The high drama that is unfolding following the coming to power in Greece of a new government led by left-wing SYRIZA, and similar trends in Spain with the most recent massive show of force by Podemos at Puerta del Sol in Madrid, signal a new era in European and possibly global politics. This is no passing phenomenon but rather an inevitable result of the unsustainability of the existing financial system, and the way it is managed in the European context and beyond. This sort of “European Spring”, thankfully not bloody nor as chaotic as its Arab counterpart, can bring good and bad things, depending on how it will be handled by the main protagonists, including the Greeks themselves but also the Germans, other EU nations, and the EU and Eurozone institutions.

More than the future of a small country in the southeastern corner of Europe, or even the European South as such, this is a battle for the soul and future orientation of Europe as a whole. That is why it should not be addressed as a mere technical matter in the context of this or that mechanism, which was half-heartedly created to deal with the earlier problems of indebtedness in the EU. This calls for a deep rethinking of the European project and where it is going, as well as of the place of the various nations, classes, industries and other actors in it. It is a much-needed return to basics.

Basics refers to the very reasons of coming together to form an economic, political and otherwise “ever closer union” that dates back to the post-World War II period. The main initial objective, the avoidance of another war on the European continent, has been thankfully achieved, although not for Europe’s neighborhood, but from the former Yugoslavia to Ukraine. Common prosperity and well-being seemed also to be on the right track, but have apparently derailed since the 2008-2009 financial and economic crisis. The response of key national actors and of the EU central organs to the crisis and its aftermath has been very conservative and unproductive. The results are clear: while the US, with a more interventionist and statist set of policies, has returned to significant growth, Europe is mired by increasing unemployment, recurring recessions, looming deflation and impoverishing austerity in some of its weakest parts.

Is this inevitable, a consequence of the forces of nature that cannot be controlled? Not really, not by far. It is a symptom of the lack of substantive integration in terms of real interests and planning within the EU. When the priority of the most powerful is to safeguard their banks, even when the latter knowingly exposed themselves to unsustainable lending, and when the solution they impose is relentless austerity with no exit in sight, then desperation and upheaval are to be expected. Moreover, the conservative and punishing instincts also prevail beyond “the culprits”, restraining growth and condemning the whole continent to misery as a result.

This does not need to be the case, if only one goes back to what the Union and economics are supposed to be about. Starting from the latter, it is the art of running one’s home (οίκος+νέμω), if one goes back to the original Greek word. Running the common European home for the common good is no longer served by condemning certain people to endless austerity and the whole Union to slow (if any) growth and deflation. Rather, the pursuit of individual and collective happiness, productivity and well-being can be much better served with a reassessment of monetary and fiscal policies that can be and are always manipulated, just with different interests in mind. If that is acknowledged and a new vision agreed upon, it will not be difficult to calibrate Greek debt reduction, payment deferment, QE and Euro-bond issuance, European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and other mechanism use, and other means that exist or can be created, to make this happen.

A very important part of any set of measures in this direction should be the restart of any depressed economy, in the immediate case that of Greece, with a development prospect, clearance of obstacles to market access, European-level and private investments and other such means. Once there is a positive outlook and the economy starts moving again, it will be much easier to pay back any remaining debt and to make necessary structural adjustments to the Greek and European economy in a positive spirit, and not under unnecessary, and unproductive pain and suffering.

Katoikos World

The editorial team of Katoikos

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

© 2024 Katoikos, all rights are reserved. Developed by eMutation | New Media