One of the great lessons one can learn is from their mistakes. Throughout the course of events in history, we have ample evidence to observe mistakes and not make them ourselves or not repeat them.
The recent elections in Greece saw the uprising of a political party “Golden Dawn” which in any other time in history would not be more than a few thousand people in total in a country of twelve million.
Golden Dawn is the Neo Nazi party.
In the recent elections held in Greece, Golden Dawn managed to get around 7% of the vote, securing 18 (out of 300) seats in the Greek parliament. Almost half a million people voted for them.
The question obviously is why? Why would the country that offered so much culture and innovation (in ancient times), the country that is considered to be the birthplace of Democracy, decide to vote for Golden Dawn. We all know very well the devastation that came with World War II and what the Nazis did to those that opposed them.
To understand the why we need to look back in the early 80s and the political scene at the time.
At the time there were two and a half parties. There was the Communist party which would get at most 5-7% of the vote. And then there was the Socialist party (PASOK) and the Conservatives/Republicans (Nea Dimokratia). The balance of power was half and half.
When the socialists came into power in the early 80s with the promise of fair share and redistribution of wealth, they did just that. They created the largest entitlement program there was and as a result they got reelected. In 1987 the debt was through the roof and when the Conservatives came into power, tried to increase taxes and cut spending and reduce the debt. Naturally the people got used to handouts and that government did not live long. The Socialists came back into power and the same thing started over again.
In the late 90s you could not understand which party stood for what. They were both different sides of the same coin.
So with all that entitlement mentality came the time to pay for it. No jobs and no future for the young generation. To understand the situation, let’s look at a young man/woman that wants to become a Math teacher. Since all schools are state owned, once he/she graduates, he/she has to wait until he/she gets appointed. The problem is that there are not enough schools for Math teachers to teach on. As a result there is a waiting list i.e. he/she has to wait for someone to retire, so that the person ahead of them can get appointed, then another person retires and he/she gets appointed. In the early 90s there was no real reason to pursue becoming a Math teacher since the waiting time would be over 40 years, at which point would be the time to retire.
After 2000 things got worse. More debt, more corruption. People got used to hiding money from the Government so that they don’t get taxed an arm and a leg. The more you can hide the more you have for yourself (while of course Government officials and their peers enjoy lavish lives).
The biggest aspiration of Greek people is to kiss butt and get hired in the public sector. It is a steady job and you are set for life. In the meantime, you can see 35 year olds, still living with their parents because they cannot afford to move out. The tax code had been carefully structured in such a way, that there is no way for someone to be legit. One part of the code would contradict another, so even if one wants to be legitimate and follow the rules, they can’t. That of course results in corruption, tax evasion etc.
With the latest shamble regarding the monetary union and how they wanted to get rid of Greece from their organization (due to the debt), people had enough of the two parties. They are desperately trying to find someone who will end the corruption and put the ones responsible in jail and jump start the economy.
Here comes Golden Dawn.
Let’s forget for a moment (just for a very brief moment) where these guys are coming from (i.e. Nazism). Their message somewhat resonates with a lot of people even here in the US.
- Everyone speaks Greek, nothing else
- End corruption
- Start enforcing laws
- Prosecute thieves and make them return what they stole (see politicians)
- Greece above all
It doesn’t seem that bad does it? Those are pretty legitimate messages that many people would agree should start happening here or in any other country.
People are willing to compromise on the Nazi part that Golden Dawn represents, for the reasons outlined above. This shows amply how desperate Greek people are. One only has to read history regarding Austria and how certain villages had huge unemployment numbers, no light at the end of the tunnel and going nowhere fast. Here came Hitler and despite the fact that he represented something vile, people accepted him willingly with open arms.
Unfortunately the same has been observed in the recent US elections. People know very well that President Obama doubled the debt. They know about the wasteful spending in green energy. They know about the unemployment of 14%, they know about the 23 million people unemployed. They know about the 40+ million people on food stamps. Yet they voted for him because his message was divide and conquer:
- Mitt Romney is not one of us
- Forget what happened, we are working for the future
In any other time, people would have not voted for President Obama at all. Yet here we are. People liked what they heard and they compromised on what they know. The accepted the unemployment and the tough times ahead and compromised for a message that resonated more with them. Simple as that.
Golden Dawn might be a radical group, but their message is strong and really appeals to a lot of people. Their scare tactics can be forgiven so long as they produce results. And with all that comes the fear of being beaten on the street because they don’t like you or the possibility of bringing Greece back in 1940.
Notable is the fact that Golden Dawn has distributed groceries to desperate Greeks (milk, bread etc.) on the streets in more than one occasion. Buying votes? What is 99 weeks of unemployment without the need to prove you are looking for a job, food stamps, free phones and free stuff in general, called then?
Take a close look. This is what socialism and corruption ends up becoming and unfortunately this is where we are heading to.