were indeed extended. The Nazi destroyed pretty much all of Greece’s national assets to the ground, public infrastructure and civic buildings were bombarded, the national gold reserve was stolen, and archeological monuments were destroyed and looted. Highlight was the attempted Genocide of Athens by directed starvation. Nothing of all the above was ever paid back, or given back, in fact; Greece is the sole only country worldwide that still has not received war reparations for the occupation and the theft of the national reserve deposits.
"Allegory of Prudence"
Titian 1565
   To the smashing majority, it was surealistic for the Greeks that Germany who still owed to them so much, claimed debts from them. What bothered them the most, was not the debt itself, but the ethical war that a primus inter pares Germany had declared to Greece, ridiculing and humiliating the Greeks internationally with false statements. When details of these treaties became public, it was known that these "saving loans" were not given by a state, but from private organisations, and companies, that had an insane profit from the illegal interest rates. It is though very important here to notice not to confuse the people of a country with their government.
Every single German I have personally talked with, never made any remarks as the media did. In my opinion, it appears that the German people, haven't seen a cent from all the profit their government did, in fact; haven't got a raise for almost a decade, indicating clearly that they are also been played by our humble leaders. The German government was soon joined by other big players such as the United Kingdom and the United States and the feeling took global dimensions leading to an Anti-Western sentiment, that was amplified by the catastrophic interventions that UK and USA had in the past, on the Asia Minor catastrophe, the Greek civil war, the military dictatorship in Athens and the invasion of Cyprus. It was becoming clear that the Greek public opinion was now against the country's membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
   The new anti-austerity prime minister A.Tsipras -the first communist in many decades- had promised that would offer Greek people the chance to vote and chose for themselves what was their will; acceptance of the new austerity measures and temporary bailout or selected bankruptcy and exit from Europe. The results were not welcomed in Europe. The Greeks had chosen to go bankrupt and exit Europe, something that would of course trigger the dissolution of the European Union as it would leave the continent without a direct commerce route in Asia and Africa. The Greek government was forced to agree with the new terms, and the city of democracy, a city with more than 6000 years of continuous existence would see hundreds of people homeless, sleeping in the streets, humans eating from the garbage, men and women committing suicide unable to pay their debts and extra austerity taxes.

❖ Austerity
5.1・Austerity ‣ English
5.2・Austère ‣ Old French
5.3・Austerus ‣ Latin
5.4・Αυστηρός ‣  ⎜pron.  Afsterós ⎜‣ Hellenic for bitter, dry, harsh, sour, tart, strict.

   Most renowned economists from the academic world, agree in the same basic facts; it is impossible for Greece not only to delete the debt, but even treat it, by taking loans. This is a fact. It is also a fact that if Greece goes bankrupt, -especially in the possible combination of another relapse in the US- the EU will not sustain the weight, and the smaller countries will eventually collapse. Most independent economists worldwide saw that the only viable solution for the healthy survival of both Greece and the European Union, was to intentionally let the banks go bankrupt instead, and an 80% deletion of the debt, and redistribution of it under terms similarly applied to Portugal, Ireland and Iceland. Today the estimates are that under the current conditions, Greece would need approx. 180 years to recover and become again a "developed first world" country.

   These people, had now lost almost everything they had fought for a whole life. Their house, job, all their savings. Owning a car, an iPhone or a tablet, a suit and a good pair of shoes, was now in the sphere of imagination, rather than the one of reality. A reality that has people that sleep in the parks and eat from the streets, people that wear paper cartons for clothes.
The city that once was Homs 
But there is worse. A worse, that lays about 700 miles southeast, in a place that the pictures we get, seem like the result of an apocalyptic nuclear disaster. It is the place that the current leading superpowers chose to be the theater of a new -not so- cold war. More than 4 million humans, have fled their beloved Syria, to save what is the most valuable, the most precious thing in life; their children.
   It was known a few days ago that the Greek people in the Aegean islands, will be amongst the nominee laureates for the Peace Nobel Prize by the Oslo Committee, for their actions in saving the lives of the Syrian people. They shared the food and water that didn’t had nor could afford, they shared the very little that they had left with those that had none ,with those that walked whole continents barefoot and swam seas for a better tomorrow. What remains is hope, the hope that they will come through this just as everything else all those many years.
   The crisis brought people closer, they learned once again to become humans in an age of technology that kills the spirit. They enjoy life in her simple beautiful way, instead of using a tablet to see a picture, they start drawing it. Instead of using an iPhone for listening to the music, they took a guitar and start playing it. Instead of going out in the bars, they now go to the beach and drink and sing together, and a whole new generation of boys and girls that learned to smile when all is grey is coming, a generation on its way, and they are tired of this drama, and these politics, and the corruption, for all they want is to smile and create.
Love in Ruins
Athens, Greece

   A generation that has learned to share and respect and coexist, a generation that listens when someone has something to say, a generation that sees no colours, or religions, or nationalities, and perhaps this is the foundation of a new society that will teach us once more how is it to be a human.