COMMENT

Being Alexis Tsipras

By Nikos Konstandaras

Alexis Tsipras is right: We can scrap the loan agreement with our creditors and still keep the euro. In the same way, we can be paid whether we work or not, we can dive off rooftops and not get hurt, we can eat as much as we like without getting fat, drink without getting drunk and graduate without studying. We can do whatever we like and control the consequences.

What the president of SYRIZA says is based in reality. This is experience talking. Tsipras was born four days after the restoration of democracy in 1974 and the only world he knows is the magical time in which Greece was always heading upward, a time of endless promises, easy money and mutual flattery between politicians and their supporters. Like many of his elders, Tsipras lived in the shadow of a dictatorship that he had not had the opportunity to oppose and, at the same time, in the comfort of a very tolerant state and false prosperity. Tsipras and many others were stuck on the dream of revolution without a cause, without an enemy, without meaning. They dreamed of revolution, they grew up in sit-ins at schools and universities and thought that this was the same as storming the Bastille or the Winter Palace.

In a political system that is discredited and humiliated, SYRIZA offered an alternative to voters who are exhausted and angry, and it won close to 17 percent in the last election. True to form, its leaders saw this success as a revolution that will sweep the continent and change Europe?s course.

People who have not been tested in the real world, who found everything easy and did not taste the bitter fruit of defeat, who have not felt real fear, who have not had to get up and fight again, tend to think the world revolves around them. They can?t understand that other political groups, other people, other countries and organizations have their own interests and are not at the bidding of any Greek politician.

Our country is bankrupt and needs new leaders and new proposals. Tsipras has certain valuable qualities: He is young and clever and he has a leader?s self-assurance. Unfortunately, he also has the same great weakness of most of his predecessors in Greek politics -- instead of formulating policies to deal with pressing problems, he is happy to flatter a nation which has its own fatal weakness for flattery and lies.

Until today, we did not see that when we ignore reality we will crash into it. Now that we have crashed, Tsipras is proposing that we carry on as if we do not understand, that we continue as before, without making an effort, without pain, without responsibility. Tsipras is whistling down the road of bankruptcy, with a broad smile and plenty of self-assurance. He looks like a leader, but he is not leading -- he is following.

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