Should Greeks Protest Austerity or Not?

Posted by in Editor, Society

There is nothing ‘up’ here today as Greece is trying to pick up yesterday’s pieces. Strikes. Clashes. Austerity. One man lost his life. Protester Dimitris Kotzaridis, 53, suffered a heart attack most likely due to distress during the clashes between ‘hooded men’ and members of the GreekCommunist Party union. The autopsy will show the exact causes of his death, a prosecutor is investigating the issue. The man was a communist party unionist. A construction worker without a job for the last three years. His wife jobless as well.

What do you do if you have no income? You go and demonstrate, you raise your voice against the laws and parliament bills that delete you from the list of living human beings. Or you sit at home and count your cups in the board, deeply depressed. Or you fight with your wife and beat your children. Or if you live in a social state, you sit on your couch and enjoy social benefits. Until the time the doctors declare you’re officially dead. Physically. Then metaphorically, you’ve been  dead for many years, because you never left your couch, raised your voice and fought for your rights.

I see quite some comments in this blog, and also receive some e-mails, where people (foreigners, diaspora Greeks) question why the Greeks organize strikes and protests. Sitting in a comfort chair it has never been considered as the therapy against social apathy.

One part of commentators claims Greeks should pay their taxes and shut up. I considered them as ignorants and victims of their politicians’ populists propaganda. They don’t know better and they refuse to take steps to widen their horizon, to know better.

Another part questions “why do Greeks protest, if austerity bills do pass after all?”.  I assume this question has its base in a mentality of fatal …fatalism. And I dare say that these people seem to forget that they owe today’s “comforts, rights and securities”  to the struggles of people fought yesterday and the day before.  When ideologies, obscurantism and feudalism made everyday life a torture and labour conditions were miserable and hopeless. And yet people tried to change them And they did. Refresh some chapters in history books (Middles Ages, Renaissance, Humanism, French Revolution, Industrial Revolution).  Just ‘google’ these terms.  Or read some Charles Dickens books. Some centuries before are not far away in terms of eternity. Today’s ‘comforts’ were not given by God or just fell from the sky. We owe them to the people who fought for them.

There have been even some KTG-readers who wondered why the army does not intervene to “aid police restore law and order on the streets.” Due to their recent history of military dictatorship, Greeks are very allergic to any presence of soldiers on the streets. Because of the compulsory military duty, soldiers are our children. And you don’t want your children to beat their parents. Do you? By the way, a KTG-reader “Vasilis_21” gave very good answers to this question, that came yesterday but has reached KTG also in the past.

“if the army come sin chances are that the rioters will outnumber the army as well, as you will get everyone over the age of 40 who was alive during the late 60s early 70s on the street,we have respect for the armed forces in Greece but at the same time we try not to let them out the house officially to often. all male Greeks do national service so you are basically asking for conscripted soldiers to start chasing their family around the city for nothing more than peacefully protesting.”

“as i mentioned above since most of the armed forces is comprised of young men who are conscripted to do national service for 12-14 months and who also grew up listening to their parents and grandparents talking about the 1967-1974 junta, i am inclined to think that should the armed forced go for a coup or if the state invited them to suppress demonstrators most of the ordinary soldiers will simply refuse, as they will be in essence suppress what they will be in a few months time, or members of their family community friends, etc. We have a weird relationship with the armed forces, we trust them with our safety and borders and allow our young to be conscripted and trained and are proud that they are part of the defence of the nation at the same time we realise that they need to be controlled” (see Here in comments section)

Yesterday, 74 people sought medical aid in the hospitals of Athens. To get treatment for wounds from hurled stones, for burns dues to thrown fire bombs, to ease respiratory problems due to tear gas. An unknown number of injured was treated at the ambulance spots right at the Syntagma Sq. You think, people leave their homes in the morning just to get wounded?

PS This morning I woke up exhausted and angry. Exhausted due to lack of perspective and angry about what is happening with my country.  But I still have a shimmer of hope. That I’m living in times when history writes a further chapter in its thick book. A positive chapter. That Corruption, Nepotism and Victimization of people will finally end in this country. And not that Greeks will turn back to Middle Ages and be deprived from their dignity…