The bankruptcy of 2009 had a good effect as well. It marked the death of politics as we knew it until then – the old politics – but only after the country had to pay a very high price for it.
The old politics, as a thought, as a discourse and as a deed, is slowly dying. Not because it has no supporters any longer. On the contrary, it still has and especially some of the worst of them are in the government. Nor is it dying because no one believes in the fake promises of its evangelists, which have led the political system to total depreciation and have caused the withdrawal of the citizens from politics, thus multiplying the problems for our country.
The retreat of the old political thought-discourse-deed manifests itself in something much more serious and important: it is now obvious and clear that it does not possess to the slightest the capacity to respond successfully to the immediate demand for our national survival. To achieve, that is, the country’s productive, moral and cultural rebirth, which constitute the prerequisite for defending both its national independence and its national identity and physiognomy. And it cannot do so because its representatives, on the one hand, have no capacity to think beyond the status quo, of which they are part, on the other hand, even if they had that capability, they would not be able to pass it on to their voters.
Why? Because the old politics knew only this: to say to the voters only what was pleasant to the ears. So, for a long time, it promised rights without obligations, pleasures without effort and victories without struggles. Indeed, it fulfilled its promises, creating a sense of success in the consciousness of our people.
How did that work? The secret was simple, and we all know it: it was what we borrowed – and will never pay back – from the future, it was the product of the abuse of the wealth of the next generations of the nation. We consumed as much as we could from the wealth that did not belong to us but belonged to the next generations of Greeks. It is disgusting as an image but, yes, we were fed by the flesh of our children! Our children now turn their backs to us and leave us for other lands. And when we exhausted that abusive capacity, we entered the current bankruptcy crisis, with the ultimate fiscal derailment caused by the disastrous governance of 2004-2009. Such was the crime of the old politics and that is why it must now change.
The crisis we are going through is not only about the collapse of parasitic economic structures. It also concerns the simultaneous collapse of the old way we perceived the world: an old way that relied on consumerism without production and on nationalistic arrogance without patriotic conscience. If I was asked what the main requirement and the political result of the new politics should be, I would say this: from fake to true. The transition, that is, from the political “wooden language”, from established interests and historical myopia to the politics of sincerity, productive efficiency, creativity and, above all, the realization of historical reality. Our aspirations as a people and as a nation cannot and should not begin and end on the kitchen table of our home.
For the country to turn the page, our people must be conscious that our progress and prosperity are commensurate with the effort that has proceeded. This simple truth has to be explained to the citizens in the purest way by the new politics and those who aspire to it, parties and citizens, should become its conveyors and evangelists. That is, wealth is analogous to work and production and success is proportional to courage and, at the same time, to the prudence we put into our efforts. That in order for the country to rise, to be able to stand on its feet, it must be productive and creative. It should give priority to domestic competitive production and the youth. Our real, not imaginary, choices as a people and as a nation are summed up in a motto: production or death! And by this I do not mean just the search for material wealth, but also the search for the historical vindication of our nation.
It is for these reasons that I claim that the demand of the new politics must be the transition from the fake of the old political discourse and way of existence to the new system of truth. The politics, that is, which offers the only possibility, the only way for nations to progress. Because happy societies are the ones that feel confident and content with their projects, that are creative and self-reliant. While unhappy societies are those who are beggars in the yards of the foreigners, as we have been and continue to be because, in reality, this is the only thing the old politics knew and knows how to do. The new politics must lead the effort to create a country that is financially balanced and productive. Our vision for the country cannot be that of a vacation country and investment in vacation houses. We welcome both, but as the world enters the fourthindustrial revolution, we must aspire for much more.
The vision of the new politics, the vision for the rise of the country, the vision for a new Greece is based on a very simple method: to tell the truth, first to ourselves and then to others. Political leaders, although they must not ignore popular sentiment, have to guide it if they are to meet their leadership role. They cannot be the followers of the public opinion. If necessary, they should be able to go against the current.
This means that if we really want to change our country, we must look with honesty and courage first at the past, with its advantages but also with our great collective mistakes, and afterwards at the future of the country.
Only with a sincere appreciation of the past, however painful it may be, can we build on the good and avoid the repetition of the wrongs, and can we look at the citizens directly in the eyes, without shame or fear of anything.
As far as the future of the country is concerned, if we really aspire to lead it out of the path of degeneration and destruction that follows, we must fight and race so that, as citizens and as people, we become self-sufficient subjects of history, and not the fate’s “light-less” object, as we have been and still are.
The precondition of our survival is to become a country, a nation, with complete confidence and a sense of history. A people, a nation that can understand the world and the constraints within which we are obliged as a state to exist and act, as any other state. At the same time, however, we must have the spiritual strength, the mental will, the vigor, and the determination to weaken those constraints, to diminish them, to overcome them. Because there is one thing that must be fully understood: the key for the exit from the crisis is not held by either Mr. Juncker, neither Mrs. Lagarde nor Mrs. Merkel. The key to the solution lies with us and us alone. It is either we or no one!
However, in order to achieve this, to re-assume the country in our own hands, not to be in guardianship and dependence on enemies and friends, allies and opponents, something very simple but very difficult is needed: we must, as political subjects, kill the “wooden man” we have inside us. Him, who always tries to lure us to use the wooden, hypocritical language of the politician, the one who looks for power as an end in itself. Him, who promises things that he can never materialize and who, when he comes to power, applies a policy completely contrary to the one he professed, because, supposedly, “the circumstances are different now” and he himself had “delusions”. Him, who makes the naive believe there is satisfaction without effort and justice without virtue.
And we should not be afraid at all of the fact that if we do that, if we speak the language of truth, the followers of the old wooden language, the representatives of corruption, parasitism and decay will use labels to characterize us ranging from far left to far right, from statists to neoliberals. Instead, such a labeling, especially coming from them, will be the measure of our success.
We are a society in a profound crisis – historical, political, moral, cultural, economic, and social. In order to get out of it, what is necessary first and foremost is the radical change of the way we see the world. For this to happen, there must be, as a catalyst, a new, historically conscious, political avant-garde. It is the features of such an avant-garde I’ve been referring to and describe. Let us not be afraid to take on this role by doing what is required. Because, while on the one hand, History invites us, on the other hand, at the part of the old, there is nothing for us, just the absolute nothing and historical oblivion. In the next period, as a country and as a society we will find ourselves facing two major and interconnected threats: against our national integrity and independence, and that of the country’s bankruptcy. We have to deal with both successfully. This requires a huge, national effort.
Those of us who aspire to express the new politics will have to be the flag-bearers and pioneers of this effort. We have to unite, not divide the Greeks. Our slogan cannot be “either we or them”. This has never been and can never be a slogan of the democrats. Our motto is “Together, we and them”. Because, “oblivion of one’s own wrongdoings, gives birth to audacity”. Every country is responsible for its fate.
Only by leaving behind the old, only by going through the fake to the true, we will be able to meet the challenges, problems and difficulties with success. Only then will we be able to build a new Greece. A Greece that is independent, productive, creative and socially just. A Greece that is proud, with vigor and self-confidence.
* The above text is the speech of Konstantine Gatsios at the recent conference of the
Change Movement, appropriately shaped in an article format.