Although it would be premature to draw a balanced and objective conclusion about his legacy, Christos Lambrakis certainly played a defining role in Greek history for almost half a century.
Lambrakis opened up new paths in the local media world. He nurtured two generations of Greek artists and literary figures. Ta Nea and To Vima, two historic papers, hosted leading columnists who introduced new trends and perceptions to a Greece that was cut off from the West.
Many wonder if things would be different in Greece today if Lambrakis were still around. The truth is he had a unique way of restoring balance in the behind-the-scenes system of political and business entanglement that occasionally spun out of control.
That said, it would be an illusion to believe that Lambrakis of the 1980s or 1990s would play a hegemonic role today. Today’s landscape is radically different. It is anarchic, multipolar and really much rougher. The days when a leading publisher or big shot could just pick up the phone and get things done are over.
I have often wondered if Lambrakis knew exactly what was going on around him. It’s hard to know if his peculiarly naive stance vis-a-vis the world was genuine or an ostentatious denial of reality. Few people knew the answer, and most of them are now dead.
More striking is the fact that he left everything, including his legacy, up in the air. DOL, the media giant he created, is not the only one having problems today. Similar problems are dogging the Athens Concert Hall, famiarly known as the Megaron, which thanks to the toleration and support from across the political spectrum turned into a pharaonic and now-endangered project. One cannot be sure if his disregard was a result of narcissism – the idea that many charismatic people have, that without them there can only be chaos.
These lines are written as a fin-de-siecle feeling is taking over the sector. If you spend a moment tomorrow morning to check a website hosting the front pages of Greek newspapers, you will realize how much is really at stake. There is a strong tone of decadence, and, regardless of one’s political views, a healthy media is key to a country’s well-being.
The healthy parts of this tradition continue, even if that means in a different version, and far from the sins of the past. The world needs something to offset the tsunami of extremism, absurdity and cheapness.