• Not a Debate about the Euro

  • By Elena Papadopoulou | 05 Jun 12 | Posted under: Greece
  • For everyone who has studied backwards induction in game theory, “the case of Europe” could not constitute a better occasion for her to practice it. Players are there, uncertainty is there, probabilities are there, multiple outcomes are there. Only the game is real, and the way it turns out will not only determine whether in the forthcoming period Europe will move towards more integration or more disintegration, whether it will or will not have a common currency and whether  its line of economic policy will remain adherent to neo-liberalism. It will also determine the everyday lives of European citizens and the way new political, ideological and cultural identities will start to be formed.

    Despite the complexity of the issue, the situation involves certain important catalysts. The question of the Euro is one of them. During the last couple of years, in Greece (and in Europe no less) this debate – a debate as old as the Eurozone itself – has resurged on a number of levels and now, two weeks before the new elections of 17 June, it has become one of the central points of dispute of the pre-electoral period.

    The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is accused of wanting the country’s unilateral exit from the common currency, either on the grounds of plain intention or on the grounds of that being the inevitable consequence of opposing austerity policies (expressed through the Memorandum). The reply to the former point is straightforward: the official position of SYRIZA – a position formed in the course of a very extensive debate within the Greek Left during the last year – is that the party is against a unilateral exit. However, in a left context, the “issue of the Euro” is certainly not merely a debate about the Euro. It is not only related to economic considerations (even the apposition of which goes beyond the scope of this text), but to the party’s analysis regarding the ways to fight for an alternative Europe, the importance of not abandoning the European field of social struggle and retreat to national growth debates, as well as the need to fight against the nationalist sentiments that always lurk behind every debate in this kind of situations.

    Yet, it is the reply to the second point that is perhaps even more crucial; not only for Greece and Europe, but – from the looks of it – for the global economy as well (the American stance on the issue during the recent G8 meeting is characteristic). Is the denouncement of austerity in Greece synonymous to the denouncement of the Euro? Is Greece jeopardizing the Eurozone? Much the opposite. Even before the result of the elections of 6 May, the fact that austerity was leading the European economy further into the economic impasse and the European societies deeper into despair was becoming more and more obvious. And even though one can never know what lies at the end of a road she never took, it was also obvious that the adhesion to neo-liberalism and to the strategy of internal devaluation as a means of superficially managing a deep systemic crisis would result in a catastrophe.

    Opposing austerity and facing the true causes of the debt crisis in Europe, which are inextricably linked to the causes of the global economic crisis, is the only realistic way to keep Europe together on an utterly different basis. After the recent evolutions in Spain (and soon to come in Portugal, Cyprus and elsewhere) actions in this direction, in the direction of employment, development and the rehabilitation of democracy in all the European countries, are more urgent than ever. This cannot go through without serious clashes, but it has to be decisive. Because this is not a debate about the Euro. It is a struggle for the prevalence of equality, solidarity, environmental sustainability and human emancipation in Greece, in Europe, in the world.

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