In March 2011, a group of people from different political backgrounds took the initiative to demand the formation of an Audit Committee in Greece. Academics, writers, artists, union representatives all over the world supported this initiative. The Audit Committee will find which parts of the debt are odious or illegitimate and will prove that, as provided by Greek and International Law, the Greek people are not obliged to pay such debt. However, the decision is basically political, not financial. Even if the debt was legitimate, no government has the right to kill its people in order to satisfy its lenders. “Even if the entire Greek national debt of 350 billion proves legitimate, which is clearly not going to be the case, Greece can never pay back. It will have to be cancelled. If honoring the debt and making it sustainable involves dismantling health care, dismantling education, dismantling the transport system, then the debt is socially unsustainable” (Costas Lapavitsas). “What in effect the government is saying is that they are going to default in relationship to the Greek people. I don’t understand how a social democratic, socialist, popularly elected government can turn to its own voters and say, ‘We are gonna default on you,’ instead of defaulting on financial institutions” (David Harvey). . . . “It’s immoral to pay an immoral debt” (Éric Toussaint). The formation of an Audit Committee is ultimately just a valuable weapon in a broader battle. This battle will follow the traditional rules by which battles have been fought for centuries. Without this battle, even if we repudiate the debt repeatedly, it will always rise from its ashes. “This means that a field for ideological, political, and class struggle will form. The debt is a result of class struggle” (Costas Lapavitsas). “Don’t hesitate to stand up for your rights against the EU and the Greek government. Respect is gained through struggle, not by obeying one’s creditors. Look at Tunisia and Egypt. Only when the people take action can the situation really change” (Éric Toussaint).
Debtocracy is based on research by Leonidas Vatikiotis. The text above is an edited partial transcript of Debtocracy. For more information about the film, visit <www.debtocracy.gr>. Cf. Leonidas Vatikiotis and Petros C. Kosmas, “Nominal and Real Aims of Austerity Programmes: the Greek (Extreme) Case” (10 June 2011).