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November 14, 2019
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The tide of anger

Golden Dawn might be out of Parliament and its leaders in the dock, but no one should believe that our society has been freed of the danger of bigotry and violence.

The greatest defeats don’t always come in the greatest battle; they may come gradually, with successive, small defeats, until suddenly the whole battlefield is under the enemy’s boot. In our country, the battlefield is the space of civilized political exchange, of democracy; its enemies are those who see this rivalry as a demand to destroy the enemy.

Close to 200 years after the start of the Greek War of Independence and we have still not harnessed our national energy to the service of the greatest national priority – survival and prosperity.

If the times were not so dangerous, with our region and the world in a state of flux, if Greece had no hopes of succeeding, these thoughts would have no meaning: On the one hand, they would be hyperbole and misplaced (after all, despite endless divisions Greece has come so far); on the other, if the war was already lost there would be no reason to hope that a change of mentality would be of any benefit. And yet, we continue to undermine ourselves. There are capable people in many parties but they are overshadowed by the loudmouths.

In the streets, on the airwaves and in social networks, threats and violence (verbal and physical) set the tone.

Most citizens hope for stability, for cooperation and progress. Our public debate, though, aims not at solutions but at eliminating or humiliating our rivals. Of course, we ought to be concerned about migration, about Turkey, about erratic America and sleepwalking Europe, about the exodus of our youth and our demographic decline. But we also ought to hope that with the crisis ending, we have the resources to improve our lot.

However, when the main parties reproduce the vocabulary and behaviors of the past, they themselves crush the space between them – and anyone who advocates consensus and cooperation.

When the sole target is political domination, then the most extreme citizens take things to extremes, believing that they have the right to replace political and judicial power, that only they can express what the nation ought to want.

Whether through “anarchists” who beat up a student or through “fascists” who knife an immigrant, the tide of anger reaches everywhere. The only possible solution would be from above – from responsible political leaders setting a good example, placing the interests of the nation above their own.

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