The great opportunity of Greek liberalism
The great Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, when speaking about the intellectual heritage of the Greeks, said that “the battle of ideas is a Greek invention. It is one of the most important inventions of all time. In essence, the ability to fight with words instead of swords is the basis of our culture and especially of all legal and parliamentary institutions.”
For every liberal citizen, the current situation in Greece is a glorious field for great victories – or for defeats. Greeks seem to be ready, after decades, to accept and to claim policies that increase economic freedom. They demand fewer taxes, a smaller and more efficient state, a fair legal system that ensures equality. And while both in Europe and America, right-wing and left-wing populism is impressively flourishing.
The average Greek is today much more suspicious than just a decade ago. SYRIZA’s radicalism lost its revolutionary glory with the signing of the memorandums and the era of the cubists. The cutbacks in government spending and the reduction of civil servants that has been achieved in recent years has caused a critical blow to the “Greek dream”, the position in the public sector that protects against the possibility of firing or evaluation.
Today’s battle of ideas is free from many of the barriers faced by previous generations of liberals. In 2018, communism is only applied in Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea. And even there it has failed, resulting in hunger, impoverishment and oppression. The most radical leftists, such as Sanders in the US or Corbin in England, have admitted that the centralized design of the economy belongs in the past. In essence, what they are claiming is to redistribute a larger piece of the pie to the weak – without being very interested in how they will do that.
But this opportunistic weakness of the ideological opponents of liberalism is not enough to win the battle of ideas. History teaches us that they will come back stronger. That is why the formulation of a positive vision that replaces the ghosts of the past is the prerequisite for any positive development.
Luckily, we liberals still have an arsenal filled with scientific, empirical and moral arguments. The economic freedom index shows without a doubt that people who live in economically freer countries are richer, happier, healthier and more educated than those living in countries that apply one of the infinite variations of socialism.
As far as Greece is concerned, the upcoming 200th anniversary of Independence, gives us even more opportunities to highlight the role of liberal ideas in the birth of the Hellenic Republic. And at this juncture, the convergence of the center, center-left, and center-right parties in a much more liberal direction leaves space for the persuasive addressing of the liberal message to large parts of Greek society.
The idea that the best moment for the revival of liberalism in Greece is in front of our eyes may seem unrealistic, but that is what the data shows. KEFiM is already fighting this battle – are you with us?