Gresham’s Law

English merchant and financier Thomas Gresham (1519-1579) once said, «Bad money drives good money out of circulation.» Gresham’s Law does not just apply to currency circulation but also to a society’s political, ideological, spiritual and artistic activity, which tends to be dragged toward the lowest common denominator. Greece’s Avriani daily was first published in 1979. Its aggressive populist style, coupled with a tendency toward vitriolic personal attacks, guaranteed high circulation figures. Its competition, particularly the evening newspapers, tried to match Avriani’s sensationalism. In politics, the emergence of Andreas Papandreou made socialist governments dance to the tune of the unionists and the party. Now PASOK is trying to outdo the intransigence and aggression of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). As lawmakers discussed the pension reform bill last week, SYRIZA members held a protest outside Parliament. PASOK cadres did the same during the no-confidence vote. Former SYRIZA leader Alekos Alavanos once used to spearhead the union protests and now PASOK’s George Papandreou is doing the same, conveniently forgetting the fact that it was his party that passed the Reppas law. However, just as the evening dailies never caught up with Avriani in the 1980s, Papandreou can be sure he will never reverse PASOK’s fall in opinion polls by mimicking SYRIZA’s tactics. Even if he adopts the no-tie look, he won’t retain a single voter of those seeping away to the left. Papandreou should know that large parties cannot hide behind conferences, national and political councils staffed by untried cadres. Big parties must instead put forward their more experienced officials to promote their programs, engage with the government and truly convince voters that they are ready to give credible solutions to the country’s problems.

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