Krugman, Stiglitz, even Habermas, all brilliant minds of our time have by now repeatedly brought into question the reasons behind the reckless and senseless measures with which the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), together better known as the Troika, have repeatedly tried to burden an already much deprived Greek people. It is no secret that bailout and 'adjustment' programmes implemented in 2010 and 2012 failed, as the deluded and unrealistic IMF predictions for Greece's economic growth failed too. Now, regardless of the Troika's inability or refusal to accept their blame in this very dangerous economic game, one thing is for sure, what they are doing to Greece goes against everything the European Union originally stood for.
Independently of whether you are extreme left, extreme right, extreme centre (and yes, there is such a thing as extreme centre) or a moderate of any kind, you will have to agree that what is unfolding before our eyes today is a struggle for the future not only of the European ideal, but also of neoliberal capitalism, of the sort proposed by Hayek, Friedman and the Mount Pelerin Society. Somehow, along the way, both outlooks of the world have got mixed up, to the point that the EU is today nothing more than a flag bearer of those neoliberal policies. What Tsipras, Varoufakis and company are in fact doing is nothing short of lighting the first rod in a long struggle between those who believe in a fairer world and those who just want to keep their coffers full of money.
When Syriza were elected to power by the Greek people a few months ago on the back of an anti-austerity campaign, they committed to do something that nobody in Europe had tried to do before. They committed to challenge the unfair status quo in which a few nations within the already decrepit and decadent institution of the European Union have taken it upon themselves to decide the future of European citizens well beyond their own national boundaries, not hesitating in driving them into poverty and indebtedness and overriding their democratically elected governments when they did not serve the interests of the Euro elite.
Of course, all those promises from the 1990s about a wealthy and affluent Europe sharing a single currency are nothing but hollow memories now. Not only have European technocrats colluded consistently with intrinsically morally dubious institutions such as the IMF, but they have also got into the business of toppling governments when they refuse to implement their money-saving demands. For all the good things the EU has brought to certain corners of Europe, their interference in the internal affairs of countries like Greece and Italy, where they effectively brought down two democratically elected governments in 2011, reveals their essentially anti-democratic ethos.
Taking the risk of falling to Godwin's Law, it would not be far fetched to suggest that Adolf Hitler's dream of European domination has been realised in this Europe, not through thickheaded wars of conquest, but through the politics of neoliberal capitalism - all too often thanks to the complicity of the media. Yes, the shots today are called mostly from Brussels and not from Berlin, but if you re-examine many of the ideals behind the foundations of Nazi Germany, it is not difficult to conclude that in quite a few ways they find expression today in the diplomatic imperialism being exercised from Brussels and Frankfurt. This Europe is not for everybody, but for a few selected ones.
Playing an endless blame game, in which they go to great lengths to convince the rest of EU citizens that they are paying for what their Greek neighbours wasted away, is a trick that seems to work quite effectively. The only thing this lack of honesty shows is that in reality, these EU technocrats do not care about scaremongering and lying to their own people as long as their masters and their interests are served. And if the EU is not capable of caring for their own citizens, how can we expect that they will care about those waves of migrants arriving from Africa and Asia in the shores of those same Mediterranean nations they refuse to support?
Beyond the obvious trampling of millions of their own citizens, then, the EU in connivance with the IMF, has refused time and again to even listen to what the Greek people have had to say. Perhaps they are, to use George Bush's words, carrying out a pre-emptive attack on a government that, although democratically elected, does not bend on its knees when told to. Obviously, they have had a look at Spain and the emergence of Podemos and have concluded that making concessions to Syriza may look like a defeat for the Troika, encouraging the Spanish people to follow the example of their Greek counterparts.
Regardless, what is very clear from the actions of the European Union and the IMF over the past weeks and months is that they cannot allow Syriza to come out on top, and the reasons for that may go well beyond their apprehension at facing some financial losses. What is at stake here is an economic model that has been enthusiastically embraced by multi-national corporations and financial speculators because it has allowed them to make money; lots of money. There's no other way of putting it. With those profits, the gap between the rich and the poor has broadened, and social problems have begun to grow to levels that cannot be ignored any longer.
Instead of confronting reality, the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, and all those speculators that hide behind the euphemism that they call "the markets", have decided to redouble their efforts to crush any sort of deviance or dissent to their prescriptions. Thus, their refusal to make any concessions to a left-wing government, and thus, their constant attempts to link Podemos in Spain with the governments of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Indeed, these governments have been discredited on the basis of their admittedly poor human rights records, but they are nothing compared to some of the allies of the EU and the IMF, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to name but a couple.
I don't see any way in which Syriza may make it out of the current negotiations with a deal, and I have to confess that I would weep if they did, because that would almost certainly mean a capitulation to the unfair and unjust world that is being forced down their throats and which their fellow Greeks overwhelmingly rejected in recent elections. More to the point, I would weep because it would mean that they would have lost the battle. Remaining in the Euro, even remaining in the EU, are both part of that almost certain defeat, because contrary to what we are constantly led to believe, the EU is not their friend but their enemy. Leaving may be harsh in the short term, but it would allow Greece to implement a series of reforms that would not continue the current social erosion, and that, among other things, would keep their pharmacies and hospitals away from the hands of multinational corporations that are waiting in the wings ready to transform the country into a land of Boots and CVS.
Whether Syriza wins or loses the battle, the good news is that there has been a battle in the first place. The war against this sort of neoliberal capitalism that cares not about people but money is full on now. Maybe those who oppose injustice will lose a few battles more down the road, maybe Podemos are next, but eventually those very unfair and unjust measures that continue to force people into migrating north or committing suicide will catch up with them. They can run all they want and accumulate all they can, but the hour of reckoning is not far anymore.
As for the EU, there's little else to say. They have gone from promising the earth and the heavens to their citizens, to becoming the executioners of the IMF and their own bankers. Pity they cannot see that by carrying out like this, they are not just destroying Greece but also the very foundations of their precious and profitable political and economic unity. For them, too, the hour of reckoning is nigh.