Today the Greek government faced a major deadline: they must implement a further 89 austerity-based policies or risk missing out on the next €30 billion bailout package. Required because of the market's distrust and enforced by the Troika, it is not hard to see why the Greek people are protesting so violently against these measures. Recently released figures show that unemployment reached over 25% in July, with youth unemployment hitting an eye-watering 54%; this gives some idea of the situation on the ground in Athens. It certainly helps to explain the hostility Angela Merkel met with last week during her search for a 'Thatcher moment' in Athens.
Whilst this €30 billion could be one of the biggest bailouts to date, it is almost irrelevant when compared with some forecasts. One from the Centre for European Policy Studies estimates that Italy and Spain alone will need €670 billion over 2013-2014. There is even talk of introducing a separate eurozone fiscal budget as an attempt to quell the emergency.
Blighted by this crisis of confidence, Europe is mid-way through yet another round of incomplete, and borderline incoherent, austerity measures. The combination of these throes for survival and the huge socio-economic disparity between its members has caused the eurozone to forget its reason for being; it is in danger of enacting the very attitudes of authoritarianism it was created to curb.
Formed out of a European continent that had seen a century marred by distrust and infighting, the EU, and its precursor, was intended to encourage stability, democracy and above all peace - indeed it has been a bulwark against internal communism and, more generally, totalitarianism. Last week's awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU was an attempt at acknowledging this. However in November 2011, at the behest of the German and French leadership, Lucas Papademos was made prime minister of Greece, whilst Mario Monti became prime minister of Italy.
In both cases the clear wishes of the respective peoples were overruled and their leadership supplanted with very capable, but nonetheless unelected, technocratic savants. 71 million western Europeans have been disenfranchised in the name of the greater good, and Spain could be next.
In our increasingly inter-reliant globalised world a country's actions have far greater effects upon their partners welfare, so these partners must have some right of redress; the key is in finding the balance. Currently, the Franco-German austerity cant is lacerating the Greek people in an attempt to address an insurmountable public debt. Greece has put herself into this situation, in doing so has made northern Europe a prisoner of circumstance and will, if she secedes from the euro, cause significant damage to the world economy. However this does not mean that the Greek people have surrendered their sovereignty. Now in danger of descending into a form of Hobbesian state, Greece has a poor recent history in these matters; it is often forgotten that as late as 1974, whilst still a member of Nato, she was under the control of a military junta. Either self-determination is a universal human right or liberty has a monetary price for which cost it can be suspended - I would strongly suggest the former, and the reading of Thomas Paine will incline any particularly intransigent readers.
Whilst those harmed by Greece's actions must have some channel of recompense, by refusing to accept a denizen's right to determine their own governance the European community are engaging in a form of authoritarian economic imperialism. However inconvenient for the international bond market, however inconvenient for the global economy, we have no right to usurp the democratic liberties of the Greek, Italian, or Spanish peoples.
Follow Liam Atkinson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/liamjatkinson