The European Union has exposed its essential class nature in its attitude to the Greek people. After months of arm-twisting, bullying and blackmail it has imposed even more draconian austerity on the working people of Greece.
The stance taken by the Irish government was only to be expected, as it long ago surrendered all pretence of defending Irish national and political sovereignty and the interests of our people. They have accepted their role as gatekeepers and willing collaborators in defending the interests of the EU above those of the people. They never fought for the interests of the Irish people, so why would one expect them to champion the interests of the Greek people regarding debt and austerity?
Developments within the European Union confirm the stand taken by the Communist Party of Ireland over many decades regarding the various treaties, the EU’s essential class nature and whose interests it serves.
The humiliation of the Greek people is designed to send a very clear message to workers throughout Europe: that criticism or alternative economic and social policies will be defeated. This is for the purpose of reinforcing the mantra of “TINA”: that there is no alternative to the dominant interests of the monopolies and big business. It is clear that no matter who working people vote for, or how many referendums they have, there is only one economic, political and social policy allowed within the European Union.
The CPI has consistently challenged the illusions deliberately nurtured and fostered by both the EU and its supporters among the Irish economic and political establishment, also including elements within the trade union leadership, all the main political parties, and, unfortunately, sections of the political left.
The reformist illusions of SYRIZA have come unstuck on the nature of the European Union and the real, existing class interests at the heart of the EU. Equally—as we have consistently pointed out—debt was and is being used as the main weapon against the people, creating the pretext for a massive assault on workers’ rights and conditions, not only here in Ireland but throughout Europe, to justify a massive transfer of public wealth to both domestic and global monopolies, resulting from the privatisation of public companies and assets.
The dominant elements within SYRIZA have accepted plans for a high level of domestic economic supervision by the bail-out monitors of the Troika, including the IMF, as well as an “overhaul” of public administration supervised by the EU Commission.
It is clear even at this early stage that the SYRIZA government has surrendered many of its “red-line” demands and agreed to accept draconian measures in a renewed assault on workers, including attacks on pensions and an increase in VAT by Wednesday 15 July, as a precondition for starting negotiations over a third bail-out package—yet to be defined or agreed—that may total between €82 and €86 billion over three years. And another “red line” has been crossed: contrary to Greek demands, the IMF will be involved in the third bail-out.
In addition, Greece will have to transfer more than €50 billion in public assets to a “trust fund” before they are privatised, including the national electricity service, ports and harbours, and many other vital public assets.
SYRIZA has also agreed to even more ambitious market “reforms,” abandoning its pledge to reverse previous attacks on workers’ rights or what the establishment calls “labour market reforms,” notably on collective bargaining. This is the culmination of the disarming of the working class.
Half the proceeds of the sale of public companies (€25 billion) will be used for recapitalising banks, and a quarter each (€12½ billion) will go to debt repayments and investment; in other words, the people’s wealth is to be squandered in the interests of the rich and powerful.
Reformist parties such as SYRIZA, the SPD in Germany, the British Labour Party, the French, Spanish and Portuguese “Socialist Parties,” the Irish Labour Party and other such political formations throughout Europe have facilitated this continuing assault on workers, siding with their own ruling class, in alliance with the EU, against workers. These reformist parties are the conduit for securing the interests of those same dominant economic and political forces within the workers’ movement. These political groupings have increasingly become essential mechanisms of control over workers and their organisations.
We express our solidarity with the Greek working class and with the Communist Party of Greece, who we are sure will mobilise the class-conscious workers of Greece to resist these new chains of slavery and exploitation. It is the duty of Irish workers—and all workers—to show solidarity and find common cause in the struggle against these renewed attacks on Greek workers, which will soon come to all the workers of Europe.
Many on the left, both in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe, continue to sow the illusion that there is somehow a “pain-free” way out of the crisis, that the straitjacket of the euro and continued membership of the EU itself provide the best or even the only way to prevent the further suffering of the people. In reality the EU is doing precisely what it was designed to do: to protect the interests of European big business and monopolies.
There is clearly a need for an open and honest dialogue among those forces that claim to hold the interests of workers as central to their political ideas and goals. Central to that dialogue is genuine debate about the nature of the European Union.
National democracy and sovereignty are not optional extras but are vital necessities in creating the conditions for radical transformative economic, political and social strategy, a strategy that puts the people first. A strategy that strengthens the power of labour and weakens the power of capital.