Greece Decides

A sigh, but not one entirely of relief.

The much-anticipated return to the polls happened in Greece this past weekend, and the global game of economic chicken is over for the moment.

The result of the nation’s second election in a little over a month was a very narrow victory for one of Greece’s traditional political parties, the conservative and pro-bailout/EURO/austerity New Democracy (ND) party. Assuming ND can successfully form a government, this would seem to indicate that Greece will, for now, stay within the boundaries of a heavy-handed, German-dictated austerity agreement and stay within the Eurozone.

Yesterday’s election gives hope to many, including those working in the world’s financial markets, and rips it cleanly and painfully away from others, like ordinary working Greeks, who can now fully expect to pay for their misplaced faith in international establishments, corporate elites and even their own elected leaders.

One important lesson I hope my beloved Greek brothers and sisters have learned through this recent experience: political leaders, whether democratically elected or not, cannot be trusted to fulfill their campaign promises.  I recognize that I am a virtually complete cynic when it comes to this, but my own considerable experience amply supports this conclusion.

The Greek people, that is to say, the real, hard-working, family-oriented, open-hearted Greek people, who were sold blue-sky and puffy-cloud, joy-everlasting, land-of-milk-and-honey fictions about their participation in the Eurozone have been handed the bill for a banquet they were never invited to attend and, for which, their succeeding generations will be left to slave.

So, for now, the world has escaped the feared tipping over of the first Eurozone domino. I’d say it’s scant cause for celebration.

Not Your Way

My dear brothers and sisters,

For millennia, you have introduced the world to grand aesthetics, philosophy, mathematics, architecture, national heroism and theatrical drama. Through your brave actions in the streets and at the ballot boxes, you continue to demonstrate what direct democracy looks like.

You cannot know the depth of pride with which I hold my Greek heritage. Nor can you know the real pain I have felt lately at your recent suffering. But it was with startled disbelief that I read of the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in this week’s elections.

Seats in your glorious parliament for people who call for “taking the dirt out of the country,” “cleaning up Athens” and planting landmines along the borders to stop illegal immigrants from crossing in? A place in government for black-shirted thugs who violently break up opposition rallies? Votes for those who sit in front of an Hellenic version of the Nazi swastika?

No, my brothers and sisters; it cannot be. Not in the birthplace of democracy.

Please believe that I understand the appeal of dark temptations when things seem at their worst. We have seen troubled times bring out the worst of us, here in America, as well. But this is not the Greek way. This is not our way. Not fascism. Not a dirty echo of Nazism. This is not Greece.
It is time now to show the world what Greek heroes look like.
With support and love,
Your brother

A New Oxi Day: Greece Stays Sovereign

In what might be considered an echo of Oxi Day, now more than 70 years on: the Greek government has rebuffed a German proposal to cede control of its finances to the Eurozone. To have accepted, many observers believe, would have amounted to giving up no small measure of national sovereignty – for which there is no popular support.

It is surprising that, even in light of Europe’s 20th century history of conflict and mistrust between nations, some governments in Europe still do not seem to understand how their paternalistic and heavy-handed demands might be perceived by others.