COMMENT

On elections, Alexis Tsipras, the Greek condition

Re: Gravitas betrayed

In psychology there is a condition we speak of as a false self. This is a neurotic development that describes people who, generally from their earliest years, rejected who they essentially were, and instead identified with frames of reference, points of departure, values and ambitions which they understood as being true for another person (almost always their mothers). Their central ambition was to be of one mind with the mother and thus inseparable from her. As a rule these people go on to live their adult lives feeling not genuinely themselves but rather existing alongside themselves.

The trauma that has overtaken Greece virtually numbs the senses and the capacity to reason, of most everyone who has Greece deep in his, or her, heart. The circumstances have long since carried beyond the heights of dilemma or misfortune. Greece is imploding. It is in every painful line you write. Certainly the details and the players are vastly different, but, in a sense (and with apologies) it parallels events in Egypt and even Syria where the fabric of life and the foundations of one's existence now seem irreparably rent.

I am not an economist by any stretch of the imagination. But from the start I could never see Greece as a natural and integral member of the European community. Greece is a Mediterranean country. It is a country of islands -- each one a jewel. It is a country of sunshine, of olive oil, feta cheese, and nimble fingers on the bouzouki. I still remember a photograph that appeared in ekathimerini where the lady minister of transport at the time went down to a newly completed underground station to dance with the workers. Greeks don't think like Europeans, sing like Europeans, eat like Europeans, or behave like Europeans. Where in Europe do you find the warmth, the passion and generosity that is so true and so natural for the Greeks?

The point of these observations (albeit from a distance) is that Greece suffers the condition of a false self and a shameful perversion of her true nature. As long as she permits the greater euro conglomerate to undermine her identity... as long as she remains without a currency and economic temper that is true to her own mind... her fortunes will forever be in the hands of strangers foreign to everything Greek.

Arnold Holtzman

Israel

Greek elections

God bless and save Greece.

May God bless Greece and all the Greeks as you make one of the biggest democratic decisions of your lives on June 17. The early Greeks invented Democracy more than 2 milleniums ago, so you should know ?the ropes?, so let us all hope and pray you make the right decision as you go to the polls on June 17. Be very mindful when you vote of how it will affect Greece.

I am an Australian and have loved your beautiful country since I first stepped foot on it in 1996. It had a certain magnetism that invited me back time and time again. I wanted to explore every Greek island and place and achieved seeing many, Mykonos, Tinos, Andros, Santorini, Paros, Ios, Naxos, Rodos, Crete, Patmos, Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Ithaca, and there are still many, many more beautiful islands there to see, if only I could.

Because I loved it so much, I wanted to get as many Australians to also see this, so with my friend Michelle I started a Greece-oriented travel company called Mediterranean Holidays and Tours.

Now it is a shame to see what is happening to Greece, and see it struggling within the EEC and the big brother countries with more power and manufacturing and export capabilities, and in many ways we know Greece has been ?used? over the years as a buffer zone, and has had so, so many of its treasures, and beautiful antiquities, intrinsic assets, stripped away over the years to private and museum collections all over the world. I don?t think Greece can survive outside the Euro zone now, in hindsight it probably would have been best to have stayed out initially like the British, but would be too costly and infltionary, inviting black marketeering in currency to go back to the old monetary system.

So many famous antiquities -- for instance the Winged Victory, or Nike of Samothraci, and the Venus de Milo, both classical Greek statues so well known and revered now in the Paris Louvre, with only a replica remaining in Greece. Most of the portals and marbles from the Parthenon (including the Caryatid from the Acropolis), are in various museums, mostly in the British Museum, also in Berlin and the Hermitage in Russia. The Bronze Warrior of Riace, two 445 BC bronzes believed stolen by the early Romans and lost on a ship near Reggio in Italy only to be found in 1972 are now housed in the Reggio Regional Museum. Athenian amphoras are housed in the J. Paul Getty, Munich, London, Paris, Vatican etc museums.

Just think how wealthy Greece would be today if all of these treasures were returned to their rightful place. So, please, I ask the rest of the world not to dismiss and put down the Greeks because they have been responsible for so much of the beautiful and formulative philosophical thinking which is part of all of humanity.

To see more please see my blog on http://collywolsmediterraneandreams.blogspot.com.au

Colleen Woodward

Australia

Why one could vote for Alexis Tsipras (but shouldn?t!)

Mr. Tsipras is an unusually charismatic leader at a time when Greek politics is desperately short of charismatic leaders; thus, he is a force to be seriously reckoned with. Secondly, Mr. Tsipras makes exactly the type of soundbites which a society in stress and distress loves to hear (and his opponents are dumb not to copy some of them!). The fact that Mr. Tsipras doesn't support his soundbites with hard facts is not too surprising at this point. This is a political campaign and not a PhD examination. Finally, Mr. Tsipras is only electable if he allows himself to be advised that some of his soundbites must not be meant seriously. Here, Mr. Tsipras does not leave the impression that he will allow himself to change his mind and this is why he is not electable in my view. Below are the details.

1st, Mr. Tsipras calls for a National Plan for Reconstruction and Growth. Wonderful! I have argued since the beginning that this is necessary, only that I called it a Long-Term Industrial Development Plan laid out for the period of one generation. The idea is the same; we differ as regards implementation. Mr. Tsipras seems to think that throwing other countries? savings at the Greek economy and giving the state a predominant role in distributing them would take care of all problems. I argue that only when other countries? investors start trusting the Greek economy enough to invest there can there be a chance for a future.

2nd, Mr. Tsipras uses several other wonderful soundbites which go down like honey. Such as: ending Greece's corrupt and inefficient political and regulatory systems that have ravaged the economy over the past decades; averting the country's evolving humanitarian crisis; creating a new path to growth through transparent government; enacting a tax reform so as to identify the wealth and income of all citizens, and to distribute equitably the burden of taxation; etc. My ears can?t get enough of such soundbites!

3rd, Mr. Tsipras outs himself as a fiscal conservative. He calls for stabilizing public expenditure at approximately 44 per cent of GDP and reorientating this expenditure to ensure it is well spent. This has been my point for ages. Mr. Tsipras also aims at increasing revenues from direct taxation to the average European levels of 44% over a four-year period. This, too, has been my point for ages. If you do the math, you will conclude that Mr.Tsipras plans to balance the budget within 4 years!

4th, Mr. Tsipras apparently knows the difference between what one shouts into public megaphones and what one communicates officially to negotiation partners. Into the megaphones he shouts things like declaring the MoU null and void; calling Germany's bluff; etc. The small print reads quite differently and more sensibly.

So, with all of those wonderful perspectives, why not go out and vote for SYRIZA, give it an absolute majority and await the Golden Age for Greece? (and for Europe, for that matter!).

As flexible as Mr. Tsipras is here and there, in one area he seems to be totally unflexible if not so say ideologically dogmatic. He does not seem to trust that economic agents will take the right decisions in a market-based economy as long as the incentives/disincentives are set properly by the government. Instead, he trusts the elected government more to take the right economic decisions than the free economic agents. Privatizations will not happen under his regime; instead, there will be nationalizations. The public sector will not shrink; instead it will expand. Foreign investment will not come; instead, it will depart. Capital will not enter the country voluntarily; instead, Mr. Tsipras thinks he can force it to come. Greece will not become a modern economy; instead, it will return to the 1960s.

Ever since I observed the unusual political talent of Mr. Tsipras emerging, I had been hoping that someone might persuade him of the following: the future of Greece will depend on allowing the Greek people to unfold their willingness to work hard, their creativity and ingenuity, their power of improvization, etc. to allow those forces to play out in as unhindered a fashion as possible. To entrust the future of Greece into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, to rely on their creativity, ingenuity and power of improvization is what will return Greece to the 1960s.

So what do you prefer for your children? The 2020s or the 1960s? There is more than half a century between the two!

Klaus Kastner

Austria

Online