It’s a story with which workers in the U.S.A. are very familiar. A right wing government allowed finance capital to run wild with unregulated speculative practices. Then comes the time to pay the piper, and the ruling class tries to force the workers, small farmers and ordinary people to bear the burden.
This is now happening in Greece. Past Greek governments failed to regulate the dangerous behavior of finance capital. Now the world financial crisis which started in the United States has hit Greece hard. The country is running a huge deficit and the national debt now exceeds the GDP. Greece’s European Union partners are worrying that the rot will spread.
The EU is trying to force Greece to deal with this problem by austerity measures. The wealthier European countries plus the IMF have joined in to apply the thumbscrews. Though the current Greek government, of the social democratic PASOK party, did not exactly create the present crisis, it is moving to yield to these pressures by laying off public sector workers, increasing regressive taxes, and raising the retirement age, among other measures that put the burden on the shoulders of Greek workers and farmers..
On Tuesday, trade unionists organized by the Greek Communist Party (KKE) blocked the entrance to the Athens Stock Exchange in protest. On Wednesday there was a 24 hour general strike organized by major unions, which tied up Greece’s important shipping industry. Farmers had already been blocking roads to protest against the austerity policies.
Similar things are happening all over Europe. The brag of the European Union was always that it had successfully integrated poorer countries (Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain) into a trade block with richer ones. Now each of those poorer countries is undergoing similar experiences to those Greece is suffering. Maybe the model was not so good after all?
We salute the KKE, Greek labor and the whole of the people of Greece for their stand against anti-worker policies. Their situation is not so different from that of the United States. U.S. workers are also hit by a massive economic crisis caused by finance capital and its political enablers, and are fighting back against efforts by the ruling class to make them shoulder the burden of a situation they did not create. Here, as in Greece, unity, solidarity and struggle are the answer.
Photo: KKE International