I have as much interest/concern in the Free Market as I do in Social Contract Theory! As an object of study both of these concepts/constructs have historical/philosophical interest. Both of these are, in my mind, situated in the realm of theologies: the product of revelation rather than empiricism. Not to speak of my obvious Left politics.
After months of negotiations and just before the expiration of the deadline in question, the Greek government has now decided that it is unable to take responsibility for a clear “yes” or “no” to the results of negotiations on its own. Why didn’t the Greeks says weeks ago that they wanted to put the negotiations up for a vote? That would have been the democratic way to go about it. In the very best case scenario, Tsipras’ about-face on the referendum is a populist move (assuming the decision was taken with any political calculation). In the worst case scenario, it is a cowardly one (if the head of government got cold feet about making such a difficult decision).
But “constant cowardice” is also the answer to another question — namely how the rest of the euro-zone members, Germany above all, could have allowed a situation to develop in which the erratic leaders of an economically insignificant country with a population of just 11 million people could bring the currency union to the verge of collapse?
It’s Time for the Alternatives
One is the Grexit, which would see Greece leaving the euro zone and attempting to get by with its own currency. The second would be a debt haircut, meaning Greece would no longer be required to pay back a part of its debt. Both alternatives would trigger large tremors, but they would also provide the opportunity for a new beginning and an end of the crisis.
Those who still consider themselves to be Europeans at heart will speak out in favor of the second alternative, for stricter controls in exchange for generous aid and, ultimately, binding budget policies for all. That does come with a price tag, but also with the possibility that we still someday get the Europe that we were promised.