Η ελληνική οργή και η Γερμανία

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German media have reported extensively about anger against Germany in Greek society. Pictures were printed showing Angela Merkel in Nazis clothes on Greek posters and in newspapers. How do you see the feelings and views of Greek workers towards Germany?

 There is huge anger boiling inside Greek society. And I want to explain why: The policies of the Greek government and the Troika of the last 2 years have led to a cut of an average of 30% of all the workers, and there is more to come. These policies throw millions of people in unemployment and despair. Greek workers were never “living beyond their means”- according to official EuroStat figures, Greeks are working the longest hours and are paid less than almost all the European countries.

And all these sacrifices are not planned to help the public finances (which are constantly deteriorating), but to save the banks and the bondholders, Greek, German or other.

In this background, the German economic and political elite is seen to be pushing hard for this dead-end, anti-worker plan. This definitely creates feelings of indignation and rage against this elite. People see the successive life- ruining “Memorandums”, as inspired by the German government and banks. If you add insult to injury, with ironic or insulting statements by German or EU officials, you get the picture of why there is so much anger against German leaders.

Some lefts draw comparisons between today’s dominance of Greece by Germany and the occupation during the Second world war. Do you think this is justified? Are there parallels?

We have to go a bit back to answer that question. The EU was never about “solidarity” or “cooperation”, as the governments tried to portray it. It was planned to work as a vehicle for the stronger capitalist countries to dominate the poorer economies. In the first 10 years of the €, the Greek economy was plundered by foreign capital, leading to the control of up to 100% of the market in certain goods. This happened with privatizations of previously public owned companies (ex the taking over of the Greek telecommunication company by Deutche Telekom) or through domination with price dubbing policies. In other cases (such as Siemens), capitalists used corruption to clear the way and take most of the Greek state’s supply contracts. The Greek capitalists didn’t react because they gained the political backing of the EU in order to boost their profitability by slashing the wages and rights of Greek workers. And there were some “solidarity funds” to blur the real picture of what was happening.

The plundering is now viciously stepped up, with the Troika demanding privatizations of 46bn € in the next few years. At the same time, Troika, with their depressionary policies favor multinational companies, because being bigger and more resistant to liquidity shortage, they can lead all their competitors to closure. Finally, the shutting down of several public services, leaves an open market for private companies dealing for example with education or health services.

At the same time, the banks, the bondholders and the EU elite demand that economic policy-making is done by the Troika appointed technocrats and not by elected representatives of the Greek people.

So there is definitely an economic occupation, and a plundering of resources. This brings memories of a neo-colonial methods, or even memories of the Nazi- appointed administration during the occupation. It is clear that even basic democratic rights cannot be tolerated by the Troika, because their policies are so unpopular, and they fear the pressure from a desperate population.

Of course there are no mass killings of people in the squares, and people are free to discuss, organize and resist. In that way, the situation is of course very different from what was happening in the 40’s. There is also quite big local “collaboration gang”, the modern Quislings, the Greek capitalists, banks and political leaders. We should never forget that from these policies Greek banks are also “saved” (together with German, French, etc), and Greek capitalists benefit mostly out of the Memorandum measures.

Which political forces propagate anti-German feelings? How does the left deal with that?

 There is a trend towards nationalism, which is linked to the general anti-German mood. Interesting point is that this growing nationalism is put forward by the far right and neofascist parties, but also by a section of the left. In the movements and demonstrations of the recent period, the overall mood was an internationalist one, with an understanding of the need to have joint struggles in a European basis. But as the provocations by the European elite become more often, so do the feelings of “national indignation”, that the “Greeks” are being targeted. A part of the left has succumbed to this pressure, and characterize the fight as a “national liberation struggle”. This leads them to imply coalitions with parts of Greek capital, the “national” part.

The mass parties of the left do not have this kind of approach. Both KKE and SYRIZA speak about the dead-end of nationalism. But their internationalism is abstract, they do not come forward with demands that can unite the working people all over Europe, and do not try to organize a coordinated struggle in an all-European basis.

What do you think the German workers’ movement and the Left Party could do to show to Greek workers that not all Germans support the neo-colonial policy of Merkel?

 It is important to step up the effort to fight this nationalist moods in our respective countries. We can imagine a situation in the next years, when the crisis deepens and the tensions between the European states become sharper, that the ruling classes will whip up nationalism in order to cover their failure. This can happen both in Germany and Greece. If the workers and social movements are not sufficiently prepared for this perspective, we can see a nationalist mood popularizing. We have to avoid this danger, which can lead to a disorientation of the workers and youth.

I think that the trade unions and the Left Party in Germany can take initiatives for joint declarations between the workers of the two countries. There can also be discussions for coordinated demonstrations or even strike action. There is a growing need of explanation that Germany (or Greece) are not one thing.

In a recent poll, 80% of the population expressed negative feelings about Germany. This can change if the workers movement and the left take a clear class stand, advocating a union of the workers against the union of the bosses and politicians.

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