Here is a conversation with Maria Scordialos, an activist in Greece. We talk about the upcoming referendum, the solidarity economy, the role of fear in politics, the economics and politics of debt, and the revolutionary potential of authenticity in leaders. Maria gives us a peek at what is happening on the ground in Greece.
What she says about the authenticity of the prime minister, and how it doesn’t fit into the EU political culture, was especially revealing. It shows that the transformation that wants to happen in Greece goes much deeper than mere questions of money and politics.
Maria Scordialos is a co-founder of the Living Wholeness Institute, that is researching and prototyping systemic transformation projects and practices, based at Axladitsa Avatakia, a farm and home that hosts immersion learning in Pelion, Greece. You can listen to Maria’s TED talk in Leiden – The Greek in All of Us
Charles: OK, so you were saying, yes.
Maria: No, I mean it’s definitely getting to the point where the disturbance is really heightened, and of course the question is can we be generative with that disturbance, or disruptive, and that’s….we’re really in that in-between space, so it’s pretty….people….all they can talk about is the referendum, and they’re not just talking, they’re starting to fight, which is always scary for me, because we’ve already gone through a civil war and we don’t want anything like that. But you’ve got very fundamental views, with the no and the yes, and then you’ve got people that are very confused and don’t really understand what to do and others are saying I’m not going to vote, but it’s….I think what a lot of people’s dilemma is, Charles, is that they can’t see the end of the tunnel, do you know what I mean? Even with a yes or a no vote.
Maria: It’s tough going ahead of us.
Charles: Yeah, it’s a step into the unknown. And a yes vote would be a step at least into the known….more of the same, more of this descending spiral of misery. But at least you know what kind of misery you’re in for. But a no vote….
Maria: The other thing, Charles, is that the argument is not about do we agree with the terms or not. What you’ve got is a whole section of the population, which is the yes vote, which is basically saying yes, we want to be European, and in Europe, and in the euro. So it’s been politicized, and it’s being taken by the other three main parties, which are Pasok, New Democracy, and Potami, and they are really kind of the ones that are saying we don’t want this leftist government, they’re a bunch of jokers, and we want to stay in Europe, and we want to be equal players in Europe. So it’s almost like there are two referendums going on for me, and they’re different.
Charles: Maria, can you just actually introduce yourself, in case there’s anyone listening to this at all at some point?
Maria: I’m Maria Scordialos, I live in Greece, I am Greek, and my work is in participatory leadership, public engagement, and how do we actually come together and co-create new solutions, especially from the challenges and the future that we don’t yet know how to meet. How do we do that generatively across the many and often conflicting diversity that we have in our societies?
Charles: This is reminding me of the Scottish referendum in a way. There are some really key similarities. The British government was stirring up a tremendous amount of fear. All the arguments against independence were based on fear, especially fear of the unknown, and these hyperbolic threats about what could happen if they voted for independence. And so the referendum lost, the independence vote lost, but I was actually in Scotland right in the aftermath of that, and I spoke to some audiences, and I said the no vote, the vote against independence, was a symptom that this society is still susceptible to fear, and that the work to be done isn’t so much the superficial work of persuading people that independence is a good idea so we’ll win next time. Because what kind of Scotland do you want to have? Whether you’re independent or not, a Scotland that is acting from fear isn’t going to be a good country to live in. So the work is at a deeper level, to undo the sources of fear, to spread love, to spread community, mutual support. And I’m wondering, I know there’s a lot of that stuff going on, grassroots stuff. Can you tell me about that? 4:20
Maria: Yeah, sure. That’s been going on for the past five years, since this crisis and as the escalation of the crisis. It’s actually very much a part of our root system, Charles, in our culture. The work of solidarity, of co-existence, of interdependence and actually self-organizing or self-authority, which is part of the reason why we’re not really great at a very large scale. We’re great at a small scale, but not at a large scale, because we like to self-organize and we don’t like somebody else coming and telling us that there are rules that you have to follow. Our first instinct is to basically say bugger off, we’re going to do it our way. Which can seem very anarchic, but it’s actually a very, very deeply held self-organizing kind of root system. Partly because that’s how we’ve survived the many different traumas in our history. So what has happened since 2010 is that the solidarity movement has seen amazing kind of neighborhood groups emerging, that are helping people, from those people who got their electricity cut off, how do you get the electricity put back on, to helping with food and other needs that people have. You also have had an enormous movement in things like community doctors or clinics. There’s a huge amount of people who don’t have any health care coverage. So we’ve had an enormous kind of community health centers, which are completely run voluntarily. Community drug stores….if you’ve had relatives that passed away but the drugs they were taking are still within the sell-by date, you take them and they are reissued to people. And so you’ve had a lot of these kinds of groups emerging, you’ve had an enormous….well, not enormous but we’ve got something like forty-plus complementary currency schemes happening across the country, where people basically say we’re unemployed, we don’t know what to do, but you know what, we’ve got skills, we can keep exchanging, and why the hell are we so worried about money? So people are starting….I personally believe that a really new economy, a new solidarity economy, has been happening, and it’s been three years now that we’ve been running a solidarity economy kind of festival every October in Greece. And you can see what’s going on around the country. There’s a lot of share and OK, I’ve got kid’s clothes and they don’t need them anymore. Let me take them to a share shop, other people come along and pick them up. So there’s been a lot of those things. There’s also been what I call protection groups that have emerged around resources or areas that is one of the big issues in this whole thing that is kind of below the radar, is the issues of commons. Greece is one of the few countries in the world, especially the Western world but especially Europe, that we have had quite a large commons. In other words, our ports, the sea, a lot of the natural resources, were held in the public. They were not held by private owners. And there is a lot of speculation as to whether a lot of what’s going on with the crisis is actually the bringing the country into a debt situation, where you then have to sell off all that stuff to get yourself out of debt.
Charles: Well, that’s how it’s always worked. That’s the strategy.
Maria: Exactly. And that’s the new colonialization that came after imperialism. And that’s what we’ve been doing to Africa, that’s what we’ve been doing, you know….so it’s really very alive here. So you’ve had these other part of the solidarity that’s emerged are protection groups. So for example, the old American bases, which is in a part of Athens, just outside of Athens, called Elliniko, was left after the Americans left in the late eighties, and then there was talk of selling that land off for millions of euros, etcetera. So you had a group of people that went in, squatted it. We really have a movement of squatting as a way of preserving and conserving either landmark buildings or areas. Then you’ve had the whole big fight of Skouries, which I don’t know if you’ve heard of. It’s with the goldmines up in north Greece –
Charles: I hadn’t heard about that, no.
Maria: Enormous. It’s a Canadian company that has bought goldmines, basically, and one of the offshoots of goldmines is cyanide, which then poisons all the water in the area. And the local residents were fighting such a fight, and against the previous government, were horrific. Literally, they were being gassed, the villages, the kids….so that’s been going on for a while. It’s calmed down now; the new government has stopped that violent police intervention that was with the previous governments. 10:00
Charles: Let me break in here, because I have some thoughts. When you’re talking about these solidarity movements, and ways people are taking care of each other that don’t depend on having enough euros to purchase health care, for example, or getting together to protect the commons – on the one hand all of these things are going to be useful no matter which way the referendum goes. Because either way, there’s going to be some economic hardship.
Charles: But also, this is the kind of thing that insulates a people against fear. Because when in your daily life you see people taking care of you, you see yourself taking care of others, you see people taking care of each other, you know that you’re going to be OK. That kind of existential fear about what’s going to happen if I lose my bank account. I mean, there’s still fear there….
Maria: Oh, it’s huge! That’s what they’ve done to us this week.
Charles: But it softens the fear a little bit. And I think that these actions, whether it’s this referendum or whatever happens in the future, this kind of ground level solidarity building is indispensible. It’s more important than the referendum. And perhaps, if the referendum does vote no, it will be because of this kind of invisible or under the surface work.
Maria: Yes, absolutely. And it’s very interesting what you’re saying about the fear. Our present government, our prime minister, speaks very clearly about this. There’s been an interesting….there’s been a lot of opposites around this guy. There’s a whole group of people that say he’s (unclear.12:05) he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s actually conniving, they’ve always come in to get us out of the euro and out of the European Commission, and that that’s been the tactic of their negotiation, which is where they’re taking us now, inviting us to put a no vote. Then there’s another part of the community, and I’m part of that part, that listens to the guy speak, and you know when people are speaking from a place that’s authentic, versus a place of spin, or this is what you should say. And I just hear the authenticity in what’s been spoken. So what you hear from him is….they asked, he was interviewed on national TV, and the interviewer said “What is your worst nightmare?” And he said “Fear. People fearing fear. That is my worst nightmare. Because it will not allow us to move, it will not allow us to become what we can become. It’ll hold us back. And that’s my nightmare. My nightmare is we will be fearful, and we will stay fearful.” And he’s basically saying don’t be afraid. Banks are doing this on purpose to us. But your money is insured, it’s in there. And of course he has to say that without knowing if it truly is. But the reality is this fear….and this is what it is for me, Charles, when I sink below or go above, whichever way you want to see it. For me what we’re in is one of the fundamental human questions we should be in. For me humanity is going towards its suicide, if it continues on the road that we’re on, with the way that we support and finance a banking system and a financial system that is living way beyond the limits of the earth, right?
Maria: So we are, in a country like Greece where the debt situation, whether it’s been set up or not, has brought us to what I believe the real work is: we need to sink into our roots and ask ourselves some fundamental questions about our assumptions about life.
Maria: We really need to ask that of ourselves.
Charles: Yeah. I feel quite inspired that you have a political leader who is speaking authentically and giving an example of not being in fear. And to me this kind of ties together the political and the spiritual realm of discourse. Because our whole system is entirely based on fear. The banks are acting from fear, the bondholders are acting from fear. Will I be OK if I don’t continue to stripmine all of the cultural and natural wealth from this planet and guard enough of it for me, to protect myself, will I be OK? It’s the same question: can I afford to be of service to the world, can I afford to do what I love, will it be OK? And I think that when this transition happens in one place, when people choose not to be in fear in one place, it kind of provides an example and creates a field that enables it to happen in other places.
Maria: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And as you said, the answer to the fear or the response to the fear is the solidarity, it is the sharing, it is the coming in community with one another, because we then access a whole different level to our humanity, and a whole different level of capital resource, whatever language you want to use, capacity, that we can actually work from. The drug, though, is that a nation like Greece that went through a civil war after World War II, that faced immense starvation and poverty into the fifties, and then into the sixties, and then we had a dictatorship so there was all of that, and then we came out of the dictatorship, we became part of the European union. And the flooding of the grant process, the funding stream from Europe, for me did more damage then good. Because what happens is, you had a society that was in fear of not having enough, from having gone through the hardships. And the grant system and the flooding of all this money in some weird way – not weird way, I know how it did it – it reinforced the individualism of if I can have it, and I’m OK and my family’s OK – and we’re a very individualistic society. It’s frightening, actually. We have a lot of ethnic identity, that’s where our commons is, in our identity, but in terms of who we are, how I get on, it’s me and my family. And maybe my local community that I’m part of. But it’s very tribal, and there’s something that I’ve seen in these five years….I didn’t grow up in Greece, but I’ve been living in Greece now nine years, and in the five years that I’ve seen the crisis and what we’ve been going through, is that I have seen our society access some of the beauty of that solidarity and that sharing. And we have a word in Greek, philotimo, which is actually a friend of duty. But what it really means is I cannot see myself unless I see….I can only see myself in your eyes. If I harm you, I harm myself. If I love you (??? Inaudible. 18:25) I love myself.
Charles: That’s the concept….in southern Africa they call that ubuntu. It understands that your wellbeing and my wellbeing are not fundamentally separate, which is opposite from the teachings of economics, which puts us all in competition with each other and if I out-compete you and defeat you then I’m better off, as long as I have sufficient police forces to manage your discontent. And we see the same thing playing out in Europe, actually, where the northern countries seem to think that they can somehow insulate themselves from the poverty and suffering of the southern countries. One appealing thing about a united Europe is this feeling of we’re all in it together, we’re not really separate from each other, and let’s take care of each other as a continent.
Charles: I spoke in Germany not too long ago, and I said what would this continent be like if everybody was like you guys? You know, very serious, very productive. Don’t you need places where you can go hang out all afternoon at a café and there’s that culture that encourages that? I guess this is kind of a spirit of appreciating the diverse gifts that all members of society and all members of the political society offer. And some of those gifts translate easily into measurable goods and services, and others do not. In any small economy you have some people producing the stuff, and then there’s other people who are taking care of those people on a physical level who are….there’s maybe some guy who doesn’t produce very much, but he’s the life of the party. And he adds fun to life, and ease. And then somebody else tells good stories, and all of those people hold the productive person in a place where he can be a joyful producer. It gets down to deeper issues, philosophical issues even, of what’s real. Is it even (unclear. 21:15) the things that we can measure? But what’s happening here….I might put this recording out there at some point, but….I think probably most people understand, really, what’s happening on an economic level in Greece, how the debt works, but I want to maybe just touch on that, and then you can respond to it, because maybe not everybody is familiar with these dynamics. So basically you lend huge amounts of money to a country like Greece and the money goes toward….well, some of it goes toward corruption and things like that, but a lot of it goes toward building infrastructure, physical infrastructure and cultural-political infrastructure that is geared toward enabling that country to export wealth. Because only by exporting wealth are you going to be able to make payments on these loans that have come in. If you build nature preserves that are free and open to the public, that’s not going to generate revenue, you’re not going to be able to pay back the loan. So you have to build highways, you have to build ports, you have to build factories, you have to build electricity grids, you have to build market mechanisms that dismantle solidarity so that people no longer take care of each other but have to purchase service provided from the outside. All of those things grow the economy. Insurance, for example. If you have a village where people rebuild their neighbor’s house when it burns down, there’s no insurance market. But when you dismantle that, then ah, here’s a market for financial products! So these loans are contingent on quote “reforms” that allow the country’s labor force and natural resources to be converted into products that can be sold internationally to generate the foreign exchange that can be used to pay back the loans. So when the volume, the magnitude of the loans is so large that they can never be paid back, then what you have in the current situation is, any new loans – I don’t know how many people realize this – not a single penny of it goes to actual Greek people. It goes directly to the banks, to the creditors. And for the privilege of staying in debt, you get to cut your pensions, cut your salaries, sell off natural resources, sell your ports – for the privilege of staying in debt.
Charles: And how long can that last? You can never pay back the debt, so it has to last forever, until there’s nothing left, until you even export your young people, which is happening. So that’s the big picture. Do you want to add anything to that cheery scenario? 24:13
Maria: Sure. Oh, there’s lots. One of the first things….what you just said….is….whether I’m right or not, I just have felt intuitively, at a very, very deep level of knowing in me, that the financial markets and especially the banking system, really did crash in 2008. And to save it, huge amount of national money went into it from different so-called rich nations that were able to do that. But that money was public money, and private money, individuals’ money that had to be re-coffered. The money had to go back in somehow. Because how could some of these rich nations say to their electorate, oh by the way, we took your money. We took your pension. We took all this safety that you knew in your social systems, because we’re so known for that, right? And we put it into saving the banking system. So because that truth could not be spoken, the capitalistic system that uses debt as an instrument to generate more wealth in particular parts of the world (not in the country of debt) was put into place. And like I wrote in the Facebook thing, Greece was really ripe for a country to be picked like that. We have a history of leadership that in order to stay in the international community, you are very happy to give up lots of things. And it was in debt, they knew it was in debt, we never should have entered the euro, for god’s sakes, we knew we never were at the level of a country….but they needed the quorum in order to create the European currency. And so it was a perfect place to put this in motion. And certainly for myself growing up – I didn’t live here but I used to come here – we did have industry in Greece. We had electrical good industry, we had fashion, clothes industry, shoe industry. We had products that were produced. Since being in the European commission, that whole section has been systematically cut down to the point where this country hardly produces anything. It is just a market. It became a market for German goods, for Dutch goods, for French goods, etcetera. But it’s just become a market. So the ludicrousness of continuing to create debt – and the debt has been massive, because I don’t know the actual figure, but it’s something like we’re 140 or 160 billion more in debt than the original debt, and that’s just interest. And it’s just spiraling and it will spiral forever and ever. And the ludicrousness of the European, the euro group and the institution saying can you please repay us by cutting pensions a little bit more, or increasing VAT, is so stupid to me that I can’t understand how intelligent human beings can even come up with these terms.
Charles: They themselves don’t believe it. There was recently an internal document leaked that – I think it was an ECB document – basically forecasting that no matter what Greece does, it will never exit the debt crisis. But that’s not something they’re willing to face publicly. They want to keep the game going a little while longer, because they’re afraid too.
Maria: Well, I….yeah. Go ahead.
Charles: There is a rationale behind all of this that they themselves maybe half believe. It’s essentially the same rationale that went into the bailouts and stuff following 2008’s financial crisis. It essentially says OK, we’re going to give lots of money to the banks, we’re going to bail them out, because what’s going to happen is they’re going to use that money to lend….they’re going to lend that money into the economy, and that’s going to stimulate economic growth, and everybody will….all boats will rise in this rising tide and we’ll grow our way out of the debt crisis. And that would be true….so say Greece or Portugal or Spain or Ireland or somebody is laboring under a huge debt burden. And you can’t pay it now. Well, will you be able to pay it in five years? If your economy grows faster than the debt is growing – in other words, if your GDP growth rate is higher than the interest payment of debt, then it will be easier to pay it in five years than it will be now. So all of these kind of rosy scenarios under which the debts can be repaid, and more generally under which our whole financial system can continue, all of these assume an unrealistically high rate of growth. Now in the case of Greece, even assuming an unrealistically high rate of growth they still can’t pay it back. The pretence of Ireland or Portugal….if we grow 4% a year…..and that leads to a deeper problem, which is that not everybody can grow 4% a year. In fact, the planet as a whole is nearing the end of growth, especially of high economic growth. So if the interest rate is higher than the growth rate, then the wealth of the wealthholders, which is growing at the interest rate, if that wealth doesn’t come from overall economic growth, it can only come through taking things away from the debtors. So everybody is at least unconsciously hoping and assuming that growth will come back and this will allow us to continue on. 30:56
Maria: Right. And the people that are really voting for the yes on Sunday are people that are very vested and invested in the current financial system. And they really have an identity….it’s an interesting thing, because they’re definitely the wealthier people in the country, but also there’s an identity that says without Europe, without being in the community of Europe, we’re nobodies. Because also there’s a psychological element. You know, we’re this small country, we’re not really known for anything apart from democracy from ancient times, and beautiful ruins, and the sea and the sun. And it’s like there’s this real fear in a section of our society that without being in Europe we are just going to wither and die, and we’re going to go back to being like our grandparents who picked olives and lived a very, very physical, hard life. And there’s nothing in between that goes on. Of course that’s just a section of the society. But the other piece is that with this debt situation, it’s so ridiculous because what I would want to be seeing if I’m really part of a union, and a community, and believe me, I’ve worked – I work with the European commission as an external consultant – I love some of the people that work there. They’re people that really believe in the European values of these institutions, and what was developed after World War II, which was to develop a community so that we would never have that horror again.
Maria: Now of course in the history it’s become something else. We are not living those values. And I think that part of the problem of the past five months has been that we voted in a government, because we just couldn’t take any more. We voted in a government who went in to have a negotiation, but they took in the negotiation at a completely different level to where the other guys were coming in. So the other guys were coming in and saying OK, tell us your terms. And our guys were saying, can we talk about the Europe we want? They’re not even speaking the same language! Then, bring in the process of how euro group meetings happen, which a lot of people don’t know, but I do. You’ve got these member states with their little microphones, you’ve got the chair, your Dutch guy that I can never pronounce the man’s name, who kind of conducts it; there’s an agenda – people have something like five minutes each to talk. Now tell me if that’s space for dialogue. Tell me if that’s space to sit in the unknown of really looking into each other’s eyes and saying you know what, guys? We don’t know how to get out of this. You don’t know, and I don’t know. Now what do we do? Do you understand?
Maria: So if we’re not working to change the questions that we come around together, and we’re not willing to change how we sit together, you just get same old, same old.
Charles: Right. And in that environment, even if one of the delegates, say the Greek delegate, says something from the heart, something authentic, it gets heard or translated into oh, just another negotiating point. They try to decode it – what is the subtext here, what is the message. Well, what if there isn’t a subtext, what if it’s just like the guy is actually saying what he means? (inaudible, 34:45)
Maria: Right, and then add in the political difference, because you’re talking about left, a far left that Europe….the left that we’ve known is socialist. These guys are considered much left than that, and then throw in the fact that oh, these guys are young politicians, so they don’t know diplomacy, right? They just kind of speak it as it is. They don’t play the diplomatic role, partly because the don’t know how to do the diplomatic role, but of course for the old-timers it’s – they don’t know what they’re talking about, there’s tactics behind this, what’s the subtext, and oh by the way they’ve definitely come in to ruin Europe and the euro. And then it spirals, and I don’t understand why there’s no mediation in this. Why is there no mediation? Why has nobody thought to bring in a mediator? Bring somebody, not from Europe, to support this conversation. They’ve not even thought about this. 35:50
Charles: It’s a good illustration of how, regardless of the players, the roles that are defined by the institutions, even by the room that they meet in, the shape of the room, the protocols that they go by. You take out some people and you put in others and it doesn’t matter, because the outcome is already defined by the structure. And it speaks to the saying that to change one thing, you must change everything. If you change one thing, everything must change with it.
Maria: Right. Exactly. And that’s the systemic perspective, Charles, which again is really not held at all. Because to me part of what’s also going on is a worldview difference. There is something about the government that we elected in, whether they are conscious of it or not – and I don’t know that because I don’t personally know them – they are definitely coming from a different worldview. They are calling in a different world order. Like I said, I don’t know how conscious they are that they’re doing that. I think they are pretty conscious. But they are, really, the way they speak, you can just feel it. So to me there’s a war of worldviews going on. And they’ve had to go right into the mainstream. This new kind of worldview that doesn’t even know how to express itself very well has to go in to negotiate with a very big mainstream that doesn’t want to let go, it doesn’t want a new worldview. It doesn’t even want to negotiate on those terms. 37:38
Charles: Right. And it reminds me of Gandhi saying first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.
Maria: Yes! That’s exactly what’s happening.
Charles: So now we’re at the stage of, they fight you. Which is progress! These people have existed all along, they were just ignored or ridiculed, not taken seriously, and now it’s transitioning from ridiculing them, those bozos, to oh, they’re not going away just because we call them bozos, we have to fight them. So I guess you could call it a war. I look at it in more of a bigger picture as a phase of a transitional process, where the collective body of Europe or even of the West or humanity, is holding on to a story that’s no longer working, clinging to a life or a way of being that is obsolete, and it’s scary, you know. Oh, you see the writing on the wall. In a candid moment, probably you take a half or two-thirds of those European ministers and they’re going to say yeah, this is unsustainable and I don’t really believe in it anymore. But in their public persona…..structure….. (unclear. 38:53)
Maria: They can’t do that. Right.
Charles: They can’t say that, or think that, or act on it. But it’s hollowing out from the inside, and when that happens, when life starts to fall apart, when you see the writing on the wall in your marriage, your job, or something else, what do you do? You cling even tighter.
Maria: Right. Yes.
Charles: And you deny those data points that are telling you the game is almost up. And I think that Greece is one of those data points. And sometimes you can power through and suppress the message that it’s not working. And that could happen with Greece, I don’t know. But the writing is on the wall.
Maria: Right. Well, one thing that’s slightly afoot now, we don’t really know if this is afoot but you can feel it, is that there certainly is part of the fight is get rid of this government. Just get this government out. And to me part of what this referendum might result in, if a yes vote comes through, is actually the fall of the government. Already the finance minister has said I will not be able to continue, because ethically I just cannot go back in there and try to negotiate on these terms, there’s just no way I can do that. The prime minister, of course, has not said anything like that. But it really does feel to me as a Greek citizen that part of the tactics of Europe is could you just get please this bloody government out of here? Because they don’t want the demos to follow, they don’t want an upsurge of this kind of government. It’s interesting….(inaudible, 40:35)
Charles: So I have some political advice for the government, which I’m sure is going to listen to this.
Charles: Which is that if there is a yes vote, they could resign. The government could resign. And not with a petulant attitude, but say you know, the Greek people have made their choice, and this isn’t what I believe it, so I’m going to graciously bow out and make room for leaders who resonate with the choice that the Greek people have made, and maybe someday the Greek people will change their mind, and if so I am ready and willing to serve.
Maria: Right, right.
Charles: But really the important thing is they can’t go the way, they must not go the way of almost every other political party that’s ever existed, where their main motivation is power. Their main motivation is to win the election, their main motivation is to stay in power. And within that parameter of course they want to do the things that they believe in, but those come second. They can’t do that. They have to stay in this attitude of service to something greater than their own power. And you know, this is what George Orwell warned against, actually, in 1984. The ideology of the party that ruled society was that they are doing this for an eventual positive end, and anything is justified.
Charles: But then power, which originally starts out as a means, becomes an end. And it’s similar to money, actually, which starts out as a means to buy things but becomes an end in and of itself, because it is a universal means. So I think that in the long run, if Syriza does bow out graciously, it will have a positive effect on Podemos, the Five Stars, and all these other ones. 42:45
Maria: Right, right. And for me, you know, Charles, what I’m really seeing is that whether we get a yes or a no, the reality of having to learn new habits, new norms, new ways of living together, is ahead of us. And I personally say hallelujah to that, because I don’t like this individualistic, scarcity-based, fear-based societies that we live in. Right? And that work is already in progress, it will continue in its own way in the movement that it is, scattered, small-scale, people starting to create the new world in their own way. And then there is also the powerful of having….you know, the no vote for me is a show of readiness of a society, not the whole society, but sufficient number of the society, to enter that unknown. Because the crack is so big, right? You cannot cover it up anymore. You can try and fill it with as much debt, but it’s too big now. It’s just too big. And so the no vote for me is enough people saying we cannot accept these terms, we have no idea how we’re going to get out of this debt, but we know we want a different way of getting out. And to me the need of our government to put as much time as it’s been done this past five months in this negotiation into actually developing a modern-day Marshall plan, or something that brings people back into working in a way that helps people to feel dignified, or a real listening to the new solidarity economy that has happened, right? And an infrastructure that supports it. Yes, you can pay your taxes with the local alternative currency. And how you pay your taxes is you do community work. It’s been done in other places, there is no reason why we cannot do it. But in a way, when you’re so entrapped in this current financial system….because all these measurements, even these projections of growth or whatever, I sometimes sit there, and I’ve done economics, I’ve done all of that stuff, and I think, they’re the wrong measurements! They don’t measure life. They don’t measure how life actually creates life.
Maria: They’re in the head, they’re disconnected from the body and the mother, the earth. They are not real. And until we Greeks start producing again, we are blessed with the land that produces two harvests a year, two-three harvests a year, for god’s sakes! Today I went to my local farmer’s market, and I was walking through it, which happens twice a week in my local neighborhood here, and it happens everywhere all over Athens, and I was thinking why do we import potatoes? And why do we import lemons from Argentina? There is definitely the means to feed ourselves, which is one of the basics, right? We have so much mountain water all over our….and we’ve got the ways in which to….there’s just so much of the basics that are here. We’re blessed with incredible culture, you know, heritage of where we come from, and I’m not just meaning the ancient, I’m also meaning the more modern time. There is no need to be afraid.
Maria: Of anything! The only thing we should be afraid of is to continue with the debt! That’s where the fear is, you know. And yet, and yet, we have to also unshackle ourselves from money, to the extent that we have become. Our identity with money, and wealth equaling money, is a very, very big thing. And it (unclear. 47:20)the trauma and the pain of the history we’ve had.
Charles: Yeah. Thank you, Maria. That’s a really beautiful statement. You know, we all do see that the financial crisis is just the superficial level of a much deeper change that does come back to re-embracing the qualitative and the intimate, and the mother, and the land and the soil and these qualitative relationships that, if you lack those –
Maria: You’re lost.
Charles: Yeah, you need to compensate for the loss of intimate community with people and land. You need an infinite amount of money.
Maria: Right. And you keep buying stuff you don’t need. (laughs)
Charles: All right, well, let’s – maybe we should say goodbye, and I think I will put this online, if it’s OK with you.
Charles: Put it up there and see how people respond to it. It’s been kind of an experiment, but it’s been fun for me. I mean, we could just go on for hours and hours, there’s so much.
Maria: No, I think that, yeah. We’re coming to the kind of closing of it, and it’s – I think whatever way we go, the referendum to me was a protection mechanism of our prime minister, and also a shock tactic to the Europeans, that I can’t decide on my own, I’m asking my people. And a lot of people are against the referendum because they say it’s not been done with in our constitution, and it’s not been done timely, you know, timewise, and blah blah blah, and we can get very, very detailed in our opinions about these things. But there’s something we – it’s already happened. We’ve defaulted.
Maria: It happened.
Maria: It’s happened! So what’s ahead of us is unknown, whether it’s a yes or a no. And I don’t believe that the movement of the solidarity that has happened is going to stop. It’s going to increase regardless of any of that. And yeah, I’m really holding space for this people and this land, that we actually reconnect to the strength that we have and the resilience that we have. And to not have that fear take us over. It’s just unnecessary.
Charles: Thank you for – thank you and the Greek people for taking this step into uncertainty. You’re certainly not going to be the last to do that.
Charles: We’re going to be following you, in one way or another. So.
Maria: Absolutely, absolutely.
Charles: So thank you, this is a pleasure. Thanks for taking the time.
Maria: Yes. And hope to meet you in person one day.
Charles: Yeah, likewise.
Maria: OK, bye bye.
Charles: Bye bye.