THE Wikileaks organisation dropped a bombshell on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last Saturday when it published the transcript of a private conversation between the two IMF officials leading the negotiations with the Greek government over the country’s huge debt crisis.
In the leaked conversation between IMF Europe director Poul Thomsen and IMF head of Greece mission Delia Velculescu have been caught out discussing a plot to deliberately drive Greece into bankruptcy in the coming period in order to force the EU to bow to the IMF demand for Greek debt release and force the Greek government to speed up implementation of the full austerity programme demanded by the IMF.
Thomsen is recorded as saying: ‘What is going to bring it all to a decision point?’ before going on: ‘in the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when they were about to run out of money seriously and default.’
Velculescu is heard later agreeing saying ‘We need an event but I don’t know what that will be.’ The ‘event’ under serious consideration appears to be for the IMF to pull out of the talks, due to resume in the next two weeks, putting a block on any bail-out money, precipitating the complete collapse of Greece.
This would lead to the Greek government being unable to pay wages, pensions or sustain any spending on health, education, welfare, while the banks would be forced to close. In other words, these two IMF leaders are plotting to drive the entire Greek working class into poverty and starvation on a scale never witnessed before.
By precipitating such a crisis they hope to force the Syriza government to accept every austerity demand demanded of it, and at the same time force the German bankers to accept the IMF position that a part of the Greek debt should be written off.
The argument between the IMF and the Germans stems from the fact that the IMF has concluded that Greece will never be able to pay off its entire debt owed to the bankers and that it is better to give a modicum of relief in order to get back the greater proportion of the debt.
The German bankers, who have most to lose, are demanding full repayment, they want their pound of flesh from the Greek working class and nothing less. Both are united in their intention that the Greek workers pay for capitalism’s crisis, not the bankers who caused it.
Alexis Tsipras, Greek prime minister, immediately wrote to IMF head, Christine Lagarde, demanding to know whether Greece could ’trust’ the IMF not to engineer his country’s bankruptcy to force austerity compliance on Greece.
Lagarde loftily dismissed this as ‘nonsense’ before going on to arrogantly complain about ‘eavesdropping’, something she clearly regards as a much more serious crime than plotting to reduce an entire country into a state of bankruptcy and smashing up the lives of millions of Greeks in the process.
Commenting on these revelations, the former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, said: ‘It’s time to stop Greece’s fiscal waterboarding by an incompetent, misanthropic troika.’
That’s rich coming from a man who, along with Tsipras, masterminded the election of the left reformist Syriza government on an anti-austerity platform that claimed it could negotiate a deal with these same incompetent misanthropes. A government that collapsed when faced with the bankers’ intransigent refusal to make any concessions, and which has tamely gone along with every austerity cut demanded.
The Greek working class and youth, unlike Tsipras, have not been cowed by the troika, with thousands of workers confronting Syriza in mass demonstrations and strikes and whole swathes of the country blockaded by farmers protesting about austerity.
The IMF plot must be met by the organisation of an indefinite general strike to bring down Syriza and advance to a workers and small farmers government that will repudiate all the bankers’ debts and nationalise under workers control the banks and industry.
This necessitates the building of sections of the Fourth International in Greece and across Europe to lead the coming socialist revolution to its victory.