Sunday 25 January 2015

Syriza - The New Archanians

Back when Greece was great, busy inventing democracy and defeating the Persians it also did a good line in Comedy. Indeed, Greeks, as with much in Western history, invented modern comedy. The greatest exponent of the original art was Aristophanes.

The news that Syriza have won with 36% the Greek election reminds me of one of these plays. Notably 'The Archanians', in this play the hero is trapped for a long-period. Most of the Athenians do not want peace from the war with Sparta, but the hero, Dikaiopolis manages to negotiate a private treaty to end the war and sets up a market to supply the rest of the Greek cities.

In this way today, Alexander Tspiras, must continue. He knows that Europe and the IMF cannot really bend to his desires. That way lies a compromise with Italy and even France, which cannot be afforded, even if a compromise with Greece could.

So instead he will ask and be refused. A messy compromise is the best he can really hope for. Somehow, in their desperation the Greeks have believed in the magic money tree rhetoric of the left - but without really appreciating the truth.

The only way out for Greece is to leave the Euro but even Tspiras will be very reluctant to take the path he has always denied he wanted.

It will be a busy few weeks, but there will be some comedy along the way from all sides before the final curtain.


Anonymous said...

Comedy. But mostly tragedy. The EU has royally fucked up here.

Lord Blagger said...


The Greeks did, and their only current idea is to export austerity to the people who tried to help them.

Now the EU needs to exercise the cancer that is Greece

Sappho said...

Lord Blagger - its seems you have cracked open the comedy gold already with the "people who tried to help them" alternate universe economic historical story telling fuckwittery meme.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Its less Greek and more German. From Attila the Hun's playbook.

They were expert at extorting money from the Roman Empire or EU 1.0, through threats of bringing down the whole European infrastructure if their financial demands were not met.

Nothing new is there?

dearieme said...

"to exercise the cancer" is pretty good comedy.

BE said...

The last time Greece entered into a currency union, it ended up with governments borrowing like drunken shipping magnates to try to stay in office, to try to stave off disaster the other members of the union sent representatives to exert some discipline, failed, and eventually was dropped by the other members of the union.

I don't think that the Greeks really know what democracy is, despite having invented the word. It means choosing the right people to run your country, not voting in whoever promises you the easiest lifestyle. Residents of the soviet North of England and Scotland may also wish to take note.

Steven_L said...

These folk might have a different mindset to the folk that frequent C@W, but they're not stupid.

The fact is, there is no way anyone can get elected in any of the PIGIS unless they promise to keep the Euro. Much like the SNP had to promise to keep the GBP.

It looks to me like the Greek Parliament is now controlled by a coalition Eurosceptics. This is a first in any member state and a very big deal IMHO.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"...there is no way anyone can get elected...unless they promise to keep the Euro"

Probably correct, but why?

Do they see the Euro as giving them an easy ride? Germany's prosperity without needing to have Germany's discipline and hard work?

And what happens when they finally realise that it guarantees nothing of the sort but rather unending blood sweat and tears? What then?

We may be about to find out.

BE said...

Why do voters say they want to keep the Euro? Because they presumably want to avoid the shock-and-awe period which would immediately follow pesification. Of course, Greece keeping the Euro makes as little sense in the longer term as iScotland keeping Sterling. That they are not actually prepared to jump off that particular cliff tells us more than the commentariat will ever tell us.

Tsiparas knows perfectly well that as soon as negotiations become log-jammed, the ECB will switch off the cash points. The only choice the Greek government will have then is to issue its own new currency.

In Argentina they stole what was left of bank deposits and started printing short-dated government bonds to pay public sector workers. I predict something similar in Greece, if talks break down.

BE said...

ps does anyone believe that if we had joined the Euro we would still be in it?

hovis said...

BE - yes absolutely, we would still be in it if we had joined. You only have to look at the way both main parties act.

Jer said...

Ancient Greek democracy gave a voice to all, except those excluded by virtue of being foreign, female or poor - obviously.

I don't know anything about modern Greece, but the Greeks I know are fiercely proud of their Greekness.

Steven_L said...

I reckon had we been in the euro, then scaremongering on savings and in particular pensions could easily have made proposing to leave not politically feasible.

It's a nonsense that OAP's in the UK pay less income tax (i.e. no NI) than everyone else. But electoral suicide to do anything about it.

It's taken 25% off GDP and 25% unemployment and 50% youth unemployment for this to happen in Greece. It will be interesting to see some figures on how different age groups voted.

Young Scots voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence and young Spaniards will vote for Pondemos in October. Things are changing.

MyMondayName said...

@Steven_L - I agree wholeheartedly but this place is full of young fogeys and 'kippers.

Land prices are being subsidized by EU CAP grants while the under 40s are becoming tenants on their own land and cannot afford a house without govt support. This is deliberate welfare support for asset holders who are up to their necks in debt. The pension rules next year will exacerbate the situation further.

In the UK a huge amount of mortgages are held on IO with no parallel investment vehicle, this is why rates are being held so low. If rates rise and government subsidies were stopped, the pensioners would suffer the debt burden and the young could feast on asset firesales.

We are entering a generational conflict here, and unfortunately in most of Europe the grannies are in a majority so more can-kicking and calcification.

Bill Quango MP said...

That Portillo documentary a while back showed that the UK is the exception in the UK. Our ideas of seperate nation-government -currency are not the norm.

Most citizens wanted to be in the EU and have the euro. This included all the club meds and the Irish.

The people, rightly, realised that even with the incredible damage to their economies caused by the financial crash, their economies have only fallen to 2005 levels. So, just pre the big-big EU handouts and low interest rates.

So, in the rest of europe they want more, not less, EU as it was so beneficial.

I suppose if we all joined a gym, that cost us £1,000 membership a year, but we got a £10,000 voucher at the end of the year, we too would not want to leave.

Sackerson said...

Remember Dom Mintoff.

James Higham said...

The expression which comes to my mind is "what could possibly go wrong?"