Resilience: a virtue inherent to Greek society?

by Antonis D. Papagiannidis

As one more annus horribilis nears its end – think again: 2022 has seen the Russian invasion to Ukraine bring again war, real war, to the European continent; it has brought back “the West vs the Rest” challenge, it has witnessed the return of inflation to the very first line of concerns; it has caused expensive energy to nestle in Europe’s production model further aggravating the cost of transition to zero-carbon – everybody is taking stock trying to peer into the future. [2023 is the Year of the Rabbit for the Chinese Zodiac. 2022 was the Year of the Tiger. As for 2024, buckle up!, It is the Year of the Dragon].

For the Greek economy and society battered by successive waves, with the most recent one (the worse corona pandemic wave) flowing into the unrelenting pressure from the earlier debt crisis, geopolitical worries resulting from the never-ending Greek-Turkish disputes are amplified by internal frictions due to Government eavesdropping that brought renewed bitterness to political infighting. All of which bides ill for the successive encounters of Greeks with the ballot box in the months to come: if we are adopt in one thing, then this is going to elections.

If all of this sounds somehow ominous, especially so since all and sundry call for political stability but then diligently undermine it, may we advise for an encouraging sign to be day from under all that uncertainty. Resilience.

Resilience in the economy, where the rebound from the lows reached under the pandemic has been stronger – at around 6% for the whole of 2022 – than in most Euro-area countries; where the dire unemployment situation reached in the mid-2010s is being steadily reversed; where private consumption remains buoyant notwithstanding its erosion due to inflation.

Resilience in social attitudes, where tensions and rumbles and tussles in the political arena have not managed to install deep social divisions – the likes of which are not unknown in modern Greek history. Disunity may well be a defining element of our politics ever since Greek antiquity and political forces may find it easier to resort to angry wrangling and verbal abuse rather than to produce policies. But a measure of weariness seems to weigh on latter-day behaviours, helping for resilience to surface.