Huffington Post, 28 June 2011
Given that the Greeks invented democracy, it’s only fitting that they’re now being given the chance to reinvent it. And yes, I know we Greeks have a reputation for mythmaking and drama — but, as I found out during my trip to Greece last week, those really are the stakes.
Until I went over and witnessed what’s happening, I too had become convinced that the real issues were the ones the media were obsessively covering: the effects of a potential sovereign default on the Euro and worries about the crisis spreading to other European countries.
But here’s the bigger issue: Can a truly democratic movement break the stranglehold of corrupt elites and powerful anti-democratic institutional forces that have come to characterize not just the politics of Greece, but most Western democracies, including our own? Greece is only an extreme example of an unfolding seismic social shift that is challenging democracies the world over.
What happens in Greece might very well tell us whether democracy will recover from the crisis of legitimacy exacerbated by the financial crisis or whether it will shrink — undermined by the very forces that brought on the crisis in the first place.
It’s way too early to tell whether the forces of democracy will prevail, but I came away extraordinarily moved and heartened by the courage, passion, engagement and dedication I witnessed during a trip in which three different perspectives converged.