Question: Should Utilitarianism Keep Greece in Eurozone?

With the Greek crisis reaching its climax after six long, bitter years of failed fiscal policies being forcefed down the country’s throat – as openly admitted by the IMF – Greek citizens must ask themselves if the narrow confines of the utilitarian wasteland that is the Eurozone conform to their needs.

Despite its record debt and years of wasted investment opportunities, the greatest shortfall that Greece managed to make manifest in the European Union is the deficit in democracy.

This deficit far outshines Greece’s economic woes and threatens to bankrupt the entire European undertaking.

Regardless of whether the Greek Government had a fully formulated plan during the past half year of negotiations, the utter decimation of the Greek economy imposed by memorandum policies over the past six years and this month’s decision to suffocate Greek banks (essentially choking the life out of citizens and businesses) speaks volumes of today’s Europe and its priorities.

Worse yet, tiny Greece, which represents a paltry 2 percent of the EU’s GDP is faced with the full onslaught of Europe’s “institutions,” which are desparately seeking to avert similar developments in Italy and Spain – the next two member states about to head down the slippery slope of the Eurexit.

The IMF, in no uncertain terms, spelled this out for the Italian Government, whose debt to GDP ratio is about to pass 100 percent. Meanwhile, like Greece, Spain’s unemployment figures surpass 20 percent.

Whatever the outcome of the currency crisis in Greece, if but only for a few hours, the citizens of Hellas were able to rediscover a bit of their lost dignity and sovereignty by resoundingly voting “No” to more austerity measures. Of course, the victory was only a moral one, inasmuch as the proposal posed in the referendum was no longer on the table at the time of the vote.

In today’s EU, which is democratically bankrupt, referendums are not taken all that seriously anyway. In all likelihood, if Greece does stay in the Eurozone, it will be forced to pass an even harsher memorandum than the previous ones, sure to include sadistic austerity measures.

And theirin lies the essence of the problem. Greece is risking slow, painful death to remain in a currency that does not suit its needs, and to remain in a currency union whose partners resort to the lowest form of blackmail to ensure their interests, while offering no clear cut hope for the future.

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman touched the essence of the matter in an article published a few days before the referendum which questioned what future prospects were Greece’s European partners promising in exchange for all the painful austerity policies they are demanding?

Setting aside the degradation from the loss of sovereignty, forced economic migration, planned impoverishment of entire generations, and the insults accompanying injury, which are being ever hurled by Greece’s hypocritical puritanical European “partners,” even the absolutely utlitarian promise of “economic prosperity” or the hedonistic promise of “increased pleasure, less pain” is nowhere to be found in Europe’s proposal.

In reviewing the reasons that led 62 percent of Greek voters to cast a “No” vote in the referendum, Stratfor’s George Friedman notes the following: 1) public opinion could not comprehend and justify the demand for more measures after six years of cuts and taxes that generated no results; 2) the disrespect with which the Greek government was treated by European leaders was interpreted by the people of Greece as a show of disrespect to them as well; 3) the Europeans still haven’t figured out that they have brought the Greek people to the end of their rope.

The latter now feel that they have nothing to lose. Summing it up, Friedman notes that the Greeks were asked to choose between two forms of destruction. An immediate one, which, nonetheless, offers an opportunity for rebuilding, or a longterm destruction leading to suffocation with no escape – the latter being the European proposal.

Once upon a time, Hellenism symbolized the complete opposite of utilitarianism. The Ancient Greek city-state operated in such a way as to ensure its citizens’ search for truth, which was manifested in the direct participation of the city administration. Metaphysics trumped utility.

Similarly, the Greeks of the Middle Ages, as citizens of the Roman Empire, preferred to subject themselves to the tyrrany of the Ottoman Empire and maintain their Orthodox faith rather than take the less painful road and unite with the West, thus losing their spiritual bearings.

For centuries – even during the dark ages of Ottoman rule – Greece’s greatest export was its culture. Defeated militarily and impoverished, Greeks somehow managed to retain a nobility and cosmopolitaness arising from their capacity as citizens of the Roman Empire or descendants of city-states that brought civilization to the world.

In 1940, a glimmer of this pride and nobility appeared once again, as the tiny Greek army shocked the world by defeating Mussolini’s forces and delaying Hitler’s plans for European domination.
Back against the wall or not, Greeks always had a say about their vision for Europe.

Greece was never a wealthy country, but it boasted many spiritual treasures and a timeless heroism that captivated the world. It generated proposals with a universal appeal that served as the basis for civilization.

This was Greece’s historic mode of existence, thanks to which it survived the many challenges that it faced throughout its tumultuous history.

Six years into the memorandum, implementing plans and proposals designed by others who seek goals and serve interests radically different than those of the Greeks, every Hellene on the home front and abroad needs to weigh the price of utilitarianism.

Is it worth abandoning our historic lifeline and assenting to our suffocation for a currency that doesn’t even suit our needs, just so that we could say that we belong to some ritzy club in the Occident? The answer will likely affect the future of Greece for decades to come.

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1 Comment

  1. I believe strongly that the policies being imposed will not work, that they will result in depression without end, unacceptable levels of unemployment and ever growing inequality. But I also believe strongly in democratic processes — that the way to achieve whatever framework one thinks is good for the economy is through persuasion, not compulsion. The force of ideas is so much against what is being inflicted on and demanded of Greece. Austerity is contractionary; inclusive capitalism — the antithesis of what the troika is creating — is the only way to create shared and sustainable prosperity.

    For now, the Greek government has capitulated. Perhaps, as the lost half decade becomes the lost decade, as the politics get uglier, as the evidence mounts that these policies have failed, the troika will come to its senses. Greece needs debt restructuring, better structural reforms and more reasonable primary budget surplus targets. More likely than not, though, the troika will do what it has done for the last five years: Blame the victim.

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