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Eric Toussaint: “The Greek people are currently at the epicenter of the crisis of capitalism.”
Posted and Translated by SnakeArbusto, 99GetSmart
Speech given by Eric Toussaint at the SYRIZA youth festival in Athens, 6 October, 2012
More than 3,000 people were present to listen to four speakers, in the following order: Marisa Matias, EU deputy, member of the Left Bloc (Portugal); Lisaro Fernandez, miners’ union director (Asturias, Spain); Alexis Tsipras, president of SYRIZA (Greece); Eric Toussaint, president of the CADTM (Belgium).
Speech by Eric Toussaint:
“We are now experiencing one of the worst crises of the worldwide capitalist system. But capitalism will not die a natural death, peacefully in bed. Crises are part of the metabolism of capitalism. Only conscious action by the people can destroy and supersede capitalism in order to open the way to democratic socialism.
The Greek people are currently at the epicenter of the crisis of capitalism. The way in which the Greek people, with their mobilizations, will confront and provide a response to this capitalist crisis will be of determining importance for finding a solution at the international level. You are at the epicenter of the crisis and the solution to that crisis.
Six or seven years ago, the epicenter of the alternative to capitalism was located in South America: in Venezuela, in Ecuador, in Bolivia, when Hugo Chávez said in 2004 that he no longer believed in a third way; that he felt that there must be a worldwide socialism of the 21st century. Today, the epicenter of the alternatives – which have still not taken shape, as the title of this conference clearly indicates – has moved to Europe.
What the people of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia have shown the world is that it is entirely possible to resist the capitalist offensive, that it is entirely possible to apply a policy of redistribution of wealth, to socialize the major strategic corporations; that it is absolutely possible and necessary that we take back control over common property such as natural resources. They have done it, and they are still in power in government; and let us hope that tomorrow, on 7 October in the presidential elections, Hugo Chávez will again be re-elected president of Venezuela.
We are living at a historic time in Europe today. Never at any time in the past 70 years have we experienced an offensive as brutal as the one we face today in the countries of Europe. Everywhere in Europe, the pretext of debt is being used – not only in Greece, but in all European countries – to apply budgetary policies of austerity. In Greece, we can clearly see the results in their most brutal expression; but Greece is only the start of an offensive that is already affecting the people of Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and other European countries as well.
That is why we must fight back and unify our efforts to suspend payment of and repudiate illegitimate debt. This is a fundamental goal for us, for all of us on the entire continent.
The Greek people have taught Europe a great lesson in the past three years. First, they are resisting; they have organized and taken part in at least 14 general strikes. But, just as fundamental, and despite the electoral defeat, is the fact that the Greek people nonetheless voted massively for the radical initiative proposed by SYRIZA. It is a fundamental lesson for the rest of Europe – where too often the Left is far too timid. Greece’s example shows the strength of a united Left, a Left that brings people together, that has created a coalition of 12 different political organizations and is endeavoring to unify them in SYRIZA. Greece’s example shows that when a party or a coalition says “No”; says: “If we are elected to govern, we will disobey the Troika,” that courageous and combative attitude can win the support of the people. It is a lesson to all of us.
The reduction of the Greek debt in March 2012 is a swindle, and it is a trap. It is very important to show international public opinion that the debt for which the Troika is demanding payment, which now represents 150 billion euros – that is Greece’s debt with the Troika: 150 billion euros – to show that that entire debt is an illegitimate debt which must be annulled by the action of the people, through the disobedience of a government of the people.
To be continued ............