Permanently stuck at an event horizon

on . Posted in English texts

The notion of a black hole’s event horizon, the point at which light cannot escape the intense gravitational pull, has long inspired awe among physicists. Although no man has ever been able to observe one from up close, virtually all scientists agree that the laws of the universe do not apply in black holes, or maybe even fold in on themselves.

No big deal. In Greece, we are permanently stuck at an event horizon. People stage annual rallies against violence which entail violent acts. Also, the idea that the problems caused by a mammoth deficit can be solved by even greater public spending became the dominant credo. And, as a letter to the editor once said, “only in Greece: 1) does competition lead to a rise in prices, while restricting competition leads to a reduction in prices; 2) is smoking a public good and non-smokers are obliged to smoke passively or bouzouki joints and other establishments will go out of business; 3) the education system exists to employ teachers, not to educate; 4) the state exists to give work to civil servants, not to serve citizens; and 5) MPs exist in order to be controlled by the government, not to control it.

There are more cute and perfectly normal convictions that turned Greece into an uneconomical black hole. On this level at least, we have succeeded in applying quantum mechanics to the cosmos. This is why we all deserve a Nobel Prize in Physics.”

The latest development in our domestic event horizon was that the main opposition, a party of “the radical left,” accused the government of being on the far right and, at the same time, of being too defensive on national issues. This may make sense in the overall context of absurdity, given that Greece had a radical leftist-led government whose defense minister, Panos Kammenos, would dress up as a commando and warn our eastern neighbors, “If they have the guts, let them dare challenge one inch of our soil.”

After visiting a bombed-out neighborhood in London during the Blitz in 1941, Winston Churchill said that “the situation is serious but it is not hopeless.” To which an anonymous Irishman is said to have responded: “That’s the difference between us and the English. In Ireland, the situation is always hopeless, but never serious.”

When it comes to Greek-Turkish relations, the situation is not hopeless, but it must be treated seriously. Greece has paid a hefty price for the patriotic thrust of populist politicians – and there’s plenty of them among the Greek right. We don’t need them among the left too.

Published in eKathimerini.com 2.12.2019