The lux­ury of divi­sion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS KON­STAN­DARAS

As time passes and we re­al­ize just how deep a hole we are in, we un­der­stand how dif­fi­cult it will be for us to es­cape. This time we do not have a com­mon en­emy unit­ing us, so we will have to over­come our own selves. It is we who have to agree with each other if we will ac­cept the pro­posed so­lu­tions, it is we who must en­dure the sac­ri­fice and strug­gle with­out fall­ing apart. How­ever much some may try to present our predica­ment within the fa­mil­iar frame­work “us good guys against the bad­dies on the other side,” the truth is that this time we are all in the same boat. We have all been cheated be­cause we are the ones who have to pay the bill for decades of mis­man­age­ment; we all have the same aim, to set our coun­try on new foun­da­tions that will keep any­thing good that we have to­day and com­bine it with the best that we can do from now on. How­ever, when we ob­serve the be­hav­ior of our politi­cians, our trade union­ists and many plain cit­i­zens we get the im­pres­sion that we are at war with each other – that ei­ther this gov­ern­ment or the pre­vi­ous one is to blame for ev­ery­thing, that one group is against an­other, as are civil ser­vants and busi­ness­men and so on. This men­tal­ity was clearly ev­i­dent at the re­cent meet­ing of po­lit­i­cal party lead­ers un­der Pres­i­dent Karo­los Papou­lias. Faced with the dan­ger of our not be­ing able to meet the de­mands of our cred­i­tors in or­der to re­ceive the fifth tranche of our loan, the pres­i­dent called for na­tional con­sen­sus. What he got was each leader tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to show that his party was bet­ter than the oth­ers. And our cred­i­tors, who wanted the op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy party to sup­port the PASOK gov­ern­ment, are now re­duced to hop­ing that PASOK it­self will not fall apart be­cause of dis­agree­ments over the mea­sures that must be taken to meet the short­fall of rev­enues in 2011 and for midterm re­forms. Through­out Greek his­tory we have seen that when we deal with a com­mon en­emy, and we have a leader who in­spires and unites us, we can achieve the im­pos­si­ble. Our great­est tri­umphs in­volved ty­ing our in­ter­ests to those or more pow­er­ful al­lies. When the en­emy is gone, how­ever, we fall out with each other un­til one group tri­umphs over the other. And we do our best to ex­ploit our for­eign al­lies against each other. Count­less tragedies were born of our di­vi­sions and we have still not learned to avoid them. Now we have al­lies but we can’t agree to use them for our com­mon good. So, as ND leader An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras per­sists in be­ing the anti-mem­o­ran­dum pole, and Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou pledges to carry on alone in his ef­fort to reach agree­ment with our cred­i­tors, and while the grow­ing crowds ques­tion the le­git­i­macy of our whole po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, all the con­cerns over the need for con­sen­sus are fo­cused on the rul­ing party it­self… Whether Pa­pan­dreou is at fault for keep­ing his deputies in the dark over the ma­jor de­ci­sions that must be taken, or whether party of­fi­cers are not keen on know­ing what he plans, it is un­be­liev­able that even gov­ern­ment mem­bers feel they can af­ford the lux­ury of dis­agree­ing with each other. When they act like this, how will they per­suade the cit­i­zens of the need for harsh aus­ter­ity mea­sures? When both the con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion and the whole of the left wing are op­posed to the cur­rent course, how will peo­ple be en­cour­aged to be­lieve that their sac­ri­fices will lead to sal­va­tion? Very few peo­ple ap­pear to un­der­stand that there re­ally is no dilemma, so there is no real rea­son for divi­sion. No party wants us to leave the euro, no one can be­lieve that our econ­omy and so­ci­ety will sur­vive if we stop pay­ing our cred­i­tors, no politi­cian can af­ford to ig­nore the peo­ple’s anger or try to ex­ploit it with­out of­fer­ing hope for the fu­ture. So why all the shout­ing? Un­less some peo­ple be­lieve that the col­lapse of our so­ci­ety will ben­e­fit the cit­i­zens. If they be­lieve that, let them say so.

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