OPINION

Toward a new social contract

The crisis has taken a toll on our standards of living and created a rift in the social contract. In the political arena, the rift caused by the crisis is in the relationship that has developed between the people and the leadership, or the masses and the elite. This rift is best illustrated by the frequently heard condemnation that the government has lost its legitimacy.

This rift between the populace and the government, meanwhile, also marks the end of the post-dictatorship era, the period during which democracy was restored in Greece and which was hailed as a time of rebirth and growth. It marks the abrupt end of the social contract that has prevailed for the past 20-odd years and of the smooth symbiosis between the masses and the dominant elite.

The collapse of the post-dictatorship contract and the myths on which this era was established reveals a society that can no longer continue to function as a whole. The dynamic governing the populace, meanwhile, stands in stark contrast to that of the country?s politicians, who have shown themselves incapable of ensuring even the slimmest terms of social consensus.

This growing distance between the interests of the people and those of the country?s leaders and the loss of the sense of community demands a repositioning of stances and priorities. This repositioning can come about through conflict or through the intervention of external stabilizing forces. In the past two years of the crisis, we have seen evidence of both at play: the masses reacting in myriad ways against the governing class, and the foreign element intervening dynamically in order to safeguard the euro currency as well as the geopolitical status quo.

Moreover, in this period, the suffering masses and the foreign factor have agreed on one thing: that the local elite either cannot or will not go ahead with any changes or reforms that pose a threat to its position of dominance.

The most likely development from this point on is that the foreign element will take on an even more active role in the governance of Greece, especially as the bankrupt country will be reliant in the medium and long term on foreign credit. The foreign element, meanwhile, will obviously require the support and contribution of a legitimate, elected government. This, in turn, suggests the emergence of a new political elite that will be accepted by the populace, and with it a new social contract.