OPINION

Terms and new definitions

Every new government, in obeisance to its PR advisers in the early days of its term tries to introduce one or two, brand-new underused words that it hopes will come to symbolize its policies and define its character. The first PASOK administration put its money on «change,» the second on «modernization» and today’s third Socialist government is banking on the people-friendly term «open governance» and the anti-bureaucratic concept of «electronic governance.» For its part, New Democracy gave us «reinventing the state,» while today, from its position in the opposition, its new leader Antonis Samaras likes to introduce us to the «new New Democracy,» or New Democracy squared. Should a lexicographer of the future attempt to «change,» «modernize» or «reinvent» the annals of literature referring to these periods, he would certainly embellish these terms with all the warped definitions they had acquired during their political usage. For example, with «reinventing the state,» even if one is not trying to be ironic, they would have to add that in reality – and reality has such a way of spitting in the eye of the most eloquent of terms – this means the costliest campaign of making the state apparatus even larger than it was and going to great pains to destroy it, all driven by opportunism. For «modernization» our modernizing lexicographer may simply tell us that it is no longer an antonym of «antiquation,» but a synonym. As for the very postmodern «open and electronic governance,» very simply put, in practical terms, it means that tens of thousands of citizens go to the trouble of e-mailing their resumes here, there and everywhere in the hope of securing a post at some ministry, even though those positions have been filled in the meantime by a very different kind of selection system that has to do with the ministers’ personal preferences.