Greek diplomat Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos is near tears as he watches neatly dressed but hungry citizens scavenging the city's garbage bins.I don't know how bad things really are in Greece (early reports of Greek 'austerity' involved pension terms that would seem generous to anyone in Britain), but however bad it is, we must ask who's really to blame.
For the ambassador, this is the ruination of all he has worked for since, as a young official, he helped his country sign up to the European dream.
Hatred seethes against Germany, which in 1942 reduced Greece to starvation and slavery during its brutal Nazi occupation.
Germany and France, who must accept the blame for allowing Greece into the euro at all, are terrified of contagion. So they are forcing this humiliated nation to slash pay and pensions to starvation levels.
I'm not suggesting that France and Germany behaved admirably, but their role has been more that of a drug dealer or loan shark, rather than thief or torturer. Nobody forced Greek politicians to run deficits.
Detlev Schlichter's latest article perfectly captures my thoughts on the matter:
There is no alternative to shrinking the Greek state drastically. It may not be nice for the Greeks to get told so by the Eurocracy – who run equally unsustainable models in their respective home countries, even if they have not been found out by markets yet – but that can change quickly....The whole article is well worth reading.
That the coming shrinkage of the Greek state – and it will happen, one way or another – will cause hardship to many ordinary Greeks, nobody can deny. But what are the realistic alternatives and who is to blame? I see no alternatives and as to the blame, this falls squarely on the modern social democratic welfare state, a model that is now collapsing everywhere around us under the weight of its own economic absurdity. Large sections of Western society have for decades been lulled into accepting as a fact of modern life that the state would always look after them, that politicians could offer them secure employment, high and rising living standards, secure pensions and top-notch yet affordable health-care – all delivered by an ever-expanding state bureaucracy funded through rising taxes on productive activity, cheap money from the fiat money central banks and ever more debt. The final bill was supposed to be deferred forever. This irresponsible political theatre is coming to an end. Greece is just the first domino to fall.
And what does it mean for democracy? – This is a well-meaning question but do those who ask it imply that tough measures would be more acceptable if they came from local politicians, or do they imply that the Greeks could vote themselves a less harsh reality?