There is a real sense that the deal that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has reached with European Union leaders is less a bailout of Greece’s economy and more of a prelude to an overthrow of the leftist Syriza majority running the country – hence the popularity Monday of the Twitter hashtag “#ThisIsACoup.”
“The trending hashtag #ThisIsACoup is exactly right,” wrote New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on his blog, in reaction to the terms of the agreement. “This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.”
A week after the Greek people said resoundingly in a referendum that they wanted an end to the economic brutalization of working-class people that was being wrought by the austerity economics imposed by Germany and European Union economic establishment, Tsipras was left today with the task of selling to the Greek parliament, and by extension the Greek people, what a Bloomberg News story called “an onerous bailout deal” – one widely reported to be much worse than one that had been rejected.
The deal now on the table includes “plans for large-scale asset sales, tax hikes and spending cuts,” Bloomberg reports. The Guardian reported that one proposal that drew particular ire would put $56 billion worth of Greek public assets into a trust “out of reach of Greek politicians” so that the proceeds could be used to pay off Greek creditors.
It is pretty explicit that Greece is now being punished by German chancellor Angela Merkel and her government for its people’s act of defiance of her will and that of Europe’s financial overlords. And, as Neil Irwin writes in The New York Times today, they would have been quote content to allow Greece to fall out of the Euro zone to face whatever consequences the country might encounter. France, however, exercised its clout to argue that the Euro zone remain intact with Greece, Irwin writes. “The compromise was this: France and its allies won the point in that Greece is still nominally part of the eurozone. But the conditions Germany got to punish the country for its misdeeds are so severe that it could easily topple the fragile coalition government in Greece.”
Theodoros Karyotis, writing in Roar magazine today, caled the July 5 referendum “an outstanding moment of dignity of a people under vicious attack by European creditors and the Greek elite,” and the agreement reached today a “humiliating” one “that all but turns Greece into a European debt colony.”
“It seems that this is the end of the road for Syriza’s ‘national salvation’ government,” he goes on to write. “It will be called to vote in and implement an austerity package that not only disregards the struggle of the anti-austerity movements of the past five years, of which Syriza was once a part, but also betrays the verdict of the 61% of Greeks who voted against austerity only a week before. … The government will surely be reshuffled or replaced, and Syriza faces an internal rift that could mean the end of this party as we know it.”
“What we’ve learned these past couple of weeks is that being a member of the eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line,” Krugman said. “This has no bearing at all on the underlying economics of austerity. It’s as true as ever that imposing harsh austerity without debt relief is a doomed policy no matter how willing the country is to accept suffering. And this in turn means that even a complete Greek capitulation would be a dead end.”
We’ve also learned that for conservatives like Germany’s Merkel, the will of the people doesn’t matter when it interferes with the will of the financial elite.