The infamous hoax email from an “employee of a major Greek bank" which announced that the country would declare bankruptcy on 25 March [which is Greek National Day and also the date for the next European Council meeting] and reintroduce the drachma, has added to the worries of a society was already stricken by doubts.

The viral effect of this email on Internet-illiterates and ignoramuses, who are always ready for a fresh "explanation" of the mysteries of the universe, sparked panic withdrawals from banks. That said, it is important to bear in mind that the public at large has been well primed to accept apocalyptic messages: according to a recent poll from the Public Issue agency, insecurity and pessimism have reached record levels in Greece.

Nine out of ten Greeks believe that they are under threat, eight out of ten believe their country is headed in the wrong direction, and seven out of ten are convinced that their situation will continue to worsen. Feelings like these have contributed to widespread sentiment that the country is in free fall among a population that is struggling to cope with an extraordinary weight of inertia.

A huge increase in public debate

This is particularly visible in the public sector, where services have been frozen or suspended: because they are no longer oriented by political leaders, or because they have no more resources, or because rank and file workers are terrified they will be audited. And this inertia is also clearly present in a government where the initial impression of progress prompted by the application of austerity measures has now evaporated, and the implementation of even the most necessary decisions requires enormous amounts of faith and energy — two qualities that are sadly lacking.

Not only are we experiencing a crisis of leadership, but we are also undergoing a crisis of identity. In a few years, the ruling elite will no longer exist in its current form. Many well known political figures are about to disappear from public life, and many of those who survive will be indelibly associated with the chaotic times we have been forced to endure.

Many people have answered the call to collectively respond to the situation. Not only have we seen a wide variety of demonstrations, but there has also been a huge increase in public debate in collectives and non-profit groups, newspapers and corporate blogs. However, the mentality of the young generation, which has been cowed by the grim outlook in the country, is increasingly marked by the individualism of the 1990s and early noughties.

National market remains obsessed by an imported neo-liberalism

The 20-40 age group, which is a precious labour resource, is neglected and underestimated. And with the exception of a few representatives from powerful families, the current political elite has excluded the new generation from the decision making process. Social mobility, which reached a highpoint in the 1980s and 1990s, has entered a period of drastic decline, and this has had a major negative impact in politics and public administration where fixers and the rule of nepotism continue to prevail.

It has also affected the business environment: the small national market remains obsessed by an imported neo-liberalism, which ignores the innate character of the Mediterranean economy (which is at its best in small companies and small scale-administration). And the results of this neglect can clearly be seen in the form of cartels and corruption, a privatised state and the destruction of low-income classes.

The overwhelming majority of young Greeks who are now entering the working world at a time when the outlook is increasingly grim are highly educated, and even more importantly, much more cosmopolitan than their forebears. This is a generation that has grown up with globalisation and the Internet, and it is the most precious resource that our aging, immoral and low birth-rate society possesses.

Greece now has to contend with a political vacuum

But these young people have been excluded and undervalued. Our country is not counting on them to bring about a renaissance, because the current system has no interest in reviving the country or even in the survival of its people. It has nothing to say to the members of this generation, which it studiously ignores to the point where they have been sacrificed.

Middle class parents, who scrimped and saved to raise children on whom they have lavished so much love, are powerless to change a situation in which they can defend neither themselves or their children from the miserable society that they tolerated or actively created. And so, we are confronted with a dramatic paradox in which Greece is being forced to sacrifice its children to atone for the sins of a superfluous elite. How is the young generation supposed to cope with such conditions?

The terrible truth is that our government has neither the will nor the strength to address this issue. Greece now has to contend with a political vacuum created by a lack of self-esteem and a complete absence of social cohesion — two mutually reinforcing phenomena — which just like the economy before it will shortly implode. And in the pain and the ruins left by this implosion, a new Greece will emerge. It will be a country with the necessary self-esteem, social mobility, and hope to achieve the one common goal that every society needs to attain: to survive without sacrificing freedom.