OPINION

Crisis as a catalyst

Crisis — not just economic crisis — is often a catalyst for change and Greece is no exception. The near-bankruptcy of the economy was a powerful shock. It had a profound psychological impact on people, making them more receptive to changes that were previously unthinkable. This is neither good nor bad in itself. It could serve as a unique opportunity to implement a national plan aimed at replacing the crumbling kleptocratic, wasteful and irrational system with a healthier, more productive alternative.

But the newly elected government of George Papandreou did not even make the effort. The crisis was used as an excuse to impose the well-known neo-liberal shock therapy. Now, the Socialists are treating the memorandum, the agreement signed with the so-called troika, as gospel. The troika dictates policy, and the administration, more or less, serves this policy to the public.

The truth is that the local elites were relieved at the idea of outside interference. The outlets that influence public opinion helped the government to overcome public reaction to the memorandum-or-bankruptcy dilemma. The champions of the memorandum like to resort to medical and war analogies so as to incite the instinct of survival and downplay talk about labor rights. All that, combined with a spin-machine working to turn society against the various groups of professions are all episodes in a psychological war. Faced with the threat that there will be no money for wages and pensions, and that bank deposits will lose their value, Greeks accepted successive strings of painful measures on the understanding that implementing the memorandum is the only way out of the crisis.

Recent developments, however, have rebuffed the carefully delivered idea that the memorandum is the only way to be rescued. Sure, the troika has dictated certain measures that should have been introduced a long time ago. Overall, however, the IMF prescription has thrown the country into recession, creating economic and social problems. In fact, the memorandum appears to be the safest way to bankruptcy.

The troika has tried to overcome the deadlock by running ahead of events. Driven by a quasi-metaphysical conviction it has called for an increase to the dosage. But, as the deadlock becomes more visible, society will awaken from the shock and tension will grow. Let?s hope that when the time comes, the government will keep away from anti-democratic practices.