In the minds of most of the world, the iconic image of Greece’s collapse is one of angry, masked protestors clashing with police outside parliament.
But anger is only one of the myriad of emotions Greeks are experiencing as they try to weather this crisis. Shame, despair, grief and loss are there in equal shares too. But these are far more subtle, and therefore more difficult for the photographer’s lens to capture. They’re visible in the the worried faces of bankers , the lowered heads of people taking free food, and the faceless graffiti on shuttered stores.
Greece is a country in a freefall, experiencing an unprecedented economic meltdown, as well as the disintegration of its infrastructure, the degeneration of its political system and the unravelling of its social fabric .Industrial production and manufacturing have collapsed, while nationwide hundreds of small businesses are closing by the day. The labour force is experiencing a serious brain drain as young educated professionals leave the country in search for better opportunities abroad, further decimating the country’s social fabric and prospects of recovery.The rise of extremism the neo-fascist party Golden Dawn is another symptom of the deterioration of social structures and illustrates the depth of social and political unrest.
Greece today is a living laboratory for some of the key global public policy challenges of our time. Debates about the future of the Western welfare state, the European project, and the power of international banks and financial institutions are playing out daily on the streets of this small Balkan nation. But often, in the discussions over bond yields and deficits, the very real human suffering behind the numbers is forgotten.
With each new rescue loan from other eurozone countries and the IMF, Greece is being forced to inflict more pain on its citizens. Greeks have been told these sacrifices will save the country from an even worse fate. But after years of pay cuts, tax increases and drastic cuts in services, Greeks are now losing faith in the prospect of recovery.