I can certainly appreciate why the people are protesting. The situation is similar to what we’re seeing in Spain at the moment — which is yet another country on the brink of implosion. Here’s what protesters there had to say recently:
"It’s important to take to the streets because a series of measures are being taken by those in power – like the Euro-pact, for example – making Europe belong to the bankers and not the people," one woman protester said.
"We are all against bankers, money and capital – and against corruption and the misuse of public money. That’s why we’re angry," said a male demonstrator. — BBC
The IMF and World Bank grant their loans with serious strings attached — including massive reductions in expenditure on public services, healthcare, etc., and large scale privatisation of Greek assets. Watching your country get sold off wholesale to multinational corporations is enough to drive many of us hopping mad. We’ve seen the results of the IMF’s ‘philanthropy’ in country after country, as I examined at length in Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis.
At the same time, we must remember that this economic fiasco is a problem of short-sighted thinking on the part of Greeks and their government. The country has left its rural agrarian and fishing past behind, and embraced an impossible future that’s almost totally dependent on one economic activity — tourism. Spiraling costs and economic woes worldwide are pulling that particular rug out from under the tourism-dependent Greek economy.
The Good News:
The good news is that many are beginning to see the light, and instead of waving placards with their gold watch-adorned wrists, some are revisiting their past, with the potential to find solutions in it.
"Athens has failed its young people. It has nothing to offer them any more. Our politicians are idiots … they have disappointed us greatly," said Dikiakos, who will soon be joined by 10 friends who have also decided to escape the capital.
They are part of an internal migration, thousands of Greeks seeking solace in rural areas as the debt-stricken country grapples with its gravest economic crisis since the second world war.
"It’s a big decision but people are making it," said Giorgos Galos, a teacher in Proti Serron on the great plains of Macedonia, in northern Greece. "We’ve had two couples come here and I know lots in Thessaloniki [Greece’s second biggest city] who want to go back to their villages. The crisis is eating away at them and they’re finding it hard to cope. If they had just a little bit of support, a little bit of official encouragement, the stream would turn into a wave…." — Greek crisis forces thousands of Athenians into rural migration, The Guardian
The Greek government might want to take note of a recent development in China, where the Chinese government is actively sponsoring public resiliency:
The Beijing Agricultural Bureau is trying to encourage the cultivation of mini-farms on balconies and in yards by offering residents free seeds and farming equipment. Growing one’s own greens can help to reduce carbon emissions, clean the air and release stress.[…]
"We want Beijingers to become balcony farmers because it is a healthy and low-carbon lifestyle," said a spokeswoman surnamed Su with the agricultural bureau. — Global Times
Amongst our recent PRI Australia interns are some who plan to return to Greece to start their own educational, demonstrational, Permaculture Master Plan site. With people returning from the tourist centres of the country back to their smaller towns and villages there’s a dire need for opportunities for re-skilling — so people can venture to take up occupations with a real future, and, in doing so, to take their future out of the hands of corporate vultures and back into their own. In a bid to support this endeavour, we’ll soon be launching a new PRI Greece website.