Last week, on March 11, Greece was
shaken by an even bigger general strike than on February 24. As the
government announced its third austerity package the mood of Greek
workers has become one of growing anger and militancy. All the
conditions are there for a massive escalation of the conflict.
The crisis of capitalism is creating an unstable social and
political situation in Germany. Tensions are emerging within the
coalition government, elected only last year. Most interestingly, this
is having a radicalising effect inside DIE LINKE, which is being pulled
both left and right, with some of the leaders attracted by coalition
politics while the more radical ranks react against and seek an
alternative to the left.
Greece, like all the other capitalist
countries afflicted by the recession, is running a big deficit on its
government budget. Tax revenues have
collapsed and more benefits are having to be paid out to the unemployed.
Deficits for the European Union countries as a whole tripled from 2.3% to 6.9%
from 2008 to 2009 because of the slump.
The recent elections in Greece saw a
massive shift to the left in Greek society, with a total of 56% of the
electorate voting for the left parties. The PASOK alone received almost
44%. This is a vote that rejects the austerity measures of the outgoing
conservative ND government. The problem is that the PASOK leaders are
promising more of the same. For the workers this vote was a victory -
but they did not vote for more cuts. This now opens up the prospect of
class struggle in the coming period.
Under capitalism there is a steady unremitting pressure on workers’ living standards from the capitalist class, particularly as they compete with one another, and with bosses all around the world, to cut costs - especially labour costs. This need for employers to attack the wages and conditions of European workers has been intensified by the onset of crisis. There are huge discrepancies between national rates of pay within the European Union. Naturally bosses would like to exploit these differences. And the European Court of Justice is trying hard to help them.