Old and new morality

George Papandreou’s promise of «full participatory democracy» is a charming one. So is his claim that he will be elected PASOK chairman according to «direct democracy» procedures while he already behaves like an absolute, self-annointed despot. However, it would be wiser if he and his party first made a sincere effort to consolidate the parliamentary democracy already in place. The rushed introduction of fast-food logic and morals into Parliament not only signifies disregard of the institution, it is a clear attempt to undermine it. And undermining an existing institution is not compensated for by demagogic references to a «full» or «participatory» democracy that lies in the future – what is more, a future that will never come. Papandreou’s much-hyped, albeit abstract pledge of a «new morality» is also charming. However, it would be a mistake to snub the old one. Besides, nothing new and good can flourish unless it is rooted in what is already worthwhile. Were the old moral principles followed, were they not scoffed at by cynics, they would ensure that no government official reserved the right to declassify forestland (what is more, in his own constituency) and table tailor-made bills that ceded it to private individuals. The old morality would also oblige deputies to read documents before signing them. Politicians reserve the right to say whatever they please when campaigning without giving it due consideration. When in Parliament, however, they are supposed to be drawing up legislation – acting on behalf of the people and not as frivolous friends or allies of the various ministers. In light of recent developments, who can assure us that the new morality will be better than the old one?

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