Socialist Worker

Far right threat looms over Europe as its economy stagnates

Panos Garganas argues that fighting the fascist Golden Dawn in Greece must go hand in hand with fighting against austerity

Issue No. 2421

European Central Bank governor Mario Draghi

The European Central Bank governor's new measures seem like an act of panic (Pic: ECB)


It has been a year since the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by Golden Dawn thugs in Keratsini near Piraeus, southern Greece.

There were set to be anti-Nazi demos in 13 cities across Greece on Thursday of this week. 

The Tory-led government is currently backtracking from the trial of Golden Dawn as a criminal organisation. There are reports that it may even introduce changes in the penal code to help the Nazis avoid harsh sentences. 

The demonstrations on Thursday are a chance to send a strong message against such protection for the murderers.

The significance of these protests is not limited to Greece. The latest opinion polls in France show Marine Le Pen of the Front National leading other presidential candidates.

There is an urgent need to mobilise against the rise of the racist and fascist right across Europe.

The background to this rise is the continuing crisis of the eurozone. The latest official figures show economic stagnation—zero growth in France, negative growth in Italy and even in Germany. 

The response of the European Central Bank (ECB) has been to announce further support for the banking system.

Mario Draghi, the governor of the ECB, promised to start buying “asset-backed securities” to provide further liquidity. 

This has been hailed as a move away from the strict austerity advocated by German chancellor Angela Merkel and imposed across the eurozone. The reality is different.

Asset-backed securities are financial products that bring together mortgages and other loans as an “attractive investment”. 

They were at the centre of the crisis in the US banking system back in 2007. Since then, European banks have not been able to use this risky instrument on a large scale.

Dangerous

But now Draghi is offering them a chance to go down this dangerous road. It looks more like a move made in panic than  “relaxation of austerity”.

The other aspect of the new ECB package is an acceleration of what they call “structural reforms”. By this they mean more attacks on trade unions and working conditions, more privatisation of health and education services. 

Again, this is presented as a “balanced approach”, an attempt by Draghi to keep on board both sides of the debate inside the Eurozone.

He plans more reforms to please Merkel but also the so-called relaxation of austerity to please French president Francois Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. They are having trouble pushing through these “reforms”.

The overall effect is a worsening of conditions for working class people without any real prospect of the economy picking up. This is not a recipe for greater economic and political stability.

If this is true of the eurozone, it is even more so for Greece. The IMF has let it be known that it wants a conference with the European Union and the ECB in November to discuss the Greek debt. 

After six years of extreme austerity and recession, there are no signs that this debt can be repaid. 

By 2022, less than eight years from now, Greece will have to pay 28.7 billion euros to service its debt. That is 15 percent of the Greek GDP in one year.

Mobilising against the fascist threat is a priority. But this goes hand in hand with the fight against the rulers who destroy workers’ lives for the sake of bankers.


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