• Greece on a Tightrope

  • By Rania Svigkou | 02 Feb 12
  • Two months after its formation, the new coalition government of the Socialist Party of PASOK, the right-wing party of New Democracy and the far Right under the technocrat, ex-senior officer of the ECB, Lucas Papademos, continues to deregulate labour relations, to dissolve the welfare state, to cut wages and pensions, to privatize public goods and to restrict social rights. It seems that the crisis in Greece constitutes the best opportunity for national and international capital to finish once and for all with collective acquits as well as democracy as we know it.

    At the same time the fiscal situation in Greece remains critical with public deficit mounting to 10.5 % at the end of 2011, a recession of approximately 6 % and an official unemployment rate of 17.7 %. Let’s not forget that the contractionary policy followed under the dictation of the IMF-EU-ECB troika and the Greek government for the last two years was meant to resolve the flaming issue of public debt. The debt now stands at 144 % of the GDP and negotiations for the PSI on the grounds agreed on 26 October have not yet concluded.

    Even though banks still appear unwilling to accept a big haircut on the value of Greek bonds (50 % or more), the unsustainability of the Greek debt on the one hand, and the possible increase of credit needs after the recent downgrade of major European economies (including France) on the other, make the agreement imperative in order for the EU to continue the management of the debt crisis on the same lines.

    In any case, the extortionate dilemma posed on the Greek people by the government and the bourgeois media remains the same: Greece will leave the Euro-zone if people do not consent to new measures that further reduce their incomes and lead to the retraction of the welfare state. The neoliberal austerity policy is still presented as an inescapable one-way road from which no country – let alone Greece – can diverge.

    To oppose this logic, dozens of small and bigger movements appear all around the country: lengthy strikes in factories and other work-places as a reaction to lay-offs and wage cuts, hundreds of solidarity networks self-organized in various neighbourhoods, movements of disobedience against tax increases. The basic element of these new movements is solidarity, solidarity among workers in different production sectors, solidarity among workers and unemployed. The slogan “no-one to be left alone in the crisis” condenses all these initiatives, which are not only anti-governmental, but also propound a completely different way of organizing the economy and the society.   

    This is the most hopeful element in a country sinking into poverty, unemployment and despair due to the cruelty of the policies exercised. This is also the biggest fear of the political forces supporting the Memorandum, the limits of which are to be seriously tested in the months to come.