. . . So, our party [Communist Party of Greece, KKE] was very clear — for many years now — that the European Union is a union of capital and an anti-people hornet’s nest. The parties of the plutocracy in Greece as well as other countries lied to the peoples, fostered illusions that they will live in a Europe of prosperity and solidarity, that they will have work, high wages and pensions, humane social services. The phrase “you will eat with golden spoons” as long as competitiveness is reinforced and the orders of capital are implemented was the slogan of the Greek plutocracy which attempted to promote its class ambition to join the EU to a national goal in order to decisively strengthen its profitability. This would be achieved by above all smashing the working class and people’s rights. In reality, life has demonstrated that only the capitalists held the golden spoons. They concealed the truth from the people. The liberal New Democracy party, the social democratic PASOK, and the opportunists of what was then called Synaspismós — the predecessor of today’s SYRIZA, which has already developed, in our perspective, into an almost social democratic party — voted for the Maastricht Treaty, which was the basis for the formation of the EU. They voted for it with celebrations hiding its real character. This treaty aimed to strengthen the European monopoly groups, so that workers would become cheaper, so that they would work like slaves without rights.
The EU, together with the governments in the member states, is reinforcing the anti-people arsenal and the offensive against the peoples. They imposed the Lisbon Strategy, 2000-2010, so that the EU’s economies will become the most competitive in the world, so that the European giants will dominate in the global competition and increase their profitability. The forces of capital established the economic, monetary union and established the euro, which was applauded by New Democracy, PASOK, and Synaspismós back then, the predecessor of SYRIZA as we said. They voted for the strategy Europe 2020 and signaled a full-scale offensive in order to eradicate the working class’s and people’s rights during the capitalist crisis. Liberal and social democratic governments together, with the support of the so-called new-left, opportunist parties, imposed . . . the Lisbon Treaty, the well-known EU constitution, which provides for greater militarization of the EU, the strengthening of the repressive mechanisms, etc. They also imposed the so-called strengthened economic governance, which includes very harsh economic, political measures against the peoples. The banking union for the interests of the bankers. Every anti-people measure imposes the worsening of the conditions of work and pay, makes the workers cheaper so that the EU becomes more competitive in relation to China, India, and its other competitors. The EU and the parties that serve it are identified with unemployment, poverty, the eradication of labor and social rights. This is our perspective as it has always been. The EU targets the people as the enemy for its mechanisms to repress and persecute. It criminalizes the people’s struggle. It exploits the immigrants in the most brutal way.
Our party analyzed the capital crisis and came to the conclusion that this is a crisis of overproduction, capital overaccumulation, which strengthens the aggressiveness of capital and the EU. It made it clear from the beginning that the plutocracy must pay for the crisis and . . . that the harsh measures being imposed in this period are thrusting the burden of the capitalist crisis onto the working class and the popular strata, making the workers cheaper so that capitalists can become even richer during the time of economic growth, which all indicators suggest will be weak and will bring a new and even deeper crisis even in countries that have economic growth at the moment. The anti-people measures that bankrupted the people are not temporary — this is what we believe — they are permanent, they are here to stay. They are weapons that work and they are provided by the EU and the governments to capital so that it can intensify the exploitation of workers.
The anti-people offensive is not an exclusively Greek phenomenon. Capital’s offensive and the political forces that serve its interests are getting stronger in all EU member states, with or without memoranda, whether they use the euro or national currencies like here, as the developments in Britain also demonstrate. The basic goal is to buttress the competitiveness of the monopoly groups in order to . . . ensure cheaper labor power. The developments themselves also demonstrate that inter-imperialist competition is clearly sharpening inside the EU and the eurozone itself as well as more generally between the EU and the other imperialist centers and unions over the control of markets and natural resources.
But this reality has nothing to do with theories such as the so-called North and South conflict, which conceal the fact that the bourgeois class both in the North and in the South is attacking the peoples and the contradiction between labor and capital is the one that is sharpening. It’s also obvious that . . . anti-Merkelism, which is being used by opportunist forces, as well as the talk about an alliance of the South downgrades the criticism towards Germany’s real leader, which is capitalism and monopolies. At the same time it whitewashes the bourgeois governments, for example Hollande in France as well as the Spanish and Italian governments. Such theories undermine or negate the classical ideas for analysis of political, economic, and social developments and lend momentum to bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology. They allow nationalist fascist views to find an audience. . . . The EU is not a family of solidarity as they represent it. A capitalistic feature of the EU and the eurozone is uneven development and the competition of capitalist interests. In the battlefield of capitalist competition and change of alliances the confrontation is sharpening regarding the management of the debt of the heavily indebted states in the eurozone and the change of the fiscal policy formula.
The fact that Germany has benefited the most in this period does not mean that the aforementioned measures are being composed in the absence of or against the will of the other countries. The bourgeois classes in all countries despite the competition amongst them are jointly adopting and carrying out the anti-people offensive. The contradictions that might exist on several issues such as banking regulations or the management of the debt in the indebted states have nothing to do with the people’s interests. They focus on which capitalist monopolies will benefit more or will have fewer losses in the current conditions of the crisis. They express the objective reality of uneven development that characterizes all alliance of capitalist states such as the EU. The powerful capitalist states seek compromises but no compromise can prevent the implementation of the anti-people measures, periodic outbreaks of capital overaccumulation, and the consequences of uneven development. Furthermore they attempt to intimidate the people either in the name of the salvation of the EU or in the name of the salvation of the nation. We believe that must meet strong opposition by the people not just in Greece but elsewhere in the EU. There is an enormous lie to the claim that the EU can become a pro-people union. The only pro-people solution is for people to overthrow the political and economic rule of the monopolies in each country, take the power in their hands, to proceed to the disengagement from the EU and all kinds of imperialist alliances — the NATO, etc. . . .
Maria Antonopoulou is a member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). The text above is an edited partial transcript of her talk at a session of the Abe Lazarus Society, Oxford Town Hall, 12 February 2015.