OPINION

Wake up, civil society

A critical mass of the citizenry is being crushed between two walls. On the one side are powerful interest groups who have made illegality the rule. They are the businessmen, merchants and gangsters who outrageously defy the law and the police, dodge taxes and show contempt for every institution. They include the owners of medical centers that issue two or three receipts a day as souvenirs and bill the Social Security Foundation (IKA) for open-heart operations on patients they have treated for upset stomachs. They also include those who ostentatiously display their wealth by illegally building villas in prominent sites while ordinary people struggle through red tape for months or years to build a pergola. This group has succeeded in defying the law with the help of powerful politicians and media groups. On the other side is a category of people who believe they can achieve their ends by force. The most characteristic example of this is the staff at now-defunct Olympic Airways, who cost the Greek taxpayer about 1.8 billion euros because they managed to blackmail the country’s politicians. The same occurred with the staff at the Piraeus Port Authority who won their «rights» by closing the country’s main port for weeks. What these two groups have in common is their unprecedented indifference to the rest of society. They don’t care if their demands plunge the rest of the country into debt and stagnation. Outrageous audacity has become the most admirable quality of a successful Greek today. However the vast majority of the people are private sector employees, who do not take kickbacks but work, and the unemployed, who want to work, and these are suffocating and do not know how to react. They can’t close ports or bribe a politician. Their only solution is to get up off the couch and become active citizens in the European mold. That is our only hope – for the society of frustrated, creative citizens to finally wake up.