Politics and society

It’s the same crime on a different day. The fires that swept through Attica’s forests have, once again, exposed the flaws in Greece’s state apparatus; the absence of a land-zoning plan (an omission that encourages and ultimately rewards land-grabbers); the shortsighted behavior of local government officials who spend huge amounts of money on anything but fire prevention; and, finally, the unwillingness of state agencies to cooperate. These and more allegations can be made against the parties that have ruled Greece all these years. And then there is Greek society. Our yearning to advertise our economic well-being has become so strong as to eliminate all sense of moderation. Those of us who do not own a holiday home feel inferior to those who do. The bourgeoisie of the past 30 years have abandoned their downtown flats for the suburbs, often building homes outside town plan limits. The return to nature, as it were, comes hand in hand with environmental degradation. In all countries and at all times, new money seeks recognition. And we have seen a lot of this in the past 25 years. But this is precisely where the responsibility of the state and the political parties lies. Social morality cannot be shaped by the interests, objectives or defects of a social class. By making use of the means at its disposal, such as education, a government shapes the morality and the behavior of its people; it imposes rules. Or it has no reason for being. One of the peculiarities of the Greek political system is that it is not democratic, i.e. there are no rules that have to be respected by all and at all times. It has a touch of anarchy that reflects the Greeks’ penchant for such a society. To argue that society and the political establishment are still in post-1974 mode, when politicians and citizens alike strove to weaken the state mechanism and undo the ideology of the military dictatorship, is a dangerous anachronism. A reaction of that sort was necessary at the time. But now, 35 years later, it’s perhaps time for change.