Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Costas Panayotakis on the Greek people's rejection of austerity demands

On matters Greek, one commentator whose views I always turn to is Costas Panayotakis, a professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York and author of Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.
Panayotakis has recently returned from Greece and was interviewed by Amy Goodman on the program "Democracy Now!" this morning where he said: 
"The result of the Greek referendum has been a resounding rejection of the devastating austerity policies that European institutions and the IMF have been imposing on Greek people for the last five years. The fact that more than 60 percent of Greeks voted ‘no’ to the European proposals for further austerity is a small miracle given the intense psychological pressure that Europe’s strangulation of the Greek economy has placed on Greek citizens. This result is also a victory for democracy. The European institutions’ choice to take actions that precipitated capital controls and a bank holiday in Greece was an attempt to repeat the scenario of 2011, when a Greek referendum on a previous bailout agreement was aborted  as a result of pressure from Chancellor Merkel and then French president Sarkozy. At the time, the democratically elected Prime Minister George Papandreou who called the referendum was toppled and replaced by an unelected banker who enjoyed the trust of European political and business elites

 This time around not only did Greek citizens get the chance to have a say on their future, but they were also brave enough to resist the campaign of ideological terrorism unleashed on them by the media controlled by Greek oligarchs, as well as by business owners threatening them that they would lose their jobs if ‘no’ prevailed, and by European officials threatening that Greece would be ejected from the eurozone if ‘yes’ did not win. The referendum result may not end austerity in Greece, but it does create a better environment for Greek anti-austerity forces to keep fighting. As for European governments and institutions, they are faced with a choice of either reaching a compromise with the Greek government that takes into account the referendum result or continuing strangulating the Greek economy and increasing the risks of a eurozone rupture."

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