OPINION

There is no happiness that is not in danger

It’s a daunting mix: Speculation over domestic political developments is rife; Greece is under pressure from its international creditors, its European partners and its neighbors; frustration among the people is deep and widespread; and society is worn down and deeply polarized in the face of events which call for urgent decisions and actions.

One is tempted to go back to the writings of a Greek-born philosopher who analyzed the politics of his time but who was also bold enough to make predictions about the future.

“There is no final solution and there is no happiness; that is not in danger. Whoever believes in the existence of final solutions is simply afraid of losing the certainty of happiness that is not in danger,” says Panagiotis Kondylis (1943-1998) in “Macht und Entscheidung” (Power and Decision, 1991).

Kondylis also discusses the fate of the nation-state. His text, published by Kathimerini in 1996 and presented below, was written 16 years before a recent analysis by American historian Mark Mazower.

“The point is not whether the ‘nation,’ on a general and abstract level, can survive or not, but whether this or that nation fulfills or not the conditions for [existing as] a viable political unit in the planetary age […] Nation-states, which are practically in a state of political and economic dependency: Whether they will consent to this fate so that, at least by submitting to a stronger power they will not be totally cut off from planetary developments, or whether they will rise up against this fate, because they consider the universalism of the big powers as a means of expansion and blackmail – this will not be decided on the basis of the cold logic of interest alone, but also on the basis of deep-rooted feelings.

“Furthermore, it is uncertain whether a rebellion serves the conservation of a traditional identity better than submission does. Because a rebellion, if it wants to be successful, requires [a process of] fast-paced modernization, while voluntary submission can be accompanied through the renovation of traditional pseudo-facades for reasons of intellectual overcompensation and tourist exploitation (contemporary Greece is an example of this).”