OPINION

We Greeks, 17 years from now

The recent survey commissioned by the Center of Political Research and Communication (KPEE) concerning public expectations over the living conditions in 2020, might well reveal more about the present than the future. Indeed, despite the fact that the households polled tried to foresee conditions 17 years from now, they clearly did so in the light of current circumstances. A drastic structural change, like the one that occurred during 1989-1991, would discredit current predictions, but the answers would still be important as testimony to the people’s feelings at the time. There is no common denominator to these feelings. The sampled households’ replies often contradict. Furthermore, there is often a discrepancy between predictions over general conditions – where the relative majority (48 percent) appear optimistic – and forecasts for how they as individuals may evolve, where 42 percent are rather optimistic. An interesting aspect of the survey concerns predictions over the development of Greek society. The majority of people expect a precipitous rise in the divorce rate, a corrosion of the family institution, a trend toward individualism, a gradual disappearance of generosity and further depoliticization. There is reason to believe that these conclusions, in fact, reflect contemporary disappointment with specific issues that people deem essential in societal evolution. Hence it’s no surprise that Greeks expect rising hostility toward foreigners and fear that they will have to strive to preserve Greece’s national characteristics inside a closely integrated Europe. These answers, however imperfect and contradictory, reveal the same sentiment which has often been recorded in Western Europe: Modern societies offer a certain level of economic prosperity to two thirds of their population, but they do so by stepping up the working rate and scrapping the community elements that used to provide people with some sense of security. Day by day people are becoming tougher, while humanitarianism and generosity are on the wane. As Europe struggles to preserve the characteristics of Rhine capitalism against the tide of Anglo-Saxon individualism, the KPEE report comes to reinforce the view that the European goal also expresses popular desire for a society which, aside from economic development, will also promote humanism and civilization.