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.
Stathis Kouvelakis, Syriza central committee member and Professor of political philosophy at King’s College London, argues that the Greek crisis marks the end of the illusion of a democratic Europe. "There have been no negotiations", he says. "That term isn’t adequate for describing what has happened."
Why has the Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras finally called a referendum?
Even as Tsipras signed the latest set of Greek proposals, the European institutions remained determined to subject him to a genuine humiliation exercise, demanding that he go still further, beyond what he could handle politically: it had become clear that his own party, his parliamentary majority and even a growing part of society were not ready to accept any more concessions.
For Christian Salmon, announcing the referendum amounted to a declaration of independence from Tsipras, asserting democracy against the "zombie" of a financialised Europe that has lost all grip on reason. This article was originally published in Mediapart. Translated by David Broder.
By Christian Salmon, 30 June, Athens
Announcing on the night of 26-27 June that a referendum is going to be held, Tsipras has exploded the juridical and accounting framework that the leaders of the Eurozone wanted to shut him into. In submitting to the Greek citizens the measures that the lenders wanted (namely the European Commission, ECB, and IMF), he has put the sovereign people back into the negotiation. And brought out into the open the war that had previously been playing out behind the façade of negotiations.