It must be dawning on all but the most obtuse member of the banking elite that they can’t possibly steal enough money from German taxpayers to save the Greek government from default. Put it off, maybe, but collapse is inevitable.
Once this happens, what is the purpose of casting Greece into some selective temporary financial purgatory where the irrelevant Greek economy can continue embarrassing anyone foolish enough to lend their dysfunctional government a dime? Why not go all the way and give the country what many of its people have been violently demanding for almost a century?
Let them have Communism.
Hard as it is for young people to believe, Communism was once a major historical force holding billions of people in thrall. Outside the halls of elite universities, who still takes it seriously? Sure we have Cuba, where the Castro deathwatch is the last thing standing between that benighted penal colony and an inevitable makeover by Club Med. Then there is Venezuela, though hope is fading that Hugo Chavez will carry the Bolivarian banner much longer now that he’s busy sucking down FOLFOX cocktails while checking for signs that his hair is falling out. And frankly, a psychopathic family dynasty ruling a nation of stunted zombies hardly makes North Korea a proper Communist exemplar.
What the world needs, lest we forget, is a contemporary example of Communism in action. What better candidate than Greece? They’ve been pining for it for years, exhibiting a level of anti-capitalist vitriol unmatched in any developed country. They are temperamentally attuned to it, having driven all hard working Greeks abroad in search of opportunity. They pose no military threat to their neighbors, unless you quake at the sight of soldiers marching around in white skirts. And they have all the trappings of a modern Western nation, making them an uncompromised test bed for Marxist theories. Just toss them out of the European Union, cut off the flow of free Euros, and hand them back the printing plates for their old drachmas. Then stand back for a generation and watch.
The land that invented democracy used it to perfect the art of living at the expense of others, an example all Western democracies appear intent on emulating. Being the first to run out of other people’s money makes Greece truly ripe to take the next logical step beyond socialism.
As wrenching as it will be we can take comfort in the fact that Greece doesn’t have much of an economy to disrupt. The only Greek industry that’s worth a damn is tourism, rapidly collapsing as travelers get tired of being stranded by strikes while dodging Molotov cocktails. The rest of us can find plenty of other sources of lamb chops, yogurt, and olive oil. They crushed the concept of private property long ago under the burden of environmental, cultural, and social regulations that govern land use. Wouldn’t it be instructive to let them have a go at building a workers’ paradise to remind us what state enforced equality looks like?
Unlike neighboring Balkan nations that got to experience the joys of Communism after the Second World War, Greece was brought back from the brink by massive western intervention as well as a Churchillian side deal that obliged Stalin to butt out. The nasty civil war between the Greek Communist Party (the KKE) and government forces backed by Britain and the U.S. set the stage for decades of struggle between communist sympathizers who never gave up the dream, and right wing juntas determined to rule by force. The uneasy peace that has existed since the colonels were booted merely masks underlying tensions as every Greek worries, is someone else working fewer hours than I am?
How Greece conned its way into the European Union while hard working Turkey was left begging is a testament to the astute diplomats in Brussels, no doubt consulting their playbook on what dodge they can conjure up next to stick someone else with the bill. Why the E.U. extended credit to a nation whose governments have been in a chronic state of default since the country gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832 is a fitting subject for a News of the World expose. Perhaps they were being advised by Fannie Mae.
So despite the frantic meetings, the tragicomedy nears its final act. It’s time for the global financial industry to pull up stakes and go home before more innocent bank employees get immolated. If you don’t want the real contagion to spread, that is the disease of believing you can perpetually consume more than you produce, leave Greece to the Greeks and let the bankers take their lumps.
As difficult as it is for a Greek-American like myself to admit, resting on 2,000 year old laurels is a stale act. While few cultures can proudly look back on as many achievements in the arts, drama, athletics, philosophy, rhetoric, and architecture that were the glory of Greece, it’s time for modern Greeks to take a good hard look at themselves. What have they done for the world lately? More importantly, what are they prepared to do to help themselves? If they can’t face that question then it’s time to sing the Internationale.