The memorial for the fallen that was set up in the grounds of state broadcaster ERT is a precious work of art. It ought to stand for ages, to remind future generations of the works, the style and ethics of those who govern Greece today.
Apart from its sorry aesthetics, the very existence of the memorial makes it a symbol of our time, a time when “victims’” rights hold sway, especially when enjoyed by those who are not victims but like to see themselves as such.
A time when complaints beat creativity, when politics have slipped below even the simplistic yes-no dichotomy to a state where only shades of no apply to anything that infringes on our personal interests. Whoever shouts no loudest claims absolute truth as his own.
The monument is an important symbol for a number of reasons. It is one of the very few things that were planned and executed entirely during the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government. Other projects and actions – like new sections of the national road network, like some reforms – were either already under construction or mandated by creditors.
This government’s most spectacular “achievements” have been mainly in undoing the work of others, most notably in scrapping reforms to higher education.
The new memorial highlights the determination to “exploit” victims (whoever they were, including employees and “supporters” who died during the broadcaster’s shutdown) to reinforce the position of the living. It is the cynical decision to establish a symbol representing the clash between “good” and “evil,” drawing on memories of the civil war and the social and political inequality and injustice that followed.
In this way, the complicated issues pertaining to the state broadcaster are oversimplified. ERT should aspire for objectivity, with the aim of informing citizens in a way that will allow the nation to forge a common course.
Like the previous government’s decision to shut down ERT suddenly, unbridled activism and propaganda deprive citizens of a medium that should unite them. We all pay dues for ERT. The organization, its management and employees should respect citizens’ money and the power with which the broadcaster invests them.
Those in government want the perks of power but also need to maintain the fantasy of being revolutionaries. It is understandable that they should want to keep creating myths so as to justify whatever they do as the result of others’ crimes. They claim victims from the past, they fabricate victims of the present, to hide their responsibilities.
This cost-free victimhood excuses incompetence and justifies brutality. Until the courtyard rings with the hoarse cries of those who anoint themselves victims of even graver injustices, who claim even greater right to the victims of the past.