Bill Mitchell, “Don’t mention the war! er the Troika …,” Billyblog, February 26, 2015Bill Mitchell’s scathing assessment of recent events is rather difficult to disagree with, despite the brave face put on the agreement by many left-wing people. Yes, Greece may have “bought time” but, as Bill Mitchell says, if the Germans are unwilling to allow any substantive changes in economic policy in Greece now, why would they concede anything important four months from now?
I cannot resist adding my additional thoughts on this. James Galbraith’s essay defends Syriza here.
“There is no money in Greece; the government is bankrupt. Large-scale Keynesian policies were never on the table as they would necessarily imply exit – an expansionary policy in a new currency, with all the usual dangers.”If that was so, then shouldn’t Syriza have been honest with the Greek public? Should they not have said: “there is no way to deliver on substantive promises to end austerity in Greece unless the Greek public is willing to accept the short-term pain of withdrawing from the Eurozone.”
Galbraith also tells us that now there is a new “spirit and dignity in Athens.” Well, that sounds nice, but I suspect it will not last very long without real action. Critics see the obvious here: the current agreement appears to mean nothing but more “austerity with a human face” for the Greeks. What substantive measures can Greece take to end the misery? What has been agreed seems to mean a weak or feeble recovery at best and at worst means more destruction of Greek businesses and, even worse, more grotesque destruction of the fabric of society. More women robbed of human dignity and forced to prostitute themselves to survive or support their families.
If Syriza basically allows all this to continue, how long before voters desert the left in Greece and move to the socially conservative, but economically interventionist right, perhaps even the ugly right?
Frankly, it may be that this bizarre, utopian commitment to the Eurozone amongst the mainstream European left will be the undoing of Europe. When the extremely ugly, vicious right or far right start winning in the polls, the left will have only itself to blame for the bloody mess.