The end of plenty, the European way of life and Greece

The end of plenty, the European way of life and Greece
The end of plenty, the European way of life and Greece

“THE DAYS OF PLENTY ARE OVER for France (and Europe),” Emmanuel Macron stressed in a dramatic rebuke to his cabinet last week and while gas prices have risen tenfold in the past six months, adding that his ministers would do well not to sell illusions to the people, thus making a clear cut to the populist opposition and those who mislead the citizens.

In the midst of our own public debate, which has been limited to the case of telephone surveillance, we probably ignored an admission that politicians rarely make in public and which may signal the beginning of a new era especially for our continent. An admission that ultimately conceals others, unacknowledged.

Assumption one: Europe has ceased to be the financial center of the world since the 70s. Germany and England (which is no longer part of the EU after all) may still be internationally competitive in industry or services, but they are not enough on their own to restore the Old Continent to the dominant position it once held globally. In fact, it came to be so dependent on Russia for energy, that after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine it found itself essentially being blackmailed by a paranoid dictator, strongly pressured by the international economic crisis that followed (high inflation, recession, rising interest rates from the ECB, huge problems in the supply chain, etc.). After all, the crisis directly affected the German economy, which is considered the steam engine of the EU. and until now it had not been affected by the euro crisis of the previous decade.

Therefore, Europe may lose further places in the global competition against the USA, China, India and other emerging and more dynamic economies of the planet. The material standard of living of Europeans as we knew it should no longer be taken for granted.

So what will be the “key” for the future? The robust and stable pro-Western (pro-European and anti-NATO) leaderships, the great prudence in the management of the budgets, the further modernization of the state and the armoring of its defense, the respect of public institutions and the building of consensus of the political system around the major challenges that we face as a country and as an EU

Second assumption: The Ukrainian also revealed the military nakedness of the European states. With NATO having lost much of its raison d’être before the outbreak of war, the E.U. it maintained the illusion that once military conflicts on that continent were an irrevocable past, there was no point in investing in defense. What else could threaten us other than some Islamist-lone wolf who occasionally rioted with his paranoia in some European capital? Nothing else. This is how the geopolitical importance of the European continent was downgraded in the late pax americana period.

Practical Russian revisionism that tends to challenge the entire post-Cold War balance in the wider region has made it clear that the almost 80-year peace after World War II was just a rare historical break in the perennial expansionist tendency of states, but this finding is not enough: the Europe remains dependent on the US in this matter, as it has neither a serious European army nor a unified foreign policy. And all this while realizing rather belatedly that it has a medieval-style imperial power facing it, whose militarism and investment in military power is not yet certain how exactly it can be countered by the soft power of the European democracies.

Assumption three: Even worse, the Ukrainian crisis also affects our already tested democracies on a political level. The economic problem and the geopolitical instability that arose gave the opportunity to re-strengthen the forces of populism and reaction, far-left and far-right, which we had seen undermine stability in the euro crisis and the pandemic. If we add to this the possibility of Russian propaganda to insidiously and fraudulently infiltrate the institutions and the public (especially the digital) sphere of our democracies in order to cultivate conspiracy, irrationality, division and toxicity, the scene that is set up may, if things continue to develop badly, challenge the democratic, economic and Westernist foundations of the European edifice as a whole.

We have seen it recently in the governmental instability that characterizes France, Italy, partly also Finland (through the impeachment of its young prime minister for purely ridiculous reasons), which has even experienced a heavy past due to its long-term leadership by Moscow (Finlinization) . And so, while objectively we are living in the period of the greatest expansion of rights and freedoms in the history of mankind, the disillusionment of a part of society with democracy is increasing.

Fourth and final assumption: The era of generalized risk-taking and successive crises produces high degrees of social insecurity and therefore an inability to invest in the future ‒ this is perhaps the most pessimistic finding. Because the entire Enlightenment narrative of progress was based on the assumption that the future will always be better than the present and that social mobility will, for younger generations, be steadily upward. It is the first time since the Crash of ’29 that this has been questioned anywhere in the West.

And Greece? It is quite paradoxical, but the historical cycle that the country is going through is in a way the opposite of the rest of the European states. After overcoming the severe recession and the accompanying wave of populism for a decade, it has experienced in recent years significant growth, strengthening its international political position, improving its infrastructure, digitizing its state (to the extent that it has become a model for the rest of Europe) and political stability.

However, it could not de facto avoid the exogenous crises that hit it, such as the pandemic, the instrumentalization of immigration by the Erdogan regime, Turkish revisionism and, belatedly, the energy crisis. Hence, public opinion prioritizes exactly these as the country’s major problems, in the reverse order.

Thus, despite its rather impressive recovery, the end of the era of abundance and reckless waste of natural, material and, I would add, human resources (which migrated during the bankruptcy period) applies and must apply to Greece as well, a in any case, a small country that is not meant to live as a European exception. Especially since undermining its stability is the wishful thinking of both Turkey and Russia at this time.

So what will be the “key” for the future? The robust and stable pro-Western (pro-European and anti-NATO) leaderships, the great prudence in the management of the budgets, the further modernization of the state and the armoring of its defense, the respect of public institutions and the building of consensus of the political system around the major challenges that we face as a country and as an EU

Continental Europe may not define the destinies of the world as it did in the colonial era, and be squeezed by war, but it remains the best place to live today, especially if you belong to the middle and lower classes, i.e. 90% of the population. What we all Europeans are called to defend is not only a model of material life. This would have to be adapted anyway due to climate change and the pandemics that will hit us often from now on. Even less rich, what we have to defend ‒ freedom, democracy and the Western way of life ‒ is worth the utmost sacrifice. Because, as Thucydides writes in the “Epitaph”, bliss is freedom, and freedom is nothing but the courage to face your enemies.

The article is in Greek

Tags: plenty European life Greece

PREV Relations between Israel and Turkey continue to “warm up”.
NEXT Iran: Outrage over the death of 23-year-old Hadis Najafi with six bullets