As was not only predictable, but inevitable, the people of Greece have turned out onto the streets in their tens and hundreds of thousands to show their resistance to the draconian economic measures being forced on them by the European Union and the ECB. The organised Greek working class has sent and is still sending a strong message to its own government and those "friendly" governments that are supposedly bailing out the Greek economy. And that message is that they will not stand idly by while, under the pretext of friendly assistance to their country, the privatisers and market parasites of the EU strip them of their wages and their pensions, extend their working lives and demolish their public sector. They will not allow a weak, supposedly socialist, government to collapse under pressure applied by a pincer movement of the EU on the one hand and the finance sector on the other. Rather, they will fight on the streets and in the factories and offices to ensure that those who caused the crisis will pay for it and that isn't the Greek working class. In this country, the Greek crisis has produced an outbreak of appallingly bigoted national stereotyping, with the Greek people being variously described as lazy, shiftless and indolent and greedy in the Tory press. Such slanderous and vicious assaults on a people who are the victims, rather than the offenders, are distasteful in the extreme, but illustrate well just how far down the line the capitalist offensive will go to justify its raids on the living standards of ordinary people. We must be very clear on this. The Greek bail-out is no such thing.
It is an orchestrated attempt to turn Greece into a wasteland, a battleground where free-market capitalism can first kill civil society in the country and then pick over the corpse, stealing what it can and wrecking what it can't, a forced auction of a whole country's assets to the highest bidder. And what rankles deepest with the organised working class in Greece is that it is the representatives of capitalism who caused the crisis in the first place, it is those same capitalists who will benefit from the auction of the country and it is that very same class that isn't being asked for any sacrifices to remedy the crisis that they caused. Let's not forget also that the latest episode in the Greek crisis was precipitated by yet another capitalist edifice, the ratings agency structure that downgraded Greek debt to junk status - those same ratings agencies that gave AAA ratings to billions of dollars of residential mortgage-backed securities which precipitated the near collapse of the world economy. The Greek trade unions are quite clear about it. They will never accept the destruction of their country as the price of bailing out a rich class of greedy tax evaders and profiteers. And in their statements over the last few days, they send a warning to workers in other countries. They are right to do so. The measures being forced on them by the EU as the price of support are precisely the same measures being punted by the new Labour, Tory and Lib Dem friends of the ruling class to reduce the national debt level in this country.
This is no coincidence. It is part of the world-wide drive by capitalism to reverse the tide of history, to attack working class living standards and to shrink the edifices built up to benefit ordinary people. The price of a decent life for all is to high for capitalism to accept. The capitalist system has bought itself a continuation long past its sell-by date, but it is no longer prepared to tolerate the carrot. It's now time for the big stick, because they will not tolerate anything eating into their profits and civil society is doing just that. We wish the Greek workers well in their fight and urge everyone to show what solidarity that they can. Our fight will come sooner than we might expect.
A blog for the socially and politically conscious, written by a young, gay activist who strongly believes in equality and justice.