OPINION

Power, the greatest aphrodisiac

Was Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund who has been accused of sex crimes, a friend of Greece? You have to ask those who have lost their jobs, those who have seen their salaries or pensions decline and those who have seen their rights curtailed.

Is Strauss-Kahn a socialist? You have to ask his comrades in France and Greece who had no problem mingling with him for years at Socialist International meetings along with the other flashy representatives of the socialist movement, including the blood-stained despots of the Arab nations that are now crumbling in the face of popular rebellion.

Will the likely replacement of Strauss-Kahn damage Greece?s interests? The answer appears simple. You simply have to take into account that during the French politician?s tenure and because of the government?s deal with the IMF (better known here as the memorandum), Greece has given up a big chunk of its sovereignty (as George Papandreou, the country?s Socialist premier has himself admitted). Meanwhile, again according to remarks made by Papandreou, this time to an Italian newspaper, the country?s international lenders have demanded islands or monuments as security for bailout loans.

(It is interesting to see that Greeks learn of the most important stuff not from what is being said in Parliament or via nationwide addresses, but through leaks and interviews with foreign news media.)

In a fit of schadenfreude, Strauss-Kahn is already the butt of dirty jokes. People are venting their frustration; it?s a sort of mini-revenge that lifts us from our collective depression, as it were. That, of course, does not leave enough space for scrutinizing the accusations or speculation that the former finance minister has, in fact, been set up.

Whether Strauss-Kahn is innocent or guilty will be decided in court. In any case, the temptations that come with power — i.e. wealth or sexual domination — have often proved irresistible. This Berlusconism, as it were, a shameless, possessive, misguided libertinism, is best embodied, of course, in Silvio Berlusconi himself (during a recent campaign rally in Naples, the Italian prime minister once again reveled in sexist jokes that many women among his audience, it must be said, seemed to cherish) — but the ?heroes? of Berlusconism can be seen in different times and places. Israel?s former President Moshe Katsav was recently sentenced to seven years in jail for rape and other sex offenses. He too acted in line with the age-old and universal dogma that power is the greatest aphrodisiac of all, or it has no reason to exist.