Representatives of Greece's Troika lenders. Photograph: Reuters

There is a stark choice facing us all: allow the elites to ruin the lives of millions, or build mass resistance across the continent writes Lindsey German

How much exactly did the Troika expect the Greek people to take? The enforced penury of millions of Greeks, the refusal to allow any debt relief, the determination to humiliate a government which has been the first across Europe to stand up to the demands of the unelected and unaccountable emperors of austerity.

Such is the infantilisation of the Greek government and by extension its supporters that there are repeated comments about needing adults in the room, their failing their homework. The latest Tsipras proposals were returned to him covered in red ink scrawls as he was told in capital letters ‘must try harder’.

This was after a new set of proposals this week which crossed a number of Syriza’s red lines and which if accepted would have meant a defeat for the Greek working class. But this climbdown wasn’t enough particularly for the IMF’s Christine Lagarde. The former minister in a right wing French government, whose salary incidentally is tax free, demanded fewer taxes on big business and more cuts for the poor.

This is a path which most respectable economists think will only harm the Greek economy further. But it is clear that the trajectory of Lagarde and her friends is as much based on political considerations as economic. They fear that resistance will prove contagious, that anti austerity parties in Portugal and Spain will take heart from any concessions won by Syriza. They fear that the supine Irish government will see the anger of its working people at austerity turn against them, not against the Greeks.

The Troika’s intransigence has led to Tsipras calling a referendum, to be held next Sunday, on the proposals. In reality a No will mean an exit from the Euro and from the EU. It is the right thing to do. The government has spent too long negotiating with the enemy, smiling in public while being humiliated behind closed doors. Now Greek working people have a choice: carry on with the anti austerity policies on which the government was elected, or capitulate to the bullying neoliberals who want to force poverty and misery on European workers as a whole.

The EU has used its poorer member states as a pool of cheap labour, a reserve army to hold down the wages and conditions of all European workers, while at the same time the euro ties them to the rich German economy. All the European governments have combined to ensure Greece does not buck this trend.

So now the Greek people have the chance to vote No. Let’s hope they take it. That will confound the pro austerity opposition parties and will be a defeat for neoliberalism and austerity across Europe. It is clear that, whatever the difficulties for Greece if it leaves the Euro, the European ruling classes are desperate for this not to happen.

This week is one where the Greek working people need solidarity and support on an unprecedented scale. We should also be saying no. There is a big strike wave in Germany, and here in Britain we had a mass 250,000 demo against austerity last weekend.

There is a stark choice facing us all: allow these people to ruin the lives of millions, or build mass resistance across the continent. Really no choice at all, when you think about it.

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.