On the first day of each month, Greeks greet each other with the salutation Kalo Mena, loosely translated as “Have a Good Month.” This first day of July 2015 promises to bring very little good for Greece.
July 1. 2015 will be remembered as the first full day of Greece’s IMF default, officially marking Greece’s isolation and insolvency, not only economically but morally. The optics of Greek bankruptcy are no longer some mythical abstraction but a very real and very powerful prologue of what lies ahead. Heartbreaking images are everywhere: panicked pensioners queuing up at banks to collect fractional pensions; barren supermarket shelves and vacant markets; Ikaria without fuel, not even for emergency vehicles; and a prime minister schizophrenically volleying offers and claims hoping something would stick.
July 1, 2015 will be remembered as the day of total civil collapse not seen in Greece since the end of the civil war. Where the Syriza government clearly confirmed it is improvising; where political brinksmanship abysmally failed; and where shuttered banks have the entire country wondering when they will open and what currency they’ll dispense when they do.
July 1, 2015 will be remembered as the day Greece entered an Orwellian universe. A country where voting yes means remaining a European protectorate while voting no means entering an unknown abyss. Where the word no vanished from official ballot translations but appeared on political banners hanging from the ministry of finance.
July 1, 2015 will be remembered as the day The Guardian front page revealed secret IMF memos drawn up by the Troika confirming that Greece faces an unsustainable level of debt through 2030, admitting that “serious concessions” would be needed even under totally unrealistic baseline scenarios of 4% annual GDP growth for the next 15 years. It appears that even if the country signed the full package of tax and spending reforms demanded of it, a completely new approach to negotiations would be necessary for Greece to even dare hope of ending its financial nightmare. Those memos clearly confirm that the IMF under Christine Lagarde played a game of unimaginable institutional sclerosis bordering on the criminal so as to protect crony capitalism, avoid the now unavoidable question of moral hazard this extend-and-pretend fiscal strategy portends as a solution but has done little to mitigate the scale of human suffering.
July 1, 2015 will be remembered as the day Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras fatally fell on his sword by insisting the July 5 referendum is still on but only after the Troika rejected his bizarre reversal of accepting Europe’s original terms. This reckless referendum does not meet even basic European standards of fairness because of its short notice and translation shenanigans of complex documents.
July 1, 2015 will be remembered as the day that Greek students studying abroad where left stranded in foreign countries unable to withdraw cash from ATMs, and where their parents back home cannot transfer them bailout money, leaving them to borrow from friends for basic necessities.
July 1, 2015 will be remembered as the day decades of corruption, human avarice and a series of catastrophic mistakes by all sides brought Greece to her knees. The great travesty of intransigence so endemic of this crisis is that no one in Athens, Brussels, Berlin or Washington is willing to concede culpability. And where the indignities of five years of austerity have raped a country of her dignity and collectivism.
But July 1, 2015 will also be remembered as the day when a young Englishman’s Crowdfunding campaign reached the €1,000,000 threshold of bailout funds from citizens across the globe.
There are 30 days left to July.