From all the countries of Europe, Greece is probably the most unstable. And it’s a kind of instability that brings hope to workers and their allies. There are strikes and demonstration, again and again. Workers are protesting aginst severe austerity policies, imposed by the Greek goverment, at the behest of Greek and international capital (1).
For instance, yesterday: a big strike in public services. Schools, air traffic, other services wer brought to a halt for the day. BBC has a report. Bu there was more action than this public sector action. Libcom.com mentions strikes held by an Communist Party-affiliated union in parts of the private sector. There has also been strike action held by autonomous unions. building workers, telecom workers and lift elevator employees were involved in both these strike initiatives.
The austerity policies imposed by the government are quite draconic. A wage freeze for public employees, a higher age of retirement, higher taxes on gasoline, alcohol and tobacco. Only one in 5 civil servants who leaves will be replaced. All this is supposedly necessary to bring public debt and the deficit – 12,7 per cent – under control, to fulfill demands made by the US, of which Greece is a member. High debts and deficits mean that tge Greek government has to pay high interest when borrowing money. There are doubts that the greek state will be able to pay the moneyback, doubts wicht make the financial wordl quite nervous.
But public debt and defiits are not made by the workers who are now ‘asked’ to pay for them. Even now, the government spends money on ridiculous, sometimes openly anti-social things. Libcom.org mentions examples: a new website forthe Forestry Department, for the price of 1,6 million euros. Bigger money: 6 warships, to be bougt in France, for the price of 2,5 billion euros.
The money is clearly there. But the Greek government thinks that preparation for war is a priority, more important than keeping up workers’ living standard (no surprise there), and more important than controlling public spending. If they continue with their attacks on the working class, they may get their war sooner rather than later. But in that prticular war, even the biggest battleships will be of little use.
(1) An interesting piece on the Greek social and economic crisis can be readat Socialistworker.org: “Europan capitalism’s weak link?”, written by ntonis Davenellos, member of one of the Trotskyist organisations in Greece.