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Where Do We Go From Here?

Greece Rejects the Troika

by MICHAEL HUDSON

Just after 7 PM Greek time on Sunday, I was told that the “No” vote (Gk. Oxi) was winning approximately 60/40. The “opinion polls” showing a dead heat evidently were wrong. Bookies across Europe are reported to be losing their shirts for betting that the financial right wing could fool most Greeks into voting against their self-interest. The margin of victory shows that Greek voters were immune to media misrepresentation during the week-long run-up as to whether to accept the troika’s demand for austerity to be conducted on anti-labor lines.*

It should not have been so great a surprise. Voting age for the referendum was lowered to 18 years, and included army members. Faced with an unemployment rate of over 50 percent, Greek youth understandably wanted no more euro-austerity.

The Troika’s demand was for austerity to be deepened solely by taxing labor and reducing pensions. Its policy makers had vetoed Syriza’s proposed taxes on the wealthy and steps to stop their tax avoidance. The IMF for its part vetoed cutbacks in Greek military spending (far above the 2% of GDP demanded by NATO), despite even the European Central Bank (ECB) and German Chancellor Merkel agreeing to this.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker threatened to expel Greece from Europe, despite no law permitting this to occur. Let us see now whether he still tries to carry out his bluff, which has been echoed by right-wing leaders throughout Europe.

His retaliatory actions from an ostensibly non-political, non-elected office are not alone. The eurozone class war in support of finance against labor and industry is now open and in earnest. Instead of doing what a central bank is supposed to do – provide liquidity (and paper currency) to banks, ECB head Mario “Whatever it takes” Draghi forced them to shut down even their ATM machines for lack of cash. Evidently this was intended to frighten Greek voters to think that this would be their country’s future if they voted No.

It is an old strategy. Andrew Jackson expressed his vindictiveness toward the Second Bank of the United States by shutting it down. When it refused to appoint his corrupt political cronies, he deposited the U.S. Treasury’s money in his “pet banks.” The drain of money plunged the economy into depression. The Southern slave states welcomed deflation, because they sought low prices for their cotton exports, and also opposed northern industry with its protectionist policies and anti-slave politics.

What Greece needs is a domestic central bank – or failing that, a national Treasury – empowered to create the money to monetize government spending on economic recovery. Mr. Draghi has shown the ECB not to be “technocratic,” but a cabal of right-wing operatives working to bring down the Syriza government, in...

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