[FOUNTAIN]Court politics lives in the 21st centuryHandel’s opera Agrippina premiered with great success in Venice in 1709. Italian music lovers flocked to listen to the work of a German composer. The audience must have been captivated by the opera about the history and legends of ancient Rome.
Agrippina was the mother of Nero, the fifth emperor of the Roman Empire. She was a woman who went through thick and thin for power. Using her legendary beauty, Agrippina seduced her uncle, who was emperor, and became the empress. She made sport of politics by scheming political assassinations and even poisoning the aging emperor. She wanted to make sure her power lasted as long as possible by making her 16-year-old son succeed to the throne.
As soon as her son became the emperor, she wanted to rule as a regent. Her political ambition and greed created friction between Agrippina and Nero. When Nero attacked Agrippina’s followers, she tried to dethrone her son. At last, Nero sent an assassin to kill his own mother. Handel’s opera is a story of how Nero became the emperor of Rome and a vivid depiction of the plots and tactics Agrippina used in the court. The opera sketches the so-called court politics, the covert power dynamics of the ruler, a few royals and court favorites in ancient Rome.
Court politics is supposed to be an obsolete tradition that only remains in an opera, but critics point out that a similar political style is practiced in the ruling party. Our Open Party lawmaker Rhyu Si-min claimed that the ruling party is stained with covert information-sharing through personal networks, backdoor dealings that do not suit the causes the party publicly advocates and endless plotting and suspicion of others about plotting.
The tension and rivalry between certain factions over the cabinet appointments of the ruling party members and the election of the party’s floor leader could be a part of those court politics for the sake of the ruling party, not the nation.
It appears that the ruling party wants to pretend it did not hear criticism. That is another portrayal of its closedness. If Our Open Party is indeed open, there should be no place for court politics. Our Open Party advocates participatory democracy. Only when the rooms for court politics are torn down can the ruling party make participatory democracy bloom.
by Lee Sang-il
The writer is deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.