Addicted to corruption: The Greek state decided to ban people’s kitchens in times of hunger

In times of hunger, people’s kitchens are banned. The state needs us attached, no matter if our condition is dreadful. The Greek state, after plundering everything from the people, decided to stifle the last thing left to them: solidarity.

The numbers of poor are growing in Greece every day. With the second memorandum, which includes 22% reduction of lowest salaries (32% for people under 25 years old), the removal of job permanency and other workers’ rights, 10% reduction of pensions, abolition of all tax exemptions, enforcement of additional taxes etc., destitution is expected to become much more widespread. Official unemployment in Greece reached 20,9% last November (almost 50% for the youth), but real unemployment may be much higher [1,2]. With an average of  9.43% since 1983, these numbers are unprecedented and they are also expected to rise [1].

According to Eurostat, that has resulted in 27,7% of the Greek population living at the margins of poverty in 2010 [3]; whereas things are far worse at the moment. What is startling, is that a job is no longer a safety net preventing someone from being poor – nowadays you can be employed and poor: 13,8 % of the employed were poor in 2010 [4].

Since every Greek family harbors at least 1 unemployed person, the South-European kinship networks, which have been traditionally supporting family members with economic problems, are expected to collapse [4]. Hunger is the outcome of poverty. Behind those lifeless numbers above, there are people that have difficulty to sustain themselves and their families in daily life. More and more people are reporting that hunger is widespread in many neighbourhoods of Athens.

People’s kitchens of Athens – protest feast against the violence of hunger:

Spontaneously, ideas are becoming real actions. Many initiatives came to provide that social glue we need to withstand a crisis and move beyond this systemic error we experience. Groups were formed to organize people’s kitchens in Athens and other Greek cities (e.g. El Chef, Allos Anthropos etc.). Quite surprisingly, the Ministry of Health, send an official newsletter with its decision to forbid ‘messes’ (people’s kitchens), inciting concerns about hygiene regulations [5,6]. In a time of hunger, destitution and unemployment the state chooses to stop people from helping each other.

However, we can take a closer look at the situation and try to understand such a decision. The decision was imposed on informal initiatives and solidarity networks, while allowing ‘formal’ institutions like the church, NGOs and municipalities –  all those that are funded by the state. All these institutions are responsible for the ‘lack of transparency’ and corruption that have brought Greece to the present condition. Greek people are still wondering where the public money (and EU funds) has been invested on all those years.

Moreover, if the state apparatus will be able to run charities and philanthropic programs it might try to save its public image which has totally crippled recently. This time though, it is going to be very difficult for the people to forget that they are being robbed in the first place. At this first stage, assets and resources are subtracted from people to the point that they are not able anymore to fulfill their daily needs or a decent living . At the next stage, only the crumblings are being given back under the banner of philanthropy, so that we can ‘feel good’ that somebody gave us a plate of food to go through the day.

Philanthropy in that respect is removed from its original meaning and in reality it is an outcome of potent social inequality. People want to live in dignity not merely exist by being given a tiny fraction of what was taken from them and others have plenty (food, money, house etc.). At this ethical level, we can also argue that the state by forbidding people-led initiatives wants to stifle the only thing left to the people: solidarity.

It is immoral, in a deprived and alienated society, for which the state is largely responsible, to prohibit social support networks. Hence, we can elicit that it is contrary to state’s interest to see its own people healthy and robust or the society rejuvenated. The state and all the affiliated institutions prefer to keep us crouching and crawling dependent on them, as a way to feed the bonds of corruption. They also forget the fact that 50% of the young people are currently unemployed, which is a possibility for them to use their creative forces in support of others. In that way they can learn and acquire skills instead of passively sitting in the misery of joblessness and inertia.

Groups active in food provisioning and people’s kitchens organized a large feast in one of the central squares of Athens in response to this brutal decision of the ministry of health.

Sources:

[1] Tradingeconomics (2012). Greece unemployment rate. Retrieved on the 20th of February 2012 from: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/greece/unemployment-rate

[2] Salmon F (2011).  The global youth unemployment crisis. Retrieved on the 20th of February 2012 from:http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/12/22/the-global-youth-unemployment-crisis/

[3] TVXS (2012). Στα όρια της φτώχειας το 27,7% των Ελλήνων. Retrieved on the 20th of February 2012 from: http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/sta-oria-tis-ftoxeias-277-ton-ellinon

[4] TVXS (2012). Ούτε η εργασία διασφαλίζει από τη φτώχεια στην Ελλάδα. Retrieved on the 20th of February 2012 from: http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/oyte-i-ergasia-diasfalizei-apo-ti-ftoxeia-stin-ellada

[5] El Chef (2012). El Chef: Η αλληλεγγύη είναι όπλο των ίδιων των πολιτών! Retrieved on the 20th of February 2012 from:

http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=1374431

[6]. Κεφαλληνού N (2012). “Καλύτερα να φας απ’ τα σκουπίδια παρά από συλλογική κουζίνα”. Retrieved on the 20th of February 2012 from: http://wp.me/p1pa1c-g6R

[7] Jaquou Utopie  (2012). Συλλογικές Κουζίνες Ενάντια Στη Βία Της Πείνας. Retrieved on the 20th of February 2012 from: http://wp.me/p1pa1c-g6P

[8] Realdemocracy.gr (2012). Αλληλεγγυα κουζίνα στην πλατεία Κλαυθμώνος. Retrieved on the 21st of February 2012 from: http://realdemocracygr.wordpress.com/

[9] Καλοδουκας Α (2012). aformi.gr

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