I agree whole-heartedly with the latter assessment: common folk in Greece were never really given a real chance by their ruling class. Not since the Euro — and not really before, however far one goes back in modern Greek history. Common folk moved their bodies to Northern countries in the time of guest-workers, worked incredibly hard there, built up a tremendous reputation for themselves, sent the money back to Greece and contributed to the rise in living standards of their families. Parallel to that, the ruling class moved the money back to the North and used it to enjoy a quality of life which one doesn’t see so quickly elsewhere.
Not since my time in Argentina have I seen a nation where the ruling class did so little for the country, their own country, which offered them a wonderful lifestyle.
Perhaps one change has occured: in the “good old times”, the ruling class may have been a limited group of oligarch-type families and in later years it became, at least financially, a relatively large sector of the country which Petros Markaris calls the “Profiteers and the Molochs”.
Personally, I still think – at least I would like to think – that common folk are still the majority, albeit a majority without real and/or effective representation in the democratic process.
Interestingly, when I am in Greece (and that is about half the year), it seems like I only run into common folk (admittedly, I am never in glittery Athens). I know the other folk primarily through what one reads and hears in the media about them.
There is a theory (i. e. “How nations fail”) which says that the dominance of a ruling class with its corrupt ways as in Greece is almost impossible to change. Certainly not when the country is a sovereign country on its own.
From that standpoint, Greece has the advantage of being part of a union which, despite having its own ruling classes, does not culturally support the kind of ruling class which exists in Greece. Thus, I continue to hope that, one day, common folk in Greece see the light and strike alliances with that union to help them change and/or get rid of their despicable ruling class.
This is not a matter of saying “we don’t belong to the West; we belong to Greeks!” Instead, it’s a matter of asking what type of a society do we want to be and who can help us get there?