Six bullets in the barrel

After my initial despair at the announcement of the referendum — a decision I consider frivolous, suspicious and dangerous — I was overcome by a strange calm. I understood, as never before, that the Greeks do not feel alive if not flirting with death. I don’t know if, in his simplistic political obsessions, George Papandreou felt this and therefore pushed the country into a game of Russian roulette. In any case, he put bullets in the revolver and handed it to the people.

In the land of ?No,? of the eternal, automatic, storied ?No,? the ?No? which unites every special interest group and conflicting ideology, in the middle of the most difficult, the most brutal economic and social reforms ever attempted in our time, the person burdened with the responsibility of persuading the people as to the virtues of his policy confesses that he cannot carry this weight and passes it on to the citizens.

This is the first bullet in the gun’s barrel: the leader’s lack of conviction in himself and in the reform effort. The second bullet: If we judge by opinion polls, the great majority disagrees with the measures and does not approve of the government nor of the troika. The third bullet: All the opposition parties, which have been clamoring for elections, see their enemy losing direction; like sharks smelling blood, they have fallen upon him. They know that if the referendum is approved, they lose this contest and, furthermore, the prospect of early elections. Papandreou has challenged them to destroy him, and with him, Greece’s future in the European Union and the reform effort. The fourth bullet: Many cadres of the ruling PASOK party are extremely critical of government policy — either for reasons of their own political survival or out of personal bitterness — and undermine the faith of even the most loyal party members. The fifth bullet: the widespread view that the policy is wrong and the government incapable of leading Greece out of the crisis, in which case, any change of government is to be desired.

If our time-wasting argument over whether we will accept the agreement which writes down our debt and provides new loans wrecks the effort to fortify the eurozone, and, in the end, the offer is withdrawn, then we will have the sixth bullet. This one will have our name on it. How many bullets does the gun take, so that we might know whether we have a chance of surviving? Only time will tell.

The situation is that dangerous. Our country appears to be sliding quickly toward a state of anarchy that could give birth to demons. Our dazed troupe of politicians persists with its outdated role-playing while the storm has torn down the theater and the crowd is howling for justice, blood, shelter, hope, direction. Demagogues, rascals, false prophets scream curses from TV and radio stations, glorying in their own psychoses, serving the interests of known and hidden masters. At the border between East and West, faced with the choice between isolation and Europe, one step away from losing all that we achieved and sinking into our worst selves, we seek excuses to abandon our rescue.

Maybe deep down this is what we wanted. Maybe we cannot tolerate a peaceful home. Now, once again, our worst enemy is ourself. And he is armed.