The democratic and social Europe, in any case an unfinished project, has been staring into the abyss since the end of June 2015: But the creditors live the luxury life in the Grand Hotel enjoying the view, whilst the debtors sit on the edge of the cliff, always threatened with falling into bankruptcy.
A so called Troika of powerful institutions has turned threats into blackmail. Debtors like Greece are not given any chance. The treat of bankruptcy is used to enforce government compliance. Social and political alternatives to Austerity are taboo. Even the referendum proposed by the Syriza government over the cuts package demanded by the Troika is is being interpreted as a provocation by the Eurogroup finance ministers – who themselves are a technocratic club, not a political and democratically accountable body. They punish Syriza’s democratic initiative by excluding the Greek finance minister from meetings of the so called Eurogroup. They shamelessly break European law to take out their neo-liberal anger on Greece. The spectacle presented by Schaeuble, Dijsselblom and others will go down in European history as a grand suicide bombing of the political elite against the European integration project.
The austerity policies ruining state budgets and destroying societies are being carried out by the IMF, the European Central Bank and the EU-Commission together with the Eurogroup in alliance with the great European economic powers. Germany’s grand coalition of Schaeuble, Gabriel and Merkel is the driving power in this. With their austerity policies of social cutbacks, the blockading of investments for economic renewal, the pressure on mass incomes and the weakening of the trade unions they ensured that unemployment in Greece tripled to almost 30 per cent from 2007 to 2014. Youth unemployment more than doubled to about 60 per cent. It is no surprise that GDP is a quarter less than before the crisis, with private debt being 66% higher and state owned debt rising to almost 180%. The social and economic situation of the population has worsened everywhere in Europe but this escalated especially in Greece.
Considering this sweeping failure of Troika policies it is an understandable and correct measure by the Greek government to pull the emergency stop in order to take a different route to the one proposed by those sitting in the Grand Hotel Abyss. Especially considering that previous governments before Syriza were not successful either, despite plainly following Troika orders.
Syriza does not only act in the Greek interest. Obviously the “European house” has got design flaws which need correcting: Its inhabitants are not citizens with equal rights (and duties). They are split into the affluent on one side who enjoy increasing wealth even during and with the crisis, and the debtors on the other side whose debt increases steadily with and during the crisis. In the Europe of 2015 a lesson taught by the great Greek philosopher Aristotle can be learned: Money divides. One cannot build a free and democratic society based on the logic of money, a currency union. A “common house” needs more than a common till taken care of by the “institutions”. Especially when these representatives are incapable and full of hatred against democratic alternatives.
Euro-liberal policies carried out during the last two and a half decades since the ratification of the Maastricht-treaty, the Eurozone foundation document, in 1991 have contributed to the division of European society. Greece is the most dramatic example. Others have led the way. Others will follow. Which is why the Syriza-government and Alexis Tsipras are right to demand respect for the interests of the Greek people and human dignity as well as a strengthening of democratic principles. A democratic referendum is a must. It is a step forward compared with the “there is no alternative” demands put forward by the Troika which nullified any space for democratic decisions.
This is not only a Greek matter. Current events in Greece are a matter for all Europeans. The referendum initiative over future actions regarding the debt crisis claws back some democratic rights fallen under the wheels of the Troika vehicle. We support this initiative because it is also in our interest. We are against attempts by Euro finance ministers to amputate this small Greek people out of Europe. A people, as Friedrich Engels, who died 120 years ago, said, “has secured for itself through its universal talents and actions a place in the history of human development like no other people ever can.”
What is Europe without Greece? A desert contaminated by neo-liberalism, without culture and administered in authoritarian fashion by “the institutions”.
Respecting a democratic referendum about Troika policies in Greece and other countries should be natural for the “institutions”. All threats made these days by the Eurogroup, ECB and the Berlin government about immediately stopping necessary support for Athens are irresponsible and anti-democratic.
They openly threaten financial chaos in order to throttle democracy this way. Time is money is the number one rule of the Euro finance politicians. They don’t even understand that democratic processes need time in order to arrive at broadly accepted conclusions. Solutions for the current deep crisis must not burden debtors in a one sided way with harsh, brutal and unrealisable austerity measures. Creditors have to share the cost of the crisis. An insolvency, a crisis, must be solved mutually, not through one sided finger pointing and austerity burden for the people in one debtor country. Those in the saloons of the Grand Hotel Abyss should not forget that the main blame for the misery of the debt crisis lies with the financial jugglers and their political stooges. The Eurogroup finance ministers have forgotten this. They are responsible for a disaster created by them for which the Greek population now has to pay and which will in time also hit other peoples in Europe.
Shame on the political class of the European Union! Solidarity with the Greek population! We pay our respect to the democratically elected and democratically acting government in Athens.