SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras belongs to a generation of young people who made their political presence felt at high school by staging occupations and went on to continue their activities at university. When this movement first emerged, the average middle-class Greek did not know what to make of it, but this confusion was soon followed by opposition and anger.
As Tsipras and his kind held sit-ins and rallies, many of their fellow students kept their heads down and distinguished themselves academically only to find themselves today having to look overseas for work. Tsipras, on the other hand, has his eye on the premiership and he may just succeed.
Citizens who have no ulterior motives lament the absence of a new political leadership arising from the middle class, but the middle class itself has gone.
In general terms there is a prevalent nostalgia for the elites that were responsible for Greece’s fate from its founding until just a few decades ago. That said, the sorry state of the country today is the work of the elites from the late 1970s onward. They failed because they did not understand that modernization is not a mechanical process, but one that depends on the formation of new perceptions regarding the whole of society rather than a chosen few.
Greece has often found itself in trouble, but the monarchy was catalytic in creating a new elite that restarted the nation after crises. The end of the monarchy paved the way for the self-made politician, of which Tsipras is a perfect embodiment. And while being self-made is certainly something to be proud of in other areas, in politics it can be very risky.
The violence of the changes intended to bring the Greek economy in line with that of Europe is what led to the demise of PASOK and the complete fragmentation of the Greek right. We are possibly on the road to the complete demolition of the political system. In the grander scheme of things, Tsipras is simply a manifestation of the delusions harbored by early PASOK. The influence that could redraw the political map is that being exerted by Golden Dawn. It may be curbed by the creation of a unified political body by those who left New Democracy.