The current confrontation between the Greek government and people on one hand and the European Central Bank and the German government on the other is much more than a serious economic struggle on the board of the European Union. After more than 30 years of neoliberal hegemony in our world, advocated by Western conservative parties and eventually assumed even by European social democratic parties, the battle of the Greek government against the markets for its debt restructuring has become a critical and far-reaching turning point.
Since the beginning of neoliberalism in 1980 until 2012, the wealth gap between rich and poor countries increased from 35:1 to an incredible 74:1
The failure of neoliberal globalization is an obvious fact for the vast majority of non-neoliberal analysts since the Great Recession broke out in 2007-2008; a recession in which we are still immersed. Since the beginning of neoliberalism in 1980 until 2012, the wealth gap between rich and poor countries increased from 35:1 to an incredible 74:1;(1) while the global ecological footprint —the indicator of the environmental impact caused by human demand on existing resources on our planet— increased from near 100% of the regenerative capacity of the Earth to 150% in 2007 —in less than 30 years!(2) Furthermore, neoliberal thesis not even stand up in their own grounds —Economics— when the rates of growth of world economies had fallen from 3.2% to 2.1% since the early eighties to 2012.(3) But what is most worrying in social terms is, without doubt, the deterioration of democratic systems and civil rights that neoliberalism is producing even in Western countries, as different experts point out.(4) In view of all this, we’ll have to agree with French economists Duménil and Lévy when they say that “neoliberalism is a predatory system.”(5)
However, it is very worrying that, in political debate, the depth of the crisis of neoliberalism is not recognized, perhaps because the neoliberal unique way of thinking still has broad support in the world media. Should be noted that about 85% of the media are in only 6 private hands.(6) and even a long, prestigious public media such as the BBC is spreading the neoliberal thesis worldwide. This is the conclusion reached by a study from the Cardiff School of Journalism,(7) in which it is stated that BBC debates are dominated by the political and economic elites, while alternative voices scarcely are heard in them. This in itself is already a serious damage, if not a clear danger, for democratic systems, inasmuch these media are capable of generating public opinion and changing trends in voting intentions, so undermining the democratic processes.
Should be noted that about 85% of the media are in only 6 private hands, and even a long, prestigious public media such as the BBC is spreading the neoliberal thesis worldwide
For all these reasons we should consider that the current conflict between Greece and the European neoliberal powers represented by the Troika is a crucial turning point, a decisive battle in which what is at stake is nothing less than the future of humanity and the planet.
If the Greek government, under the leadership of Tsipras and Varoufakis, fails to crack the neoliberal monolithic block —while respecting, remember, the sovereign will of their people at the polls—, the neoliberal hegemony will be strengthened not only in Europe, but worldwide; and trends of impoverishment of the poor, savage exploitation of nature, and retreat of democracy and civil rights could continue their advance till bringing us to the abyss of dystopia, if not the collapse of our civilization.(8)
If, on the contrary, Greece is able to break the fierce demands of the Troika, it is quite possible that Spain, also severely battered by this model of policies, will also join the trend started in Greece in their own elections (November 2015). Together, they could form a common block in southern Europe, conveying to European social democratic parties the message that, if they do not return to their sources and give up the economic neoliberalism, they will be in danger of disappearing from the political scene. The debacle of the Greek PASOK is a serious warning.
The future of global society and Earth’s ecosystems is now in the hands of a handful of Greek rulers and more than two million people who gave them their confidence at the polls
In conclusion, the future of global society and Earth’s ecosystems is now in the hands of a handful of Greek rulers and more than two million people who gave them their confidence at the polls (and who yesterday protested in Syntagma Square to demand the end of the Troika’s blackmail). Unfortunately, we have not been able to see the significance of the moment to support from the rest of Europe that small number of European citizens who are in this moment in the front line trying to breach the irrationality of neoliberal power.
(1) Hickel, J. (2011). How to Occupy the world. Pulse (15 Dec 2011). Blog entry. Retrieved from http://pulsemedia.org/2011/12/15/how-to-occupy-the-world/#more-34599
(2) Global Footprint Network (2010). Ecological Footprint Atlas 2010. Oakland, CA: Ewing, B; Moore, D.; Goldfinger, S.; Oursler, A.; Reed, A. & Wackernagel, M. Retrieved from http://www.footprintnetwork.org/images/uploads/Ecological_Footprint_Atlas_2010.pdf
(3) Hickel, J. (2012). A short history of neoliberalism (and how we can fix it). New Left Project. 9 April 2012. Retrieved from http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/a_short_history_of_neoliberalism_and_how_we_can_fix_it
(4) Giroux (2005), MacEwan (2005), Massey (2012), Rustin & Massey (2014), Wacquant (2001)
(5) Duménil, G. & Lévy, D. (2005). The neoliberal (counter-)revolution. In Saad-Filho, A. & Johnston, D. (eds.), Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader. London: Pluto Press, 9-19
(6) Mayor Zaragoza, F. (2011). Indignant Speech. Video. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/5u6wOmFhp7U
(7) Berry, M. (2013). Hard evidence: How biased is the BBC? The Conversation (23/08/2013). Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-how-biased-is-the-bbc-17028
(8) Homer-Dixon, T. (2006). The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada