POLITICS FOR THE COMMON GOOD VERSUS POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM

 

   It seems as if a new epoch may be starting. The balance and harmony between different social trends is in the process of being lost. Positive relations between states are being threatened because of the different mentality of the citizens of individual states. What is worse, these new trends also permeate small municipalities. Upon deeper reflection, we cannot but wonder if the above global tendency is in effect an individual trait that is becoming public at this point in time. Since it is difficult to give a definite answer to this question, we can hypothesise that the individual way of thinking and acting affects the public mentalities and actions that we have been observing. 

   Political opportunism, i.e. exercising power  with the main goal of getting the politicians who are already in power reelected, seems to be the dominant trend in contemporary politics. This trend is even more dominant in countries where political culture is unsophisticated and social institutions are weak. In countries where democracy is well established and universal suffrage is a long-established principle, political opportunism takes different shapes, corresponding to the mentality of different societal groups. In the USA for example, the last election was won by promoting a political agenda aiming at protecting American local production from international trade! In Western Europe there are parties that hope to seize power by promoting a political agenda aiming at restricting the movement of foreigners! In our country, because of the politics that were exercised during the last two centuries of the modern Greek state, there is homogenisation, so political opportunism has shaped itself in different forms.

   In Greece, the mentality that the governing party needs to remain in power at all costs has almost been “legitimised” and therefore has become more important than the party’s obligation to promote the long-term interests of the country. Since this goal cannot be put forth in a blatant manner, many devious ways have been invented in order to conceal it; one such way is to promote various false causes, appearing as beneficial to the national interests. To this end, measures of economic usefulness to many societal groups are being passed, without however revealing which other societal groups have been hit with additional taxation, in order to fund the above false causes. Corrupt politicians expect that funding false causes will bring them multiple benefits, including reelection.  It seems that Greece is unique in having invented and exercising this kind of political opportunism.

   This political opportunism ressembles wading through a swamp: all it does is stirring muddy waters. States and societies in general can only benefit through production and fair distribution of new wealth. The exploitation of wealth-producing natural resources and the utilisation of new inventions are the main ways of producing new wealth. If this happens collaboratively, then the new wealth is distributed evenly throughout the society. In democratic societies, everyone benefits, although some citizens more and others less, and social progress occurs. All states are obliged towards their electorate to maximise the utilisation of their resources and distribute the wealth in a fair manner to all their citizens. This process not only leads to sustainable development and fulfillment of the goals of individual states, it also fosters cooperation among different states according to the inter-state statutory provisions that have been agreed upon.

   Mani, our area, suffers from acute political opportunism, which is being exercised at many levels. The Greek state appears distant and not appreciative of the highly divided citizens of this remote corner of our land. Unfortunately, our epoch is a time of anti-heroes, and while we, as individuals and as Maniots, might find comfort in the heroism of our ancestors, the central government politicians in Athens do not have any such sensitivities. In addition, the tacit approval of the governing politicians by the societal groups which benefit from political opportunism undermine the efforts of the other citizens and prevents them from putting forth and promoting the local needs of our area.  We can lift ourselves out of this stagnation only if we remember the heritage received from our ancestors : their biggest accomplishments happened when they made a conscious decision to sing from the same hymn sheet, and to cooperate with conviction and selflessness.

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