I must confess that I chuckle at the claim of European "surprise" over the results. Europeans must be totally mad or certified idiots, or both, if they actually thought that voters in a country devastated by EU/IMF-ordained austerity, in ways that can be achieved only by total war, would go to the polls to vote for more of the same. ND and Pasok both paid dearly for their decision to collaborate with the EU and the IMF and should be expected to further deteriorate in the near future.
Another "surprise" for the Europeans was the comfortable victory of the Golden Dawn ultra-nationalist party with its share of the vote falling short of 7% by a whisker. In comparison, Golden Dawn, an anti-immigrant, anti-left, and anti-"bailout" party, scored under .3% in the previous elections in 2009.
The Europeans, reports say, feel pangs of "surprise" learning that Golden Dawn continues to wage a campaign of street violence against illegal immigrants, who are blamed with turning the center of Athens into a crime-infested cesspool and for deteriorating neighborhoods so badly as to force Greek residents to abandon their homes and try to find other places to live. More European "surprise" rises from news stories of the Golden Dawn espousing Nazi theories and hesitating little to declare that one of its primary targets is to repatriate all illegal immigrants, forcibly if need be.
All these "surprises" were of course quite predictable.
What did our European "friends" expect from people who have been viciously attacked at the heart of their existence? What did they expect from a country whose economy shrunk by 20% thanks in large part to orders from their "partners?" What did they expect from a society that was brutally scuttled as the means of "saving" it? And what did they expect from the realization by the victims that none of their pain has contributed toward an improvement? The one real great surprise is in fact that Greece still stands and hasn't imploded in revolt.
The Germans, indeed, should be the last to express any criticism, let alone continue to give orders to Greece.
German modern history is badly tainted by exactly the same conditions that are pushing Greece into anarchy and chaos by virtue of German directives. Their interlude of the Weimar Republic our German "friends" seem to conveniently forget when the discussion comes to Greece. They seem to forget how Germany limped out of the carnage of the Great War; how it came to exist on American loans in the 1920s; and how, when these loans dried up after America suffered the Great Depression of 1929, Germany quickly ended in economic, social, and political chaos.
Our "friends" the Germans seem to forget how the Nazi party, from its humble beginnings of a handful of members meeting in smoky backrooms, came to field the veritable army of the SA street thugs with which to crush all opponents -- and how the civilized, astute and refined German middle class came to adore the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, and give him the electoral endorsement that allowed him to eventually become the head of state and lead Germany, and the world, straight into the Second World War, the most devastating war in human history.
Those who forget history, the familiar adage says, are bound to repeat it.
Greece, today, is not an exception. The basic elements of the German Weimar Republic are all there: economic collapse, the rise of extreme political forces on both the left and the right, the willingness of at least some of the actors involved to engage in domestic violence in pursuit of ostensibly "patriotic" ideological reasons, and a political impasse, against the backdrop of an outraged public demanding a change of policies and guarantees of collective and individual survival threatened by both real and imagined enemies (Hitler resolved the question of who the primary enemy was by pointing the finger at the Jews and offered his own personal sanction to unlimited violence against them to result, ultimately, in their physical death).
Scale and national identity aside, Greece enjoys many commonalities with Weimar's gradual preparation of the ground for the onslaught of totalitarianism.
With domestic fraud and mismanagement providing the detonator, the Greek economy has been destroyed by foreign action is less than two years (see Weimar's hyperinflation and collapse of industry blamed on the drying up of foreign loans, the very same Frau Merkel has in mind when she stubbornly rejects public investment for growth); the Greek population has been impoverished by the foreign ordained "rescue" that has deprived the country of its sovereignty and mortgaged its future via international agreements the tenor and content of which aren't very different from those of the Versailles Treaty -- the treaty that is almost universally recognized today as one of the primary reasons behind the rise of Adolf Hitler; and fringe parties, like the Golden Dawn, suddenly become the protagonists of a remarkable rise thought impossible by the majority of "informed analysts" and "pundits" (all of whom have failed, unwillingly or deliberately, to notice significant darker trends rising from deteriorating social-economic conditions).
It would be at least unrealistic to expect the Greeks to act in unison with lenders who have already browbeat Greece's bankrupt political class into accepting the jurisdiction of British courts and British tort law over any dispute between Greece and its lenders over the now notorious "bailout" of the country which, in reality, is the bailout of European banks.
It would be as crazy to expect a whole population -- be it the Greeks or any other -- to countersign the pact of their economic and social destruction and continue down the road happily singing German labor songs.
It would be unwise to expect this same population, already struggling to put bread on the table, to endorse measures that are so blatantly designed to favor the interests of foreign purse string holders, whose primary aim is profit irrespective of consequences for the real people at the bottom of the business chain.
Weimar came to an inglorious ending in 1933, with Hitler capturing the post of the chancellor, after his Nazis had won electoral endorsement, and, in quick succession, gaining complete control over the government and sending Germany's parliament into indefinite vacation.
Greece's already hobbled and tuberculous republic is in no better condition. After decades of denial and self-imposed illusions of "freedom" and "liberty from oppression," Greeks today realize that historical trends, long believed to have been relegated to history books, are not all that expired and, indeed, seem to obtain newly gathered strength. The current crisis is evolving with a speed that can outmaneuver even the ablest of politicians; it would have no trouble at all trapping the entire Greek "civil society" in a maelstrom that could easily deal life-threatening wounds or even outright death to it.
With Golden Dawn's votes coming from mainly younger voters, not to mention at least half of the police force, according to the Greek press, the Greek parliament's newcomer may be set for even better scores in the near future. And before one hastens to blame those who actually cast their ballots in favor of Golden Dawn, one should look first at the powerful incentives behind such a vote, namely, fear of annihilation from growing national threats like illegal immigration; a sense of complete abandonment from the political establishment, both "progressive" and conservative;" and complete lack of any meaningful proposal as to how things may be changed without Greece going down the chute.
Surprises are, no doubt, part of life -- but those who are caught without an evolved sense of effective reaction or, even worse, with the belief that some surprises as less probable than others are bound to suffer to the point of utter defeat.