There is a long tradition in this country that has come at an incredible cost. It is one in which people who are deemed “disagreeable” are taunted and mocked when they dare to express a heretical view on a matter of significance.
This has happened in the past with academics like John Spraos, former ministers Stefanos Manos and Tassos Yiannitsis and many others.
If the views of all these people had been heeded, then Greece could have probably avoided bankruptcy.
When the late Constantinos Mitsotakis, as a former premier, intervened in the public debate to raise the alarm about the danger of the country’s fiscal derailment, he too found himself on the receiving end of sarcasm and mockery.
“Here he goes again…” was the usual monotonous rebuttal by some critics. But Mitsotakis did not relent because he believed that, as a former premier, he had the obligation to intervene, express an opinion and raise the alarm when we, carelessly, embarked on the road to disaster.
The reason why I write this is the recent attack against former prime minister Costas Simitis over his article in Kathimerini.
I disagree with Simitis on many things and it also annoys me that he has never spoken about the extensive corruption during his time in office.
He is, however, a man that examines matters in depth, has huge experience, and is someone whose views any serious society would like to hear.
He was, perhaps, the only politician that warned we would end up resorting to the International Monetary Fund long before the accident occurred.
One may disagree with the substance of his remarks in the article or consider it utterly mistaken, under the current circumstances, to negotiate with Ankara. But it is an opinion that one must listen to and discuss without resorting to insults and accusations of treachery.
When discussions take place this way, they only reinforce the truly extremist voices and obscure the facts.
We have reached a point where people who know an issue well and are surely not traitors or neoliberal vultures daren’t express their opinion.
I remember an old-style leftist friend of mine who said, referring to a politician that he disliked intensely: “You don’t have to believe him all the time or agree with him. You must listen to what he has to say to you.”