March to Athens
Day 153-LXXIX, Πάτρα.
Patras, April 8
At the start of World War II, Greece was invaded by Italy. Mussolini thought he could build a modern, fascist version of the Roman empire around the Mediterranean, and he wanted to show Hitler that he was a worthy ally.
It became a disaster. The Italians were beaten back and humiliated by the Greeks in the mountains of Epirus. After a long winter, the Germans lost their patience, they dismissed the Italians and took care of the question themselves. In a couple of months of Blitzkrieg they rolled through the Balkans and conquered Greece in a single blow.
Despite the war, the Greeks have always nurtured an affectionate relationship with the Italians. But like in many other nations of Europe, the people never really got to trust or to like the Germans.
Now with the crisis, this sentiment has become much stronger. One very popular theory among Greeks is that this whole crisis is part of a greater scheme of conquest. They think that behind it all, it’s the Germans once again.
The theory doesn’t really convince me, because clearly the era of the nation-state is over. But on the other hand, national governments still exist. They effectively serve to protect the interests of their corporations around the world.
I will give you an elaboration of the ‘It’s the Germans’ theory, if only to show that you can write and rewrite history to prove any point you want to prove.
‘There are two ways to conquer a nation. Either through war or through debt,’ John Adams said over two hundred years ago. If the one fails you try the other.
Modern imperialism is based on economic control. The great players in this game all have their own zones of influence. The U.S. in Latin America, France in Africa, Russia in central Asia, and China is quickly spreading its tentacles over the rest of the world.
The Germans have been pretty humble in international politics for half a century. But when the Wall came down in 1989, things started to change, and they changed fast.
In 1990 Germany was reunited, and almost immediately the country started looking for economical Lebensraum in the east. They signed a non-aggression pact with the Russians and they invaded eastern Europe. Not with Panzers and Stukas, but with floods of Deutschmarks.
In 1991 the Germans actively favoured the dissolution of Yugoslavia. They divided and conquered. The D-Mark soon became the currency of reference all over the east.
In 1992, the Maastricht treaty laid the basis for a common currency all over Europe. It was named ‘euro’, but in practice it was a modern version of the Mark. One euro would be worth two D-Marks. The currency was forced on the EU member states without the peoples of Europe being asked for their consent. Only the English and the Scandinavians wisely kept their distance.
By the end of the 1990s the Germans had symbolically moved their political capital back to Berlin, and they had made sure that the European economic policy would be decided by the ECB in Frankfurt.
Any economist could have foreseen that the euro would lead to trouble, because of the structural differences between the ‘strong’ economies of the north, and the ‘weak’ economies of the south. But as long as the economic bubble kept growing in the 2000s, fueled by ever increasing national debt, nobody seemed to care or to notice.
Then the music stopped. It was payback time. The economies of the south were practically bankrupt. Only Germany could help them out, with the support of Sarko’s Vichy-French government and the collaboration of Germany’s Dutch, Austrian and Finnish sidekicks.
Economic conquest was presented as salvation. And it wouldn’t come cheap. All assets were to be ceded. Wages and services would have to be cut. In war time, the conquering army would also have deported part of the population to serve as work force in the German industry. But in times of peace, they wouldn’t even have to resort to cohersion. Economic pressure would suffice. People would emigrate by themselves to look for work. Not just the common work force, but also the intellectual elite would be forced to emigrate and put its talents at the service of the invadors, for lack of possibilities at home. And without an intellectual elite, there will be no-one left to build up an alternative society. With that, conquest is complete.
What’s going on in Greece can be seen as a kind of africanisation. The country is becoming a cheap-labour holiday resort, owned by foreign corporations and run by a collaborationist government. It’s a test case. If it works, then Italy, Spain and Portugal will be next.