The age of contempt

The autonomous Zoniana village offers an extreme picture of lawlessness and violence as a spectacle: a kitsch mix of wild gangs, Asterix and Zorba the Greek. The Zoniana reality show has all the colorful traits – what legend deems to be courageous or cunning – without any of the risk, sacrifice, sincerity, despair or verve. The Zoniana reality is a Pulp Fiction. Violence takes an aesthetic twist, its malevolent motives disguised. Greed, the individualism of the gunman and tribally based society are heroized. It’s an extreme show, but not an isolated one. It says a lot about the generalized tendency toward lawlessness and disregard for public space. Our daily discourse is full of mafia references: the fuel mafia, the rubbish dump mafia, the cemetery mafia, the taxi mafia, the land-grabbers mafia, the quarry mafia, the nightclub mafia and so on. But who questions the existence of these gangs? At the same time, corrupt officials grant favors and disguise wrongdoing in the tax office, the town-planning office and the courts. Of course there’s no such thing as an ideal society. But we should be able to expect a democratic, law-abiding, viable society. We want citizens that coexist on the basis of commonly agreed rules. When society turns its back on the social pact, when the value system collapses and the most powerful of its members can afford to disobey the law, then the rest are tempted to look for other forms of organization – far from the democracy of responsibility, honor and transparency. Society degenerates into tribes, mafias, families and clans. The law is determined by guns and money. Of course, Zoniana – and all the Zonianas of this country – are not the result of the political system. But the system is responsible for tolerating it. Tolerance breeds contempt for the law. The man in the street, the hardworking taxpayer has every right to ask who is responsible.