Not more than 24 hours ago was I here writing up a summary of the pivotal talks for the future of the Eurozone that are taking place in Brussels and now everything, or almost everything, has changed.
In the last day of almost non-stop negotiations, a already humiliated Tsipras has been dragged through the mud in an unbearable and horrendous manner. The Germans, believe it or not, have towed a harder line, completely redefining the notion of intransigence altogether, refusing and shutting down Greek propositions and pushing for harsher measures and lighting bolt reforms. Tsipras and his team of advisors went through what was dubbed by observers as a session of “mental waterboarding,” a preview of what might be in the works for the Greek people within the days to come.
The German Grexit
The most amazing turn of events was that, finally, Germany’s hidden agenda for a Greek exit from the Eurozone has surfaced in one of the four draft propositions that circulated on social media and throughout the mainstream media during the talks that lasted for a record 17 hours. The German will to precipitate and encourage the Grexit outcome is telling. The German government wants to send a strong signal and it’s nothing “personal.” It has more to do with the anti-austerity movements that are brewing throughout Europe, and not just in Greece.
Surely the German position wasn’t improvised and, unlike some have said, Merkel and her administration are not being irrational. The Germans, politicians and public, aren’t suffering from some sort of PTSD acquired during the hyperinflation crisis of the 1930s or an incommensurable will to humiliate and trample Greece. (This has been accomplished ten fold over the past five years) They are very much conscious of their program and nonchalant about its application.
Make no mistakes. This will be the Versailles Treaty of the Eurozone.
Restructuring of the Greek State Instead of the Greek Debt
The German program, the austerity program put forward by the German delegation among others, has one essential objective: to put the Greek people under guardianship by nullifying their voting system. The Eurogroup’s end isn’t merely to humiliate Greece, but to restructure the Greek state from the top down, leaving it devoid of any input from its own citizens.
But this restructuring goes further. The Eurogroup, which seemed to be on the defensive after the victory of the #OXI (isn’t that a far away memory?), is now demanding that Greece privatize 50 billion euros in public assets. The Greek state must become an empty shell. First, the utilities markets will have to be liberalized. But 50 billion euros means much more than an austerity-lite. The propositions the Eurogroup have put on the table call for the complete dismantlement of the Greek state and the transfer of its assets into the hands of third party management – technically a bank would run the bulk of Greece if this proposition goes through.
“There is no alternative”
The program put forward by Team Austerity is more than just the economical restructuring of Greece, it’s a way to cleanse Greek of its socialistic tendencies and of the “democratic mistake” of SYRIZA.
In a Europe where Socialist parties are the shadows of their former selves, at best lending a human face for austerity measures and at worst selling out their “working-class” constituency to legitimize deeper cuts. SYRIZA had been the first major threat against the neoliberal hegemony to have surfaced on European soil within decades, since the election of François Mitterrand in the 1980s and the implementation of the Programme Commun – which also resulted in utter failure. The neoliberal discourse has, within the past years, been shaken to its core and radical left-wing oppositions have appeared as an alternative. The German position reaffirms what Thatcher had said a few decades ago: “there is no alternative.” What German intransigence means, more than anything else, is that the reform approach of social-democratic governments with the current rapport of forces and within the Eurozone is unrealistic and has proven to be an impossible mission.
The Lineage of a New Absolutist Supranational Entity
The German proposition is using Greece to shift the current dynamic within the Eurozone. Within the past two decades, European federalism has been refused most notably in the referendum of 2005, in which both the French and Dutch electorates voted against the proposed European Constitution, thereby refusing federalism. Today, the technocratic federalism, which was rejected by the electorates in the past, is making its comeback in an astonishing way, through austerity. The dynamic of “economic integration,” the implementation of a common currency and of a common free trade zone has come to trump the democratic procedures of most member states. If this deal goes through, it’s not just Greece that must be worried, but every small European member state that has a sizeable amount of debt.
Thus the lineages of a new form of absolutist state have been formed – a state that is technically independent, but in reality completely subdued to the will of unelected lenders, bankers, and technocrats. Could it be that Greece, the cradle of western democracy, is also set to be it’s gravesite? Only time will tell.
What is to be Done?
For left-wing movements, there are many more questions than answers that arise as the final outline of yet another humiliating deal for Greece is drawn. How can there be a break with the Eurozone? How must we reform the European Union and European institutions? Is reforming this corrupt system even possible?
But most importantly, as the conversations draw to a close in Brussels, there are three points to be made about the future and the survival of socialist and social-democratic movements that refute the neoliberal stranglehold and want to challenge it:
First, Oxi, a “No” against savage neoliberalism and barbaric liberalization and privatization is possible. Sections of European society, public service workers, the youth, the unemployed, the underemployed, migrant workers, the service class and the working class are ready to be mobilized. We must take the necessary lessons from the Greek referendum and implement them broadly.
Second, the reaction against the Greek Oxi vote was international. A globalized reaction can only be met with a globalized revolt. European anti-austerity movements must organize in a transnational manner and create strong and enduring alliances amongst each other. Actions must be coordinated simultaneously. In other words, international general strikes and transnational movements must foster a strong consortium of action.
Third, we must be ready to break – but that is easier said than done. What a break means and how it is to be achieved are the primordial questions. These questions do not seem to have been drawn up on the SYRIZA planning board. The drawing of this solution might make us question the entirety of our strategic and our tactical outlook. One thing is certain, this new solution must be drawn within the context of incredible financial pressure and blackmail. Grexit or not, default or not, that will remain the case.
A luta continua.