A spectre is haunting Europe. This time it is the spectre of a political change of the European Union, which was put on the agenda by the election victory of SYRIZA and the outcome of the French presidential elections. And again, all the powers of old Europe have joined forces for a holy chivvy against this spectre: EU-President Barroso, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, the German Minister of Finances, and the conservative mainstream-media, which are siding with the strong where they have assumedly detected a weaker one.
Yet, there is one result from this fact: the claim that SYRIZA is putting forward on behalf of the Greek people to put an end to the barbaric policy of austerity and to cancel the illegitimate part of the Greek national debt is questioning the European Union’s entire policy auf austerity. What SYRIZA demands is not Greece leaving the European Union, but – and that is what the challenge consists of – a change of the politics of the European institutions – not only vis-à-vis Greece, but vis-à-vis all the populations of Europe. What is it that the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund can boast of that justifies a perpetuation of the current policy? In spite of the three “austerity packages” imposed by the “Troika” and all the dramatic social consequences, the public indebtedness of the country has more than doubled since 2010. To continue that way means to deliberately bring about the economic and social collapse of Greece. This fatal logic was what the election results of 6 May were directed against which made SYRIZA the second most powerful political force in the country. This truth is what Merkel, Barroso and Co refuse to believe.
The message they have for Greece and the peoples of Europe is: Either you accept the austerity programmes, the reduction of your living standard, the carving up of the labour and social laws, the destruction of the public health and education systems, that is, the further deepening of social inequality or we will exclude you from the international markets. Submission or expulsion. That is what their democracy looks like.
Since 6 May, Europe has been standing on a crossroads. The elections indicate a shift in the balance of power in France, Greece and on the European scale. Two roads, two logics. One of them includes sacrificing entire national economies and states on the altar of the financial markets. It brings deprivation and suffering for the populations, but no way out of the crisis. On the contrary, it threatens to devour European integration and with it democracy. The other logic requires a cancellation of the illegitimate debts, the socialisation of the banking and financial sector, the top-down redistribution of incomes, the fight against corruption and a reconstruction of European real economies according to ecological standards. Europe has to choose between austerity or growth and employment. It requires a breach with the dictatorship of the financial markets and the replacement of the current power elites in the states and in the EU. Deciding for that option is the sovereign right of each people and of all the peoples of Europe together.
Twenty mass and general strikes in all parts of Europe, numerous mass demonstrations, the occupation of big squares in the capitals as well as Blockupy Frankfurt show that millions of Europeans want this change of the political orientation.
This requires mobilisation in each country as well as European solidarity. Steps to bring together the social, trade unionist and political forces on the European level have been made in recent months. In a public appeal respected speakers of German trade unions have together with well-known intellectuals demanded a new policy. A process towards a new summit for alternatives of European populations is to set a highly visible signal for such a political alternative. The Party of the European Left and the transform!-network are part of this process of bringing people together.
Today the Greek Left is standing on the most highly exposed point of this European struggle for a political alternative. SYRIZA’s concern is not only to resist to but to change the rule of Europe. Thwarting attempts by the “powers of old Europe” to intimidate the Greek population means to work for the democratic and social renewal of Europe.