Source: The New Statesman
The unexpectedly strong No in the Greek referendum was a historical vote, cast in a desperate situation. In my work I often use the well-known joke from the last decade of the Soviet Union about Rabinovitch, a Jew who wants to emigrate. The bureaucrat at the emigration office asks him why, and Rabinovitch answers: “There are two reasons why. The first is that I’m afraid that in the Soviet Union the Communists will lose power, and the new power will put all the blame for the Communist crimes on us, Jews – there will again be anti-Jewish pogroms . . .”
“But,” the bureaucrat interrupts him, “this is pure nonsense. Nothing can change in the Soviet Union! The power of the Communists will last for ever!”
“Well,” responds Rabinovitch calmly, “that’s my second reason.”
I was informed that a new version of this joke is now circulating in Athens. A young Greek man visits the Australian consulate in Athens and asks for a work visa. “Why do you want to leave Greece?” asks the official.
“For two reasons,” replies the Greek. “First, I am worried that Greece will leave the EU, which will lead to new poverty and chaos in the country . . .”
“But,” interrupts the official, “this is pure nonsense: Greece will remain in the EU and submit to financial discipline!”
“Well,” responds the Greek calmly, “this is my second reason.”
Are then both choices worse, to paraphrase Stalin?
The moment has come to move beyond the irrelevant debates about the possible mistakes and misjudgements of the Greek government. The stakes are now much too high.