It’s been well over a year since I last posted on this blog and since then a lot has changed. Not just in my life – seeing as I can now adequately punctate my sentences and am no longer little or angry – but across the globe and the struggles against the capitalist machine that are taking place, from Glasgow to Greece.
Today, the Greek people will took to the polls – I can safely say I have had my share of referendum pain and angst – to decide whether they will accept another couple decades of damming austerity, that will see a sharp increase in human suffering and economic failure, or to vote against it, yet risk being tossed out of the Euro and forced to find their way through a global economy still scarred from the 2007 recession. Were I forced to make a choice, I know which box would have taken my tick.
In 2011, Greece’s debts were equal to 110% of their GDP; now, in 2015, it’s equal to 170%. Austerity has shrunk the Greek economy, whilst managing to cause deepening inequality and polarise sections of the society to the far-right – the greatest threat to democracy in Greek since the dictatorship fell in ’73.
As I see it, a yes vote (more austerity) equals a future of fascism and a 100% chance of being totally and utterly fucked for the next twenty years or so. Whereas as a no vote, which would see a rejection of the troika’s plans for further austerity, could likely lead to Greece being tossed out of the euro. Forcing them to re-adopt the drachma and suffer crippling hyper-inflation, as well as a staggeringly high/low credit score, which would result in no accessible funds. All surmounting to a country on its knees, even more so than it is already, which seems hard to imagine especially considering youth unemployment currently sits at 60%. But why should the Greek people suffer for a failure in the western banking system and the breakdown of free-market capitalism, across the globe?
If we cast our minds back to Germany, Pre-world War Two and Pre-fascism. We see a nation not unlike Greece: crippling debts, unemployment as high as 25% of the population and an organised force on the far-right. What happened next has been at the centre of European and world history for the last sixty years: a nation at war with itself, and with the world. The troika’s current proposals, in my opinion, are the modern equivalent of the Treaty of Versailles: a web of fibres twisting together to form a noose around any hope of economic prosperity or a healthy democracy. The issues that faced German society and the German economy were only solved with the introduction of the Marshal Plan, which not only saw German debt being written off, but large investment into the country. Greece desperately needs the same treatment.
Now the table has turned, now the shoe is on the other foot, now I have run out of clichéd metaphors. Germany is now an economic power-house with one of the largest economies in the world; German banks also own most of Greece’s debt. Yet, no one seems to have learnt the lessons of the past. There is no earthly, or indeed godly, way that Greece can pay their debts back or can accept more austerity measures without violent resistance and civil unrest. What Greece needs it to have their debts written off, completely; nothing is achieved from a nation in debilitating and unpayable debt, but suffering, civil unrest and conflict.
As I see it, austerity is a bit like that scene in ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’ when Harry and Dumbledore got to a cave on the search for a horcrux and Dumbledore drinks a potion that is clearly damaging to his health, as he thinks it will help him in the long run. Even though it weakens him to the point of total and utter collapse Harry makes him drink all of the potion. It all eventually results (SPOLIER ALERT) in him dying. Austerity is that potion. Dumbledore is Greece. And Harry Potter is the Troika.
This referendum is a chance to say no to the undemocratic enforcement of austerity on the Greek people; as rational human beings it’s our responsibility to stand with the Greek people, should they choose to say no more austerity.