Today, Greece has an opportunity to make history.
The brave decision by Prime Minister Tsipras to call a referendum on the creditors’ inhumane ultimatums has turned the tables. The government’s steadfastness in the face of extreme pressures — both from abroad and from within — has given people across Europe a renewed sense of hope.
It would have been easy to cave in to the financial asphyxiation of the creditors and the terror campaign of the domestic and international media. But so far Greece has held its ground, and today it stands firm and upright as millions take to the polls for the most momentous vote in EU history.
The onus is now upon the Greek people to rise up to the occasion and declare a proud and dignified NO against those who seek to strip Europe of its very soul.
If you win, you will not just regain a sense of dignity and self-determination; you will also throw a spanner into the works of the creditors’ disastrous neoliberal project, thereby indirectly aiding millions of Europeans across the continent in their own struggles for democracy and social justice.
This is precisely why they fear you. The victory of people power in this “faraway corner” of the continent — the evidence that there is an alternative and thatanother Europe is possible — would challenge the very logic and operationality of neoliberalism in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin. And so you have to be crushed under the millstone of never-ending austerity and buried under a mountain of unpayable debt.
Do not be terrorized by those who claim that a NO vote against such brutality and humiliation would somehow be “anti-European.” There is nothing more European than a democratic rebellion under the Acropolis. If you break with anything today it would not be with Europe, but with the sheer insanity that has grabbed a hold of its leaders.
As Tsipras rightly said in his televised address last week, a NO vote is not a vote to leave Europe but a “vote for a return to European values.” Even if this means that Greece is forced out of the euro, so be it. Since when did this great continent of artists, partisans and philosophers become synonymous with money anyway?
The truth is that Europe has long since lost its way. It has strayed into the darkness and degenerated into a monstrous, anti-democratic Moloch. Someone has to put her back onto the path of light. Ironically, but not without reason, that herculean task has fallen upon little Greece — land of artists, partisans and philosophers.
Collectively, you now hold the future of the European project in your hands. Will this project remain one of fiscal flagellation and technocratic terrorization? Or will it once again open its doors to the hopes and aspirations of its people?
This referendum marks a defining moment in modern European history. The choice is very stark: either you vote yes to a lifetime of austerity, allowing decades of darkness to descend upon the country, or you roar back at the creditors’ lack of humanity with a resounding “NO!” — thereby opening the way for a thousand yeses to a new, democratic and socially just Europe.
One no, many yeses. The stakes have never been higher.
Jerome Roos is a PhD researcher in International Political Economy at the European University Institute, and founding editor of ROAR Magazine. He tweets about the Greek crisis and referendum at @JeromeRoos. The Greek version of this piece was published in this weekend’s edition of Enthemata.