OPINION

The caravan will move on

For most of the 20th century, the country’s civic life was determined by the right-left split, a conflict that the traditional parties saw as a direct reflection of the social antagonism between big interests and the less prosperous strata of society. The wind of the radical global changes since the late 1980s swept aside these vertical, and largely artificial, dividing lines only to replace them with other horizontal, but no less tense ones. Suddenly, farmers’ union leaders of all incomes and political affiliations are fighting in chorus for what they see as their established right to EU subsidies, not in order to implement the long-needed changes in their crops but, rather, in order to cover for their private needs. In a similar display of ecumenical unanimity, university doctors are blackmailing the public with a long abstention, defending their sacred right of serving Hippocrates and Mammon both at the same time. In the meantime, politicians from both major parties are condemning efforts to destabilize the political system, efforts in which the media are used as the battering ram. This is a fight by the guardians of the old status quo, which is gradually losing ground although it remains still quite strong, against the nascent establishment which has yet to consolidate itself. For decades, big entrepreneurial groups and various small and medium-sized factional interests grew used to reproducing themselves under the wing of the State, draining precious funds from productive forces of society. Now that Greece’s accession to the broader eurozone environment forces everyone out of state protection into free-market competition, it is normal for the established interests to stage a furious battle, as they are unable to say goodbye to the Alexandria they are losing. It is comforting that Prime Minister Costas Simitis, like his British counterpart Tony Blair, courageously said that «conservatism does not have only one color,» but rather involved all the reactionary views which oppose the much-needed modernization. In the same way, it is comforting that New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis admitted that all sorts of political and business entanglement constitute the main national problem; they are «an abscess that has to be lanced.» The political elite must overcome all tribulations and follow Dante’s admonition: «The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.» Their «La Boheme» is a real visual feast, impeccably planned to the last detail and making good use of an enthusiastic and highly talented young cast. (The night I saw it Sabine Passow sang Mimi, Christine Buffle was Musette, Harrie van der Plas was Rodolphe and Michael Kraus was Marcel.)