Maquillando la crisis del euro, una crítica a la “propuesta moderada” (semanal Prin)

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Intervención política: Salvavidas de Syriza al euro 

Intervención política y no simplemente un tratamiento teórico es el libro de Yanis Varufakis, James Galbraith y Stuart Holland, con título Una propuesta moderada para la resolución de la crisis del euro (ediciones Potamós, 2014). De la propuesta de los escritores se dice que desde el primer momento “encontró el apoyo activo de casi todas las fuerzas políticas del Parlamento Europeo”, demostrando, según los escritores, que “existe la posibilidad de consenso de muchas y diferentes visiones en torno a cuatro sencillas propuestas para salir de la crisis”. Al final del libro se menciona que la “propuesta moderada”, independientemente de su aplicación o no, “muestra a los pueblos de Europa que existe una propuesta alternativa razonada, efectiva, de inmediata aplicación y moderada para la resolución de la crisis del euro”.

LEONIDAS VATIKIOTIS

El carácter político de la propuesta queda clara no sólo por la presencia del presidente de SYRIZA en el acto de presentación del libro, el 17 de junio, y todos los elogios que allí le dedicó, siendo el más importante la calificación de la propuesta como radical, y no como moderada, tal y como la denominan los autores. Su peso político y más especialmente su estrecha relación con la línea política de SYRIZA quedan claros por una idea común básica que rechaza el cuestionamiento del constructo europeo o lo remite a un futuro indefinido, censurando su empleo. Así, las propuestas formuladas dejan fuera de tiro la estructura de la UE y de la eurozona considerándolas aún hoy no responsables de la crisis actual, y centrando toda la polémica en las maneras de gestionarla.

Sobra decir que semejante razonamiento, por más que de manera inmediata, es incapaz de explicar de un modo científico e histórico la intensidad con la que se está manifestando la crisis. Además da carta de naturaleza en la conciencia de la sociedad a los mecanismos de la UE.

Bajo mi punto de vista, las soluciones que se incluyen en la propuesta Moderada tendrá la misma suerte de otra propuestas “políticamente tranquilas” aportadas en los últimos años con el objeto de conciliar lo irreconciliable, para terminar finalmente en el olvido, como sucedió, por ejemplo, con la propuesta de emisión de eurobonos. La propuesta Moderada adolece de una lectura ideológica, es decir, no científica, y parcial de la realidad tal como se ha visto conformada muy especialmente estos últimos años. La interpretación que da a la crisis es superficial y en consecuencia, inevitablemente, las recetas por las que se opta (cuando no peligrosas para las clases populares) están condenadas a caer en el vacío, desmintiendo lo comúnmente admitido de que basta el respeto a las condiciones para debatir y adoptar una solución de gestión alternativa y viable a primera vista.

Las medidas que se incluyen en la propuesta Moderada para la solución de la crisis del euro (ed. Potamós, 2014) pasan por alto el carácter estructural de la actual crisis capitalista. Además ignoran el papel de la UE como catalizador del ataque del capital, facilitado por el agudizamiento de la crisis.

En resumen, los autores sostienen que “la eurozona está siendo golpeada por (y está llamada a enfrentar) cuatro crisis: la bancaria, la crisis de deuda pública, la caída de las inversiones y una nunca antes vista crisis humanitaria”.

En el marco del mencionado “diagnóstico” proponen cuatro medidas que “respetan la línea de los Acuerdos, por lo que no es necesaria reconsideración alguna de los mismos”. En primer lugar, cuando el mecanismo supervisor del BCE constata que un banco de la eurozona se enfrenta a una capitalización, el estado-miembro en el que el banco tiene su sede puede, a su buen criterio, pedir su inmediata recapitalización por medio del Mecanismo Europeo de Estabilidad (MEE), remitiendo al banco al MEE y al BCE (rehuyendo así su responsabilidad supervisora en lo referente al banco en cuestión). La segunda medida apunta a la crisis de deuda pública y prevé que con el vencimiento del bono de un país golpeado por la crisis de deuda pública el BCE intervenga liquidando un porcentaje del bono que se corresponde con la deuda legal según Maastricht, que alcanza el 60% del PIB. La liquidación tendrá lugar mediante la emisión de nuevos bonos que gravarán al estado-miembro, los cuales, no obstante, vendrán garantizados por el BCE, dotándolos de un interés bajo (menor al 2%), en lugar del interés al que se les está prestando ahora a los países golpeados por la crisis, por encima del 4%. La tercera media se dirige a un “programa inversor paneuropeo para la recuperación y la cohesión”, en pocas palabras, a un “new deal” europeo. Como medio para ello se proponen ambiciosos programas de inversión del Banco Europeo de Inversiones (BEI) y del Fondo Europeo de Inversiones (FEI), con participación nacional (en torno al 50%), la cual, al ser imposible de cubrir por métodos tradicionales (vía presupuesto estatal) en razón de la crisis, se cubrirá, entre otras maneras, mediante emisiones de bonos del BCE que se cargarán a los países miembros. En la cuarta medida, que lleva por título “programa urgente de solidaridad social”, se incluye un programa “calórico” que asegure el abastecimiento alimentario, al estilo de los “feeding coupons” americanos, así como la cobertura de necesidades energéticas mínimas y de transporte. Se propone que su coste se cubra mediante los beneficios que da a los países con superávit el sistema contable Target 2, que permite y facilita los intercambios en la zona euro.

La primera propuesta de los tres autores contra la crisis bancaria equivale, hablando de Grecia, a una rapidísima deshelenización de los bancos. Ante la prisa por resolver el espinoso problema de la falta de crédito, se verán favorecidos los bancos problemáticos de la periferia europea en el Mecanismo Europeo de Estabilidad y a través de éste, como podemos fácilmente suponer, en los grandes bancos alemanes que de una manera u otra los ambicionan. Se tratará de un proceso catastrófico, en tanto en cuanto se acelerará la tendencia de marginalización y decadencia del capitalismo griego en beneficio de aquellos bancos con sede en el núcleo de la eurozona, como Alemania. En correspondencia con lo que ha sucedido en otros sectores de la economía (naval, textil), la superación de los hundidos mercados nacionales significará la división del mercado único en un centro todopoderoso y una periferia renquante.

Pocos bancos y éstos alemanes proponen Varufakis, Galbraith y Holland y ¡Syriza!

Pero hay algo más importante: la absolución de los pecados que concede la propuesta Moderada a cuantos decidieron mediante maniobras opacas y escandalosas bañar en oro a los bancos y ahora a toda prisa estudian también el cierre del Fondo Europeo de Estabilidad Financiera con la intención de tapar todo cuanto sucedió, escándalos ante los cuales el escándalo Coscotás parece una nimiedad. En Grecia los bancos se apropiaron de 211.000 millones de euros del 2008 hasta ahora y queda por enterarnos en las próximas semanas, con la elaboración del “test de resistencia” anunciado por el BCE, si rapiñarán también los 11.000 millones que aún tienen a su disposición. En los 27 países miembros de la UE desde el 2008 hasta el 30 de septiembre del 2012 se aprobaron 5.086 billones de euros o el 40’3% del PIB en el año 2011. Además, este trasvase, insólito en volumen, contradice una de las asunciones fundamentales de los autores que atribuye la crisis, o al menos su actual paroxismo, al “abrazo mortal” entre estados empobrecidos y bancos empobrecidos. Pero esta interpretación encubre un crimen. En Irlanda y en Chipre, de la manera más flagrante, la crisis empezó como bancaria y se transformó en pública cuando los fondos públicos, bajo mandato de la UE que sistematizó la imposición de los Memorandos y el diseño de los programas de austeridad, fueron impelidos a salvar a los bancos. Hasta entonces sus finanzas públicas disfrutaban de una desacostumbrada extrema buena salud. La deuda pública de Irlanda el año 2009, un año antes de asumir la deudas bancarias, era del 64’8% de su PIB, mientras que la de Chipre, ya en el 2011, era del 71’1% de su PIB. El correspondiente intento de traspaso de recursos que se llevó a cabo en Grecia no tuvo por lo general a los bancos en el bando de los favorecidos. Sobre todo tuvo a los bancos franco-alemanes, que fueron salvados con el dinero del primer préstamo, cuando se estaban deshaciendo de los bonos griegos que tenían, consecuencia de lo cual fue que sus inversiones en deuda griega disminuyeron de 122.600 millones de euros a 31 de diciembre de 2009 a la mitad dos años más tarde, el 31 de diciembre de 2011, abriendo así el camino a la quita de los bonos a través del PSI. En consecuencia, el coste que han asumido los contribuyentes europeos para salvar a los bancos impone una, y sólo una, solución evidente y racional, dado que el beneficio se corresponde con el coste: la nacionalización de los bancos sin ninguna indemnización y la persecución por vía penal de los gestores que los llevaron al desastre, así como de los bancos centrales que fracasaron estrepitosamente en su papel de supervisión. Más allá de la necesidad, la efectividad de esta elección le resultó clarísima a Islandia, donde su adopción resolvió definitivamente el problema del sector crediticio. En Grecia, por el contrario, los bancos, a pesar de la inmensa cantidad de recursos que han absorbido, mantienen el grifo del crédito herméticamente cerrado. En base a los datos que ofreció el Banco de Grecia el saldo de los préstamos en julio del 2014 se había reducido en torno a 9.000 millones de euros en relación con julio del 2013 (de 222,4 el año pasado a 213,8 éste). Una imagen, en consecuencia, que muestra “a los bancos empobrecidos y a los estados-miembro de la eurozona empobrecidos como nadadores impotentes que se agarran el uno al otro mientras se hunden juntos en el fondo del proceloso mar” no sólo no se corresponde con la realidad, sino que oscurece el escándalo de la salvación de los bancos.

La segunda propuesta repite, de manera indirecta, la conversión en recíproca de parte de la deuda pública de los países endeudados. No obstante, incluso los propios autores reconocen que el resultado será que, en un plazo de veinte años, el conjunto de las letras se habrá visto reducido en un 50%. Así, la resolución de la crisis se pospone veinte años, al tiempo que no se responde cuánto influirá la garantía del BCE a la emisión de nuevos bonos. Lo lógico es que poco a poco los bajos intereses del BCE vayan aumentando y tienen al alto nivel al que se les presta a los países no solventes. Es decir, el beneficio muy pronto desaparecerá, provocando la reacción de los países con superávit, que verán a los países con déficit trasladar su crisis al BCE.

La propuesta de la conversión en recíproca de la deuda pública se plantea claramente, entre otros también por el economista francés Thomas Piketty, en su comentadísimo libro, El Capital en el Siglo 21 (Harvard University Press, 2014). “La única manera de superar estas contradicciones es que los países de la eurozona (o cuantos lo deseen) unifiquen su deuda”, escribe en la página 558. Tres son las cuestiones que surgen de esta propuesta. Primera, que Alemania no tiene ninguna razón para soportar esa carga. Segunda, que los procesos de convergencia financiera que se prevén como condición firme en esta aventura serán tan dolorosos para los países endeudados y deficitarios, con sus equilibrados presupuestos y el resto de medidas previstas en el Pacto Financiero, que finalmente la conversión en recíproca de la deuda no supondrá alivio alguno. Finalmente, a nadie le importa la disminución de la deuda pública, como lo demuestra su aumento estos años en todos los países sometidos al régimen del Memorándum. Muy al contrario: su perpetuación se ha revelado de primer orden a través del chantaje. ¿Por qué perder semejante herramienta?

Objetivo inalcanzable las inversiones masivas

LAS PROFUNDÍSIMAS ANTINOMIAS DEL CAPITALISMO CONDUCEN AL DESARROLLO HIPERTRÓFICO DEL SECTOR CREDITICIO

La tercera medida de la “propuesta Moderada para la resolución del euro” se refiere a la financiación de inversiones masivas con las que se superará la crisis. Además de los problemas técnicos que conlleva la propuesta (bloqueo indirecto del BCE cuando algo así viene prohibido en su reglamento, y aún indirectamente, nuevo endeudamiento de los estados-miembro) se infravaloran las causas más profundas que han llevado a una disminución de las inversiones productivas en provecho del juego crediticio, en todo el capitalismo y no sólo en los países de la periferia europea, por más que en éstos se manifiesta de manera más intensa. Causas que están en relación, si quiera en un análisis final, con la tendencia declinante del porcentaje de beneficio y la crisis histórica que atravesamos.

Este callejón de salida es descrito de forma muy concisa por Maurizio Lazarato en su extraordinario libro La Construcción del Hombre Endeudado (eds. Alexandria, 2014). “Si el crédito y el dinero evidencian su naturaleza común como ‘de deudas’, es porque la acumulación se ha congelado, siendo incapaz de asegurar nuevos rendimientos”.

De manera más analítica lo describe Andre Gorz en un asombroso texto publicado en abril en la web socialpolicy.gr con título “La salida del capitalismo ha comenzado ya”. Dice ahí el filósofo austrofrancés:

“La crisis del sistema se manifiesta tanto a nivel macroeconómico como microeconómico. Se basa principalmente en una conmoción tecnocientífica que comporta una ruptura en el desarrollo del capitalismo y destruye con su impacto los cimientos de su fuerza y su capacidad para reproducirse…

La introducción de la informática y la automatización de la producción permitieron la producción de altas cantidades de mercancías con bajas cantidades de trabajo. El coste de trabajo por unidad de producto disminuye constantemente y el precio de los productos tiende a bajar. Y sin embargo, cuanto la cantidad de trabajo para una producción dada se reduce, tanto el valor que se produce por trabajador –su productividad- debe aumentar de manera que el beneficio a ingresar no disminuya.

Tenemos, por tanto, esta paradoja fenoménica: cuanto más crece la productividad, tanto más debe aumentar para evitar la disminución del volumen de beneficio.

La carrera de la productividad tiende así a incrementar sus ritmos, los trabajadores reales a disminuir, la presión al personal a ser más intensa, el nivel y el volumen de los salarios a reducirse. El sistema se desarrolla hacia un límite interno donde la producción y la inversión a la producción dejan de ser lo suficientemente rentables.

Los números certifican que hemos llegado a este límite. La acumulación productiva del capital productivo no deja de ceder. En los Estados Unidos, las 500 compañías del indicador Standard & Poor’s disponen de 631 billones de fondos líquidos: la mitad de los beneficios de las empresas americanas proviene de acciones en los mercados de capital.

En Francia, la inversión productiva de las empresas del indicador CAC 40 no aumenta aun cuando sus beneficios se disparan. Una parte en crecimiento de los capitales acumulados –que la producción no puede evaluar en su conjunto- mantiene la forma de capital bursátil. Se instaura así una industria económico-financiera que perfecciona el arte de crear dinero a través de la exclusiva compraventa de diferentes formas de dinero”.

Por tanto, la pregunta no se refiere a la financiación de las necesarias inversiones masivas, sino a la imposibilidad del capitalismo moderno de llevarlas a cabo.

“CRISIS HUMANITARIA”: GESTIÓN DE LA MISERIA

Medidas igualitarias de la filantropía burguesa

El carácter antagónico de la “propuesta Moderada para la resolución del euro” aun con los intereses laborales a corto plazo (como se condensan en la petición de mejora de la posición de los trabajadores como resultado de la disminución de los beneficios del capital) se revela en la cuarta y última propuesta que se ocupa de la lucha contra la crisis humanitaria con medias de carácter filantrópico (una problemática que proviene de la caja de herramientas neoliberal). Los autores del manual hacen como si no supieran que la crisis humanitaria es sólo la punta del iceberg. Fuera del campo de visión se encuentra un empeoramiento de las dimensiones históricas de la posición del trabajo vivo como se refleja, significativamente, en la parte de los salarios en el PIB que disminuye gradualmente. En los países de la eurozona de los 12, del 72,4% en la década 1971-80, se redujo al 69,4% en el período 1981-90, al 66,7% en la década 1991-2000 y al 64,4% en la 2001-10 (Statistical Annex of European Economy, Spring 2014, European Commission). La caída de la participación de los salarios del trabajo en el producto conjunto no supone por lo general una tendencia espontánea del capital, resultado de pequeños e imperceptibles desplazamientos. El telón se abrió durante el mandato del canciller socialdemócrata Gerhardt Schraeder y su aplicación se generalizó con la ayuda de la UE. Nunca se habría impuesto una reducción de salarios en Grecia del orden del 22% o una derogación de los convenios de empleo colectivos, del salario mínimo y de las rentas, sin el auxilio de la Troika, donde la UE participa con 2 de los 3 miembros. La provisión de alimentos puede ayudar a paliar las formas más extremas de la crisis (algo que además ha sucedido en el último año), pero de ninguna manera combate las causas del empobrecimiento de la sociedad, como se pone de manifiesto no sólo en la periferia de la eurozona, sino también en su núcleo. En base a la propuesta de los 3 economistas en relación con la financiación mediante el Target 2, ¿cómo entonces se va a combatir la pobreza de los 7 millones de alemanes que trabajan en los “microjobs” por 350 euros al mes? Incluso en la periferia, ¿cómo se van a financiar a largo plazo las necesarias intervenciones cuando los pagos se igualan gradualmente en el sistema y los beneficios relativos siguen una tendencia declinante? Además, ¿por qué razón los países con superávit van a renunciar a sus beneficios, cuando podrán alegar que los costes que acompañan funcionan también como freno para la extensión de los países con déficit y su posible resta llevará las desigualdades al máximo, dando lugar a nuevos desequilibrios?

En definitiva, la propuesta Moderada no convence por su capacidad de resolver la crisis del euro. Su imposibilidad proviene del (ingenuo) convencimiento de sus autores de que los problemas actuales son consecuencia de una deficiente comprensión del carácter de la crisis por parte de quienes gobiernan. En consecuencia, basta con que aparezcan otros con mayores conocimientos que adviertan las soluciones y entonces… todo se solucionará.

En contraste con las anteriores afirmaciones, que maquillan la situación creando ilusiones, la crisis del euro revela el plan de clase de una profunda transformación social que se está produciendo en toda Europa y se materializa en una lluvia de medidas. Este plan no puede revocarse en tanto se muestre lealtad y respeto a los tratados fundacionales de la UE y de la eurozona que tienen papel protagonista en la disminución de los salarios, los despidos de empleados públicos y las privatizaciones. Condición para la solución de la crisis del euro es la salida del euro para empezar y de la UE, un camino que no será ni recto ni sin dolor, pero deshará por fin el nudo gordiano.

From Washington to Berlin Consensus (Brussels, March 8, 2014)

DEU Europa Verfassungsgericht ReformvertragI ‘ll try to answer the subject of the panel (“Who profits from debt and the debt crisis?”) using the dramatic experience of Greece of the last years.

  • The first who benefits from debt crisis and the restructuring of debt is the financial system which caused this crisis, both Greek and financial banks. I stress three different facts:

    • According to data from the Bank of International Settlements, investements of European banks (especially German and French) on greek bonds on 31 of December 2009, were 122,6 bn. euros. Two years after, and two months before the haircut, those banks were holding 65 bn. In other words, they used the first two years of rescue to get rid of the greek bonds, knowing that at the end of the day haircut was unavoidable or a matter of time. Meanwhile, the greek bonds were bought by the ECB, helping in this way: first, speculation and second, the transfer of the burden to the official side, the side of EU tax-payers, which a bit later refused the haircut for these titles.

    • Greek banks have been compensated for 100% of their investments on Greek bonds, while greek public pension schemes, universities and even hospitals lost up to 95% of their mandatory deposits in Bank of Greece. Social security schemes alone lost 14 bn. Euros. Consequently, the bailouts to the countries are really back door bailouts to the big banks. The bailouts werenot about sustainability of sovereign debt but of banks.

    • The biggest achievement of financial sector was the nationalization of sovereign debt. In 2009, a much smaller debt of 299 bn euros (or 129% of GDP) was owned by private sector by a percentage of 75%. Now after the restructuring of 2012, which was the biggest one in recent history (bigger than that of Argentina), public debt has not only increased, reaching 321 bn euros (or 175% of GDP) but, the most serious is that a share of 76% is on the hands of official sector (EU governments, IMF, ECB, national central banks, EFSF, ESM).

  • The second factor who has been benefited from debt restructuring is the ruling – not financial – capitalist class who keeps producing, selling, etc. A strict term of the second memorandum (which accompanied the second “rescue” loan of 2012) was the horizontal reduction of wages by 22%. According to official statistics, these four years of crisis, available income has been shrinked by 34%. By another term of Memorandum, the collective bargaining system between trade unions and employers unions has been dismantled. Now, government decides and announces the height of salaries. It’s obvious that these violent changes have been proved the last nail in the coffin of trade unions.

  • The second way the capitalist class has been benefited by debt crisis and restructuring is privatizations. The sell-off of public property (from real estate and airports to water and energy companies) was included in every Memorandum as an aim to reduce public debt because the revenues are going directly, by law, to the servicing of debt. Profitable opportunities are created for European corporations to take over vital infrastructures and Greek businessmen to join as minor partners.

  • Among those who have been benefited from debt crisis are also the hegemonic states of European Union, or core countries of eurozone and most of all, Germany. They have earned in two ways. First, economically because, among others, since 2009 they are borrowing in much better terms. According to an answer of Finance minister Wolfgang Schauble these earnings (of “fly to the quality” as they called) were 41 bn. Euros. Also, EU governmnets profit from bailouts because they lend money with an interest rate that is two – three times higher than what they borrow at. The second way is political. The typical equality among the member states belongs definitively to the past, while Germany shows again its imperialistic, hegemonic face, transforming the crisis-hit periphery to rogue states. Economic governance and banking union provisions are very telling on this respect.

All these reasons, in my opinion, justify the demand of imminent and unilateral cessation of payments of public debt. An audit of the public debt can help to legalize its abolition. In this struggle we have nothing to wait from ECB, or EU, which have been proved much more aggressive than IMF, servicing creditors’ interests.

Greek debt audit believes that cancellation of debt must begin from Troika’s debts, which are a percentage of 66% of total debt. Loans of mechanism are a very clear case of “odious debt”, as Eric Toussaint has shown. Following Alexander Shakh’s definition, first, the two greek governments of Papandreou and Papademos that signed the two loan agreements (5.2010 and 3.2010) had no legitimacy to do it. Second, those loans don’t serve Greek people’s interests. According to a recent report of Attac 77% of Troika’s money has gone to creditors for the servicing of debt and financial institutions, only 23% went to state budget. Third, creditors knew about all those. Consequently, “rescue mechanism’s” loans can be characterised as odious, as a means to cancel them. It’s a matter of political willing.

From another point of view the above-mentioned are confirmed, answering another question: “Who has lost the last years from debt crisis and restructuring?”. Well, who have lost:

  • Greek taxpayers who have seen every kind of tax burden to be increased. Only real estate taxes have been increased by more than 700%. At the same time Troika and Greek political elite agree to tax reductions on capital.

  • Greek working class who is payed with wages of 480 euros a month, while 1 in 3 is unemployed, and among those who are lucky keep working 1 in 3 isn’t paid.

  • Cypriots normal citizens-depositors who lost even 47% of their bank accounts. The same will happen in Greece too, while EU in meantime decided officialy the bail-in on April of 2013.

  • Greek and Cypriot youth which immigrates massively to North Europe, USA and Middle East. As a result in the periphery of eurozone we observe the brain drain we saw on 80’s and 90’s in Latin America, with the only diference that in the seat of USA now sits Germany, The Netherlands, etc.

  • National sovereignty of periphery countries that is into question, like never before in the post war period.

  • Most permanently, on the camp of losers from debt crisis are the peoples of Europe who suffer from Stability Pact, Euro Plus Pact, two and six pack that form the cornerstones of Berlin Consensus. The most modern and dangerous version of Washington Consensus, that rised from the ashes of current debt crisis. 

(Speech at the conference, Alternative solutions to the debt crisis, organised by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and European Network on Debt and Development, 6-8 March 2014, Brussels)

The reactionary role of Eurozone and EU (Napoli, June, 29, 2012)

Current crisis of eurozone comes in parallel with the disclosure of its intrinsic class character. In this context there is no solution in favour of the working class interests into the Eurozone. Solutions that are proposed increase the contradictions and the social cost without promising the improvement of living level of the majority. At the other side every effort to surpass Eurozone and EU (by the formation of ALIAS and LIBERA as Vasapollo – Martuffi and Arriola describe or the return to national currencies) should have as precondition the implementation of a coherent and radical policy against the interests of capital and in favour of working class.

Formation of euro, before a decade, was the termination point and the rewarding of a long unification process that started in the first postwar years. At a first glance its aim was the promotion of a peaceful regulation of deeply competing economic and national contradictions. In reality tried to solve three different types of competition: between rivalry states, against the foreign competitors and especially theUSAand, the most serious against the working class. The current crisis of eurozone (which first of all is a capitalist crisis) marks a very special, unprecedented, balance of forces in each one of these wars.

In the most serious war, against the working class interests,BrusselsandFrankfurthave achieved till now a blow of historical significance to the working rights. Looking at the Eurostat announcements about the labor cost we could see that since 2010 against the general increasing tendency of labor cost there are 3 exemptions:Greece,IrelandandPortugal, the countries that have accepted till now the terms of Memorandum of Understanding which accompany the bail-outs. We could imagine what will happen in Spain and Cyprus soon, if they follow the example of the three first countries or what will happen toItaly after a few months. From many other examples, which reveal the strict class interests that serve the so-called “rescue mechanism”, I distinguish privatization plan. What is happened now in Greece could be compared only to what happened inRussiaat the beginning of the decade of 90’s. The sell-off of the whole public wealth: not only energy or water utilities but still land, mountains, islands!

In the roots of this barbarian policy, which will bring much more absolute and relative poverty of the people, there is a long-term, strategic characteristic of nowadays capitalism. Ernest Mandel, very successfully, had said that formation of EU was the response of European capitalism to the development of the productive forces. Perhaps, in 60’s, even the following decades, EU contributed positively in the development of productive forces. But now EU not only set obstacles in this progressive trend (that shows the huge revolutionary possibilities of our epoch) but amputates violently this dynamic. So EU, demanding social spending cuts, wages reductions and privatizations serves the interests of the whole capital against the liberating mission of the working class.

In this context, as a long term and not coincidental or easily reversible tendency, we should consider many more negative developments of last period like the constitutional coup d’ etat we had in Greece and Italy at November with the appointment of two bankers as prime ministers. It is obvious that EU could not be seen any more as guarantor of democratic liberties as many people believed especially in the countries which had military regimes till ‘70s.

Formation of euro was a decisive step in the international intra-capitalist competition. Deutsche mark was inadequate, “too small to gain” the battle against US dollar. Euro in the previous decade made gains in this battle in favour of German capital, not only financial but manufacturing too. A crucial role in this currency war in favour of euro played its exchange rate. Its overvalued non–competitive exchange rate helped investments portfolio managers to substitute dollar with a currency which was promising bigger gains. At the other side the most countries of the periphery of the Eurozone, because if this exchange rate, suffered a de-industrialization, which meant the loss of hundreds of thousands of working seats.

The supremacy of the common currency (comparing it to the D Mark and to the dollar today) couldn’t be seen separately from the loss of the monetary independence and especially of the weapon of the devaluations of the other European countries, namely:Ireland,Portugal,Spain,ItalyandGreece. Just these countries that now are at the brink of collapse and some of them after it. Today’s end was predictable if we were setting, a decade before, the following question: What will happen to a country addicted to devalue its currency every decade at a ratio of 10-15% when this country will see its currency to be appreciated against dollar by 70% during a decade? This happened toGreece,Ireland,Portugal, etc. All the other explanations of the crisis about generous welfare state or costly public sector inSouth Europeare ridiculous.

From a different point of view, sovereign debt crisis of peripheral countries of Eurozone is the sacrifice, the cost that Europeans paid in the context of the currency war between US and EU or, in real terms, between US dollar and euro. Germanynever could participate in this war without euro’s help. So, German’s gains from Eurozone are not only the merchandise exports through all over the Eurozone after the removal of devaluations risks or the multiplying effects that embodies in its economic structure from the economies of scales. It is too the current and future seigniorage gains from euro which are estimated even at 2-3 bn of euros[1] speaking about the future income which ECB could earn from seigniorage – related investments. Aspects of this escalating currency war is capital controls that Brazil and Argentina have announced as a means to halt the liquidity influx that caused the Quantitative Easing I and II of FED, the recent Japan and China’s agreement to stop using dollar in their bilateral transactions and many others. Common character of all these cases is a slow but stable reduction of dollar’s role. In this context, a strong euro, with increasing attractiveness and continuously (de facto) expanding to new countries and territories from East Europe and Balkans toAfrica andMiddle East constitutes a special means which facilitates the imperialist expansion of German against USA.

Crisis of Eurozone reveals a totally new balance of power among different states. I will use a term that inGreeceis used in every day life, knowing that causes shocks: German occupation, or more distinctively German economic occupation. Perhaps someone would say thatGreece(where the German Task Force which has been settled toAthensdecides even for the last detail of public expenses) is an extreme case. But there are many other indications which show that in the EU happens what was happening in the “Animal farm” of George Orwell: “some animals are a bit more equal than the others”. The most characteristic is the recent abandonment of the principle of unanimity during the decision making.

As a result, Eurozone crisis is transforming deeply the essence and the form of EU towards a more reactionary direction.

Which are the solutions in this phase?

From ruling class there are discussed basically two kinds of solutions. The first is more social-democratic including the collectivizing of the debt with the parallel issuance of euro-bonds at least for a part of the public debt. This isn’t a radical plan! For first time was proposed by Jeean Claude Juncker and Jiulio Tremonti… The most serious with this proposal is that doesn’t explain why Germany today could accept to bear such a weight, that is calculated from 20 till 25 billion bn. during a decade, for easing the borrowing cost of the indebted countries when has been proved that debt machine is an ideal excuse for the application of the neoliberal agenda. Even, supporters of this proposal underestimate the conditions whichGermanywould impose for the mutualization of the debt.

The most possible scenario, almost sure, at the current period is a solution which will mix new amounts of liquidity to the banks (like 1 trn. Euros that gave ECB in December of 2011 and January of 2012) with new austerity measures. In this course the contradictions will be increased with the expansion of the crisis to new countries. The recent 1 trn. Euros of ECB didn’t averted, only postponed the explosion of crisis inSpain, for 6 months. At the same time the implementation of new austerity measures, because of Stability Pact and Euro Plus Pact will increase the capital gains against the wages.

At the other side the only viable solution, which reflects working class interests, is the immediate exit from Eurozone and from EU. The propose for the formation of a coalition of countries like the Latin-American ALBA and a common currency between the countries of South Europe (ALIAS and LIBERA as propose Vasapollo, Martuffi and Arrriola) is an internationalist solution to the current Eurozone crisis. The most important is that this solution gives a safe and creative exit to the development of productive forces in our epoch. In this context is a response which respects and follows the tendencies of development of modern working class. If we want to serve this tendency we must, from now, describe the context of this coalition, so to distinguish it from alternative efforts of German economic fundamentalism who is thinking, for example, to split Eurozone in two different parts: N-euro and S-euro. A coalition of south-European countries, or more broadly from countries with comparable productivity level, should based in nationalized banks and industry, in controls to capital flights, in a modern industry policy aiming to boost employment or food sufficiency.

There are many points which are open to the discussion, the historical evolution and the development of class struggle. For example: Could a formation like this exclude the law of value, much more as it operates in international level? Is possible to have equal relations in international trade or what kind of countervailing measures could be adopted, recognizing law’s presence? …and many others…

As a conclusion I wanted to highlight the necessity to enrich our reflections and response with a strategic view, comparable with the challenges of our epoch, as they are described by the 3rd industrial revolution of additive manufacturing and the knowledge’s explosion. Analysis and proposals of Vasapollo, Martuffi and Arriola in the book “PIG’S Awakening” is a successful response to this challenge…

EU as the war room of capital’s attack (Milan, 27.6.2012)

I wanted to highlight the importance of Vasapollo – Martufi and Arriola’s book “PIGS’ Awakening”. Comparing this contribution with many others that are circulating today in the European Left I distinguish two points which, in my opinion, are adding something new to our huge effort to overthrow capital’s attack in Europe and build a new alternative: Firstly, the uncovering of class character of EU, and the proposition for the next day of a program that surpasses national borders, without giving in to today’s balance of forces which is in favor of capital interests. I’m speaking about LIBERA and ALIAS. This is the second point. In my own speech I‘ll try to enrich your problematic with the Greek experience and, in parallel, to show some personal considerations or inconsistencies about your proposals.

  1. A.     Role of EU

In Greece, the sovereign debt crisis that unfolded in 2010 (and more exactly was caused in its present form) helped emerge a wave of deep criticism against the Eurozone and EU. In spite of this, even now with German’s behaving like an occupying force, Greeks are in favor of the euro and EU, by a percentage of 75%, having the illusion that euro guarantees a higher level of living while on the other side drachma means poverty. This is a perception that helped ruling class parties to win in the recent elections ofGreeceat June, 17 when they sent the following blackmail to the voters: “Rejection of austerity packages and Memorandum of Understanding will automatically mean exit from Eurozone. So your choices are: Acceptance of spending cuts and wages’ reductions or return to the drachma that means bigger poverty and unemployment”. In this way the dividing line of the elections of May, 6 in which prevailed the question “pro or against the austerity policies” was removed to a more favorable direction for the pro bail-out parties.

Only in this context we could explain SYRIZA’s defeat and the (temporary) win of the rightwing party (ND) which formed government with social democratic party (PASOK) with the help of the most rightwing party of the Left (DHMAR). But SYRIZA is not only a victim of this (successful as was proved) strategy. SYRIZA during the previous years separated EU from austerity policies (blaming only IMF, for example) and refused to build a movement against Eurozone and EU. Its analysis about EU remains trapped in a simplistic scheme, originated from the political tradition of euro communism, that EU is the “peoples’ home”. No class analysis about the social forces that imposed Rome or Maastricht Treaty or built European Economic Community and most recently European Union and Eurozone, neither even a simple eye to the Euro Plus Pact and Stability Pact which were signed during the last year.

According to the previous, EU and Eurozone have been proved the command center, the war room of the most recent capital’s attack. Overall aim of this attack is to close the parenthesis that opened in theWestern Europeat the immediate post-war period, with the welfare state, the high level of life among workers, etc.

At the epicenter of this attack are workers’ rights. I would remind you only 3 of the articles of Euro Plus Pact and Stability Pact which constitute an ad hoc conservative amendment of founding articles of EU: Commitment of European leaders to push wages and salaries in their countries at the direction of their biggest competitor (who is China), increase of pension age, criminalization of public deficits and many more.

The big winner of this war is the whole European capital, not only financial capital as it is said often in the European Left, underestimating the ties between them, but industrial too. For example manufacturers have gained the biggest profits from the reduction of salaries by 25% (and 35% for those under 25 years old) according to the most recent Memorandum of February.

The role of the weapon of mass destruction in this attack played sovereign debt crisis. This crisis was only an excuse as shown by the fact that Greek public debt in October of 2009 was 115% of GDP and now (after two rescue efforts) has climbed to 165%. There is something more that proves the failure of the policies of ECB: the fact that sovereign debt crisis, two years after its explosion, hasn’t stopped but keeps expanding. It’s easy to understand that the real aim of the bail-outs wasn’t to avert a public finance derailment but the attack to the working rights.

Examining the role that played Brussels and Frankfurt the last two years and much more during the last swap of Greek bonds (which called Private Sector Involvement because of the nonvoluntary participation of private bondholders in the restructuring of Greek public debt) they confirmed their role as provocateurs of the crisis and at the same time Most Valuable Players of international capital. I distinguish some features of the agreement, which give it a pioneering role for every new sovereign debt restructuring in other countries of the developed capitalist world that will follow sooner or later.

1)      Bloody austerity measures as a term for the agreement which include: spending cuts in health, education and every social expense, reductions in wages and salaries not only in the public sector but even in the private sector, massive lay-offs in the public sector, dismantling of collective bargaining system, etc.

2)      Prolonged recession which give to the therapy a punitive character and transform the country into a negative example for every other government that was thinking to follow its route.

3)      Issuance of the new bonds, which replaced the previous, under theUnited Kingdomand Luxemburg and not Greek law. This change is in favor of the creditors as the legal tradition of these countries is in favor of bondholders.

4)      Neocolonial loan agreements which accompanied the new loans giving the right of intervention to foreign debtors. Under these agreements Greek government has been resigned from its sovereign rights.

5)      Radical change of the profile of public debt which now is possessed by its biggest part (73%) from official debtors (IMF, ECB, governments) when, before PSI, official was only a small part (38%) of Greek public debt.

6)      Unequal division of the losses from the “haircut”. Greek banks for example having in their investments portfolios Greek bonds of 55 bn. of euros will be compensated in the form of recapitalization by an amount of 50 bn. euros approximately. The biased (towards the banks) character of Greek “rescue” could be seen from something more: Till now Greecehas received from bail out amounts 150 bn. euros. From these 105 have gone to foreign (official and unofficial) debtors, 25 have gone to Greek banks and only 20 have gone to the Greek budget. The unequal character of the swap could be seen if we take into the account that when Greek banks are compensated nearly by 100%, Greek pension schemes bear losses of 55%. At the same time Greek universities and other entities of public sector bear losses even 95%!

7)      Violation of Greek constitution. Loan agreements include many articles that violate Greek and EU laws, even Greek constitution leading prominent Greek constitutionalists to condemn them asking from members of Parliament no to vote it.

All the previous give us not only the moral advantage and right but even the legal arguments, according to the international law, to say that this debt not only could not be paid, but it should not be paid. Especially, Greek public debt should not be paid, using the following arguments:

  • Troika’s loans are illegal because they have not been voted by the Greek parliament, as was required by the Greek constitution. Especially, for the second loan of 130 bn. euros (March 2012) has not been followed the official process. The first loan has not voted by the Parliament not even by the simple majority of 151 votes!
  • Germanyowes to Greece (which is nearly the unique country that has resigned from the demand of compensations) from Second World War more than 700 bn. euros (twice the current Greek debt) in present value. So, every discussion about Greece’s international obligations should begin fromGermany’s recognition about the WWII obligations againstGreece.
  • International Law recognizes a country’s right to declare cessation of payments in case of emergency situation. In Greece we have the clearest implementation of this term with the closure of more than 1.000 schools, more than 50 hospitals, the doubling of unemployment in two years (from 11% to 23%) the formation of a migration wave like what was happening the first after war decades in our countries, etc.

This task, which could pave the way for a wider challenge of the debt burden from the European peoples, could be facilitated by the campaign of audit of public debt, by a very strict term: that this job would be independent from the state, would be accountable to the social and workers movements and could not be used as a means to legalize the debt burden. In this context civil Greek initiative for the formation of an audit committee of the public debt has declared that its aim is the cessation of payments of public debts and the abolition of the whole public debt or of its biggest share.

  1. B.      The next day

Last two years left economists, squares’ movement, Greek workers’ movement and especially its most radical (but not marginal) wing has formed a set of demands against the EU and IMF’s attack. They include: Exit from Eurozone (as a means for the implementation of independent monetary policy in the interest of domestic employment) and the EU (as a means to apply redistribution policies and industry policy), imminent cessation of payments of public debt, abolition of the whole or the largest share of public debt with the help of an independent audit committee, nationalization of banks and crucial enterprises, increases in capital taxes, control in capital flights, etc.

Your own proposed program answers with a very clear way to a difficult question which we confront: Could Greece bear alone in a monetary world which dominated by mega-currencies like euro? Till now, we answer that just in the same way that in the previous years not only Greece, but all the peripheral countries of Eurozone (Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Spain and Cyprus) had been proved “crisis resistant” with their own monetary units, just in the same way they could do it now too. In the long run of course the LIBERA currency (or, in essence, a common currency between countries with comparable productivity) is the solution. But, my opinion there is a very crucial distance between now (when our countries suffer from a currency with an interest rate which serves Germany) and then (when in our countries we will have anti-capitalist victories). In this period, which is defined by the different speed that crisis of euro strikes our countries I believe that the return to a national monetary unit is inevitable. It doesn’t means return to nationalism, as we are blamed by the cosmopolitan Left, but application of a monetary policy with the adequate interest rates and exchange rate (even fixed and not tradable rates) that will serve labor’s interests.

Closing, I wanted to share with you some reflections about ALIAS, the equivalent of ALBA, in our region. Regimes ofBolivia,Ecuador,Venezuelaof course have offered to their people a huge relief (redistribution of wealth, free education and health, public debt’s cancellation, etc) after two decades of the most brutal economic and political oppression byIMF,USA, etc. But at the same time private sector has been untouchable. Exploitation in working places has not been challenged, reminding to us the pure social democratic programs, which applied inEuropeduring 50’s and 60’s. But even now the prospects of these regimes remain open: Will they be proved transitional regimes paving the way to social change and socialism or they will be known in the history because they undertook the job of modernizing capitalist relations of production and bourgeois political system after its disintegration under the brutal IMF shock – therapies? I believe that we must have these questions in our minds because the militant Marxism and anti-capitalist Left will see just in the next period the emergence of parties of center-left which will be pole of attraction of wider masses, like what is happening now inGreece, as a result of the magnitude of our defeat.

In this context I believe that substance of new solidarity alliance, ALIAS, is a positive exit to the nowadays drama by the term that should challenge capital’s dominance. At the same time it’s a vivid proof of anti-capitalist forces’ internationalism. Knowing in any case that the final result will be decided under the balance of class relations in each country, ALIAS should have hostile relations with EU.Brusselswill not stop being the war room of capital and imperialism. So, if we believe that getting out of EMU (if this occurs under the pressure of social struggles and not after Bundesbank’s calculations) is politically convenient even for tactical reasons without exiting the EU, as it is written in the book, then we will be in front of unpleased surprises.

As a conclusion I believe that Luciano Vasapollo and others’ book and this exchange of opinions is a very big step towards that will help all of us to:

  • deepen our knowledge for the contemporary capitalism and the specific characteristics of the current crisis,
  • develop our critique against capitalism and
  • elaborate a common and reliable alternative against the existing capitalism, which will serve the interests of working class.
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