• As the European economic crisis unfolds, it is becoming obvious that there are two distinct ideas out there about how to proceed. One is favoured by the international financial elite, the European Union and the political leaderships of member states - and the other is the approach that is gaining purchase outside the chancelleries.
The former is the creation of a true European nation, a fiscal and debt union; the latter is allowing market forces to work and letting Greece unpick its monetary handcuffs and find its own level. I ask whether we would prefer to live under a benevolent dictatorship now because the time for answering it is fast approaching, the fork in the road is upon us and we are going to have to choose. I am not going to argue that one answer is entirely good, and the other entirely bad, but that each has its positives and negatives. It depends on your perspective, that is all.
Those that favour the top-down approach can include almost everybody with political influence on the continent, and many off it. To that number must be added the acting Director of the International Monetary Fund, the American John Lipsky and his director of European operations Antonio Borges. To them stability of the system is all, and protection of the status quo overrules other values - which at other times they might trumpet. In Luxembourg, on Monday, they launched the IMF's latest statement on the eurozone. In the IMF's normal user-friendly way, this study is called the 2011 Article IV mission.
Incomprehensible in title, the importance of this document should not be overlooked. What this report states so baldly is that the interests of the European elite must and will take precedence over the wishes of the people. After all, as is generally accepted, the bailouts are currently transferring institutional and private banking debt from those institutions to the taxpayers. Those taxpayers must therefore have a choice.
But they are to be ignored. Listen to Borges state: "We really believe that many of the current problems result from incomplete integration. In the process of developing monetary union like the United States, which is a fully integrated monetary union, you have obstacles that magnify the problem." What he seems to forget is that final fiscal and monetary union in the US only happened after the then bloodiest war in history, in a country that was already united by language law and customs. It is extraordinary that the IMF is suggesting that this economic crisis is in any way synonymous with what was happening in the US in the 1840s. The only slavery here is of the people to the Eurocrats dream. For without democratic control, we are left with something akin to slavery.
The other option is for Greece to default, leave the euro, find its own level, set its own interest rates and trade itself out of its predicament. The Greeks are no less hard working than any other nation, but have been gulled through the application of economic policies that suit Thüringen not Thessalonica. A wall has been built around the minds of the elite, one in which there is no door marked "exit" merely the ability to build the walls higher. The wall is their political commitment to the euro at all costs; the bricks are their hectoring communiqués.
We must make no bones about it, according to the EU and the IMF there is no alternative. The people of Greece must do as they are told. They cannot countenance default and leaving the single currency. What then is the price of democracy in its birthplace?