OPINION

Prophets from the same school

The unraveling of the communist system in Eastern Europe, which began in 1989, was met with a great deal of optimism. The American — and by extension, the European — model exerted a powerful attraction for the people of the former Soviet satellite states. It was widely held that the states of Eastern Europe, once under the influence of the USSR, were now on the safe path to prosperity. It was a one-way path.

Communist leaders were corrupt and vicious, but they were no fools. Their economists were educated and intelligent people. They should have been able to diagnose that the ship was heading for the rocks a decade before it crashed.

But they didn?t. The main reason for the failure was that they had studied at the same universities. They had been taught the same metaphysical truths, as it were, about the economy. They were, in other words, totally dogmatic. And nothing is harder to do than to change people?s ideas when these have been shaped by years of hard work and study.

As a result, the system fell apart. And nobody really mourned it.

Today, the international system is in dangerous turmoil. Politicians, economists and CEOs, they have all studied at the same universities in the West. They have more or less been taught the same things, and they have formed similar views about the economy.

But this is where the similarities with their communist peers stop. It would be extremely naive to proclaim the collapse of the European and American system. However, the era of the prophets came to a close with the Hebrew Bible.

On the other hand, all that stuff is just theories and generalizations. After all, we live in a globalized world — and Greece joined the European Union — and more specifically the common currency area — because it itself wanted to do so.

It is worth remembering at this point that the European leader who shone at the recent eurozone summit in Brussels (where EU leaders hammered out a new deal for debt-choked Greece) was German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Some critics say that Merkel is not enough of a Europeanist in the way her predecessors were. They say that she is too concerned about the so-called political cost (as if she has no right to) or that she operated in accordance with German interests (in its most extreme form, the argument is that Greece has come under occupation by the Fourth Reich).

We should keep in mind that the European Union is not a kind of coffee shop of leaders who are appointed by national elections. And as with every alliance, the pace in the 27-member block is always set by the strongest party. And we should remember that since joining the eurozone, Greece has given up a big chunk of its economic sovereignty — and much of its wealth.

If the country?s political officials were not the self-centered individuals that they are, they would have pondered the implications of Greece becoming a member of the eurozone. Since Greece is a member of the bloc, there are only two ways: It can either fully adapt to the commands of the euro area, or leave the system. There is no middle way. And there is no easy way.