zaterdag 4 juli 2015

Greece and Democracy

It might well be: that Greece simply does not fit into the European Union.

Of course it belongs there because it is a European country and even the cradle of European civilization. And because we like the Greeks to share in our prosperity.

But it is a serious question whether all that is reason enough for membership of the EU. It could well be that minimal levels of polity, taxation and anti-corruption appear to be non-negotiable minimum requirements which must be met in any case. And Greece fails that test.

The reason that Ireland, Spain and Portugal have been more successful in finding their way out of the economic crisis probably lies in that they better meet those minimum requirements. Because these elements were present in their culture and mentality already for some time.

As long as these – indeed technocratic – conditions are not met, a democratic system can not function properly. At least, it can destroy more than you want. The democratic election of Tsipras and then the actions of his government might very well turn out to be a catastrophe.

In that case the functioning of the current Greek democracy (“one hundred thousand civil servants  extra!”) will confirm the dislike that almost all ancient Greek thinkers, including Plato and Aristotle, had for the democratic form of government. Which they accused of being too fickle, too prone to follow the issues of the day – with the risk that emotions prevail over well-thought out decision-making and that too little attention is given to the long term.

The great ancient Greek thinkers were not aware of the above conditions. They did not know that, when they are met, democracy is quite possible and viable. I am afraid that today’s Greeks still do not know.

Also see Where do universal values bring us?