Tsipras: Phantasos, Morpheus and Phobetor – all in one

Tsipras: Phantasos, Morpheus and Phobetor – all in one

In his election campaign, Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, looked more like Phantasos, the god of fake dreams full of illusions. After he won the elections on Jan. 25 – and a historic referendum on July 5 – he looked more like Morpheus, the winged god of dreams who could take human form in dreams. These days he rather looks like Phobetor, the personification of nightmares – the ancient figure who created frightening dreams and could take the shape of any animal.  

Dreaming is not always bad. Bob Dylan composed music from his dreams. The planet Uranus was discovered by William Herschel in a dream. Albert Einstein ascribed the theory of relativity to a dream he had as a young boy. And Thomas Edison credited his discovery of electricity to his dreams. Mr. Tsipras, sadly, does not fall into the same category of notable men. If he was not too unintellectual during his “Phantasos” days, he was either too ideology-blind or dishonest to his nation.  

At times when even a Greek cat strolling down the streets in Psirri would sense that there was something fundamentally wrong about the Greek economy, Mr. Tsipras promised that he would ditch austerity and renegotiate bailout with the European heavyweights. He promised to create 300,000 new jobs in the private, public and social sectors. He promised a hefty rise in the minimum wage. There were more rosy pledges in his “Phantasos” days.  

He promised 300,000 households under the poverty line 300 kWh electricity per month and food subsidies. Tax on heating fuel would be scrapped. He would reinstate a bonus payment for pensioners receiving less than 700 euros a month, and free medical care and free medical insurance to the jobless. 

Nice promises. Just like the inherently religious-conservative Turks think of their leaders along the pathetic “Muslims would never steal public money” line, the inherently left-wing Greeks thought that a radical leftist would honor his words and bring the capitalist system to its knees by forcing them into his own terms of bailout. It takes two to tango: An ideology-blind rhetoric always requires an ideology-blind audience. 

Less than half a year after Mr. Tsipras won the elections, many aspects of the third bailout deal he now comes close to sealing with Greece’s lenders are pure humiliation to the Greeks. Ironically, Mr. Tsipras will probably be the world’s first “radical left” leader who has agreed to sell (privatize) his country’s “valuable assets” to the tune of 50 billion euros!  

No matter how the Greek prime minister tries, “just like a mainstream politician, not a radical leftist,” to put an optimistic spin on the planned bailout deal, he has basically pledged to sell off government-owned buildings, land and islands, even, potentially, assets of historical and archaeological value.  

Hopefully, not the Acropolis, for that may trigger civil war in a country where national pride is as powerful a sentiment as leftism. After all, it would not look nice if the man who would “play the drums and the markets would dance to his tune” must dance the tsiftetelli while serving historic sites on a meze platter to his capitalist patrons. 

Just like in the most unexpected, surreal ending in Greek mythology, Mr. Tsipras may be the radical leftist leader who gets tasked with “selling the family jewelry to greedy loan sharks.” The potential bailout deal designed primarily to prevent a Grexit will pile billions more debts on top of the 300 billion euros Greece already owes to its creditors. Billions on top, instead of billions which Mr. Tsipras promised he would write off…

Mr. Tsipras is not an idiot. He may possess several rare ideological and/or personal qualities. But if he was not a dream merchant selling a non-existing product to a crowd that craved it, he was merely too unintellectual not to predict that he would eventually be forced to offer a real, bitter product instead of the too rosy one he promised to deliver.  

Sadly, Mr. Tsipras looks like the modern day reincarnation of Phantasos, Morpheus and Phobetor, all in one man.