The Greek Referendum of the 5th July 2015 – An imaginary dialogue

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Electoral workers prepare ballot boxes in a warehouse in Thessaloniki on July 2, 2015, ahead of a controversial bailout referendum. Greece's radical left government suggested it would resign if it fails to get its way in a make-or-break referendum July 5 that could decide the country's financial future.   AFP PHOTO / SAKIS MITROLIDIS        (Photo credit should read SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Electoral workers prepare ballot boxes in a warehouse in Thessaloniki on July 2, 2015, ahead of a controversial bailout referendum. Greece’s radical left government suggested it would resign if it fails to get its way in a make-or-break referendum July 5 that could decide the country’s financial future. AFP PHOTO / SAKIS MITROLIDIS (Photo credit should read SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images)

On Sunday 5th July the Greek people will vote on a non – existing issue, whether we accept or not the proposal of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, a proposal that is no longer on the table, as the framework for the agreement, the second agreement between Greece and her creditors, has expired on the 30th June 2015.

But absurdity is not the issue here. The issue is that we Greeks live in a society where discourse is dead. Democracy is also dead. The new government claims to be democratic, but I have serious doubts. The European Union claims to be democratic, but they do not convince me. Words no longer have meaning, it depends on what you are going to vote . Language is split, people are split. And this split is between good and bad, and this may not be a temporary split.

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What follows is an imaginary dialogue of two Greek citizens, one is identified as a “YES” voter, and the other as a “NO” voter.

Bu there is a catch.

Each voter is not an individual, but a member of a set.

There are two sets.

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Set A is the set of individuals who will vote  ‘YES’.

Set B is the set of individuals who will vote ‘NO’.

Therefore, in each turn of the dialogue, we may have different members of each set participating. I will not try to identify ‘who is who’. It does not make sense any way.

The format of the dialogue is very simple. Each set member (voter) in turn makes a statement. There are no interruptions. I will freely comment on the statements, using the identity of “CHORUS”. This is the result of exercising some sort of a poetic license, and it therefore totally arbitrary. In addition, I claim to express my personal views and therefore I have the responsibility for these views. Unfortunately, in spite of my best efforts, I could not convince Moses to give me the secret of receiving instructions from God. I have climbed many mountains without success. At the same time, my recent trip to Delphi was also fruitless. No God was willing to speak to me, and the priestess on duty treated me with silence.

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There is another catch.

There are various ghosts who participate in the dialogue. No one can prevent ghosts from intervening.

Political prisoners.

“CHORUS”: Even if Hellas does not fall the big fall today, she will remain dangerously close to the edge of the abyss for a long and unknown period of time.

“YES”: I will vote “YES”.

“NO”: I will vote “NO”.

“YES”: You are an  opportunist!

“NO”: You are a traitor!

Prime Minister Gounaris with other officials in Minor Asia, 1921. Gounaris was executed in Goudi, on the 15 November 1922.
Prime Minister Gounaris with other officials in Minor Asia, 1921. Gounaris was executed in Goudi, on the 15 November 1922.

CHORUS: Memories of the 1922 Minor Asia Disaster emerge. At that time traitors were the leaders of the Greek Government and Army and their supporters and followers, who were accused and executed as being responsible for the disaster that ended the presence of the Greeks in Minor Asia and Western Thrace. What remains from this period in the imagination of the Greek people is the word ‘Goudi’, the Athenian suburb where the ‘traitors’ were executed following a brief trial. You, Greek voters, you need to decide on who the traitor is! There can be no resolution of this conflict without a clearly identified traitor side! This can be resolved with the use of the State machinery, State is by definition coercion.

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“YES”: You are a Communist Bandit! You are against the Nation!

“NO”: You are a Quisling! A cooperator of the Germans! A black marketeer!

“YES”: The Nazi party of ‘Golden Dawn’ is your partner in the ‘NO’ vote. What are you talking about?

“NO”: You cannot escape from grim reality: you are the new ‘partners’ of the modern Nazi, the Merkel – dominated European Union.

“CHORUS”: The statues are not the ruins—we are the ruins (Giorgos Seferis)

Τα κεφαλια του Βελουχιωτη και του Τζαβελα στην πλατεια των Τρικαλων το 1945
The heads of Aris Velouhiotis and his lieutenant Tzavellas, in the square of the city of Trikala, 1945

CHORUS: Memories of the 1945-1949 Civil War are still alive. Back then, it was the communists who formed an army, the Democratic Army, and took control of mountainous territories of Greece. Against them was the newly formed National Army, with English and American support. Whereas during the Occupation by Axis forces (Germans, Italians, Bulgarians) the Greeks were united, most of them under the umbrella of the National Liberating Front (EAM), including the communists, when the Civil War broke, the Communists became isolated. People who fought the Germans under the wings of EAM, joined the National Army and fought against the Communists.The Communists were expecting – or their leadership had said so – support and help from the Soviet Union, which never materialized. Stalin remained faithful to the Yalta accord and abandoned the Greek Communists.

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“NO”: I want justice.

“YES”: Get real! Justice exists only among equals! Fight for something you can achieve!

“CHORUS”: How easy it is for desperate people to follow the leaders who promise to them everything they do not have, only to be bitterly disappointed later.

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“YES”: We must find a way to work with the Europeans. They are the best option for Greece. Who else? Putin?

“NO”: We must show them that we do not succumb to blackmail.

“CHORUS”: When you have a knife on the table and instead of slicing your steak you stick it into your guts like Mishima did, you get a sense of belonging to the «beyond», verging on megalomania (George Veltsos).

Kader Attia, Ghosts, 2007
Kader Attia, Ghosts, 2007

“Ghost1”: Greek people, vote “YES”!

“YES”: George Papandreou, you are one of the people who brought the country where we are today. How dare you?

“Ghost2”: Greek people, vote “YES”!

“YES”: Kostas Karamanlis, you are one of the people who brought the country where we are today. How dare you?

“Ghost3”: Greek people, vote “YES”!

“NO”: With this wonderful show of ghosts we have secured the win!

“CHORUS”: Ghosts, Ghosts, we live in a country full of Ghosts!!! Not only they are still alive, they do not let the living take positions in the political process. The ghosts keep the political process hostage. The ghosts occupy vital space. We need to get rid of the ghosts! But how!

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“YES”: The SYRIZA government and Tsipras have failed the country. They are incompetent and have totally screwed up the negotiations. For five months they were just fucking about, playing the “catch me” game with the creditors. Shocking and childish. People who voted for SYRIZA in January 2015 are now voting “YES”.

“NO”: The government and Tsipras stood their line. What you say is propaganda of the power mongers and the rich.

“CHORUS”: There is no longer discourse in the country of Socrates. People do not speak, they make announcements. People do not listen to what the other is saying. They only listen to the echo of their own words.

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“YES”: If we win, and we will win, Tsipras and his government must resign on Monday and a National Unity Government should be formed.

“NO”: You are the agents of anomaly! The Tsipras government were elected in January 2015 and they will stay in office for 4 years.

“YES”: This would be the case, if they were not totally incompetent. Now that they have almost destroyed the country, they must leave.

“NO”: Dream on! Political anomaly will not be allowed!

“CHORUS”: How sad one feels to see that people cling on to power without regard for the implications of their actions.

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“NO”: We will win!

“YES”: We will win!

“CHORUS”: “Win win” as the Americans call it, but how good a win is, when society is full of hatred? How good a win is, when the country continues to be run and represented by the guard that brought it up in flames? When the hope of January 2015, Mr. Tsipras failed miserably in his first (and may be the last) major challenge?