OPINION

End of an era

end-of-an-era

We are experiencing the real end of an era in a way that is unrelated to ruling SYRIZA and political developments.

A political system that governed the country for decades is collapsing. The reasons are biological and economic, among many others. The debt crisis and the events that followed dealt a death blow to the status quo and nothing will be like it was before anymore.

The old parties have either disappeared or are in the process of gradually doing so, and the rest of the system is starting to come down after them as it has been too sluggish to survive the changes.

It was perfectly clear who was running the country 10, 20 or 30 years ago. When a politician or state employee heard that “X wants so and so done,” it would be done. X could have been a publisher, a businessman or a banker. The country was run by an exclusive club that had its own rules and sensitive balance of power.

At some point, however, the club started to grow by taking in no small number of thugs and bottom feeders who wanted a piece of the action. After a while, no one could remember the rules anymore because they had been flouted again and again by the brasher members of the club.

Today, this club is finished. Some of its members have died, others went bankrupt and others still are behind bars. The people were always more or less aware of what was going on behind the scenes but didn’t really care as long as their standard of living was retained at a high level – albeit artificially. When the bare minimum standard of living could no longer be ensured, the curtains fell and the club was exposed.

To be fair, a lot of good was also done in those 40-odd years since the end of the dictatorship. Greece today is nothing like it was in 1975, in any respect.

Given the positive changes, now is the time for a restart. Money and power always change hands every half-century or so and the case here is no different. I can mention quite a few names that would have meant a lot 50 years ago and now are nothing more than street names. That’s healthy.

The big question, however, is what or who will replace the dead club and what the rules will be. In a country where the institutions are dysfunctional and everything is more or less in a state of chaos, the risk of all this money and power falling into dangerous hands is more than apparent. We should be wary of coming to the point when we pine for the old club just because we’re terrified of the new one.