Article 6 of the Treaty on the European Union says: “The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law…”If anyone still believes those words, they have been asleep for the past month, writes Paul Murphy TD.
The EU has instead been revealed to be founded on the principles of debt slavery, dictatorship, riding roughshod over human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of profit. The dictatorial, imperialistic and big business character of the EU has been graphically exposed by the ‘negotiations’ with the Greek government.
The No. 1 trending hashtag while all-night negotiations were going on, #ThisIsACoup, captured it perfectly, with the addition that with this coup, the Syriza government effectively being overthrown abjectly acquiesced to it.
The Greek people’s democratic choices were not just ignored, but were in fact used as a reason to impose even more brutal and humiliating austerity. Since the moment Syriza was elected, the weapons of financial and economic terrorism were sharpened.
A conspiracy of terror
With the calling of the referendum, the pressure increased. A conspiracy of terror stretching from the European Commission, the head of the European Parliament, right-wing governments across Europe to the private media in Greece and right-wing parties was initiated. One after another, leading European figures lined up to denounce the calling of the referendum and demand that it be cancelled. Failing that, they made clear that if the Greek people voted the “wrong way”, they would be forced out.
The leading ‘Social Democrat’ in Europe, and the head of the only directly-elected EU institution, Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, was even more aggressive than Angela Merkel: “Without new money, salaries won’t be paid, the health system will stop functioning, the power network and public transport will break down and they won’t be able to import vital goods because nobody can pay.”
This campaign was backed up by real fire-power – the financial terror of the European Central Bank, which capped the amount of emergency liquidity available to the Greek banks, which was their lifeline. We had the unprecedented situation whereby when the referendum was called, a central bank was intervening in order to deliberately provoke a bank run in a banking system that it was formally responsible for.
Despite it all, and with their own government vacillating and trying to reach a deal they could recommend even while the referendum was underway, an incredible 61% voted No. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, then described the referendum as an “irrelevant circus”! Varoufakis’ head was demanded on a plate, which was duly delivered by Tsipras.
The Syriza leadership then proposed a new austerity package, worth €13 billion – worse than the austerity just overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum. Met with this abject defeat, the EU powers did not simply welcome it, they demanded more and more, in all night negotiations, described as “extensive mental waterboarding” by one EU official. The result is an agreement, which effectively transforms Greece into a colony of European and German capitalism, with even more brutal austerity and no democratic control of people.
…But Tsipras capitulates
Along with the VAT increases, savage pension cuts and privatisations that have been agreed to, an undemocratic ‘Fiscal Council’ will be initiated, automatic spending cuts will be written into law and €50 billion worth of assets will be transferred to a supposedly ‘independent’ fund for privatisation. Previous progressive legislation that was introduced by the government will have to be reversed.
The result of this further austerity is entirely predictable – further economic contraction, leading to further, now ‘automatic’, austerity, and more and more misery for people. The reformist strategy of the Syriza leadership, of ruling out rupture with the Eurozone, lies in tatters and it is Greek people who are being lumbered with the monstrous cost of it. Sinn Fein’s strategy in Ireland, which is similarly to elect them as ‘better negotiators’, without any concept of confrontation with the EU authorities, is also undermined.
The only conclusion must be that the EU and eurozone rules must be broken, that the leaders of the EU are not honest negotiating partners and the “honourable” compromise which Alexis Tsipras was aiming at simply is not possible. This European Union and this Eurozone cannot be changed into instruments of working people in Europe or the 99%. That road is closed – instead, an alternative road of rupture and mobilisation of people across Europe must be taken.