Great stuff

This past week the Italian daily Il Manifesto wrote: «Prodi is gone; Berlusconi is not yet back. Let’s enjoy this magic moment,» commenting on political developments in neighboring Italy. Greece still has a government, of course, but there are many similarities, starting with the failed reform programs and the many dysfunctional institutions. Silvio Berlusconi, the populist media tycoon, is bracing for his third tenure as premier mainly because the center-left failed to reform itself. Here in Greece again, the people are all stuck to their television screens waiting for evidence strong enough to topple the government or to murder personalities. The evidence just isn’t there, but the allegations multiply, suspicion grows and the entire political system finds itself hostage in the hands of self-styled TV prosecutors. It’s media greed, but not just that. It’s also those who feed it by rushing to embarrass themselves by appearing on the sensationalist nighttime talk shows – mute or talkative but always obedient. A deputy, for example, was seen defending himself in front of a journalist-turned-prosecutor against perjury allegations that had actually been made by that very same TV presenter. But he has not been held accountable to Parliament. We have also seen journalists making criminal charges based on evidence gained from tapping but still walking around freely. We also saw a leading bishop, who is also a presenter on a state television program, announcing his candidacy for archbishop, yes, on television. The Church has its own kitsch that is just as banal and low as the political one. Our feeble democracy is sinking before the eyes of a mute public. The rupture deepens as lies expand their domain at the expense of what’s real. We see the glass is half-full: What a mess, it’s great stuff.