Tsipras is unpolished, but it’s remarkable what simple good sense he’s expressing. It’s a welcome contrast to the bizarre fealty displayed by Very Serious People in Europe to their own failed strategy. ‘Failed’, in the limited sense of not achieving what they say they want: economic stability and growth. But the European bankocracy has been quite successful in its real goal: crushing the post-war social contract and welfare state that emerged from the catastrophic wars and social upheaval of the twentieth century. Sixty million people died before the old buggers got around to re-engineering their societies to halt political extremism and mass suicide, but hey, that was decades ago. There’s money to be made today!
Tsipras says the austerity fetish has not worked, which is obvious to anyone not holding a Ph.D. in economics. He also agrees that Greece’s corrupt, feather-bedded, books-cooking model of governance is a disaster, but disagrees that ‘reform’ should be accomplished solely on the backs of youth, the elderly, the unemployed and the destitute. Rich Greeks should be forced to pay taxes, he insists, and the creaking duopoly that pawned Greece to the international banks should be swept away.
The Guardian’s Helena Smith asked Tsipras if he was as dangerous as people say, to which he replied with the horrifyingly radical notion that the Greek people should have something to say about what is being done to them.
So far, I believe there hasn’t been any real discussion, just as there was no political negotiation in Europe before the memorandum [of bailout conditions] on the terms and ways of confronting Greece’s fiscal problem. The memorandum was a political decision that was taken without consulting the Greek people, and it has proved catastrophic. . . . After two packages of financial support that were accompanied by very harsh measures, recession remains at monumental levels, unemployment has soared, social cohesion has collapsed, and Greece is in danger of a humanitarian crisis. And on top of this, we're not seeing results. Neither is the debt being reduced effectively, nor is the deficit; and nor is recession subsiding. Consequently, we can’t insist on a programme that has proved catastrophic and ineffective. . . . If you have a sick patient, and you see that the medicine you are giving him makes him worse, then the solution is not to continue the medicine but to change the medicine.
Words of a truly dangerous madman! How dare he refuse to genuflect at the altar of fiscal probity, Saint Angela and The Market? Instead, Tsipras actually referred to the effects of the EU policy on people, namely the people of Greece.
We have never been in such a bad place. After two and a half years of catastrophe, the Greek people are on their knees; the social state has crumbled; one in two youngsters is out of work; there are people leaving en masse; the climate psychologically is one of pessimism, depression, mass suicides. We cannot accept that this is the future of a European country. And precisely because we recognise the problem is European, and it will spread to the rest of Europe, we are sounding the alarm bell. . . . No one has the right to reduce a proud people to such a state of wretchedness and indignity. What is happening in Greece with the memorandum is assisted suicide.
One of the justifications for the EU-led attack on its population’s survival is the country’s decades of mismanagement and fibbing about its books. Tsipras doesn’t disagree:
New Democracy and Pasok, the two parties that were in charge of the fate of the country all these years and took it into the eurozone, worked on the basis of easy profit on the stock exchange, easy loans and the false consumer needs of the Greek people. . . . To find work you had to go around MPs offices in the hope that they would find you a job. It was a system that did not give opportunities to young people. . . .They didn’t leave anything behind, any infrastructure, when Greece had positive growth at 7% or 8%. Where did it go? It went into the pockets of certain corrupt and wealthy [individuals] and banks, to those who were paid kickbacks for defense procurements and constructions for the Olympic Games. It didn’t go into building a better social state. We didn’t build better schools or better hospitals, and now Greek people are in a much worse place to confront the crisis than, say, the French, the Spanish and other Europeans.
Tsipras refused to bait Germany and the Germans. Far more troubling than crude nationalism to the system grinding up the Greek populace is this definition of friends and enemies:
The war that we are experiencing is not between nations and peoples. On the one side, there are workers and a majority of people, and on the other are global capitalists, bankers, profiteers on stock exchanges, the big funds.
Smith then reminds him that Greece is on life support with the IV drip in the hands of its international bankers.
But who is surviving? Tell me. Greeks are not. Banks are surviving, but Greeks are not surviving. In reality, we have the salvation of Greece with the destruction of the people of Greece. What, ultimately, is Greece if it is not the people who live in this country? It’s not the mountains and the plains. We can’t say we’re saving a country when its people are being destroyed. The loans are going straight to interest payment and banks.
Be afraid, Greeks, be very afraid. A demented radical is loose in your midst! By no means cast your vote for him next month! Or else!