But when the rubber hit the road and the Greek people voted, the result was an overwhelming "No" ("OXI"). 61.3% of voters voted "No" and it would likely been more but for the fear campaign. This referendum was important because it expressed, once again, the groundswell of opposition by the common folk of Greece against the neoliberal policies of austerity pushed by the financial institutions of the ruling oligarchs. The vote does not change anything in that it will not force the oligarchs to back down or in any way mitigate austerity, but it clearly marks the lines between oppressors and the oppressed.
The oppressors were pretty quiet about the referendum results except for a few snide comments from the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and her office. Merkel said "Athens had wrecked any hope of compromise with its euro zone partners by overwhelmingly rejecting further austerity." The most overwhelming aspect of her statement is its hypocrisy. Athens has offered nothing but compromises to the point that they were betraying their mandate, and the troika (Merkel's bunch) rejected it all and refused to give an inch on their demands.
That silence extended to the US presidential candidates, none of whom said anything of substance about the vote, except for, of course, Bernie Sanders (Independent running for the Democratic nomination), who said:
“I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity for the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly...In a world of massive wealth and income inequality Europe must support Greece's efforts to build an economy which creates more jobs and income, not more unemployment and suffering.”
I can't imagine, say, Jeb Bush or even President Obama saying such a thing, and neither did. However, Jill Stein (Green Party presidential candidate) said:
"From the cradle of Democracy comes the roar of the people!"
Ms Stein also offered a letter of solidarity on her website for people to sign in an expression of standing with the Greek people against the troika. The petition says:
We stand in solidarity with the people of Greece, for standing up to the extortion tactics of the big banks and saying no to austerity and no to the demands of the EU and IMF.
If you agree with the Greek referendum outcome, I urge you to sign Ms Stein's letter.
Without question, Greece is being punished for their defiance of austerity. Because the troika will not extend Greece time to meet its IMF payment, and because "the European Central Bank on Monday decided not to expand an emergency assistance program," and Greek banks have been closed since the week before the referendum. The Greeks, who have been suffering under austerity, will suffer even more to throw it off. But it seems they are willing to do just that to break free.
The biggest problem the oligarchs have with Greece is the example they are setting for other peoples. If they break free of austerity, others will want to do the same. Already, the citizens of Austria are seeking a referendum on leaving the EU, and the British people are petitioning their government for a referendum on austerity just like the Greeks. And then there are SYRIZA-like political parties in Spain, Portugal, and Ireland that are left-leaning and seeking to restore democracy to their countries.
I was delighted to see the Greeks' landslide rejection of neoliberal austerity. I know it will only stiffen the oligarchs' resolve to crush democracy and the Greek people's resistance, but this is a fight for survival that is forced on the common people of the world. In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway said:
...it is a time of difficult decisions. The fascists attacked and made our decision for us. We fight to live.
It is the same today. In fact, today's War of the Damned is a continuation of the one raging since at least Spartacus and through the Spanish Civil War. Every generation is forced to fight it in one way or other. I hope that the Greek referendum has opened the door to a spreading resistance. It may be that in the resisting, oligarch crimes such as climate engineering will be exposed and eventually stopped.
Whatever happens from here out, life will only get more difficult for everyone. The stakes are no less than the future of humanity and all life on earth. How will it play out? Who can say. These are unprecedented times. But I believe that staying on the high road of affirmation that life should go on and that people have the right to live free, requires that the importunities of evil be replied to with a firm and resounding, "NO!"
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PS Fri 10-Jul-2015 16:11 EST
It has just been reported that the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has offered the Troika a deal that basically accepts their last austerity package. It includes $13 billion in budget cuts, increasing taxes (on the commoners), and increasing the retirement age--all the things the Greek people just voted against. The EU Finance Ministers will review the package on Saturday (Jul 11). If the Troika follows form, they'll reject this offer and demand even greater austerity. But even if they accept it, it will be clear that the referendum was futile in regards to the Greeks struggle for relief. I expect they will take to the streets again. and their fervor for revolt will spread.