OPINION

Leaving the people out of it

Tomorrow’s elections for local government are occurring at a historic moment for Greece, a watershed. The old world has been gasping for breath for years, and will continue to do so for quite some time yet. The new world, meanwhile, has yet to emerge, and no one knows what it will look like when it does. But everyone feels that the new Greece will be very different from the old one, that the changes will be profound and will come fast once it emerges, a lot faster and lot more dramatically than we can possibly fathom right now because we are still thinking in terms of the past, of old conditions and old facts. This watershed also means pain for the people who are first hit by the changes, those who are losing money, their jobs and their businesses. It fills people with uncertainty, heightens their anxiety and affects even those who have yet to be hit by it. The maelstrom of being betwixt and between the old and the new world is the biggest enemy we face right now: It freezes the thinking process, halts creativity and, more importantly, crushes the spirit of community. The subjects of these changes, the people, do not feel any part of the political process, as though no one cares what they think, no one has invited them to actively participate in the change; the subjects are simply called upon to obey and toe the line. But how can anyone obey orders in a battle designed by others, in which others decide, and which may ultimately bring about our downfall? What is absent from the political rhetoric today is the desire to draw legitimacy directly from the people in support of the necessary changes, and for the changes to happen by the people and for the people. This is the cornerstone of the democratic state, yet we hear it so rarely today, and when we do, we think of it as populist rhetoric. We must not forget how things turned out last time when the subjects were left out of the process. It happened in 1965 and one can even argue that it happened again in 1989: weak, fraudulent democracies that created the shattered and bankrupt society we see today.