OPINION

Like overburdened porters

Everything around us is changing. Everything inside us is changing as well, because our life expectations are changing: the way we measure life, the way we live life – devoid of excitement, more like overburdened porters. We are not in a state of national depression just yet, as the spin doctors of the opposition party were eager to diagnose. But it’s hard to deny that the majority of the people – the so-called two-thirds society – have been gripped by a sense of misery. It’s the people who are being hit with wage reductions, pension cuts, layoffs, flexible labor market plans, rotating and other irregular work schedules which are reducing their individual and labor rights to a level previously experienced only by immigrants. It’s a well-designed campaign aimed at disciplining society. A campaign based on the argument that all the privileges and safeguards that are now being taken away were, in fact, nothing but gifts handed out by a party-hijacked state whose patron-client ties fueled a generosity that slowly ate away at the country’s future. The supposed perks, the theory goes, are now being abolished for good reason. However, collective labor contracts were not «benefits» (in the way «benefits» for serving customers or getting to work on time were). Nor were steady working hours and social security rights. Similarly, the welfare state was not the product of some ill-intended social policy. Many of the demands that are now being revoked for being unsustainable were introduced after a lengthy struggle. They were not given away. Greece and other European states are witnessing a radical social readjustment, supposedly on more mature foundations. However, the methods used aim first at weakening, if not humiliating, society. Part of this plan is to break society up into units that will show little willingness to protect the collective interest because they won’t feel any sense of belonging, there will be no sense of «us.» Collective contracts are giving way to in-house labor agreements. The next step will be individual agreements. We are witnessing a paradigm shift. It concerns the way in which the individual participates in the whole. The end result threatens to be a society made up of scattered cells, with nothing to protect, nothing to care about other than basic survival.