Dear friends and subscribers all over the world.
Be forewarned that this commentary may make you sad.
That is not, of course, my intention. My purpose is twofold: to do my duty and to shake up, as far as possible, the stagnant waters of the Hellenic homeland’s political life.
Listen, they still are not telling the truth to the nation. They say, even now, only what serves the interests of commercial oligarchy and the ruling political class.
However, truth is not only a debt owed the people by the politicians. It is a debt also – if not the reason for being – of the Press.
It is almost certain that Greece is approaching the perfect storm of simultaneous political instability and deep economic crisis, which, if it happens, will lead inevitably to an uncontrollable situation.
The main reason that prevents politicians from taking preemptive action is their limited understanding of the existing and developing ideas and policies inside, but mainly outside of Greece, and the incredible control they exercise over the media.
The majority of the political class continues to live – it is most vexing – as they have done, that is, fighting for their positions, as if the country has not become impoverished, as if unemployment has not reached 27.4 percent, as if there have not been more suicides; as if -sadly but truthfully- the country is not fighting for its future.
I had a tough week in Athens. It was so difficult that I decided not to write any commentaries before I completed my round of contacts and got a clearer picture and allow my thoughts to settle.
I departed from New York fully aware of what was going on there but with a faint hope that the situation in Athens would be better than what I encountered a few months ago. Unfortunately, it is worse.
One grasps this as soon landing at Eleftherios Venizelos airport. It is a surreal experience: An airport with almost no planes or passengers.
A little further, on the road to Athens, the smell hits you: the smell of wood burning in fireplaces, a cloud of smoke. Even in the city center, heating oil is dispensed with an eye dropper. The cold was brutal.
It is a picture of a country in tatters.
“The people next door,” those who lived in comfort, are now the new poor. Unemployment and taxes have crushed them. Gone. The middle class is gone.
What will support economic development and Democracy in the absence of a middle class, in a country with a few rich people and many poor?
Few politicians – the few young and uncorrupted – are fighting for progress, doing whatever they can.
As for corruption? Have no doubts: It reigns supreme. Even now!
It’s The Perfect Political Storm – a lack of governance amid economic crisis.
It is coming, probably in May, if not sooner – when local European Parliament and municipal elections will be held. Southern Europe will send a message of despair to Brussels, the same one that will be sent by Greek Society to the Prime Minister’s mansion.
Contrary to what the frequently rigged opinion polls indicate, the groups with the momentum are the parties of protest: SYRIZA and Golden Dawn.
I would not be surprised if they came in first and second, respectively. Not because Greeks trust them or agree with them – make no mistake about that – they don’t. They will do it out of anger, to punish those they believe are to blame for the crisis, hurting themselves in the end.
But if the gap between the party that comes in first and the New Democracy is substantial, as many believe will be the case, then what will happen?
If this happens, won’t the economy collapse completely, won’t Greece’s lenders have the opportunity throw up their hands? Shouldn’t the political and business leaders be making arrangements to prevent this from happening?
Europe was once the Greek dream: a bloc of affluent countries where smart, energetic Greeks could prosper, live in an advanced democratic state, and have its territorial integrity protected.
But they were unable to take advantage of the great opportunity that was given them to prepare for entry into the Eurozone. Tens of billions of euros were wasted.
Now the dream of Europe has turned into a nightmare. The few voices that have raised the issue of withdrawal from the Eurozone – as SYRIZA did the other day – have been reviled.
But it is a conversation that needs to take place, and it must be honest, analytical, and of substance. The people must know the costs and the benefits of staying or leaving the euro, and only on that basis should decisions be made.