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Some bitter thoughts from Lebanon and Greece

mercredi 13 juillet 2011, par rigas

En anglais car ce fut un échange avec des amis dont l’un, Allemand, ne parle pas français.

A friend asks me if I am still "on the left" ? Well I dont really read the New Left Review, or occasionally. This question trigered the following bitter thoughts, snce I live in Lebanon and Greece is in my heart.

In what’s left in Lebanon there is no more vision of what is "in" and what is "left" : all straight lines have been curved. My last visit to Marounistan (in Jounieh) just made me even more sad. I dont know why it had not striked me so much before, in my former visits to Lebanon or simply since one year of living here - this time I went by foot along the coast of Jounieh, a place that Nature had beautifully designed and is now probably among the ugliest coasts in the Mediterranean coasts ! To walk among this disordered space of construction is a terrible lesson. And going north to Batrun (still beautiful,not for long) I see the same urbanistic pattern developing along the coast.Buildings without limits, constructed right on the too narrow street that has no sidewalk, restaurants built on the sea, beaches closed to the public and privatized with clubs and bars, houses randomly built with no master plan, zero infrastructure for water or flow for rain water, trees and vegetation destroyed and replaced by flower pots in the best case, or usually nothing at all but pavement. This permanent construction push is so disordered and public space becomes reduced to its minimal size. Cars all along impede walking anyway and the walking experience is really dangerous. Some enclaves still exist such as Al Mina in Tripoli, the souk and old city of Batrun, the empty archeological space of old Byblos, .... and concrete all around. I wonder what will be left of the coast after ten years.

To make things worse I am paralyzed by what happens in Greece thanks to Mrs Merkel and the alliance of the Eurogroup. One more election of Merkel and there will be no more Europe. I am paralyzed because the new story-telling is gaining absolute power : Greeks are these stupid little things that thought they could be on a par with the "europeans" the true ones, the Germans, the French and the nordics ! AHHH ! But to become that you need to pay your bills, you need to pay taxes. Thats the new story-line : they dont pay their taxes. But even if we did it would amount to some 10 to 20 billions euros more for the state and some indirect taxes more. The more optimistic talk of 30 billions but in a recessive economy that can be half of that. Anyway taxes, coulndt possibly cover the 350 b euros debt, of which more than 100 b was due to mrs Merkel’s hesitations last year. But its a nice excuse : MAN, Siemens, Deutsche Telekom all accused of corruption (for thousand and millions of euros) are now buying the greek companies they once needed to deal with. La boucle est bouclée.

I’d become nationalist again if not for the curious alliance of neo-liberalism and populist nationalism (what we used to call racism, which it is, basically) . Bitter, I am. I should go to Syntagma square, become "un indigné" but then I cant accept the racists and neo-orthodox that monopolize the "free space" of expression that Syntagma square was supposed to be. When they insult the parliament, they insult the institution of democracy ! And the curious alliance of the ultra-liberals and nationalists is the worse sign for the future, and it was born out of this intransigeant german position in the Eurogroup : greeks now should pay, as if the European, the "true ones" the ones in Brussels and Luxembourg, the ones having the accounts inhand didnt know. People shout : "we owe noting, we robbed nothing, we will pay nothing !" you cant blame them. But they wrongly attribute all the sins to politicians, all politicians, which is the basis of all populists movements. German newspapers continue saying horrors about Greece. There is a German publicity of a photo of a Mercedes with an ancient greek temple and it says "we will rent to Greeks even in Drachmas !". Last year they were saying : Greeks should sell the islands. My (German) friend says "so what ?" Does it make a difference if its Onassis or a German magnate that owns the isalns. I am sory it does make a difference, and in any case the German newspapers were insiunating to sell the populated islands not the small stones inthe sea.

Whats going to happen now that we rewinded history thirty year behind ? Well : what was due to happen without the European Union : exile, emigration, more poverty, petty little economic agreements (60% of SME in commercial sector closed in the last year), small scale economic activities ("We are a country of small and mediums" had declared Andreas Papandreou the founder of Pasok and father of this George Papandreou), the islands are not going to be sold to the germans as was asked by Bild Zeitung, but the houses yes, as was the case in the seventies, and this time they wont even need to have figurative greek buyer as was once the case in most islands close to Turkey ("paramethories perioches" it was called, frontier regions).

... Greece never forced any of its former invaders to pay for their debt : the Nazis destroyed Greece, but they had a chance : the Greeks began a civil war supported by the British and the Americans in their fight against Communism. So Germany NEVER paid the war debt ! Half of what it now asks us to pay in order to speculate more and make more profits.

Bitter, I am.

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