In a nation like Greece, with its long and proud history, messages can be conveyed by symbolic acts that echo and invite comparisons. The recent Greek referendum was one of those events.
Many news commentators were mystified when the left-wing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for a nation-wide referendum on the European debt payback proposals. The attitude ran something along the lines that the Greek people had no authority to vote on such complicated issues. What was the point and what did any result actually mean?
I recall one of the reporters asking if the Greek people even understood what they were voting for. It was, they said, all too complicated an issue for the average citizen to understand.
This was, it was implied, a matter for governments, not for citizens. Despite the fact, it was past administrations and armies of faceless bureaucrats that had engineered this experiment in austerity. Never mind that it was the people who would ultimately suffer under the proposed austerity measures, their opinion counted for nothing.
True, there were people on fixed incomes, there were countless numbers of unemployed citizens that were entirely dependent on government support, there were large numbers of Greeks who had already suffered for the last five years from belt-tightening austerity.
According to the prevailing attitude expressed by some in the media, the opinion of these people counted for nothing.