At the troika’s behest, Greece had become a huge guinea pig. With the ceremonial scrapping of the memorandum, of austerity and deprivation, the Greeks chose to subject themselves to another great experiment – into what happens when anyone can behave without limits, doing whatever he or she wants, without counting the cost of what they do. We are all part of this experiment, from the top echelons of government down.
The first months of the coalition between the radical, internationalist left and the fantasist, nationalistic right, the rash of “anti-authoritarian” forces staging sit-ins in government and party offices, the government ministers who place their ideological fixations above the solution of problems, show that the road is open for everyone to do as they please – until we reach a dead end. Those who believed that the memorandum was simply a trick to cheat the Greeks out of their national and personal wealth can now take their revenge. The prime minister can promise, like a latter-day Moses, to lead the whole of Europe to a promised land, when he does not know how he will pay the Greeks’ wages and pensions; he can call for consensus while sending his rivals (in other parties, not in his own, SYRIZA) to “investigating committees,” promising circuses when he is not sure he can provide bread. Ministers belonging to the radical Left Platform can keep undermining the government’s efforts to reach a deal with creditors, as if bankruptcy will not affect them. The defense minister can go about saying and doing whatever comes to mind, until the point where we will have to deal with the consequences. What can we say about Parliament, which drew such ire in the past? Under new management is it better, with continual swings between torturous nitpicking and self-righteous improvisation?
Former governments proved incapable of handling the great economic and political crisis. Under creditors’ pressure, they were forced to change their tactics but were unable to adopt and sell policies that would have helped the country in the new international climate, and so they were unable to solve problems that had piled up for decades. This failure clouded anything positive that was achieved. Now the “government of social salvation,” as Alexis Tsipras likes to call it, promises a revolution, but all it has done is insist on old methods, where others are to blame for what has happened and what will befall us, we have a right to whatever we want, our freedom has no limits, and we are not concerned with the opinion of others.
The lack of seriousness and conscientiousness in our governments is nothing new, and it is always at the cost of serious ministers and society. In this government’s case, though, the timing is so dangerous that the lack of leadership is leading not only to an economic impasse but to social misery. When there are no limits, there is no justice; without equality before the law, there is no freedom. Good intentions are no protection from the seductions of chaos.