Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:43AM
Economic experts have held a conference in the Greek capital to talk about the reasons behind rising unemployment figures in the district of the Piraeus harbor. That’s the largest port in the country. But their observations have yielded far-reaching conclusions.
This is Greece’s largest port, the Piraeus harbor, once a pillar of national economy, but now one of the hardest-hit areas in the austerity-afflicted capital. Unemployment here runs high, almost 60 percent among 25 year-olds, nine in ten shipyard workers are jobless. Skeletal evidence of former industrial prowess is everywhere in Piraeus. This is the Piraeus Labor Centre, itself an antiquated artifact of socialist architectural intent, built in the 1950s. Giannis Tolios, one of Greece’s most respected economists, says unemployment goes hand in glove with capitalist economies. Relentless austerity cuts have crippled workers’ income. This system exploits human labour, across Europe, a parasitic mechanism within the artificial construct that is the Eurozone, says Tolios, at the expense of the workers. Nationalising banks and negating the country's debt with parliamentary ratification is the only forward, says Tolios. But will this be pursued? Radical SYRIZA speaker Andreas Pagiatsos believes all indications point towards a leftist SYRIZA government after another round or national elections, but is concerned about the representative power of the main opposition party and blames the lack of a unified Greek Left on the dogmatism of the Greek Communist Party and its stern refusal to collaborate with both SYRIZA and the extra-parliamentary Left. If SYRIZA does not win the next elections, Pagiatsos says it will be a historical failure of the entire Greek Left, not just SYRIZA. He points out that corrupt syndication leaders did not allow workers to unite collectively against the recent governmental conscription orders, exposing the movement from within. Most importantly, Pagiatsos says the SYRIZA message is becoming increasingly contradictory, party chief Alexis Tsipras has not mentioned either nationalization of banks or voiding the memorandum in a long time and during his recent visit to the US, Tsipras said SYRIZA policies are similar to Barak Obama’s. He also baffled SYRIZA radicals and observers alike when he told TIME magazine that ‘Europe should follow the example of America. Pagiatsos appears very concerned as to how exactly SYRIZA plans to challenge the EU and US financial interests, he reminds us how determined SYRIZA was along these lines before last year’s elections and it was THIS manifesto that earned SYRIZA the 28 percent of national votes. This is Alekos Alavanos, a SYRIZA veteran who helped appoint Alexis Tsipras as party leader in 2008. He chooses to focus on unemployment, And says the current 28 percent of jobless rate is, paradoxically, a figure higher than the 21 percent of unemployment during the 1929 financial crisis in US. He too believes unemployment in Greece cannot be battled within the confines of applied EU austerity policies. It is now widely understood that the only political force able to void part or all of the country's memorandum agreements and stop austerity is the Left. Concern, however, is voiced that recently, SYRIZA seems to have shifted slightly away from the last year's pre-electoral drive against the loan agreements. It is of the utmost importance, they say, that a unified Left in Greece, including SURIZA, reverts to the anti-austerity manifesto before a democratic overturn can be achieved in the rumored upcoming elections.