More on Greece… May 10, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, The Left.
Thanks to OireachtasRetort for linking to this post here from Paul Mason, Economics Editor at BBC Newsnight. What’s remarkable on reading this is how the economic actions of the the Troika have cut against the Articles of the Lisbon Treaty… that being Articles 3.1 and 3.3. These being the ones which refer to the promotion of peace and well being of its peoples, social progress and combating social exclusion. and promoting social justice and protection. These aren’t small things. These are right up there in the stated goals of the European Union. This is, if one likes, the raison d’être of the Union.
Does that sound like hyperbole? It shouldn’t. Last year an independent expert reporting to the UNHCR made the point that:
“The implementation of the second package of austerity measures and structural reforms, which includes a wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and assets, is likely to have a serious impact on basic social services and therefore the enjoyment of human rights by the Greek people, particularly the most vulnerable sectors of the population such as the poor, elderly, unemployed and persons with disabilities,”
Cephas Lumina who reported to the UNCHR also made the blindingly obvious point that:
“Debts can only be paid out of income,” Mr. Lumina said. “A shrinking economy cannot generate any revenue and contributes to a reduced capacity to repay the debt. More time should have been allowed for the restructuring measures already in place to work.”
Which makes it hard to understand how the Troika could seriously find credible the idea that their policies could function as they have proposed in the Greek context without massive social dislocation. And indeed massive social dislocation – to the extent that an avowedly fascistic party (none of your FN or former MSI nonsense about post-fascism for Golden Dawn) has managed to cull 10 per cent of the vote.
Mason is relatively calm about the prospects for further growth for Golden Dawn, arguing that it would take something close to complete social collapse for them to make any more gains, but in a Greece in the situation it is in, a situation that is in large (though not full) part, the result of Troika policies it is hard to be entirely certain as to where things go next.
And that too reflects back on the gulf between aspiration and reality. The gulf between the stated objectives of the EU and how it works in practice (and we’ve not even referenced how the institutions of the EU have effectively been sidelined by the national interests of the largest states in the Union – dressed up as concern for the EU). The gulf between the Troika proposals, as Mason notes, and the reality that economists do not believe they’re credible.
And Mason’s thoughts about technocratic governments leading to populist governments is well made. There’s no fix in that, not in the long term and as always there’s a collision ahead when institutional structures and non representative entities such as the Troika impact with democratic processes.
I agree entirely with his last comment about prolonged social conflict ahead, but let’s be fair. There’s prolonged social conflict behind us too. This financial crisis, both in Greece and here (albeit in a less pointed fashion) has been in train for three or four years now. And there’s surprise expressed (not by Mason obviously) when fascists reap this whirlwind? What will another five years do? What will another two or three do?