Back to square one

By Nikos Xydakis

As the low- and middle-income classes continue to be hit, it will become more and more difficult to keep within the zone of logic and moderation.

Any solution to the crisis currently dogging Greece is bound to be painful. Of course it is important that we understand the solution does not really depend on us anymore. We have to move on with this in mind. So let’s decide how we can rally all our fighting forces to reverse the decline and get the country back on its feet.

The most worrying sign is the ongoing fragmentation of society into rival groups fighting against each other. There is widespread mistrust and aggression is on the rise.

The magnitude of the shock has fueled fear, and, after that, anger. People have developed a tendency toward anti-political and, occasionally, anti-social behavior. As disaster strikes, the wounded and deeply disillusioned petty bourgeois are reasonably blind to their own responsibilities, they are blind to the common good, and they cannot find a common denominator or a point of convergence with their fellow citizens.

The vulgar kleptocracy, which sealed the years of false exuberance, is now yielding its toxic fruit by tarnishing solidarity, tolerance and coexistence. Everybody is looking suspiciously upon one another.

Fed by debased politicians, corrupt state officials, state-dependent and tax-evading entrepreneurs, kleptocracy squandered public finances and wrecked the sense of justice and fairness. It is now threatening the very core of social coexistence.

The crowds have, for the time being, found a peaceful outlet for their accumulated fear and anger: the ritual of the public square. In a way, they are rediscovering a sense of belonging — even if that takes place in a context of economic misery.

But the ongoing injustice poses a threat to this fragile equilibrium. As the low- and middle-income classes continue to be hit — now without a safety net, without faith in a common goal, without moral relief in some symmetrical burden-sharing — it will become more and more difficult to keep within the zone of logic and moderation.

The sudden drop in living standards is bound to bring unexpected changes in mass behavior. The risk will be huge unless the political class manages to meet the popular demand for fairer burden-sharing and justice — even at this last moment.


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