One of the major mistakes that international and European observers often make in their analyses about Greece is that they focus way too much on the problem rather than the roots of it. The nature of these roots is much more political rather than an economic one. For example we have heard many a time about the necessity for Greece to go forward with the structural reforms, put its fiscal house in order and correct the imbalances of its completely dysfunctional economic system. As many of these recommendations, though, have to do about what must be changed in the field of the economy, a most significant matter is neglected that all seem not to want to speak about. And “it’s not about the economy, stupid.” But it is about the “dictatorship of the elites” that Greece has been suffering from for the last three decades or more. In my view, this is the core reason of the very difficult situation that the country is in today. Moreover, this is also the reason of why I am rather pessimistic that there is space for Greece to get back on track sometime in the near future as long as these elites keep ruling the country.
The grievous time that Greece is currently experiencing, is not only the outcome of the free falling economy, the shutting down of thousands of medium and smaller local companies, or the humiliation of more than one million Greeks begging for a job. This is the one side of the coin. The other —even more threatening for the internal political and social stability — side is the “status quo” under which the country is ruled. It is what I call “the dictatorship of Greek elites” in politics, media and economy that has retained, for many decades so far, the power in their hands. Of course this is not a phenomenon occurring for the first time in the history of modern civilization and, for sure, Greece is not the only example of how few “oligarchs” struggle to manipulate a country in favor of their own interests. For those who are not familiar with the Greek reality, I will try to give a clear example of what I mean: What has occurred until today is the function of a nasty vicious circle within which politicians, media and wealthy people supporting each other in the scope of increasing their profits. Their profits though are not necessarily combined with the interests of the vast majority in the society. These are profits being materialized into power in influencing the process of political decision-making, in manipulating the public opinion’s views, in doing business without having the risks of undesirable “constraints” from the state’s surveillance. The role that these elites have played diachronically in Greece has been the reason of why the country was led to bankruptcy. The oxymoron is that these same elites are vowing today to take the country out of the crisis. Can they make it? Greeks don’t think so. Probably not many outside the country either.
Another mistake which is made by many analysts internationally trying to approach the Greek situation is that they usually interpret the social unrest in the country as an opposition — basically against the harsh sequential austerity packages that have been imposed. This is only one side of the truth. The whole truth is that Greeks are protesting against these austerity policies because while wages and pensions are cut, they see “elites” remaining strong and protecting their profits. Their opposition is primarily against these elites’ immorality to preserve their special rights and economic interests while people are forced to accept a wider loss in their income and give up their rights in the labor market. These elites in Greece are the fundamental constrain for the country to go forward and the society to see a light of hope for real change. The systemic alliance among the counterparts of these elites, which drove Greece to the edge of the cliff, does not intend to give up. The “dictatorship of elites” in Greece aspires to retain its privileges deriving from three conditions: the first is the game not to be played within the rule of meritocracy, but the measure of the social class, political power and personal connections that someone must have in order to survive professionally and economically. That’s why most of brighter young minds from Greece, who are not part of this corrupt system, are making the choice to leave the country hunting a better future abroad. The second is the media to remain corrupted and dependent from the government as the way to ensure their financing from the banking system and to gain a kind of “asylum” for any economic illegality. So, the media has a reason to need the government as much as the government needs the media to propagandize its message. The third is politics to continue being something like a members-only club where people, who are favored by the two other parts of elites (media and wealthy), can have access.
The “dictatorship of elites” suffocates Greeks by taking the oxygen they need to build on ruins. But the point is that international lenders of Greece seem to pay no attention to that. Probably because they believe that it is not their business. This is absolutely wrong though. It is their business if they honestly want Greece to meet the basic standards for a country to be perceived as a culturally progressive, socially liberal and politically radical European counterpart. As I belong in the new generation of Greeks, I have no appreciation for how the so-called Troika is approaching the Greek crisis. What they have succeeded to do until today is to make these “elites” stronger and their “dictatorship” even more oppressive for Greeks. In order for Greece to stand up again, it should find a way to escape from the regime of political corruption, media propaganda and immunity for wealthy. As long as this doesn’t happen, the so called “pseudo-democracy” in the country will lead Greeks to find a “refuge” in extremism, as it is demonstrated in the increasing electorate rates of the extremist Golden Dawn party and a tension of a general conservatism wave that is ready to charge at the society.
Originally posted on huffingtonpost.com