Eurozone finance ministers gave Dracula-style bloodsucking a bad name last night when they rejected proposals brought from Athens for even more severe austerity measures.
Their message was loud and clear: Nothing less than the reduction of Greece to a vassal state will satisfy the major capitalist powers who run the European Union.
Greece will be reduced to absolute penury – the population is not far from that already – and be expected to import goods from Germany, France and other north European economies.
All this to save the doomed single currency project and prop up the continent’s banks which are presently dependent on massive hand-outs by the European Central Bank.
Greece cannot be allowed to default by the EU because the financial markets would then move on to other heavily indebted EZ states like Portugal and Spain, driving up their borrowing costs. So the Greek people must be made to suffer pain beyond human endurance.
Yesterday the national government in Athens led by an unelected prime minister and Goldman Sachs adviser came to Brussels with a €3.3 billion cuts package hopeful of securing a €130 billion bail-out in exchange.
Under a draft agreement between the major parties, the minimum wage in the private sector was to be cut by 22%, pensions reduced further and tens of thousands of more jobs abolished in the public sector. It’s not enough, they were told when they got to Brussels.
They were sent back with instructions, yes instructions, to come up with another €325 million in cuts, get them voted through parliament by Sunday with a pledge from all parties that they would honour the cuts whatever the result of the upcoming general election.
They were also warned of more intensive involvement in the Greek economy to improve tax collection and accelerate the sale of state-owned assets. “In short, there is no disbursement before implementation,” said the well-fed Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg.
And yet the cuts already implemented have helped create an unemployment rate of well over 20% and seen Greece’s national output plummet by 11% in a year. No wonder trade unions staging a 48-hour strike from today described the cuts package as the “tombstone of Greek society”.
More cuts will not only deepen the economic crisis – they will actually make it more difficult for Greece to repay its massive debt, requiring even larger bail-outs in the future.
But all this is apparently of no consequence to the EU’s dominant power, Germany. Perhaps the country’s historians will make a parallel comparison with the harsh Versailles treaty imposed on Germany after defeat in World War One. Impossible reparations payments broke the country’s economy and stimulated the growth of far-right nationalism.
For all intents and purposes, Greece has lost its right to self-determination in the face of decisions taken by overwhelmingly more powerful states in the EU. Democracy has been replaced by unaccountable rule from Brussels.
The country’s political class is set on a course to further disaster and the virtual enslavement of the population. If they had an ounce of concern for the people, political leaders would tell Brussels to go to hell, repudiate Greece’s foreign debt and declare default. But we know they won’t.
Limited strikes aimed at changing their minds won’t work because the political class is committed to the capitalist system, whatever the cost. Therefore, Greece’s unions, students, unemployed, small shopkeepers and farmers should form their own united democratic institutions in the face of dictatorship from Brussels.
A democracy for the people, expressing the power of the majority in place of the corrupt political institutions at the heart of the Greek state would allow working people to stand up for their rights. They could then make an appeal to millions of others struggling against austerity in Europe to come to their aid and launch a European spring.