Finding the Grexit in the Dark.

I wonder. Is it reasonable to expect another to be brave enough to do the right thing, the decent thing, the honourable thing, in a situation you’re not faced with yourself? Greece caved in. Despite the referendum (which now seems like a ripple of rebellion in a pool of desperation and shame), they caved in.

What happened? I was tempted to see the referendum as a nod and a wink between the Syriza government (brought to power on an anti-austerity ticket) and the electorate, the latter signalling to the former that they now had permission to default (the gun under the table finally placed on it). We want you to lead, and we hope you do the right, the decent, the honourable, thing. It was, I thought, a mandate of sorts to tell Europe and the Troika where to go. Democracy would trump money. A yes vote for what was on offer would have been shameful, and yet, despite voting no to it, it appears to be what was ultimately agreed to anyway. Why isn’t the parliament now under siege? A heroine addict surely has less addiction to their drug than Greece, the country, has to the Euro. Perhaps, outside it, they imagine themselves in a dark, quivering, economic wilderness with a priapic Turk looming over them. I don’t know. I can’t – of course I can’t – fully apprehend the way their history has shaped them.

If someone points a gun at you and demands your wallet, what’s the reasonable (rational?) response? I’m fairly sure the consensus would be to hand over your wallet and hope for the best; and, if best so transpires, suffer the inconvenience of cancelling your cards. What, though, about a house invasion? Robbery and the rape of your partner, and, if you have them, your children? Surely that’s an over-my-dead-body situation. You might be able to do this to me, but I will fight to the death to stop you. I am not prepared to tolerate this and live because the shame would poison my soul forever. What if they knew – the Greek people, I mean – that they could appear to do the right thing – vote no, that is – in the sure and certain knowledge that their government would sell them out? What if they wanted to be sold out? What if the political dance was about nothing more or less than the mitigation of shame? We want the Troika money, will beg and grovel for it, but want to pretend that we still have the stomach for a fight. This would be a country and culture poisoned by shame, who no longer care about dignity and notions of national sovereignty. A nation reduced to nothing more or less than pleading for its next drug fix.

The music hasn’t stopped, of course. The dance isn’t over. Europe has watched and seen how Greece has been treated. Bullied, browbeaten, humiliated. A country in an abusive relationship with its European partners. Other countries – Italy, Spain, et al – have taken note. So what did the people protesting in Syntagma Square really want or expect (apart from the naive – if entirely reasonable – desire to be treated with the dignity due to an equal partner in the EU project)? What did the no vote mean? Were the Greeks prepared to default, to Grexit, to return to the drachma? And why, if Syriza were too cowardly to put it on the table themselves, was it not explicitly put to the Greek people in a referendum?

The banksters have had their way for the time being, but at a price. The mask has slipped. We have seen that democracy doesn’t matter, neither does national sovereignty. No amount of elections count in the face of the arrogance of the financial institutions. Debt is a tool of enslavement. Greece has, temporarily at least, been brought to heal. They have paid an obscenely high price for joining the Euro, and are stumbling around in the dark looking for a dignified way out. What used to be done militarily is now being done monetarily, and the humiliation is worse and longer-lasting. People agreeing to their own submission with nary a gun or tank in sight. Shame.

So to my unreasonable expectation (and hope). I wanted Greece to default, to tell Europe and the world they weren’t going to pay the debt, and they weren’t going to collateralize their country either. But, of course, I’m not Greece, or Greek; the gun wasn’t pointing at me.

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  1. #1 by Holly Harlow on August 21, 2015 - 2:00 pm

    Isn’t it true, though, that if you look through all the history books, most countries round the world and through the ages have not been run as democracies. Even the famous Greek “democracy” of the old days was a pretty narrow thing.

    Therefore, as most governments throughout history have managed without it, democracy is not essential to government decision making. It is a “nice to have” but not essential.

    (I’m not saying that to be cynical, just realistic).

    So, a referendum is like an opinion poll: if it comes up with the “wrong” result, then any stable government (I don’t count Syriza as a stable government, or even a stable party) will find a way to act contrary to any promises they may appear to have made to abide by the will of the electorate.

    Is that necessarily a bad thing? The current flounderings and shifts within Syriza could seen as responses to two pointing guns – one of them Europe, and the other, its own austerity-hating electorate.

    Perhaps, part of a responsible government’s job is to occasionally ignore the obvious wishes of the majority? Consider what would happen if we had a referendum on capital punishment. Or a recent example: the Latvian government joined the Euro in full knowledge that the majority of its population were opposed to it – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25567096 . Was this a “wrong” decision?

    On way of looking at it is: unlike Syriza, the Latvian government has learnt that its pre-Euro, pre-recession boom was a false economic bubble.

    Like

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