We need a Plan B: for another Europe, for all of Europe

16-07-2015

After five months of negotiations conducted in an authoritarian and arrogant manner, 18 heads of state and government of the Euro-group under the leadership of Germany’s finance minister, have forced an agreement on Greece’s democratically elected government that contradicts SYRIZA’s electoral programme and negates the results of the July 5 referendum.

Walter Baier, Elisabeth Gauthier

Alexis Tsipras accepted this so-called “agreement” under threat of financial strangulation, total economic collapse, and a humanitarian catastrophe. The July 13 agreement is the result of unacceptable blackmail. It has become dramatically evident not just how much the neoliberal system of domination aggravates the crisis for individual peoples but that it is about to destroy the whole European Union economically, socially and politically. Never before has the European Union made a decision that undermines so fundamentally the project of European Integration.

Not the Greek government is to blame for this agreement but the leaders of the European Union are.

Attempting to implement its coercive measures will provoke the resistance of broad sectors of Greece’s population. Alexis Tsipras himself has called it a bad agreement and is determined to continue the struggle in defence of the Greek people. We will remain in solidarity with the Greek movements which resist and fight for better living conditions of the population. We simultaneously seek to widen the struggle against austerity throughout Europe.   

This policy conducted by the EU leaders has already visibly failed and will continue to fail and erode democracy. Nevertheless, the humiliation of the SYRIZA government and punishment of the Greek people is intended to demonstrate to all European peoples the supposed hopelessness of the struggle against neoliberal austerity and for democracy. It is not only Tsipras and the Greeks who are to be punished and condemned to impotence but all of us!

All governments and all political forces which have carried through the neoliberal model in the states and in the union bear the responsibility of the European crisis. The attempt on the part of influential sectors of the German elites to attain dominance in Europe is doomed to fail however it threatens and compromises the very idea of European unity. Today’s EU is also politically out of balance.

This can never be our Europe. All of Europe needs a Plan B.

In the week before the referendum, the OXI week, 200,000 people in 150 cities throughout Europe demonstrated their solidarity in the struggle against austerity policy. Finally also the European Trade Union Confederation has raised its voice and demanded in accordance with some of the largest national trade union confederations that Europe’s political leaderships respect the results of the referendum; many of the world’s most important economists along with numerous European intellectuals are calling for a change of policy of the governments and the EU; hundreds of thousands European citizens have declared their support with the Greek people. These are positive and important new elements. However so far it has been impossible to get the urgently needed policy changes adopted.

More and more decisive European action is required.

The reason for the present dilemma is not in the failure of the SYRIZA government but its isolation in relation to other European governments. It is our own weakness that was brought home to us on July 13, and we need to think about it and discuss it seriously.

Various strategic options are now being discussed within the movements, the European and Greek lefts, among them Grexit. It is the Greek people who have to accept or reject this option. In this context our most important task is to build the struggle against austerity policy on a European scale and change the relation of forces in our countries and in Europe as a whole, and in so doing ease the suffering of the Greek people and widen the manoeuvring room for their political decisions.

This continues to require our Europe-wide cooperation, solidarity, and unity.

In this spirit we prepare initiatives, European wide mobilisations and a joint demonstration in Brussels in October.

 

This article was first published at Opens external link in new windowtransform! europe

The experience of Greece demonstrates the importance of building a pan European movement based on values of solidarity and deep democracy. Thank you for doing so much to organise this .
Hilary Wainwright| Red Pepper magazine |

"This is sheer unbridled sadism. The Greek people are being punished for the failure of the neo-liberal consensus to avert the hideous and increasing forms of inequality which were always inscribed within its mandate. Nothing can explain why the most powerful countries of Europe should want to continue to impose on Greece policies which have brought it to the brink of collapse, other than the desire to precipitate a true collapse which they will then take as the proof that only their vicious system could have saved it - a self-defeating argument and a blatant lie. We can only speculate what unconscious links there must be between the forgiving of Germany's post-war debt, of which it remains the beneficiary to this day and without which it would not be in a position to dictate its terms, and its refusal to countenance any such forgiveness, let alone the paying of war reparations, to Greece. No logic can explain it. We have entered the realm of the cruellest social fantasy. The irony is that the whole of Europe will now suffer. But our hearts go out to the Greek people who will suffer - who are already suffering - most."

Jacqueline Rose, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

Étienne Balibar :"The struggle of the Greek people is the struggle of all European democrats, of all those who believe in human progress . In the case of a potential defeat all European peoples would pay the price. In the case of a potential victory, as limited as it may be, all European peoples would benefit. That's why it is necessary for those French and European forces who have hope in the renewal of democracy to positively answer the calls of Syriza to build European solidarity around Greece and the Greek people. The perspective of a referendum urgently requires the reinforcement of this solidarity"

Slavoj Zizek: "The struggle that goes on is the struggle for theEuropean economic and political Leitkultur.The EU powers stand for the technocratic status quo which is keeping Europe ininertia for decades. In his NotesTowards a Definition of Culture, the great conservative T.S.Eliot remarkedthat there are moments when the only choice is the one between heresy andnon-belief, i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform asectarian split from its main corpse. This is our position today with regard toEurope: only a new "heresy" (represented at this moment by Syriza) can savewhat is worth saving in European legacy: democracy, trust in people,egalitarian solidarity. The Europe that will win if Syriza is outmaneuvered isa "Europe with Asian values" (which, of course, has nothing to do with Asia,but all with the clear and present tendency of contemporary capitalism to suspenddemocracy). We from Western Europe like to look upon Greece as if we aredetached observers who follow with compassion and sympathy the plight of theimpoverished nation. Such a comfortable standpoint relies on a fateful illusion- what goes on in Greece these last weeks concerns all of us, it is the futureof Europe which is at stake. So when we read about Greece these days, we shouldalways bear in mind that, as the old saying goes, de te fabula narrator."

 "The behavior of the Troika today is a disgrace. One can scarcely doubt that their goal is to make it clear that defiance to the northern banks and the Brussels bureaucracy will not be tolerated, and that thoughts of democracy and popular will must be abandoned. Other than power, there is no reason to continue with the shameful farce in which French and German banks profit from the suffering of the people of Greece."The debt should have been radically restructured long ago, or simply declared “odious” and cancelled. Today, Greeks are offered a miserable choice between two painful alternatives. One can only hope that their brave resistance to the brutal assault will encourage global solidarity that will save them and others from the harsh fate dictated by the masters."

Noam CHOMSKY | United States | MIT


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