Once upon a time, the crying call for parliamentary democracy was: No taxation without representation.
Centuries passed and the democratic right to representation in all debates prior to taxation decisions was won.
Then came the idea that Europe’ peoples should join together, forming a European Union in order to demonstrate to the rest of the world the power of democracy; lighting the beacon that would shine in perpetuity from the top of some imaginary hill carrying to the four corners of the world the message that democracy works; that different people, speaking different tongues, believing in different creeds, can be brought together in a commonwealth of the free that is founded on the simple, yet ever so powerful, principle of democratic representation.
Lastly came the euro crisis. All of a sudden, the beacon faded into a flickering glimmer. Greece became the first country in which Europe itself imposed the harshest form of taxation: privatisation; i.e. the forced expropriation of our common property.
Naturally, a people, just like any family or business, have every right to sell part of their property. On occasion, it may indeed be sensible to do so. But what is happening today in Greece is of a different, malignant, ilk: Our European leaders have taken it upon themselves not only to decide that the Greeks will sell the family silver but, astonishingly, to effect the sale themselves.
There are of course arguments that the Greeks owe that money and what we are now witnessing is a form of confiscation, of foreclosure. But this would be to identify a people with their state and to assume perfect equivalence between the rights a state’s vocal creditors with the rights of voiceless citizens.
This is a poignant moment in Europe’s history. A moment when democratically minded Irish, Scots, French, English, Italians, Germans, Welsh, Portuguese ought to observe with a minute’s silence. For this is the moment when Europe’s democratic soul is being buried. In Athens where it was born.