Monday, December 15, 2008

Commentary on December 2008

Το παρακάτω κείμενο γράφτηκε σαν μια προσπάθεια να εξηγήσω περιεκτικά σε φίλους απο το εξωτερικό τι συμβαίνει στη χώρα αυτές τις μέρες. Βγήκε σύντομο και περιεκτικό και το δημοσιεύω.

Dear all,

As you may have heard there is an explosion of student and union protests throughout last week here in Greece. The reason that caused this massive wave of demonstrations is the murder of a 15 year old boy by a police officer on Saturday night, December 6. The murder took place in Exarcheia, a part of the city centre that is famous for the anarchist and radical spirit that carries within it through the last decades. It is difficult for someone who does not have an understanding of the past to understand why this murder caused this massive and largely violent wave of demonstrations. I will try to make this connection so that facts become clearer to all of you.

Greece’s democracy institutionally came back in 1974 after the fall of the US sponsored Papadopoulos’ junta. Both socially and politically, democracy found a ground of development especially during the 1981-89 Papandreou socialist government. This period constituted a late Keynesianism experiment in a deeply anachronistic and conservative economy, where capitalism continued to have the characteristics more of a monopoly rather than of a free market model. The state became the carrier of the late social and cultural transformation of the country (for example urbanization), while the private sector was highly protected by the state.

The 90s brought the Maastricht Treaty from abroad along with a perpetuation of public nepotism of politicians, top juries, high officers, the Church, Media and numerous others private persons in the internal sphere. The first development presses public economics to the state of frugality. The second one gives market-state relations a highly obscure attribute. The mix of these two developments led to the fragmentation of social justice (high inequalities between rich and poor, Greeks and foreigners, old and new generation), which replaced the old and tired political battle between left and right.

However, media, controlled by strong private concerns keep on filtering these new social confrontations through the old channels of public understanding. This led the social and economic problems to acquire a monolithic approach, which demand to have either the PASOK (the centre-left wing Party)or the New Democracy (the centre-right wing Party) approval. These two parties that traditionally gather at least 80% of the votes, have largely lost their ideological differences. By putting all their strength in trying to perpetuate the old schema of political discourse, Media completely alienated politics from its mission to serve people and replaced it by the management of politicians’ public relations.

Real problems like unemployment, immigration, public debt, economic crisis, pollution, insurance system deficit, education and health services degradation have seen little if any effective confrontation. Instead, we keep on seeing and listening about public scandals that the government cannot come over, as if the problem was the duration of this government and not the fact that nobody has been punished for their illegal transactions. This government of New Democracy is stuffed to the head with scandals. Only in the last year we count: 1) the “missing” of public bonds that belonged to public insurance funds and travelled all around the world to get to some unknown pockets 2)the Zahopoulos case, where the Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture, who got in trouble with sex scandals and obscure exchanges with private concerns, ended up in free-falling from the 5th floor ineffectively, 3)3 ministers were found to have their bank accounts full of unretracable money, along with illegal ownership of public land and 4) the obscure land exchanges between The Greek Church and the State, that found the state holdings worsen up to millions of Euros. All of these along with short-term and cynical manipulation of the issues of the privatization of public enterprises, the devastated new tax law while the economy faces crises, the rise of the public debt, the free-falling of competitiveness of the economy and the scarcity of job opportunities for graduates.

The bullets that the police guard fired towards the boy were not the first to be fired in recent police records. Tenths of cases of killings, beatings and torture by police happened in the past but few found an objective court decision. In the last year we had cases that met an extented media coverage (a Cypriot student bitten by secret policemen while watched by their superior and two immigrants forced to hit each other in front of a camera) but ended up in no punishment. 23 years ago a similar case of a murder of a 15 year old boy (again) by a police officer ended up to the officer’s release due to actual (but not permanent) psychological reasons. Rumors has it that the ballistic research on the bullet that hit Alexis’ Grigoropoulos heart shows that the bullet has traces on it that leave someone to assume that it was not directed to Alexis. Such development would escalate public rage and it is said that the government is afraid of new waves of anarchist destruction. The results, however, are not out yet.

What is important to be understood is that here in Greece there is a highly educated new generation that faces barriers everywhere, especially when we talk about short job opportunities (another field of political nepotism, even when it comes to the private sector). Besides, there is a massive wave of immigration from Asian and Balkan countries that is mostly unregistered (about 1 million unregistered in a country of 11 million…), let alone the issue of the restriction of political and social rights. And last but not least, you have these 15 year old boys and girls with the mobiles at hand that desperately need to find a social meaning in their life, apart from the one that consumer society gives them. These are the protesters of the present and the future, young, poor and alienated that fill the streets of every little town of the country. Amazing, isn’t it?

As for the destructions, they are mostly directed to banks. Only in Athens, there have been hit more than 200 outlets. In Patras, where I live, there are much fewer but still, rage’s signs are apparent. Shops and public buildings and cars and bikes have been hit too, but there is still a doubt as for who are the real ones that wear “kukules” and make all this mess. Are they extremists from Exarcheia, far-right wing fanatics who act for the interests of the secret police and the secret services, football hooligans that take advantage of the situation, schooligans that want to take revenge for their coetaneous Alexis, radical student movements that keep a distant relation with the new left party (that gathers around 10% of the votes according to the polls), second generation immigrants who discovered an inclination in looting, or all these together?

The answer of course is philological. What has to be kept in mind is that apart from the analysis, there is a sentiment coming out of this rebellion. Mostly rage that needs to find hope. Let’s hope that the connection will be virtuous and not be filled with hatred.

p.s. The court decision regarding the cypriot student case is out in the 16th of December and it poses relatively light penalties. If you consider that the penalties are redeemable at only 5 euros per day, then it is ridiculous to talk about punishment. These people in a short period of time will be back at their duties.



Βρε λες να γίνει εδώ το επόμενο κοσμοϊστορικό γεγονός. Γιατί ποίος περίμενε το 1890 ας πούμε τη Ρωσία;

VKP said...

μπα, δεν το βλέπω.. Ωστόσο, να που η Ελλάδα γίνεται για κάτι πρότυπο εξαγωγής. Το θετικό ή αρνητικό του πράγματος είναι έξω απο τη συζήτηση. Εκείνο που κρατάμε είναι τα σημειολογικά χαρακτηριστικά της εξέγερσης. Μερικά έχουν καθαρά ντόπια προέλευση και άλλα επηρρεάζονται απο τις παγκόσμιες εξελίξεις. Ωστόσο είναι πάντα επισφαλές να δίνουμε ερμηνείες. Να, π.χ. αυτό που λένε οτι οι ταραχές οφείλονται στην παγκόσμια οικονομική κρίση είναι ανακριβές γιατί 1) η αφορμή δεν είναι ένα πολιτικό γεγονός, 2)η κρίση δεν έχει χτυπήσει ακόμα την ελληνική οικονομία και 3)η ελληνική οικονομία ήταν σε κρίση εδώ και χρόνια.
Επειδή λοιπόν είναι επίκαιρη η θεωρία του μεμονωμένου γεγονότος, δε νομίζω οτι η ελληνική περίπτωση είναι ένα αρχικό μεμονωμένο γεγονός και θα ακολουθήσουν και άλλα μετά. Ήδη έχουμε δει διαφόρων ειδών εξεγέρσεις στη Δύση. Δεν μπορώ καν να πω αν δεν είναι τώρα που ζούμε τη δικιά μας REVOLUTION GENERATION X. Σε κάθε περίπτωση όμως τα βαλκάνια είναι η πυριτιδαποθήκη της Ευρώπης και απο δώ μόνο κάτι πολύ άσχημο μπορεί να ξεκινήσει. Βλέπουμε.

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