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An answer for the Greek election
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-09-30 07:58:10
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Living abroad means I only reach the latest news from Greece through friends or through the internet, and I have to admit that internet is a real luxury to somebody who has experienced life abroad for decades. To give you an example when I lived in London in late the 70s, you could only get one Greek newspaper in a small kiosk near Paddington station and that only if you were lucky and early. Because when something serious was going on there were no newspapers left after eight in the morning and of course I forgot to mention that it was always yesterday’s newspaper and if it was weekend, you got Friday’s paper on Monday.

But now, thanks to internet, things have dramatically changed. I can watch the election debate live and I can read nearly all the Greek newspapers on the same time as they are published in Athens, not to mention radio and of course the blogs. The blogs have brought a revolution to information. Sometimes I find that I am more informed by the blogs than my friends who actually live in Greece, since their daily routines keeps them from following the rapid flow of news.

Back then I would fly to Athens to vote based on my personal ideas and I would most likely vote for the ones I knew, lacking information on new faces and ideas. This has changed dramatically. Nowadays I listen to the candidates on the radio – always through the internet – and I hear opinions, I hear ideas and I get a full picture of what they represent. Of course I don’t live in Greece and that makes a huge difference because I don’t experience everyday life there and I don’t have to live with the ideas of the elected and I don’t have to live with their mistakes. I suppose this is the main reason to why I haven’t voted in Greek elections for years even though I have the right to do so. This is also why I believe that just like in the euro-elections we should vote in the country we live in; after all as permanent residents we fulfill all our obligations together with the rest of the citizens of the state. But I suppose this is a big conversation for another time.

Of course none of this stops me from having an opinion and understanding of the language, the society, and the history of my home country, and I feel an obligation to express my opinion. It would be weird if I was denied this right, since for instance the whole world had an opinion on whether Barack Obama should or shouldn’t be elected president of the USA.  I mention this in reply to a few mails I got recently, doubting my judgment and accusing me of maleficence mainly towards the conservative party. At this moment I’m not going to go through the supportive mails because I feel that the only thing I did was to express my personal opinion as I always do on a number of subjects.

Actually I never pretended that I am “objective”; Ovi magazine is an opinion magazine and this is what you get when you read it: opinions! If people want to read objective reports they can turn to the news agencies, internet is so simple, even though I got the feeling from those e-mails that they didn’t expect an objective article. Objective and opinion don’t really go together but then again this would not be an opinion magazine but a fanzine! On the same time everybody is welcome to express their opinion with an article in Ovi magazine, something that is welcomed as long as they don’t cross the certain lines we always mention (hate messages, racist and discriminating comments and others) instead of sending me emails that cross all the above lines. The beauty of democracy is dialogue!

But dialogue is something that the conservative party, its candidates and some of its fans obviously are missing. I’m not saying that only based on the emails I got, but as I said before, listening to their debates on the radio and watching them on the internet. In my last Greek article, about the televised debate, I mentioned that Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis acted like a high school bully and constantly argued that he needs more time because the …socialists weren’t a good …opposition! Despite this and the fact that he had majority in the parliament during his first term, Mr. Karamanlis’ government was perhaps the worst government Greece faced during the last thirty years after the dictatorship, and they failed at every single level. Worst of all is that they failed to serve and protect the simple people, leading them to despair and disappointment. Mr. Karamanlis exalted his young age in an effort to show change, but the only thing he managed to do was to make the Greek people feel that all politicians are the same and nothing will change, therefore it’s easier to stop trusting the fundamental institutions of democracy. For this reason only, Mr. Karamanlis and his Conservative Party should stay away from Greek politics. Apart from that Mr. Karamanlis played a role in creating a rising political cancer in Greek politics, called the People's Orthodox Rally; a racist, nationalist, prejudice parasite of a party. Karamanlis’ took part in creating this through his apathy to the problems of the people.

But that doesn’t mean that the socialists are any better, and I never believed in the axiom that in the land of the blind we chose the one-eyed, and this is another sign of how bad Mr. Karamanlis has managed: anybody who gets elected will be better! The only thing we can hope for is that the lessons are learned and perhaps the new government will do something for the people who have voted for them!


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Emanuel Paparella2009-09-30 11:58:10
Indeed, the freedom to express one’s opinion in the agora (the public square) is one of the jewels of democracy. In the West we owe the birth of democracy to the ancient Athenians. But besides freedom of speech the ancient Greeks taught us something else which is even more valuable: that such an expression of opinion will not lead to truth. it will be an exercise in solipsism, unless it is accompanied by a friendly and polite dialogue; question and answers or the Socratic or maieutic method. Moreover, for a dialogue not to degenerate into a mere diatribe with more heat than light, it must be predicated on mutual respect and conviviality among interlocutors. Hate mail and insults and racial slurs and argumenti ad hominem, are a sure sign that one is dealing with a bully not interested in the truth but with simply winning point in an argument or debate. Some glory in that aberrant ability but it usually remains opinion based on appearances, rarely if ever leading to truth. In Socrates’ time those people were called sophists, some were very clever, but they were clever by half; that is to say their ultimate purpose was not to gain truth but to gain power.

What distinguishes a magazine like Ovi from other magazines of opinions is the fact that it leaves plenty of space for dialogue. It is symbolized by that box under each article of opinion titled “comment box” encouraging the reader to “get it off your chest.” Some prefer non-committal silence, or even worse, hate mail, or insults or argumenti ad hominem, to dialoguing. We have unfortunately seen examples of that, which is probably inevitable in a vibrant magazine of opinion, but it remains a sad phenomenon to be condemned and avoided as the above article wisely suggests.

Anastasios2009-09-30 14:58:47
I am sorry to say this but Karamanlis has shown quite graphically what a ridiculous man he is. Incompetent, shallow, with a complete lack of imagination. It aches my heart when I think that this man clinched the majority vote twice! So what if he is a lame duck at this point? I do not believe that the elected officials regardless of political ideology have a vision for Greece as a top priority in their minds. I hope I am wrong.

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