, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 299-311,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 21 Aug 2012

Chaos: Our Own ‘Gun on The(ir) Table’


In October 2011, George Papandreou, the then Greek Prime Minister, announced he was planning to hold a referendum in order for the Greek people to decide whether to agree to the bailout plan prepared by the International Monetary Fund, the Central European Bank and the European Commission. This intention was aborted due to intense pressure by Papandreou’s European partners, especially Germany and France. This interference clearly shows the problematic relationship between the so-called ‘markets’ and national-popular sovereignty. This article raises the question of why this interference happened in the first place, why the global markets felt such a big threat before the possibility of a vote taking place in a small country of 10 million inhabitants. And also, importantly, what this means in terms of potential for political agency by those who are usually considered to be lacking such agency, as having ‘no other alternative’ than to follow the one-way course of neoliberalism.

This article was initially written towards the end of 2011. In view of the rapid changes in the situation, most of all two (for the time being) successive elections held in Greece on 6 May and 17 June, this is quite a long time. We believe, however, that these developments only confirm our analysis and provide fresh material and new illustrations for most of what we claim. There was not time enough for us to take these new facts into account but hopefully the reader can make the connections and apply the logic of the article to these new facts, mutatis mutandis.