Wednesday, July 8, 2015

As #Grexit looms in the horizon

Until yesterday morning I was arguing that although I did not support the 'no' vote I would support the government in its negotiations. I criticized people who were drawn to the vortex of the polarization the referendum had caused and suggested we all needed to look ahead. 
Yet, the government itself arrived in Brussels with no proposals. Alexis Tsipras snubbed the European Parliament before he finally accepted to appear there today. He invited the leaders of the Greek political parties in a conference about the country's next moves and called for national unity while winking at those who at the same time vilified figures who supported the 'yes' campaign. The silence that shrouds the inclusion of the half million of nazis who voted no into the 'progressive' 'people' was in sharp contrast with the wanton and determined campaign to bundle together and brand those who voted 'yes' as collaborators of the Germans (resurrecting terms that were used in the Greek civil war). 
The proud oxi campaign has dissimulated existing deep divisions in present-day Greece, notably between those allied to or supported by the state and those who are left to fend for themselves in the wilderness of the private job market, those who are safely employed and a generation of young adults that have never been economically active. 
The country is obliviously sliding into the abyss. To the manual of Europe of multiple speeds Mr Tsipras has added a reverse gear. SYRIZA has mesmerised domestic and international audiences alike by claiming it is the incarnation of Europe's left reflexes and the voice of resistance. It has done so though by choosing a nationalist idiom and by working to bring the changes it wants to bring (whatever these are) in the context of 'one country' - one that will soon be economically and politically isolated if things keep on developing as they are now. SYRIZA's leadership has consistently disregarded the possibility of Europe being the battlefield for change, not in the form of one state challenging the others but in the form of building political and social alliances, not in the form of requiring war reparations but of building common futures. 
It requires solidarity selectively - it has conveniently forgotten that Germany has been the major country that financed the structural funds that have been pouring into Greece since the 1980s but has stubbornly chosen to remember and remind the role of the Germans in WWII. It claims that present and future generations should not be held responsible for the debts accrued by older ones but asks that principle to be waived in the case of Germany.
In short, what I see behind this government's proud anti-neoliberal discourse is a short-sighted isolationist and nationalist obsession. To the neoliberal argument that punitive austerity is the solution its own response is that proud isolation is the solution. In both cases the question is what kind of poverty is the Greek people going to be condemned to and therefore I will not take any of the two, thank you. At least living outside Greece I have the choice but I am really concerned about millions of people who live there like my family and close friends who will have to live with the consequences.

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