According to Wikipedia, ‘Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all the people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political participation. ‘
The term itself comes from the Greek word δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”,which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (Kratos) “power”, in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising 508BC – again all according to Wikipedia.
Thus when the Western world heaved a collective sigh of relief a week ago when it was announced that a ‘deal’ had been done to ‘help’ Greece out with their debts. The deal was done by a few, behind closed doors and without agreat deal of democracy seemingly in play. Immediately ‘the markets’ cheered, bought and sold stock and overall bought more than they sold. Markets went up and everyone hailed salvation. No doubt some stock market dealers made a tidy sum that day.
Seven days on and the reluctant Prime Minister of Greece, Mr George Papandreou who was elected on the back of a previous, highly corrupt regime incidentally, decided to call a time out on this EU move. Far from unilateral agreement on the part of the Greek
government on behalf of its people, George decided to get the ultimate buy in or buy out from his citizens and call a referendum.
This may or may not get through the Greek Parliament of course, and today it seems like it may not, but it feels like the first move of solidarity between the Greek people and their elected leaders for some time. It feels well overdue. Despite the fact that Greece has by all accounts been living the life of Riley on the back off corruption, back handers, inflated pay for all and very little economic infrastructure to support it all, this does feel right, despite what ‘the markets’ feel about it. Indeed the fact that politicians around the world are hostage to these financial markets highlights the complete and utter lack of democracy nowadays. No one voted for the people who run these markets, but seemingly they are the true masters of the universe, above law and free of any moral dignity other than to worship at the altar of Mammon.
Mr Papandreou has decided that his last hurrah will be an ironic nod to that ancient Greek principle of democracy. Ask the people simply ‘do you want to say yes to the loan accord from the EU, yes or no to Europe and yes or no to the Euro’. Meanwhile the likes of Goldman Sachs, very much the puppet masters in this Greek tragedy will no doubt move on to their next deal, their next commission rake off and even bigger profits. The ‘Occupy’ movement will not go away until the elected leaders of democracies around the world take control of the financiers and their markets and ensure power is shared and not monopolised by the relatively few investment bankers and hedge funders who have fiddled and stolen from the many.