Europe Cracks Up
- October 11, 2012
European governments tend to present “austerity” as though it were an inevitable and unavoidable response to a natural disaster, and many have used the economic crisis as an opportunity to enact a privatisation programme that would once have seemed like a utopian fantasy to the neo-liberals and Freedmanites of the 70 and 80s.
These policies have been pursued with a sublime indifference to their social consequences. Few people will need reminding that Greece is now in the midst of its most profound social crisis since the Axis occupation of World War II, yet both the “troika” and the Greek coalition government are united in their insistence on even more draconian cuts programmes.
In Spain the consequences of austerity have been no less traumatic. National employment is currently at 26 percent and rising, and over 50 percent amongst 18-25 year olds. Young people in Spanish cities can now be found searching through trash cans for food, hospital wards are closing and elderly patients are having to leave private nursing homes because their families cannot afford to pay for them.
Elsewhere in the continent, austerity-driven cuts programmes have fallen most heavily on the poor and vulnerable, while simultaneously creating poverty and vulnerability where it did not exist before.
The acquiescence of Europe”s politicians in this slow-motion car crash has been truly shameful. Unable or unwilling to confront the financial institutions that have done so much to cause the current crisis, governments across the continent prefer to proclaim their willingness to take “tough choices” as a badge of honour….
My latest piece for Ceasefire magazine on the eurozone crisis. You can read the rest here: