© Ricardo Pinto, 2015, AngloDeutsch™ Blog, www.AngloDeutsch.EU
It seems as if a great number of people, and not just in the Eurozone and the European Union (EU); have taken to Twitter to express their view that Greece has been bullied and coerced into an unjust and undemocratic agreement by the other Eurozone members and by Germany in particular.
Prominent bloggers and commentators such as Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist, have helped to legitimate and propel the hashtag #ThisIsACoup to the global audience. He wrote in his New York Times blog that:
“The trending hashtag #ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief.”
Partly as a result, the hashtag #ThisIsACoup, was trending in Greece, France, Germany, Britain and indeed globally as Twitters claimed that Greece was being stripped of its sovereignty as illustrated below.
So it is worth examining what the hashtag #ThisIsACoup really means.
There are two meanings of the word “coup” according to Dictionary.com, with a third connected with the word:
- a highly successful, unexpected stroke, act, or move; a clever action or accomplishment.
- (among the Plains Indians of North America) a brave or reckless deed performed in battle by a single warrior, as touching or striking an enemy warrior without sustaining injury oneself.
- coup d’état.
Strictly speaking, it would appear as if the hashtag #ThisIsACoup is actually praising the bailout agreement that Greece and the Eurozone have come up with as “a highly successful, unexpected stroke, act, or move; a clever action or accomplishment.” However, if you read the thread, it is clear that the vast majority of people on have actually understood the Twitter hashtag #ThisIsACoup as the exact opposite. And took the opportunity to engage in a bit of Germany bashing while they were about it.
As an aside, what is not being reported is that there is also a hashtag #ThisIsNOTaCoup where quite a few people are arguing the opposite. Although I do agree with this particular hashtag, they are also missing the point.
This takes us to the third meaning, namely of a “coup d’état” which is, of course, what the hashtag #ThisIsACoup does not say but presumably actually meant to say.
So let us examine this option. The same source (Dictionary.com) defines a coup d’état as: “a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.” Furthermore, it identifies various synonyms for coup d’état, including “overthrow, rebellion, revolution, uprising.”
It seems as if the vast majority of people actually were talking about the hashtag #ThisIsACoupD’état rather than #ThisIsACoup. But let us examine if this makes any sense, despite its obvious popularity:
- A sudden and decisive action in politics: really? I could have sworn that what has happened is the very opposite of this. The Greek crisis has been at least five long years in the making, there have been two bail outs already and an excruciatingly drawn out process of six months since Syriza came to power. Sorry, but the Twitters seem to be backing the wrong horse again, Nobel Laureate included.
- Resulting in a change of government illegally or by force: Really? Again, I could have sworn that the process has been the opposite of this. It seems to me as if the people of Greece have not only elected the political party (Syriza) which the “Eurocrats” did not want but also reinforced the point by offering up the referendum result that the Eurozone was hoping to avoid. Has there been a change in Government in Greece since the January general election? Has anything been done illegally or by force? I don´t think so. In fact, if anything is being done illegally it is that many of the other 18 members of the Eurozone, Germany included, are actually doing somersaults to keep Greece in the Euro despite the sentiment of their own electorates. There are 19 countries and democracies to take into consideration in the Eurozone, not just Greece. And this is before even mentioning the fact that transfer union is illegal, as are debt write offs and permanent bailouts in the Eurozone. Yet effectively all three are being done in one way or another in order to assist Greece.
- As for the synonyms “overthrow, rebellion, revolution, uprising,” do these really apply? I am not convinced. There has not been an overthrow or revolution of any kind and the Greek parliament will have its chance to reject the whole potential bailout package if they so wish. If there has been a rebellion/uprising, it is on the part of Syriza in relation to its approach to austerity, its debts and the conditionality which previous Greek governments have signed up to and unorthodox manner by which it has carried out the negotiations with the rest of the Eurozone countries. This is not something that has been done to the Greeks, except for the Eurozone´s insistence that they deliver on their reform commitments (this time around) before getting their hands on the bailout cash. After all, money does not grow on trees. As I have previously argued, the Greeks have had two general elections and one referendum to leave the Euro and/or the EU. They have resolutely stuck to the current path of remaining in the Euro and the EU. If anyone is advocating a coup d’état, it is the commentators that are shrilly insisting that the Greek government rejects its electorate´s views in two general elections and leave the Euro as soon as possible. If the same wish to argue that the Greek Referendum was a vote to leave the Euro, let them try to make that case but they will get nowhere since the question was so convoluted as to be meaningless. It could not possibly be construed as a desire to leave the Euro and no one is claiming that.
So please, you Twitters out there, do get your facts right instead of blindly following the herd instinct.
If you meant that “this is a coup”, then you have actually been lavishing praise on the Eurozone members and the agreement that was reached at the eleventh hour.
I think it is a flawed agreement but better than none.
And it you actually meant that “this is a coup d’état” (which is clearly not what the hashtag actually says), you have also got it completely wrong.
Either way the hashtag #ThisIsACoup that has been globally trending is misleading to put it mildly.