Some years ago –and for a long time– a slogan condensed the desire of a people to become the master of its destiny. Strong in its visionary character but deprived of the content and the prerequisites required for the realization of its expressed desire, this slogan – an empty shell– after it was scoffed at, it became a burial epigram, and at the time of the sharing of the dead man’s cloth, it was taken hostage by the worst barbarians1, corrupted from its original symbolism.
In the meantime, the country continued to follow the path of fantasies, of slogans without corresponding content and responsibilities, of easy prosperity with borrowing, gradually plunging, on its own sole responsibility, into the spiral propeller of the crisis. For, no one conspired against Greece. But even if all the “forces of evil” had conspired, again the responsibility for the decadence would burden the Greek people. It was society itself, as a body but also as political representations, who, in a dance of smallness, myopia and bulimic greed, committed all the fatal errors in which prudent societies do not fall, despite the great temptations they may have before them. On its own will and carelessly, the Greek society, with the intelligence and the mentality of a spoiled child, proceeded to all the choices that brought it to the brink of destruction.
Unfortunately, even today, the country moves in the same way, like a sailing boat with no sails, immersed in confusion and absurdity, without realizing what is happening to it and without wanting to face the truth that would allow it to recover. A typical example is that of addressing the issue of the primary surplus. A few months ago, neither the government, nor the opposition, nor the public opinion wanted it to be high, because this, in addition to being “a proof of recession”, it was supposed to be “impossible”. Now though that a surplus of 4.2% of GDP has emerged, surprisingly and unexpectedly, the government sees it as an evidence of the success of the policy pursued and the sophistication of the policy’s “creators”! On the other hand, the opposition denounces it with a series of incongruous and pretentious arguments, only for the sake of avoiding the bitter cup of committing to adopt similar goals if it came to power. Neither of them answers the real questions
and problems of the economy. Because the truth is that the amount of the primary surplus in the coming years will be the most critical factor in whether the Greek economy will be rescued and recovers or will be driven to bankruptcy, exit from the euro zone and total collapse. In order to achieve the first and avoid the second alternative, it is necessary to have a stable high primary surplus sufficient for the annual interest payments. This surplus, however, should be combined with an agreement allowing for a smooth, on one hand, and low-interest, on the other, refinancing of the debt. And of course, we need to have surpluses made not like this year’s, which is the product of exorbitant overpayments by only a few, but surpluses that will result from fair taxation and –above all– from the rationalization of expenditure.
This is a simple truth which, while it should be accepted by everybody, it is not discussed by anyone, because whatever is considered “difficult” is unwanted by the voters and “unrealistic” for the parties. When the citizens and political leadership live and breathe only for the easy and painless solutions, then it is necessary that all the tribulations are attributed to foreigners and their conspiracies. Of course, this psychopathological ignorance of objective reality offers no protection from the dangers that reality includes. On the contrary, it makes your position even more difficult.
Greece is a country that lives in the heart of the modern, second globalization with the dangers and the advantages that it gives rise to. But in order for a society to enjoy these advantages on a steady basis and to minimize the risks, it must also be able to respond to the necessities and provide answers to the challenges posed by globalization. Objectives, that is, which our collective incompetence forbids us, so far, to achieve. The dangers behind such a situation have been manifested, of course, through the crisis and its consequences: living in a world, which detests the void, the inability of our society to respond to the challenges and problems with which, objectively and inevitably, it is confronted, it is lead to the complete loss of its autonomy and independence. This is not the result of some foreign treacherous conspiracy. It is the result of our collective attachment to, to a large extent, pre-modern forms of understanding the world, which lead us to submit ourselves to established interests, obsessions and absurdities, to collective inertia and historical delay.
When a country cannot distinguish the Syrian refugee families from the Pakistani illegal immigrants, when it cannot release a Public Enterprise from the ties of the abusive guild that controls it and put it into operation for the benefit of society as a whole, when it cannot realize that pensions cannot exceed a certain percentage of GDP with no impact for the economy, when it considers that prosperity can come only from the end of “austerity”, i.e., from a new limitless borrowing, when it perceives development as something that results from “others’” money, then this society is doomed to lose control of the conditions of its own existence. Being unable to solve and handle any of its problems, small or large, it is fatal, slowly but steadily, to watch the relative tasks and responsibilities being passed down to the hands of those who can and who are more capable or more determined than itself is –that is to the foreigners.
For seven years now we have been living in a deep crisis. Yet! We have not been able to draw up a national plan to get out of it. We prove incapable of reaching an understanding among ourselves, even for the basics. We are limiting ourselves, or –more accurately– our institutional and technocratic representatives are limiting themselves to launching malicious, for the most part, criticisms against the foreign managers of our problems, when they fail their predictions! So far, that is, we are a country that the most it can achieve is to make comments on the actions of those that define its destiny while it collapses! We have become spectators of our own tragedy. For which, of course, we are to blame. We progressively but firmly lose our national freedom, independence and autonomy, not for any other reason, but because we prove to be incapable to handle our own issues, to answer our own problems –which we have created ourselves! And the only way to reverse that path, and to start re-taking the country in our hands, is a revolution of the new against the old, an educational, cultural, social and national revolution against our collective bad self. This is something that cannot be limited to the narrow scope of a simple political change. Greece will belong to the Greeks only when we collectively succeed in replacing slogans with logical analysis, superstition with rationality, ignorance with knowledge, selfishness with collective and individual ethics, and despair with determination. When, that is, we will begin to call upon ourselves, and only ourselves, as responsible for our destiny.