Summary: The Greek public debt made the headlines when the country’s leaders accepted the austerity measures demanded by the IMF and the European Union, sparking very significant social struggles throughout 2010. But where does this Greek debt come from? As regards the debt incurred by the private sector, the increase has been recent: the first surge came about with the integration of Greece into the eurozone in 2001. A second debt explosion was triggered in 2007 when financial aid granted to banks by the US Federal Reserve, European governments and the European Central Bank was recycled by bankers towards Greece and other countries like Spain and Portugal. As regards public debt, the increase stretches over a longer period. In addition to the debt inherited from the dictatorship of the colonels, borrowing since the 1990s has served to fill the void created in public finances by lower taxation on companies and high incomes. Furthermore, for decades, many loans have financed the purchasing of military equipment, mainly from France, Germany and the United States. And one must not forget the colossal debt incurred by the public authorities for the organization of the Olympic Games in 2004. The spiraling of public debt was further fueled by bribes from major transnationals to obtain contracts, Siemens being an emblematic example.
Tomorrow, the people of Greece will take to the streets again to occupy Syntagma Square in protest of the extreme austerity measures being imposed on the backs of the Greek 99% to the joy and benefit of the European financial elite. The 99% everywhere are under assault by the same global banking interests. Greece is merely the most severe economic crisis yet to be imposed by the International Monetary Fund and other agents of the 1% in the Global North. People all over the world live under the tyranny of policies dictated by the IMF, the World Bank, and the G8. As demonstrated by the wholesale slashing of social services in the name of “debt reduction,” New York City and the United States are not immune.
Yesterday was a defeat of bourgeois democracy in many ways. We will not dwell on the fact that a government has appointed a banker for a prime minister without him being elected by the people. Nor that the party who appointed him prime minister has already lost its parliamentary majority and still governs.
But I can not close the eyes to the fact that from the beginning of the pandemic protest last May, yesterday, the people chose as their protectors, not those who are paid to legally protect the people, but the anarchists. Neither am I surprised when I see and read that what was left from yesterday’s grand gathering of the crowd are the ashes of buildings and banks.