YESTERDAY Greece was hit by a massive general strike with tens of thousands of workers marching in Athens demanding that there be an indefinite general strike to bring down the Greek government – which is now the local quisling agency of the EU-IMF-ECB axis, complete with appointed leaders – and that a workers’ government be brought in to replace it.
On Tuesday night, tens of thousands of Spanish workers and youth demonstrated outside the Spanish parliament where there were vicious attacks made on them by the massed ranks of the riot police.
The Greek general strike was called to fight new planned spending cuts of more than 11.5bn euros.
Carrying out the required savage austerity measures is a pre-condition for Greece to receive its next tranche of bailout funds, 33.5bn euros, without which the country will be bankrupted in weeks.
Inspectors from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank, known as the troika, are writing a report, due in October, that will decide whether Greece receives its next instalment of bailout funds.
The government of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is proposing to save money by slashing pensions and raising the retirement age to 67, and has also urged the troika to give it an extra two years to push the austerity programme through.
On Tuesday, the Greek finance minister, Yannis Stournaras said that the delay would cost 15bn euros.
The Greek workers have now decided that enough is enough, and consequently the country is on the brink of a revolutionary uprising.
Meanwhile, the Spanish government is set to announce further austerity measures today, which are expected to touch off a general strike by the major trade unions.
Spain’s provinces are already piling pressure on the central government. Andalucia is considering asking for a 4.9bn euro emergency credit line from the central government, while three other regions – Catalonia, Valencia and Murcia – have already said they want emergency funds. In Catalonia, there is to be an early election for 25 November, which is seen as a referendum on whether Catalonia should seek independence from Spain.
Spain may need an international bailout going well beyond 100bn euros. This will mean even more savage austerity measures and the extreme sharpening up of the class struggle.
Next-door Portugal is holding an extraordinary cabinet meeting after big protests forced the government to withdraw a plan to hike employees’ tax rates.
Meanwhile, the EU is heading into a slump with the crisis-ridden motor car industry leading the way. Job losses and plant closures are being prepared by GM, Ford and Renault, with PSA Peugeot Citroen planning to cut 8,000 jobs. There has been a 7.1% fall in car sales in Europe so far this year, with some southern European markets seeing sales slump by 20%.
The message is loud and clear. Capitalism is not only unable to develop the productive forces in Europe, it is actually now destroying them on a massive scale, including the lives of millions of workers and youth, the most important part of the productive forces.
France is now preparing major budget cuts, while in the UK the Tories are engaged in a war with the working class and the poor to impoverish both, to save the bankers and the bosses. The Bank of England governor, King, has even warned that another major bailout of the UK banks may be necessary soon, with more huge sacrifices required by the working class to try and save the bankrupt bankers and bosses.
There is only one way forward for the workers of Europe. This is to build sections of the Fourth International in every country to lead socialist revolutions to replace the bankrupt EU with the Socialist United States of Europe.