Arsonists putting out fires

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

 8 May 2012

Apologies to readers outside Europe, but we continue to blog on the Greek crisis.

This is because nothing less than the future of the European Union is at stake.

Given the mishmash of political parties that emerged from the Greek parliamentary elections on 6 May 2012, it is questionable whether any government can be formed that will be able and willing to inflict on the Greek people the savage austerity programme demanded by the troika of overseers from Brussels (the European Commission), Frankfurt (the European Central Bank) and Washington (the International Monetary Fund) that now police the Greek budget.

The troika wants to slash the standard of living of the Greek people so that any public funds available will not be used to alleviate the plight of the long-suffering Greek citizen but will be exported to pay back loans and bailouts from international public creditors, such as the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as from international banks.

Yesterday Alexis Tsipras, leader of the radical left party Syriza, threw in the towel after a vain attempt, at the request of the Greek President, Karolos Papoulias, to form a government. Not only did Tsipras fail to win support from the two main capitalist parties – the nominally socialist Pasok party and the unquestionably conservative New Democracy parties – but he also failed to get the backing of the Communist (KKE) and Democratic Left parties, which should have been his natural allies.

As we said in our post yesterday 9 May 2012, the left might as well pack up and go home if it cannot cut out doctrinal disagreements and form a united front against the capitalist class. This is a time for tactics, not ideology. There is everything to gain and no time to lose.

New Democracy, which is led by Antonis Samaras, had failed to get a government coalition together earlier in the week, so Papoulias has now called on Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos – scion of a famous Greek political dynasty and so a nepotistic beneficiary of his family’s political prominence – to form a government.

Asking New Democracy or Pasok to rescue Greece from its current economic travails is like recruiting arsonists to put out fires.

The exclusive dominance of New Democracy and Pasok has resulted in a political duopoly that has exercised a stranglehold over Greek political life for decades. When the electorate has tired of the one party, the other has automatically replaced it in government. The alternation in power of these two parties, however, has not resulted any significant change in government policy, as they both come from the same capitalist stable.

The current implosion of the Greek economy took place, accordingly, during a time when one or other of these parties was in power. It took place on their watch and under their eyes. Hence, they are the last people one might think of calling on to extract the country from the morass in which it is currently mired.

Moreover, both of these parties, happy to lick the boots of Greece’s international creditors, have endorsed the savage austerity packages exacted by the country’s international creditors. Better the Greek people suffer than have long faces in Brussels, Frankfurt and Washington.

It remains to be seen whether Pasok will be successful in cobbling together a new government coalition.

If it cannot, further parliamentary elections are likely to be held in the near future, the outcome of which it is difficult to predict: it is likely that either the pro-creditor parties will increase their vote, the electorate being fed up with the current political impasse, or the voters will give stronger backing to leftwing parties opposed to externally dictated austerity.

Even if a new coalition can be stitched together, however, following fresh elections, there is no guaranteed that it will last for long.

For weeks now the financial markets have been predicting that Greece will default on its remaining debts and exit the euro. Antigone1984 thinks that that would be a good thing. We know, on the other hand, that the European Union will stop at nothing to prevent that happening. If Greece leaves, that would set a domino-effect precedent for the departure from the eurozone of other weak economies, such as Portugal, Spain or Ireland. The eurozone is the foundation upon which the project of European homogenisation is based. The whole house of cards would face collapse. Antigone1984 is pessimistic. We do not think that Brussels will allow that to happen.


 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.


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