The si­lence and the lambs

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY PAN­TELIS BOUKALAS

The day that the beast of pop­ulism grows sav­age in Greece, its politi­cians, aca­demics and jour­nal­ists will be look­ing for some­where to hide. It’s not the first time that a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion has given rise to such a re­sponse – only this time the price will be greater. For weeks now, all sorts of pun­dits have been parad­ing on Greece’s tele­vi­sion chan­nels, mak­ing ab­surd as­ser­tions such as that “we could can­cel our en­tire debt overnight, if we wanted to, and noth­ing bad would hap­pen,” or “we could get cheap loans from China or Rus­sia,” or, “even if we did not sign a new mem­o­ran­dum, our len­ders would not al­low Greece to de­clare bank­ruptcy be­cause they would be wor­ried about the con­se­quences of do­ing so.” It’s the same peo­ple who have been mak­ing a fuss about the vis­its here by for­eign in­spec­tors (who are try­ing to help the debt-rid­den coun­try sort out its messy fi­nances) with cries against the “for­eign oc­cu­pa­tion” and the “loss of na­tional sovereignty.” Sadly, there are no sober crit­ics out there who are ca­pa­ble or will­ing to take on the non­sen­si­cal and self-de­struc­tive men­ace. PASOK politi- cians are duck­ing the hard stuff; their con­ser­va­tive coun­ter­parts are afraid they will be ac­cused of be­ing quis­lings; the wise-minded in­tel­lec­tu­als keep mum in the face of the com­ing disas­ter. All that makes sense in a way. Amid an orgy of pop­ulism, they will be ac­cused of be­ing “ne­olib­eral” or “sell­outs.” It takes guts to stand your ground. But no one will be spared should disas­ter strike. The coun­try’s pseudo-elite is partly re­spon­si­ble for the cur­rent mess, be­cause they never took the time to take on the bank­rupt politi­cians who oc­cupy the air­waves. Sadly, we hap­pen to be in crit­i­cal times with­out guid­ance from a po­lit­i­cal or in­tel­lec­tual elite. If Eleft­he­rios Venize­los were around to­day, he would most likely speak along the fol­low­ing lines: “Peo­ple have ev­ery right to be frus­trated about cer­tain is­sues; but the in­ter­est of the nation dic­tates that we do this or that.” Peo­ple have no re­spect for politi­cians who mum­ble ex­cuses and hes­i­tate to make a de­ci­sion. The other day, a friend gave me a sticker that said: “What do you call a cock that is afraid of the rain? A chicken.” It should be on ev­ery politi­cian’s desk.

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