The total eclipse of politics

What kind of pure democratic sentiment remains for us? Basically, angry words and disparaging talk. Conversations in which anything whatsoever can be said without the slightest repercussion. But in the past few days we have watched in astonishment as a number of our legally elected representatives have stepped into our shoes. «Yes, the Greek state’s credibility is being questioned,» admits one minister. The Hellenic Railways Organization is «problematic,» says another. «The scale of tax evasion is massive,» says the most senior minister in this sector, admitting that tax revenue as a percentage of gross national product is lower in Greece than in some of the world’s most popular tax havens. Almost every day that passes we hear yet another «sincere» admission, whether explicit or implicit, about some problem in the country’s affairs. It looks like it may be time to stop cursing our politicians. All the fun has been taken out of it. After all, they are people too, with weaknesses. And as far as responsibility and political cost are concerned, these are not clearly defined concepts that can be evaluated in terms of mistakes, bad decisions, negligence, unkept promises and other commitments. These are obviously concepts whose meaning keeps changing from one administration to the next, from one term to another. And when things reach a critical point, then self-reproach is adopted as the postmodern answer to a political ethic. This, in turn, kills off all argument, because at the end of the day: «Yes, the state is completely unreliable.» There’s no more to be said. In this drama there are no actors and spectators, no judges and judged, no responsible and irresponsible. In one clever step, the politicians put themselves among us, embracing our anger and adopting our words of defense, sharing our suspicions and observations. If what we are witnessing is not the total defeat of politics in the making, then what is it?