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216 × 138 × 22 mm
224 pages
13 Aug 2018
Field Notes

A Happy Future is a Thing of the Past The Greek Crisis and Other Disasters Pavlos Roufos

Since 2010 Greece’s social and economic conditions have been irreversibly transformed, a result of austerity measures imposed by the European troika and successive Greek governments. These stringent restructuring programmes were intended to make it possible for Greece to avoid default and improve its debt position, and to reconfigure its economy to escape forever the burden of past structural deficiencies. Eight years later, none of these targets have been met. If the programmes were doomed to fail from the start, as many claim, what were the real objectives of such devastating austerity?

Pavlos Roufos answers this key question by setting the story in its historical context. Analysing the creation of the Eurozone, its ‘glorious’ years, and today’s threat to its existence, he locates the development and management of the Greek crisis in terms of both the particularities of Greek society and economy and the overall architecture of the monetary union. He also illuminates the social movements that emerged in Greece in response to the crisis, focusing on what both the crisis managers and many of their critics presented as a given: that a happy future is a thing of the past.

‘Greece’s future? Roufos makes a very astute observation. Germany’s goal is not to integrate Greece in the Eurozone economy, but to relegate it to a competitor with the less developed Balkan states – and the Third World for that matter. What is of value in Greece is being privatised, sold to international corporations, many of them German. Greece will never recover from austerity because that was never the goal.’ — Brave New Europe

‘A careful and penetrating analysis of the cruel torment of Greece, and its background in the emerging global political economy, as the regimented capitalism of the early postwar period, with gains for much of the population, has been subjected to the assault of neoliberal globalization, with grim effects and threatening consequences.’ — Noam Chomsky

‘This is an ambitious book, setting the scene for the calamity in Greece in the development of the European Union and the evolution of the broader crisis in the world economy. Its analysis of Syriza's response to the Greek crisis illustrates a key lesson: those who want to fight against austerity policies cannot rely upon a political party that wants to rescue capitalism.’ — Tony Norfield, author of The City: London and the Global Power of Finance

‘Like no other book, A Happy Future is a Thing of the Past narrates the crisis from the heights of yield curves and debtloads to the street level of tear gas and self-help. Roufos’s story is enlightening, harrowing and, unfortunately, essential.’ — Quinn Slobodian, author of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism

‘Pavlos Roufos has written a fine book. It is about the crisis of the world economy in Greece, the European rescue of particular German banks by taking money out of the pockets of the laboring classes in Greece, and it is about the beginnings of social self-organization and its demise in a context of party-political calculations of the electoral market. The book does not tell you what you want to hear. It tells you what you need to hear about the politics of debt and the courage of saying no to debt enforcement. Most importantly, it tells you about Syriza as a conventional political party that recognizes the revolt against misery as a political opportunity for government.’ — Werner Bonefeld, Professor of Politics at the University of York and author of The Strong State and the Free Economy

‘This tract is worth reading and digesting because the Greek lesson must be learnt.’ — Socialist Standard

‘Seldom do Marxian analyses weave together politics and economics as seamlessly as Pavlos Roufos in A Happy Future is a Thing of the Past . . . Roufos’ command of the economic data is virtuosic. Making the dismal science . . . exciting to nonspecialists is no small task, but he works figures and statistics into his narrative without skipping a beat . . . asks the right questions about what befell Greece since 2010. One need look no further for a comprehensive guide to the catastrophe of the present.’ — Marx and Philosophy

‘In this study of the austerity measures imposed on Greece in 2010, the author claims that none of the goals the measures
were intended to achieve – ensuring that Greece avoided default, improving its debt position and restructuring its economy to avoid future crises – have actually been attained.’ — Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

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Pavlos Roufos has been active in Greece’s social movements since the 1990s and has written on Greece and the economic crisis for the Brooklyn Rail (New York) and Jungle World (Berlin). He has worked as a film editor and is currently a researcher on German economic policy at the University of Kassel.


1 A Thing of the Past
2 The Monetarist Manoeuvre
3 A Green Sun
4 ‘Holy Cow!’
5 It’s All Greek to Me
6 Years of Stone
7 After the End

Epilogue: The Future is Not What It Used to Be