Saturday, December 5, 2015

"Curiouser and curiouser."


In the opening three paragraphs of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Alice watches a creature she thought she knew well, but dressed in a manner she’d never imagined, “pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.”   The instructive line for purposes of this post comes next in the tale: “In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”

It sounds like the strategy of Greece’s ruling party. Although with this week’s twitter round by Greece’s Prime Minister dissing Turkey’s leadership, a more relevant excerpt may be, “But I don't want to go among mad people,” said Alice. “Oh, you can't help that,” said the cat. “We're all mad here.”

On Thursday, Greece’s two largest unions staged a 24-hour general strike of its 2.5 million workers and pensioners membership (out of an 11 million national population) in protest of the leftist-led SYRIZA government’s efforts to implement agreements with EU and IMF creditors for further bailout funds.  So far SYRIZA’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, has repeatedly found ways to pull rabbits out of Mad Hatter hats (just can’t resist those Alice references) that keep the people electing him despite his repeatedly doing precisely what he campaigns against.

In his pre-Prime Minister days he’d also been an architect of the sorts of street demonstrations and strikes that now mobilize against his government.  Today his party holds a slim three-seat Parliamentary majority and faces a vote today on violently opposed pension reforms that may erode that majority further.

Have no mistake, he is a very savvy politician, but has been unsuccessful so far in convincing opposition parties that joined him on other votes to overcome his own party’s objections, to sign on for today’s Saturday confrontation over adopting legislation billed as non-negotiable for the release of further bailout money.  But though he’s prevailed upon those parties for support in the past, most have refused.  Likely because they see no political upside to jumping on the SYRIZA bandwagon this time—especially since SYRIZA itself is campaigning to escape blame for that very vote!

Prime Minister Tsipras, right, with true far right coalition partner on left--to add to confusion.

How can that be you ask?  Well, permit me to refer you to a story in Moscow’s Sputnik, an admittedly suspect source of information these days. BUT it is consistent with a similar story I’d heard when Greece’s last general strike took place three weeks ago.  Here is the headline:


Yep, you read that correctly. SYRIZA was reported as calling for Thursday’s general strike to protest against the very pension reforms it’s been pushing heaven and earth to get its opposition members in Parliament to join them in adopting!

Come on, Siger, you’re putting us on.  Nope, as I said, I heard this the last time around, and this time found the following written statement published in Sputnik represented as coming from SYRIZA:

"The people's struggle, social movement and workers' demands are the decisive factor for real democracy, for overturning the bitter legacy left by years of neoliberal policies. Through small and large labor struggles on a daily basis, the questions of an alternative way for Greece and Europe can be kept open. Hope can be retained. Extortion by employers and neoliberal political and economic centers in Greece and abroad can be repelled. It is very important today that workers demand recapitalization of pension funds… It is necessary to maintain social security…by means of raising employer contributions."   

It strikes me that SYRIZA sees the Greek people as akin to the speaker of this Lewis Carroll line, “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

What I wonder is how does Greece expect to get out of this bottomless rabbit hole into which its government has plunged it?  There appears no plan, no rhyme, no reason at play, and soon I fear the people will find it’s not a dream or nightmare they’re living, but badly mismanaged and misrepresented reality.  What follows next?   As a Queen once said, perhaps “off with their heads,” and “sentence before verdict.”

As for where it’s all headed, here’s another Wonderland quote: “If you don't know where you are going any road can take you there.” 

But I know where I’m headed, and I won’t be late, for a very important date, with Stan at Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis.

PS.  Here’s a photo of two very special ladies who surprised me greatly at an event Thursday night in Chicago…Eide Gage and her and Leighton’s daughter Melina.


  1. To the moon, Alice, all the way to the moon!

    Actually, Tsipras is doing what every politician does, just much more blatantly: tell the people what they want to hear. One thing for the EU, the opposite for the Greek people. The problem is that most people hear what they want to hear, too. That's why it so often works (for the politicians).

  2. As I said, Alice would be right at home. :)

  3. Great piece! You've got us thinking we may need to re-read of Alice's adventures in wonderland!

    1. And your posts on your new life on the Peloponnese have me thinking I've got to get back to the Mani:). I love how you've integrated into the community.