OPINION

From ashes to mud

There must be some videotapes, somewhere. So many TV channels, so many news bulletins, so many pompous pledges: «We shall take all necessary measures in good time to protect the fire victims from the threat of flooding.» Minister after minister, official after official, they all reiterated a commitment that was then affirmed by the premier himself. We should now replay those videotapes – now that the fire victims have also become flood victims. It was predictable, and predicted. Just as it was foreseen that it would rain, and that the rivers would burst their banks, and that if you send a dozen untrained army troops to build anti-flood works without guidance or technical equipment, the ashes will be succeeded by mud, one disaster by another. And now that the election has been won, victims should not look to the government for succour in the form of cash. That’s right. We should play the videotapes featuring the pledges of supposedly timely anti-erosion and anti-flood works across the country. We should watch them to again experience the complacency and arrogance of politicians. To experience a discourse that tries to conceal the absence of deeds beneath an abundance of words. And then we should again play the springtime videotapes featuring the premier’s promise that «this year we have finally taken all the necessary measures to avert risk from wildfires.» «But the country was hit by extreme weather conditions,» one might counter. But no conditions are more extreme than idleness and foot-dragging. There is no more serious «asymmetrical threat» than the constant asymmetry between rhetorical assurances and painstaking planning, between PR-exercises and timely action. And there is nothing more self-absolving, and for this reason socially dangerous, than the praise lavished on the anti-flood works by the public works minister.