I recently saw the much-talked about Super Bowl commercial starring Clint Eastwood. The one where he urges the American people (using a very “American” way of encouragement) to never give up the fight because in every game there’s always a second half. In Greece and in all of Europe we are acting as if the game has been entirely lost. So, the only thing left to do is to unclog the remains of a “happy” world which is sinking. Recently at a posh mall in the northern suburbs of Athens, I saw this “happy world.” The people there shopped in a carefree manner, buying very expensive goods. Five kilometers away from this mall, people with angry faces were walking past empty shops, forced to shut down because of the economic crisis. This is the future – if we want to accept that the game is over.
This is why Greece and all of Europe has the need for a second half. For a new Great Idea, like the Industrial Revolution. Back then, like now, the people found themselves at a crossroads. New social classes in Europe – primarily the middle class – emerged and acquired a new lead role, bringing enormous changes and a new work ethic. Thanks to these deep changes, Europe was able to rise again, even though it attempted to commit suicide twice in the last century by waging two world wars.
We are once again, living in a crossroads where wealth is being transferred from the West to the East. The tired nations of Europe stand before this junction and if they continue to travel separately and adopt the philosophy of “each country should look after its own treasury” then Europe will unavoidably fail. The weaker countries, like Greece, will wander along nightmarish roads and will probably need decades to find their bearings. Only a truly United Europe, which will move past the old ethnic-states, which will invest in new, alternative energy sources and in knowledge and research, in human capital and in culture – only this Europe will be able to create a second half so we can continue to play the game and fight together – Greeks and Italians, Spaniards and Finns. In order to achieve this, besides money, the emergence of certain social groups is necessary – social groups which are currently being marginalized: immigrants, without which the social state is condemned to die; professors and researchers, who today are undervalued; the generation of “flexible work arrangements” which is rich in diplomas and knowledge and instead of being put to creative use, they are left to wallow in despair.
Those in opposition of the changes will rise up: the demagogues, the unionists, the defenders of “jungle capitalism” and along with them fascists and Stalinists. But Europe, like the Greece of the new era, will sooner or later go down in history as the loser, if it doesn’t go up against all those who hate the best of what their culture produces…