Country of paradox

Greece may have rightly entered the EU, the eurozone and the developed world but it has never ceased to act in an unconventional, often paradoxical, fashion in the political, economic and social spheres. In no other country, for example, would a minister have thought of moving May Day celebrations to May 7 – what is more, a day after Easter Monday. In this manner, the old ideological dilemma of whether May Day is a holiday or a strike was resolved in a highly original fashion. Yesterday was a strike, hence traditional Labor Day demonstrations plunged Athenians’ lives into chaos. Tuesday, May 7 will be a strike, therefore everything will remain closed. However, the decision to merge the strike, the celebration and the Easter holidays seems to have whetted some people’s appetite, including the Greek Federation of Bank Employees’ Unions (OTOE) who thought that this moment of the «highly militant spirit» would be ideal for fighting for their labor rights. They thus went on to declare a two-day strike for next week. In effect, banks will stay closed for a total of about 10 days. The guards of archaeological sites also decided to go on strike in reaction to a proposal by the culture minister that museums extend their opening hours during the summer period, given that museums constitute the country’s greatest cultural asset. When it comes to politics, things are even more contradictory. The French elections highlighted a political deficit and touched off a European debate over the requisite political reactions. The main conclusion seems to be that the era of apathy and political mishmash is coming to an end. Greek politics insist on focusing on the surface and vacuous electioneering babble. The crisis of politics, the transformation of the political realm into an arena for vested interests, has been disregarded. It is as if a shock, an overwhelming event, is needed to reveal this unhealthy state of affairs. Yesterday’s celebration was indicative of this trend. No one was moved. Few took part in May Day rallies. Most took to the shops or drove off into the countryside. Poor unionist and government handling turned May Day into a show of «militant» formalism, a parade of occupations’ banners and nothing more. But our times mandate more complex and substantial solutions which the Greek State has to implement if it wants to prosper. Anything else will be an act of political suicide.