Monday, December 22, 2008

Athens upheavel continues

So the civil unrest continues across Greece. Yesterday soccer hooligans attacked the police at the stadium, protesters in my suburb who gathered to show their support to other protesters chased off police and the situation doesnt give any indication that it will end before christmas.
People are just waiting for the holidays which will mean that all protests stop.

And of course your all asking WHY is this all happening. The answer can be summed up by a group of 11 year olds who set fire to their school bus while it was taking them to school.

Why not?

For all you ideologues out their who are trying to pin point a reason, a justification, its easy to attribute what we want to these riots. Since their is no standard bearer behind the riots, this is all the more easier. Sure manifestos were sent out, but in Greece, every high school student has written a manifesto. This is Greece, its part of the norm - 15 years olds talk about the injustices done to them during WW2 and the Dicatorship. They just repeat and speak in the same tones of their elders. And yes, we all want things to have meaning, some deep meaning, we all want to fight injustice and a little bit of us always cheers when we see the little guy fight back and win. But according to the principle of Ockhams Razor, the simplest solution is often the best.

This was brought home to me in a number of ways, one was the burning of the school bus, i mean, everyone else had gotten away with burning things down, why not burn the school bus. (PS. School bus also implies private school so these are not the underprivileged)
Walking past the broken bank stores, i did think, Yeah, serves the bastards right. After all they used to charge me 2 euros for every transaction i did be it depositing money or paying of a credit card, and they continued even after the High Court ruled it illegal. Did i get my money back.. NO!
But as i continued past the looted electronic shops, Why did they target them? Well, the revolution needs laptops to blog the revolution. Ok
The looted Mobile phone shops, well they need to spread the word about the revolution, and the I Phone is cool.
The looted optomitrists, well every revolution needs vision...
The looted 24 hour internet shop, which they came in - kicked out everyone and stole the pc's, they did that because...
The g-store gadget shop next door which sells gadgets, well obviously the rioters were geeks,
How about the newspaper shops which were burnt to the ground? Why were they targetted?
Why were sports stores across Athens looted? They were inspired the Nike logo perhaps?

You see its easy to focus on the fact that banks were smashed 'indicating a dissatisfaction / dissiliusionment with the capitalist system' but a whole lot more were smashed and looted. We saw old grannies picking through stores looking for things to take, youth walking with modded up pc cases underneath their arms, and of course the christmas tree burnt down etc etc etc.

And the easiest and most logical answer as to why this happened is simply, because they could.


CaliforniaKat said...

So many people have done articles on the Why? Sure, there's corruption, crime, unemployment, low salaries, and yadda yadda; but like you and I have said before, it's because the people do as they like without consequences, and the government (and police, under orders from the govt) let them. As you said, because they could.

Sad. They don't realize the only people they're hurting is themselves and the problems they're complaining about worsen with each action.

Anonymous said...

I agree with both you and Kat's response. There's a difference between wanting to vent one's anger in such a way and actually doing it. A million reasons have been suggested for the former, but for the latter, there is only one - the lawlessness and impunity you both refer to.

I've been reading so much about this crisis, not only superb blogs such as this one, Kat's and Bollybutton's, but also newspapers, magazines... whatever I can find to help explain, discuss and debate what's going on.

And more than two weeks later I still can't find an article that sums it up more for me than Stathis Kalyvas's beautifully concise, PREcise article ('Why Athens Is Burning') from the New York Times/International Herald Tribune:

Rositta said...

Greeks better sort themselves out before it's too late. It must start with the parents. I heard somewhere that teachers instigate some of this stuff, if that's true fire the friggin teachers. The banks, yup they are crooks there as I discovered when they charged my MIL 600 euros for a bank draft last month. My Greek husband actually says that what Greece needs is dictatorship! I wouldn't go quite that far but somebody needs to take control...Merry Christmas

yianni said...

while everything your saying is completely true you cant deny that whenever there is a riot for whatever reason in Greece things tend to sort themselves out. the good thing about Greeks taking things into their own hands is exactly that. in the u.s. such a thing would never happen, aside from the very extreme cases like the Detroit riots in '65 and the Rodney king debacle, which is why the government gets away with lying and cheating Americans out of every red cent they can because they feel entitled to it and the people let them get away with it. at least the Greeks, with the exception of ne'er do wells who of course are going to attempt to profit from the situation, will do what they have to to make their government take notice. if there were a better way to do it then of course that's how it should be done but pretty much anything but extremism just gets lost in a tangle of bureaucratic garbage.