A cursed country, maybe not too far away from this one
A few days ago a friend of mine painted a picture of a deeply troubled country. According to him, what is visible to the naked eye is a far cry from what goes on in the shadowy wings of politics. The power certainly does not lie with the people or the media, as some like to believe because decisions and laws are made by a small group of politicians, ministers and deputies acting outside the limits of the hierarchy. Political deals are reached with the help of middlemen who do business under the corruption radar. Amendments and circulars are wonderfully tailor-made to suit specific private interests, the kind of manipulation that even a trained legal eye is unable to detect. The most sensitive state services – legal, operational and supervisory – have been hijacked by private interests, which treat them along the lines of outsourcing. Even crucial decisions such as those regarding national security, for instance, are made following consultation not among government officials but instead, among these power clusters that act outside the institutional framework. When the “bosses” disagree or the stakes starts getting high – it’s all part of the game – the stability of the system is shaken. Often, there will be collateral damage as well. No outsider, no matter how street smart and powerful they may be, would dare enter this country and try their luck by investing their money. This is because they know only too well that they would have to bribe their way into the economy. Hearing my friend describing that cursed country felt like I was reading a novel. I asked him if the routine is ever disrupted by shock events that help clear up the system, at least for a little while. His answer was devastating. Sure, he said, some spectacular development will take place every now and then. The price is usually paid by the unsuspecting amateurs who are trying to play according to the rules. Or by players who take it too far and threaten the stability of the system. Sometimes, a habitual outlaw may even stumble upon a conscientious employee who is not a part of the system. However, those who know the ropes and have a mighty army behind them have nothing to fear and they are certainly immune to political changeovers, left-wing or right-wing governments. “I have never seen anything like it before,” my friend said, even though his work had taken him to some extremely difficult countries. “What can I say? I just hope Greece does not end up like that,” I replied.