Athenian Democracy vs. Neoliberal Gods

Tsipras is, of course, right; he had to call a referendum because the troika had delivered “an ultimatum towards Greek democracy and the Greek people.” Indeed, “an ultimatum at odds with the founding principles and values of Europe.”

But why? Because the apparently so sophisticated politico-economic web of European “institutions” – the EC, the Eurogroup, the ECB – had to come up with a serious political decision; and due, essentially, to their nasty mix of greed and incompetence, they were incapable of making it. At least EU citizens now start to get the picture on who their enemy is: the non-transparent “institutions” who supposedly represent them.

The – so far — 240 billion euro bailout of Greece (which featured Greece being used to launder bailouts of French and German banks) has yielded a whole national economy shrinking by over 25%; widespread unemployment; and poverty soaring to unprecedented levels. And for the EU “institutions” – plus the IMF – there was never any Plan B; it was the euro-austerity way – a sort of economic Shock and Awe — or the (desperation) highway. The pretext was to “save the euro”. What makes it even more absurd is that Germany simply couldn’t care less if Greece defaults and a Grexit is inevitable.

And even though the EU operates in practice as a clumsy, reactionary behemoth, the puzzling spectacle remains of otherwise reputable intellectuals, such as Jurgen Habermas, denouncing the Syriza party as “nationalistic” and praising former Goldman Sachs golden boy, ECB president Mario Draghi.


The Greek bailout referendum is set for July 5. What do you think the outcome will be?

Waiting for Diogenes

The July 5 referendum goes way beyond Greeks responding whether they accept or reject more humongous tax hikes and pension cuts (affecting many that are already below the official poverty line); that’s the sine qua non by the troika — qualified as “barbaric measures” by many a Greek minister — to unblock yet another bailout.

A case can be made that a more pertinent referendum on July 5 would be posing this question: “What is the red line for Greece to remain part of the euro?”

Prime Minister Tsipras and Finance Minister Varoufakis turned upside down insistent rumors that they would accept any humiliation to remain in the eurozone. That only served to radicalize even more the German politico-economic elite – from Iron Lady Merkel to Finance Minister Schauble. Their not so hidden “secret” is that they want Greece out of the euro now.

And that is leading quite a few Greeks — who still believed in the benefits of a supposedly common financial house – to slowly start accepting a Grexit. With their heads held high.

The ECB has not gone totally nuclear – yet, crashing the whole Greek banking sector. But by de facto capping the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) this past weekend, all hell will break loose if millions of Greeks decide to withdraw all their savings early this week, ahead of the referendum.

The Bank of Greece, “as a member of the Eurosystem”, as a communiqué stressed, “will take all measures necessary to ensure financial stability for Greek citizens in these difficult circumstances.” This implies serious limits on bank withdrawals – thus allowing Greece to survive until referendum day.

Still, no one knows what happens after July 5. Grexit remains a distinct possibility. Projecting further, and taking a leaf from Wagner’s Ring, it also seems clear that the euro “institutions” themselves have been adding fuel to the fire that may eventually consume the eurozone – a direct consequence of their zeal to immolate the Greeks just like Brunnhilde.

What Greece – the cradle of Western civilization — has already shown the world should make their citizens proud; nothing like a shot of democracy to make the Gods of Neoliberalism go berserk.

One may be tempted to invoke a post-modern Diogenes, the first homeless philosopher, with a lantern, looking for an honest man (in Brussels? Berlin? Frankfurt?) and never finding one. But instead of meeting the greatest celebrity of the day – Alexander the Great — let’s imagine another encounter as our post-mod Diogenes suns himself in an outdoor court in Athens.

“I am Wolfgang Schauble, the Lord of German finance.”

“I am Diogenes the Cynic.”

“Is there any favor that I may bestow upon you?”

“Yes. Stand out of my light.”


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2 thoughts on “Athenian Democracy vs. Neoliberal Gods”

  1. Hello Folks

    Ah yes, our old friendless friend, Diogenes. Something of a scruffy reprobate resembling his holier cousin, namely one Yakhem bin Zackarias. Who was a voice crying in the wilderness that wished for, hoped for, preyed for the coming of the Great Reformer.

    Oddly enough, whereas bin Zakareias lived in the hills and desert areas, eating grasshoppers and wild honey, Diogenes lived at the market place, namely The Agora.

    Saints and sinners both, thronged through the market place, purchasing their legitimate wants and needs, and then along came Jones, Smoothed Talking Jones, along came Slow Walking, Smoothed Talking, along came Lanky Jones. And Diogenes sent him away to India. Not good enough Diogenes. Alexanders imperial influence returned to Greece and Europe. And has financially, morally and ethically bankrupted (reader, you know I mean corrupted don’t you, as in bank-corrupted European Civilisation.

    Lifelong incarceration of financial sociopaths, is the answer, their collective incarceration will begin paying an honesty dividend immediately.

    Diogenes was a rude fellow, scruffy, unkempt, but he could spot a fraud.

    Anthony P. Healy

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