Greek deal means more hardship for workers, more money for bankers

first_imgJuly 20 — The bailout deal signed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the European bankers has brought more hardship to the Greek workers, more money to the bankers and shows that electoral politics without vigorous class struggle is a dead end for the working class.Cutting pensions and raising sales taxes on items needed to survive so that bankers can be paid are a crime against the working class. Yet that has been agreed to by Tsipras and his new-found bourgeois allies: the center-right New Democracy party, the bourgeois social democrats in PASOK and the To Potami party. They made up the votes he needed in Parliament due to defections from the Syriza delegation.As the banks reopen on a limited basis, new taxes are being imposed on the masses. A value added tax, or sales tax, has now been placed on restaurants, taxis, other forms of transportation, some types of meat, milk, cooking oil and many other basic necessities. The sales taxes are severe, going from 13 percent to 23 percent — almost doubling this regressive form of taxation that falls heaviest on the workers, the poor and the elderly.These increases are being imposed on a basically impoverished population that is in the midst of a Great Depression. The Greek economy has shrunk by 25 percent; there is 26 percent overall unemployment and 50 percent youth unemployment. One-third of pensioners are in danger of falling into poverty.Over 2.5 million people — in a country of 11 million — have no health insurance. Some 800,000 people are estimated to lack unemployment insurance, which also carries medical insurance. Health care spending was 9.3 percent of the budget in 2012; it had already fallen to 5 percent under the existing banker-imposed austerity program, and will now decline further.It is no surprise there was a 35 percent increase in the suicide rate during the first two years of austerity. (Newsweek, July 15)Bankers repaid as cuts are enactedThe cruel farce of a so-called bailout for the Greek government was played out today as Brussels transferred 7.16 billion euros to Athens. This bailout payment had been allocated to the Greek government long ago and was held in a European Union fund euphemistically called the Emergency Financial Stability Mechanism.The bankers had refused to release the money until the Greek financial system was on its knees and the banks were closed down.The money was released after the Greek government, backed by the Parliament, put into place the sales tax increases and ratified pension reductions along with attacks on union rights that make it easier to fire workers. The Greek government also had to transfer 50 billion euro to a privatization fund. All these were called “confidence-building” measures. These cuts were a prior condition to beginning negotiations with the bankers on an additional 80 billion euro bailout going forward.Once the bankers were “confident” that the Greek government was implementing draconian austerity measures, Brussels sent the emergency funding.Where did the money go? It went to paying the European Central Bank 4.2 billion euro, the International Monetary Fund 2.05 billion euro and the National Bank of Greece 500 million euro. The relatively small amount left over was deposited in escrow to be available to London and other non-eurozone countries as security in case they suffer any future losses from the bailout process.Not one euro went to the Greek government for expenses to relieve the suffering of the Greek people.Debt relief scamTwo days before the deal was made in Brussels by the eurozone ministers and Tsipras, the IMF issued a report saying that while “reform” — read austerity cuts — was absolutely essential, Greece would need massive debt relief because the debt could not be paid. This was directed against the German bankers and their bloc of countries in the eurozone. In the end the final agreement said there would be “no haircuts” — no reduction in the debt principal.The IMF has threatened to refuse to participate in the bailout without debt relief for Greece, perhaps including a 30-year moratorium before the debt has to be paid. This may seem like a generous gesture, but it is entirely self-serving for the financiers.In the first place, the Greek government is insolvent and cannot pay the debt. So any debt payment will have to be financed by loans from the IMF, the European Central Bank or European bankers directly.With the Greek government indebted for over 300 billion euro and about to negotiate another 80 billion euro loan, the entire debt structure will become a danger to the bankers themselves.So a moratorium on debt payments is actually a moratorium on having to make more risky loans to Greece.Secondly, if the debt is unsustainable, that means default is on the agenda. Greece has already missed two loan payments to the IMF. But if a loan is in default, it has to be marked down on the books. It is no longer an asset and the amount of the write-down must be replaced by additional capital contributions by the bank. So a moratorium on debt payment turns the unpayable loans into “performing” loans that are deferred for a given period of time. This protects the balance sheets of the banks.What is ‘Europe’?The euro bankers and the Tsipras faction of Syriza tried to terrorize the masses into accepting the austerity deal with the threat of “leaving Europe.” Leaving the eurozone — that is, leaving the euro currency — was made equivalent to leaving Europe, meaning the European Union.But it should be remembered that the British ruling class refused to give up the pound when the common currency union was formed. So did Denmark and other countries. These countries are not in the eurozone. They are in the European Union while retaining their own currency and their financial sovereignty.When Britain and Denmark refused the euro, they were given an “opt out” option, even though every EU country is supposed to apply to become a member of the eurozone.So the Greek government would be following a precedent if it demanded an “opt out” of the euro, while retaining membership in the EU. This would mean that Greeks could continue to travel throughout Europe without having to apply for visas while retaining the common benefits of being in the EU.But even while that should be legally and politically possible, the ideological damage in promoting the idea of “Europe” without applying a Marxist, class approach is extremely dangerous and all too common.The EU is a group of capitalist states, ruled by exploiting and plundering ruling classes. Their motivation for sustaining “Europe,” that is, the EU, is to be able to compete economically with U.S. imperialism and Japan. The capitalist classes of Europe were willing to set up a structure by which Wall Street and Washington would face common tariff barriers, commercial rules and regulatory oversight.Also, by centralizing power in a Brussels-based bureaucracy, the European bankers could reverse gains the working class had won in countries where workers were organized in strong unions and workers’ parties, such as France and Italy.U.S. imperialism, on the other hand, wants a stable European capitalist structure to endure for a number of reasons. First, the corporations and bankers want a large uniform market where they can invest and conduct commerce across borders with a very large population. The European Union encompasses 508 million people; the eurozone covers 338 million of them.Second, they do not want political conflict to endanger the NATO alliance in any way. This is their bulwark for world domination, second only to the Pentagon itself. While the German imperialists hold economic sway over Europe, Washington wants to ensure its military sway over a unified NATO and European alliance.Opposed to these capitalist interests in Europe is the multinational European working class, exploited by the capitalist classes of Europe, the U.S. and Japan. The European working class is filled with immigrant workers who suffer severe oppression, which is getting worse.Europe, for the workers, should signify a continent-wide proletariat that must unite in common cause against the collective power of capitalist Europe, as well as show its international solidarity with the workers and the oppressed of the world. Some of these states are rich; some are poorer, like Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece. But they are all dominated by the exploiting classes, and must be fought as such.Parliamentary road alone leads to a dead endIf the latest Greek crisis and the capitulation to the bankers mean anything, it is that all electoral activity of the masses has to be subordinated to, and integrated with, the organized, militant class struggle.In the long run, elections under capitalism can, at best, only be a measure of the maturity of the working class, as Frederick Engels famously said. They  can provide an indicator of when the working class is ready to bid for power.But long before that point is reached, the obsession with elections as the fundamental lever in making gains for the working class must be abandoned. The latest experience of the betrayal of the Greek masses underscores this point.Greece held two elections in five months. The first was an election in January that Syriza won with 35 percent of the vote — as the party opposing austerity. The second was the July 5 referendum on austerity, in which 61 percent voted No.To accept the deal, the Tsipras faction used a vote in Parliament — an indirect vote — to overturn the direct vote of the masses that had firmly rejected austerity. Defying his own party, Tsipras really had no right to represent Syriza. The Political Secretariat of his party opposed the deal; the Central Committee of 201 voted it down with 109 votes against. (sputniknews.com, July 15) Some 33 Syriza MPs voted no, six abstained and three Syriza ministers resigned, including the speaker of the Parliament and a leader of the Left Platform.But Tsipras, knowing he could not sell this betrayal in his own party, made a deal ahead of time with the bourgeois parties to override the referendum.In Greece, as well as elsewhere in Europe, there is an overemphasis on elections; the class struggle has taken a secondary place. This is just the reverse of what it should be. The class struggle against the bosses and their stooges in Parliament and in government should be primary.This message should also be heard in the United States, as the ruling class gears up for its quadrennial presidential charade in which the masses “choose” which leaders of the oppressing and exploiting class will rule.The labor movement and militant workers should not be pulled into running after Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or any other candidate who wants to preside over the capitalist state. That is the lesson of Greece.Goldstein is the author of two books, “Capitalism at a Dead End” and “Low-Wage Capitalism.” More of his writing is available at lowwagecapitalism.org and on his Facebook page.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Journalist freed after two days in prison

first_img July 31, 2003 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Journalist freed after two days in prison News Organisation Ben Adaji, correspondent of the magazine The News, was freed on 24 July after two days in jail. He had been imprisoned after writing an article criticising local police for corruption. He is being sued for libel in another matter before a court inJalingo. ————————————-29.07.2003Journalist arrested after criticising police chiefReporters Without Borders protested today against the detention of Ben Adaji, correspondent of the magazine The News in the eastern Nigerian state of Taraba, after criticising local police for corruption and abuses.The press freedom organisation pointed out that press offences were civil matters under Nigerian law and under no circumstances could they be punished by detention or imprisonment. It called on Taraba state officials and national police inspector-general Tafa Balogun to see that he was freed immediately.Working conditions for journalists are fairly good in the federal capital, Lagos, but they are quite dangerous in the rest of the country, with local governors regularly targeting journalists who criticise them. Media in northern Nigeria are most at risk.Adaji has been held in prison in Jalingo (Taraba state) since July 22 without any official explanation, but his arrest appeared linked with an article he wrote headlined “Abacha in police uniform,” which exposed corruption and abuse of prisoners’ rights by Taraba state police commissioner Nwachukwu Egbochukwu. Adaji was earlier briefly arrested on 29 May and accused of libel. Follow the news on Nigeria Nigerian investigative journalist forced to flee after massacre disclosures January 28, 2021 Find out more News NigeriaAfrica News Twitter blocked, journalism threatened in Nigeria to go further NigeriaAfrica June 10, 2021 Find out more Ben Adaji, correspondent of the magazine The News in the eastern Nigerian state of Taraba, was detained from 22 to 24 July after criticising local police for corruption and abuses. He is also being sued for libel in another matter. Nigerian news site deliberately blocked, expert report confirms Receive email alerts February 8, 2021 Find out more News RSF_en Help by sharing this information last_img read more

Five memorable Premier League debuts

first_img Press Association FEDERICO MACHEDA: The 17-year-old scored a stunning stoppage-time winner to send Manchester United back to the top of the table with a 3-2 win over Aston Villa in 2009, coming off the bench to curl the ball home from outside the penalty area. SERGIO AGUERO: Aguero marked his Manchester City debut in style with two goals in the 4-0 rout of Swansea in August 2011. A second-half substitute, the Argentinian opened his account from close range before volleying home a superb effort from distance later in the game. RUUD VAN NISTELROOY: Eager to allay injury fears following his £19million transfer, the Dutchman scored on his Manchester United debut in the Charity Shield against Liverpool, then netted twice more on his Premier League debut in United’s 3-2 win over Fulham in August 2001. DANNY ROSE: Rose won over the Tottenham fans in the best way possible in April 2010, when he marked his top-flight debut by slamming home a thunderous volley – subsequently voted goal of the season by Sky Sports – as Spurs beat neighbours Arsenal 2-1. Here, Press Association Sport takes a look back at others who managed to make a more-or-less immediate impression: FABRIZIO RAVANELLI: Freshly arrived from a Champions League final with Juventus, Fabrizio Ravanelli did not waste any time making his mark on Teesside in 1996. The Italian scored a hat-trick on his debut against Liverpool in a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Riverside Stadium. center_img Anthony Martial’s goalscoring debut for Manchester United against Liverpool deserves to rank among some of the best introductions in Premier League history.last_img read more