New page in an old book

There is much talk these days about «new prospects,» «new momentum,» «a new climate,» «a new page in history» and similar rhetorical flourishes. One would be wrong to assume that this is being said on the occasion of the new year, that this is no more than typical New Year’s wishes. The novelty does not refer to the succession of the new year over the old but to the succession of political leaders. And those who speak of what is coming, those who spread the conviction that «the game is beginning all over again and that everything will turn out well,» are the ministers, deputies and senior party cadres who have had no trouble switching sides and professing their devotion to George Papandreou. Those whose memory is not held ransom to self-interest, however, will still be able to see that those who now cheer the new state of affairs are the same people who used to rave about the old one. Those who assert that Papandreou now turns a new page in the history of the nation (note that they always refer to the «history,» the «nation» and similar heavy sounding concepts, like noise-factories seeking to fill a vacuum) are the same individuals who lashed out at any talk of impending leadership change as conspiratorial speculation while, at the same time, putting on the same fake smiles to utter unabashedly flattering words in praise of Costas Simitis as «PASOK’s most important card» and as «Greece’s best statesman after Eleftherios Venizelos.» Similarly, the intellectuals and artists who would rally around the outgoing premier are now mulling his mediocrity. A new page, then, in an old – very old – book: the book of personality cults, of humble flattery, of short memory, of untempered inconsistency and patronage. A book that has escaped unscathed from every wave of modernization.

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