Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

The era of delusion

COMMENT

Don’t be surprised if self-proclaimed billionaire Artemis Sorras makes it into Parliament in the next general elections.

No matter how provocative he is or how much fire he comes under from traditional media, his rhetoric – most recently a vitriolic tirade against the Paralympics – is very likely to appeal to a number of our fellow countrymen.

Sorras – a man who has claimed to have the money to pay back all of  Greece’s debt – might very well prove to be yet another product of our times.

The soil is particularly fertile these days. A large portion of Greeks, if not the majority, believe the bailout is a massive conspiracy enabling foreigners to buy out the best of our country’s “heirlooms” – our seas, vacation homes, oil reserves and so on.

It’s true that Greece’s lenders made tragic mistakes and assisted in the loss of over 1 trillion euros’ worth of Greek wealth. There is no doubt about this and their responsibility in a number of crucial areas is significant.

Cynical politicians, journalists and a number of TV personas, among many others, have climbed onto the bandwagon of conspiracy theories and general insanity.

At a time when people were scared and felt that everything they had taken for granted was being chipped away at, day by day, the adoption of such extreme views made some kind of sense.

Besides, we Greeks are a ripe audience for such theories and explanations, boasting a long tradition of blaming foreigners for all our troubles. Future historians will discuss how the crisis in Greece coincided with the rise of the era of “post-truth politics,” as described in the recent issue of The Economist. 

We were the first ones to be hit by the crisis in Europe, but we were also the first to be affected, en masse, by the craziness and nonsense posted on the Internet and social media. The abjectly delusional, as we know, are now rapidly multiplying on a global scale.

No country can move forward and exit such a structural crisis if it fails to understand how it became entangled in this situation in the first place. As long as we believe that the Germans led us to become overindebted out of envy, because they are after our homes and our natural gas reserves, we will continue the downward spiral chasing ghosts.

The country’s impoverishment will deepen and our collective victimization will seem like an attractive way out to those seeking simplistic answers.

In this kind of environment, it’s very easy for people to raise their hands in the air in resignation. If there is no antidote to tackle the insanity, we will be guaranteeing Sorras’s entry into Parliament, as one more, even more genuine exponent of anti-systemic views – and who knows who might be next?

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