House of mirrors

Thursday’s parliamentary debate regarding who should be investigated over the handling of the Lagarde list was like an incomplete summary of public life in Greece: There was plenty of confusion, fear, aggression, pettiness, misunderstandings, sloppiness and endless gabbing and arguing.

Millions of Greeks watched their elected representatives faffing about on live TV with a process that had been tailored to their will and constructed to protect their interests, diverting the people’s attention from what is most important, from the real issues at hand.

The process was so convoluted that many Greeks failed to even understand how the vote was carried out. Many were enraged by the spectacle that unfolded on their screens and many, many more were simply saddened by it all. Some, I guess, may have at some point thought that this image of Parliament is a mirror image of our entire society, that it is a house of mirrors in which society is distorted and only partially represented, yet true nonetheless.

What they saw on their televisions was a group of people, some bright, others know-alls, slandering each other, refusing to listen to the arguments of others, blind to the risks that lie ahead and smugly self-satisfied with their clever rejoinders. It is too mediocre a Parliament, one tending toward inferiority even, to represent a society that has been leveled by the crisis, that lives in fear, that has no identity, no ambition and no objective, that has no plan and nothing to show for its efforts.

Are our deputies us? Yes and no. Yes, we elected them by picking them out from the choices presented to us. We elected them on their proclamations and our own expectations, projecting in each vote a collective desire and an individual fear. We certainly did not elect them for that pathetic mess we saw on Thursday night. And no, because the people who do the voting are not the same as the people they vote for. The people they vote for have fallen short of expectations and have invariably failed to rise to the occasion, even though Parliament has been greatly rejuvenated recently.

That rejuvenation, however, has not really turned the House around yet; it has not gone deep enough, because a real rebirth, a radical shift, entails tearing down the old system completely, without mercy or fear. And this old system seems to be holding on still. The elite that brought the system into decline continues to hold the keys and the memory sticks, to control the secret passageways and to smugly recreate itself. The future seem to hold nothing but drought among ruins.