Collateral damage: Austerity, Europe and the IMF November 14, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics.
Reading the Guardian report yesterday morning about a young Egyptian who working in Greece was tortured by his employer was sick-making. As was the certainty that this was yet another indication of a societal collateral damage from the austerity measures imposed on that state.
The details of the case are clear. Walid Taleb was summarily dismissed from his work as a baker because the owners son had returned from military service. When he asked for two months unpaid wages he was attacked, beaten, had €12,000 savings taken from him and taken to a barn where he was tortured.
The owner of the bakery is a former New Democracy councillor and mayor.
It’s the sense of a society that is tilting towards an utter degradation that is most obvious. And this isn’t an error or an accident in the broader sense. These are the results of a political discourse and economic system that has been deeply inflected by racism and fascism – and while I hesitate to suggest they’re the inevitable outcome of economic dynamics they seem like a likely outcome – and allowed to be. Most notable was the response of the state in relation to medics who dismissed Walid’s injuries and police who then detained him prior to attempting to deport him to Egypt.
What takes it beyond random racism is that response by the state. The point at which state structures degrade to the degree that a citizen, any citizen, whether a national or not, is unable to call upon them for assistance in the reasonable expectation that they will deliver safety and security is the point at which the integrity (in the broad sense) of the state is lost.
And yet the great and the good appear utterly oblivious to this. The IMF is pushing for the Greek government to fulfil its debt obligations by 2020. Some in the EU are looking to 2022.
All these figures appear utopian given that there is a consensus that they’re unsustainable.
Consider the following:
Luxembourg’s prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker said euro zone finance ministers want to push back the target for Greece to achieve a “sustainable” debt by two years to 2022 but IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said the fund remains attached to the existing 2020 target.
“We clearly have different views,” Ms Lagarde told reporters. “What matters at the end of the day is the sustainability of the Greek debt so that that country can get back on its feet and re-access the private market in due course,” she said.
It is when socio-economic goals are distorted to such an end, and are entirely oblivious to what is happening on the ground, that it is self-evident that all rationality has fled the scene.
“In Europe, decisions are always made when the knife is, so to speak, at our throats, when the abyss is near,” Belgian minister Steven Vanackere told reporters as the talks began last night.
Vanackere, to his credit, has at least some grasp of the Greek plight, but even he seems unaware that that abyss is already open wide.