David Cameron and Kenneth Clarke yesterday (21 May) tried to blackmail the people of Greece. Along with other European politicians, they have threatened the Greeks with all sorts of dire consequences if they elect a left-wing government.
Clarke said the Greeks should not elect “a hopeless lot of cranky extremists”. This is presumably a reference to parties such as Syriza, the Radical Left Coalition, who are leading in the polls ahead of Greece's election re-run on 17 June. Cameron demanded that Greece “meet their commitments” by implementing austerity measures in return for handouts from the Eurozone.
These “commitments” have not been made by the Greek people. They have been made by Greek politicians in the parties now being punished by voters: the right-wing New Democracy party and Pasok, the “Socialist” Party. The measures these politicians cravenly accepted include cuts to the minimum wage and massive privatisation, contributing to a rapid growth in extreme poverty in Greece.
What's happening in Greece is only the most extreme example of what's happening all over Europe. The rich have gambled with the wealth of others, been bailed out, and everyone else has to pay for it. The idea that unemployed people and minimum-wage workers in Greece are responsible for the country's problems is as ludicrous as the argument that they have a moral obligation to pay for them.
It is largely assumed by commentators and the media that if Greece refuse to “meet their commitments”, they will have to pull out of the Euro and there will be economic disaster. Thankfully, progressive economists are pointing out that the Greek people may be better off in the long run if they repudiate this unjust debt, citing the example of Argentina in 2001. If it's managed relatively well, then they may even have some hope of being better off in the short term.
Whether or not this prediction is accurate, there is still a good reason for Greece to refuse the bailout package. Merkel and Cameron are seeking to bribe, bully and blackmail the Greeks into voting in parties that will betray them into the hands of bankers. Merkel and Cameron tell the Greeks that they have to face extreme pain – and then promise to alleviate the pain slightly if they do what they're told. This is not democracy.
The bailouts offered to this unjustly indebted nation are nothing more than crumbs from the cake of the capitalists who caused the financial crisis. Like millions of other working class and lower middle class people across Europe, I am fed up of this blackmail. We don't want the crumbs from the cake. We want the cake.
(c) Symon Hill is a Christian activist and writer, and associate director of Ekklesia. He is currently working on a book about grassroots activism.
For links to more of Symon's writing, please visit http://www.symonhill.wordpress.com .