April 2015        

Germany over all!

Tomás Mac Síomóin

The neo-liberal forces that rule the EU need the SYRIZA government in Greece to fail. They will do whatever it takes to prevent the ending of their austerity policies in any part of the EU.
     These policies are operated with the complicity of all EU neo-liberal elites, headed formally in Ireland by the current coalition of Fine Gael and the Labour Party. In fact, as evidenced by the SYRIZA-EU negotiations, a class alliance exists throughout the euro zone in which these elites impose, without popular mandate, harsh anti-social policies that cause immense hardship, particularly in countries of the EU periphery, such Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland.
     But if the SYRIZA government, in line with its announced aims, initiated a successful alternative social-democratic economic order in Greece it would contrast with living conditions elsewhere in the euro zone. Such cannot be allowed to happen. Greece must toe the EU line along with the rest!
     Ironically, the most fervent supporters of these austericidal policies, promoted in the EU mainly by the German government, have been the rulers of EU peripheral countries. Carrying a big stick for Germany, a self-alleged social democrat, Joan Burton, advocated in Berlin a spot of mischievous blackmail, namely withholding the final tranche of €7 billion due from its second EU-IMF programme unless Greece undertakes to makes “credible progress” in “boosting its tax take and fighting corruption,” although its government is already working hard in this direction.
     SYRIZA’s sin is to dare to challenge this deadly consensus. And, thanks to the enormous influence the dominant economic and financial strata exert on major information outlets and media, recent weeks have seen enormously slanted anti-SYRIZA reporting of the Greek government’s negotiations with EU representatives. Greek negotiators were slagged, made fun of, referred to variously as being “not really serious” and “demagogues” and being supposedly “immature,” “out of place,” and “not getting it” in the sophisticated administrative context in which they tried to make their case.
     Some important concessions made to the SYRIZA negotiators, some of which readers of Socialist Voice will be aware of (See “Take it down from the mast,” March 2015) were either played down or ignored by capitalist media. These concessions may seem to be of little significance in a wider context but are of crucial importance in a country as devastated as Greece. Regrettably, some on the left allowed their opinions to be distorted by this biased press offensive, referring instead to SYRIZA’s “failure.”
     In the context of this offensive, one clear underlying reality is hidden or brushed over, and that is that the German government is now seen with total clarity as being the dominant centre of the economic, financial and political life of the euro zone, and it demands the clear submission of all the other governments to its diktat.
     The publication by Greece of the private declarations of support from representatives of governments (such as the Italian and the French) was not followed by support from them at the negotiating table; Ireland rowed in dutifully, as expected. Thus the loss of Irish sovereignty, and the corresponding inability of Irish governments to rule in the best interests of our debt-crippled people, was yet again underlined.
     The Greek-EU negotiations performed the ancillary service of enabling the real euro zone to emerge, a new political entity ruled by the big German financial interests and in which the interests of working people are of little consequence. Some commentators even assert that Germany has now achieved, through financial manipulation, what it failed to gain by military means in the Second World War. In any case, the original EU has lost whatever legitimacy and appeal it may once have claimed.
     In spite of the hostility of the European neo-liberal establishment, the Greek government presented data that demonstrates the huge damage wrought by austericidal policies in their country. They compared this to the values that Europe claims as its own—democracy, the welfare state, and social justice—thus revealing the egregiously hypocritical stance of the present EU rulers.
     And, in spite of the enormous bias of European media, working people gauged the justice of the Greek arguments and agreed with them. Even in Germany itself the majority that wanted Greece expelled from the euro zone became a minority. The president of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, shedding what were undoubtedly crocodile tears, was forced to admit that a grave injustice had been done to the Greek people.
     SYRIZA can be faulted for not having prepared a Plan B: just telling the euro zone to stuff it and leaving it forthwith. Why didn’t they do just that? The answer is that they are not mandated to do so: a majority of Greeks don’t want to leave the euro.
     As this unequal struggle continues, however, popular anger with the euro zone could well change the direction SYRIZA will take.

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