With a newly elected government opposing the troika’s brutal austericide policies, Greece finds itself alone – like Spain was in 1936, argues Pedro Luis Angosto*
That history does not repeat itself does not prevent it from being cyclical; in other words whenever a period of progress occurs it provokes a reaction that tries to roll the situation back to where it started. The world shook with the French Revolution, but once Napoleon was defeated, France led the Holy Alliance that ended the Spanish liberal revolution led by Riego and sought to demonstrate that the old regime was as alive as it was in 1788; in Russia in 1917, ten days shook the world by opening a door to hope, but the European powers reacted by launching the white war and the revolution was aborted. Once the USSR was over, a former member of the KGB, Vladimir Putin, erected a regime in the style of the former Czars. The same could be said of Europe that emerged after the Second World War with a welfare state that nowadays is being dismantled to establish an oligarchic regime at the service of “the markets”.
The coup of 17 July 1936 hatched by the Spanish military with the help of the clergy and high Spanish and Catalan bourgeoisie failed in the country’s two major cities, Barcelona and Madrid. A few days after the betrayal, the Prime Minister José Giral and Interior Secretary Carlos Esplá discovered documents that showed the agreements signed by the Francoist rebels and the fascist regime of Mussolini: the war had begun. From that moment all Republican diplomacy in the major countries of Europe and the League of Nations sought to emphasise that what was happening in Spain was only the beginning of what would happen later throughout the continent.
The words of Azaña, Esplá, Giral, Azcárate, Alvarez del Vayo and Negrin fell on deaf ears and Spain had to face the Nazi-fascist powers alone, while Chamberlain’s Britain and Leon Blum’s France – with tears in their eyes – promoted the policy of appeasement and the Non-Intervention Committee which allowed Germany and Italy to arm the Spanish fascists and prevented the Second Republic from defending itself against totalitarian aggression. After bombing cities and towns in a way never seen before anywhere in the world, after practicing a scorched earth policy in the territories they conquered, after shooting tens of thousands of people, having left the Republican army unarmed, Franco’s forces won the war and imposed, with the consent and support of Britain and the United States, the most murderous regime in our history. Six months later Europe was devastated by the Nazi-fascism.
Since the oil crisis of 1973, but especially since the demise of the USSR, the enemies of democracy (which is nothing other than what Lincoln said, government of the people, by the people and for the people) launched a calculated attack which aimed first to dismantle the welfare state and lastly to hollow out democracy itself, so that popular sovereignty would be replaced in a few decades by the sovereignty of the markets, a more intangible dogma than the Holy Trinity. Since this could not be done by force, it was decided to achieve this via propaganda; and in -a rare ideological confluence, television, film, newspapers, paper and other means of mass communication set about this task.
With sections of the trade union movement asleep, social democratic parties as if drugged, a decaffeinated education system and a society that had became smug and lifeless from success, this change was placed upon a silver platter. It was a change that meant a return to well-known political models based on the exploitation of man by man, usury, alienation, greed and lack of any sense of ethics, but this time it was extended across the globe. It was said over and over again-and continues to be said- that the collective stock of the people, their hospitals, schools, social services, pensions, forests, nature, cultural and artistic heritage were not sustainable, that the lives of people did not depend on their value or effort but their docility, everything had to be measured in terms of profitability, that proportional and progressive direct taxes were outdated, that indirect taxes such as VAT – although medieval – were modernity, that education was best left in the hands of monks and nuns, that health should be a business for a few, that to defraud or steal taxes from the Treasury were very laudable things, and progress means slashing all human rights, globalising misery and submission.
Greece recently elected a government to oppose the troika’s brutal austericides that are plunging in abject misery the Greek people and other peoples of Europe. And because of this today Greece is, alone, like Spain in 1936. If we want to prevent the enemies of democracy that now govern the world from doing with Greece and the continent as they did in 1939 it is time to give our full support to SYRIZA and the Greek people. Your future, ours and everyone’s is playing out today in Greece.
Pedro Luis Angosto is a Spanish historian
Translation/edit by Revolting Europe