Friday, April 6, 2012

An Ordinary Man's Suicide In Greece-Is This the Black Swan Tipping Point Into Economic Chaos?

Dimitris Christoulas R.I.P

The tipping point often comes from desperate acts of incredible bravery by unknown "little people." When society has had pressures build up because of massive forces of dictatorship and or economic dislocation what would in less stressful situations either never happen, or if it did it would cause little effect can have massive ramifications.

I stood in Wenceslas square a couple of years ago at the very spot where an unknown student Jan Palach set himself on fire to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. It was this, literal,spark which became the unstoppable movement to eventual liberation and democracy. 

There is an indentation in the cobblestones where Palach lay and it is impossible,even all these years later, not to look at it with deep emotion. What it must have been like for the people at the time is almost unimaginable.

Before that a simple monk set himself on fire in Saigon which, again coming at a point of intolerable social tensions, led to the final pull out of American troops as the American public were disgusted at the spectacle and could understand the deep feelings for his country that such a sacrifice would make.

A peasant food vendor in Tunisia lit the spark that has become the fire of the Arab Spring and now,as in the report below, a sorrowful elderly man has laid down his life in despair at his own situation and above all that of his country in Greece.

Up until now the desperate economic situation that the Greek people find themselves in, the humiliation of having to go cap in hand to Germany, a country which caused utter destruction to the Greek psyche in WW2, has been responded to in the usual manner. First there were protests, then there were mass protests and major strikes. But the situation has not descended into utter economic chaos and social revolution.

The suicide of the desperate retiree may change all that. His suicide in front of the parliament building brought shock and then violent protest. The key factor in this, perhaps unalterably changed situation is what happened subsequently. The protest ceased and instead there has been vigils and silence. It is exactly these moments of deep national introspection which can lead on to the ultimate phase of marked social change-usually preceded by a period of social chaos as the old order succumbs to unshakable pressure from the mass of ordinary people.

Greek debt,already at unsustainable interest rates has begun to spike upwards.This has led to one of the worst weeks on Wall Street this year. With the world's economy being kept afloat by endless printing of paper, with various European countries in massive debt situations, if Greece descends into chaos and defaults through the releasing of pent up frustrations caused by this simple man's act of courage and despair 2008 may look like a picnic

A  77-year-old retired pharmacist shot himself in the head Wednesday in central Athens, drawing an emotional response from Greeks who flooded the area in a spontaneous anti-austerity protest in a nation on the brink of economic collapse. 

A woman places a flowers as others stand at the site where an elderly man fatally shot himself at Athens' main Syntagma square, on Wednesday, April 4, 2012. The Greek pensioner picked the busiest public area in Athens to shoot himself dead on Wednesday, leaving a note which police said linked his suicide with the country's acute financial woes. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
The victim, whose name has not been released, shot himself outside the parliament building today. His suicide note reportedly said, "I have no other way to react apart from finding a dignified end before I start sifting through garbage for food."
Since the suicide,  activists and opponents of austerity measures, who have been fighting massive cuts to Greece's economy for more than a year, came out to protest the economic injustices that are rampant in their nation.  Some of the more than 1,500 protesters who took to the public square in Athens today,  said, "This was not suicide - it was murder committed by the state." Suicide rates have skyrocketed in Greece since the country starting making excessive salary and pension cuts.
The Arab Spring is largely cited as having been sparked by the death of a food vendor in Tunisia, who was protesting similar economic injustices as today's victim.

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