A short step from here to barbarity


It was only to be expected that the crisis would keep growing up until the final hour. It is an unfortunate yet inevitable fact. Beyond the destructive effects on the economy, it is clear that in extreme circumstances, so-called political time is of the essence – in other words a period of maturity is needed so that a compromise solution can be reached after all the grandstanding.

This final hour has arrived for Greece and everything now rests on the next Eurogroup meeting. Whether the performance of the past five months was good drama or a bad parody is neither here nor there. We did not cast the stars nor write the script but we had to sit through the show. But enough is enough. The agreement between Athens and the country’s creditors must be signed and it must be signed by a government of the left.

The seeds of national discord have been sown since May 2010 between the champions and the adversaries of the first memorandum. The referendum on Sunday further confirmed the collapse of the traditional political system that grew during the the period after the fall of the 1967-74 military junta. Of the 61 percent of citizens who voted “no” in the plebiscite, at least 15 percent belonged to the core of the traditional right up until 2010. They did not vote against the creditors because they were deceived but as a form of protest.

In addition, the outcome of the referendum also revealed some extremely dangerous behavior on the part of the electorate, which expressed itself along class lines. Such a rift between the haves and have-nots has not been seen since before the time of Andreas Papandreou, when the underprivileged started to climb society’s ranks on borrowed money.

The mass rallies of the “yes” and “no” camps, with all the serious and ridiculous things they represented, have also contributed to bringing a conflict that should have remained confined to the Parliament and, perhaps, television shows into the streets. This was a political crime. Division is starting to poison relations between neighbors and friends who had coexisted harmoniously for decades despite their different political and ideological beliefs. An atmosphere of intolerance is growing within Greek society, with the “pro-Europeans” on one side and the “proud Greeks” on the other. It is but a very short step from here to barbarity.

The problem is much bigger than the euro-drachma dilemma, because what’s at risk is that Greeks will soon not be able to stand one another. How we got here has become completely irrelevant but the only way to avoid the civil strife that is looming is for Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister of a left-wing party, to sign a deal that will keep Greece in the eurozone.