We Can Say “No”

This is a translation of an editorial of a workplace newsletter of the organization L'Étincelle (The Spark), a Trotskyist group in France.

The leaders of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were determined, promising the flames of hell to the Greek population if it had the audacity to refuse the measures they wanted to impose. But this was not enough: 61% of Greek voters voted “No” in the referendum that asked if they were willing to accept these measures.

Increase in retirement age, reduction or freeze of retirement benefits, increase of the VAT, facilitation of layoffs, reduction in social aid, lower wages in the public sector, privatizations, etc. These measures have a single target: Greece’s working class, which has already become significantly poorer in recent years, and is asked to accept a further decline of its standard of living. Only the lower classes, not to the Greek bourgeois, are being asked to keep their heads down and agree to being ripped off once again.

This time, the blackmail did not work. We can only be happy to see the dreadful projects of the world leaders being thwarted… at least for now.

I am a Greek worker

In recent weeks, French politicians on the left and on the right, with the help of the mainstream media, have been trying hard to convince us to adopt the point of view of a creditor of the Greek state. They even attempted to make us believe that the Greeks owed money to each French taxpayer. While in fact the French State has made money from the Greek debt. These same people were cheering when the government positively picked our pockets to gift €40 billion to French employers.

But what do we have in common with these creditors? What have we in common with Christine Lagarde, director of the IMF, ready to punish the Greek population starting with the poorest because their state was unable to repay the €1.5 billion it owed to the IMF? She was less demanding when, as France’s Minister of finance, she gave a €1.7 billion tax break to Société Générale at the time of the Kerviel affair. This woman, indicted for “negligence” because she cost the government €400 million euros in the case against shady businessman Tapie, now pretends to give a moral lesson to the Greek population! What have we in common with one Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, who requires a surplus budget from Greece, while as the head of the Luxembourg Government, he had organized tax evasion into his country? What do we have in common with Hollande and Merkel, who are ready to kick the Greek poor when they are down, to satisfy the appetite of a few vultures, banks, international financial institutions or states, starting with France and Germany?

The Greek population is not responsible for this debt. The Greek State itself, while it is not on the side of its population, is much weaker than the states with which it is negotiating. Now, like for the rest of the capitalist society, the relationship between creditor and debtor is governed first and foremost by one rule: the law of the strongest.

Like the workers in Greece, we are, here, constantly subjected to the bosses’ blackmail: accept to see your working and living conditions worsen, or we will cut more jobs. Like in Greece, debt has become a pretext for all the attacks against public services, even if that means wearing out the workforce. Because, you see, the hospitals, the towns, the state are indebted. So we should accept everything? We may well suffer tomorrow from what the banks and the governments working together have imposed on the Greek workers.

Developing the means to really say “no”.

The “no” vote expresses the Greek population’s refusal to be, once more, made even poorer. But it doesn’t solve any of the problems facing workers in Greece. Because bank and state leaders will not relax their grip on the population of this country so easily. They want to make a political example to demonstrate that there is no use resisting them.

If money must be found, then better take it from where it really is: in the safes of the bourgeoisie. From the rich ship owners and the Church, a powerful landowner, who are exempt from taxes. Among the assets of the top Greek bourgeois, including those who went to stash their billions in Switzerland. In the banks’ reserves. By taking from the military budget, which is used mainly to enrich a very French arms dealer, Dassault. There should be no hesitation about requisitioning the assets of the bourgeoisie, since the living conditions of the working classes have been taken hostage for many years.

To accomplish this task, workers in France and in other European countries can be the best allies of the Greek workers. Because we have shared interests and may soon meet the same fate.