There they were, at the wall under the Parthenon on May 4, unfurling their giant banners urging “Peoples of Europe – Rise Up.” The banners were emblazoned with a red-colored communist hammer and sickle.
This was obviously not an appeal to the goddess Athena, for whom the temple was built from 447 to 432 BC. The location, however, was fitting, since they were standing beneath one of the most famous ruins in the world. After years of socialist policies, Greece is in economic ruins and is threatening to bring down the European economy with it. The government has been forced to announce austerity measures that are not sitting well with a people accustomed to socialist illusions.
It doesn’t matter to them that the budget deficit is as high as 14 percent of the gross domestic product – a whopping 11 percent higher than the European Union requires its members to observe. Led by the public employee unions, a general strike ensued on May 5, and it quickly turned murderous. Three people burned to death inside a bank that protesters had torched and then had blocked firefighters from saving them.
Trying to secure a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister George Papandreou had announced a second set of wage cuts for public workers, a second sales tax and a pensions freeze. And even this might not be enough to pull the Greeks out of the monetary gutter. Add to this a dive in tourism as the world watches Athens erupt day after day.
The attitude of the protesters was epitomized by Andreas Petropoulos, spokesman for the ADEDY, the public sector umbrella union, who said, “We want the government to take back all, and I mean every single austerity measure.”
Really? Every single one? This is like watching passengers on the Titanic attack the crew for getting lifeboats ready, demanding that they instead serve up more hors d’houevres. That sinking boat? Ignore it and it will go away.
One would think that the socialist labor unions would have lost their clout by this time, having engineered the destruction of a once-viable economy. And what about those communists? Weren’t the deaths of more than 100 million people worldwide at the hands of communist dictatorships during the 20th century enough to persuade them to try … something else? Apparently not. In the Ukraine this week, where Joseph Stalin had murdered more than 10 million people through famine and executions during the 1930s, communists erected a statue to him in Kiev.