Robert lewis Stevenson once said…

The price we have to pay for money is sometimes liberty!

But what if we run out of money? On this, the famous Scotch writer, we may say, answers with the core idea of his most circulated story; “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”. Hence, coming back to the current Greek tragedy, Stevenson’s paradigm demonstrates the probability of the existence of a parallel personality within the mind of the average modern Greek who seems, in many respects, to react with the mentality of slave. In other words, the “slave’s” mind may somewhere hide a rebel who is about to wake. No doubt a bizarre calmness is present around Acropolis these days, but nobody can tell whether these conditions are sustainable or not. The system and its men are holding their breath and are desperately praying for the “sanity” of Dr Jekyll which will forbid the dangerous Mr Hyde to surface. For years an expensive prescription was being effectively implemented on the subject but it seems we reached a stage where drugs are not affordable any more.

But what did the prescription consist of? Marx used to say that religion is the opium of the people. However, in Greece’s case a different, yet older and more effective, method was used; “bribery”. Jenny Marx is rumoured to have claimed that she wished her dear Karl had spent more time acquiring capital instead of merely writing about it. Sometimes, I think that if Jenny’s grievances had been efficiently dealt the world would have earned one less nagging housewife on the one hand and a completely different twentieth century on the other. Unfortunately, from a feminist perspective, Karl devoted himself to historical materialism and refused to waste his time in any futile attempt to get richer, for money, as history has repeatedly shown my friends, corrupts. 

Money is indeed a very peculiar case; especially when its purchase is unjustified. And wealth without work is, according to Gandi, one of the seven blunders of the world. But alas, who can deny the sweetness of sinning and who can refuse that the method is well tested. For this reason, a few days after Mubarak’s downfall the Saudi King rushed to increase the amount of the benefits that his state attributes to its citizens. In short, he estimated that the price of the freedom of his citizens had reached a higher level in the wake of the Arab Spring. And because I want to be fair, it seems that his assessment has been valid, at least for the time being. The prescription is working and all we need to understand is why. My working hypothesis, which complies with Stevenson’s rationale, is that chains made of gold are harder to get rid of, let alone break.

Sometimes the price of the redemption is so high that liberty’s loss seems beneficial. For instance think a bit over the Saudi Kingdom itself. The latter exists and functions mainly due to a bilateral agreement between the House of Saud and the US. In short, the treaty demands the Americans to guarantee the rule of the dynasty so long as the latter allows the former to effectively control the kingdom’s oil resources. Hence, in the light of the aforementioned agreement we reached a state where the Saudi princes acquired immense personal wealth. In this respect, a few decades ago one of them had to travel the US because his small boy suffered from a rare disease and needed a special treatment. So, when this prince saw the White House he felt sorry for the American President because in his eyes he was so …poor. Despite its “poor” state however, the American leadership had persuaded the Saudi royalties to place almost all of their deposits in US based banks. This is how money manages to benumb consciences and this is how those with the best assets, knowledge and expertise are to found to work for the Dark Side of the Force. This is why scores of “reputable” Greek politicians are willing to barter our independence … for a number of loans. This is why some of us are not as reluctant as they should to sell their souls. And this is Raichenbach’s* greatest bet. The bet to build a “privileged” class around him, a class which will function like a defensive line against the rest; those hit by the austerity. This new Elite will be, more or less, the equivalent of Havana’s high class during the era of Batista.

Regardless of the plans and the numbers of those who are willing to compromise and those who are not the fate of the Greek issue rests on the bizarre “geopolitics” of the domestic arena. Change needs nothing but a few determined tens of thousands in the wider area of the capital. If this number is gathered and if this group finds a way to coordinate then a new era can be inaugurated. Perhaps you wonder about the rest, the silent majority. The silent majority even if it condemns extreme means and solutions, will probably stay silent and compromise with the new order. This is the case and this is always has been the case everywhere. If you do not believe me, just try to see what happened to the loyalists of Qadhafi, of Ben Ali and Mubarak. They simply vanished. This is why regimes’ followers are so unimportant for History. However, the “regime” in Greece has not yet fallen. Will it finally fall? Maybe, or maybe our romantic dreams collapse first. I do not know. Yet, I suspect that we will find out soon.

* German official who was recently appointed by the EU to “supervise progress of reforms”, effectively a proconsul. 

See you again (hopefully) next week

Robert Louis Stevenson

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