Dead-End Paths

Protesters firebombed a bank branch in Athens today, killing three people. A few hours earlier, Antonis Samaras, the head of New Democracy, the country’s main opposition party, issued this Orwellian statement about the package of austerity measures that were a precondition for an IMF bail out:

“We [meaning his party] don’t refuse the financial support, which PASOK [the ruling party] has now made necessary, but we disagree with the policy that drove us [meaning Greece] to this point, and with the government’s economic strategy for dealing with this crisis.”

To understand the extent of the hypocrisy, consider that New Democracy held power from 2004-2009, during which the Greek debt steadily increased, the rich saw their taxes cut, and the government deceived the European Union about the size of the Greek deficit. (The deception apparently continues under PASOK.) Moreover, by objecting to the “government’s economic strategy,” Samaras obfuscates the dynamics of global finance that are playing out in Greece. The government no longer has the option of strategizing — the bond market saw to that, when it drove the country to near bankruptcy. As for ” dealing with this crisis,” that’s now largely under the control of the IMF.

The focus on political gain even now, when Greece faces the most serious crisis in the last 35 years, is both unsurprising and dispiriting. Greek politics have long grown ineffectual, devolving to the televised exchange of scripted recriminations. Protests and anarchism have not worked either, not in any meaningful ways. If anything, anarchists have undermined protest movements by using them to perpetrate their destructive but ultimately fruitless brand of violence. Indeed, politics and violence have become different paths to the same dead-end.

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