European finance ministers met in Brussels yesterday to rubber-stamp the deal agreed at the last minute last Thursday to bail-out the bankrupt Greek economy with a loan of 130 billion euros.
Even the most optimistic bourgeois economists agree that at the very most the Eurozone has bought three months breathing space before Greece finally defaults on its debts.
In that time, the 130 billion will have been swallowed up and the choice once again will be either a further bail-out or let the country dive head first into bankruptcy, with the government unable to repay any debts and unable to pay any wages, pensions or expend any money on running the country.
The price European capitalism has demanded for this temporary postponement of complete collapse is nothing short of all-out war against Greek workers and youth.
In return for the bail-out, the government – headed by the unelected Lucas Papademos – has agreed to cut 300 million euros from pensions, 400 million from public expenditure, 90 million to be saved through public sector wage cuts and a massive 1.1 billion euros to be cut from the health budget.
150,000 public sector jobs are to be axed within five years, with 15,000 going by the end of this year.
The government has been forced, under the terms of the bail-out, to agree to introduce legislation that will cut the monthly minimum wage by 22% for older workers and 32% for youth under 24 years of age.
Also these new laws will abolish collective wage agreements and a privatisation agency will be given powers to sell off all state assets.
These include oil, transport and shipping industries along with state-owned land and buildings.
Just to make sure that there is no backsliding by the Greek bourgeoisie in carrying out these savage attacks on the working class, the EU, led by Germany and France, has effectively occupied Greece.
A ‘Task Force’ of 100 German and French so-called technocrats have been installed in Athens to oversee and enforce the implementation of these conditions with the German technocrats in charge of the central Greek government and the French taking on responsibility for regional and local government.
This complete collapse of banking and industry leading to state bankruptcy is not confined to Greece.
Today, the EU finance ministers will turn their attention to the crisis in the much larger economies of Spain and Italy, both of which are gripped by slump and mass unemployment and which are by any reckoning far too big to be bailed out.
Greece is pointing to the immediate future faced by workers throughout Europe – that the capitalist class is determined that it will be the working class who pay for the bankers’ crisis, through cuts that will reduce them to starvation levels of poverty.
That means every gain made by workers in terms of wages, pensions, unemployment benefits, right through to a health service, is to be smashed up and destroyed completely.
This programme requires nothing less than a civil war against the working class of Greece and the whole of Europe including Britain.
In Greece, it has already developed to the point of civil war, with whole sections of the ruling class clamouring for a return of the military police government that ruled through terror in the country during the 1970s until it was overthrown by an uprising of Greek workers and youth.
There is only one solution for the working class of Greece and the whole of Europe – that is the socialist revolution to put an end to bankrupt capitalism once and for all.
This requires the building of the revolutionary leadership, sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International, in every country to lead this struggle to victory.