Some responses to the Greek crisis:
After five years of crisis, the European Union has reached such depths of intellectual and spiritual exhaustion that ministers are willing to contemplate two appalling options: the immolation of Greek democracy or a Grexit that would almost certainly prove contagious to other eurozone members – including, ultimately, the French themselves.
What will the Greeks do? My heart says they should tell Schäuble to get stuffed. Five years ago, I said they should go for freedom, and I think the same today. What have they gained, by staving off the inevitable? More unemployment, more misery, more poverty. What have they got to lose? Nothing but their chains – the servitude that goes with a cruel monetary version of the Ottoman empire.
Now is the time to rediscover the spirit of Marathon, to fight for the things that made Greece great, to burst the shackles of the Great King of Brussels. Now is the time for what they used to call arete – the full expression of their independent moral virtue.
The Greek parliament must pass legislation by Wednesday for the bailout to go ahead but with a significant number of the Syriza government’s MPs opposed to the measures, Alexis Tsipras, the Prime Minister, faces a tough challenge to pass the package.
And if they decide not to, Mr Farage has called for Greeks to take to the streets, saying he would join them if only he was an Athenian himself.
This Greek fiasco seems likely to signal the beginning, and not the end, of a crisis that will end with the break-up of the eurozone in its present form. The process may take years, but eventually German voters will refuse to continue cashing other people’s dud cheques.
The fact that the eurozone has proved an economic disaster is hardly surprising, since it was always a political, not an economic, project.
Its sole raison d’etre was to be a stepping stone towards a full-scale political union, a United States of Europe.
It is now more than a quarter of a century since, as Chancellor – in a speech to which Margaret Thatcher referred in her memorable final parliamentary performance as Prime Minister – I warned the only way that a monetary union could work is if it is accompanied by a full fiscal and economic union. In turn, this requires full political union – a single European state.
No matter that the great majority of the people of Europe do not share this ambition: a fundamental contempt for democracy has always been one of the most striking (and least attractive) characteristics of the European integrationists, however high-minded their intentions.
The European project — a project I have always praised and supported — has just been dealt a terrible, perhaps fatal blow.
The Italians and Spanish and French have noted every word of this, and more. Europe as it is, is already over. Everything from here on in is a mere death rattle.