The Greek Catastrophe: economic progress built on rotten political foundations

Three Generations of Greek Workers – Published on Global Research.ca, by Prof. James Petras, March 03, 2013.

Introduction: As Greece enters the sixth year of Europe ’s worst economic depression, with 30% of its labor force unemployed and over 52% of its youth jobless, the entire social fabric is unraveling; a suicide rate are skyrocketing and close to 80% of the population is downwardly mobile.  Family and inter-generational relations are deeply impacted; previous certainties evaporate. Uncertainties, fear and anger evoke daily mass protests. Over a dozen general strikes have drawn Greeks from middle school pupils to octogenarians in a desperate struggle to conserve the last shreds of dignity and material survival. 

The European Union and its Greek collaborators pillage the treasury, slash employment, salaries and pensions, foreclose on home mortgages and raise taxes. Household budgets shrink to one half or one third of their previous levels.

In a growing number of households, three generations are living under one roof, barely surviving on their grandparents’ shrinking pensions; some households on the brink of destitution. The prolonged – never ending and worsening – capitalist depression has caused a deep rupture in the life cycle and living experiences of grandparents, parents and children. This essay will focus on grandfathers, fathers and sons due to greater familiarity with their life experiences.

The intergenerational rupture can best be understood in the context of the contrasting ‘life experiences’ of the three generations: The focus will be on work, political, family and leisure experiences … //

(Find a text also in the following chapters

Work Experiences:

  • The Grandfathers …
  • The Fathers: Work and Play and Play Later …
  • Sons: Who Works? …

Political Experience:

  • The Grandfathers and the Radical Legacy …
  • The Fathers: The Politics of Downward Mobility …
  • Sons: The Politics of No Future …

Family:

  • Grandfathers and the Return of the Extended Family …
  • Fathers: Families – A Precarious Safety Net …
  • The Sons: Families are Where You Find Them …

Leisure:

  • Grandfathers: The Café as Refuge …
  • The Fathers: The End of European Leisure Time …)

… The Son: Leisure – Light, Blight and Street Fights: It was great fun, hanging out after school: The jokes, the joints, the public hugs and kisses. The ferry trips with back packs and the time spent studying with friends … the exams, difficult courses and the anxiety of having to choose a career in a few years. Those ‘worries’ have disappeared: The catastrophe eliminated the ‘problem course’, the difficulty of career choice … now even the teachers have left the classrooms – involuntary release – firings have thinned the offerings.  The sons face a blighted future … any ‘career’ will do.
‘The biggest crooks do not rob a bank, they own one’ – a philosophy student told a crowd of sons as he demonstrated how to make a Molotov cocktail. A math major calculated the number of times local and overseas revolutionary scholars have mentioned the ‘crises’ in an hour and come up with an equation, which equaled zero positive outcomes. The loss of future perspectives and the burden of a grim home life are eroding all respect for a political and legal system that imposes destitution, indignities and humiliation in order to pay foreign creditors. ‘We pay them, so they can squat in the sun on our beaches, buy up our homes, eat our food, swim bare-ass in our ocean and then tell us we are lazy and deserve what misery we are getting.
’The timid, playful or fearful sons are growing up fast.  Maturity begins at fifteen. The marches started earlier. Radical political loyalties followed. What next, ‘little man’?
The sons are a growing army of unemployed and maturing quickly. Today they are dispersed. Some want out – leave Greece … But most will stay … Will they organize and move beyond the current electoral opposition and fashion a new radical movement breaking with the rotten repressive electoral system?
Can they become the militants for a new heroic resistance movement?  Whose grandson will climb the walls of the Parliament and defy the colonial collaborators and their Troika masters.
Who will raise the flag of a free, independent and socialist Greece?

(full long text).

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