OPINION

Self-criticism

Addressing the Socialist party’s election candidates yesterday, new PASOK leader George Papandreou refrained from making any substantial self-criticism. The chairman-in-waiting was reduced to some vague and cost-free self-critical comments. Driven by the realization that he himself shares some of the responsibility for the deeds of the outgoing Socialist government, he made an attempt to distance himself. However, self-criticism, in order to be sincere and productive, must be specific; it must refer to a specific issue or a mistake, it must analyze the causes of this mistake and name the responsible individuals. Simply saying «We made a mistake» is not enough. Papandreou ought to explain the errors that have been committed, the reasons why they were made, and their consequences. Mistakes are neither coincidental nor metaphysical. PASOK’s mistakes during its lengthy rule were an outgrowth of the party’s character, its populism and its inconsistency. Should it win the coming elections, PASOK is bound to make the same mistakes – or worse. Papandreou yesterday said that he will change his party, that it needs a new structure, that he wants to introduce participatory democracy into the party, that he wants citizens to act according to moral principles. One would be tempted to think that Papandreou was merely jesting. One of the main charges against PASOK is the corruption and immorality of its cadres. Papandreou should first try to deal with these allegations, to name those responsible and then try to change his party. It should not come as a surprise that Papandreou refrained from making a sincere criticism of his party. The leadership change inside PASOK is the product of agreement and exchange – not of critical engagement which would lead to frank and creative self-criticism. Being self-critical without engaging in critical confrontation is like trying to make an omelet without breaking any eggs. Unfortunately, Papandreou needs the consent of everyone, including the corrupt officials. And one more thing: Papandreou should stop identifying PASOK with the «Democratic Party» (Parataxi, something broader than the party). PASOK suffers from a serious democratic deficit and this does not only concern its internal functioning but, most crucially, its manner of governance, establishment mentality and identification of party and State. PASOK should first take a good look at itself.