Regarding the Greek riots

As I wrote at the blog of Stormrider, I don’t support the current riots. The rioters simply wanted a reason to just go out and have some raw fun at the expense of other people’s properties. The policeman who shot the kid might have been wrong, but this doesn’t mean that you riot over a single person’s bad decision. Bad decisions that cost lives happen every day, everywhere. The way you fix that is by taking the case to the court. That’s how things are done properly without more people getting hurt or losing their life’s worth of sweat. I am a very liberal person, libertarian at some points too, but not a violent anarchist.


Dimos wrote on December 10th, 2008 at 5:23 AM PST:

I am glad you enabled commenting again.

I completely agree with your point of view. It’s the only one that makes sense to me at least. However, it could be that we are a minority. The “official” dogma in greek media is 1) because you are ungry (for whatever reason), feel free to destroy other people properties and act like a cannibal. It’s your right 2) police are the bad guys. Everyone is so busy trying to find new ways to blame the police, they have almost stopped noticing there are riots.

Now, you see people that have started picking up fights with vandals (e.g. shop owners) and even try to lynch them (dangerous outcome). Guess what: they are also the good guys.

It’s just crazy. Part of it could be political agenta, but I think most of it is greek media at its worse: “yellow”, populist, sensationalist, irresponsible. Are people -really- buying this?

chfloudas wrote on December 10th, 2008 at 6:23 AM PST:

Well said..
Unfortunately it seems that no solution is on the horizon for the dead-end that we are facing down here (GR).
For those that can read greek, an entry that seems to describe the situation quite well, far away from the nonsensical on-air-sociology of the greek media:

chfloudas wrote on December 10th, 2008 at 6:24 AM PST:

psifio wrote on December 10th, 2008 at 7:15 AM PST:

Hi there.

While I agree that destroying other people’s property in order to vent your anger is utterly wrong, and it should stop, what’s happening is not due to a single person’s bad decision. This was not an isolated incident. In the last fifteen years alone, more than a hundred people have been killed by the police (not in self defence), and many more have been beaten or have been mildly tortured while in police custody or during demonstrations. The Greek police are more oppressive than you think. In the ‘40s and the ‘50s they chased communists, in the ‘60s and the ‘70s they chased those who opposed the junta, and in the ’80s, the ‘90s and the ‘00s they chase demonstrators (while they let those who actually destroy public property during demonstrations go free). They do very little to protect the public, allowing drug dealers, murderers, kidnappers, rapists, robbers and thugs to roam the streets, while they go on great lengths to arrest drug users and prostitutes, homeless and pedlars, emigrants and kids skating on the streets. And when they take their brutality so far that it cannot be concealed, judges and DAs let them get away with it with a slap on the wrist. Incidents of police brutality become more frequent every year. This is not to say that every cop is a bad cop, but many of them are in the best case plain incompetent and bullies and in the worst case criminals themselves.

I live in a small town in the Peloponnese. My home has been robbed five times in the last two years. We have repeatedly asked the police for help and they have ignored us, though my father is a well known and outstanding member of the community (not that this should be a factor). When my mother when to talk to them personally holding evidence (a pair of gloves the robbers left behind), they told her that they will arrest them if she catches them herself and bring them to the police station. On the other hand, last year, my then seventeen-year-old brother went for a walk with his friends in the town square a Saturday night and was slapped around by two patrol policemen in front of the whole town because they ask to see his ID and he had forgotten it at home.

I’ll say it again, I do not agree with what’s happening. It is wrong and destruction is not the way to oppose a rotten status quo. I am not saying that there should be no police, or that every policeman is bad, but saying that the death of Alexis is an isolated incident is an insult to everyone who has been killed, beaten or otherwise victimized by the police. State violence is still violence, and violence of the worst kind — that is exactly why people are so angry and do not regard this event as one person’s bad decision. And if the government does not take measures to reform the police in a democratic force that will serve and protect the public instead of oppressing it, this constant “war” between hooligans and riot police will not cease.

horace wrote on December 10th, 2008 at 9:22 AM PST:

i am not greek and i don’t know much about this situation but in our media (germany) they depict it as a crisis of a totally corrupt state. so it sounds a bit more complicated than a single person’s bad decision.

Kevin wrote on December 10th, 2008 at 12:06 PM PST:

I would encourage those of you who are interested in finding, or trying to understand, why an isolated incident — that in the grand scheme of things is only one of many over the years, can become the basis of actions like you are seeing today. the death which sparked the riots, might be more accurately described as a ‘tipping point’ in the perception and relationship between the police and the now rioters. Malcolm Gladwell, does an incredible job outlining how these sorts of things ‘tip’ from one side of the fence to the other, in his book, “The Tipping Point”. It’s one of my favorites reads and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting viewpoint on what goes on behind social epidemics.

Vassilis Perantzakis wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 9:55 AM PST:

I live in Greece and let me tell you that I believe Eugenia is 100% correct. Further more, I don’t know how the media depicts Greece abroad, but the corruption is being fought now. Most (not all admittedly) of the corruption now being revealed comes from the previous governments that covered everything up.

As to the reason this happened some say it is the economic crises, some say it is the media exaggerations, some say it is the corruption (previous and current) and others say it is a far-leftists conspiracy. Besides the latter, I believe all other factors are the reason.

Giorgos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 1:16 PM PST:

I am Greek and I have to say that Alex’s death wasn’t the main reason why Greeks decided to react. And I’m not talking about the destruction of the properties. This happened because some hot-heads who always cause trouble, decided to cause trouble yet again. The true reaction came from the students who are fed up with the life that is stored for them: corruption,unemployment,low-wages,uncertainty.

You see Eugenia, Alex’s death was the spark which ignited the fire that was burning for a long a time. And it wasn’t an isolated incident. It has happened one too many times. It’s the result of a corrupt political system. And I don’t understand the meaning of this phrase “might have been wrong”. Which circumstance justifies the death of a 15 year old student by a policeman?

The current government has lost its credibility. Our Prime Minister is, sadly, incapable of handling the crisis. I disagree with Vassilis and I’m questioning whether he truly lives in Greece. Corruption isn’t being fought. It’s even worse. They haven’t revealed anything, they are just so incapable that they couldn’t hide their own dirty jobs. The Prime Minister should leave and we should have elections soon. Cause the sooner he and his government leaves the better. And we should realize that we can’t go on like this. Things should change. We have to demand it.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 1:56 PM PST:

>Alex’s death wasn’t the main reason why Greeks decided to react

Giorgo, that’s what Pasok people would say. The other side simply says it is not so. I believe the truth is somewhere in between. But whatever the truth, burning people’s properties is never the answer.

Dimos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 2:02 PM PST:

Ok, some more comments from me
-Corruption (of politicians, police, media etc) IMHO is -not- being handled. Quite the contrary. Things are as bad or worse than they were. This makes it very easy for
-Populist policians try to take over any genuine expression of frustration from young protesters.
-The left tries (rather succesfully) to dissociate itself from the trouble makers, who are of course an extremist version of the left.
-The right tries (rather unsuccesfully) to cover up anything wrong that comes up, rather than deal with it.

What I am trying to say is that what we have now is a bad version of the right and a bad version of the left, and two wrongs don’t make one right.

Peace 🙂

Giorgos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 2:08 PM PST:

No, that’s what people with common sense say. I never said that burning people’s properties is the answer. These burnings are one side of the coin, the other side and the most important is the students and the majority of Greek people who are disgusted by the way things are in our country. A corrupt political system which is the outcome of both governments, Pasok and New Democracy. And you never answered my question: Which circumstance justifies the death of a 15 year old student by a policeman?

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Eugenia wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 2:22 PM PST:

Nobody said that the death was justified. But going on an outbreak like this to burn down everything is NOT justified EITHER. That’s the point you don’t understand Giorgo.

Giorgos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 2:38 PM PST:

What you don’t understand Eugenia is this: The burning of the properties, as I’ve said, IS NOT JUSTIFIED. English isn’t my native language but I think that I’ve said it clearly. Let me say it once more. The burning of the properties is not justified. The outbreak doesn’t involve ONLY the burning of the properties but all these school kids and students who are reacting (without burning), all Greek people who are disgusted by our corrupt political system. Can you in return understand that the burning is only one part of the problem? Or what you have seen and read thus far was only that? And can you understand that Alex’s death isn’t the main reason why people are so angry but that his death was the trigger that set the fire?

Unemployment, bad economy, corrupt politicians, corrupt religious leaders, corrupt policemen, scandals, low-wages, rotten health system, rotten insurance system, bad education. Shall I go on? And what we have heard all these years is this: We will give you bla bla bla. And the outcome is this: a zero. We are fed up. That’s why people are so angry. That’s the reason behind all of these. Alex’s death was the fuel. And I asked you the question cause you’ve said: “The policeman who shot the kid MIGHT have been wrong”.

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Eugenia wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 2:52 PM PST:

JESUS. “Might” doesn’t mean just “maybe” or “wasn’t” in that sentence, it is part of a larger sentence that serves as a hypothesis to make a point in the REST of the sentence. Your english is indeed not good enough to understand the spirit of what I wrote. I do not justify the death of that kid.

Giorgos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 2:54 PM PST:

I originally said that the burning of the properties isn’t the answer. By that I obviously meant that it’s not justified. He, he, my English aren’t that bad but my memory obviously is :).

Giorgos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 3:00 PM PST:

Ok, my mistake Eugenia, no need to be that harsh :p. Αnyway, do you really believe that the main reason of what has happened here in Greece is Alex’s death and that the only problem is the burning of the properties? If you truly believe that then I suggest you read more on the subject.

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Eugenia wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 3:13 PM PST:

No, I don’t believe the main reason is Alex’s death. It was just the AFORMH. And while I agree that Greece is corrupted to the bone, it was ALWAYS that way. Ever since I remember myself, I have seen corruption from the smallest to the biggest degree at all levels of the commons.

However, the guys who went out to break showrooms were the youngster anarchists, not the showroom owner, or the teacher, or the person who’s without a job for a year now. This doesn’t mean that these young anarchists are the only ones who care about Greece and they do something about it (even if it’s just breaking and burning), it just shows me that they went out to have some fun and get featured in the 8 PM TV News. They have a vendetta with the police, and so they found the chance to go and have fun. In their minds there isn’t a “new Greece”, or “clear up corruption”, or “find us a job”. In their minds was “let’s have some fun, bwahahaha”. That’s my problem with the whole thing. I DO NOT believe in the “purity” of their intentions.

Dimos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 3:27 PM PST:

Giorgos, did you break a shop or start a fire yesterday? If not, why?

Giorgos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 3:30 PM PST:

Of course, there isn’t any purity in violence or destruction. And the word “anarchist” is seldom used properly. To me there are more like hooligans and fanatics. Honestly, I think that if the Greek police or the Greek government really wanted to stop these kids they could have done that ages ago. I think that the presence of these hooligans serves both the police and the government. It’s a way to make us forget about our real problems and focus only on the destruction of our property. A way to force us think individually and not collectively.

They serve the government well. And it’s easier to sacrifice some freedoms if you feel that you are threatened. Look what happened to America, after 9/11. People living in fear led to a war.

Giorgos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 3:58 PM PST:

Dimos, is your full name Dimosthenis or Dimokritos? If it is neither then what is your full name?
Sorry for the bizarre question but I honestly don’t understand the point of it. If you care to explain it then I might answer.

Dimos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 5:55 PM PST:

My full name is Dimos (gero-Dimos…). It’s my given name. I hear it is an old, folk nick for Dimitris.

>did you break a shop or start a fire yesterday? If not, why?

Heh, this isn’t a police trick question. I guess your paranoia bulb lighted up with this one (don’t worry, I get this too sometimes, these days). It’s a rhetoric question (Socratic method):

You have described why you (among many others) feel very ungry (about the murder, other social issues etc). (myself I feel simply hopeless). But, I am pretty sure you didn’t break someone’s shop or started a fire as a natural consequence. I can think of 2 reasons why

1) the gray thing between your ears, aka brain. You have one, not everyone does
2) you understand there must be SOMETHING wrong with punching someone in the face, or burning down his shop, because you’re ungry for *whatever* reason

So “bad things happen in this country” == “ungry about it” != “riots, violence is a natural and justified consequence”

I’ll give another example:
Say you have a wife/girlfriend. You love her and basically do your part in a relationship. Suddenly, you find out you have been cheated and taken advantage for quite some time.
As a result, you get very ungry. You are furious.

It’s your right to kill her or at least torture her in some way, right?


In so many words, I don’t claim it’s bad to be ungry about certain things in our country. Actually solving problems is much, much harder than just letting out a fit of rage. Populists (politicians, journalists) will tell you it’s the same thing, though.

Everything above is IMHO, of course.

Kingofpunk wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 6:01 PM PST:

Let’s imagine
I am a young Greek boy who studied in university for 5 years
I always saw my parents giving money (corruption) for every aspect of life, I am trying to search for a job but the only good one I found is a 300 euros paid…
I am living in a country that is controlled by the same 3 family for over 50 years…
Police brutality is everyday, everywhere, for everybody.

If I was this young guy, I will go on the street immediately and destroy everything I could

Dimos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 6:13 PM PST:

I am *tempted* too believe me. But there must be something to do that will actually *improve* things?

Frankly, the situation where someone encourages young people to get on the streets and show off how ungry they are, reminds me (warning: exaggeration) of certain African countries where a renegade General gives guns to 15 year old, fuels them with hate and false hopes and then simply sits back and watches the outcome.

Dimos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 6:30 PM PST:

Also, see the Cultural Revolution in China in the 60s: ungry school and university students, revolted angrily against the system they were fed up with.

Yeah, right.
Can you spell M-A-N-I-P-U-L-A-T-I-O-N?

Giorgos wrote on December 11th, 2008 at 6:44 PM PST:

No, my paranoia bulb didn’t lighten up, I honestly found it a weird question. I didn’t understand that it was a rhetoric one (damn internet :P).

I feel a mixture of anger and hopelessness. Hopelessness is the dominant feeling, though. No, i wouldn’t burn down a shop, cause I think it is wrong and I don’t see how this would contribute to anything. Although, I must admit that I feel a sort of sadistic pleasure seeing banks or major shop-chains destroyed. What can I say, I’m only human. What concerns me the most is whether this anger or hopelessness or disgust or whatever it is that we feel, will lead us to a change. Or will we remain the dog that constantly barks but doesn’t bite? And by bite I mean that we should demand this change, we should be willing to become a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

How do they say it? If you hit rock bottom the only way is up. Well, we’ve hit rock bottom. Will the saying apply to us?

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