THE NEW GOVERNMENT MEASURES: SLIDING INTO AUTHORITARIANISM

Ενημέρωση στις April 20, 2020

The new measures announced by the government for the restriction of movement constitute as yet another step of sliding toward a police state. After the initial panic that led to spasmodic and inapplicable measures, the government is trying to crush all criticism by spreading fear and threatening to use repressive measures. The main objective of these measures is not to deal with coronavirus but to cover the government’s inability to tackle it.

1. The government’s health policy in the period prior to the pandemic has left public hospitals debilitated and in a condition unable to deal effectively with a crisis such as the present one. Discrediting of doctors and nurses in the public sector and their vilification by the policy makers was part of the plans for the privation of as many as possible health sectors. The attitude of the majority of private health providers during the crisis confirms once again the necessity for an all-round support and adequate funding of public hospitals.

2. The crisis is being used as a big washing machine for launder ing the scandals and deadlocks afflicting the government. With the climate they have created, they have managed to put everything else aside and to focus society’s attention on fear and despair.

3. The justification for the stringent measures with the accusation against the public refusing to comply with the orders is not substantiated by the figures released by the police. Rather, it is only based on circulating rumours for “irresponsible gatherings” or “excursion attitudes” and “barbecues” that make an impression but constitute very few cases, if any at all. This aims to lay the blame on the public for its own weaknesses and to minimise reactions, thereby causing compunction for totally responsible reactions.

4. The insulting treatment of citizens as irresponsible beings, who can be brought to their senses only by imposition and policing will have the exact opposite results. Now is the time to treat people as thinking citizens and to trust that, with correct information, they will behave responsibly. It is impossible to achieve full compliance in either way. The thing is to achieve the maximum possible compliance. And this can only be done by the second way.

5. The imposed measures will deal a severe blow to the economy that will be first experienced by working people and the poorer strata of society. At the same time, there is hardly any substantial support to those who will suffer the consequences. Once again, support is provided to banks, which will continue to demand interest. Suspension of loan instalments is another way for small businesses and micro-professionals to take on more loans, which they will be unable to pay after the crisis. Now is the time to write off a large part of these loans (as an actual sum, not as a percentage, so as to assist micro borrowers more), and especially those of the non-performing loans in order for society to be rid of a carcinoma that consumes it for no reason.

It is important that there be a reaction to the authoritarian mentality of the Presidency. The acceptance of stringent measures of repression while in a state of fear is a dangerous step towards giving way to dictatorial situations. We must not allow the attitudes they impose in the crisis to become a habit and to be treated as a natural social norm.

Aristeri Pteryga
1 April 2020