Greece: People Repudiate the 1%-ers

The people of Greece have rejected austerity with an emphatic “No” in a referendum. The corporate media reacted predictably. Reuters depicted Greeks as defying Europe.

The language in the Reuters piece was palpably biased. It portrayed Greeks as having “overwhelmingly rejected conditions of a rescue package” [italics added] put together by “creditors” and “lenders.”

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras said to his countrymen and women: “You made a very brave choice.” He construed the referendum victory: “The mandate you gave me is not the mandate of a rupture with Europe, but a mandate to strengthen our negotiating position to seek a viable solution.”

German financiers reacted ascerbically. German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said Greece had burnt its bridges, presumably to the EU, and he warned: “Tsipras and his government are leading the Greek people on a path of bitter abandonment and hopelessness.”1

In the run-up to the referendum, Reuters had noted “rising desperation [caused by who?] as banks shut and cash machines ran dry.”

Prior to the referendum, one commentator derogated the fearmongering directed at the besieged Greek people.

Project Fear reaches its apotheosis in Greece. If there is a referendum, the Greek people will be asked to vote for a hell they already know or one they can only imagine. They will continue to be lectured on profligacy and infantilised as lazy children, while their hospitals are running out of supplies, people are sleeping on the streets and unemployment soars. Those who stand in ATM queues are fearful, and who wouldn’t be?2

Private banking critic Ellen Hodgson Brown echoed Tsipras in writing, “The ECB’s Noose Around Greece.”

Approaching the referendum, the Syriza government in Greece presented its own demands for money owed to it by Germany: €279 billion in reparations.3 Spiegel Online reported that Greece could demand even more in reparations.4 Political commentator Andreas Theyssen acknowledged the murders and economic devastation wrought by Nazi Germany in Greece. However, he finds, “Berlin is morally obliged in every respect to reparations owning. But legal and political reasons speak against it.”5

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The referendum is over. It survived legal challenges against it and challenges to the question bias and clarity.

What comes next?

It is hard to envision the Troika backing down to the Greek demands for debt alleviation. At the same time, the referendum has given Syriza a mandate on top of its electoral victory, and it is even harder for Syriza to capitulate further to Troika austerity demands. Syriza’s priority must be Greek citizens over and above the foreign financiers.

  1. “Tsipras und seine Regierung führen das griechische Volk auf einen Weg von bitterem Verzicht und Hoffnungslosigkeit.” in “Sigmar Gabriel: ‘Tsipras hat die letzten Brücken eingerissen’,”Der Tagesspiegel, 05 July 2015. []
  2. Suzanne Moore, “Fear-mongering is the enemy of democracy – from Greece to Cameron’s EU referendum,” Guardian, 1 July 2015. []
  3. Peter Schwarz, “Why is Syriza demanding reparations from Germany?, Telegraph, 14 April 2015. []
  4. See Giorgos Christides, “Druck auf Deutschland: Griechenland könnte noch mehr Reparationen verlangen,” Der Spiegel, 9 April 2015. []
  5. “Moralisch ist Berlin in jeder Hinsicht dazu verpflichtet. Doch juristische und politische Gründe sprechen dagegen.” in “Verbrechen in Griechenland: Deutschland sollte keine Reparationen zahlen,” n-tv, 7 April 2015. []
Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimohp@gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.