Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greece's quisling government

Last night, the Greek government voted for austerity. Meanwhile, outside, their citizens rioted in the streets in protest. And they're right to be pissed - the austerity vote effectively turns them into a colony, with economic policy set by outsiders. Rather than working for Greeks, their government has exposed themselves as a pack of quislings, willing tools for foreign bankers.

The Greek people now have no-one they can vote for. The ruling party, elected in 2008 after the first economic crisis, has betrayed them. The main opposition only objected to the austerity measures because it did not include tax cuts for the rich (which tells you what sorts of dicks they are). And when your entire political class exposes themselves as traitors, that doesn't leave much scope for peaceful politics anymore. As the BBC's Paul Mason puts it, what is burning is consent:

What Greece is being forced to do is threatening the legitimacy of a democratically elected government and putting at risk the legitimacy of the political system in general. And the question for the EU and IMF is simple: is it worth it?
And the answer is also very simple: no. Because the consequences are exceedingly unpleasant. But I suppose (as always) it comes down to distribution: those unpleasant consequences will be suffered by Greeks, not by foreign bankers. So the banks are quite happy to burn Greece's democracy and turn the country into a quisling dictatorship in order to get their money.

The problem for this plan is that it might not work. Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya showed that even dictatorships cannot stand against their people. Greece's new foreign masters may be about to learn the same lesson. But even then, it comes down to distribution again: it will be Greek politicians, rather than foreign bankers, getting strung up with piano wire. The bankers are protected by the angry mob simply by virtue of not being there, living somewhere else. And so they can visit misery and destruction upon the rest of us, safe from ever having to suffer the consequences themselves.

[More on European Tribune here]