Home » POV » The Indiegogo campaign to bail out Greece will fail but it's still great

The Indiegogo campaign to bail out Greece will fail but it's still great

Shobhna Iyer | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:16 IST

An equal world, we're told, is a fool's dream. Greece, a country that has suffered tremendously under the European Union's austerity measures, disagreed.

In January this year, it voted to power Syriza, a party that promised the end of austerity measures and the overhaul of a system that disenfranchises the poor and strips people of their political, economic and social rights.

One of the major challenges for the Syriza government has been the increasing debt brought on by the post-recession austerity policies in the Eurozone. Some say it's failed; I say it's a David vs Goliath match in which, from the beginning, Goliath has David's arm twisted.

But let's forget the politics. This isn't the place to detail them, and others have done it already anyway.

I want to talk about the Greek people, and what they must have been feeling this month. There've been dramatic pictures aplenty of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, but there's a whole country stuck in limbo, not clear what it means for them.

For all our supportive tweets and attempts at understanding the Eurozone, there's still really nothing those of us who find ourselves weirdly invested in the issue can do.

Enter Greek Bailout Fund. In case you missed it, a 29-year-old Brit named Thom Feeney set up a crowdfunding campaign to bail out the Greek government. Well, specifically to provide them with the 1.6 billion euros they owe in arrears to the International Monetary Fund. The fund hasn't worked (I'm tempted to include an 'of course' here but let me try and explain why I refuse to let cyncism take over); Greece has become the first country to default to the IMF, and has a tough referendum coming up.

But that's not the point. The point is, if enough of us who think austerity policies are cruel and counterproductive, if enough of us put our money where our mouths are, we could help the Greek people. The campaign has, by the way, at the time of writing, collected over 1.6 million euros, with over 93,000 donors. They are raising, on an average, 23,000 euros an hour.

For all our supportive tweets, there's really nothing we can do for the Greeks. Until now, thanks to @GreekBailout

It's a Fixed Funding campaign, which means that if it fails, all the money will be returned to donors. So that takes care of those who think it's a guy trying to steal money from well-meaning people.

The campaign is, in my opinion, perfect in every way - it offers up a solution that is technically doable if only enough people got involved.

There are the typical crowdfunding perks - except that every perk will involve the employment of Greeks or the use of Greek products, which would, should the numbers be big enough, certainly boost the economy. Three euros will get you a postcard, sent from Greece; 6, a Greek olive and feta salad; 10, a bottle of Ouzo, and so on.

As I write this, five people have donated 5,000 euros, with the perk of an all-inclusive holiday in Athens for a week. Think about what that means: you're literally helping bail out a country from a system that has failed it in every way possible while it promises to be fair and 'rational'. You'll also be supporting the Greek economy further by spending a week in one of the most ancient cities of the world.

It's symbolic to the nth degree, but it is also inspiring. It puts into practice what should be painfully obvious to IMF and the bigger EU nations - to quote Feeny - "the way to help a struggling economy is by investment and stimulus - not austerity and cuts."

The funding campaign has already shifted the conversation from one of dense economic policy to one about people, power and possibilities.

I ended up five 5 euros, or 370-odd rupees poorer, which is only slightly more than the cost of EL James' god-awful, redundant, disgusting book Grey on Flipkart.com. A book that, by the way, has already sold ONE MILLION copies. Not that 5 euros is much, and not that giving money is everything.

It's something, though. It's a start. It's holding on to the belief that we can have complex structures of power without the need to cripple some people in order to retain standards of living for certain others.

While we wait to see whether the Greek public votes yes or no, let's recognise that they were not the reason they're in this position, but they're certainly going to be the ones paying the price. The Indiegogo's only ambition is to help with the payment.

First published: 3 July 2015, 4:13 IST
Shobhna Iyer @shoiyer

After studying to be an archaeologist at JNU, Shobhna worked in travel publishing before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not arguing over en and em dashes, you'll find her raving about her new favourite album, drinking copious amounts of coffee or ganna ras and struggling to come up with witty tweets.