Global Independent Analytics
Van Gelis
Van Gelis

Location: Greece

Specialization: Middle East

Why BREXIT? A Message from Troika Occupied Greece

The EU's regime of open borders in capital and goods has meant produce from around the world flooded Greek markets, destroying all indigenous production to the point of making it extinct.

“It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it”.
-An American General after the destruction of the Vietnamese Village Ben Tre

After arriving six years ago in May 2010, the Troika (IMF,EU, ECB) took full control of the Greek economy to allegedly save the country from bankruptcy, but in reality bankrupted the people, by saving the Eurozone.  After the US's fake 'War on Terror' which launched global interventions in Afghanistan and the Arab world, the explosion of the Greek crisis and the ensuing foreign economic supervision was required to save the Greek economy by destroying it.

If there ever was an argument why Brexit is necessary it can be found in the experience of Greece. A small tourist-based agricultural economy, on the periphery of Europe, Greece joined the then EEC (without any electoral mandate) in 1981 under the guise that it would become industrialised as its Northern European neighbours. Instead, it became a fully fledged EU protectorate whose whole economy is micromanaged from Brussels. Basic parliamentary democracy no longer exists and laws pertaining to the country’s debt are set in London which contravenes the national sovereignty of Greece and its constitution.

In the longest recession in peacetime’s history of any semi-developed state now going into its 7th year, there has been no let up in austerity and cuts. Without actually being in a real war, over 30k Greeks have so far committed suicide, deaths since 2011 now overtake births, schoolchildren faint in schools from malnutrition, and over 40% of all hospital facilities have been cut. Thousands are homeless and the only real booming industries are gold sales to money launderers, soup kitchens, alongside burglaries with a massive increase both in domestic and imported prostitution. Despite voting in a new government in 2015, all its modest proposals of ensuring the unemployed had some form of income with housing benefit never ever arrived. At present, according to Eurostat statistics, 22.6% of the Greek population is below the official poverty line, the largest percentage in any Eurozone state, whilst 600,000 children are below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. [1] No global UN celebrities or Greek MPs have visited any of the above. Real poverty doesn't sell.

In the realms of trade union rights everything has been ripped apart, from the right to strike (return of 1970's Junta laws banning strikes in metros, teachers, seafarers etc.), rights to compensation due to being fired, the gutting of all work-based pension schemes and actual pension payments, and the mass arrival of four hourly part time contracts with differentiated rates of pay depending on age. The minimum wage has been reduced by 30% to around 500 euro for those under 25, and most bosses, to avoid national insurance contributions, pay around a third of that under the table. A Syriza MP Mihelogiannakis said that real unemployment is probably around 40% and not the official 25%, as many leave once their unemployment pay is over (paid for only 6 months) since there is no point in having an unemployed status. [2]

Banks - used to be 13, are now down to 4 systemic ones, and are linked directly to the ECB.  There’s no more an agricultural bank and there is 300 billion euro in bank bailouts. This is the EU's proposal in resolving the crisis, centralising money in fewer and fewer institutions and introducing capital controls in an alleged single currency with now negative interest rates in Brussels but 2% interest in the most economically devastated economy of the EU. Loans and mortgages are now a dream of the past and economic activity is so dire, that bartering has returned in certain parts of the economy as has a non-payment crisis for many workers. 400,000 loans are in the red and the Troika on behalf of the banksters has been pushing for mass repossessions. It’s just that negative equity is is so bad with prices having dropped as much as 60% that banks don’t want the properties to be placed in auctions as this would drop values even further...[3]

Under terms of successive bailouts (which are just a logistical accounting tricks to keep on piling debt upon debt to keep interest flowing indefinitely to parasitic hedge funds), the economy is under permanent siege. The EU's regime of open borders in capital and goods has meant produce from around the world flooded Greek markets, destroying all indigenous production to the point of making it extinct. The logic of EU policies is such that a regime of percentages in agricultural produce has meant that whilst Greece for instance had salt factories, they were bought out by Poland, and now Greece imports salt at a higher price. Enforcing budget surpluses as a percentage of GDP is absurd with the Troika demanding a 3.5% budget surplus for 2018 when unemployment continues indefinitely and austerity is built in to all budgets.

The EU is only about merging Big Business, gutting all workers’ rights  and globalising labour forces so they have no history or tradition. It’s about offshoring, outsourcing and inshoring. Labour is now just an appendage of capital. Mass emigration took place out the region of at least 600,000 in the last six years - which is equivalent to around 15% of the working age population. [4] This is obviously countered by the mass importation of labour both from outside the EU as from within the EU. It’s essentially a game of musical chairs where unemployed workers move from one country to another in a permanent race to the bottom. Since the Soviet Union collapsed Greece has received 2-3million workers, nearly enough to 75% of its total labour force, in almost every sector: agriculture, industry and services. Such vast numbers of surplus labour in a shrinking economy which has seen a 25% collapse in GDP ensures there is no possibility of any effective union action as bosses have an endless surplus of labour to choose from and as the tax base constantly shrinks so do taxes constantly go up in a never ending cycle.  Less tax is actually raised in taxes with every new bailout. When there are over 1 trillion euro in private and public debt, it is impossible to kick start basic economic activity, or to push for Special Economic Zones in areas where migrants have been dumped i.e. over 30,000 in Macedonia-Thrace (which happens to have a pre-existing Muslim population!) [5]

Due to the excessive taxation, around 60,000 businesses have re-registered in Bulgaria, and a newspaper in that country published a big welcome for providing so much work! So ridiculous is the EU that it has no minimum standards either in pay, health, safety, taxation etc. and modern business is just about using disparities in the EU to their corporate advantage, nothing more. [6]

Since the Troika arrived in Greece no single group of workers or any social group has achieved any gains whatsoever, nor has it managed to stabilise any. All the union led strikes have been more about sustaining the union leaderships in their parasitic existence (they get pensioned off after two terms) and they have been saved by successive governments using a twin track approach (riot police attacks and banning of strikes). Having been directly in control the Troika has revealed the actual full neoliberal nature of the EU in a period of capitalist decline. It will stop at nothing to eradicate basic democratic rights at the workplace.

When Greeks occupied their squares in the spring-summer of 2011, the riot police repeatedly baton charged them and dropped so much teargas in the whole of central Athens that one could smell it for days. Dispersal of all legitimate protests by riot police using mobile tear gas charges, stun grenades and baton charges has been the norm under the Troika. [7]

All the arguments in Greece by the governments in power have been to compare the country with Bulgaria and to argue that Greeks are still better off. Gone are the days of talking about Swedish style standards of living (like they did during the 1980s). Returning to recovery is such a joke that it has been repeated so often that one loses count, yet no recovery has occurred or will ever occur insofar as the Troika is in charge irrespective which government comes to power under whatever label  it provides for itself (socialist-PASOK, centre right-New Democracy, or left-Syriza).

The economy requires a general overhaul by defaulting on the alleged debts (Greeks have paid more than three times the original debt in interest payments alone),  introducing a regime of less work but work for all to ensure the unemployed aren't left to rot, and breaking away from the Eurozone and the EU by defaulting on all debts. Without that as a start there can be no national programme of recovery nor can the power of big business be curtailed till it is overthrown. It will only get stronger and stronger until the race to the bottom is enshrined in all EU laws, all voting is abolished and any resistance is met by military, not police force. Let’s not forget the Greek OXI Referendum had all the previous PMs, the leaders of the Greek TUC, Brussels’ politicians, Greek celebrities etc. pushing for a YES vote, which the population instinctively understood as being a class vote and in less than a week 62% went against the EU. The future is already present in Greece. Brexit can offer hope in derailing the EU juggernaut, setting a precedent as ignoring a possible Leave vote,  by a big European power, may prove to be a step to far.

 

Endnotes

1. UNICEF figures: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/05/23/unicef-600000-children-below-poverty-line-in-greece/

2. Skai TV 11am 7th April

3. Neoliberal Pensions in era of EU: https://gianalytics.org/408-troika-s-war-on-housing-greek-homelessness-goes-mainstream

4.ELSTAT Greek statistic service 600k Greeks have emigrated: http://odosdrachmis.blogspot.gr/2016/04/600000-6_18.html?spref=fb

5. 'Kontra' newspaper p.4, 19th April, 2016

6. 60,000 Greek businesses relocate to Bulgaria: http://eu.greekreporter.com/2015/12/23/60000-greek-firms-relocate-to-bulgaria/

7.  How the IMF broke Greece Eyewitness Reports: https://www.createspace.com/3700466

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