Denying pluralism

The expression of a different opinion by former conservative Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis from that of New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis over the ongoing dispute between Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios and Archbishop Christodoulos has been described as «torpedoing the neutral line» of the party leader and leading to «Schism inside ND over the church dispute.» Such views have been prompted by similar disagreements inside PASOK or other parties. Certain journalists have some bizarre ideas regarding the freedom of thought and expression. Paradoxically, the negative stance over these rights tends to come from a group of self-styled progressives. According to their view, every political party must hold only one position on every issue. Moreover, that position must be adopted and wholeheartedly backed by all the deputies and cadres of that party. Journalists, intellectuals and all citizens must behave in the same manner. They must always take sides when a controversy arises, however complex the issue may be. The lack of opinion is desertion, an ambiguous opinion is opportunism, lack of interest is immaturity and irresponsibility. The problem with this attitude is that, first, in the case of politicians, it abolishes the constitutional provision that protects the deputies’ right to vote and express their views. Second, it abolishes the pluralism and dialogue that is presupposed by every political position, collective or individual. Third, it disregards the fact that the right to express oneself should be guaranteed, even if the deputy opts to succumb to party discipline or follow the view of the majority. No one has the right to demand that we back or mobilize in the name of a specific position. This is even more the case when the rifts are artificial and – as is often the case recently – the dilemmas are not that vital.