During this year of so-called “salvation” for Greece, which we hope will not be repeated, populism became entrenched to the extent that most people came to believe that all the ills that have befallen the country are due to the terms the country’s international creditors have set in exchange for funding rather than to the crisis itself. In fact most people believe that the memorandum of understanding between Athens and the troika of lenders brought on the crisis and not vice versa. But nothing could be further from the truth and anyone who has any understanding of the real situation knows that many of the terms of the memorandum should have been implemented by the Greek government regardless of any deal. This is the case in Spain, Italy and elsewhere, and is probably even more crucial for Greece.
The policies outlined in the memorandum are seen by many as dictated by the neo-liberal philosophy. They are right in the sense that neo-liberalism has prevailed on an international level and is therefore also applied to Greece. But in Greece’s case, the way the welfare state operated and the degree of the economy’s dependence on state funding were out of control and led directly to the current situation. All reason and moderation were lost in the operation of the welfare system, which pillaged state coffers, and the same applies to the economy, which, among other ills, contributed enormously to the destruction of production and the weakening of productivity.
The role of the public administration, including the justice system, was and remains central to these problems. It is debatable whether there has ever been any other country in the West with such a wasteful, incompetent and corrupt public administration, from the local to the central level, as Greece. Our public administration has never proved able to live up to its responsibilities; it has failed miserably on all counts. It has been unable to play any kind of leadership role, to serve the people and the nation, to develop and adapt to changing circumstances, to take advantage of new technologies and generally to create a rudimentary framework within which society can operate. The situation today is the end result.