The ways politicians managed the present crisis in Europe have signaled the end of democracy. People in Greece have already lost belief in the political system as a whole as they feel the powerlessness to shape their present or future – a fierce reality in the experience of everyday life. More importantly, there is nothing to believe that politics will change in the future. Therefore, people need to come together and shape new forms of governance, responsive to their own needs and wants.
The fact that democracy, the way we have experienced it in the Western states, has been degraded is becoming widely acknowledged. There are a lot of factors that have influenced this process, but maybe the most significant are the transfer of power from national to international and global institutions and the dominance of the financial system. To conform to the ‘liberalized’ global marketplace has become an overriding necessity. In other words, serving the interest of financial markets is of paramount importance, irrespective of what is going on in the interior politics of a country.
Democracy is an empty word
In times of global recession and draconian measures to enforce austerity to the people, by privatizing public assets, cutting public spending, removing workers’ rights and all the vested interests of the people that came out of years of social struggle, powerlessness is felt most acutely. People pay two times, one for bailing out the banks and one for a indefinite, permanent austerity.
People feel that they are unable to shape their own futures as their representatives do not have the power nor the will to take decisions on behalf of their people. The interests of the people are increasingly at odds with the interests of powerful financial institutions and corporations, which are promoted through international and national political systems.
Dystopia is here and now; powerlessness, destitution and social deterioration combined. Governments are obliged to follow the global economic reality as taught by institutions like IMF, even though they are voted by the people to follow their needs. Last Sunday in Greece, the whole country was shouting against the memorandum but the parliament had a different agenda.
As Athens surrendered in flames of anger and dissent, Greek politicians were signing an agreement that is going to affect the lives of Greek people for the next 20 years or more. What happened is unprecedented to the chronicles of modern day democracy and Greek people have lost faith in the political system, as a whole .
Manipulating the government
When uncertainty stroke the signing of the memorandum, a temporary coalition government replaced the elected one back in October 2011, by appointing an ex-banker as prime minister (Papademos). It was perfectly set as to sign the agreement, before the elections and a legal government appointed by the people.
The result is that under political pressures the most important agreement concerning Greece passed from the Greek parliament without the consent of the Greeks. The signing of the memorandum was rushed by the politicians as it was ”urgent”, while the life of the unelected has been prolonged. This is simply outrageous for even a rudimentary democratic system.
“There Is No Alternative” – demagogy of fear
The scale of propaganda unleashed is unimaginable: what was constantly repeated was that it is a choice between ‘hard survival but rescue’ or ‘total catastrophe’. They have been preaching over and over again that there is no alternative: singing the memorandum was the only way. They blackmailed people that payments will freeze- no pensions, no salaries etc. Nobody within the formal political system spent a minute to try to find other solutions. While other solutions have been proposed by economists and others, none of them was seriously studied by politicians. As if in the case that Greece does not sign the memorandum, there would be no international solidarity, nor internal mechanisms to support the country; Greeks would be left in their miserable fate where only chaos and destitution is reigning.
Popular dissent and manipulation of voting
Even under this fierce propaganda, shortly before the parliament voted in favour of the memorandum, polls showed that 50% of people would prefer default rather than the memorandum. People gathered in mass protest, but the media and the police downplayed the numbers and their significance [5,6]. Unable to deal with rioters, the police was attacking peaceful protesters . A potential uprising was obscurely drowned and the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people submerged
At the same time, leaders of all coalition parties rallied their MPs (Members of the Parliament) to sign the agreement, threatening that they will be written off the parties in case they do not adhere. Not only there was a ‘soft coup’ against the elected government, MPS had to stick to the parties’ line of policies not to their own consciousness (as it commonly happens in the parliament). Some coalition MPs voted against and indeed they were thrown out of their parties.
This is how the memorandum was signed; this is the shape of democracy at the moment. Since democracy denotes the ‘rule of the people’, this regime is not democratic – the term dictatorship is more apt than harsh. While democracy has long been weakening, this situation clearly marks its end. There is no democracy anymore, even the defiled version we grew up with.
A European-wide plague
On top of that, after passing the memorandum from the parliament, European leaders demanded that whatever party comes to power in the upcoming elections should be obliged to follow the policies of the memorandum, even the ones that have objected it . The German Economic minister and the representative of the Christian Democrats, Johannes Singhammer, demanded that the Greek elections are postponed since the popularity of the ‘pro-memorandum’ parties is very low at the moment [2,3]. Even worse, they would prefer a purely technocratic government without politicians  – pure tools for imposing the troika policies we would add.
The fact that Greek people have the right to vote those who represent them is not recognized. In this crisis era, it became possible that German politicians have the power to determine the political, economic and social life in Greece; they can literally abolish the democratic rights of Greek people.
This situation raises concerns about European politics or how ‘democratically-minded’ European leaders are, since they have impinged constitutional laws countless times (justified by the ‘urgency’ of the situation).
Is there a future to people’s ruling?
At this point it is plausible to raise the questions: Is there any hope in the political system? Is it rational to expect anything from a system that cannot address the needs of its own people? The present situation gave us insight to the very basic functions of the political system; it actually made evident to the broad society how the system is immoral, inappropriate and irrelevant to the lives of the people. The system is seen more as a lever of subjugation to global financial interests than a staple of people’s rule. In fact, broad parts of the Greek society have already lost their belief in the political system [5,6].
In the current conditions we need to raise also additional questions: Does it make any sense to vote politicians who come to power and they are not accountable to their voters? It becomes obvious that voting somebody – giving him the ticket to power – does not make any sense if he doesn’t really represent you. Taking into account that there is absolutely no sign that this will be changed in the future, forming different systems of governance is a pragmatic direction to go. It is no longer the ethical concern of only leftists, it has become the harsh reality of most people. People want to be able to shape their own future, address their needs and desires which cannot be represented in the formal system.
Another system, tailored to everyone’s needs
Coming together and constructing different social organizations that can facilitate people-powered governance might seem moiling, but it is more sustainable in the long run. We have not been educated how to share activities, how to take decisions together and how to be able to determine our own future. The formal education system did surely not; instead we have been taught to rely on others to make the decisions for us. Now more than ever we can and we need to educate ourselves in sharing power, rather than expelling it to the ruling elites. We need to learn to be responsible, participate actively in the society, express all our needs in groups and share the tasks of addressing those needs through activities, policies etc. It is not only a matter of ethical behavior but mostly a matter of survival.
Democracy needs to come back where it belongs, the people, and reconstituted by them to new forms of governance. It needs to become experiential, to address the real needs and desires adapted to each place and each individual. While it decentralizes, diffuses and localizes it can still be connected to the ‘global square’, for exchanging experiences, ideas and tools. Some people in Greece are experiencing the political dead-end and already propose territorial independence, like writer Giannis Makridakis. He argued that a people-run autonomy for Chios, his home island, is preferable than the decadent, demoralized economic rule of Greece-EU-IMF .
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