Dionysis Savvopoulos ponders Greek crisis

Both deeply self-critical and censorious about the state of public affairs, Dionysis Savvopoulos is clearly anxious as far as the country?s future is concerned. At the same time, the popular singer-songwriter is making a series of stage appearances in aid of the Arsakeio Schools scholarship program. He is scheduled to appear at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall tonight and tomorrow. On the program is his own take on Aristophanes? ?Acharnians? and ?Plutus,? performed in concert form.  

The artist first emerged into the limelight 35 years ago, satirizing the post-dictatorship rhetoric and effectively nettling political parties? youth organizations.

?Dikaiopolis [the protagonist in ?The Acharnians?] puts his head on the butcher?s block in an effort to give the dizzy and confused people new direction,? Savvopoulos told Kathimerini. ?He is a clown and a populist, but if only we had such a populist today, somebody who could comfort us while putting his own neck on the line in order to restore our society and democracy.?

How did we reach this sorry state of affairs?

The negative international environment fused with our own post-dictatorship mess, especially after the 1980s. Andreas Papandreou freed us but failed to put the country on a production-oriented path. On the contrary, he set out on a completely anti-productive route based on borrowed money. He was so successful in doing so that all the other political parties latched onto his way of thinking. Exactly what did this brilliant politician hope to achieve? For us to be free or to lose complete control? Every person has a cheap side, along with a higher, more noble side. Politicians are asked to embody one or the other. Greek politicians opted for the cheap side. Now, given the size of the problems, they might reconsider.

Have you considered where your generation might have gone wrong?

My generation displayed left-leaning behavior with a conservative mentality. In the end, what prevailed was the latter combined with elements of the former. Consider this: While we were the ones who started the 1960s youth movement, we were nowhere to be seen in the post-junta period. People of all ages were eagerly joining political parties. Only our generation kept its distance, because we were getting wind of where things were going. In our finest moments we acted as a balancing factor. We didn?t throw our weight behind either side. In our worst moments we showed cowardice in the face of populism. We turned a blind eye. Nevertheless, we developed stable relationships and families and tolerable lives. We also left behind a considerable cultural oeuvre which was also recognized abroad. I?m afraid, though, that we were the last to do so, because the next generation, known as the Polytechneio generation, left very little.

Are you worried about what lies ahead?

I?m mostly worried about the country being left without a government that could signal the triumph of lawlessness, the kind of chaos that people of my age, and I suspect the average person too, hope will not prevail. I?m not afraid of the emergence of the extreme right. If they speak in Parliament and on television I believe they will start losing ground.

What about the arts? Do they represent some kind of light at the end of the tunnel?

What arts are we talking about? An entire nation has suffered a mental ambush. It has been a tremendous shock. Everyone has lost their bearings and artists are no exception. What kind of intellectual world are we talking about here? Why did the economic departments of our universities keep silent all these years? Just like the Athens Academy and the literary associations. As for individual artistic voices, most of them adopted a vague, pseudo-progressive style to earn applause. There were exceptions, but no one paid attention to them. We are nowhere near reaching the point of humiliation and forgiveness. We need to acknowledge the past and forgive each other. Only then can we speak honestly and turn the page.

Thessaloniki Concert Hall, 25th Martiou