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8 May 2012
Two leftwing political parties in two different European countries have garnered unprecedented popular support in elections just held in both countries.
Both parties have very similar axes to grind: in particular, they reject the savage austerity measures being shoved down the throats of ordinary Europeans by the German-dominated European Union and its Washington counterpart, the International Monetary Fund.
However, paradoxically, at the same time the two parties want to remain inside the eurozone.
The parties in question are the Front de Gauche, a united front of leftwing parties, including the Communist Party, in France. The Front de Gauche, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, gained 11.7 % of the vote in the first round of the presidential election on 22 April 2012.
The other party is Syriza, a coalition of radical leftwing parties which came second in the parliamentary elections in Greece on 6 May 2012. Led by Alexis Tsipras, it gained 16.78 % of the vote and 52 seats in the parliament (Boule).
Antigone1984 heartily approves of the wish by these parties to ditch the EU’s austerity pact. However, it is at a loss to understand why they should still want to keep the euro.
We sketch out below the benefits for Greece of a speedy exit from the euro. Many of the arguments also apply, mutatis mutandis, to other crisis-hit countries of the eurozone. Nor are they without relevance to stronger eurozone states such as France, which is itself on the brink of entering the stormy currents of euro-turbulence.
THE CASE FOR A SPEEDY GREEK EXIT FROM THE EUROZONE
1. By leaving the euro, the Greeks would regain their national independence. They would no longer be at the beck and call of the Germans, the European Central Bank and the IMF. The elected representatives of the Greek people could decide democratically, without outside interference, what type of economy they wanted for the Greek people. They would no longer have their hands bound by the free-market shock therapy prescribed by the troika of hated economic creditors from Brussels, Frankfurt and Washington.
2. The Greeks could immediately default on their international debts – ie write them off wholly or partially – as Argentina did around the turn of the millennium with the result that the Argentine economy has boomed ever since. At a stroke, by declaring itself bankrupt, Greece would escape from under the sword of Damocles that has hung over its economy in the form of the country’s colossal overseas debt obligations. Moroever, the troika would no longer be able to blackmail the Greek government into imposing savage austerity on the Greek people – economic death by a thousand cuts – in exchange for a drip-by-drip feed of grudging, inadequate and ineffective bailouts.
3. By leaving the euro, the Greeks would regain control of their own currency. They could then do what all countries outside the strait-jacket of the eurozone can do: they could devalue their currency and increase interest rates, thus promoting exports and attracting investment. Within the currency union of the eurozone, devaluation is no longer possible for individual member states, while changes in interest rates are the exclusive preserve of the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank.
4. The result of the above measures would be to restore dignity and independence to the Greek people and growth to the Greek economy.
5. If the Greeks remain within the euro, however, the economic freedom of action demanded by Syriza will remain pie in the sky. Whatever the government in office in Athens, it will not be strong enough to withstand the combined political pressure of Washington and the EU. These bodies and their minions will allow nothing and no one to interrupt their gadarene rush towards the ultimate catastrophe of a United States of Europe. This will involve the extinction of the nation states and the institution of an unregulated free market jungle based on the procrustean harmonisation of the eurozone’s economies. The maintenance of the eurozone and the fiscal unification now being promoted as a key feature of it are a key step on the road to that catastrophe.
The leftwing parties in Greece, France and elsewhere have to get their act straight. They have to come off the fence. They cannot have their cake and eat it – or, as the French say, “on ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre”.
The question we ask is this: what would be so terrible about restoring the drachma?
The drachma is said to have been in use in at Pylos in Mycenaean Greece in 1100 BC. That makes it over 3000 years old. At the behest of the EU, the Greeks ditched it for the euro in 2002. That makes the euro ten years old.
It is generally agreed that the Greeks made a good fist of the civilisation that they developed over the three millennia during which their economy was based on the drachma.
When the euro was introduced throughout Europe a decade ago, it was launched with a fanfare of trumpets: the Europhiliacs in Brussels swore that the euro was the open sesame to the promised land – a Europe that would overflow with milk and honey. The political suckers that passed for the leaders of Europe’s nations at the time swallowed this fairy-tale hook, line and sinker. The result has been plain for all to see. Instead of ushering in an era of limitless abundance, the introduction of the euro has led to an economic and political crisis of unprecedented dimensions. Growth in the eurozone has come to a full stop and eurozone countries such as Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy have been pitchforked into a downward economic spiral of unparalleled ferocity. The crisis is now lapping even at the shores of the zone’s supposedly stronger members, Holland, France and Germany.
If the leftwing parties in Greece and France cannot see this, they might as well shut up shop and go home.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Das Vierte Reich/The Fourth Reich (6 Feb 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
5. What would Gandhi have said? (30 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.