Alexis Tsipras

Why Grexit under current circumstances is not such a disaster for Greece and Europe?

According to the Guardian and Open Democracy ,before the bail-out austerity agreements were implemented, Greece’s debt to GDP ratio was at 125%; today it is at 174%. Unemployment was at 9%; today it is at 27%, when in fact youth unemployment is at 65%. Why then should demand-led policies be an anathema for Europe’s rulers?

The Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans is a remarkable geo-strategic frontier for Europe, especially as regards population movements on the ground. Europe needs Syriza and Greece to produce a balanced policy on migration and illegal migration, cultivating solidarity with Asians and Africans, instead of hostility and civic conflict. That is an additional reason why Syriza must be supported by all democrats across Europe Open Democracy says.

A Syriza victory would be the real victory of the left against austerity and anti-democratic forces, opening the road for more substantive social democratic changes across the continent and beyond.

alexis tsipras syriza
Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras Source:Wikimedia Commons
This would be the real victory of the left against neo-Nazi forces, opening the road for more substantive social democratic changes across the continent and beyond.

In a so called “European big family” Greece has seen HIV and malaria new infections piercing, during the last 2- years, as a result of  huge cuts which resulted in the curtailing of essential services for their people. While Greek officials were working under the stress of having to meet a financial target set by their tri-party group of creditors: the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank. And so they delivered.

Malaria returned because municipal governments lacked the funds to spray against mosquitoes. HIV spiked because government needle exchange programs ran out of clean syringes for heroin addicts. Addiction to drugs is always a sign of a society in a deep recession.

The Greek government, you see, has once again collapsed under the weight of the country’s austerity program, and anti-bailout parties are leading the polls ahead of new elections. This time, not that it really matters, the ruling coalition led by the right-of-center party New Democracy fell apart after it couldn’t get its presidential nominee, a largely ceremonial role, confirmed in three tries.

Greek Prime Minister Mr Samaras
Greek Prime Minister Mr Samaras, Source: Public Domain

What does matter, though, is whether New Democracy, which is still running a close second, can hold on to power in the snap elections scheduled for Jan. 25. If it can’t, then the far-left party Syriza will get its chance to lead Greece in a high-stakes game of chicken with Germany.

Greek Poll
Greek Election Poll as of Dec. 30th.

Syriza’s platform is as simple as it is sensible. They want more spending and less debt. Specifically, they want to spend €1.3 billion, or $1.6 billion, more on food stamps, health care, and restoring electricity to households that can no longer afford it all to alleviate the worst of the country’s suffering. And they also want to renegotiate how much of its debt, which even after getting written down before is still over 175 percent of gross domestic product, Greece will pay back. Bankers, of course, think this is “worse than communism,” because Syriza is admittedly a little too sanguine about how much money it could raise by—stop me if you’ve heard this before—cracking down on tax evasion. But, as Wolfgang Münchau points out, there’s nothing radical about what Syriza is asking for even if the party itself is. It’s pointless to try to make somebody pay back money that they can’t pay back. It will fail, and, until you admit that, push them even deeper into poverty. Or, in Greece’s case, into the worst depression in history.

Why Europe family cannot help?

Greece was the third biggest arms importer after China and India. And over the past 10 years its military budget has stood at an average of 4% of GDP, more than £900 per person. If Greece is in need of structural reform, then its oversized military would seem the most logical place to start. In fact, if it had only spent the EU average of 1.7% over the last 20 years, it would have saved a total of 52% of its GDP – meaning instead of being completely bankrupt it would be among the more typical countries struggling with the recession.

greece crisis

One major factor is that France and Germany’s arms industries have greatly profited from this profligate military spending, leading their governments to put pressure on Greece not to cancel lucrative arms deals. In the five years up to 2010, Greece purchased more of Germany’s arms exports than any other country, buying 15% of its weapons. Over the same period, Greece was the third-largest customer for France’s military exports and its top buyer in Europe. Significantly, when the first bail-out package was being negotiated in 2010, Greece spent 7.1bn euros (£5.9bn) on its military, up from 6.24bn euros in 2007.A total of £1bn was spent on French and German weapons, plunging the country even further into debt in the same year that social spending was cut by 1.8bn euros.

France and Germany though are the two main European forces which wanted an immediate unblock of chapters 23& 24  which refer to fundamental rights and justice in December despite the facts that Turkey has sent a vessel to proceed to seismographic researches  for oil & gas in the Cypriot EEZ and now it will start researches into the Greek EEZ taking advantage of the current instability in Greece. France and Germany sell arms to Turkey as well. France has softened its stance  against Turkey since Turkey put a new order for new Airbus and new arms (i24news.tv).

Read: Turkey in arms trade talks with France

Do you really think that France and Germany care about fundamental rights and justice in Turkey despite the fact that the current government declares that women are not equal with men, which puts into  prison opposition journalists? Certainly not.  If Europe really wanted to put the effort, Cypriot  problem would be solved until today.

Read more: TURKISH POLICE RAID ZAMAN BUILDING, ATTEMPT TO DETAIN EDITOR

Why Syriza is good news for Greece?

Some argue that the rise of Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) is the result of the extreme austerity policies implemented in Greece by the two ruling parties as a consequence of the debt crisis. This is only partially correct. The debt crisis and the austerity that followed destroyed the middle classes and pushed people to the extreme left and the extreme right, but the recruiting process of the extreme right of Golden Dawn has been contained, whereas Syriza’s influence has increased with the passage of time. Today, opinion polls give it top ranking. Moreover, no splinter group or leadership coming from the matrices of the two ruling parties has managed so far to amass any considerable political force.

Golden Dawn
Source : Wikimedia Commons, Extreme-Right Supporters in Greece

One explanation remains outstanding in explaining the rise of Syriza to prominence, namely, the deep ideological roots of the spirit of the Greek democratic resistance against Nazism and nationalism in the 1940s, roots passed on from one generation to another, of which not just the Greeks but the whole of European civilization must be proud. What is happening today should not be seen by EU leaders as a call for the recapitulation of the 1940s project to defeat the left that provided the backbone of resistance against Nazism in Greece; rather, it should be seen as a blessing, opening the way for profound changes both in Greece and Europe against the dominance of neoliberal financialization and the anti-inflation bias presided over by Germany.

The Cold War is over. Scaremongering campaigns on the part of German and European officials make no sense, as Syriza is not a threat to Europe but a breakthrough.

In the past, as Lenin famously wrote in his State and Revolution, socialists used to say that Nazism and fascism were embedded in, and emanated from the state’s conservative machine, which should be smashed in the transition to socialism. Today, the phenomena of extremism and neo-Nazism have their roots directly in the market fundamentalism of ruling elites and neoliberal financialization.

Rampant market forces feed xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism across Europe, and the wilder the supply-side policies are the more the likelihood that we will see the emergence of strong neo-Nazi parties.

The Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans is a remarkable geo-strategic frontier for Europe, especially as regards population movements on the ground. Europe needs Syriza and Greece to produce a balanced policy on migration and illegal migration, cultivating solidarity with Asians and Africans, instead of hostility and civic conflict. That is an additional reason why Syriza must be supported by all democrats across Europe.

Sources: The Atlantic, Washington Post, The Guardian, Kathimerini,The Independent, Telegraph.co.uk Economist, Open Democracy

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