A Useful and Interesting Artticle by Apostolos Doxiadis

Please stop patronising us Greeks
I'm sick of economists casting us as poor dupes tricked by the EU's inner circle. Greece made its own problems  

The Greek debt crisis has given rise to a new stock character in Athens: the All-seeing Public Economist (APE). The APE claims to exactly understand our predicament, present and future, and he counsels the hoi polloi with a degree of certainty unmatched since the days of the blind seer, Tiresias (I use the gendered pronoun intentionally: for some reason – possibly because men are more prone to intellectual hubris than women – almost every APE is a "he").
Economics is purportedly the key to the wisdom of the APE. Thus, whenever he addresses a mass meeting in Constitution Square, appears on a TV panel or pontificates from a newspaper, he refers to knowledge that goes over the audience's heads. Kindly, he explains it: "What is really happening is (insert diagnosis) and what the government/Greece/EU/IMF/banks (take your pick) should do is (insert therapy)."
Our APEs don't agree on everything, yet under their rhetoric runs a basic narrative, often unstated. This goes like this: Greece is a country of the "periphery", whose essential nature is to be poor but honest (the blend of fashionable social science, metaphysics and archaic moralism is not mine, but the narrative's). The present crisis is a symptom of our exploitation by the European "centre", whose essential nature is to be rich and exploitative (ditto). We poor Greeks were duped into entering the EU and adopting the euro, the narrative continues. The cunning centre gave us grants for our honest labour as the conquistadors gave beads to native Americans in exchange for gold. Eventually, we were sucked dry: but the centre's greed is boundless, and now they want to gain more through usury and, if bad comes to worse, political domination. The latter is the continuation of war by other means, you see, as EU technocrats are really the modern reincarnation of the Wehrmacht, and the Greek government their lackeys, the modern quislings.
Well, we didn't need the debt crisis to learn that impending doom – Greeks have been living for over a year with a default hanging over their heads – creates a perfect market for charlatans. In days of old, they read palms or sold charms. Today, they interpret figures.
Quackery disguised as science can have a destructive effect on a country already deep in trouble, on a people profoundly misguided by the populist rhetoric of most of their politicians. I am Greek, I love my country, and furthermore I live here, with my family, and work here – unlike many APEs, incidentally, who pontificate on what's best for the country safely cooped up in universities of their despised "centre".
If this piece sounds angry, it's because I find the APEs' premises offendingly patronising, treating Greeks as immature children who don't know any better, ultimately irresponsible for their acts and their faults, who must demonise others rather than understand themselves.
Unlike the APEs, but like most Greeks I know, I believe that we are more responsible for our troubles than any evil Other. Like most Greeks – who suffer from it – I know that the heart of our problem is a huge, parasitic and inefficient public sector, which EU funds, unwisely and often corruptly distributed by our politicians over the past two decades, made even bigger and less productive.
I therefore find the narrative of the APEs not liberating, but enslaving, to our worst self: for it essentially condones the pathology that created the crisis, by making the minority of the population, and the majority of the politicians, who are responsible for it, representative of Greeks. They are not. The great majority of Greeks are hard-working people, eager to take responsibility for their future, against the paranoid narrative of our silly, yet now potentially so dangerous, latter-day prophets of xenophobia and provincialism.
The Greeks have a word for their natural cultural and political environment: Europe. We must give our best to stay inside it.

*Written by Apostolos Doxiadis, published at guardian.co.uk, 22.06.2011 /Του Απόστολου Δοξιάδη, δημοσιεύθηκε στο guardian.co.uk, 22.06.2011

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