September 18, 2014

‘Greece in Self-Destruct Mode’

From the Toronto Star:

“The central core of Athens has been in chaos,” says Andre Gerolymatos, a professor of Hellenic studies at Simon Fraser University, who was caught in the rioting when he arrived at his hotel. “There are anarchists, students, hoodlums and thieves breaking windows of stores and looting.”

From Alexis Papachelas, writing in today’s Kathimerini:

I feel a deep sense of despair as I watch my country roll down an endless hill. A good friend put into context well: “You remember the euphoria we felt when we won the European soccer championship or in the summer of the Olympic Games? Well, today I feel the absolute opposite.”

The fatal shooting of the teenager in Exarchia and the destruction that followed struck a vein of rage and has created a wave of senselessness that has choked all reason. Teenagers are taking to the streets because they are disillusioned with the legacy they have inherited and know how hard it will be to maintain their standard of living in the future. They are also getting the message that right now, anything goes.

The middle class despairs because it feels the government is totally incompetent and fears what lies ahead in terms of the economy. Policemen cast their eyes to the ground because they feel lost and don’t know exactly what their job is or how to do it. The government has lost the plot, living in its own ivory tower and looking for conspiracies, or squads of well-rested riot police. The opposition has failed to grasp the gravity of the situation and does not realize that if it ever does get elected, candles and words won’t cut it because the people, and especially the young, have run out of patience.

It is difficult to discern any logic in such a situation. This is a country with a state that is in shambles, a police force in disarray, mediocre universities that serve as hotbeds for rage instead of knowledge and a shattered healthcare system. It is also on the brink of financial ruin. And now, here we are, debating whether we have a police state, turning back to 1974 and having the same conversations again and again.

The government bears a tremendous responsibility, because a string of scandals, mistakes and bad decision-making has resulted in a leaderless state and in a debate not about what needs to be done to move ahead, but about the same stupid things that have held us back for so long.

Comments

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has a compelling piece on the Telegraph website (Greek fighting: the eurozone’s weakest link starts to crack) analyzing how the surrender of economic sovereignty destabilizes countries during lean economic times:

    …these riots are roughly what eurosceptics expected to see, at some point, at the periphery of the euro-zone as the slow-burn effects (excuse the pun) of Europe’s monetary union begin to corrode the democratic legitimacy of governments.

    [...]

    I am a little surpised that the riot phase of this long politico-economic drama known as EMU has kicked off so soon, and that it has done so first in Greece where the post-bubble hangover has barely begun.

    The crisis is much further advanced in Spain, which is a year or two ahead of Greece in the crisis cycle.

    My old job as Europe correspondent based in Brussels led me to spend a lot of time in cities that struck me as powder kegs – and indeed became powder kegs in the case of Rotterdam following the murder of Pim Fortyn, and Antwerp following the Muslim street riots (both of which I covered as a journalist). Lille, Strasbourg, Marseilles, Amsterdam, Brussels, all seemed inherently unstable, and I do not get the impression that the big cities of Spain and Italy are taking kindly to new immigrants.

    The picture is going to get very ugly as Europe slides deeper into recession next year. The IMF expects Spain’s unemployment to reach 15pc. Immigrants are already being paid to leave the country. There will be riots in Spain too (there have been street skirmishes in Barcelona).

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