This appeal to the social and political forces of Greece, as opposed to « institutions » that would dictate to Greece and its government what it must do and how, is hereby set in motion by its signatories, with absolute respect for the course that the Greek people and their elect have chosen.
We, the citizens of different European countries, Greeks and non-Greeks alike – a diversity of social and political backgrounds, pursuant to the fact that what unites us is far greater than what divides us, together affirm our readiness to harness our skills and experience to help Greece. We stand ready to contribute to the advancement of tools and methods needed to define and implement the development program that Greece so urgently needs.
A democracy disparaged, an economy ruined
Today, the people of Greece are being denied the fundamental right of self-determination. The Parliament is being trampled on and the government is being called upon to implement a program in which it does not believe.
According to the Euro Summit Statement of July 12, 2015, « The [Greek] government needs to consult and agree with the Institutions on all draft legislation in relevant areas with adequate time before submitting it for public consultation or to Parliament. ».
Once again in the nation’s history, Greece has been placed under unconditional tutelage by its creditors.
The third memorandum, ratified by the Parliament of this country without any real possibility of examination, imposes a new series of austerity measures (increased VAT, lowered pensions, lowered public spending, etc.), this, at an exorbitant price, just to keep the country in the Eurozone, which is not even assured.
Within weeks, or at most a few months, an aggravated recession will ensue, leaving the Greek people with no other option than to try to survive by seeking refuge in « grey » or parallel economies to escape ever-increasing tax burdens within a context of income reduction.
Creditors and institutions, (whose normative power is significantly strengthened at the expense of the Greek Parliament), are free to attack the Greek authorities for not honouring their commitments (primary budget surplus, privatizations) and then to impose new requirements. They will repeatedly and relentlessly pressure the government, whatever its political colour, threatening not to grant the sums foreseen if new austerity measures are not implemented. This worm drive mechanism will crush Greece’s social structure and economy, forcing the country’s (often highly qualified) youth to accept an exile they do not desire.
Debt, the principal vector of servitude, can only grow. New loans granted within the framework of a third « aid » package will at best only serve to roll the debt over, plunging Greece into a downward spiral of over-indebtedness through the interplay of interests and decline in GDP. In a document dated July 14, the IMF also indicates that the Greek state’s debt is expected to reach 200% of its GDP within the next two years!
In short, what is imposed on Greece, with no advantages whatsoever, is a loss of its sovereignty, the return of the Troika and its « men in black » in Athens, deepened austerity and worsened recession.
An impending danger is that the far-right « Golden Dawn » party could become effectively popular as the only political force offering an alternative proposal for Greek society. This disastrous consequence, should it occur, would be the product of anti-social policies.
Elected on a basis of opposing austerity, anti-democratic and unconstitutional practices, it is unfortunately clear that the current government has passed a third memorandum likening Greece to a colony deprived of any right to self-determination.
The future of Greece must be written in Greek!
We contend that no international institution, (ECB, European Commission, Eurogroup, IMF), or State, has the right to dictate to the Greek people and its government how to conduct their affairs. Greece’s sovereignty, like that of any other nation, is non-negotiable and not subject to conditions.
We call to mind the UN Council Resolution on Human Rights of April 23, 1999, according to which, « the exercise of the basic rights of the people of debtor countries to food, housing, clothing, employment, education, health services and a healthy environment cannot be subordinated to the implementation of structural adjustment policies and economic reforms arising from the debt ».
Finally halting the decline – assuring economic and social development
Implementation of the third memorandum steers Greece ever closer to its decline and abdication from its sovereignty. Whether Greece remains a member of the Eurozone or not, it is likely that Greece’s social structure will be severely tested in the coming months and perhaps years. Rising inequality will produce very visible effects with an increase in extreme poverty, the very rich being largely unaffected, or possibly taking advantage of the crisis by buying up assets sold by the State or households in serious trouble. This risk of collapse can and must be averted. Promoting the diversified development of productive capabilities and democracy is the only way to prevent the destructive course of parallel, grey, or mafia-style economies arising from the choices imposed on Greece.
In opposition to this gruesome scenario, we believe that implementation of a program to develop the country’s productive potential is essential.
Five principles seem to guide the definition of such a program:
- Recovering the political and economic sovereignty of the country
- Developing democracy in all areas of political, economic and social activity,
- Responding to the fundamental needs of the Greek people through valuing the work and skills of all,
- Protecting nature and natural resources in general,
- Promoting regional development and stimulating local economies.
Based on these guidelines, the challenge is to develop Greek industry and agriculture comprehensively by leveraging new technologies: support for agricultural and agro-food activities (organic farming, « sustainable » agricultural practices, etc.), housing renovation activity (e.g., use of new materials), promoting energy conservation (intelligent networks, insulation, etc.) and renewable energy (e.g., wind, photovoltaic energy), health-related industries (biotechnology, nanotechnology, etc.), the textile and clothing sector (new materials, technical textiles, etc.), transportation equipment (small clean electric or hybrid vehicles, efficient public transportation, etc.), ship construction/repair, (e.g., new propulsion methods).
A developmental model for Greece cannot rely on a monistic vision based solely on private initiative, or only on public property, or exclusively on a social and solidarity economy. A new developmental model for Greece must be based on a diversity of economic forms, combining private initiative, a renewed public sector and a dynamic third economic sector.
This model then must be based on complementarity and address three areas:
- The first area concerns actions to be implemented to encourage new forms of entrepreneurship, as well as innovative forms of collective social and economic organization: industrial channels, consolidation of small and medium-size businesses, collaborative projects, etc.
- The second area concerns actions aimed at developing economic and social solidarity, most often regionally. This second type of activity operates within a context of social and solidarity economy: local trade systems, time banks, short distribution channels, circular economy, etc.
- The third area, coordinating the first two, focuses on developing productive regionalized networks: clusters of different types, bringing together companies of different sizes and universities and/or technical training for so-called traditional, as well as high technology activities.
It is only by immediately undertaking the project of a new diversified developmental model based on new forms of democracy and involvement of social forces that Greece will finally be able to escape the state of double political and economic dependency in which it is trapped: political dependency with respect to « institutions » and traditional political practices, economic dependency associated with imports and external financing.
Our appeal to the social and political forces of Greece
Democracy was born in Greece. The « Greek crisis » has, for some, revealed all the Eurozone’s current functional limitations and the authoritarian straightjacket of austerity it has created. For others, it only confirms the destructive dysfunctional nature of a single currency across different economies with diverse limitations and in which it only increases those differences. Whether one believes in the possibility of reform in this zone that would in the end favour development, or in its inevitable and remedial, (if possible organised) dissolution, the fate of Greece, for which we are ready to work, Greeks and non-Greeks together, is of crucial importance for all Europeans.
We believe that the hopes raised by Syriza’s victory in last January’s election, as well as July’s referendum result, signify an immense need for change that extends beyond Greece’s borders. We, Greeks and non-Greeks alike, stand ready to engage ourselves in the mission of assisting the social and political forces that strive to forge a viable development project. This project is of crucial importance for Greece, whether it remains in the Eurozone or not. It represents a first response against a Europe dominated by financial markets that stifle production, as well as the political forces currently in power in Germany that compel that country to conduct itself in a hegemonic fashion. Some key German politicians, throughout the negotiations with the Greek government, have in fact shown that they will not hesitate to use the economic power of their country in order to enslave the governments of other nations (especially when these claim to choose a political path that is not their own), or even to question the authority of the European institutions themselves (the European Commission).
We appeal to the Greek authorities, now and in the future, to not accept political, economic and social incarceration within a context of financial logic dictated by debt repayment and deficit reduction. In the hope of being heard by them and despite the concessions that have been made, we appeal to the Greek authorities to henceforth serve the will of the people and urgently organize a General Assembly for Development, promoting unity and open dialogue throughout Greece and bringing together all the social forces of the country to chart the general vision and key points of the development project that Greece needs.
We appeal to the nation’s vital forces to urgently commit themselves to the creation of a development project: a program ensuring the future of the country and its youth. New forms of political and social organization must emerge or be enhanced, to mobilize the social forces that have been inactive in recent months. Only with strong determination and a sweeping popular movement will we be able to release this powerful, creative and multifaceted potential; without these qualities, nothing is possible.
As a final point, we appeal to the Greek progressive forces to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming elections, to discuss this major challenge: a development program coordinating democracy, innovation and productivity.
Professor of Economics at the University of Toulouse
and Ioannis Margaris
Ph.D. Energy and Technology at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Post-Doc (DTU)