The long predicted results of the German central bank (Deutsche Bundesbank) and European Central Bank/European System of Central Banks (ECB/ESCB) joint imposition of severe austerity measures on working people in Greece is now official and a harbinger of things to come here.
The Wall Street Journal (via Political Wire) of 12 18 2012 says that “The spread of economic hardship is fraying Greece’s social fabric and straining its political cohesion as the country enters the harshest winter of its three-year-old debt crisis…”Many families are sliding down the economic ladder that their parents and grandparents climbed, often making them reliant on those same retirees’ shrinking pensions. Already-poor families are slipping off the ladder, into the arms of overburdened charities. In a country of 11 million, only 3.7 million people have jobs, down from 4.6 million four years ago. Economic activity has shrunk by over 20% in that time.”
“The pressure on society is testing the country’s political stability. Crumbling establishment parties cling to office. Radical-left populists wait in the wings, promising to restore state largess. Violent neo-Nazis are boosting their political profiles by exploiting fear of immigrants, crime and social breakdown. Many Greeks worry that the current government coalition could collapse in 2013, leading to renewed political turmoil that could revive the specter of national bankruptcy and exit from the euro.”
As the crisis deepens the radical and revolutionary components of the left are growing in size and combativeness. “Yiannis Bournous is a leading activst in the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), Greek’s rapidly growing left party. Syriza came close to winning elections in June 2012 on the basis of rejecting the brutal austerity being enforced on the people of Greece. Instead, a coalition of three parties (Greece’s tradition conservative party New Democracy, its social-democratic rival PASOK and a right-wing split from Syriza, the Democratic Left) was formed, committed to greater austerity measures.”
After “The coalition government voted in favour of the so called Third Memorandum of Understanding for Greece. They imposed a new set of super austerity measures, which has brought the minimum wage in the private sector to below 500 euros per month. They’re destroying any capability of the existing welfare state and social services system in Greece to cover the basic needs of the citizens. That’s why we saw the emerging social mobilisations start heating up after September with the first general strikes. There is a strong willingness by an enlarging part of society to overthrow this super austerity policy.”
Syriza is growing and will have a “re-founding congress in late May or early June” which will also be a reorienting congress in preparation to take state power “Syriza almost tripled its membership since the elections, we are now exceeding 30,000 and moving towards 40,000 members. This is not very big, but it is very important. It is the biggest membership that a left party, to the left of social democracy, has had in Greece for the last 20 years… Since the elections in June, the Syriza membership has been in a constant state of a pre-electoral period. To us, this means being part of the movement for resistance and not only organising electoral campaigns. It was the social pressures that kicked out two governments and imposed elections.”
They also have to face the challenge of a rapidly growing Nazi movement, Golden Dawn (χρυσή αυγή) with ties to organized crime, the police and military special forces.
Much of this report is taken from the Australian Green Left Weekly and its sister publication Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal who maintain reporters in Europe and Greece