July 5, 2015, Greece: The referendum.
9.8 million eligible voters.
38.69% voted ναι, Yes.
61.31% voted όχι, No.
This is a first, a historic moment. An act of defiance and great courage. A sharp rupture with business as usual.
I’m sure that in voting No, people rejected many different but ultimately connected things: The threats and unbounded arrogance of international bankers and Euro-bosses, primarily the German Chancellor; the lies and corrosive contempt of the mainstream media; the corrupt, discredited old ruling parties of Greece; an indirect but obvious attempted coup against the government that Greek voters had just elected in January; a weary apathy born of repeated blows and letdowns; fear of the unknown, and more.
But most directly, a strong majority of Greek voters rejected a power structure they know very well by now through bitter lived experience, a system that makes a decent, sustainable life impossible for the many in order to indulge the insatiable greed of the few.
For people like me in other countries where No’s that challenge this power structure are routinely ignored, mocked or punished, this is a rare, thrilling moment, to be savoured.
To me, the Greek Όχι echoes another famous No! During the Spanish civil war, people defending democracy from fascism boldly declared: No pasaran. They shall not pass. Sadly, the fascists did pass, and they are still with us. Even so, the original call has lost none of its abiding power: No pasaran!
No illusions here: The bankers and their faithful servants in government and media are still with us. They are mightily offended by the defiance of the Greeks. They fear that this ringing No! will inspire people suffering under the bankers’ heel in other places: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Ukraine and beyond.
Syriza and the people of Greece face an enormously difficult path, a new path with no map. They will be bullied, bribed and beguiled to bow down or sell out.
With humble thanks, I wish them the clarity and courage to find their own way to a more reasonable, more compassionate, more authentically democratic future.