Certain myths need debunking in this new political era and were in Sunday’s parliamentary session. A left-wing government presented lawmakers with a memorandum of its own design containing cuts to pensions and other anti-populist measures. Police under a left-wing government fired tear gas, ran identity checks and apprehended protesters. A left-wing government also pushed forth major privatizations.
Before coming to power, the left preached on all these topics from the pulpit of its ideological superiority. It accused every previous government of selling the family silver by privatizing state assets, of destroying working-class livelihoods when it adopted fiscal adjustment measures and of employing underhand methods when trying to restore order in the streets of Athens.
Consumed as we are by the insignificant minutiae of politics, maybe we fail to understand the significance of this development. The fact is that it paves the way for the pendulum to return to the middle. What left-wing power will dare point the finger at the next government or the one after that over privatizations, austerity or tear gas? The retort would be simple: “Why? You did it when you were in power.” No one will pay heed any longer to the argument that the left is paying for past sins nor that it was coerced by international creditors. The left has been stripped of whatever innocence it may have retained in the minds of a great part of the public.
It is easy to predict where this will lead. Many voters who believed in the left-wing fairy-tale will not even bother to cast a ballot next time around. Others, the young in particular, may be enticed by even more radical and violent forces. This is the greatest risk.
However, Greece needed to go through this phase. We are living the leftist experience and it is nothing like the dream or the myth that the post-dictatorship generations were fed on. It is like all the others, just more inadequate and amateur.