End of an era

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

We are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the real end of an era in a way that is un­re­lated to rul­ing SYRIZA and po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments. A po­lit­i­cal sys­tem that gov­erned the coun­try for decades is col­laps­ing. The rea­sons are bi­o­log­i­cal and eco­nomic, among many oth­ers. The debt cri­sis and the events that fol­lowed dealt a death blow to the sta­tus quo and noth­ing will be like it was be­fore any­more. The old par­ties have either dis­ap­peared or are in the process of grad­u­ally do­ing so, and the rest of the sys­tem is start­ing to come down af­ter them as it has been too slug­gish to sur­vive the changes. It was per­fectly clear who was run­ning the coun­try 10, 20 or 30 years ago. When a politi­cian or state em­ployee heard that “X wants so and so done,” it would be done. X could have been a pub­lisher, a busi­ness­man or a banker. The coun­try was run by an ex­clu­sive club that had its own rules and sen­si­tive bal­ance of power. At some point, how­ever, the club started to grow by tak­ing in no small num­ber of thugs and bot­tom feed­ers who wanted a piece of the ac­tion. Af­ter a while, no one could re­mem­ber the rules any­more be­cause they had been flouted again and again by the brasher mem­bers of the club. To­day, this club is fin­ished. Some of its mem- bers have died, oth­ers went bank­rupt and oth­ers still are be­hind bars. The peo­ple were al­ways more or less aware of what was go­ing on be­hind the scenes but didn’t re­ally care as long as their stan­dard of liv­ing was re­tained at a high level – al­beit ar­ti­fi­cially. When the bare min­i­mum stan­dard of liv­ing could no longer be en­sured, the cur­tains fell and the club was ex­posed. To be fair, a lot of good was also done in those 40-odd years since the end of the dic­ta­tor­ship. Greece to­day is noth­ing like it was in 1975, in any re­spect. Given the pos­i­tive changes, now is the time for a restart. Money and power al­ways change hands ev­ery half-cen­tury or so and the case here is no dif­fer­ent. I can men­tion quite a few names that would have meant a lot 50 years ago and now are noth­ing more than street names. That’s healthy. The big ques­tion, how­ever, is what or who will re­place the dead club and what the rules will be. In a coun­try where the in­sti­tu­tions are dys­func­tional and every­thing is more or less in a state of chaos, the risk of all this money and power fall­ing into dan­ger­ous hands is more than ap­par­ent. We should be wary of com­ing to the point when we pine for the old club just be­cause we’re ter­ri­fied of the new one.

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