Today is the Greek referendum. Will the people be so afraid of the oligarchs that they will vote to accept savage austerity, aimed at the bottom of their economy? In a fundamental sense, it doesn’t matter. Even if the people vote “no” — as I think they should — it will not be an overwhelming victory. As in the United States, apparently, half the people in Greece still think the best thing is to allow the power elite to bash in their heads with ball-peen hammers. And as I’ve noted many times before, people are very risk adverse. Doing what all the “smart” powerful people want them to do is a natural response, even if the last five years of failure of the “smart” people ought to give cause for reflection.
But I don’t blame the Greek people. And I’m not really very interested in talking about them. I am interested in talking about the German people — and more specifically, the power elite who have caused the German people (and many others besides) to think of Greece as a badly behaving child. It reminds me of something that Paul Krugman used to say all the time, “Economics is not a morality play.” It doesn’t matter what Greece did in the past, there is a situation today. And regardless of how badly Greece behaved in the past, even if you did think that it needed to be punished, wouldn’t the last five years have been enough? Isn’t it time to move on?
Of course, the issue isn’t about “morality” for the power elite. That’s just what they use to make the German people puff themselves up as the paragons of virtue while looking down at naughty Greece. The power elite are involved in economic engineering. They are trying to turn Greece into the kind of “free market” dystopia that will allow them to take an ever larger fraction of the European economy. And that makes them just like the power elite here at home.
Right now, Syriza controls the government in Greece. The Troika and the power elite that it represents, could have decided to make the best of that situation. But instead, it set about destroying the government — even going to the extent of not allowing Syriza to save face after it had given in to every conceivable demand — totally repudiating everything it was elected to do. And let’s suppose that the power elite get what they want. Suppose that the Greek people vote for the austerity. It will be the end of the current Greek government. And it will send a powerful message to people in struggling euro countries.
But what will that message be? The power elite think that message will be that that their will is supreme and that the people should never forget that democracy is a myth and that the power elite will crush them should they ever vote to do what the people actually want. That might be the immediate effect. But in a year, a month, even a day, people are going to start thinking differently. People are going to conclude that they can’t depend upon those nice people on the left, so maybe they should give those strong people on the right a look.
A big part of the EU project was to eliminate the possibility of another world war. But I guess no one thought that whole thing through. The EU has provide the main belligerent of both the world wars — Germany — with unrivaled political power due to its economic power. I’ve watched in amazement over the last five years as Germany has abused its power. If Greece turns into a fascist state — or just a failed state — it will be because of the power elite of Europe. But the German people are not worried about the shortsighted greed of the power elite; they are worried about teaching the Greek people a lesson.
Regardless of what happens, it is going to be a bumpy ride. Greece should have left the euro zone five years ago. The Germans — and to be honest, the whole of Europe — was never going to allow the Greek economy to heal.