The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 22nd June 2012
THE EUPHORIA, such as it was in the world’s stock exchanges and markets following the results of the Greek elections last week, has rapidly evaporated. And the movers and shakers of capitalist speculation now ponder their next moves as the European Union totters on the brink of economic melt-down.
The mainstream bourgeois parties did succeed in winning a narrow victory in Greece’s re-run election.
But there are still hard days of bargaining ahead as the Greek conservative and social-democrat leaders struggle to form a workable coalition that hopes to renegotiate the draconian bail-out terms imposed on the country, while maintaining the austerity regime that reduced most Greek workers to abject poverty.
It is like fitting the Greek economy — and the welfare of the people — into the bed of Procrustes — the legendary brigand and blacksmith of ancient Attica who offered accommodation to travellers in his one-size-fits-all iron bed, either stretching them or lopping bits off them to ensure a good fit. He was eventually killed by Theseus.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was the only force openly calling for Greece to pull out of the European Union altogether and the European ruling class were no doubt pleased to see the communist vote halved. The European bourgeoisie, were also, undoubtedly, pleased to note that the Greek election was fought almost entirely along the parameters of the debate that continues within the chancelleries of Europe on how to tackle the economic and social problems that face capitalism in the throes of the biggest slump since the Second World War.
Germany, the manufacturing powerhouse of the EU, is still insisting on its pound of flesh in the form of rigid austerity while the new French government is swinging round to neo-Keynesian social reform that would ease the pressure on Greece and the other weaker EU economies. The aim is that this would preserve the integrity of the European project and pave the way for a further step towards building the European super-state that Franco-German imperialism believe can become the dominant force of the 21st century.
This was essentially all that separated the mainstream bourgeois parties and the left social-democratic Syriza movement that has now become the biggest opposition bloc in the Greek parliament.
New Democracy and the old social-democratic Pasok bloc — the parties that adopted the euro and then accepted the terms of the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the European Union to remain within the Eurozone — defended their dismal record claiming there was no alternative to austerity. Syriza, the not so “Radical Left”, argued for the renegotiation of the repayment terms and “growth” within the confines of the existing Eurozone and the European Union.
Only the Greek communists, the KKE, took the principled stand of campaigning against austerity and against the European Union as a whole, unlike the resurgent fascists whose Golden Dawn thugs merely raved against the Albanians and other immigrants, who they claim are the source of all Greece’s woes.
Ultimately the argument between “austerity” and “growth” will be decided at next year’s German general elections. If Chancellor Merkel’s conservative bloc is toppled by the social-democrats and their allies Germany may well embrace the French response to the crisis.
In reality the “growth” option is only a palliative, a “soft landing” to cushion the worst effects of the crisis until the upturn comes. In the meantime working people will continue to bear the brunt of the capitalist crisis regardless of whoever is in office, and no more so than in Greece.
As the Greek communists say: “The worst is not over...the worst is on the way”.