We must act… now

Leaders emerge in crisis situations. The eight-year tenure of Costas Simitis, a socialist reformist, was marred by the Imia standoff and the Ocalan fiasco. The first term of conservative Premier Costas Karamanlis will be remembered for the huge environmental – and economic – disaster. The first round, that is the fight against the fires, was lost because of the poor performance of the State apparatus. The second round, that of reconstruction, has only just begun. It will be an uphill struggle within a tight timeframe. There were signs that the disaster was no accident. But any New Democracy officials who said so only caused the premier more problems. For instead of coming up with concrete evidence, all they did was mumble something about socialist spin meister Costas Laliotis’s «deep PASOK» or the «Exarchia-based anti-establishment groups.» After all, even when the government itself fell victim to a conspiracy, in the infamous tapping of government cadres, it did nothing to unravel the case. Even if the administration proved that enemies of the State were behind the forest fires, that would not compensate for its ineptitude. Had the State measured up to its role, Karamanlis would have emerged stronger from the fires. On the other hand, the devastating aftermath can barely disguise PASOK’s unreliability. In any case, the magnitude of the catastrophe demonstrates the need for a political as well as cultural revolution. We’ve had enough of the growth of economic indicators at the expense of people and the environment; with talk about a «strong Greece,» in which some 70 percent of GDP and 40 percent of the population is concentrated in Attica; with a State that is absent when people need it; with the television democracy. We are the only ones who can bring about change. And we must act now.