Dimitris Papadimoulis took us back to a different time the other day, when he commented on Twitter about “ta bania tou laou” (a term immortalized by late Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou to champion the people’s right to holidays and to access to its seas). The Euro MP’s tweet was an instant hit judging by the plethora of comments it attracted, covering a range of emotions, though mostly anger.
Papadimoulis was urging the leftist government to strike a deal with international creditors before the mass holiday exodus of August 15. He went on to add that implementation of the agreed measures should follow, along with discussions about a writedown of Greek debt and a conference of ruling SYRIZA to decide whether it will continue as is or call early elections.
It feels like an eternity has passed since the age when the people were in power, on the beaches and beside swimming pools, consuming, like their political figureheads, scotch on the rocks on socialist sun loungers. Since then, we have entered a whole new dimension in time and politics, watching everything we once took for granted collapsing with a resounding thud, one after the other.
The 1980s was a decade that was free of guilt and baggage. Major shocks to the system were muted and quickly absorbed with the help of freely flowing European funds, which ensured all sorts of new services, and generous collective labor agreements.
The turmoil of this summer, coming on top of five years of deprivations, and the capital controls that have thrown all economic activity out of synch, have created an atmosphere of suspicion and fear. The people’s holidays are seeming increasingly fleeting, with the view of the beach becoming something many Greek will only see on their television screens.
Papadimoulis is in his 60s; his career having taken off in the period after the restoration of democracy. The sequence of events that need to follow as he listed them in his tweets did not contain a trace of sarcasm. Quite the opposite. He presented normality as he perceives it, as though everything happens smoothly in this small world we live in: implementation of the deal, debt reduction, party congress and, maybe, elections. It’s like a day hasn’t passed since the 80s.
Yet, in the past few days, an increasing number of government officials have been saying: “we’ll be judged by our actions.” This is the last resort: To surrender themselves to history, to the future, anywhere, without terms. As long as they can escape the present. SYRIZA is never short of delusions, they just change every so often.