If the government thinks that it is fulfilling society’s demand for justice, it is cultivating one more illusion. The shameless favoritism that it shows some individuals and groups at the expense of the whole mimics the worst of previous governments. The question is whether the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition will understand when it crosses the line that separates the past from the present, when the excuse that “the others were worse” no longer works and that they will be held responsible for whatever they do or do not do. Instead of bringing a new mentality and better procedures into public life, the government is rushing to control the state machinery, adopting the tactic which played a serious part in bringing disaster upon Greece. With the air of the new, uncorrupted party, it is keeping the failed system alive, causing new damage. Wherever it can escape the demands of the creditors and European supervisory mechanisms, it allows its ideology to run riot, speaking the language of class war, benefiting some and “punishing” others. This results in more of a burden on the middle class and even harder lives for the poor. Raising indirect taxes, allowing rampant vandalism of buses, for example, hurts the poor more than the “rich.”
When citizens struggle with the rapid drop in living standards (which the government attributes solely to its predecessors), it is even more disheartening to see that public property and security are unprotected; at the same time, all manner of local and imported “revolutionary” lawlessness is tolerated. When the only way out of the crisis is education, when young people’s future depends on their studies, it is cruel and unjust to enforce a return to failed models of governance at universities. Instead of making improvements, the government is focusing on serving its political clientele. The recent decision to upgrade research assistants to lecturers is just the latest manifestation of this tactic.
In the media, the government chose to turn the process of licensing TV channels into a show of force against a so-called oligarchy. It is as if it wants to show that it might be too afraid to confront self-styled anarchists but is fearless in the war on capital – which is obviously represented by those who argued in last year’s referendum that Greece must remain in Europe, whether they be TV channel owners or employees. Similarly, to serve political friends, the government contributes to the canard that Greece’s bankruptcy was not the result of bad political and economic management but a hoax perpetrated by shady interests.
The crisis will not end, citizens will trust no government until they believe that politicians are working toward greater justice. The collapse was caused by a long-term lack of responsibility, by a lack of justice. SYRIZA found itself in government because citizens rejected a system in which justice was selective. If SYRIZA keeps this system alive, it will soon find itself part of a past that it so easily condemns.