If you are like me, a socialist in the United States witnessing the deadly effects of a neoliberal austerity that no politician has ever dared to challenge, you are watching the situation unfolding in Greece with great interest. After much back-and-forth between the Greek government, led by the leftist Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), and the so-called “institutions” that are lending the country’s Treasury money to remain solvent — the European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Central Bank (ECB) — Prime Minister Alexis Tsipiras decided to call a referendum on the final deal given to the Greek government by the institutions.
This referendum, scheduled for Sunday, has been described by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a choice between remaining in the single currency known as the Euro, or leaving it. If you have followed politics long enough to remember when Eastern European nations like Romania and Bulgaria clamored for Euro membership (and when Turkey claimed that only Islamophobia was keeping it out of the EU), it will not surprise you that such an exit has never occurred in the single currency’s history, and may be a prelude to leaving the EU altogether (also unprecedented).
There will be much wrangling and discussion about whether Greeks should vote yes or no, and many others will much more informed opinions on the specific economic downsides and upsides of doing so (obviously, I hope the No side emerges victorious). But it is the rhetoric used towards the Greek people that has caught my attention. It sounds very familiar, as it is the same language that has been used against people of color in the United States for decades.