The Greek Tragedy

By Creston Davis10.01.2015Europe

The Greek people must be bold enough to refuse any further austerity. Not only for their sake, but also for the sake of European democracy.

The Greek people are not only courageous, they are also cultural innovators and could shortly become heroes for democracy. They gave the world democracy (Cleisthenes), Western philosophy (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle), set the canon for literature (Homer), wrote the dramas for drama itself (Sophocles, Euripedes, Aeschylus), and won one of the most asymmetrical battles in history (the Battle of Thermopylae).

Greeks have much to fight for and stand much to lose since the Greek “Great Depression” began in 2009 and brought about the IMF-EU austerity measures, which began to crush the very dignity of the Greek. Today, the stage is set for Greece to once again fight for democracy.

The battle for democracy is set in just a few weeks time on January 25th. On December 29th, the Greek government failed to vote in former European commissioner Stavros Dimas as president, which sets the stage for an upcoming general election.

What makes this battle interesting is that the left-wing party, Syriza, is predicted to win the general election. Syriza’s leader, Alexis Tsipras has made his first comments about the December 29th presidential election result:”In a few days, austerity bailouts will be a thing of the past.” and “Lawmakers proved democracy cannot be blackmailed.”

What does this mean exactly? According to most people I’ve polled in Greece, the Syriza platform, wants the Neoliberal regime out of Greece so that the country can be governed by the Greek people in a democratic way. “What Neoliberalism has done to Greece is nothing less than a massive slaughter of Greek culture and its people” Yiannis, a young Athenian, told me.

Neoliberalism is an elitist scheme that forces countries into massive debt through what the Greeks call “Miza”: politicians are given an influx of funds by elite corporations in order to subvert the public and democratic sector. The politicians do this by spreading these funds around to their business friends who begin to buy out and privatize public infrastructure such as healthcare, transportation (roads, trains etc.), education, museums, parks or forests – you name it. If it can be bought, the politicians-cum-business axis will buy it.

Like a Police State

Once you have succeeded in bringing a country to its knees via massive debt through privatizing business failures via political corruption, international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or The World Bank come in, styling themselves as heroes that will “save the day”. But instead of actually helping a country back on its feet, these institutions impose austerity measures that result in even more selling off public assets, slashing even more public pensions, education, healthcare and all things needed for society and democracy to flourish.

If you look at protest marches in Athens today, it feels like they take place in a Police State. I was there, witnessed it and even took a photo of a dog carrying a sign that read “If we don’t revolt, we won’t be able to eat.”

The problem is that once you force a country to sell off its most precious resources, the doors are wide open for business elites to come in and buy up property for cheap money and set up private corporations to take control of infrastructures such as telecommunications, electricity and even water! Increased security forces will then be needed to fight off democratic protesters. This is why the current Greek government has hired massive police forces while cutting teachers’ wages. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out where that logic takes us.

And the sad part is that even the most honest government can’t do a damn thing about this once it agrees to such harsh austerity measures. That is what Syriza wants to change by promising to stand-up to these anti-democratic, neoliberal tactics exacted against Greece (and other countries) by the 1 percentile.

War for democracy in our time.

Greek democracy has once again reached a moment of truth. Or, as Dr. Leonidas Vatikiotis (a leading Greek economist) puts it: “Greece must declare a unilateral cessation of payments and abolition of debt, especially of that portion of debt that is owed to the troika (IMF and EU).”

Will the Greeks fight to reclaim democracy against the immoral debt imposed upon them by the corporate elite and reclaim their dignity? No doubt it will take courage. After all, the international markets are already using their manipulative tactics by massive drops in the stock exchange as a psychological means to scare people away from reclaiming democracy “by the people, for the people”.

But if the Greeks are bold enough to just say “no“ to these immoral debts and the Neoliberal scheme exacted against them, then they will once again give to the world yet another example of what’s really at stake in the war for democracy in our time.

Once the Greeks lead the way again, others will be sure to follow as history has shown. In this way, we too will be able to follow “Winston Churchill’s words()”: “Hence, we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.”



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