Dangerous scenarios

For the citizens of ancient Athens, public space – the agora – was not unfamiliar or forbidding territory but a natural and inextricable extension of their own private space: The city was their home. They may have complained about their leaders, cursed them and ostracized those they deemed scapegoats at one time or another; they may have found solace in Aristophanes’ attacks on the demagogues, but they never turned their backs on politics as the art of managing public affairs. In our contemporary Athens-based democracy, the private despises the public and disgust for some politicians has turned into disgust for all politicians and, worse, for politics in general. This is suggested by public opinion polls and the growing number of people who do not vote. This is what the disgruntled – probably chosen by the media for their passion – shout at the cameras; this is the reigning opinion in the domain of the Internet. This, ultimately, is proven by the loud battle cries we have been hearing, such as «Parliament, you will burn» and «The hangman is waiting.» This leveling of all things political is as obvious as it is unfair. Not all politicians are despicable thieves, just as not all journalists are lackeys, doctors avaricious and civil servants corrupt, however much populist voices like to protest to the contrary. Moreover, and this is where we should be paying the closest attention, this leveling of politics paves the way for machinations aimed at bypassing the democratic system, albeit the weak one we possess, at exhausting it morally and at subordinating it entirely to the powerful forces of money and the media. Talk about the need for a savior from the ranks of the military is nothing short of ridiculous, though the potency of a far-right participation in government would certainly surpass the number of votes garnered by the natonalist LAOS party. Systematically propagated scenarios hinting at a government made up of the «best,» of «compatriots» or any others who have real or rumored intellectual superiority or financial might are dangerous in an entirely different way. These scenarios suggest not just the substitution but the annulment of democracy. Just as we didn’t vote to be co-governed by the International Monetary Fund, we also did not vote to have «saviors» imposed upon us. If some people feel a need to express their patriotism, there are better ways.

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