By Michael Nevradakis
On October 28, Greeks around the world will commemorate the anniversary of Oxi Day, the day on which in 1940 the Greek government said “no” to the demands of Mussolini to pass his troops through Greece unimpeded. This no has become an annual commemoration in Greece and is remembered as a moment of great resistance for Greece and its people, despite the fact that it came from a fascist, far-right government in its own right.
Today though, the word “no” has been stripped of its significance in Greece. After the supposed referendum of July 5th, a referendum without a clear question posed to the voters and, despite the 62% that voted no, without a clear message on the part of the voters, as the events since then have shown, we have seen the word “no” converted to yes, yes, YES, yes to even harsher austerity measures and cuts than those which were purportedly rejected in the referendum. And in contrast with 1940, there is no longer any semblance of national pride or a national identity in Greece, no backbone to truly stand up to this onslaught.
On the night of July 5th, the people of Greece knew how to spill out onto the streets and the squares to celebrate the supposedly heroic, historic vote of “no.” Celebrations which in my opinion were premature, as the government of the so-called “first time left” had demonstrated much evidence of its insincerity and willingness to sell out the people. I expressed this opinion in no less than four separate articles which were written shortly before and after the referendum and which are still available online.
However, I was the “bad guy” then for saying these things. I was the “bad guy” because I didn’t participate in the celebrations for the no vote. The “bad guy” because I wasn’t celebrating the “heroic” Tsipras, Varoufakis, or Konstantopoulou. The “bad guy” because I was simply saying the raw truth: that the SYRIZA-led government had been staging an elaborate show of supposed resistance and negotiation with the troika, which it had renamed to the kinder, gentler “institutions,” instead of stating a clear and resounding “no” of its own to the blackmail and harsh demands of the troika and instead of preparing plans to lead Greece out of the European Union and the Eurozone. I was the “bad guy” because I had seen the “first time left” government continuing the austerity measures and agreements of the previous governments, enforcing presidential decrees in order to loot the national treasury and pay the IMF after saying that it would not continue the previous government’s practice of ruling by decree. I saw this government elect the corrupt conservative former government minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos as president of the Republic, and I saw it telling the people of Greece that it was their patriotic duty to pay the unified property tax, which prior to the January elections SYRIZA had deemed unconstitutional and promised that the tax would be abolished. And, just so I can be even more of a “bad guy,” I will remind you that the members of the breakaway party Popular Unity (Laiki Enotita) voted yes to almost all of the aforementioned measures, while now presenting themselves to gullible voters as some sort of radical, anti-austerity alternative.
And just what can we expect now from the government which was once championing “no,” now that it has passed a new comprehensive bill containing dozens of new austerity measures demanded by the troika? I’ll become even more of a “bad guy” by telling you: elimination of the minimum pension, continuation of the illegal unified property tax, an increased interest rate for those paying for the tax in 100 installments, an increase in the price of tickets on public transportation, abolition of tax exemptions for farmers, the legislative abolishment of Greece’s pharmaceutical industry, a mandatory tax of 100 euros per month on all free-lancers whether or not they had income, and foreclosure of a household’s primary residence via electronic means are just some of the many measures included in the new law voted by the members of the now-“second time left” government of the “charismatic hero” Alexis Tsipras and the “patriotic” Panos Kammenos. Ah, but if you are a Greek homeowner in danger of losing your primary residence, don’t worry. As stated by the government, foreclosures will only take place against those households which are “uncooperative” with the banks.
Indeed, this same government, which prior to the January elections had promised that it would curtail the power of the oligarchs in Greece, is now preparing to issue licenses to only four national broadcasters, fewer than exist today, and to auction off these licenses to the highest bidder, ensuring that only the deepest, most oligarchical pockets will be able to afford them. The government is also preparing to do the same to the radio landscape, which means that if our listeners in Greece can no longer hear us in a few months, this will likely be the reason.
The “second time left” government of “hope” and “change” is claiming that by enforcing this “bitter medicine,” that the country will once again be close to returning to economic growth, growth which has been promised each and every year since 2011 but which somehow still remains elusive. This is why, apparently, Greece must now sell off 14 profitable publicly-owned regional airports, all in the name of supposed economic growth. This is why a mainstay in the Greek urban landscape, the kiosk, has been legislatively abolished, because apparently, it was these kiosks that sell ice cream and bottled water that were the impediment to economic growth in Greece and the attaining of the so-called European prospect, or dream. A “European dream” which will allow the Greek people to “efficiently” travel from German-owned airports and Chinese-owned harbors at the same time that such infrastructure remains largely publicly owned in countries like Germany and the United States, along with water systems, power companies and highways. The “European dream” which will allow the Greek people to buy their cigarettes and chocolate bars the “civilized,” European way, from multinational supermarkets instead of the corner kiosk. And in the meantime, the “second time left” government boasts members of parliament such as Evi Karakosta, who voted yes, yes, YES to the selloff of Greece’s biggest harbors and then brazenly took part in public demonstrations against the selloff of the harbors, proving that schizophrenia is a prevalent trait amongst politicians today, as also seen by the placement of the absolutely corrupt former leader of PASOK Evangelos Turkoglou (Venizelos) as secretary of the Greek parliamentary commission on transparency, as seen by the removal from the Greek parliament’s website of any mention of the involvement of the new speaker of the parliament, Nikos Voutsis, in the parliamentary debt audit commission or the commission which was investigating the Siemens scandal, as seen also by the recent statements by economy minister Giorgos Stathakis where he claimed to have simply “forgotten” to declare one million euros in income on his 2012 tax return.
And now, we have the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici shaking a big stick at Greece and saying that there can be no discussion about debt relief, on the same debt which has been determined to be illegal and odious of course, until Greece follows through with its so-called” reforms,” referencing the staged, corrupt, completely discredited public opinion polls from Greece which claim that 80% of the Greek people wish to remain in the Eurozone at all costs, polls which are now being used as a weapon by the European Union against Greece. Then we have Nobel Peace Prize nominee Angela Merkel, who from the golden throne she was sitting on during her recent visit to the Sultan Erdogan in the neo-Ottoman Empire of Turkey, proposed that Greece and Turkey run joint patrols in the Aegean Sea to go after the Syrian refugees. This is the same Merkel that is housing such refugees in former concentration camps in Germany.
If you have ever taken a moment to wonder why the public sector in Greece is so inept, why Greece’s universities are rotting away, why so many public works projects are rusting away, why Greece’s TV stations have not been licensed at any point in the past 25 years, why Greece’s agricultural production has been decimated, why schools in Greece enforce rote learning and why students are forced to learn two foreign languages when in many other European countries this is not a requirement at all, why Greece’s injustice system operates in the way that it does, and why the Greek state consistently seems to create obstacles for any new or innovative business idea, the reasons are the very same as the reasons why the government, at the behest of the troika, is now getting ready to destroy Greece’s pharmaceutical industry, shutter the kiosks, and sell off airports, harbors, and water and electric systems. The reason is that this is exactly what the powers that be: the US, Germany, UK, France and others, want: a country in a geostrategic location that is essentially a neocolony, forever mired in mediocrity with no voice of its own, and whose promising young and educated workforce will simply migrate and benefit the economies of the economic superpowers instead of Greece, while foreign multinationals come in and dominate the Greek market, leaving no room for domestic industry or production. In the meantime, Iceland has sentenced 26 separate bankers to jail sentences totaling 74 years. It’s too bad Iceland has rejected the “European dream” in such a way. What a shame.
This is why, as the October 28th commemoration approaches, I will state my own “no.” No to the corrupt, traitorous, pro-austerity parties of SYRIZA, the Independent Greeks, PASOK, New Democracy, Potami and others and to the voters of these atrocities, no to corruption and patronage, no to the injustice system of Greece, no to Greece’s completely corrupt oligarch-owned media and to the absolutely pathetic, talentless hacks who serve as foreign correspondents and freelancers based in Greece, and no to the Euro, the European Union, and the never-ending pro-Europeanness, self-loathing, and national inferiority complex of Greece.