Tuesday 8 December 2015

Another Useless Ritual: The latest riots in Greece

Kathimerini photo of the December 6th 2015 riots in Athens
Kathimerini photo of the December 6th, 2015 riots in Athens

Alexis Grigoropoulos was shot and killed in cold blood by a member of the Athens police force on December 6th 2008. The defendant and other members of the police initially attempted to cover up the unwarranted killing, but evidence and a lengthy investigation into the case proved otherwise. The Press Project has published a detailed assessment of the case in English.

Unfortunately, since that date, each anniversary of the Grigoropoulos killing has become an event in which gangs of young men roam Exarheia and downtown Athens, burning and destroying at will, until they are stopped by the legions of police mobilised to prevent any more serious incidents.

Unfortunately, legitimate peaceful marches to commemorate the killing are used by these “protesters” to gain cover. In the most recent events in Athens, thirteen people were arrested (as reported by Kathimerini).

The November 17th commemorations of the deaths of students at the Athens Polytechnic are another event that has sadly been commandeered by “anarchists”, who use the occasion of the march to the US Embassy to engage in the same pointless street battles with the police.

In both cases, the symbolism of the violence from the viewpoint of the perpetrators is obvious: they claim to be striking back against the front-line troops (the police) of an oppressive order. Yet in both cases, there is every reason to believe that this is a totally pointless ritual, devoid of any real meaning besides the internal requirements of the “resistors” and, on the opposing side, of “law and order”.

If the “anarchists” are really concerned with social justice, then they should be equally concerned with the large-scale property damage they inflict on blameless bystanders. Moreover, if they really want to bring about lasting political change, then it is obvious that short-term “insurrection” on predictable dates (December 6, November 17), is hardly the way to do this. 

These same protesters and anarchists, after all, have in the past entered politics, and become part of the ruling class, defended by the same forces of law and order that they used to spend time attacking.

These same anarchists have no alternative plan for real anarchy. By day, they study at university or work in the real economy. By night they riot, but only on specific occasions. Where’s the revolution?

There have been other countries in the European Union that have suffered far more under oppressive regimes in the recent history. Poland, Lithuania, and others have seen a far higher body count due to Nazi invasion and the subsequent Soviet occupation.

Most families in Lithuania, for instance, have seen a relative deported and disappeared in the Soviet Gulags. Yet in none of these countries do equivalent rituals unfold, where the useless and deliberate destruction of public and private property in the hollow name of “rebellion” or “resistance” has become an anticipated annual event.

There is something seriously wrong with a society that not only tolerates useless rituals, but ritualises them without question. Particularly in the absence of any logic or coherence as regards actual conditions in the real world.

© Philip Ammerman, 2015

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