OPINION

The ventriloquists

the-ventriloquists

So many people seem to have reached breaking point, slammed physically and mentally by exhaustion. The pressure on the people of a country that is bankrupt on so many different levels is calculable in megatons; more so because whatever light may be shimmering at the end of the tunnel is constantly being blocked out by toxic and torpid forces.

Singer-songwriter Dionysis Savvopoulos summed up this prevalent sense of burnout nicely in recent comments on the behavior of the government and certain prominent leftist ministers. “It all casts a pall on my spirit,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like we’ve been out of the memorandum for the past six months. People are struggling… We are being governed by Andreas Papandreou ventriloquists; by people imitating him,” he added, referring to the former socialist prime minister.

Ventriloquists tend not to be held accountable for their words, which leaves them free to say what they like, even as the audience can see the real person behind the persona. It is a tricky act – somewhat old-hat of course – that requires a good deal of practice and vocal exercises, yet it doesn’t entertain or awe as it once did. Nevertheless, it persists and appears in different forms, often pointing to a dichotomy between what the doll says and what the handler believes. This may be a sign of talent in the world of show business, but in politics it spells disaster. 

This divergence between stated and true intentions, between rhetoric and action, seen so prevalently on today’s political stage, is largely responsible for this accumulated sense of exhaustion. It makes a mountain out of every molehill, skewing our perceptions. Such instances come so fast and thick, moreover, that they add to the noise, the confusion, the anger and the frustration, but also the scope of error. And every reaction to every such incident becomes just a little more over-the-top and vulgar than the last. Being the worst has become a competition, a race to launch the most vitriolic barb possible in 280 characters. It is addictive and relentless, plowing through whatever resistance may appear in its way. And no one is looking at the consequences, just the number of “likes” each fresh barb attracts.

These sundry ventriloquists on the Greek political stage are making hypocrisy OK, they are making tatters of the rule book and constantly drawing new material to back their positions from the bottom of the barrel. Political survival is all this band of performers wants – it is the element that unites the ventriloquists and the bear handlers. And to hell with the fact that they’re driving the country to its knees.