Things are heating up on the Old Continent.
In Greece, the legislature today flung down the gauntlet to the people by enacting yet another devastating austerity package which the European Union authorities had demanded of it as the condition of yet another "bail-out" -- actually loans to enable Greece to pay back earlier loans, sucking it ever deeper into the debt quagmire. Even before the vote, a 48-hour general strike had been declared, with mass-scale participation, and violence had broken out. After the vote, renewed fighting erupted in Syntagma Square and lasted for hours. "The detritus of battle lay everywhere with burning barricades, smashed pavements, shattered masonry, looted shops and destroyed kiosks." The Greeks, having seen their own "leaders" side with the EU against them, must now realize that they have no one to depend on but themselves -- and they seem in no mood to quietly accept the destruction of what remains of their economy for the sake of fixing a deficit created by a system which for decades allowed the wealthy to evade taxes.
In Britain, public-sector unions have called a general strike to protest attacks on their pensions. It's unclear how many workers will participate or how much public support they have. But with widespread cuts threatening an economy already suffering high unemployment, and with a massive anti-austerity protest having swept London just three months ago, the ground would seem fertile for a broader eruption of resistance. Britain is not part of the euro currency zone, and the austerity policies are the work of its own government, not imposed by the EU -- but for that very reason, there's more basis for hope that massive local opposition can bring change.
People in other nations will be watching. Spain, Portugal, and Ireland are all in a somewhat similar position to Greece -- their economies already in recession, with matters getting steadily worse due to austerity measures imposed by the EU as the price of new loans to pay the old -- though none has yet reached the same depths of anger and despair. Spain and Portugal have already seen large-scale protests against their leaders' spinelessness in the face of market forces and the EU oligarchy. In March, demonstrators rallied in Brussels, the EU capital city. Even in prosperous and dynamic Germany, taxpayers have long been furious at the cost of the endless bail-outs of the weaker states. Everyone knows that if Greece and other countries in similar straits were to abandon the euro currency, they could very quickly improve their economic competitiveness by devaluation, and set their own spending policies prioritizing jobs above deficit reduction. But that might also lead to the break-up of the whole common currency zone -- something the oligarchy is determined to prevent.
It could be an interesting summer in Europe.