Crises and uncoverings

Note kindly translated by Anne-Marie de Grazia

Nobody can foresee the results of the referendum which will be held in Greece on July 5th. Greek voters are subjected to economic pressures as well as pressures from the medias without precedent in order to convince them to vote « Yes. » Examples are a-plenty, from the declarations of the hierarchs (Juncker, Schulz and others) to pressures exerted by Greek companies, not to mention of course the most important and the most significant, the one exerted by the European Central Bank which has cut access to the Target 2 account of Greek companies, preventing them from trading abroad. Greece is being strangled by depriving it of liquidities, and this at the very moment when the IMF is recognizing that the positions defended by the government of Alexis Tsipras are well founded. The extent of European interference is without equal; it constitutes an unheard of scandal and an immense denial of democracy. It throws a doubt on the honesty of the result should the “yes” come to win.

But this referendum has permitted, in the span of a few days, to undertake a major uncovering of the attitudes of the Eurogroup as well as of the European Union. This uncovering of the true nature of the European institutions is an important fact for all the people who live today under what must be called the heel of the EU. We must therefore make an assessment of what we have learned, both in the months following the election last January and, especially, in the days which followed the announcement of the referendum.

The position of the Eurogroup as well as of the European Commission or of the European Council towards the Greek government was by no means based upon an economic assessment, but was always founded on a political bias. Indeed, it was clear that the restructuration demands of the debt which have been relentlessly presented by the Greek Government since last February were well founded. Many economists wrote so. [1] Even the IMF has recently recognized this. [2] It is evident today that such a restructuration will have to take place, and the sooner the better. The multiple and repeated rejections of these proposals by the Eurogroup had as their sole objective to bring about either the capitulation of the Greek government or its resignation. The declaration of Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament confirms this [3]. So that it is well established by now that the European institutions had nothing else in mind than to obtain the departure of a democratically elected government. This tells a lot about the notion of “democracy” which is so much bandied about in Brussels and in Strasbourg. These « institutions » have waged a relentless war against the Greek government, hesitating before no manoeuvring in order to destabilize it. We got a confirmation of this with the odious methods which have been used against it since it has decided to resort to a referendum.

The Eurogroup, which is the instance piloting the Economic and Monetary Union called the « Eurozone,» has not hesitated to violate the tacit operating rules established for decades, from the time of « Common Market » to the one of the European Union. In deciding to hold a reunion from which the Greek Minister, M. Varoufakis, was excluded, the Eurogroup, and particularly its President M. Dijssenbloem, behaved not only in an illegal way, but also in a way which is contrary to the principles which are supposed to be respected between the different countries of the EU. Here, too, we are faced with an unheard of abuse of power. It is equal only to the decision of the European Central Bank to cut off the Target2 accounts (the electronic system of intra-zone transfers) of Greek companies, thus organizing an artificial penury of liquidities in Greece, a penury which weighs dramatically on the situation of the population and compromises the holding of the referendum. This is the first time in History that a Central Bank organizes a financial crisis within the zone for which it is responsible, not out of incompetence but with intent. Again, we are faced with an unheard of abuse of power. This abuse of power signifies in reality that, without saying so, the ECB has excluded Greece from the Eurozone. If such were not the case, the ECB should have continued to respect the Target2 accounts of companies. This means that the Eurogroup as well as the ECB do not respect Greek sovereignty. We are back to the situation of the 1960s when Leonid Brezhnev was affirming the doctrine of the « limited sovereignty » of the Eastern countries in regard to the Soviet Union. What the Eurogroup and the ECB have done is the financial equivalent of the Soviet intervention in Prague in August 1968. We are indeed confronted with a tyranny. We must measure carefully the consequences of this.

We can deduct from this that the Euro is not a currency, nor even an economic project, but that it is a mode of government aiming at imposing the rules of neo-liberalism against the opinion of the peoples. Such is the logical conclusion of the denials of democracy which we have described and which the Greek government, with much courage and discernment, allowed to uncover. Maintaining the Euro is not justified by economic arguments, but essentially by the political will of domination which is today incarnated by Germany, but which extends itself, never mind whether we call it « collaboration » or « Stockholm syndrome, » to the political leadership of Spain, France and Italy. From this point of view, the absence of a French policy, or more precisely the compassionate servility it demonstrates towards Germany on the question of Greece, is most instructive. One can only be indignant over the passivity of the French Minister of Finance, M. Michel Sapin when, on Saturday June 27th, M. Varoufakis was excluded from the reunion of the Eurogroup. But we must recognize that this passivity was in the logic of the French attitude from the beginning. Let us be reminded here that before his election, M. Alexis Tsipras had not been received by any members of the French government or of the “S” Party…

This set of behaviors signifies the end of any illusions concerning the possibility to implement « another Euro » or to « change the EU. » We must be very clear on this point. Many forces have entertained illusions about this point, be it in Greece, and this is one of the contradictions of Syriza, or in France, with the attitude of the French Communist Party and the Party of the Left. Any battle waged from inside the system is doomed to meet obstacles so formidable that one can doubt of its success. James Galbraith, after many another, has written that only a « no » vote at the referendum of July 5th could still save the Euro [4]. What is sure is that, paradoxically, the “yes” will accelerate the end of the Euro by bringing to light the true nature of the Eurozone. The veil of so-called economic “rationality” having now been torn and it being reduced to a mechanism of domination, the Euro is revealing itself in its most odious nature. [5] Wanting to « change » the Euro is today no longer a simple error; it becomes, in view of the action of the Eurozone towards Greece, a criminal stupidity. The various parties who have played around with this idea will have to clarify rapidly their positions on this question or take responsibility of being only the compassionate wing of the Europeist tyranny.

The strategic errors of Syriza are then weighing in heavily, even if the way in which negotiations were carried on is worthy of praise. It is necessary to take inspiration from the combat carried out but to not repeat its errors. Never having been clear on this question, the Greek government has been able to give to the financial coup d’état organized by Brussels only a woefully incomplete answer. From the moment when the closing of the Target2 accounts of Greek companies was recorded, it ought to have requisitioned the Central Bank of Greece in order for the country not to run out of liquidities, or emit certificates of payment (guaranteed by the Ministry of Finances). It will be retorted that this would have been interpreted by the Eurogroup as a final break-up. But the action of the ECB was itself the equivalent of such a break-up. It is not said and done today that the “yes” will win. But, should it win, it will have been because the Greek government did not want to go the end of his logic in fighting for democracy.

The lessons to be drawn from what is presently happening in Greece are extremely important, for France and the other countries. A government which would enter into conflict with the Eurogroup and with the EU knows now what to expect. The risks of destabilization of the society are immense when the financial weapons are used without restriction by the ECB. Facing these risks, at least in France, we have a procedure of exception foreseen in the Constitution: it’s article 16. The Greek precedent shows that financial pressures can impede the normal functioning of institutions. The executive power would then be entitled to use article 16 in order to govern by decree during a crisis period and answer tit-for-tat to actions coming from Brussels of Frankfurt.

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[1] See Stiglitz J, « Europe’s attack on Greek democracy », 29 June 2015, http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/greece-referendum-troika-eurozone-by-joseph-e–stiglitz-2015-06

[2] See The Guardian du 2 juillet, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/02/imf-greece-needs-extra-50bn-euros?CMP=share_btn_tw

[3] « A government of technocrats to bring an end to the Syriza era», declaration by Martin Schulz, 2 July 2015, http://fr.sputniknews.com/international/20150702/1016824871.html

[4] Galbraith J., « Greece: Only the ‘No’ Can Save the Euro », 1er juillet 2015, http://www.prospect.org/article/greece-only-no-can-save-euro

[5] Lordon F., La Malfaçon, Paris, Les Liens qui Libèrent, 2014

 


Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s'est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.

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