This is the third post of a trilogy about Bob Dylan, change and a Grexit. But it has to be presented in two parts because the third part just ended up being too long for one post.
In putting my thoughts down on paper, so to speak, it sometimes becomes necessary to re-evaluate whether my motivation and efforts are directed towards a worthwhile goal.
In my own small way, I have become an activist for the rejuvenation of the “European Project”. To change it from a nightmare back into a dream. But not just to patch it up and fix the cracks and give it a new coat of paint. I wish to see the creation of a “Reformed Europe”. And I believe that Greece has an important part to play in this “Reformed Europe”. As a proud European nation, Greece’s future is entwined in the future of Europe. But by this I do not mean that Europe must save Greece. Greece must save itself. But a new partnership will have to be forged between Greece and its other European neighbours.
The situation in Greece is now so dire that, whatever measures are applied in the future, the likely result is probably always going to be a lose/lose situation, at least for the Greeks. It seems to me that what we are all debating about now is what the optimum “least bad” solution would look like. The can has been kicked down the road for so long now that the best we can hope for is that it may resemble a battered receptacle that might be able to contain a few drops of liquid.
Until I am convinced otherwise, my view is that the optimum “least bad” solution is going to be a Grexit of some kind. Many creative Grexit solutions have been proposed by experts and amateurs alike. The one point of view that I can agree on with the anti-Grexit lobby is that Grexit will mean a little/some/a lot of discomfort for the Greek people for a short time/long time. The ultimate result is surely in no dispute……a sovereign country with its own sovereign currency and with its own central bank, pursuing its own economic policies will succeed in the world……there are many examples of countries like this. Greece does not need the EU or the Euro to survive and in the longer run, prosper……and there are many examples of countries like this as well.
So it seems to me that the nub of the debate is not so much whether a Grexit will work or not, because obviously it will. It is about whether there is a future for Greece inside the EU/Euro, in its current format, and what the benefits and disadvantages of that membership of the “club” brings.
And this is, of course, what the events of the last few years in Greece have actually been all about. This has been the battle to win over the hearts and minds of the people. To make them choose…..pro-EU/Euro or anti-EU/Euro. The politicians and economists trying to convince the Greek people what the better option is!
Giorgos Gogos is a Greek dock worker and union leader in Piraeus. He is also a member of Syriza’s central committee, and he is active in the regional and union levels of the party. He supported the Syriza ‘No’ vote, and urged his union members to do so as well. During a recent interview conducted by Sharmini Peries, Executive Producer of TheRealNewsNetwork, this was Giorgos’ response to a few of the questions:
“PERIES: Okay. And so what are the education levels of the workers? One thing that I found very intriguing of working people in Greece is that they’re highly educated in terms of what’s going on economically, what’s going on in terms of the debt crisis, what Alexis Tsipras is actually negotiating, and the impact it has on them and their work. And their site of work, in this case, this port. So give me a sense of the level of worker education and knowledge about what’s going on in the economy.
GOGOS: Yes. The last five years that we’ve had memorandums and Troika presence in the country raised very much the interest of people for politics. And inevitably because these memorandums affected so much our lives we are well informed about what it’s happening and why it’s happening, this. People here, especially in this area, they voted with vast majority of 70 percent for no, and this no was against the austerity and continuation of the memorandums. It was not clear that all of this amount of people wanted to exit from Eurozone or from Europe in general, but all of them it’s clear–it’s clear that we didn’t want to continue with the austerity measures we faced that we faced over the last four years. So I have to tell you that this area has a big percentage of unemployment. So people are really eager to find a job.
PERIES: And did you see the new deal, or the new memorandum of agreement that Alexis Tsipras is about to sign on to, affecting your ability to negotiate and advertise even more?
GOGOS: Yes, that’s true. The final product of the agreement, it’s worse than the day we’ve done. We know that this is the product of blackmailing and huge pressure over the government. Unfortunately our government was believing that we could have allies within the Eurozone. And that the humanitarian crisis in Greece, it would trigger changes within the Eurozone. Unfortunately this didn’t come true. And Schauble and [extra] neoliberals within the Eurozone. They defeated our negotiators, our government. And the final result was after a huge dilemma with–they had to choose between a Grexit without any conditions and the memorandum like they said that they are going to sign and to implement.
PERIES: So given that the majority of the people voted ‘No’ in the referendum here and since the memorandum has now been approved by the parliament, what are your thoughts and the thoughts of the unions that the government has gone against the democratic will of the people? What are your thoughts, what do you think the next steps are?
GOGOS: We have mixed feelings. Passing from hunger, disappointment. We are not feeling well. It’s a new agreement, as I told you, a product of huge pressure. We know that it’s not going to be sustainable, it’s not going to be viable, it’s going to destroy certain sectors of Greek economy. And we know that we are going to reject it sooner or later. We are in a state of shock these days, because we saw our prime minister negotiating about 17 hours in a table with all these neoliberals trying to promote their plans. It will take some time. I don’t think it will be a long time. But we’re going to organize ourselves and start fighting and struggle against these pressures. It’s very strange because a left party’s in power and they plan to impose these measures. It’s something very contradictory. But the target remains the same, these measures should not happen, should not take place, should not be implemented. So we still want to continue our struggles. The point is organizing better so as to have better results. I think that very soon we’re going to have elections, and people will be asked again to say his opinion. So we’re continuing, so we remain vigilant to continue our fight.”