First, there was the credit crunch, and governments around the world stepped in to bail out the banks. The sequel to that debacle is the sovereign debt crisis, which has hit the eurozone hard. The hour has come to pay the piper, and ordinary citizens across Europe are growing to realize that socialism for the wealthy means punching a few new holes in their already-tightened belts.
Building on his work as a leading member of the renowned Research on Money and Finance group, Costas Lapavitsas argues that European austerity is counterproductive. Cutbacks in public spending will mean a longer, deeper recession, worsen the burden of debt, further imperil banks, and may soon spell the end of monetary union itself.
Crisis in the Eurozone charts a cautious path between political economy and radical economics to envisage a restructuring reliant on the forces of organized labour and civil society. The clear-headed rationalism at the heart of this book conveys a controversial message, unwelcome in many quarters but soon to be echoed across the continent: impoverished states have to quit the euro and cut their losses or worse hardship will ensue.
In July, in the wake of the ‘No’ vote in Greece’s referendum, the philosopher Alain Badiou expressed his hope that a new sequence was opening up. A few hours after Alexis Tsipras’s resignation, he bemoaned the Greek prime minister and his advisors missing this ‘unique’ political opportunity.
Translated by David Broder
1 We thought that we were right in thinking that the guiding principle of Syriza, winner of the Greek elections, was a vigorous ‘No’ to austerity. As such, we thought that it would categorically refuse all the anti-social, regressive conditions – attacking the most basic principles of the aspiration to equality and a tolerable life for the people – which the various financial authorities and their European cover made the condition of their loans. Many people furthermore rejoiced in the possibility of a new political orientation finally emerging in Europe, one absolutely different from the reactionary consensus in which all states have kept their respective public opinion for thirty years, whether out of consent or by force.
It is very widely believed that the establishment of universal suffrage marks the final outcome ofthe democratic process: any backward step would be impossible. Yet viewed at a worldwide level, the conquest of the right to vote has been far from linear in its progress: having suffered frequent retreats, attempts to shape our collective destiny have required ever more vigorous popular mobilisations.
Democracy is in crisis. A recent illustration of this is the gap between the Thessaloniki programme – on which basis Syriza won January’s parliamentary elections in Greece – and the cascade of concessions that the European Union has forced upon the resulting government. ‘It’s the logic of 70-30’, the European Economics Commissioner Mr. Pierre Moscovici earnestly explains. ‘70% of the measures [that Brussels wants] are non-negotiable, whereas 30% can be changed’. In the hierarchy of the political values of our time, popular sovereignty cuts a very pale figure indeed.
Early this morning, the Greek parliament voted to approve the latest agreement with its creditors. But the deal was also met with the strongest resistance yet from within Syriza, which according to Stathis Kouvelakis is "disintegrating at record speed". The following statements shed light on the most recent moves by those organising to give voice to the "Oxi" vote.
Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou and ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis have criticised the deal (BBC)