“No” wins by a landslide in the Greek referendum on the EU bailout proposals. This can be a real game changer, for Greece, for Europe and for anti-austerity movements worldwide.
Greeks have gone through huge suffering because of austerity, African and Latin American societies had already been broken by the same policies through the 1980s and 1990s. In lesser degrees and not to the same extremes, most of us have suffered the effects of the 2008 financial crisis and the irresponsible policies of technocrats and pro-austerity governments – I can just think of close friends and family in UK, Spain, Italy, Swaziland, Zambia, South Africa, and US, for instance. From the hospitality industry to academia, from manufacturing to journalism, it’s been a true disaster, across most classes and age groups.
For young people who are trying to fulfil their aspirations and do something meaningful and dignified with their lives, it’s been harsh – I talk about this specifically because I am one of them. The hope springing from this victory is priceless – it’s a new lease of life in our daily struggles for individual and collective fulfilment and happiness.
It is primarily Greeks’ victory, but it is also in a smaller way “our” victory. All of us – except those whose interests are so entrenched with the status quo that all they can do is come up with justifications and explanations for what cannot be justified and cannot be accepted.
There will be turbulent days ahead, and Greeks are the most likely to bear the brunt once again of any degenerate response from technocrats and bankers. Yet, this is one of the most important victories in the fight against austerity since the rise of Thatcher and Reagan. Optimism and excitement can go a long way in the tough times ahead. Tomorrow we wake up with a different consciousness. We now know that our concerns, our criticisms, our demands, are not only just: they also have legs ‘out there’, they can become the majority consensus.
No to austerity and inequality; yes to a new deal for Greece, Europe, Africa and the rest of the world.