We don’t need to get into the essence of the Georgiou affair to understand that it has taken on dimensions that far exceed one man’s judicial travails. The case – the very name Andreas Georgiou – has come to symbolize a rift in society.
On one side are those who worry about the country’s future, knowing that only rational measures will help Greece get back on its feet; on the other, a heterogeneous crowd of indignant citizens and cynical politicians, united by their passionate desire to abdicate responsibility for the past and the present, demands that reality bend to their will.
I am afraid that the second group has more passion, a longer history and the momentum that the first one does not: It is, of course, much easier to rouse the crowd with promises to avoid pain than to embrace it. And loading all the responsibilities for the country’s problems on one man, the former head of Greece’s statistical service, is most seductive: Those who are truly to blame get to play judge, while others believe that because one person is guilty for the crisis and for austerity, the rest don’t have to pay anything.
And so, right-wingers and leftists, nationalists and internationalists join forces against Andreas Georgiou, pretending in this way to strike a blow against the bailout agreements and foreign supervision.
The Georgiou affair clarifies much in public life. In the opposition conservative New Democracy party, which ought to be the strongest voice of enlightenment values, we see prominent members in favor of the former ELSTAT chief’s persecution. We see the same in the judiciary, with repeated reversals of acquittals. We see it in the government’s irresponsibility. In the crowd at the Athens Appeals Court a few days ago, the rage and hooliganism were more of a witch hunt than a desire for justice.
And the flames are fanned by people who had or have the nation’s fate in their hands. Their cynicism is obvious. They prefer to delude the people so as to evade their own responsibilities. And so they encourage more bigotry and superstition. They broaden divisions and feed conspiracy theories.
Beyond the injustice and the terrible personal cost for a fellow citizen, beyond the damage to the country’s credibility, the most tragic aspect of the affair is that people who know how dangerous this all is are investing in fantasies and encouraging fanaticism.
History, though, will record the role they played. In the end they will be loaded with more blame than that which they are trying to saddle onto others.