Weekend Roundup: How Will Greece Take Its Hemlock?


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

Ancient Greece was not only the birthplace of democracy, but also a deathbed of reason when a jury of 500 citizens condemned Socrates to die by hemlock poisoning for his impious attitude toward the order of the day. Defiant to the end, the philosopher voluntarily drank the poison himself in a suicidal display of dignity.

This weekend, Greek voters will decide in a referendum whether they will be force-fed more painful austerity, imposed by the jury of other European democracies, or, like Socrates, administer their own poison in a “no” vote that will likely push Greece out of the eurozone. Tragedy, too, such as we are witnessing today, had its origins in early Greek drama.

Nobel Laureate Joe Stiglitz and Martin Guzman argue that Greece will be better off administering the poison by its own hand. As they point out by examining the Argentine default in 2001, there is “life after debt and default.” Manolis Glezos, the elderly firebrand of Syriza, writes from Athens that, in a democracy, “the people are the measure” of their fate.

Writing from Buenos Aires, Argentine economic historian Pierpaolo Barbieri and Dimitris Valatsas, argue the opposite. If they vote “no,” Greeks “face the prospect of prolonged capital controls, severe political unrest and eventually a confiscation of ordinary citizens’ savings to finance a government’s withdrawal from the world.” Writing from Brussels, Daniel Gros, author of “The Tale of Two Defaults,” compares the Greek and Argentine experiences and speculates Greeks will swallow more austerity in order to remain in Europe. A survey of comments by Greece’s European partners from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Italy to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy conveys the clear sentiment that Greeks should not be let off the hook for the kinds of structural reforms in pensions and the labor market they themselves have had to so painfully implement in their own countries.

Mohamed El-Erian, one of the most influential voices in the global bond market, worries that Europe may be caught in a “perfect storm” of Greek default, populist uprisings and Putin threatening from the East. Mark Weisbrot examines the highly unusual case of members of the U.S. Congress calling out the IMF for its heavy-handed austerity policies for Greece.

Writing from Athens, Alex Andreou praises Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, saying he “is what all leaders should actually be like” and calls on Greeks not to “blink.” Financial analyst Dimitrios Giokas spells out the “devastating consequences” of returning to the drachma. Wharton School professor Mauro Guillén expects a “euro in flames” if Greece defaults with its European creditors. Lucia Annunziata writes from Rome that the Greek crisis has stripped the European Union of its technocratic mask and unveiled the reality of power politics. By calling on Greeks to vote “yes” in Sunday’s referendum, she says, EU leaders are asking for Tsipras’ head to be delivered “on a platter.” Also writing from Athens, HuffPost Greece editor Pavlos Tsimas wonders what he is really being asked to vote on in the referendum.

Daniel Marans explains why German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be held responsible if Greece is forced out of the eurozone. HuffPost France examines how France’s National Front is looking to capitalize on the “greferendum” and diagrams — in an infographic — what Greece’s options are going forward. In photo essays, we look at how Greeks on the street are handling uncertainty and how they’re preparing for the crucial referendum.

World editor Charlotte Alfred pulls together comments from a wide range of economists who argue that austerity is a dead-end policy for Greece. She also details the terrible state of the country’s austerity economy and compiles a list with World editor Eline Gordts of the “10 Things You Need To Know About Greece’s Week Of Crisis.”

U.S. President Barack Obama calls for “a fair day’s pay” for “a hard day’s work” when employees work overtime. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg tells the graduating class at Tsinghua University in Beijing that we live in an interconnected world in which “nothing is someone else’s problem.” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo joins former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in calling on cities to be vital players in the Paris climate talks. Ruth Fowler says being a mom in America is much harder than in Great Britain. In a unique take, MIT Media Lab’s Cesar Hidalgo links the “computational capacity” of economies to the income they can generate.

Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji examines the fierce power politics behind the red lines Ayatollah Khamenei has drawn in the nuclear deal being negotiated with the West. Ali Khan Mahmudabad exposes the secret Saudi-Israeli talks aimed at blocking rising Iranian influence in the Middle East. In an interview, Trita Parsi tells us what Iranians really think about the nuclear negotiations. Haras Rafiq scores ISIS for turning Ramadan, the “month of celebrating peace,” into “a month for jihadist attacks.” World editor Nick Robins-Early asks Charles Lister of the Brookings Doha Center whether ISIS is more powerful now than a year ago when it declared its caliphate. Writing from Tel Aviv, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi says ISIS is neither winning nor losing.

WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports on Egypt’s uphill PR campaign to portray the state as winning the “war on extremism.” She also reports on how police in Istanbul broke up a gay pride parade with water cannons. Our China correspondent Matt Sheehan ponders what Confucius would say about gay marriage.

In a podcast, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shinn, talks about the growing Chinese military presence in Africa. Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s widow, writes about how we can help educate and empower millions of marginalized girls worldwide. Futurist Vivek Wadhwa describes India’s “leap” into mobile technology. In our Singularity series this week, we tell the story behind the first 3-D printing of a wrench in outer space. Finally, Fusion profiles Bree Newsome, the woman who climbed a flag poll to take down the Confederate flag outside the statehouse in South Carolina’s Capitol.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are Associate World Editors.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

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