What is the crisis in Greece really about? For banks that have lent money to the country, for the International Monetary Fund and for economic and political conservatives it is about paying back a practically unpayable debt of 300 billion Euros. They say it is about staying in the European community and carrying out “reforms” that will inevitably effect the wellbeing of the vast majority of the population. But the crisis is also political: conservative leaders of the European Community do not approve of the leftist leaning government presently in power in Athens.
The issue is not about “abandoning” the Euro or Europe. It has to do with the manipulation of the debt crisis in Greece and elsewhere by the world´s gigantic financial institutions. The IMF, banks, financial institutions, Washington and Europe are using the debt crisis to organize the world in accordance to their economic and political vision. That is why the “reforms” proposed by the IMF (or in the case of Greece, the Troika) invariably include slashing state support for education, health, retirement and promoting the privatization of state property or enterprises.
Following the Second World War Washington saw an opportunity to erect a financial system that would back its plans for becoming the world´s number one power. The dollar was tied to gold at a fixed rate; later, oil was tied to the dollar and that led to an enormous flow of dollars from the oil producing nations to Western banks. In view of the extraordinary amount of capital sitting in the banks, a new phase was born: a massive campaign of loans to developing countries. Although usually a bank takes great care to determine if the receiver of a loan will be able to pay it back, the theory developed that if the loans were made to governments the return would be guaranteed because a private concern could collapse but a government would have to honor its commitments. Likewise, since the loans carried high interest rates, loaning became a lucrative business. Loaners often loaned to dictatorships or corrupt governments, in spite of their efforts to wrap their loans in humanitarian packages. It became clear that the loaner or the international finance institutions could impose their conditions when demanding the repayment of the loans.
In this way the world´s economy could be shaped in accordance to the demands of giant corporations and financial institutions. Those who did not accept those conditions would automatically become “outsiders” to the system.
Tomorrow Greeks will vote in a referendum on whether to accept the reforms advocated by the Troika or to reject them. For the Greek government and for those who support a no vote, it is a question of increasing the Government´s manoeverability in negotiating the terms of the repayment of the estimated 300 billion euro debt—a large part of which has been generated by the money-makes-money mentality of banks and financial speculators. The yes vote implies a de facto acceptance of the reforms that the finance institutions advocate for the country.
The larger question related to the crisis in Greece is related to the question of whether to allow the international financial elite to continue expanding its economic and political vision or whether alternative systems will be allowed to emerge and propose other ways of dealing with the world´s problems—among them the contamination and waste caused by the consumer society based on greed and profit and the consequent heating up of the planet.