Crisis nourishes delusions — and this is exactly what is happening at the moment. The first major delusion, which originates from Greece?s chronic inferiority complex, is that anything Western is infallible, at least in technocratic matters.
The government of George Papandreou fell pray to this very delusion as it accepted the conditions of the memorandum signed with Greece?s international lenders without any bargaining whatsoever. The delusion was defeated as the Western prescription turned out to be counterproductive.
The next delusion, which was in fact more perilous than the first, was that Papandreou would carry out the provisions of the memorandum and implement the decisions and the laws passed in the Greek Parliament as a precondition for the 110-billion-euro loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
The champions of this idea seem to forget that the prime minister and his modernist-minded aides, as it were, have actually emerged and matured politically within the contours of PASOK, that peculiar movement established by the late Andreas Papandreou that went on to leave its mark on Greece?s political life. Well, this movement has evidently come full circle.
Yet another delusion is that the odds would be different if New Democracy, the main opposition party led by Antonis Samaras, had thrown its weight behind the government efforts, instead of fighting against it. Interestingly, it?s the same people who question the ability of our political system to handle the crisis.
If the political system is really discredited, as some critics hold, then even a collaboration between the two mainstream parties, PASOK and New Democracy, would not be enough to save the day. After all, opinion polls show that both parties are in decline despite their divergent positions on the memorandum. Meanwhile, the smaller parties — barring the Communists — have only marginally benefited from the shrinking power of their more powerful peers.
Greece?s problem is not really economic in the technocratic sense of the term, as some self-styled analysts would have us believe. It is rather a political one in the sense that society has become stuporous and defeatist.
Overcoming the crisis demands creativity and enthusiasm. It presupposes rebuilding citizen morale. This is where Papandreou has failed most spectacularly — and that failure is, above all, political.