Why Angela Merkel Is Wrong On Greece

Public opinion is being lulled to sleep by the media’s therapeutic type of journalism, as it marches arm in arm with the political class in caring for the wellbeing of customers, not citizens, writes Jürgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas. Photo by Wolfram Huke.

Jürgen Habermas. Photo by Wolfram Huke.

The German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas has written a withering critique in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approach to the Greek financial crisis, and of the “politically incomplete currency union” in which banks and not citizens have the right to make decisions over “existential questions for Europe.”

The Greek election result was the vote of a nation that, with a significant majority, is standing up against the humiliating as well as oppressive misery of an austerity policy imposed upon their country. There can be no argument about the vote itself: The population rejects the continuation of a policy whose drastic failure is something they have experienced at first hand. Equipped with this democratic legitimacy, the Greek government is trying to bring about a change of policy in the Eurozone…

It’s certainly the case that we’re dealing here with the stubborn adherence to an austerity programme that not only runs into overwhelming criticism from international experts but has caused barbaric costs in Greece and has demonstrably failed here. But, in the basic conflict between one side looking for a change of policy and the other obstinately refusing to engage at all in political negotiations, a deeper asymmetry is exposed.

Let’s be quite clear about the disgusting, nay scandalous aspect of this rejection: A compromise collapses not because of a few billion here or there, not even because of this or that condition, but solely because of the Greek demand to allow a new start for the economy and a population exploited by a corrupt elite by agreeing debt forgiveness – or an equivalent regulation, e.g. a debt moratorium tied to growth.

The complete translation of the article can be read here.