It takes a certain level of judgement to look back on Stalinist Russia and decide that sounds like a good idea. This was the conclusion made by Tsipras in the 90s, no less. Some of his allies are genuine Maoists. I got the first taste of this when I was woken up by shouting in Thessaloniki many years ago and saw a legitimate communist rally taking place. Who knew communism was still a thing!
Tsipras has smothered his behaviour in the language of democracy. He is the freedom fighter for all Europe, the same way Putin is the enemy of all fascists.
Tsipras could have used this referendum as a negotiating ploy but he didn’t. He had a direct line to Merkel but slapped her in the face by not even broadcasting his intentions hours before.
He could have called a referendum for last week and spared the suffering Greeks a week of capital controls. He could have called a vote on a proposal that actually exists, but he did not. This election is a sham. Tsipras has no obligation to leave if he loses.
Who is this guy? When Tsipras first formed a government he might have joined with moderate pro-European allies on the left. Instead he formed an alliance with the far right, and made their leader the head of Defence. This is not the action of a hinged man. This is the action of someone for whom the means justify the ends, as they did for Mao, Stalin, Trotsky and the other men honoured by Syriza.
Syriza is manned by the descendants of losers of the Greek civil war. They were the first to be burned by US napalm in 1948. They were locked up under the military dictatorship with all the tortures, abuses and indignities dished out by US puppet states half a century ago. Syriza is not part of the Greek establishment. They were the losers of the modern era.
Tsipras’s allies are in Russia and Venezuela, his heroes the rogues and scoundrels of the early-to-mid 20th century Left. He was never here to compromise.
It’s not a good idea to think politicians are stupid – there is usually some kind of plan. Even seemingly dumb operators like Abbott and Gillard are surprisingly effective when you look at what they actually achieve. The only plan consistent with his random and constantly surprising moves is to break Greece from Europe and align it with different friends, with a different style of government and with the freedom from the EU to set its own radical path. In this context the circus of the recent ‘negotiations’ makes plenty of sense.
Greeks should not fear leaving the EU half as much as what Tsipras and his radical Syrizans would do if unconstrained by the EU. The next election is 2019 where Tsipras can actually be booted out is 2019. Most of the Greeks I know would prefer to live in London than Moscow, and will surely vote that way.
Tsipras has already intensified the blistering poverty of Greece (those overgenerous pensions are about 500 euros a month). We can at least be thankful that so far he has proved better than his idols.