OPINION

State of paralysis

There seems to be no end to the drama that we experience each time the government is forced to take new austerity measures and implement reforms in exchange for a new tranche of the loan aimed at averting bankruptcy. Each time, though, things get more difficult. With the events of the past few days, we have to ask ourselves whether our society is built to self-destruct. We have come to the point of hoping that our partners will find a way to keep us in the eurozone, if they decide that it is in their interests, because our political forces cannot achieve this.

How else can one explain the unique talent of the protagonists of our public life to make difficulties even more difficult, to make the impossible probable and to turn nightmares into reality? Each effort at consensus runs aground on personal or group interests, because, for decades now, collective structures and institutions have been given over to serving purposes that have nothing to do with their mission to achieve checks and balances between institutions and ensure the smooth functioning of society and the economy. The automatic expressions of greed, the arrogance of each group?s sense of entitlement, created social imbalances. It is as if each group had the end of a piece of string and was pulling to get as much as it could ? creating a knot that no one can untie.

Our politicians led the country to elections without reason, when, until May, the previous government enjoyed the support of three parties which between them held 266 seats in the 300-member Parliament. Now we have a fragile coalition struggling to muster a majority to pass the toughest measures, with parties and their members terrified that this will lead to their political demise. The opposition parties, on the other hand, insist on imposing their own views upon reality, indifferent to the result. The sense that the governing parties are unable ? or unwilling ? to clash with interest groups costs them more in lost credibility (domestically and internationally) than whatever they were afraid of losing by dealing with such problems.

Judges, engineers, doctors, bank employees, journalists and other groups are all fighting rear-guard actions to preserve benefits, carrying out strikes that serve only to undermine any sense that the reforms being introduced are aimed at achieving greater social justice and equality.

And so, everyone who plays a role in public life is responsible for shaping a society in which citizens do not trust what they see and hear. With tangible proof that the more privileged take care only of their own interests, people understand that they could have avoided their sacrifices if they had the power to protect themselves. With each group suspicious of the others, with the stronger ones pushing their weight around, with the weaker choking on feelings of injustice and despair, our society has become paralyzed