Spain 1936 – Greece 2012: Peoples of Europe Unite!

Sonia Mitralia, Member of the Greek Committee Against the Debt and the Women’s Initiative Against the Debt and Austerity, speaks at a meeting organised in Marseilles on 17 February 2012 by the French campaign “for a citizens’ audit of the public debt”.

The pace of history is picking up and the cataclysmic events of recent days in Greeceshould now eliminate any lingering doubts that Greece today is tending to become for Europe what Spain was in 1936. This apparently rather daring insight is not the work of a few romantics. No, it is those who rule us, for those who have beat it into us all day long for almost two years are those at the top, the Merkels and Sarkozys, the IMF and the bankers, neo-liberal reactionaries above and beyond national frontiers, those who have chosen to turn Greece into a laboratory for their inhuman policies and the Greeks into guinea pigs for their shock therapy.

It is high time for all of us at the bottom in Europeto take seriously what Merkozy and the Troika are telling us and act accordingly.  Let us accept the challenge and tell them that starting now Greece will become a test case for the workers’ movement too, for the social and women’s movements, for the peoples and the exploited all over Europe. Yes, let’s make it very clear to them that we are all Greeks because we totally understand that the the struggle of the Greek people is more than ever our struggle. That if they come and try to smash and defeat the Greek people, we and all the other peoples ofEurope will for it next, one by one …

You may remember the nonsense they told us in the very beginning, that “this is a unique and specifically Greek case due to the fact that these Greeks are lazy good-for-nothings inured to lying and corruption”, But since then , we have learned that the debt black hole isn’t confined to Greece, that it is not due to the alleged excesses of the Greek state, because it’s the same in America, France, Italy and Japan. In fact, it’s typical of capitalism and of a crisis which is quite simply systemic.

But be on your guard against cliches and ready-made phrases which simply do not capture the reality of what is happening inGreecetoday. Can you really still talk about – even draconian – austerity when wages and pensions in Greece are falling by 40%, 50% or even 60%? When purchasing power for the overwhelming majority of the population has already been slashed by 50%, 60% or even 70%? When the country’s middle class is ruined and on the way to pauperisation? When newly-employed people only get 417 euros and new pensioners only get 320 euros? Is it still only “fiscal prudence” when every other young Greek is unemployed and unemployment levels have now reached 25%? How can you talk of mere “temporary sacrifices” when malnutrition is ravaging little primary school-children and hunger stalks even the middle-class districts of Greek towns? How can you pretend that all this is “necessary to get the finances into order” in Greece when our executions themselves cynically admit that the policies they have forcibly imposed on Greece have failed and are only pushing the country deeper into a monstrous recession and that the Greek debt can never be repaid? So is this just sadism on the part of the infamous Troika or is it rather an open declaration of war by capital on the world of work? Daily reality forces us to admit: Yes, what we are seeing inGreeceis a veritable war by those on top against those at the bottom, the rich against all the others. At the same time, let us not forget, for it is important, that what we are seeing is the rebirth of the worst colonialism, when we see Greece humiliated and stripped of almost all her national sovereignty, treated by her supposed European partners as an actual colony, a protectorate in leading-strings, run on the spot by some Gauleiter sent by Mrs Merkel and Mr Schaueble …

And what are Greek people themselves doing? Be careful, don’t believe what they tell you about the Greeks. Your media are like ours: the reality they describe to us is completely unreal. Talking abour present-dayGreece, they insist that there is inAthensa government of National Union supported by four fifths of the representatives of the Greek people. So, to believe them, you would end up thinking the Greeks are a bit S/M and enjoy being knocked about …

Obviously the reality is very different. A dozen general strikes in less than two years, countless hard-fought struggles and strikes all over the country, a semi-insurrectionary climate over recent months, a movement of “Indignés” – the Aganaktismeni – which swept through Greece for three months, very violent confrontations with the unbridled forces of repression, ministers and MPs who have been too scared to go out for the last ten months because they are booed or even beaten by passers-by, a parliament beseiged more and more frequently by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who sooner or later will take it by storm … this is a brief glance at the almost daily routine in Greece long months since.

But these are only the warning tremors of a great social earthquake which is under preparation. In fact you only need to look a little more closely to see that people’s anger is even now breaking all historical records, that the country is like a volcano ready to explode. Also the very many opinion polls tell a story. Popular support for the government of so-called National Unity is no more than 8%, while taken together the parties to the left of social-democratic PASOK now score over 50%! Everything is changing at breakneck speed and the political landscape inGreecein undergoing a truly unprecedented upheaval  because entire sections of Greek society are looking for radical solutions for the crisis and for their galloping impoverishment. Would you like an example which perfectly illustrates this quite exceptional situation, which more and more resembles what happened in a certain inter-war period on our continent? PASOK, which two years ago gained a triumphant and record-breaking victory with 45% ov the vote, only scores less than 10% in the opinion polls, while recently a tiny group of neo-nazi murderers has scored 3%! Yes, Greek society is experiencing its ownWeimarRepublic…

So, what is to be done? The first thing is to say loud and clear that Greeks should not pay this debt which is strangling them and which is not their responsibility, that payment should be suspended immediately. To do what? To do what we are obliged to do by international law, the UN, and a number of international conventions, signed by our governments, incidentally: to invest the astronomic sums currently devoted to servicing this debt to satisfying the basic needs of Greek society, infrastructure, public services, the unemployed, starving kids, single-parent families, the sick and the disabled, and women who are currently forced to take on for free within the family all the tasks which used to be performed by public services before they were dismantled and privatised.

For how long? For as long as it takes to carry out a citizens’ audit to identify which bits of it are invalid and which should be annulled and not paid, all the while obstinately refusing to fall into the trap of our executioners’ blackmail when they keep repeating all day long that any such radical policy automatically leads to leaving the euro and the European Union and a forced national withdrawal into ourselves…

No! No! No! We refuse to pay this debt and at the same time we will stay in the euro zone. And the main reason for this is very simple: because we want to fight side by side with you, all together, hand in hand with all the peoples and all the workers of this continent, to blow up this Europe of capital, of the Merkels and the Sarkozys. Because we want to create and build up what they call the “systemic crisis” of this anti-democratic and anti-social European Union of the rich. Yes, from now on there is only one realistic and feasible course, that of a joint struggle of all those at the bottom everywhere inEurope. Comrades, now more than every, unity makes us strong. Let us unite, because together we can still change this world which is in the process of rotting away. Before it is too late  … and remember: If not us, who? If not now, when?