A syndrome that can’t be contained

By Alexis Papachelas

The despair created by the crisis has unleashed the Greek people’s darkest and most phobic instincts. This is to be expected in times of major crisis. What is unfortunate, however, is that a nation that has always had a penchant for conspiracy theories and contradictions now finds itself trapped in a very unhealthy way of thinking. The online media, whose role in the political crisis should not be underestimated, provide endless material for fueling the imagination. Of course the Internet is a powerful platform for the dissemination of information and of direct expression, but at the same time it multiplies and propagates – without any kind of filter – craziness and fanaticism.

Greeks have always had deeply-rooted stereotypes and rifts, which are now being awakened. The persecution syndrome, based on the principle that everyone is after us because we’re unique and different from everyone else, is a classic example. A long time ago, I met an old monk who tried to persuade me that following the war in Serbia the new status quo would also erase Greece from the map, but, he said: “God provided; Turkey was hit by earthquakes and we were spared.” I tried to figure out who was going to eradicate us and why but I never got an answer. In the end, however, I couldn’t resist asking him how come those who were after us and wanted to destroy us had given so much money for the maintenance of the most sacred symbol of our unique identity, Mount Athos. The monk replied that these people also had a plan but, “we took the subsidies and nothing changed.”

Hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens have come to think just like the old monk, believing that the crisis has been used like the Trojan horse for foreign powers to usurp the country’s natural resources and everything else that make it beautiful and unique.

We have seen these views connecting people from entirely different schools of thought in a most singular way. We are seeing an ideological mishmash best embodied in Christodoulos Xeros displaying photographs of Aris Velouchiotis, Che Guevara and Georgios Karaiskakis in his video, a blend that allows for the most incongruous figures to form an ideological connection.

I believe this kind of thinking will lead to previously unseen political phenomena. We have misunderstood our history: following the fall of the junta, we felt that all major powers had treated us unjustly ever since 1453. It will be hard to contain this syndrome now. The paradox is that if we read our history properly we should not be afraid of being left with nothing, but, instead, believe that in the end we are the ones who stand to take it all.