OPINION

Moral relativism

«It’s not possible to turn spies into the arbitrators of public morals,» government officials have rightly said this time on the occasion of the release of a base and mud-slinging report «on terrorism» which is attributed to retired Gen. Nikos Gryllakis and which smears the reputations of dozens of (former and current) socialist PASOK party officials. One then rightfully wonders whether these remarks have universal and retrospective effect, or whether they are, once again, dictated by the instincts of party survival, rather than the self-advertised belief in invariable moral principles. Besides, it’s been less than a month since other PASOK officials, who appear to be more familiar with polarizing tactics and unfettered populism, were exploiting revelations that came from the same, and therefore equally reliable, source; their naive enthusiasm legitimizing the spies’ right to stir up the political sphere with their memoirs. If there are principles and clauses that determine the content of politically mature and honest behavior, they are meaningful only if they are respected as inflexible codes, even if they may harm our fleeting interests. Unfortunately, the slightly Machiavellian theory of moral relativism that permeates party politics does not only reject the existence of such codes of practice but also tramples on them, seeing them as the relics of a political primitivism which is incompatible with modernity. Honesty is determined by the balance of power and interests. And then one can hear politicians swearing that their first priority is safeguarding the morality and hence the credibility of their «vocation» (the inverted commas are mandated by their own behavior). And one does not turn sarcastic, because one feels that sarcasm will only harm oneself and no one else. One can also hear them saying in a loud voice that the protection of political institutions is their sole concern but even that does not make one melancholy. For melancholy is a sacred right and cannot be wasted without prior consideration and a justifiable cause. They continue as sparring partners today on an uneasily partitioned island that represents a significant source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.