Wednesday 5 May 2010

Athens burning

Sitting in the lobby of the Hilton hotel in Nicosia, writing a business plan for a Ukrainian packaging manufacturer, I’m a long way from the swirling smoke and flames of Athens, where three people died in a molotov attack today. And yet, despite the distance, and the very removal from all things Greek, I cannot work. It’s difficult to understand what is more surprising: that three people died today, or that more people have not died?

I reflect that Molotov cocktails and lots of other weapons, have been regularly used by demonstrators for years now. Cobblestones, marble slabs, crowbars, and smoke bombs are all part of the well-prepared demonstrator’s arsenal these days. The university community has discovered any number of incidents where, taking advantage of university immunity, these “anarchists” use university classrooms to prepare their arsenals.

And yet nothing is done. The tolerance of political violence has become de rigeur in modern Greece. At the everyday level, you see it in the roiling mob trying to break through a police cordon—to do what, exactly? It’s not clear.

At the extreme level, it’s seen in the large number of self-styled “terrorist” groups, with absurd names like the “Cells of Fire”, who bomb, shoot or otherwise attack car dealerships, banks, police stations and any other symbol of “oppression.”

What we saw today is nothing more than a natural culmination of generations of stupidity and incompetence. For years, political parties have woven a mantra of exceptionalism over their supporters, and over Greek society as a whole. We could borrow money, without having to pay it back. We could pack the public administration with legions of incompetents, and never pay the price. We could allow dim-witted social failures to bring violence into the university community or the union movement, and never suffer the consequences. Somehow, we were the one country in the world were normal laws did not apply.

Today, three innocent employees suffered the consequences. They paid for this political fantasy with their lives. You can imagine them waking up in the morning, getting ready for work, worried about beating the traffic, or making the bus, or finding a parking place. You can imagine them thinking of the weekend, or of getting home at night. Their ordinary, everyday lives were ended in a moment of panic, a breathless flight into asphyxiation, trying to escape the smoke and flames lit by a pack of social retards. One of them was apparently a young mother, 4 months pregnant.

Perhaps the political parties and unions of the left will reflect that they have lit a fire which cannot easily be put out. But I do not expect this to happen. I expect more obscene rhetoric of how all this is somehow necessary in the cataclysmic struggle against the forces of evil, the IMF, the bankers and other various groups intent on subjugating Greece. I expect the Prime Minister to make some meaningless gesture, harp some vapid words. And I expect the media to go into their usual frenzy. In the meantime, three families mourn the meaningless, irrevocable loss of their loved ones.

There will be no solution to Greece’s problems until a new, post-ideological political movement is formed which will offer specific solutions and sweep the political deadwood from power. There are no solutions in the parasitical duopoly of today; not even a semblance of real-world rationality in the remaining three parties. The sooner we understand this and begin doing something about it, the better.


  1. This is very accurate. And interesting...good to know something solid.

  2. philip; as usual (but not always) you are right on the mark. You fall somewhat short by not putting this event in the parade of such events since Jonestown. I don't know how to bring a halt to such events but will follow your thoughts as you develop them and will hope that your thoughts will bring some light to the darkened alley we call Athens. Spartacus

  3. Hi Philip! We suppose, that after parliament accepted plan yersterday, the deals will be better for all Europe . Good Luck.