When one hears of the nation of Greece many images may come to mind. For those well-traveled, perhaps great architectural wonders, pristine beaches, rich food and beautiful towns and people are conjured. For the more historically minded, great philosophers, magnificent armies and ingenious commerce could be their first thoughts.
It was in Greece that great thinkers of antiquity battled for the minds of the younger generations through ingenious rhetoric and cunning debate. Aristotle, Socrates and Plato have been teaching us ever since. And what young man's heart doesn't resonate with the last stand of the 300 Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae? (Historical redaction notwithstanding)
It was the Grecian Empire, led by the son of Philip of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, that seemed invincible in its quest to Hellenize the world. Under his leadership the phalanx was perfected, bringing warfare to a new level. And because of Greek conquest the entire Mediterranean region grew up speaking a common tongue, Koine Greek.
After years of using long nails as currency, Athens borrowed the idea of coins from ancient Lydia. Thus, Athens, not only known for its great philosophers, also developed one of the first world currencies, the drachma, alongside Aegina and Corinth.
Perhaps the youth of our day will be the first contemporary generation to think of flames when they hear of Greece. Maybe they'll associate Greece with debt. Perhaps history will somehow blame Greece for the fall of the euro.
There is a certain bitter irony that the historical belly of commerce, philosophy and democracy is now facing its own battle of survival; a battle that involves all of the above. Philosophically, the Grecians are different than many of their European brethren. This has added to the tension in at least two ways; the fiscal policy that works in Germany does not work in Greece, and the pursuit of a solution that satisfies Germany certainly only exasperates the problem in Greece.
But, perhaps the greatest threat now comes in what could only be termed "fiscal slavery." Thursday The Telegraph printed an Ambrose Evans-Pritchard article discussing the pressure being placed on Greece today. In what may be one of the most outlandish, oppressive and threatening statements imaginable, Wolfgang Schäuble of Germany apparently demanded that Greece postpone this year's elections.
Let that sink in. Because of fiscal differences and struggles, the German government (read, ECB) is demanding that the core of the management of the nation of Greece surrender its sovereignty to central bankers and European Union politicians? Is this or is this not a form of fiscal slavery?
Greece is on a precipice. What happens in the next few months may very well decide the fate of the euro, if it's not decided already. Will Greece default and strike out on its own? Will the ECB find a way to hold on to Greece? Will Greece continue to surrender its sovereignty to central bankers? Will the ECB give Greece the boot?
Whatever happens, the euro is in serious trouble. Perhaps there is no hope for it at this point. Debt is not being resolved, but continually growing. Nations are growing in insolvency rather than prosperity. The euro experiment is a failure. And, rather than placing the burden on the backs of the central bankers that have caused this mess, it's placed on the bent backs of the people, many of whom must work themselves to an early grave in order to simply put food on the table, even while central bankers sip champagne while raising taxes.
It's entirely possible that the political reverberations that result from this could have far reaching consequences. May Greece act wisely, for a precedent may very well be set by what happens next. Will freedom prevail? Or will tyranny stamp out freedom as fiscal oppression enslaves the seat of democracy? Make no mistake; you will be affected.