This may be an overly pessimistic observation but Greece seems to have passed the stage of the crisis where it was in a prolonged period of decline and has now entered the stage of collapse. The next step after that is of a failed state, and then the game is completely lost. This is the reality, for those who like to call things as they are, without frills.
The events over the weekend – the cancellation of an important soccer game because of the actions of a handful of hooligans and, the day after, the failure of the main opposition party, New Democracy, to conduct an election for a new leader because of technical difficulties – are confirmation enough. Even more so, they prove that in this country we are capable of sinking ourselves into social and political chaos, to the point of oblivion, without any help from outside.
It is impossible to know whether the situation can be remedied now that it has been allowed to degenerate so extensively, particularly when the government in power is in battle with itself, appears incapable of governing and constantly comes up short when the occasion demands some seriousness, be it on the domestic or international front. The coalition government, though barely back in office, is already showing signs that it is on its last legs and the tolerance being shown by the country’s creditors – likely because of the absence of a credible alternative – will end at some point. When that day comes no number of pleas by the prime minister for a minimum of political consensus between the political parties to push through the last, painful reforms will be enough to fix the problem even if the opposition parties agree.
Let’s not kid ourselves: The prevailing image is of a state in total collapse. Greece has fallen way back and time is not only ticking on fast, but the circumstances are made even more difficult by recent international developments. These are developments that neither Greek society nor the state have been in a position to respond to for years, preferring instead to focus on domestic concerns. But this is a position that is no longer tenable. It cannot be allowed by globalization, technological breakthroughs, the shifts in the balance of power and of, course, the fact that Greece has become bankrupt in many respects and not just economically.
The question that needs to be asked is the following: Can we stop the collapse from happening and, if so, how, considering that society appears unwilling and the political system lacking? The answer is difficult because we do not know whether the political leadership shapes society or whether it is a reflection of society itself. The only certainty is that we need a change of mentality in society and the political system with more education, determination and method. There is nothing simple about achieving such changes, but there is no hope if the process does not start very, very soon.