Alexis Tsipras wanted to dynamite “liberal Europe” and “austerity”.
He has demolished some obdurate myths that have been poisoning Europe.
The European Union is much more democratic than any government, which after having lied to its electorate, asking them for confirmation of its lies by referendum – is finally going to implement totally opposite policies. Mr Tsipras has not missed a single opportunity to cause havoc in Europe before finally deciding to discuss things with the only ones who can help him to prevent default that is already evident: the Europeans.
He will be accountable to History for his volte-face. People can understand everything, both crazy ideas and mistakes. They have less and less patience with the cynicism of their leaders whose ideological agenda prevails over reality.
The European Union has been built on a democratic foundation whose treaties have been the focus of 53 referenda and nearly 200 parliamentary votes. Who can say as much? Certainly not the minorities, who Europe wide, are constantly launching attacks against it. Every people in Europe has the right to express itself, every government is as valid as another. And whoever tries to oppose them will fail because European law and procedures are there to oblige them to come to consensus.
Indeed was it really worth making the Greeks vote, only to betray them immediately afterwards? This manoeuvre will probably double or triple the cost of saving Greece. What a marvellous lesson!
Because this is the other myth, the surrounding “austerity”, that has collapsed in the chaos. Europeans have been living beyond their means for nearly 30 years. They have accumulated debts and deficits and only the incredible wealth they have inherited allows them to survive as they consume their seed corn. But how long for? For Greece the time of reckoning has come! The country’s deliquescence, its failing administration and its practices have clearly come to light as the bank system has ground to a halt and confidence has withered away. Debt means the loss of sovereignty. There is nothing left when there is no currency.
This example alone legitimises the budgetary effort, the European rules of good management, the reduction of government spending that all responsible governments have been trying – more or less – voluntarily and forced – to implement. The other possibility is inevitable default. And the eminent experts, Nobel prize winners or not, often co-responsible for the financial crisis would do well to moderate their comments when governments and people try to repair a situation for which they alone are responsible, and which – it is true – comes with a high political and social price. The euro is a strong currency which protects its people. Outside of the zone the going would be hazardous. Without the European Central Bank there would be no more currency in Greece. Without the European Union Greece would slip into chaos.
A third myth is that of Germany that is said to “be governing Europe” which has found an answer in the reality of the situation. Whatever stance they have taken Europeans have been unanimous and have stood together at the Council negotiating table in their bid to save Greece in spite of the mistakes that it might have made – but also to make sure that after the rescue, it cannot start erring again. The work of some cannot just be wiped out by the fantasy of others.
Whoever knows the Germans knows very well that they really do not want to lead Europe, but to guarantee stability for which they at least are prepared to share their sovereignty. The revival of horrible anti-German feeling highlights the lowest instincts of all types of extremist, which are belied by the facts and the reality of a continent whose unity is the most valuable of assets. Any nuance in their entente means the division of the continent.
The Greek crisis is dramatic because the future of a European people is at stake. It has now shown that populist claims that feed on the present problems can be refuted by harsh reality. If we accept them we run the risk of failure. Continuing and strengthening the European Union along with its monetary union is now more urgent than ever before so that we don’t have queues forming outside of the banks!