If this is democracy

One of the greatest books penned by Italian writer Primo Levi, a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, is titled ?If this is a Man? — if, in other words, man is a cold-blooded beast who does not hesitate to exterminate (also with the help of science) fellow men, simply because they happen to be members of a different race — a supposedly despicable race.

Developments in Greece over the past year-and-a-half oblige us to adapt the title so that it reflects what we are enduring over here: ?If this is democracy.? That is our question, our angst and concern.

We are no longer dealing with a democracy that has lost much of its meaning, stewarded as it is by a class of self-legitimated career politicians and unaccountable power centers. An entire country has turned into a province of an economic rather than political empire which, in turn, is held ransom to several investment firms and rating agencies with monstrous power and greedy aspirations.

A captive of captives, Greece is twice a captive: blackmailed, manipulated, discredited and humiliated. The speed is absurd at which reassurances that the fifth instalment ?is a done deal? gave place to warnings that the fifth instalment ?is in the air? or that it will not be released and we shall go bankrupt, but also from the intimidating ?the midterm fiscal plan is a condition for more aid? to the more positive ?of course, it is not a precondition.?

Even the best-informed citizens are having trouble making sense of the conflicting reports. Seeing that the political system is not moved by the popular protests — despite their intensity, duration and spontaneity — people are overwhelmed by a sense of futility. The same feeling consumes those deputies who don?t see their conscience as some gift bestowed by a hegemon and his acolytes.

Some deputies are protesting. If there were a funerary inscription for our bankrupt democracy, it would be the statement made recently by a PASOK MP: ?We took some decisions about the midterm fiscal plan; Evangelos Venizelos took them to the troika but they rejected them. If the troika wants to rule this place, let them rule it. But I have no reason to be in Parliament.? A shorter one would be George Papandreou?s statement in Parliament in reference to the pressure from troika officials: ?Enough already!?

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