Spectators of words

There are two moments in the course of politics that prove the truth of the words spoken by the father of demagogues, Cleon, according to Thucydides, when he said citizens are «spectators of words and listeners of deeds:» pre-election campaign season and party congresses. The New Democracy congress last weekend was no exception; it was a delirium of posturing and posing, of «straight commitments» that reveal themselves to be more askew than the Tower of Pisa. In the congresses convened to confirm his power at the helm of PASOK, George Papandreou did not, at his time, hesitate to relaunch direct democracy as a hegemon-centric structure. ND’s Antonis Samaras was more modest when he heralded a new period of democratic renewal, led by the Conservatives. The apparent need for a new era in Greece’s post-dictatorship politics must mean that the rebuilding of the Greek state that Samaras’s predecessor as ND leader, Costas Karamanlis, had promised when he was prime minister either failed or was never attempted. The ND leader did not clarify which of the two was the case, because, if he was completely honest, he would lose the ability to simultaneously praise and rebuke his predecessor. He did say that the words «prince,» «baron» and «fiefdom» will be struck from the party’s vocabulary, though he failed to elicit any applause from Karamanlis. The problem, though, is not, nor has it ever been, the vocabulary used by political parties. The problem is what they do, whether in power or just eyeing it. Damning evil is not the same as dealing with it even if you believe that your word has the power to create good by evoking it. Getting a little too saintly, Samaras spoke out against the seven deadly sins of the system – statism, populism, the abandonment of values etc. Papandreou has also damned these same sins in the past. Does anyone really believe that these curses sprouted up on their own or rained down from the heavens, that no one bears responsibility for them, that no one was governing the country at any point, that no one allowed them to spin out of control on purpose in order to serve their own or their party’s interests? Because there is no scientific evidence to support that the virus of corruption was carried to Earth on a comet that crashed down in Athens, releasing it into the air.