The  state  of permanent  debt bondage, which  threatens Greece with  desertification, is in  the mind of every Greek.  Imposing emigration on our young,  and indignity to those who stay behind,  it hangs over the country like a thick, dark  cloud. Unable to discern any light in the long  night of our Great Depression, the Greeks’ humiliation  is reinforced every time they hear the powers-­‐that-­‐be  tell them, gleefully, that the crisis will come to an end  as a result of the enthusiastic implementation of the policies  that caused it. Their discontent rises to new heights as they witness  the degeneration of our courts and the disgrace of our Parliament – with  prosecutors unable to prosecute blatant corruption, government parliamentarians  voting in favour of laws they disagree with (coerced to do so by Brussels and  Frankfurt), and opposition MPs voting against, while promising to implement these same  laws! Nothing threatens a country, a people, more than the sense that there is no alternative  to a path leading nowhere. No hope can take root in a land where those who were elected to break  away from a non-­‐viable past are reproducing it daily. No relief can be had from an opposition issuing  promises whose delivery necessitates the rupture with the European Union that they are committed against! Our  long night has lasted long enough. This is why we are, now, inaugurating MeRA25 – the European Realistic Disobedience  Front: We are stepping to the fore so that hope, and a feeling that realistic alternatives do exist, can return to Greece’s  arid political landscape.

 

OUR  NAME    

Why  a front? 

• Because  Greece is suffocating  and in a process of desertification  within a Europe that is rudderless and  in a process of deconstruction.

• Because,  as long as  countries like  Greece are suffocating,  Europe will remain rudderless  – thus reinforcing our country’s  suffocation. Only a broad, unifying,  paneuropean front against the dominant oligarchy-­‐without-­‐ borders,  which is responsible for our debt bondage, can allow Greece to breathe  and return hope to its citizens. This is precisely what MeRA25 represents:  the Greek patriotic front of responsibly disobedient Europeanists – an indivisible part  of DiEM25, the first in history transnational paneuropean movement to democratise Europe in  general and each of our countries in particular.

 

Why  European  disobedience?   

• Because  the only way  one can be responsible  today is by disobeying the   irrational policies that are wrecking  our country and turning it into a desert.

• Because  respect for  our Parliament,  our Constitution,  logic itself, can only  be reinstated by ending  the blind obedience to the  directives of the troika and   our oligarchy. Today, authentically  Europeanist citizens refuse slavishly to obey  the incompetent pseudo-­‐technocrats who, on the  altar of the narrow oligarchic interests they serve,   are destroying Greece while de-­‐legitimising Europe.

 

Why  realistic  disobedience?

• Because  disobedience  is not enough! To  have a positive impact  disobedience must be accompanied  by a realistic, constructive, comprehensive,  responsible policy agenda.

 

Why  MeRA25?

• Because  Greeks have  had enough of  the endless night  of our Great Depression.  ‘Mera’, after all, means ‘day’  or, in Latin, ‘diem’ and, thus,   MeRA25 symbolises the links with DiEM25  and our new party’s Europeanist Internationalism.

 

A  BRIEF  HISTORY  OF GREECE’S  DEBT BONDAGE

 

Greece’s  debt bondage  has its roots  in its oligarchic  history but also in  the economic architecture  of the European Union (and  the eurozone in particular). Escaping  it will not be a simple matter. However,  nothing less than a successful escape from their   debtor’s prison is required before the majority of Greeks  can hope to regain dignity and a modicum of shared prosperity.        In the post-­‐Civil War era, Greece’s growth occurred in the context of  a totalitarian political framework adorned with a veil of parliamentarianism.  New industries were erected in the 1950s under the protection of a paternalistic  and authoritarian state. Uncompetitive and on flimsy foundations, they could simply not  sustain the 1970s shock waves from the oil price hikes, the international economic crisis  that ensued, and the removal of tariff protection mandated well before Greece could join the   European Union (the EEC at that time) in 1980. Our industry’s demise led to a recession and hordes  of unemployed workers who (in the absence of a welfare state) were gradually re-­‐employed by the state  – the beginnings of the public debt crunch. Greece’s accession to the EU (EEC) in 1980, and especially  the eurozone in 2000, created new enrichment opportunities for the Greek borderless oligarchy: Their pre-­‐ existing  political clout helped the upper class to transform themselves from protected capitalists to well-­‐connected rentiers  aiming at the rents now available from European Community sources. And when the euro arrived, and rivers of private  loans from the inane Franco-­‐German banks began to flow, Greece entered the phase of Ponzi growth on which feasted the  Triangle of Sin: Developers-­‐Bankers-­‐Media Owners. While the weaker citizens increasingly struggled to make ends meet, our   new ‘entrepreneurial’ class were celebrating the myth of Greece’s ‘new paradigm’ and its accession to ‘Europe’s hard inner circle’.      When the debt-­‐fuelled bubble of Greece’s ‘new paradigm’ burst, following the 2008 global crash, Europe’s Powers stepped in to bail out  the bankrupt Franco-­‐German banks by imposing history’s largest loan upon the, by then, bankrupt Greek state – under conditions that guaranteed  the collapse of the private sector and Greece’s conversion into a debt colony. This is how Greece turned into a permanently insolvent Bailoutistan  founded on a quadruple bankruptcy: a bankrupt state, bankrupt banks, bankrupt families, and bankrupt companies: Everyone owes to everyone and no one can  pay! A tragedy for the vast majority of Greeks was, of course, recognised as a splendid opportunity by the borderless oligarchs: Domestic cleptocrats saw  the bailout loans as manna from heaven. Foreign ‘investors’ were inspired by the fire sales of public assets. The eurocrats realised that the troika process allowed  them massive room to create new jobs, new powers, and new rents for themselves. Whoever dared challenge (or say NO to) them was demonised. Lies and distortion became  a new art form, not so much in order to hide the truth (which can no longer be hidden) but so as to impose their right to create the cacophony necessary to drown sensible  public debate and, thus, facilitate the reproduction of Greece’s debt bondage.

 

GREECE’S  ESCAPE: THE  IMPORTANCE OF  A BROAD FRONT

 

No  insolvency  has ever been  overcome by new  loans or by elongating  existing ones. To escape  from its quadruple bankruptcy,  Greece needs a substantial restructuring   of its public and private debts. It is the  only way for terminating the country’s self-­‐ reinforcing  austerity and for giving its people a chance to breathe again.  Of course, while a debt restructure is necessary for Greece’s genuine  recovery, it is not a sufficient condition. We also need interventions that:

• protect  waged labour  from the relentless  class war waged against  it by the oligarchy, with  the ample support of the troika

• shield  creative and  productive entrepreneurs  from the predatory rent-­‐ seeking  of the oligarchic establishment

• place  public assets  in the service  of the common good

• convert  the state from  a predator to the  citizens’ ally. The  escape from debt bondage  demands the formation of a  broad front of active citizens  and political movements from different  (even competing) ideological points of departure.  While preserving our ideological differences and visions  of the good society, we have converged on MeRA25, determined  to fight together the common struggle against the current impasse.  To begin, we have identified the seven immediate policies that define  our initial, urgent policy agenda.

SEVEN  URGENT POLICIES

1. Public  debt restructuring  based on linking of  (a) the size & repayment  rate of public debt, with (b)  the size & growth rate of nominal  national income

2. A  long term primary  government budget surplus  target (between 0% and 1.5%  of national income, depending on  the economic cycle) that terminates   austerity

3. Private  debt restructuring  by a Public Financial  Assets Management Company,  with an immediate 5-­year moratorium  on foreclosures/auctions

4. Large  reductions  in tax rates:  Maximum VAT and  small/medium sized   business tax rate of  15-­‐18%, termination of  tax prepayments, greater progressivity  in income tax rates

5. Setting  up of a Public  Non-­‐bank Payments  System, based on the  tax authorities’ web interface,  to allow for multilateral arrears  settlements, free transactions, and  to fund (partially) an Anti-­‐Poverty  Program

6. Protection  of waged labour  and creative/productive  entrepreneurship: No longer  will waged labour be paid under  the provisions for ‘service providers’;   a 5-­‐year moratorium on social security contributions  by start-­‐ups; a ceiling of 50% on profits for a company’s  total tax & social security payments bill

7. Conversion  of Greece’s fire  sales (aka privatisation)  outfit into a Development Bank  – by granting it a banking licence,  ending all fire sales, and using public   assets as collateral for the purpose of creating  investment flows into the same public assets, as well  as to the private sector. The new Development Bank shares  will be transferred to pension funds to bolster their capital  base.

 

CONSTRUCTIVE  DISOBEDIENCE –  RESPONSIBLE DISOBEDIENCE

Saying  ‘No’ is  not enough.  Disobedience must  be accompanied by a  coherent, credible, convincing  alternative program – the integrated  but minimalist economic and social policy  agenda Greece needs. The SEVEN POLICIES that  MeRA25 is proposing is the minimalist foundation  of every responsible proposal for Greece’s recovery  either within or without the eurozone. Their implementation  will empower Greece with the minimum it needs to stop its  people’s suffocation. Responsible, credible, constructive proposals  are not enough. No logical economic or social policy (e.g. the reduction  in VAT rates) stands a chance if its implementation is made conditional on  Eurogroup approval. Whichever Greek government goes to the Eurogroup with responsible  proposals will hit the wall of the creditors’ lack of interest in Greece’s recovery.  The creditors’ functionaries care deeply only about one thing: How to reproduce their new  power grid and rent-­‐ seeking practices at a paneuropean level, based on the new structures  and ‘rules’ they constructed during the past decade in the wake of the troika & the Eurogroup.      The 2015 experience will not be repeated. The SEVEN POLICIES will be legislated in Greece’s Parliament  without any prior negotiations at the Eurogroup. And when the threats begin to be issued by Brussels, Frankfurt  and Berlin, the answer they will receive is: CONSTRUCTIVE DISOBEDIENCE! This means:

• Immediate  legislation of  the SEVEN POLICIES

• While  the Eurogroup  refuses to accept  our SEVEN POLICIES as  Greece’s basic development  plan, the Greek government will  follow General De Gaulle’s ‘empty  chair’ policy: it will refusing to send  a representative to the European Council or  to the Eurogroup. Meanwhile,

o All  repayment  to the IMF,  ECB and ESM-­‐EFSF  are suspended

o Domestic  transactions  continue unimpeded  by means of debit/credit   cards, web-­‐banking and the  activated Public Non-­‐bank Payments   System (See Policy 5 above)

o Existing  euro liquidity  will be used judiciously  to import essentials and to  support Greece’s exporters

Thus,  Greece will  be kept within  the eurozone as long  as it is necessary before   “official” Europe chooses, once  and for all, between: (a) the huge  cost of Grexit (that will be incurred  if they insist on their rejection of our  SEVEN POLICIES); and (b) accepting the SEVEN  POLICIES as the basis of Greece’s recovery within  the eurozone. While (a) would be mutually advantageous,  there is no guarantee that Europe’s political establishment will  act in the interests of a majority of Europeans. Nevertheless, from  Greece’s perspective, while (a) is far superior to (b), the implementation  of the SEVEN POLICIES is our best strategy whatever ‘official’ Europe’s response  might be (see next section).

 

OUR  POSITION  ON THE EURO

Greece  should never  have entered the  eurozone. The euro’s  design guaranteed the  eruption of banking crises  that (in the absence of institutional  shock absorbers) were always going to turn  the European Union into an iron cage of self-­‐ reinforcing  austerity. Behind its iron bars, forged by Europe’s self-­‐serving  pseudo-­‐ technocracy, a relentless class war and the ritual humiliation  of Parliaments were inevitable. The idea of Europe as a democratic realm  of shared prosperity was, therefore, doomed the moment the ink dried on the  Maastricht Treaty. However, once inside the eurozone, the cost of exiting is very  large, both for the exiting country and for Europe at large – as its disintegration  threatens the Union with a postmodern version of 1930s-­‐like deflation. This is why DiEM25  has produced an economic and social agenda framework, our EUROPEAN GREEN NEW DEAL, whose purpose  is to demonstrate how existing institutions can be redeployed, within the existing legal framework, to  civilise the eurozone – to turn it from an iron cage into an area of recovery and green development.  DiEM25’s EUROPEAN GREEN NEW DEAL will be put to European voters, across Europe, in the next European Parliament  elections. In the meantime, as far as Greece is concerned, our position is simple: The extension until… 2060 of   our debt bondage (which is what ‘official’ Europe is proposing) is Greece’s worst fate; a prospect far, far worse than  the threat of Grexit. Political parties that have capitulated to Brussels’ and Frankfurt’s directives (e.g. SYRIZA, New  Democracy, PASOK) may disagree with one another as to how therapeutic these directives are  but,  nevertheless,  agree that the  worst possible outcome  for Greece is an exit (or  expulsion) from the euro. Other  parties (e.g. KKE, Popular Unity)  consider Grexit the optimal solution.  MeRA25 disagrees with both of these rankings:  Grexit is neither the optimal nor the worst possible   outcome for Greece! More precisely, we rank the three  potential outcomes as follows:

1. Our  most preferred  outcome would be  the implementation of  the SEVEN POLICIES within  the eurozone (while progressive  European forces cooperate to implement  DiEM25’s EUROPEAN GREEN NEW DEAL across Europe)

2. Second  best (or worst!)  would be the implementation  of the SEVEN POLICIES followed  by the expulsion of Greece from the  eurozone by the unbending Deep European  Establishment

3. Our  worst scenario,  indeed our nightmare,  is the perpetual reproduction  of Greece’s debt bondage within  the eurozone, as guaranteed by the  current policies and political system.

HOW  THE TROIKA-­‐DOMINATED  POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT WILL  REACT

“Here  they go  again!”, we  already hear them  mock us. “They want  to take us back to 2015.  Another Kougi, another Zalogo.2  Another supposedly heroic negotiation  that risks Greece’s place in Europe.”  They will call us naïve, if not treacherous.  They will accuse us of wanting to push Greece  in “jeopardy”, yet again. However, they forget  that:

• Kougi,  Zalogo,  the  resistance  to the Nazis  in the 1940s, the  Athens Polytechnic uprising  of 1973 – none of those acts  “put Greece in jeopardy”. It was  the Ottoman & Nazi occupations, the  Colonels’ Junta, that did!

• Clashing  with the troika  and the oligarchy  does not imperil Greece.   Succumbing to their ludicrous  tax rates and their austerity,  accepting their annulment of workers’  rights, yielding to their Bankruptocracy,  nodding to their narrative of the Bailout’s  end (just because the troika will change its  name) – that’s what imperils our country and its  people! The worst kind of adventurism is, to sum  up, the ossification of Greece’s debt bondage!

Greece’s  Triangle of  Sin (Developers‐Bankers-­Media  Owners), and the political establishment  representing their interests, will lash out  against us. Their loathing will, however, prove  our strength.

• We  understand  that the loans  afforded by the troika  (directly or indirectly,  though the money markets) are  essential to them, as they draw  their power from them

• We  recognise  that the troika  process underpins the  mechanics of their power,  erected upon our debt bondage

• We  sense their  need to demonise  CONSTRUCTIVE DISOBEDIENCE  so as to save themselves  while sinking the country –  like stupid viruses who kill the   organism in which they nestle

• We  look sympathetically  upon the urge of those  who have surrendered to hate  those who refuse to capitulate.      For this reason, stoically, without fear,  passion or loathing, we welcome their loathing,  their hatred, their contempt as omens that we are  on the right path.

 

WE  ARE NOT  JUST STAYING  IN EUROPE. WE  ARE EUROPE!

 

MeRA25  comes out  of the flesh  and bones of the  first authentically paneuropean   internationalist progressive movement:  DiEM25. As a radically Europeanist party,  we highlight the anti-­‐Europeanism of those  who identify Europe with the Unholy Alliance (of  Europe’s Deep Establishment and the rent-­‐seeking pseudo-­‐Technocracy)   that is damaging Europe daily. Those who wrap themselves in the European  flag, before threatening us Greeks with all sorts of awful punishments if we dare  legislate our SEVEN POLICIES, must surely have a terrible view of… Europe! The Europe  of its peoples, that DiEM25 is part of, is as one with us and struggles tooth and nail  against their Unholy Alliance. MeRA25 will not accept policies that sacrifice the Greek people  in the name of supposed European interests. Nor will we propose policies that aim at benefitting  the Greeks at the expense of other peoples, in Europe or beyond.

• Our  policies  will always  be in sync with  those DiEM25 proposes  in the interests of all  European peoples – policies  that will allow the Greeks to   breathe in a European Union that  recovers socially and morally

• As  an internationalist  front, MeRA25 sees the  interests of the people of   Greece as fully in sync with  the needs of people in need from  across the globe. To this effect, MeRA25  will never accept European policies that cause  Europe’s humanism to evaporate and injure the Greeks’  soul – e.g. the scandalous EU-­‐Turkey Treaty on the treatment  of refugees being washed off on Greek islands. Many argue that  the disintegration of this, wildly authoritarian, European Union is the  solution. It is not! However flimsy its foundations, authoritarian its ways,  and classist its policies may be, the disintegration of the European Union boosts  bigotry, reinforces deflationary forces, and strengthens the most regressive political  forces on our continent. This is why, today more than ever, radical democrats must also  think and act like radical Europeanists. Others claim that, whatever we may think, the  disintegration of this European Union is inevitable. They may be right. The European Union will  be democratised or it will disintegrate! In both cases, Greece’s suffocation must end. Greece’s democrats  will work in unison with progressive democrats from across Europe whether the European Union disintegrates or  not. It is this paneuropean, radical democratic project that MeRA25, today, makes its own by adopting DiEM25’s  strategy of: IN & AGAINST – In the European Union. Against this European Union!

 

OUR  TRIPTYCH

European  Internationalism  | Economic Rationality  | Social Emancipation

Patriotism  and European  Internationalism  are indivisible prerequisites  for the Economic Rationalism that  Greece and Europe lack so very badly.  As Greeks, we need to realise that no  one owes us anything. The rest of the world,  the rest of Europe, have no obligation to cover  our deficits, especially when those are used up to  feed our oligarchy.

However,  at the same  time, no one has  the right to hold  the people of Greece  in a debtor’s prison in  which our young can neither   dream nor create, caught up in  the steely clasps of a deep, multiple  insolvency. In turn, Economic Rationality  makes possible the popular democratic sovereignty   without which it is impossible to achieve Social Emancipation  from:

• the  belief that  there is no alternative  to a path leading to oblivion

• the  lack of  personal prospects  independently of effort  or talent

• the  brutal exploitation  of waged labour

• punitive  taxation that  kills off productive  entrepreneurship

• the  sight of  young people  abandoning our  country in droves

• the  fire sales  of our public  property

• the  sacrificing  of our environment  in the name of fake  development

• the  low expectations  over ourselves, over  Greece, over Europe

• the  blight of  a permanent  bankruptcy that  empowers predatory  lenders

• a  state  that punishes  and marginalises  productive, diligent  civil servants

• a  sense  of surrender  to situations that  only seem convenient  after we have become  alienated from our potential  capacities

• the  absence  of Isigoria  in  public  debate

• the  humiliation  of our Parliament  and the squalor of  our democratic process

• the  inevitable  rise, in times  of crisis, of bigotry

• the  generalised  indignity.  

DEMOCRACY  BEGINS AT HOME

 

MeRA25’s  internal organisation      MeRA25 is an inseparable part  of DiEM25. Our aim is not only  to devise the right policies but  also to educate ourselves in the democratic  ethos that our members must cultivate before  giving voice to the needs and aspirations of the  despairing majority. Our policy framework, as well  as the selection of office holders sitting on the local,  regional and national bodies of MeRA25, will be chosen by DiEM25   members according to our Organising Principles via universal, all-­‐member,   paneuropean votes. Additionally, MeRA25 members will be subject to the Code  of Comradely Conduct that is approved of, and amended, in the same manner.

OUR  VISION  FOR GREECE  AND FOR EUROPE

 

We  envision  a Greece and  a Europe that,  when looked at by  its citizens and the  rest of world, the following  can be discerned as its properties:      Democratic, in that political and economic  power originates from the many (who “happen”  to be the poorer), rather than from the well-­‐connected  few (the oligarchs) Isigoria, in that every view or opinion  is judged on the basis of its worth, rather than who put it forward  (or which interests it serves) Social, in that its members judge our society’s  civility in terms of how it treats the weakest citizens, the ‘other’, the ‘different’     Authentically Liberal, with a sense of liberty that goes well beyond the freedom from external  interference, offering as well (a) protection from the exploitation caused by wholly uneven options,  and (b) the material means (and the time) necessary to develop the talents and personality of citizens   Realistic, setting feasible economic targets Innovative, focusing on open source, freely accessible research,  in the interests of science, applications, the environment, health and collective knowledge Cartel-­‐weary, recognising  that the concentration of economic power undermines not only democracy but also prosperity Tolerant, with maximum degrees  of freedom afforded to each person regarding their actions and their choice of partners in life, work and play Equality of  Opportunity, demanding constant, multipronged vigilance against social, ethnic, racial and gender-­‐based discrimination Decentralised  & Pluralistic – a Greece and a Europe of diverse regions, ethnicities, philosophical views of the good society, languages, cultures,  identities of persons and groups Cultured, i.e. a society enriched by cultural difference and proud of not only its ancient cultural  traditions but also of its contemporary, even its ‘heretical’, creators Participatory, utilising central authority to guarantee democratic, participatory   management in places of work, in our cities, in our regions Open, because it appreciates that walls, barbed wire and electrified border fences are inconsistent  with proud, confident countries Sustainable, recognising the natural limits to economic growth, and minimising our ecological footprint of its activities Ecological, setting  Green Global Transition in energy, transport and material production as one of its foreign policy aims Peaceful, resisting destabilising forces, the sirens of militarism and  all kinds of expansionism upon European soil and beyond; while positing cultural engagement and exchanges as the appropriate tool for de-­‐escalating geopolitical tensions

 

 EPILOGUE    

 

In  any ‘normal’  country the distribution  of benefits & burdens, income  & losses, wealth & poverty is  determined by the class struggle –  from the tug-­‐of-­‐war between wages  & profits, labour & capital, landlord &  tenant, creditor & debtor. But Greece ceased  to be a ‘normal’ country years ago. Since it fell  in the trap of debt bondage, insolvency has gripped  workers & employers, landowners & tenants, importers &  exporters. In this strange new-­‐fangled regime, the only  beneficiary is the parasitic domestic oligarchy that identifies  its interests with those of Greece’s creditors, exploits ruthlessly  the troika process and, by so doing, maintains its power over citizens  that it lambasts for the new debts it bequeaths them. The parties  of government, of the Right and the Left, have sacrificed their own ideology  on the altar of their acquiescence to this new regime: Both, the neoliberalism  of New Democracy and the Marxism-­‐with-­‐Keynesian-­‐undertones of SYRIZA were jettisoned  in all but name along the path of their capitulation to the troika. MeRA25 is founded  today as a broad, progressive, alliance of Left, Green and Liberal Greeks who are, and will remain,  members of the first transnational radical Europeanist movement – DiEM25. Our foundation stone is the common   determination to put an end to Greece’s debt bondage, as well as to the strange regime that reproduces it. Our  only real foe is the disappointment that pushes wonderfully politicised citizens to stay on the sidelines of politics,  convinced that ‘there is no hope’ from their re-­‐engagement in politics. Greece’s history teaches us that our people’s  best moments happen at the height of our worst crises. Precisely when everything seems too dark, glum and desolate for words,  the Greeks somehow find the courage to reject the fear of another defeat and to embrace responsible disobedience to the things that  oppress them. Today, Greece, facing the threat of desertification, finds itself at such an historic moment. This is the darkest hour  of our dreadfully long night. This is the time to act! This is the moment when hope must be revived. We do not fear failure. We fear  capitulation, submission, surrender. And we are terrorised by the current radical absence of hope or of an escape plan from their ‘bailouts’, their  ‘measures’, their ‘conditionalities’, their post-­‐crisis narratives, their definition of ‘responsibility’. We do not fear putting the bar too high and  failing. We fear the prospect of training our eyes too low and ending up, again, on our knees. This is why, today, we are founding MeRA25.