OPINION

Inappropriate names for inappropriate decisions

Those who habitually accuse the politico-governmental system of inconsistency must admit that it has been very consistent in at least one field: that of giving names to its projects. Thanks to the inexhaustible source of ancient Greek heritage, we can give praise to even the slightest product of our thoughts and actions by giving it a heavyweight name.

Two new names were recently added to a well-known list which already included Xenocrates and Hephaestus, for instance: Athena is the honorary name given to the umpteenth re-overhaul of the education system, while Thetis is used as an euphemism for the “cleansing” operations being carried out in downtown Athens, where, in view of the spring tourism season, drug addicts are being treated like trash in a violent collection of garbage.

Ever since the operation of picking up illegal immigrants – which goes against a double heritage of hospitality, both ancient and Christian – was cynically dubbed Xenios Zeus, it was only logical for the name of wise Athena to be given to the educational reform project, even though there is nothing wise here in terms of its provisions and choices. This, mind you, is not the position adopted by the usual naysayers alone. It is also being highlighted by some of those supporting the government, officially co-governing, on the one hand, and by the under-reform academic society itself, ranging from professors to students, on the other.

Courtesy of all the deep planning, we are witnessing the biblical saying about “the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing” takes on a brand-new meaning. Given the obvious differences between PASOK and the Democratic Left, we can now say that the right doesn’t know what the center-left or left is doing. And given the differences of opinion and responsibility between the education minister and his deputy, the point that the right hand doesn’t know what its own right hand it doing is equally justified. The latter is not necessarily a bad thing. At a closer inspection, this is proof of the consistency of governmental behavior: inconsistency with regard to the insufficient study of problems and a lack of coordination between those in charge.

While the establishment of university units across Greece was haphazard, their eradication is equally haphazard, with numbers reigning supreme over words. The humanities, for instance, are being treated as an unnecessary counterproductive luxury.

A third marked characteristic of the Greek state is its partisan and parochial approach – geographical nepotism. While the streamlining is supposedly about saving money, according to the University of Athens’s History and Archaeological departments, all classical literature departments are witnessing cuts, with the exception of that of the University of the Peloponnese. Go figure.