(GREEK UPRISING) It would be premature for anyone to declare that the apparent uprising on the streets of Greece has an undeniably strong socialist element to it. That remains unsaid, but there is a lot of potent evidence for reaching that conclusion. The premature part however lies in admitting that any large outbreak of public unrest will always contain many more elements than it appears: looters may well loot for the sake of it and fires will be set for various reasons, but no-one can convincingly claim that Greece’s political-economic situation does not lie behind the trouble.
Almost every news commentator from CNN to Greek news points to the rise in poverty and the wealth disparities in Greece, despite the country’s supposed large-scale welfare spending. They also admit that Greece is saddled (as yet) with an unpopular conservative government which does not even have a majority. A government lacking authority and support that has responded to the trouble by urging unions to cancel further protests.
The overwhelming amount of damage has been against symbols of wealth: hotels and businesses. The chant from the protestors was to “let parliament burn”. This prolonged attack against the police (widely viewed as an instrument of an illegitimate authority), against the business community, and against the government, can’t easily be put down to simple mob mentality and overreaction to a police killing. It is acknowleged that Greece has a long tradition of protest, indeed of violent protest; large scale violence brought down a military Junta (see Malcolm Brabant’s report on the BBC for a short background).The question is if this is really only a Greek-style reaction, or if it is the universal reaction of people tired of bad government and corrupt economics – if so it may well erupt outside Greece as the world crisis worsens.
The constant requests to cease rioting and for everyone to ‘condemn’ the uprising makes a mockery of the Greek people’s so-called right to protest. The form of protest is something chosen by the protestors themselves. It may well be that people are no longer prepared to take part in another useless ‘peaceful sit-in’ that achieves next to nothing and is quickly forgotton, and where the government escapes by the skin of its teeth to carry on regardless.