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by Maurice Ulrich


Translated Saturday 8 May 2010, by Kristina Wischenkamper and reviewed by Kristina Wischenkamper

In this Europe of free competition it’s not the Greek soldier we’re saving but profit rates.

The Greek people are rising up. They are calling for solidarity. It’s a call to which our newspaper has replied, its front page present yesterday in the ranks of the protests. It’s the beginning of a great war, said one protestor yesterday, quoted by AFP. It’s the markets and the banks who declared this war. From now on it’s a question of resistance, and not only in Greece. Spain is causing ‘the markets to crash’ read the headline of the economic daily Les Échos. Not really. More like the markets are causing Spain and Portugal to crash. The haste of Nicolas Sarkozy and his government to push through their pensions’ reform is understandable. Discussion? Time to reflect? Let’s get on with it. The reform is on the drawing board. It’s what the markets have been waiting for. The powers that be are eager to hand over to them one of the pillars of our social model.

There are those who call for political unity in Europe right now, without which, they say, there will be no salvation. But to carry out which policies? What’s come to the fore, today is the extreme noxiousness of a liberal Europe for its people. In the race for free and undistorted competition the poorest countries could only keep up with the richest by social dumping. The richest countries could only compete by playing on the same field. The message Europe is giving to Greece today – the same one it will give to Spain and Portugal tomorrow – is that the only way to keep in with a liberal Europe is to shatter salaries, pensions, and public services. But who really believes that tomorrow, or after tomorrow, our very own public services, pensions and salaries will be able resist?

Christine Lagarde promises ‘vigilance’ as far as Greece is concerned. That’s what she told the floor of the Assembly. The very same Christine Lagarde who some months back brushed aside all consideration of public oversight of banks gorged on public money. One must not, was the gist of it, give them the impression that we don’t trust them. Oh come on! It’s high surveillance for the people. And free rein to the predators who benefitted from 1% interest rates so that they in turn could lend at rates as high as 18%. It wasn’t leniency. It wasn’t inconsequential either. It was a way of putting back into place huge levels of profit. It’s not the Greek soldier who is being saved. It’s profit rates.

What’s happening in Greece isn’t a fluke. Even as the media incriminate, and not without justification, the policies of Greek leaders, we must remember that they were aided and abetted by the very same players who now want to strip Greece of its hide and make a golden fleece. It’s only the first of the crises that this capitalist Europe has in store for us. And it’s precisely this Europe that we have to change. We want a Europe of cooperation, a different role for the ECB [1], and we want the ECB to lend to Greece at 1% interest. It’s what our petition calls for, a call that has been widely heard and one that must be amplified.

As Marx himself said: the free worker who goes to the free market to sell his hide ‘has to expect to get it tanned.’ The same is true for the people on liberal Europe’s great competitive market. Yes. Now is the time to start resisting, to start working towards another kind of Europe. Now is the time to call up the people.

[1European Central Bank

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