Everyone's talking about British politics this week. Even school kids on election day were like 'yeah, our school is closed because it's a polling station' - I'm pretty sure that when I was 9 years old the only political thing in my life was the percentage price increase on Toys'R'Us products. But anyway, forget that. Let's talk about the Greeks! They're totally having the worst time ever, and reading about their nightmare economic crisis makes our hung parliament situation feel pretty darn good. The basic issue is that Greece is in debt to a lot of countries right now, which means they are experiencing heavy budget cuts, riots, protests, people are burning things...the country is basically throwing a huge tantrum. The mistakes made by powerful members of parliament and rich little aristocrats have gotten Greece into a suitably sized disaster, which sadly means that non-rich people + wage cuts + tax increase = CHAOS. Germany has been persuaded to offer a 110 billion euro bail-out package for them, which implies that Greece is now too desperate to even control itself. Regular people formulated a national strike on May 5th to oppose all the money being taken from them in various ways, and then it got violent and three deaths occurred in banks which had been set on fire. See - madness.
There's always something philosophically enriching about watching a horrific scenario unfold elsewhere, as it makes home appear infinitely better. But while we're a fair few miles away, we have to remember that Greece was a cheerful European nation just like us not too long ago. So with all the recent voting problems and an ultimately indecisive nation, Britain had best watch its back. I love how before the election the newspapers were using Greece as a 'look guys, this WILL happen if Conservative get in power!' tactic, whereas now, after realising that Britain has absolutely no no idea what it wants, the general media consensus is more like 'ok, so, just thank God we're not in this much shit'.
Just for a taste of what's going on over there, Vice magazine got in contact with their Greek office and posted up a nice interview here with a bit of inside information on the state of things. Imagine 'Carrie' eating hummus and feta cheese and it's probably a good allegorical representation. Banks are smashed up, there are confused Nazi symbols on industrial dustbins, people are dying from the anarchy - the gentleman at Greek Vice also took a few pictures for public viewing:
Word on the street is that photography in Greece is now being regulated by an emergency law enforced by police, so anyone who can get out a shot of what's going on is very talented/brave/sneaky. Things have started to involve tear gas and riot police, which...yep, it makes me a little bit worried about who becomes the next British Prime Minister. I'm thinking maybe we should be a bit more terrified, as Greece was previously quite sane and stable - imagine the recession happening all over again with a new government, and suddenly your neighbours are throwing hand grenades at ice cream vans because their pension got slashed.
A Greek collection of photographers known as Redeye Connection managed to steal a few photographical glimpses into what is now happening over there.
People were snapped smashing the windows of a bookshop and throwing plant pots at other plant pots, which suggests that maybe things have just dissolved into complete uncontrollable panic. The police have started to get a bit irritated as people are ignoring rules, and so a few beatings have occurred. There's a rather gory shot of somebody's arms...
A civil servant called Stella Stamou screamed and screamed about how angry the people are, boulevards of Athens lay in flames and carnage, and my favourite inspirational bit came from an old jeweller who was quoted in the Guardian as saying "What people forget is that we Greeks don't like authority. We have always resisted when we think something is unfair. We fought against the Persians at Marathon, the Germans during the second world war and we will fight the IMF because in reality we no longer have a government. It is foreign forces who are in charge of us now."
HOWEVER...it's not all plain sailing for us on our little British island away from the violent madness of smashed up Athens - if Greece doesn't get some sort of debt relief, our own banks could be affected. Hello 'credit crunch' number two...