THE BLOG
08/15/2015 07:33 am ET Updated Aug 15, 2016

The End of Magical Thinking

LOUISA GOULIAMAKI via Getty Images

Deliverance or calamity, recession-oriented or development-oriented, the "best possible agreement," or the "worst of them all," the new agreement between Athens and its creditors still has an uncertain fate and even more uncertain consequences. In any case, however, it marks the definite end of an era.

Let's call it the era of magical thinking.

A term that is used mainly by anthropologists and psychologists, Sartre gave it the best definition: When people indulge in a strong desire or feeling to convince us that something is true, while logic maintains the opposite. It's as if we "banish" reality or believe in magical, unseen forces that will change reality based on our desires. It marks a certain phase of the life of the individual and an era in human civilization. But it can be revived in our individual or collective behavior. Or in the political discourse.

We have experienced just such an impressive revival. We succumbed to magical thinking when we believed that we could write off our debt without penalty, that we could, with some difficult trickery, of the kind that they do in the West Indies and at the Zappeion, reduce deficits without austerity, that with our vote alone we would change the whole of Europe, that we could stick out our tongue at the Eurozone, without jeopardizing our participation in it, when Alexis said he would make a proposal to Merkel that she wouldn't able to refuse, or when Yanis tried to convince him that if we ran out of negotiating time, we would breach payments and introduce a fancy, virtual currency in our transactions, the world would fall on its knees offering us gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

We lived through it; it ended on July 12; the agreement confirms the end of an era. We are now experiencing an era of "coming of age," where we know that desires do not shape reality, that fantasy does not have power, that we are obligated to make choices, each of which has consequences.

We can choose the agreement with the Eurozone, which will cost us another three years of economic control by the Troika--or whatever we want to call it. We can choose a rupture with the Eurozone, fully aware of the consequences, which include the pain of a violent return to the national currency, something that the supporters of this option do not conceal.

It is already a gain that the weighing of these choices is taking place free of magical thinking, with the rational weighing of their consequences. It will be an even bigger gain if the truly difficult and important choices, which we are postponing and avoiding, now come to the fore. If the state, which failed, will fundamentally change or not. And if the change will occur with a democratic, progressive character or not. If the production model, which for two decades now has been maintained only with loans and only produces debt, will change or continue to be maintained as is to the detriment of the weaker members of society. And if this change will occur on the basis of social justice or not.

History is not over. Politics has not been "homogenized" because yet another party, yet another Prime minister, has been obliged to reconcile himself with the unavoidable. The clashes on the political stage, in new forms, with new dividing lines, new subjects, which will surely emerge from this crisis, will not be fewer or less intense. But we hope they will be more rational and realistic, more productive, and the dividing lines will be defined in pragmatic terms. Not in terms of "favoring" or "opposing" the Memorandum of Understanding, but in terms of progressive or conservative, right or left.

Even if the agreement is the worst possible agreement, this political coming of age--if it comes about--will be a gain. But I will stop here, lest I mistake my wishes for reality, and thereby become yet another victim of magical thinking myself.

This blog post originally appeared on HuffPost Greece and has been translated from Greek.