Global developments are happening at lightning speed, while Greece continues to try and get the numbers to add up and faithfully implement the destructive and highly irrational economic program imposed by its foreign creditors, whose top priority was always to secure their own interests at the expense of the people of Greece. In this sense, so long as the European Union continues to follow a “survival of the fittest” policy and Germany remains fixated on implementing a policy of economic occupation to serve its hegemonic desires, the governments of smaller EU member-states may be able to improve isolated issues, but will likely be unable to tackle the heart of the problem alone.
The EU’s problems do not end with the unprecedented economic suffocation of Greece. Great Britain’s penchant for a Brexit, the ever-rising tide of euroskepticism in Italy, France, and the northern EU states gives the impression of a structure that is crumbling.
The phenomena associated with a disintegrating EU are a sign of bad things to come, however, it is likely that smaller southern European nations like Greece will likely be unable to proactively shape the future events without a strong coalition and show of solidarity – something that has been sorely lacking since the establishment of the eurozone. Therefore, if we are to accept that the EU’s southern tier will react to developments rather than influence them so long as the current balance of power remains, we must turn our attention to the area of local governance in order to discover the hidden potential that can change things for the better “from the ground up.”
Besides, Hellenism’s natural and favored administrative approach has traditionally been based on local communities. These small and flexible administrative units allowed for the showcasing and capitalization of the qualities located atop Hellenism’s hierarchy of needs, which were shaped by its cultural otherness. Furthermore, personal relations and individual politicians’ ability to exercise their duties based on the degree of their aptitude allow local society to base its voting preferences on empirical knowledge, free of partisan blinders.
In the recent municipal elections, voters in Greece rejected certain candidates who were officially endorsed by party heads and instead elected “mavericks” – something extremely hard to do in Parliamentary elections – because they were able to overcome the limitations of personal ideological prejudice and act in accordance with the best interests of their local communities. This is truly an achievement for a nation that has experienced destructive divisiveness due to partisanship, and continues to remain susceptible to it.
However, the institution of a new political ethos does not end at the ballot box. Local government officials are now called to continue this dynamic during their tenure in what is likely the most genuine and free democratic expression of Greece’s polity today. Local communities still possess the ability to experience Hellenism as a cultural proposal, a feat of personal and social relations, a unique hierarchy of needs that enters into dialogue with the world. Via small-scale communal administration, elements of Hellenism’s acclaimed ability for self-governance, which allowed the Greek people to survive all sorts of hardships over the centuries, defend themselves against occupying forces, and flourish despite the quantitative superiority of their opponents can once again be rediscovered.
Even today, within the framework of an EU that cynically favors the exploitation of its weaker member-states by the stronger ones, which has evolved into an instrument of German hegemony, which leaves its borders exposed to military and geopolitical pressures exercised by outside forces (i.e., Turkey), which has abolished the fundamental concept of national sovereignty through the establishment of debt colonies, which unashamedly admits to implementing double-standards in its practices (compare Germany’s non-recognition war reparations it owes to Greece to the draconian terms of Greece’s bailout), there is still room to develop socially beneficial (thus nationally favorable) policies. There is an opportunity for local administrations to innovate, overcome ankyloses of the past, exercise social pressure on the central government (i.e., the rejection of the Prespes Deal), to strengthen popular movements, and play a leading role in reforms and changes that can serve as a roadmap for national reforms through their successful implementation locally.
These feats can be achieved in the traditional stadium of communal self-governance, allowing politics to once again take on metaphysical qualities. Within the framework of a global model of ‘limited national sovereignty’ for weaker states, today’s revolutions and leaps of freedom for greater self-governance can be achieved at the local level.
This month, the governors, mayors, and other local administrators elected in May assume office. Let us wish them good luck in their important task, which hides a wealth of untapped potential and is at least as important as the role of the central government. At the same time, let us consider the dynamic that local administration can play in shaping the Hellenic Communities of the Diaspora. There is a pressing need for reforms and changes that can likely only come from within our collective bodies – just as they always have.
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