COMMENT

Banking on a new generation

By Alexis Papachelas

I imagine that somewhere among us is a 30-year-old who in a few years’ time will be able to lead the country forward, in the direction it deserves. I often have the sense that our present politicians are but transitory figures and it will take a new generation to get Greece once and for all beyond the period that started after the fall of the junta and turn it into a proper European country. I am not underestimating the role of those who are tasked with handling the country’s fate today. Once the history of this time has been written in a calm and unbiased manner, it will be appearent how important it was for Greece to stand on its feet and remain within the European fold.

The 30-year-old I am imagining will be free of all the stereotypes, hang-ups and miserly obsessions that are part of the DNA of the “Metapolitefsi” generation. The events of December 1944 will be interesting as a historical study to that person, not an excuse for passionate nostalgia or calling for a rematch, nor an occasion to stir anti-communist hysteria. That person will not be hostage to historical obsessions, party divisions and other outdated syndromes. There is little more depressing that hearing a young person spout the stalest ideas that the pantheon of cliches and phobias of this period has to offer rather than expressing new, interesting ideas.

The 30-year-old in my mind will be able to explain clearly why the country needs investments and will herald the end of the silent war waged by the central state, local authorities, bureaucracy, unions and sections of the justice system against entrepreneurship. He or she will have the real gift of rhetoric and will be governed by reason rather than setting off a battle cry at even the slightest provocation. There will be no pandering to public sentiment nor to the beast of populism, which has been allowed to grow into a terrible ogre. He or she will be able to explain that rules and institutions are there to be obeyed and respected by everyone, from the powerful oligarch to the hapless Joe who rides his motorcycle on the sidewalk because he wants to. This person will not be bound by the syndromes that have made the imposition of law and order such a touchy subject.

Where will this 30-year-old and others of the generation that will take us ahead come from? The nihilists say that there is no way they will come from Greek universities as they are today or from a society that has become accustomed to false prosperity. I do not agree. Every day we meet fantastic young people who have strong principles and values, who have joie de vivre and professionalism, who have a very different mentality to that carried around by the majority of the children of the Metapolitefsi. I am not talking about the angry young people who even now prefer to waste their days at a cafe rather than accepting a low-paid job. No, I am talking about those who are fighting tooth and nail.

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