The Wall Street Journal and M.Silverstein: We Are All Greeks Today — Or Soon May Be
In recent years, in the wake of some nasty bit of bullying by Russia or
China, some American politicians sought to show empathy for the victims
with phrases like: “We’re all Georgians today” or “We’re all Weegers
today.” Such statements were
doubtless well-meant, but they never resonated with most Americans.
There are few historical, cultural, political or economic links between
Americans and Georgians in the south Caucuses, or Uighurs (pronounced
Weegers), an ethnic minority in China.
Things are very
different when it comes to the current agony of Greece. There are
millions of Greek-Americans who play an important part in our national
life, and often still have close ties with Greece. Many millions more
Americans have visited Greece and come to love the country. This is one
reason why it might be said, watching the news about its present
agonies, that we are all Greeks today.
The economic aspect of
the ongoing Greek tragedy is also felt here by many. Our country, like
many others in the world, is feeling the effects of a creeping
austerity. Thankfully, its extent and dimensions on these shores pales
compared to the massive wage, benefit and employment cuts in Greece. Yet
the lesson of spending that is totally out of sync with benefit growth
or tax collections is clear. Another reason why we might identify with
Greece and its people today.
For me, however, the most
personally felt tragedy of this Greek agony, what makes it so viscerally
upsetting, is the way it is playing out politically. Put simply: Greek
democracy is dying.
The iconic democracy of the world, the
country that not only gave us this system of government but lent us its
name, is in very important ways a democracy no more. Moneyed foreign
interests and their representatives, a consortium of markets, banks and
Germans, run the place, call the shots, determine Greek policies,
determine its future, merely using domestically elected officials to put
a formal face on their rule.
Is this the future of democracy
generally? In this flagrant, blatant and unashamed form, is this what is
creeping into place everywhere, including in these United States? Money
that doesn’t even bother hiding its rule but shoves it in your ace and
dares you to do something about it?
If so, we truly are all Greeks today. Something that should make us all very, very afraid.