No self-criticism


In the delta of vested interests and corruption, a marshland where triangular relationships rule the roost, democracy could never lead a life without peril. This is where democracy ends up shrinking and sinking; where it is held to ransom and manipulated. This is where its constitutions and laws end up nothing more than empty, fragile shells. Greece is not the only example; it is not a unique, condemnable case in a righteous world. On the contrary. For decades, it has been sharing the same concerns not only with countries in the semi-autocratic category but also with European states that boastfully present themselves as paradigms of lofty political moral standards, where, supposedly, only legal and institutional powers have a say.

Among those countries is Germany, of course, which never misses a chance to project itself as a beacon of innocence, while acting as one of the biggest exporters of corruption through its industrial giants.

Meanwhile, debates on corruption such as the one that took place in Greek Parliament Monday, very rarely operate in an enlightening, let alone therapeutic manner. There were no great expectations from the process. This is hardly surprising given that, to begin with, half of the ammunition was spent on arguing over which leader dragged the other to the House – and this days before the debate even started. Secondly, we all know that the race for the catchiest punchline never comprises clear, responsible and creative political dialogue. Punchlines, verbal tricks and witticisms – mere rhetorical fireworks – have little to do with solid, articulated discourse.

Should we perhaps seek solace in the fact that as far as the seriousness of the debate and the morals of blame-slinging go we have absolutely nothing to envy when we compare ourselves to the US election battle? Sure, but it’s not enough. The fact that there’s worse out there is no consolation. Clashes that take place for the sole purpose of earning a few triumphant headlines on the 9 o’clock news or in tomorrow’s paper, or a lead in flash opinion polls the day after, serve no purpose. Besides, each side has already designated the victor well before the fight begins: This is an old flaw in our political system, not to mention our media.  

Vested interests embody the denial of a constitutionally defined political system – of democracy. They eat away at democracy’s roots and neutralize the notion of egalitarianism. Last night there were plenty of accusations, leaving no room for responsible self-criticism. Without the latter, however, political leaders never really answer to the people. On the gray map of the country, designed by those doing the talking, citizens with a good memory are able to recognize each politician’s portion of responsibility. The point, however, would be for those delivering the rhetoric to recognize it as well.