A botched facelift


Katerina Papacosta, a former conservative minister, recently attacked ruling SYRIZA during a speech in Parliament saying, “you are not serious, you are irresponsible, get over your leftist delusions.” She sounded different on Friday. This time speaking as minister of a SYRIZA-led government and not as a member of the political opposition, Papacosta emphasized that political labels such as left-wing, right-wing and centrist were now “misleading.” Papacosta added that as deputy minister of citizens’ protection, she will work for Greece and all Greeks.

A similar comment came from the lips of Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas who said that, “the end of the bailout programs dictates that we do not necessarily have to disagree over the future with those with whom we disagreed over the past.”

Groucho Marx famously said, “those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.” His quote is always timely but in this particular case it is also outdated, because the subtle irony and humor smack against a thick wall of amorality. Sarcasm is not the way to deal with the reality we live in. Our politicians do not have a permanent political shape. Instead they adapt their ideas depending on political convenience and expedience. So the question is how does their changeability impact on our politics, on our society, on the way we think and live?

Meanwhile, our politicians have to manage their botched political facelift. This can take many forms: Some have to edit inconvenient details (involving their previous tenure in rival political parties) out of their CVs. Others tend to reduce their political credo to a “love-of-the-country” logic. In some cases, their being catapulted into power – without any reasonable justification – is advertised as “giving an opportunity to fresh faces,” and so on. The only problem is that, as so many cabinet reshuffles have shown, “fresh” is usually understood as endless transfiguration, until every recognizable feature is erased.

All this horse-trading is perceived by citizens as further evidence of the government’s advanced decline. Society tends to react to such hypocritical transformations and ideological masquerades in two ways: Voters either turn their back on the political system at large and snub the election process or they vote for nasty, extremist parties in a bid to punish the system. The question is not which of the alternatives is worse. In fact, the “worst” is already in front of us – and it is still in a state of transformation.