So, December 4th is the day that the Greek people get to decide their future, and let’s be clear, they do have a choice. For all the guff you hear about democracy and national sovereignty from eurosceptics, the truth is that it is the Greek people who decide what happens next. On the one hand is the austerity programme and billions of euros paid by workers in other EU countries to keep the lights on in Athens. On the other hand is the ultimate expression of national sovereignty, expressed through a big two fingers to the EU and the IMF and a decision to go it alone outside the euro on their own very modest resources, with a home grown austerity programme far more severe than anything dreamed up in Brussels. But at least it will be Greeks deciding how poor Greeks will be.
Of course, I can already see the headbanger posters. Solidarity with the Greek people! But the funny thing about all that is the assumption that German, French, Finnish and Dutch workers all want to side with their Greek compatriots. They don’t. They actually support, effectively, the EU and IMF in saying to Greek workers that you have to work and pay taxes. It’s that part of the delusion of the Irish hard left in particular that fascinates me, the belief that working class people will never vote for the right. It’s just not true, as Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan proved.
How would we vote if placed in a similar quandary? If we decided to default on Anglo-Irish debts, and Paris and Berlin threatened to cut us off from their money? The gap is so enormous between spending and revenue that even if we saved the Anglo-Irish money, there’d still be a massive deficit without EU help. But we’d still have our national sovereignty, the right to choose between EU money and instruction, or massive cutbacks and complete self-determination. Would we choose the flag or the greasy till? Knowing the Irish, I have my own idea, but then, maybe I’m a cynic. I just always picture John Hurt in “The Field”.
But here’s the question: What’s the plan if Greece votes no? How do we engineer an orderly exit from the euro without the markets going after other countries like Italy or Spain? Is someone in Brussels furiously typing an emergency treaty as we speak?