Different ways Greeks are dealing with economic collapse

  • Posted on: 20 August 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td><em>NOTE: Anarchists in the US may find the below article, the original title of which is "Greeks go back to basics as recession bites" fairly interesting. It gives a brief introduction to two very different ways of dealing with major economic collapse, which may or may not be representative of vastly different political orientations, each with their own unique strengths and challenges. In particular, it seems to paint a sort of Greek "anti-civ" project as being the more immediately productive and helpful option, as opposed to the more typical worker-centric, service-seeking organizing efforts (a contention sure to stir up some debate!).</em>

<strong>Greeks go back to basics as recession bites</strong>

From <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-radio-and-tv-19289566">BBc</a> - By Chloe Hadjimatheou BBC News, Evia, Greece

As Greece sinks ever deeper into the most severe economic depression in living memory, some young people are taking drastic action to change their lives.

In the spring of 2010, just as the Greek government was embarking on some of its harshest austerity measures, 29-year-old Apostolos Sianos packed in his well-paid job as a website designer, gave up his Athens apartment and walked away from modern civilisation.

In the foothills of Mount Telaithrion on the Greek island of Evia, Mr Sianos and three other like-minded Athenians set up an eco-community.</td><td><img title="This is an example of how to introduce a MSM article in such a way that it becomes relevant to @. Props." src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/shootinghorseballoon.jpg"><...
The idea was to live in an entirely sustainable way, free from the ties of money and cut off from the national electricity grid.

'Crisis of civilisation'

The group sleeps communally in yurts they have built themselves, they grow their own food and exchange the surplus in the nearest village for any necessities they cannot produce.

“The Greek financial crisis is not all negative”

Apostolos Sianos

"What others saw as a global economic crisis, we saw as a crisis of civilisation," Mr Sianos explains.

"Everything seemed to be in crisis - healthcare, the environment, education. So we made the decision to try something different."

Mr Sianos and his eco-activist companions first met in an online forum in 2008 and after two years of exploring ideas decided to put their principles into practice.

"When I first made the decision to give up the city and move to this patch of land I was a little nervous," he admits.

"But now I can't imagine ever being attracted by that kind of lifestyle again."

The community calls itself "Free and Real" - an acronym for Freedom of Resources for Everyone, Respect, Equality, Awareness and Learning.

Anything the commune does not use is exchanged for other goods

Now in its second year, it has 10 permanent members and more than 100 part-time residents who spend some of the year there.

But the last few months have seen an explosion of interest in the community from Greeks who feel let down by the system and find life in the financially crippled cities stifling.

Last year the country's economy shrank by 7% and 2012 could see a similar dip; in real terms that means thousands of businesses going bust and tens of thousands of people being laid off.

A recent survey by Thessaloniki University suggested 76% of Greeks would like to emigrate, but for those who cannot afford to start a new life abroad, going back to farming the land is an increasingly attractive alternative.

Mr Sianos says that this year has seen an enormous movement of people from big cities to the countryside, with many contacting his community to ask for advice on sustainable living and organic farming.

"The Greek financial crisis is not all negative," he says.

"It is providing a huge opportunity for people to see that the system they live in is not working, so they can begin looking for alternatives."

Seasonal jobless

Hundreds of miles away, another group of young Greeks is taking an entirely different approach to the dire circumstances their country finds itself in.

Like most people in Greece's fourth-largest city Heraklion, Andonis Sklavenitis is what he calls an "insecure worker".

Last year he worked a few months helping out on an archaeological dig and this year he has managed to get a few shifts a week as an airport security guard.

Nikos Karantinakis says his family has to survive with the help of food handouts

Since leaving university with a degree in tourism he has worked in bars, restaurants and shops, but in almost every one of those jobs his employers have refused to give him sick pay, holidays or pay his national insurance contributions.

To make matters worse it is all seasonal work. As soon as the summer is over he will rejoin the growing numbers of unemployed.

Mr Sklavenitis's experience is typical; Crete has the highest jobless rate of any region in the country, with nearly one in four people out of work and many others in unstable positions without decent conditions.

In 2010, when Mr Sklavenitis and his unemployed friends realised that their numbers were growing, they decided it was time they stood up for their rights.

They established the first Association of the Unemployed, which had two main objectives: to fight for decent working conditions and to provide practical and psychological support to those struggling financially.

“If I didn't have that connection with other people in my position, which reassures me that I am not alone, I would probably have killed myself by now”

Nikos Vrahasotakis

After the latest round of cuts, unemployment benefit in Greece is now around 350 euros (£273; $431) per month, but only those who have up-to-date national insurance contributions are eligible; and even then it only lasts for one year.

"When the 12 payments are up you are completely on your own," Mr Sklavenitis says.

Among the association's demands are free travel on public transport for the jobless, as well as discounts on electricity and telephone bills.

One member who desperately needs help with his bills is Nikos Vrahasotakis.

The 30-year-old does odd jobs as a cleaner, making around 10 euros daily, barely enough to feed his young family.

"I just got an electricity bill for 600 euros; it is the fourth bill they have sent, so I am expecting them to cut us off any day," he says.
Food and support

Mr Vrahasotakis, who is not entitled to state benefits, lives with his wife and 18-month-old daughter in an old building that used to be a canteen.

"In the winter it is freezing and a few months ago part of the ceiling caved in," he says.
Association of Unemployed demo in Heraklion The Association of Unemployed organises demonstrations to call for more government support

Without the support of the association he says he would not be able to cope.

"If I didn't have that connection with other people in my position, which reassures me that I am not alone, I would probably have killed myself by now," he admits.

As well as the psychological support the association provides, they also distribute food parcels to families in dire circumstances.

Director Nikos Karantinakis, 31, says he and his whole family - father, mother and fiancee - are all unemployed and depend on food handouts to supplement the little they manage to grow in their garden.

"There are arguments every day at home because everyone is so stressed," he says.

It is estimated that around 1,000 people a day are losing their jobs in Greece and already the percentage of the population not working is higher than those who are employed. It is those under the age of 35 who have been the hardest hit.

"Our whole generation is on hold," Mr Karantinakis says.

“Being able to work is a basic human right in a civilised society”

Nikos Karantinakis Director, Heraklion Association of Unemployed

He and his fiancee are unable to plan a future together. Starting a family is completely out of the question.

Since the Association of Unemployed was created in Crete, other chapters have been cropping up around the country, in big cities such as Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras.

Beyond the support it provides its members, Mr Karantinakis says the association has had few successes, but it has allowed him to feel he is doing something.

Before he began focusing on unemployed rights he used to sit in his room staring at the ceiling. Now he spends his days petitioning local government and organising demonstrations.

"Being able to work is a basic human right in a civilised society," he says.

"If the government won't provide us with it then we will have to fight for it."


*“Being able to work is a basic human right in a civilised society”*

I wonder how many people actually believe this.

a lot of people believe this

And it's one of the hardest things to turn around because sitting on a vacant plot of land not paying rent and tending a vegie garden and breeding hampsters for meat has been made illegal.


how many of those do you have to kill to get a decent stew? Do you mean guinea pigs? cus those are actually common livestock in some areas in asia and the pacific. but hamsters???? I know that one dood said something about "youre not ready for the revolution until youre willing to eat rats" or some shit, but....hamsters??

Hamsters Not Bombs

Well they're basically rats without nasty stigma attached, or a tail. Slowly turned on a spit or kebab stick, or branch, marinaded in whatever, the revolution sauce sounds OK.

First,to find a 'vacant'(unowned by someone) piece of land in the more populated portions of the US is difficult.This is one reason it is illegal.Vacant land is not a good solution Unowned is. So ideally a group would do well to pool resources and purchase.
One need not eat rats either. Chickens are relatively cheap and easy to breed and can find thier own food sources. And if one wants to consume a rodent Rabbits are very tasty and breed very well and are also easy to feed. Both of these are legal in MANY places. Sometimes I wonder if the idea of being on the other side of the law is the point rather than how can I live practically and cheaply without govt interference. Many of the "prepers" or survivelists have found ways to exist legally and stay under the govt radar if you will. Why Pi-s off the govt and invite problems when in this nation you can still find a rural area in Maine ,Montana ,or on a mountain where no one much cares what you do if you don't pollute or invite observation by hostile action. There are many groups other than Anarcgists who dislike govt intervention-this is not a new concept. That is precisely why the occupiers were young anarchists as well as middle aged prepers and members of the Tea Party. Many of us are saying we want to live peacefully and off the land without the govts rule.

Well I hope it would scarcely need to be pointed out that biotic collapse is proceeding at an almost unbelievable rate (or at least most people don't believe it), we're looking at a loss of a third of the world's species in under a hundred year at this point (the figure the UN has endorsed). That's the same level of destruction achieved by the comet that took out the dinosaurs, and I don't see much reason to believe we can survive that situation much better than the dinos did.

That's a planet-wide problem, meaning that even your mountain hideout won't be spared. What can you do about it? Well everyone from DJ to JZ have ideas about that, take your pick. Running away isn't really one of those options however.

Hell, pretty soon drones with IR cams will be scanning even the most remote Montanna wild-lands, environmental collapse or no. Either way, some sort of "revolutionary" change is the only sure way to not have to deal with either the gov't or extinction.

Also, ducks beat chickens in most regards (they won't eat your garden, they're smarter, etc.) Or, go with Geese and you won't even need guard dogs! I'd like to see a SWAT team sneak up quietly on a house with a sizable gaggle roaming around!

Good point, sorta what the non-urban Greeks do cos after 5,000yrs of heavy population habitation Greece mostly only has tourism to fill it's coffers. The global society will in the future be divided into 2 classes, stay at home Hamsters and jetsetting Hipsters, my prediction in 100yrs. This is only a tongue in cheek economic summary.

It's got the word HAM right there in it! HAMsters!

Hard Ass Muthas! Trying to start a meme!

Many lightly colored skinned people believe this.

Why would anyone give props to a BBC collaborator?
Fuck all media of the enemy and every mouthpiece. Don't spread Capital/State propaganda through our own infrastructure such as @news.

Γιατί να δώσει οποιοσδήποτε τα σέβη του σε μια συνεργό του BBC;
Γαμήστε όλα τα μέσα του εχθρού και κάθε φερέφωνο. Μη διαδίδετε την προπαγάνδα Κεφαλαίου/Κράτους μέσω δικών μας υποδομών όπως το @news.

he's Greek, he must be right!

This is my infrastructure, too? Sweet, when do I get a say on negating this cesspool?

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