The world is in a bloody mess. The Greeks, who gave us Plato, Aristotle, if not civilisation itself, are about to give us a collective heart attack. They could take us all to purgatory where sackcloth, ashes and gnashing of teeth would be our lot.
An American scribe, back from Russia where he witnessed the first stirrings of Lenin’s nirvana, was moved to observe: “I’ve seen the future, and it works.” It worked very well indeed. The comrades, drunk with power, went to work. Many victims perished in the pogroms and the gulags. Staring into the precipice, it’s unclear what type of future Greece portends. It could be hell on earth.
Donald Rumsfeld, a philosopher of note, alerted us to what he called known knowns and known unknowns. I know, it’s all very confusing. And a lot of people had a chuckle when he said it. But it makes sense. Greece is a known unknown. There is a future. Of that we’re certain. But we cannot be sure of its nature or the course it will take.
Even the collective wisdom of the G8 couldn’t tell us. Empty assurances is all we got. Nobody knows. Nobody can say what to do or what to expect. That’s scary.
The Greeks have turned their ire on the hapless Germans. It’s comforting sometimes to have a scapegoat. A shrivelled old Greek lady said on television the other day that the whole thing reminded her of Nazi occupation during World War 2. But the Germans are not to blame. They can only be faulted for working hard, paying their taxes and running an excellent economy. The Greeks have been on the dole for far too long. It may be time they earned their keep. Instead, they’re threatening to commit hara-kiri. They could pull down the rafters, thus taking everybody down with them. They are holding Europe, if not the whole world economy, to ransom.
Thus far the financial crisis seems to have thrown up mixed political signals. When the Labour Party lost to the Conservatives in Britain and the Left to the Right in Spain, the impression seemed to be that the time for throwing money at the problem was over. The new government went for the hacksaw, for austerity. But it’s been years of pain without gain. The situation has worsened.
Now the pendulum has swung the other way. France and Greece have opted for left- leaning regimes with an appetite to splurge, in the hope of growing the economy. Thus far there seems to be no panacea from either Left or Right. A superficial reading of the situation is that all incumbents are vulnerable. Let’s throw out the b#!ta*ds, voters are saying. Which begs the question whether Barack Obama will be able to weather the storm. Or will the vulture capitalist dethrone him?
Greece must obviously carry the blame for its troubles. But the European Union’s eagerness to gobble up all countries is also responsible. Greece was either a rotten apple or not ripe for integration. It’s led to the current constipation, which looks like it will bung up other countries.
Eurosceptics have got a bad name. Integration is not a bad thing. It opens markets, with goods and services moving freely between countries. But it also creates a distance between citizens and those who govern them. Democracy becomes less accountable.
Because of its perceived success, the EU became a model for all such organisations. The African Union has taken a page from the EU book but, unlike the EU, it was imposed from above. It’s also keen to race towards monetary union and a united states of Africa. Hopefully that dream has died with Muammar Gaddafi. The eurozone troubles should cause people to pause and think.
The world has to learn an age-old lesson which every household knows only too well: live within your means. It’s basic economics. Strange that the best brains on the planet can’t seem to figure that out.