20th of June saw the London anti-Austerity protests as one of the largest London demonstrations in years, as people turned out to stand against Cameronn's austerity. This is not an isolated event - since this policy was implemented round Europe, the (politically aware) masses have been against it.. Indeed, a leftie such as myself would have envied the Greeks as the anti-Austerity 'Syriza' was voted in last January - perhaps not so much now, but why are we blaming Tsipras for the problems caused by previous governments? Greece has had two previous bailout packages since 2008, and the short term gain was inexplicably ill-thought.
As you will know, a war is looming between Syriza and the pro-austerity Eurozone - primarily the IMF and the EC - in what is described as the "Euro vs the Drachma", or perhaps more accurately, "right against left." Greece, despite a crowdfunding effort, failed to pay back the 1.6 billion required by the IMF, and instead, arranged a referendum - the Greek people will now vote YES to accept the bailout plan and more austerity, or NO for an uncertain yet liberating move away from the Euro.
What has Austerity done so far? Let's check it off:
Unemployment had already more than doubled within the first three years of austerity and reached 25.4 percent in August 2012.
Homelessness increased by 25 percent from 2009 to 2011.
Deterioration of public services, including healthcare.
Its imposition on Greece has not only been detrimental for the economy, but it represents an attack on the notion of democracy. Syriza was voted in for the precise reason to rid Greece of the strangling measures placed upon it - months after Tspiras was voted in, it seems European leaders are planning a very subtle coup. Tsipras is courageous for standing up to measures which promote inequality and strife, and refusing to be bullied into submission.
Surely the Greeks were spending the bailouts irresponsibly, no? No. One prominent economist wrote "...almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors - including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries' banking systems." (Stiglitz)
The Independent reported that 90% of the bailout went to these private banks....the Greek people are under no moral obligation to repay it through more years of pain. And we should also not convict the current government for the sins of its predecessor.
Interestingly enough, while the EU feels 'betrayed', we must pose the question - and while tangential, is still important - where is our money from the banks? Why have the so called 'wealth creators' failed to pay back hundreds of billions since the 2008 banking crisis? Can Greece not pull a 'Trump'?
Now, of course there is a case for the Greeks voting YES on the 5th - a transition to a Drachma would be messy and the Greek economy would remain unstable for an indefinite period. A YES vote would be beneficial to "Greece's wealthiest businesses...media owners, older conservative voters and young professionals who were educated abroad" (Guardian), which perhaps tells you all you need to know about the beneficiaries of austerity.
So, in a nutshell:
Voting YES for short term relief, but ultimately long term pain that will only accentuate the 21% shrinking of the Greek economy over the past five years.
Vote NO for an uncertain future that requires significant rebuilding, but ultimately represents a stand against the Hawkish claws of the IMF.
This is essentially an EU referendum on a larger scale - we can only hope our own one is not sabotaged and smeared like the Greeks.