Maybe it’s time to get scared. Maybe many of those in government, at state institutions and in the bureaucracy are not as amateurish as they would like us to believe. Too many strange things are happening to be coincidences. Perhaps, after all, this is part of a long-term plan to remake society in their image.
The general picture that citizens see is of a government out of its depth, struggling to meet creditors’ demands so as to maintain the drip of funding (because economic collapse would sweep it away, as well). The SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition thereby manages to stay in power while claiming that it is forced to take unpopular measures, that it still cares more for citizens than those who are in opposition. It gains time by doing the absolute minimum to maintain ties with our creditors: It delays all new measures until the very last moment, it sets up obstacles to every privatization, it creates friction whenever it sees fit (as when it made use of wiretaps of IMF officials’ conversations). Its priority is to show voters that it makes our creditors’ life hard, not necessarily to get the economy moving.
Wherever the troika is absent, however, government officials are impressively motivated. In dealing with the news media, in justice, in education and in public security, it puts its own people in key positions, it secures the interests of its electoral clientele and, at the same time, pushes out anyone it considers an obstacle. This is not the first government to act in this way. Unfortunately, though, institutions have been undermined for so long that many of their members see no point in resisting. The system does not protect itself. The judiciary is an area that needs particular care.
It is interesting to see which people are in key positions and how they got there (was their appointment “natural” or were more senior people pushed aside?). Who is being prosecuted or persecuted? Does all this open the way to new developments or is it payback? When excessive taxation is justified as a tax on those who do not vote for this government, then the motive is clear. When anti-establishment thugs are allowed to carry out acts of violence with impunity, when ministers launch verbal attacks on individuals or groups, when university reforms are scrapped in favor of the return to a failed former system, when justice appears selective, the motive – clearly – is to help friends, harm enemies and bring anyone who cares to despair.
Fortunately, Greece is not in the autocratic whirlwind that we see in Turkey and some Central European countries. But enough is happening to provoke alarm. Everyone needs to be alert. Especially those who are in positions of responsibility in the government or at state institutions. Their silence is cover for further division, a weaker society, a worse future.