The Spiegel affair: Tricks, blackmails and imperialist rivalries
by Stavros D.Mavroudeas
The unexpected publication by Spiegel on Friday (6/5/2011) noon of an article (http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,761201,00.html) revealing a secret EU meeting in Luxemburg considering the possibility of Greece’s exodus from the Eurozone set fire to markets but also to political debates in Greece and across Europe. The existence of the meeting was initially officially denied, then verified but its agenda was never disclosed satisfactorily.
Till now the possibility of a Greek exodus from the Eurozone was a forbidden taboo for both the European hegemonic powers and the Greek capital. Even the acceptance of the now obvious failure of the EU-IMF Greek Memorandum to solve the Greek crisis was, so far, a forbidden taboo. So what happened and a reverend mouthpiece of the German elite – such as the Spiegel – brings forward this accursed issue?
It is obvious that the article was not a maverick action (since another followed actually reiterating it) but a planned move by significant German power centers. It appears that during the last months the German capital is moving more and more unilaterally on EU issues and forces its choices not only upon the poorer European peripheral countries (Greece, Ireland, Portugal etc.) but also upon its equivalents (and particularly France). The sudden opening a few weeks ago by official German circles of another taboo issue (the possibility of a restructuring of the Greek debt before 2012, which amounts for a recognition of the failure of the EU-IMF Memorandum) took not only the Greek bourgeoisie but also the French by surprise. The Spiegel affair escalates this movement.
It appears that Spiegel’s article (and those instigating it) has three axes and respective recipients. By brandishing the fictitious specter of a Greek disengagement from the euro (something that the PASOK government and the Greek bourgeoisie is unable to think of) it blackmails all these three audiences.
First, it addresses the Greek bourgeoisie and it actually signals that Greek capital (and not only the working class) has to bear the burden of the restructuring of the Greek economy. In particular, it has to acquiescent to significant entrepreneurial assets (both public and private) coming into German control and ownership. This affects particularly the banking sector, which has supported and even campaigned vigorously in favour of the EU-IMF Memorandum but tries to avoid the acquisition of significant portions of it (if not all) by European capitals. Additionally, it is a blunt message to the Papandreou PASOK government (by scapegoating it as thinking the disengagement from the euro) to harness its favouring of US interests or else it will pay dearly. Only a few days before, a big (and very controversial) land project was aborted after German (among others) pressure in the European Commission. The project involved the sale (or long-term leasing) of the old Athens airport to Qatar (which is obviously a poor proxy for US interests) through a direct deal. Contra to that, the European Commission ruled that this had to be done through an open bid. On a separate plane, the reappearance of K.Simitis (the previous PASOK leader and prime-minister with well-known connections to the German establishment) with an article arguing for a Greek debt restructuring (similar to the German suggestions) threw another Parthian shaft to G.Papandreou since it effectively revealed the failure of the latter’s EU-IMF Memorandum policies.
The second recipient seems to be those centers of power within Germany that argue for a radical overhauling of the EU and the possible expulsion of its peripheral countries. There, W.Schaeuble (the German minister of finance) argues that such a development (beginning with the possible exit of some weaker country) it is not still in the interests of German capitalism. It is possible, at some subsequent stage and if the European imperialist integration project goes as disastrously as it seems today, to become necessary to radically overhaul if not dissolve it. But till now the German capital has to lose more than what it will gain from such a development. In a nutshell, with the European integration project the German capital (and its allies) has conquered economically what they have failed to conquer militarily in the 1st and 2nd World Wars. The current economic crises (the first 21st century depression) threw into turmoil this edifice, shake its very foundations and endangered its very future. Moreover, what was till now a blood donor for German capital accumulation (the European peripheral countries) is in urgent need of a transfusion. German capitalism is weighting the pros and cons of this process. The dismal evolution of the world economy and the significant risks of a double dip makes very costly and possible fruitless such transfusions. But on the other hand, it is still early to judge and also the European integration edifice (because of its blatant voluntarism and inherent instability) lacks mechanisms of orderly dissolution.
The third recipient is probably other hegemonic forces within the EU and especially France. The German capital is already blackmailing France on the issue of restructuring of the Greek debt. It abruptly threw away the Normadian beach romantic walk accord between Merkel and Sarkozy on a smoother EU restructuring. By bringing forth the issue of a pre-2012 restructuring of Greek debt the German capital signals that (a) (contrary probably to France who is more exposed) it had made provisions for covering its exposure to Greek debt and that (b) it is not willing to pay dearly for subsequent transfusions to peripheral countries and thus others (the French primarily have to throw more in). But also French capitalism fears, since it is a weaker economy, sooner or later might come their turn as well. By brandishing the Greek scapegoat of a euro exodus, German capitalism blackmails for the acceptance of its debt restructuring plans as the less evil scenario.
All these dirty tricks signal even worse developments for the working people of Greece (but also of the other European peripheral countries). The very same days of the Spiegel affair the EU-IMF-ECB troika appeared in Greece demanding even more pounds of flesh from the Greek people but also – and this is a new development – from the Greek capital. Greater worsening of working and pay conditions, enormous privatisations and selling of public property to foreign capitals are required in order to catch the blatantly failed projections of the EU-IMF Memorandum. A new blackmail is thrown in: the non-payment of the 5th part of the Memorandum loan if not conform to their directives. But the bigger deal follows. In the immediate aftermath of the Spiegel affair it emerged that all of them are discussing something unknown to the Greek people: the introduction of a new (even harsher) Memorandum and the extension of the current state of economic protectorate for Greece for several years to come. The sheer shock of the Spiegel affair facilitates the promotion and imposition of such a new Memorandum as again the ‘lesser evil’.