Help the Greek left!

Submitted by Matthew on 23 May, 2012 - 8:23

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Greek left coalition Syriza, visited Paris on 21 May and spoke to a crowd outside the National Assembly.

“The war we are fighting in Europe is not between people or nations. It is between the forces of labour and the invisible forces of finance and the banks.

“It is difficult to be victorious over an enemy when that enemy has no face, no programme, no political party, yet it governs us. If we perfect our victory in Greece it will sent a great message of hope throughout Europe.

“Greece is a link in a chain. If it breaks it is not just the link that is broken but the whole chain. What people have to understand is that the Greek crisis concerns not just Greece but all European people so a common European solution has to be found.

“The public debt crisis is hitting the south of Europe but it will soon hit central Europe. People have to realise that their own country could be threatened.

“We are fighting the battle in Greece not just for the Greek people but for people in France, Germany and all European countries.

“They talk about austerity programmes; but in Greece, it is not just an austerity programme. It is a European experiment in neo-liberal shock doctrine, which has led my country into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

“There is nothing to negotiate in the [EU/ ECB/ IMF] memorandum. You don’t negotiate hell.

“If this experiment continues in Greece it will be exported to other European countries.

“I am not here to blackmail, I am here to mobilise”.

Tsipras said he was bringing “a message of hope” to Europe. Over the next three weeks or so, up to Greece’s new election on 17 June, a race will be run between that message of hope and the message, from EU leaders and the bankers and bosses behind them, of blackmail.

Syriza’s advance in Greece’s 6 May election has shaken the rulers of Europe enough that the meeting of EU leaders on 23 May is likely to suggest some softenings in, or offsets to, the Euro-cuts programme. But only some.

Those sops will be designed only to tell the Greek people that if they vote for New Democracy, Greek equivalent of the Tory party and Syriza’s leading rival for the 17 June election, then ND will be able to negotiate adjustments and recalibrations.

But the threat will remain brutal: if the Greek people vote for the left, and for a programme which says that the economic crisis should be tackled by taxing the rich rather than by pauperising the people, then the EU leaders will threaten to expel Greece from the eurozone and maybe the EU, and leave its relatively small economy to crash and burn in the world market.

The EU leaders can make that threat stick only if the labour movements of Europe let them do it.

The EU leaders want the threat to work by threat alone. There is no legal mechanism to expel a country from the eurozone: they would have to invent one.

To go ahead with the threat will damage them too. Experts reckon the cost to EU governments of expelling Greece from the euro to be at least 225 billion euros first-off, and almost certainly more with reverberations and ricochet effects.

The EU leaders can be forced to retreat from the threat, and then to retreat from the whole continent-wide Euro-cuts drive, if the labour movements mobilise.

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