Greece has held a special place in the headlines recently and even more so in the past few days because of last Sunday’s referendum, which Alain Badiou referred to as an “Event.” That historic referendum for democracy and dignity resulted in a landslide victory against the harsh terms of the Eurozone bailout and delivered a strong message to the neoliberal model that has dominated the European Union and its policies over the years. The result marked not only a landslide victory for the recently elected government but more importantly it signifies, as Jared Bernstein from The Washington Post wrote, a stark rejection of the ongoing terms of bailouts from creditors.
Since it has only been a few hours since the outcome of the referendum, any attempt to fully assess the current situation would most probably be an act of futility, especially with developments charging forward at full speed. What can, however, be stated with certainty is that even though banks in Greece have already been closed for a week, the polls predicted a cliffhanger, and the media have been unleashing propaganda tactics that attempted to ridicule the supporters of the NO movement by depicting it as being fanatical and unprincipled (one should also bear in mind the blunt assertion made by Ms. Lymperaki, an MP for Potami, when she claimed that “[only] the poor make the wrong choices in critical times”), in the end the Greek people stood their ground. It is now crystal clear that if a democratically elected sovereign government wants to govern, first and foremost it should wage a struggle against those forces that aspire to rule the country from behind the scenes.
The outcome of the referendum proved that Alexis Tsipras’ decision to opt for the referendum was the right one; that decision revived the mass resistance, which had largely gone numb. A gathering last Friday that was attended by more than 300,000 people (some zealous estimates put that figure at about half a million) demonstrates the support and willingness of the people to go all the way and in the process give a new mandate to the Greek government: “Don’t capitulate, we stand by your side!” The people’s voice has broken through the silence of the past few months and posed some crucial questions: What kind of Europe do we want? What are the prospects not only for Greek society but European society as well? Are societies sovereign, and if so, how is this defined and on whose terms? Can democracy have a say in an environment where the banking system seems to dominate? The Greek people gave an answer not only for Greece, but for all of Europe and its future. In other words, the Greek people reasserted the democratic self-determination of all peoples.
There is a long and difficult road ahead, but, now we just have to wait and see also if Europe decides to make an example of Greece or demonstrates that its principles are in line with those of the European Union and its vision.
Dr. Nikos CHRISTOFIS