It was an evening of hope ending a week of great anxiety and fear. No one knew how many would come to the OXI rally in Athens. The mass media machines of the oligarchs have been kicked into another gear of frenzied vilification and lies and terrorisation of the public. The stage was set when the ECB announced that it would be ending its support of the Greek banks early in the week. That was enough to send many people into a mild panic and heading for the banks to withdraw money. And yet…..
While there have been scenes of distress and some desperation, for most people it has been more a matter of unpleasant inconvenience. No matter how hard the mass media of the oligarchs tries to sow disquiet and upheaval, the Greek people have largely behaved with quiet patience. Not everyone agrees with this government and there is disquiet about its strategy – but there is not a Greek who who does not understand the miserable hold the oligarchs have had over the economy and the ruin they have heaped on this country over decades.
Greeks know very well that this government has been the first one that has gone out to seriously tackle the inequalities and the vicious hold of the very few over the great many. Greeks know also that the reason there was no deal with the lenders was because the lenders did not want it. The Greek government had travelled a great distance and made many concessions. At the end when a deal was there to be had, the lenders reverted back to harsher conditions and it was clear they were walking away from and not towards a deal. The lenders apparently only want to deal with governments that do as they are told. Told by the lenders that is.
In Syntagma on the evening of July 3rd, there was a gathering of great hope and courage. It is not easy to resist and defy those that crash the banking system around your ears. It takes a people with a long history of struggle and knowledge to know that sometimes a generation needs to assume the great responsibility of sacrifice. The speeches, the music of the old and new, the great mass of people that spread from Syntagma square down to Monastiraki and towards Omonia had the feeling of a great gathering of friends. It was the spirit of living a historic moment of defiance. It will be remembered for a long time by all those that were there.
The referendum result is not at all clear. It is for many Europeans (and others) barely conceivable that a people who are threatened with the collapse of a banking system and their economy persist in their support for this radical government and its leader. But what they forget is that well before the lines in front of banks came the long lines for emergency food and coupons and the lack of medicines. They forget the grotesque failure of the austerity policies which they are now trying to project into the long term without even a nod to reducing the long term debt.
What remains for all Greeks is something pure and simple – a Greek government elected with a mandate to challenge the memorandums of the past. A government that has refused to capitulate. It has kept its word to the Greek people. It now asks the Greek people for yet another mandate to carry on with the resistance and it believes that it can deliver a better deal. But it is giving the people the right to decide if that is what they want to do. If SYRIZA has given the world a lesson in how resist it is now also giving a lesson in democracy. Whatever the outcome, all Greek people will know that SYRIZA and this government has kept its word.
Adam Rorris National Coordinator, Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign