Note: this petition has been widely circulated and received a lot of support in Romanian. We publish here the English version.
For the last five years ordinary people from all across Europe have been paying for a crisis they didn’t create. For the last five years we have been paying for the irresponsible quest for profits of the financial system and for the failure of governments to control that system. From our money, the banks have been bailed out and the bankers have given each other outrageous bonuses. In the meantime, wages and pensions dropped dramatically, unemployment skyrocketed and the gap between the rich and the poor deepened even more. It has been claimed that austerity is the only possible solution to the crisis, despite a long and diverse range of economists emphasising that the way out of a crisis is through economic growth not budgetary cuts. Five years later, and the IMF itself came to their conclusion: austerity has failed, not only in social terms, but also from a strictly economic point of view – it didn’t reduce the budgetary deficits, but on the contrary!
Of all European countries, Greece has been going since 2010 through the most brutal austerity: unemployment reached 27%, pensions have been cut by up to 48%, wages decreased by 37% and poverty reached levels typical of a country in time of war. It has been claimed that the Greeks deserve all of these, because they are lazy and do not pay their taxes. However, Greece’s debt crisis was not caused by laziness, for according to OECD the Greeks work the highest amount of hours per year in Europe, nor by the small businesses that have not paid their taxes. The crisis was caused by the accumulation of the loans irresponsibly given by foreign banks to successive incompetent and corrupt Greek governments. The tax evasion of big companies and of the super rich only increased the country’s public deficit.
However, after five years of brutal austerity, the Greek people had the courage to elect in January 2015 a government that promised to oppose the consensus of austerity. Even so, SYRIZA did not prove to be as radical as the Troika feared. Over the last six months, the government led by Alexis Tsipras made several concessions in trying to reach a compromise with the Troika. Nevertheless, the Troika remained unshaken in its obsession for austerity and refused to make any major concession, despite the social crisis of the ordinary Greeks and the will expressed by them through democratic vote. Even the last offer made last week by Tsipras was rejected by the Troika, although it entailed the full payment of the debt but by shifting some part of the burden from the ordinary people to the rich, protected so far from any austerity measures. This rejection shows us that the international creditors are not concerned that much with recovering the debt as they are with maintaining an austerity policy that proved to be devastating for the majority of the Greeks. Thus, it has been confirmed once again that austerity is nothing more than the solution of the 1% to a crisis created by them, a solution more and more obviously meant to reinforce their economic and political domination.
At this stage, Greece is closer than ever to leaving the Euro zone, although not as much due to its own will as to the inflexibility of its creditors. For any further concession on the behalf of the SYRIZA government would mean the complete betrayal of the electoral promises that brought them to power and, at the same time, the disillusionment of millions of Europeans who hope that austerity can be defeated. Compared to this latter scenario, we believe that the Grexit is the preferable option, despite the initially difficult period that would follow. In that case, a series of progressive measures would be necessary in order to shift from austerity to economic recovery: the introduction of capital control in order to prevent the massive withdrawal of cash; the nationalisation of banking system and of the key sectors of the economy; the initiation of large scale public projects in a country with 27% unemployment, a substantial lack of housing and an old infrastructure; the cancellation of debts and the granting of interest free loans for small businesses. Grexit cannot be done in the same framework of neoliberal capitalism.
Hence, only a few days before a crucial referendum for both Greece and Europe, we, the signatories of the petition, express our solidarity with the SYRIZA government and the Greek people in their resistance against austerity. We express our support for a “No” vote in the referendum on July 5th and, furthermore, for a Grexit which is not only preferable to a fundamentally failed policy but can represent the opportunity for building a more just society. Their struggle is our struggle!