OPINION

The leadership deficit

As the multifaceted crisis spreads from the economic sphere to the social arena, and from there to engulf the country?s cultural domain, the ruins it is leaving in its wake are beginning to pile up in front of our very eyes. The absence of any structure in the country?s production and administration has left Greece at the mercy of outside influences and the citizens exposed and weak, without a protective shield.

What lies behind these vacuums in the economy, in society, in the basic structures, is, of course, the political deficit, which involves an absence of foresight, action and leadership. And it is this deficit that will come to define this particular chapter in the country?s history.

The political system that emerged after World War II governed the country without a strategy for the future, without a plan. Greece?s inclusion in the European Union was the only goal with a strategy, and even that was carried out almost mechanically, without a program to put European funding to the best possible use, without thinking about how the European opportunity could help transform Greece into a modern, forward-thinking country. Meanwhile, as the country?s demographic composition shifted thanks to an ever-aging population, immigration inflows and outflows, and a massive shake-up of the social equilibrium, the mechanisms of the state and the political structure proved unable to absorb the shock waves and, more importantly, to represent the new society that was emerging.

In two decades the distance between society and the political class widened to a huge gulf, with the economy and the public administration unraveling on the sidelines.

Now, during this lengthy escalation of the crisis, the deficit is apparent more than ever: in the stilted language of politicians, in their intellectual and spiritual weakness, in the political parties that have run out of new ideas and vision, in the selfishness of the elite and the silence of the intelligentsia. These have all come together to create the void in leadership.

At their most crucial hour the Greeks have no leaders. But could it also be because they did not vote for leaders, but for party cadres and weak princes? Could this be why they are in this black hole today?

Like Medusa, the crisis cast its eye on politicians and turned them to stone. It turned the economy to stone as well. But society cannot become stone, cannot dry up, because there is always a seed somewhere inside it and when this is sown, it grows and spreads.