Thessaloniki, April 26
After a sudden burst of anger following the reelection of the 88-year old president of the republic, the Italian Revolution fizzled out. The two major parties have embraced each other and will soon form a government that has three major priorities. One, protect the economic and legal interests of Silvio Berlusconi. Two, prevent the other political force from disintegrating as a result of a multi billion dollar scandal involving Italy’s oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena. And three, make sure that the Five Star Movement is neutralised in any way necessary. The establishment knows they will have to succeed. If they don’t, then sooner or later, they will all go down together.
In the meantime, I made my way down to Greece. I didn’t plan on visiting this country again, but here I am. It has been a year since we marched to Athens. Back then, we came from Italy, and from the looks of it, Greece was definitely in a bad shape. Now, I come from Bulgaria, and things are different. All things are relative, and Greece is doing great.
Circumstances, and custom, make me put my convictions to the test quite often. I try to keep questioning the things that many of us have been taking for granted. And this time, in Thessaloniki, I have come to the conclusion that there is no crisis. At all. You people have been fooled by corporate media and left wing propaganda. Come take a walk through Thessaloniki and marvel at all the tantalizing windows of the luxury shops. See the flashy cars drive by over the boulevards. Observe the dense crowd of fashionable youngsters shooting pictures with their latest model iPhone. Try to find a place on one of the many terraces of the expensive cafes: you will have a hard time, they are full, everywhere. This crisis is a myth, a Greek one.
Or is it? Some people say that the crisis is real. Those people haven’t been to Bulgaria, or to most other parts of the world. They say things used to be so much better in Greece a few years ago. For me, after witnessing the exuberant hedonism of Thessaloniki, it’s hard to imagine.
But let’s hypothesise that it’s true. There is a crisis. Greece is really suffering. And there is a reason for that. Over the last few decades, the Greeks have lived a lifestyle that they couldn’t afford. They have destroyed all their towns and villages and rebuilt them with cheap concrete. They have joined a currency that they never should have joined. And now that it’s payback time, they blame the powerful international institutions and/or the defenceless immigrants. Some of them blame the Germans. Undoubtedly there are some who blame the Turks. Only a few of them, the most courageous ones – and we have met these people, they are the best – acknowledge that the Greeks have only themselves to blame.
Or have they? Let’s hypothesise that this isn’t true either, that the Greeks themselves are not to blame. Let’s drop the guilt question all together, and ask ourselves what the Greeks are doing to solve the problem.
They resist. My god, they resist. And I have to give them credit for it. Many other peoples just abandon themselves to self pity, but the Greeks are always on the barricades. The trouble is that they are all fighting a different war.
Your average Greek is mad because he is not as rich as he was. He feels that the government (or whoever, the corporations, the Germans, the immigrants, the Turks) is looting his wallet, and he just wants to go back to the times when he lived a life that he couldn’t afford. Your nationalist Greek is usually a fascist. He thinks this crisis thing is about more than just money. He is convinced the Greeks are the greatest people on earth because of all the invaluable things that Greece has left the western world. He wants a national awakening, he wants the immigrants out, he wants to pick a fight with the Turks and he dreams of a renaissance of the great Byzantine empire.
Then you have the believers. They say there is only one god, his name is Karl Marx, and Lenin is his prophet. Others believe in the same god, but they say that his prophet is Trotzky, or Mao. Some even say that his prophet is Jozef Stalin. These churches don’t get along. And what’s more, they are split into numerous different sects, who all claim that their own interpretation of the words of the prophet is the only real one. The thing they share is their firm conviction that one day, god will come again to reward his faithful. The true believers will live in the earthly paradise of the workers and the peasants, and the sinners will be sent off to spend eternity in the gulags of Siberia.
Then you have your anarchists. They only believe in freedom. Some of them build a kind of theory around it, but most of them are nihilists. They go rioting whenever the opportunity arises, because it’s the only thing that gives any sense to their existence.
Finally, there are also people who are content with the situation as it is. These are mostly civil servants. Compared to the total population, there are a lot of them, many more than you would need. They have a job with a fixed salary and hardly a chance of ever losing it. They support the government, any government, because they know that a real change, for them, can only be a change for the worse.
All these spirits add up to different forces, pulling the country in opposite directions, with the result that everything is immobile. Maybe the only way to speak about it, the only way to understand it, is to turn it into a myth. A story in which the communists and the fascists and the anarchists and the politicians and the banks and the international institutions are all mythological monsters. A story in which common sense is the true hero. A hero destined to succumb, but nevertheless unyielding, to the bitter end.
There was one thing I saw here in Thessaloniki, which lifted up my spirits. A protest concert at the White Tower square on the seaside. Against the rising prices of utilities. People had photocopied their bills and hung them up as a kind of decoration. There was no big crowd, there was no police, but also, there were no signs of any political party. These were unaffiliated citizens, rocking for a better world.
This is the follow-up I received after I responded to the letter from Greece:
“The general political situation in Greece is that after the election people have lost hope, they are so disappointed and they don’t believe the political parties in power can save them from the economic crisis (the truth is that they understand it a bit late). In everyday life the only news that we learn about is the actions that fascists do. People don’t react because they are afraid and they think that it is not so important and that whenever the system decides to marginalize them it will be something easy.
The truth for us is different, we believe that the system wants to create a situation that leads to a “civil war”. They have made 2 groups/fields, one that is fascists and the other that is left or anarchist or communist.
All the time in the news you have to see fascists – guys from the gym, like gangsters wearing a black T-shirt – hitting immigrants, destroying, hunting artists and (some) journalists. Fascists control also youtube!!! When you go to this website the top videos are from a speech of a deputy of them (Chrisi Augi). Examples:
(the most shocking video. The title is “Crisi Augi cracking down the illigal trade”)
(this image is from the popular meal they organised only for Greeks).
(in this video Chrisi Augi with some religious people have been outside the theater protesting about a play that insults God. Their slogan is : “Greece means Orthodox”)
In all theirs attacks always the first man will be a deputy of this party so the police obviously don’t do something.
The other field/group is sleeping. Don’t do a thing all the time, the only things are talking, blaming or a march.
Another thing that the system have done is that it not only controls all the press but now they started to threaten and to arrest bloggers that don’t like them. The accuses most of the times are ridiculous, for example insulting god!!! Day by day we become a more conservative and religious oriented society.
The purpose of all this we believe is that they want to control the situation after the imminent default and the expected insurrection. So they have to feed us and fill us with fear… The people watch from a distance and they don’t want to be involved, they are afraid.”
I got a letter today from two very dear friends whom we met in Patras on the March to Athens. I was shocked. This is Europe, AD 2012…
“Here in Greece things are getting worse every day, but except for some strikes one day per week, no one seems to care. Everyday fascists attack the immigrants. Now they want to know how many immigrant children are in kindergartens. Anarchists don’t do much about it. The only time they do something is when the mayor decides that the buildings they occupy must return to the city. The people that wanted to “clear” the occupied buildings were the fascists of the political party Chrisi Augi [Golden Dawn]. So only then anarchists react and burn a fascist hideout. Police arrested them…
Yesterday we were passing in front of the political office of the fascists and they were there with shields and bats like they are in a war! I was so afraid. Now they expand and attack artists and journalists as well.
In my life now I am officially unemployed. Greece is dying and we can’t do something about it.
Please send me your news and something to hope for.”
Μ & Σ