The eternal deficit of trust
Whenever the sewage of scandal bubbles up to the surface, those who see this as a weapon with which to destroy their rivals are overjoyed, while those exposed by the revelations claim either that they are victims of conspiracy or are no worse than those who preceded them. Most of us, having learned to trust no one, will believe what we want to believe. The more naïve will hope that maybe this time the situation will be cleared up in such a way that it will deter further corruption. This, however, can happen only when all involved – institutions, politicians, the news media and citizens – are prepared to break the vicious cycle of corruption and cynicism.
Greece has made great leaps since 1821. But it could have achieved much more, with much less pain and blood, if its leaders were less enthusiastic in their age-old efforts to destroy each other. Impressive, too, is how easily the protagonists of history have provided each other with the excuses and the weapons with which to maintain this fratricidal mania.
Today’s revelations and allegations as to how members of the former government intended to harm their political rivals follow their cynical attempt to besmirch the names of prominent politicians and state functionaries (including former prime ministers), in the Novartis case. Now, accused of having manipulated state services and institutions while in power, they claim to be victims of such mechanisms.
There have been countless such stories in our history, as Greece grew and prospered through wars, catastrophes, triumphs and scandals. Today, though, the country faces such a constellation of dangerous challenges that we cannot afford to waste strength on domestic division.
The truth must be uncovered swiftly with regard to the Novartis case and the latest allegations of blackmail and the illicit use of state services. This will demand the flawless workings of the relevant institutions, the government and politicians in general, as well as news media that are serious and fair. (A tall order, all this.) Because if it appears that in this case, too, the priority of those in power is to undermine their rivals and not to achieve transparency and reinforce democracy, it will confirm the public’s cynicism that “they are all the same.”
Beyond revealing the truth and punishing the guilty, what is most necessary is to get citizens to trust the state – something that has not been achieved in centuries.