Today’s (18-IV-13) New York Times contains an article about malnutrition among Greek school children. The article offers several quotations from a 15 y.o. student, Evangelia Karakaxa.
“Those who are well fed will never understand those who are not.”
How similar to the wry comment by Ivan Denisovitch, that a man who is warm will never understand a man who is cold. Greece has become a contemporary gulag, where the poor are prisoners, slowly starving to death in progressively more degrading conditions.
The Euro bullies could not care less about starving Greek children. They never think for a minute what might be the practical consequences of 27% unemployment and of losing a fifth or more of a country’s GDP in a short time. The Times says that 60% of the unemployed have not had a job for over a year. Do the Euro bullies and the troika care? No. They SAY they care, but as the Romans put it, “facta non verba”: deeds, not words.
Ms Karakaxa offers another comment that Mme Lagarde and her friends might do well to read: “They say that when you drown, your life flashes before your eyes. My sense is that in Greece, we are drowning on dry land.”
Greeks drown, and the Europeans worry about the cost of the life preservers: far too expensive to buy so many, so much cheaper to let them drown. Much as in Primo Levi’s Auschwitz, Greece and Spain and, soon, other countries will be divided into the Drowned and the Saved. “Our dreams are crushed,” Ms Karakaxa says, echoing the sentiments of so many other Greeks and Spaniards. The article speaks of a little boy bent over with hunger pains at school, of his father’s sense of “emasculation” at having lost his job (the mother lost her job, too). In the classic gesture of Levi’s Drowned, Mr. Pantelis “cast his eyes to the ground” as he told the reporter about his sense of shame at the principal’s call about his son’s hunger.
Why have Western societies stopped caring about so much of their population? The Revolution of the 1980s, when places like the US and the UK turned sharply Right, transformed their tax systems into mechanisms for capital accumulation. Elites decided to re-create the vast disparities of wealth that underlay the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and their misguided policies have brought us to this point.
Lawmakers have no shame, as the US Senate demonstrated yesterday in its vote on the gun background check bill. Technocrats do not see people, they see numbers. Maybe they are channeling their inner Stalin: Churchill claimed that Stalin, discussing the massive deaths during Collectivization, had told him something to the effect that when one person dies, that’s bad, when a hundred people die, it’s a tragedy, but when 10 million people die, it’s statistics. That seems to be the mentality of the Euro bullies: let millions suffer hunger, humiliation, degradation – that many people are a statistical problem, not a human one.
They do not care about the immediate effect of “austerity”; 20 years from now, Greeks – the ones who survive – will be better off. I’m sure Mr. Petrakis is profoundly reassured by that knowledge.