By Steven MacMillan/The Analyst Report: 20 April, 2014
Europe has been in a state of financial hardship since the global economic crisis of 2008 led to the bailout of ‘too big to fail’ financial institutions by the European Central Bank in coordination with various national banks in 2009. This economic crisis paved the way for a socio-economic policy of austerity that has been forced upon the population of the continent at the behest of the Troika – consisting of the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission (EC).
Resistance to the austerity policies of the European Union (EU) has gradually escalated over the past 4-5 years, with opposition now beginning to reach a tipping point as the financial troubles deepen. On the 12th of April 2014, thousands of protestors took to the streets in Paris and Rome to protest against their governments and EU austerity measures. Italy experienced what was dubbed a ‘pitch fork’ protest in December of last year against government policies and globalisation – interestingly in Turin the police removed their helmets in a show of unity with the protestors. A recent demonstration in France resulted in manure being dumped outside the French National Assembly in protest to France’s ruling elite by a truck that was marked with the slogan “Out with Hollande and the whole political class!”. Earlier this month, Madrid also witnessed civil dissent as hundreds of Spanish citizens marched in opposition to the ruling monarchy which is headed by Juan Carlos I.
The Dangers of the Growing Far Right
When economic conditions continue to worsen within a country and disillusionment of the main line political parties increases, far right groups tend to gain support due to people desiring strength and leadership. These groups play on these emotions of the population to gain political support, often persecuting a marginalised group to allow the population to vent their anger. Hitler is obviously the most famous example when he was democratically elected as German Chancellor in 1933 following the great depression and a period of hyper inflation under the Weimar Republic. Today, far right parties have gained strength across Europe in the past 5 years, with some of the most prominent parties being the Golden Dawn Party in Greece, the National Front Party in France and the Geert Widers Freedom Party in the Netherlands. The potential for these elements to grow and usurp the political system in each country exists and will be devastating if they are allowed to gain power.
A Greek Tragedy
A beautiful and ancient culture, Greece has been the pinnacle of the socio-economic devastation that has been seen across the European continent since the monetary crisis of 2009. Athens has witnessed the most severe austerity policies imposed on it by the bureaucratic and technocratic Troika that commands the policy of the European establishment, following Greece’s exorbitant high levels of debt that Goldman Sachs helped to hide the extent of prior to the crisis – an organisation that the President of the ECB Mario Draghi and most other financial heavyweights have worked for. Suicide rates rose by 45% during the first 4 years of the financial crisis in Greece and youth unemployment has reached a staggering level of over 60%, along with food riots in certain parts of the country as the cost of living soared.
Southern Europe has been the most hard hit region on the continent with Spain and Portugal also experiencing severe economic deprivation. In November of last year Spanish youth unemployment reached 57.7% compared to Germany’s level of 5.5%, and in February of 2014 Portuguese youth unemployment was at a rate of 35%.
A large number of young people who are unemployed and disenfranchised from the state is a prime environment for a revolution to erupt. The form of the revolution is the key factor as to its effectiveness. Violent, emotive and ignorant mass movements are always going to be infiltrated by provocateurs and intelligence operatives, who will often coerce the movement into something that fights for the cause it initially set out to oppose.
Mass movements must be founded on intelligent and informed individuals coming together to form collective groups which have clear objectives and demands – cohesion through shared ideas in other words. This summer will see on-going protests to the insidious Troika as discontent within Europe will continue to grow as living standards plummet.
An intellectual revolution is what is required in order to emancipate the people of Europe from today’s political, banking and corporate elite.
Photo: A mass demonstration against the IMF in Athens, Greece 2011 – (Kotsolis at English Wikipedia)