OPINION

Throwing everyone into the same blender

The way in which our lenders treat us reminds me of an incident which made an impression on me back when I was searching US archives for information regarding the post-WWII period.

Back then, the United States had dispatched to Greece young, promising, dynamic graduates from Harvard and other prominent American universities to rebuild the country. Most were liberals with a romantic streak. One of them had undertaken the restructuring of the agricultural sector in a particular area. In the first six months of his mission he kept sending damning reports back home. He accused local officials of corruption and of being unable to work together as a group. The despair emanating from his writings was shocking in terms of its detail. At a certain point, however, the style of the American expert’s reports changed entirely. He started praising local folk for their creativity and their professionalism. One year went by before an inspector arrived from Washington and discovered that his colleague’s about-face was due to the charms of an attractive lady and the fact that certain local officials had found ways for him to complement his income through the funds he managed.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to say that some troika officials have followed in his footsteps, but simply that they have become accustomed to local habits in one way or another. Some are ready to adopt conspiracy theories as they have become convinced that nothing is what it seems in this country. Even when there’s nothing odd or peculiar, they start looking for the “real” plan and the motives behind those involved.

This is not a positive development, because it has thrown everyone, without exception, into the same blender. This position also explains the stereotypes adopted by many outside of Greece with regard to the entire Greek establishment. There’s also a sense of profound cynicism voiced by those who say, “Well, that’s as far as their system and their politicians can go; let them stay that way if they so wish.”

That would explain why they now turn a blind eye sometimes, though that was not always the case. A fundamental mistake in the first memorandum was that it attempted to change a great number of things all at the same time, essentially underestimating the inefficiency of the political staff, the power of small-time vested interests and the disintegration of the state machine.

Since then, however, these people have seen plenty and now adhere to the “never mind” theory as well as conspiracy theories – in other words, the two signature traits of modern Greeks. One more reason for us to get mad at ourselves. What we need is our own plan, vision and self-confidence in order to change the country and go from a species suited for anthropological study to a successful example to be followed by all.