First of all, we should not confuse the Greek Government, with the Greek people. As is the case in every European country, governments although elected by the people, rarely, if ever, act in the interests of the people. The politicians in charge, once elected, primarily decide things on the basis of their own personal agenda’s and on those interests dictated by big business, finance and the state. The elite running the Greek Parliament and state, like other political elites, have over decades, directed state expenditure in directions of benefit to their own personal and class interests. In doing so they have taken on massive loans and have become so heavily in debt, that they cannot honour the existing loan repayments. This is a pattern which has occurred in every country in Europe and most of the rest of the world. It is the ‘system’ which is in crisis and it is the system and those who benefit from it, which is being bailed-out – not the ordinary people. The next in line for toxic debt exposure and insolvency bailouts are Italy, Spain and Portugal. Our turn in France and UK will come sooner or later and more likely sooner.
However, as we know from the 2008 bank-bailout, it is not those in the elite who ran up the debt who will ultimately foot the bill. The working people of Europe and elsewhere are being made the victims of this colossal scam. The Greek working classes and poor are the first to face the next layer of implications of this combined crisis of nation states again placed in the hands of the Shylock financial aristocracy in the Banks and Bond markets. What continues to happen to them will be a taste of what may well be in store for the rest of the working and oppressed people in Europe in one form or other. Note well this! The first beneficiaries will be the international financial bond-owners and bankers, ie those who were the willing architects of the present sovereign-debt crisis in the first place. The second beneficiaries will be the political elite, who colluded with the financiers and helped orchestrate the turmoil the system is in. But of course, they don’t want us to know that and so hide behind propaganda and subterfuge.
The political class and the financiers are hoping we will buy their ‘blame the victim’ tactic and turn our backs upon the Greek workers and oppressed with an attitude of ‘they brought it on themselves‘. No they didn’t! In a recent letter to a newspaper one commentator using statistics from the OECD produced the following facts.
“On average, the Greeks work nearly six hours per week more than in Britiain and more than 6.5 more than the Germans. Even before the second of five austerity packages, the average age of retirement in Greece was 61.4 years, a little higher than the European average of 61.1 years. Again before the austerity measures, when workers were reaching their retirement age they enjoyed their ‘fat’ average pensions of 750 Euro’s (£635) per month…..This crisis has nothing to do with ‘ethnic‘ characteristics. It is a fundamental crisis of the capitalist system… ” (George Diakogeorgiou. Metro News Feb 27th 2012)
How true! And how rare to find this alternative viewpoint, in a mainstream newspaper. Yet even if it were the case, that Greek and other workers had better wages, salaries, working conditions and paid less taxes than workers elsewhere – which is by no means the case – it is not these factors in the economic system which caused the crisis. It is clear – for all who wish to see – that the crisis has been caused by the speculative greed of the financial and banking sector. Indeed, the workers of all countries should be entitled to better wages, salaries and conditions than has been the norm, given the amount of wealth they have created over decades and which has been creamed of by the rich 1%.
The danger in not standing up to this ideology of ‘beggar your neighbours’ – in Europe and elsewhere – is the rise of nationalism, chauvinism and racism. All three of which, divide the working and oppressed, deflect the attention from the real culprits and lead to internal and external violence against the victims of this unfair, unjust and exploitative capitalist system.
It is true, that the Greek bailout, will result in further hardship for workers in all countries of Europe and even elsewhere, as prices and taxes are raised and welfare benefits reduced. However, this money will not go to the Greek people, but to those financial and political elites who brought the problem into being. This is because the elite in each country are powerful enough at the moment to extract the costs of bailing out their system on the backs of working people everywhere. They and we are the victims – not the perpetrators. Our anger, frustration and resentment should not be directed against the Greek working class, or any other countries workers, but against our own and their financial and political elite. They caused the problem and they are trying to solve it by fleecing the working class everywhere.
Our watchword should be international solidarity with the working and oppressed in Europe and elsewhere. All ideologies and manoeuvres serving to split working people on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality or religion should be resisted and combated – that way leads to defeat. Instead, at every opportunity, our condemnation of the international financial and political elite should be made clear and the blame squarely fixed to the system of capitalism, which despoils, people, animals and the environment. We should be calling for an end to the present system and its replacement with a post-capitalist form of society which does not have a small elite dictating what happens to the rest of us. This prospect may not be immediately achievable, but it is better to struggle for what we want and get it later; than fight among ourselves for what we don’t want and get that sooner.
R. Ratcliffe (February 2012) http://www.critical-mass.net
See also ‘Bankers Rule OK?’ and ‘Greece: another Golden Fleece’ at http://www.critical-mass.net