On the Road to Destruction? Athens, Greece during time of financial crisis.


 

Athens, Greece Injured from fire-bombed back

Commentary from http://www.ekathimerini.com May 6, 2010

Can a society self-destruct? Yes, it most definitely can and the way Greece is headed right now it is a very real possibility that it will.

Here we have a state and a society that allow a handful of nihilistic hooligans to torch the city and cause the deaths of three citizens.

We have the leadership of the country’s second biggest political party opting for a populist line of rhetoric and failing to answer a simple question on whether or not it will support the government’s economic recovery plan.

We see a society that is mad, and justifiably so, and we see it going down an ill-advised path.

Then we see the government, caught in the grips of panic, contributing to the populist fever and pouring more oil over the fire.

Greece is at the most crucial point of its post-1974 history and whether we destroy ourselves or not, whether we go bankrupt or not, depends not just on our political leadership, but also on every single one of us individually and collectively.

Thoughts from Vicki

I wanted to share the above commentary from the English language portion of the Greek newspaper, ekathimerini.com (Kathimerini), because of the drama with which it is written as well as some of the cultural points it brings up which we can explore together.

15 hooligans who label themselves anarchists in order to give themselves feelings of justification for their acts of vandalism . . . and now murder.  . . were filmed by security cameras attacking a bank.

In the USA, citizens have shown up at talks given by President Obama with guns casually slung over their shoulders.  In the streets of Athens during times of protest the unions of public worker unions find themselves next to a few young men and women with kerchief-covered faces and backpacks stuffed with Molotov cocktail ingredients.

A CNN International reporter interviewed different segments of the protestors on the street but avoided the self-proclaimed anarchists.  I’m sure they seem quite threatening particularly to Americans.  Unfortunately, when questioned, the “anarchists” are not able to speak logically about their “movement” or what they are trying to accomplish by their actions.  There seems to be an attitude that protest is the means and the end.

The police are in the same position as others in dealing with the austerity measures yet they are they receive the primary attacks from the anarchists.

ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) at banks are the second favorite target.  I have a personal experience in wanting to pay the mother of one of the vandals of bank ATMs.  She was quite anxious to have some money from me, and I would have helped her out . . . but the ATMs at the banks had been destroyed.  It was the weekend and I was unable to give her the cash she wanted.  Whether it registered to her 20-something son that he was hurting his own family by he and his friends’ actions was not clear.  Another of their contradictory acts is to protest that they want jobs yet these hooligans don their kerchiefs and backpacks to protest against private universities that could give them and college graduates of their generation very good jobs at home in Greece.

And the group that was caught by the cameras tossing firebombs into the bank have used this same method before targeting banks.

20,000 to 40,000 citizens on the streets during a demonstration is few for Athens where strikes by labor unions of both working class and professional groups are quite common.  A handful of the ragtag vandals following behind the legitimate protestors have been given credit by much of the foreign news media for causing a panic on Wall Street; exactly the wrong kind of social reinforcement needed by this immature group.

PASOK is the name of the party which won the recent elections and inherited all many shocking surprises of a country badly in debt.   They won against the second large political party in Greece, the New Democracy Party, and the party which Barnaby Phillips, the AJE Athens correspondent, rightly reported has almost thoroughly discredited itself with the populace.

Although the majority of the citizens understand that the austerity measures are the only choice and support Prime Minister Papandreou and the PASOK party; New Democracy is playing along with the foreign media and voting against the austerity plan. Or is it possibly the speculators who gave loans and have been betting for a Greek default who are being supported?

The commentary from ekathimerini was written after three innocent people died in a bankwhenr a fire bomb came crashing through the office window.  They died of asphyxiation.

I don’t agree that the government has been in a panic.  The Prime Minister and the Ministers of Economy and Finance have been articulate and soft spoken each time they’ve been questioned on the decisions they have been making.

Will the Greek society self-destruct? An unlikely scenario given the history of Greek survival against all odds.

Will the Greek government go bankrupt?  The European Union is young and a mechanism has not been established for members of the European Union to go bankrupt (The Brief, CNNI).

The modern democracy of Greece is young and far more inclusive than the ancient Greek democracy.  (Perhaps you recall the USA government/Kissinger-backed dictators who ruled Greece in the early 1970’s?)

I do agree with the last sentence of the commentary which is the reality we face in Greece.  “Greece is at the most crucial point of its post-1974 history and whether we destroy ourselves or not,  . . . depends not just on our political leadership, but also on every single one of us individually and collectively.”

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Posted on 2010/05/09, in From The Editors, The World Today and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Taken at a very macro level, the Greek Empire fell to ruins. History always repeats itself. Thats the lesson of history, sadly. That means people DONT learn from mistakes, again, sadly.

    Why blame political parties when they are but people from the same society that blames them? IT IS THE PEOPLE that bring on their own destiny.

    Having spent all the money it never had, now when its time to tighten belts, a decadent society resists. The more it resists, the faster it’ll fail.

    Curiously, I think Greece’s RECOVERY will be in it leaving the EURO and ‘sinking’ initially, only to bounce back as it did in history.

    I know this may mean truly traumatic times ahead, but effective medicine is often bitter.

  2. Thank you for your comment, JS.
    I blame political parties because the corruption and lack of accountability has been extreme. For one example, when New Democracy was in power, some new employees were being paid yet no accounting record was kept. Many of the smaller political parties are contrary just to be contrary without thinking ahead to forming suggestions for solutions or setting goals.
    In PASOK there is a struggle between the old generation and the young. The young are intelligent, articulate and come up with the best solutions they can within the constructs of the EU.
    There is also responsibility to be taken on the bank and financial institution that lent money and then started betting on Greece defaulting on the loan.
    The people of Greece are like people everywhere, for so many years the banks have been gaining more power and less regulation. The same thing has happened in so many places in the world including Iowa against the farmers.
    The struggle is between the very rich and the middle class. Will democracy survive or will the destructive form of democracy succeed in the West . . . that is the question.

  3. If corruption is a two way street: People in power take money for ordinary people, who are willing to shell it out. Both are PEOPLE from the very same society.

    Resistance causes persistence. I get the feeling the Greek story is far from over. It’s going south, a lot more 😦

  4. I think that “The struggle is between the very rich and the middle class” is the core of the matter in Greece.
    Greece is lead by an oligarchy who grow after 1974, the same “personalities” are rotating at the power steering wheel and their final result is 300 bln debt!
    Can Mr Papandreou claim that he was not there in this meanwhile? Now he gets money from Europe and IMF but what the result will be, more development or more debt?
    I know VERY well how the people’s movements are compromised by hooligans on the streets of Athens, but who else than the government wants to do this? who’s behind the hooligans?
    Those who want to keep the power, Vicki!
    The Government is the Supreme Hooligan!

  5. You have done it once more! Incredible post!

    • Dear Elena, Thank you very much for reading my post and for your positive comment.
      Summer is over and I will be writing more on this subject. What has been bothering me very much this summer is the way the world wide economic crisis has been used as an excuse to legitimize racism against Greeks.
      I have so many examples I’m a bit overwhelmed, but I will narrow the examples down to three or four and share with you my thoughts.

      Thank you again, Vicki

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