Monday 26 September 2016

Greek crisis is political, with the potential to tear EU apart

Published 22/06/2015 | 02:30

Crisis: Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis
Crisis: Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis

The Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis laments the failure of the Eurogroup to listen to his proposals even whilst they themselves have been kept in the dark about what "the institutions" are proposing. Apparently, no substantive discussions took place on what either "the institutions" or Greece were suggesting as the way forward.

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A majority of the Eurogroup ministers appear to have decided, in advance, that Varoufakis is not someone they can "do business with". But perhaps the ministers couldn't address, never mind resolve, the Greek crisis because at root it isn't a financial crisis, it is a political crisis which effects the whole European project. If this all goes horribly wrong, we will have Greece spinning, out of control, into the Russian orbit and with politicians such as Varoufakis in exile, jail, or worse.

The EU, meanwhile, will start to fall apart with nationalist governments, led by the UK, doing their best to break it apart.

We may not have a major European war any time soon, but the slippery slope will have begun. Meanwhile, we will have people starving in the streets and dying en masse for lack of proper medical care.

There is no doubt that Greece needs an internal social, economic and political revolution. For too long it has been run by an elite who pay very little by way of taxes and do not re-invest their profits to modernise the economy.

It has a massive and inefficient military and civil service which absorb huge resources and stifle all economic enterprise and growth. The underlying Greek economy is painfully underdeveloped, whilst social inequalities grow.

It is unclear whether Syriza, or any Greek government, has the means to lead such a revolution. Perhaps a massive rupture is unavoidable.

A default followed by ejection from the eurozone could well result in hyper-inflation of any new currency, mass impoverishment, and violence in the streets. Sound familiar?

The EU was founded to prevent such events and if it fails to prevent them, it will have failed in its most basic and sacred duty. It will have destroyed its most basic raison d'être and claim to legitimacy.

We need to decide whether the EU truly aspires to be a union or not.

There is no solution to the Greek crisis which does not involve at least a mini-revolution in the EU institutions as well.

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow

 

The gender revolution

It was most disheartening to read Ian O'Doherty's comments on transgender and transracial issues (Irish Independent, Review, June 20). One wonders how such thoughts make their way into a national newspaper at all. He writes that 'facts are facts and biology is biology.' A common tautology, but science is not a series of immutable truths.

People are at the heart of all scientific discoveries and understandings, and these understandings evolve day by day, year on year. For instance, the biological discourse of the 18th Century emphasised the fundamental biological difference between races as a tool to oppress a group. The biological discourse in the 16th Century viewed women almost solely in terms of their reproductive capabilities as a tool to oppress another group. In the 21st Century, we are still struggling to include the experiences of transgender people into modern dialogue. Only now is biology beginning to understand the vastness of what 'gender' encompasses, and how humans experience it. It is not for governments, scientists, doctors or families to impose upon one's lived experience.

Heteronormativity is not just an outdated concept, but a despicable one. It seeks to compartmentalise people into binary groups and refuses to acknowledge 'outliers'. How can anybody trivialise a person's lived experience and thereby maintain such a system?

Writing that "Bruce Jenner is a man and Caitlin Jenner is a man with some surgical modifications" lets transgender, Irish Independent readers know that 21st Century discourse doesn't recognise their right to self-determination; that they must ignore their thoughts and feelings and convictions about their bodies and their internal life.

I hope this letter is read in the spirit of making people aware of misappropriated scientific 'facts', pretend logic and carefully worded pieces that can be more insidiously dangerous than hate speeches from extremist organisations, and also for certain groups of people to realise that throughout history, they have always been on the non-dissected side of biological discourses.

Aileen Bowe

Ballinakill, Co Laois

 

Sorrow of Berkeley tragedy

UCD President Andrew Deeks, at a memorial at the university, said the lives of a generation of students have been completely changed by the Berkeley tragedy. I would like to further this with the words of Robert Browning Hamilton:

'I walked a mile with Sorrow,

And ne'er a word said she;

But, oh! The things I learned from her,

When sorrow walked with me.'

Aidan Hampson

Artane, Dublin

 

Shame of Clerys closure

The shameful and disgusting treatment of loyal workers at Clerys was a chilling throwback to the days when workers had few rights. You'd think we'd have moved on since Jim Larkin fought for basic workers' rights. If his statue, located not far from Clerys, could come to life, what would he have to say, I wonder?

Clerys' clock was for decades one of the best-known and most iconic landmarks in Dublin, a popular meeting place in the city.

How sad that the clock has been turned back 100 years to a time when workers' rights counted for nothing.

John Fitzgerald

Callan, Co Kilkenny

 

Racism still a blight on society

The shooting of black churchgoers in South Carolina is a heart-wrenching tragedy, but more than that it stirs a deep sense of perplexity, numbness and disbelief that racism remains a blight on our societies.

It is true that we have made significant progress in achieving interracial, intercultural and interreligious harmony, dialogue and understanding.

However, racism and prejudice are still alive and kicking in western societies.

The election of Barack Obama did not diminish racial tensions and conflict. As Mr Obama once said: "We must continue our long march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring, and more prosperous world."

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, NW2 7QY, UK

Irish Independent

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