Last Wednesday, Greece was shaken by a general strike. On Thursday, there were protests in all major cities against a new round of austerity measures. Unlike previous general strikes, which are regularly called as a formality and fail to mobilise significant sectors of the working class, this time important services were affected and various ports, hospitals, and airports were paralysed.

For decades the main party of the Greek working class was the PASOK, founded in 1974 immediately after the fall of the military junta. It won 13.5% in the first elections it stood in that year, seven years later going on to win a landslide victory with 48% of the vote and forming the first left government in Greece’s history. The rise of PASOK between 1974 and 1981 was a clear expression of a radicalisation to the left of Greek society.

The Greek economy has always lagged behind the much more developed economies of countries like Britain, Germany, France and other advanced capitalist countries, mainly of northern Europe. The Greek bourgeois arrived late on the scene of history, with its own independent state only in the 1830s. Ever since, Greece has struggled to establish itself economically in the face of far more developed economies on the continent of Europe.

Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the euro in 2001. What impact did these two events have on the Greek economy? Within the general boom conditions across Europe pre-2007, Greece also boomed, but this hid the real underlying weaknesses of the Greek economy, in particular its declining productivity.

The suffering of the Greek people is deep, very deep. Austerity is pushing larger and larger sections of the population into poverty. With this comes also a seriously worsening healthcare situation which is a direct consequence of the cuts imposed by the Troika, and suicides have also been going up in line with the increase in unemployment.

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