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European dissolution

June 6th marked the 70th anniversary of the famous D-Day of World War II. It was the largest seaborne military operation in history and it marked the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.

Despite all the grand celebrations, though, despite the speeches and the moving stories of the last remaining veterans, one need to go no further than the results of the recent European Parliament elections to realise that something is wrong.

We might honour history, but we fail to learn from it.

As troops and ships from Great Britain and the Commonwealth, USA and many other countries gained the beaches of Normandy, the Red Army was marching from the East. The frantic race to Berlin, a race not only to end the most destructive conflict in the history of mankind, but to gain the prestige and possible technological spoils from the conquest of the German capital, would end almost a year later.

The World War was replaced by a Cold War, lines were drawn, walls were erected, curtains were raised, nuclear weapons were constructed and mankind came closer to extinction than ever before.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were no more enemies to be afraid of. As the spectre of another global conflict started to dissolve, political power shifted away from governments and into the hands of banks and financial institutions.

The same ills that brought about the Great Depression of the 1930s now threaten us again with a new financial crisis the remedy for which, we are told, is to be found into austerity for people of low to average income, while banks increase their profits and golden boys give themselves huge bonuses and pat each other on the back.

At the same time, however, extreme right parties gain more voters every day.

What we ought to remember is that Hitler was not some random madman who suddenly seized power and hypnotized an entire nation into Nazism. Adolph Hitler was elected into power. It was a slow process, that took both the defeat of Germany in World War I and the toxic financial environment of the late ’20s and early ’30s to grow into fascism.

In the end, slowly but surely, it drove several peoples into the hands of fanatics. Leaders in other countries seemed to worry about the situation in Germany and Italy, but they did little more than watch, until Nazi tanks crossed their borders.

Today, neo-nazi, racist and nationalist parties are growing all over Europe. In France, the United Kingdom and Denmark, anti-immigration parties have won the elections with 25, 27 and 26.6 percent respectively. Meanwhile, in Greece the neo-nazi party of Golden Dawn came very close to double digits, even though several of its MPs (including the party’s leader) have been imprisoned facing trial for planning and participation in various crimes and racist assaults up to and including murder. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find a European country where the popularity of the far-right parties was reduced. Even in the generally more prosperous Scandinavian region.

If we do not wish for history to repeat itself, we ought to do more than deliver empty speeches on national holidays. Fascism is not some monster hiding under our beds, nor some kind of disease that you might catch while riding the train to work.

In fact, it is an idea that is most likely to take root where there is no work, where there is social inequality, where democracy is weakened and manipulated. Like the Weimar Republic of the 1920s. Like our democracies, today.

 

Intermission #20

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As you may already know, May 6th was an election day in both Greece and France. In France it was a second round victory for François Hollande, while in Greece it was a first round defeat of the formerly bipolar, now bipartisan political system.

While May 7th left Greece without a government, something which has happened only once in the past 38 years, two things became abundantly clear:

Firstly, changing the entire political establishment which has ruled Greece for nearly four decades is not something than can be accomplished in a month’s time. Unless, of course, this is achieved through violent means, something which any reasonable person would consider only as an absolute last resort.

Secondly, when a society comes under such tremendous stress, especially one as complacent as the Greek society of the past generation, then inevitably it will turn to political extremes. And by that, I do not mean the parliamentary Left or the traditional Christian/nationalist LAOS party, but the neo-nazis.

The two major parties in Greece, PASOK and Nea Dimokratia (New Democracy) had been accustomed to pass the government between them for 40 years, without fail. Now, they realise that this is no longer going to be their private two player game, with lesser parties standing as spectators by the sidelines. They are going to the bench, and they will do everything in their power to prevent that. This resistance, predictably so, is causing political instability and uncertainty.

Democracy, however, will not stand for lifelong “protectors” or foreign overlords. Those who blackmail the people of Greece (or any other people for that matter) into voting anything should be automatically considered enemies of Democracy and be treated as such: with contempt in the interior and with a firm diplomatic stance abroad.

The two formerly major parties have suffered their first ever serious shock. It is now up to the Greek voters to deliver the “coup de grâce”. Not because we desire chaos and a lack of government, but because in all their history these two parties were acting arbitrarily, serving their own petty interests, armed with the certainty that they would rule again in the next term or the one after that.

No one can expect these two parties to save Greece. They are so deeply entangled with the outdated, dysfunctional and corrupt state system that they would be unable to implement any effective reforms, even if they wanted to.

As for the rise of the extreme right neo-nazi party called “Chryssi Avgi” (Golden Dawn), it was a predictable consequence of the rampant crisis. The pre-election “campaign” of the group included civilian patrols of poor districts with illegal immigrant and criminal activity problems. But that would never be enough to catapult an obscure party from 0.2% to 7%.

“Chryssi Avgi” was voted in every corner of Greece by more than 400.000 people, including the villages of Kalavryta and Distomo, where the occupying Nazi army commited unspeakable attrocities during World War II.  My initial reaction to that paradox, as a typical, sentimental Greek, was horror and disgust. But in the end the exact location matters little.

Do the residents of Distomo have a greater obligation to honour our history and our dead than other Greeks? Hundreds of thousands died from starvation in Athens alone. My grandfather fought against the fascists in the mountains of Albania and my mother was losing her nails as a child due to malnutrition.

Most of us have heard tales about the war and the Nazi occupation and have seen the scars they left behind. World War II did not take place in another reality, nor 500 years ago. How ironic then, that while we are accusing the German government of attempting to enforce a financial 4th Reich in Europe, we are witnessing in Greece the rise of an actual neo-Nazi party.

Despite their efforts to hide the swastikas and their clearly fascist ideals as documented in their official publications of the past, even their current “sanitized” views, including the role of women as breeding machines for the nation, the perceived superiority of the white male and the open admiration of their leader for Adolf Hitler as a “remarkable personality” is enough to make any sane person cringe.

Their inability to grasp the meaning of democracy became apparent when they demanded that  journalists should stand as a token of “respect” when their leader entered the room to deliver his post election speech. The Greek journalists refused and were consequently asked to leave.

Which they did, much to their credit. However, during the pre-election period most of them never devoted a single line or television minute to the presentation of this party and its views. One of those who did write about them was faced with thinly veiled threats and even advised by the police to stop writing about the neo-Nazis. Is that what we should do? Remain silent before the rise of racist, neo-Nazi terror?

I don’t think so.

If the demise of the Weimar Republic has taught the world anything it’s that silence never stops evil.

“Chryssi Avgi” plays the role of  the bogeyman perfectly, since the Left, even the die-hard Communist Party (KKE), is beginning to seem ever more appealing to the Greek voters, who are living in constant fear of losing their jobs, their homes and their dignity, and joining the swelling ranks of the newly poor.

Some might balk at the ideas of the Communist Party as backward and even dangerous, but at least their vision does not include obscene theories about white male supremacy and immigrant pogroms.

This new pre-election period will be dominated by the attempts of the faltering establishment and their controlled media to spread the fear of the exit from the Eurozone and the rise of the neo-Nazis, to stress the image of the “irresponsible” Left, to sow doubt using the eventuality of another fruitless election and play the role of the “repentant criminal”. They have already promised that, following the mandate of the people, they will attempt to ease the terms of the memorandums.

Something that two months ago was completely out of the question. The game is already on at full force. A few days ago, a statement of a member of the left-wing SYRIZA party, concerning the need for “tight public regulation” of Greek banks so that deposits are used to fund the economy and not just increase the share value of the banks was “translated” by the media as an intent to appropriate bank deposits. This has very nearly caused a bank run in the past few days and has demonstrated clearly who the truly irresponsible parties are.

The promises for renegotiation of the memorandum from those parties are null and void, as were all of their promises of the past four decades. The troika has made their intent to demand additional austerity measures abundantly clear, while there is still absolutely nothing on the table pointing towards restructuring the Greek economy apart from widespread cuts which will stall growth indefinitely.

The coming elections have to send a clear message to the corrupt political establishment, and our European partners who are all too keen to support banks and financial institutions at our expense: you cannot liquidate an entire country for the benefit of multinational companies and banks. It is a risk we have to take for Greece and for all the citizens of Europe.

Intermission #11

Greeks, like a surreal housewife with a moustache, woke up one day and decided to demand a divorce from the past. Our abusive husband will say anything to bring us back, but we know that those promises are empty. Should we go back, the old habits will return, worse than ever. We have to break free.

Let us imagine for a moment that there is another Greece, where everything works as it should. Or that chaos, corruption and lack of planning are limited to reasonable levels instead of where they are now. These days, with mounting police violence, starving people and the economy collapsing everyday, I can’t help thinking that the average African dictator would feel right at home in Greece.

But let us suppose that it is not so.

Suddenly, while everyday life is progressing more or less normally and the elections are coming up, police vans appear in the streets to pick up illegal immigrants, corrupt politicians are arrested, the German war reparations issue is put forward officially, potholes in the streets are covered up, legislation for families in serious debt is being drafted in the Parliament…

Former ministers are making candid speeches on TV about the hard decisions they were forced to take and about the price they paid for them…

Even if everything was well and fine, even if Greece was not a country (like many others today, I have to admit) where our intelligence and our dignity are being tried each and every day, even then there would be a certain feeling of annoyance.

We would realize this charade for what it is. Or this show, that is being put on for luring in the votes, one more time. But this is NOT Greece in the happy haze of 2004. People are not annoyed. They are a pot simmering with anger, which has been building up for the past two years.

And the police vans release suspects not two blocks away from where they were picked up. Politicians and those who owe millions to the Greek state are being arrested solely for the benefit of big headlines. The files containing the very valid and just case of Greece against Nazi war crimes, including a forced “loan” which was never repaid, were lost and left to gather dust for at least 20 years. Favourable legislation for households in great debt is being planned only because our prisons are filled to the brim and there is little room for poor sods who owe a few thousand to the banks. Either because they could not deal with their expenses or because they were simply too careless with their credit card.

And one of the so-called saviours of our country, our former Minister of Finance, even though he is being mauled (for a change) by a reporter about his actions leading to the troika memorandum, still has the gall to protest about not being able to have a cup of coffee with his wife in public.

Instead of being ashamed to show his face among people who can no longer afford to have a coffee, or even to eat, because of his destructive austerity measures. Instead of sitting before a court in order to explain what was the reasoning behind accepting loans at exorbitant interest rates which will be impossible to pay off.

The proof to that can be plainly seen in the breakdown of our latest loan instalment.  The entire total of 3.3 billion Euros which the Greek state received was deposited into accounts to the benefit of our creditors. Not only did we not keep one cent from this “aid”, but we actually had to pay 46 million Euros as… commission to the banks.

Total: -46.000.000 Euros. The state bleeds money, our creditors profit and the show goes on.

The repayment of our new loan commences next year. Supposing that our economy has not collapsed by then, we will simply be unable to cover our loan payments, even if we somehow manage to reach a primary surplus within a year.

At that point, total bankruptcy, which our governments are supposedly doing everything they can to avoid, will be inevitable. Greece will be forced to hand over its assets to its creditors for a fraction of their real value and it will be doomed to perpetual national and financial servitude. The first colony on European soil in modern history.

We have had just about enough of this act. We can no longer tolerate a state where nothing ever moves towards the right direction, except during pre-election times. And even then, just for show.

We have watched this play before. Many times. The ending is always bad and progressively getting worse. But now we are prepared. Behind their hastily assembled stage scenery their plans for the immediate future are obvious.

We know why taxation bills were delayed this year. Because when Greek taxpayers (those that cannot evade taxes by depositing money abroad or in off-shore companies) will be asked to pay taxes which they cannot possibly afford, the government will claim that it has a “fresh mandate”, that “there is no alternative” and that “they are sorry, but…”

We know about the taxes that will be imposed right after the elections. We know about the new measures that are being prepared for June. We know that you are raising steel walls around the Parliament, which no longer represents the Greek people. We know that the troika aims to lower our wages to levels on par with Bulgaria. While we pay EU level prices for all basic goods.

What we also also aware of is that this “solution” which you are trying to sell for the past two years will lead nowhere. That is not just our opinion, it’s not just common sense, it has also been verified by distinguished economists from all around the world, including Nobel prize winner, Joseph Stiglitz.

For two years, our government has been engaged in a misinformation campaign, armed with fake dilemmas, such as: “Euro or drachma” and “Memorandum or bankruptcy”. In truth, they are attempting to hide the real problem, which is simply that the two-party system continues to rule even after bringing Greece to the very edge of ruin. Euro, drachma, dollar or ruble be damned. With this kind of leadership Greece is going nowhere.

The true dilemma is “mindset change or ruin”. For all of us, Greek or not.

Intermission #10

It’s the disease of the age
It’s the disease that we crave
Alone at the end of the rave
We catch the last bus home

Corporate America wakes
Coffee republic and cakes
We open the latch on the gate
Of the hole that we call our home

Protect me from what I want…
Protect me protect me

This is a world steeped in lies. Lies permeate every aspect of human life, from the moment they become self-aware (what a lovely child!) to the moment of their death. Even then, if they could, they would still hear lies uttered above their coffin (he was such a good man…).

There are lies and then there are lies. Some are spoken out of courtesy, some out of selfishness. And some, the worst kind, are used with malicious intent. These lies are like pests thriving on the soil prepared by the other, more “innocent” kinds.

Small, white lies are the ones that cannot be realistically avoided, at least if we care to live as harmoniously as possible in the company of others. Selfish lies stem out of our inability to admit the truth, especially to ourselves, and are very hard to avoid. Even though they harm us and everyone around us much more than we realize.

Those selfish lies are the ones which better condition us, so that we can accept the big lies, the ones that become an art and a profession in their own right.

The greatest liars of all, without doubt, are the politicians. They do not simply lie the most, but also speak the worst and most dangerous lies. Lies that start wars, that convince the people to vote for them, even against their own interests. Lies which grant them power.

The grandest liar of all time was the one whose most important contribution to modern civilization was the use of misinformation on a massive scale: propaganda. Adolf Hitler managed to lead an entire people, well-known for being level-headed and practical, into believing the most outrageous things.

He persuaded the Germans that they were racially superior to the rest of humanity, that the ones responsible for Germany’s inevitable deterioration after their defeat in WWI were in fact the Jews and that the destiny of the German people was to dominate the world.

All this with the help of the full resources of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, at the head of which was the infamous Joseph Goebbels. Today, this role is played by the mass media.

The media achieve this goal not only by what is said by anchormen and written by journalists, but also what is implied and by what is never mentioned at all. Gradually, methodically they can convince people about almost anything. If it were not for the effect of the media, the masks of the politicians would crumble in an instant.

Let us take Greece in particular. I am often asked by foreign friends (and thinking Greeks wonder themselves) how it is possible for our politicians to lie so outrageously to our faces and yet manage to still be taken seriously? It is all a trick of the media. For years they’ve been going back and forth between the two major parties, gauging public opinion in order to strike at the most unpopular of the two at any given time.

The less unpopular party is given a reprieve, while the scandals of the other (usually the ruling one) were given plenty of air time, without ever leading to real investigations. Eventually the older scandals would be overshadowed by the new, and the previous party would slowly be promoted by denouncing the corruption of their opponents.

Even before the media reigned, however, the Greek people seemed eager to trust in a “saviour”. Thus, the “socialist” PASOK party won the 1981 elections by a great margin, using “EU and NATO are the same syndicate” as its central slogan. And also “out with the bases of death” referring to the US military bases in Greek territory.

31 years later, our politicians speak of the possibility of Greece outside of the EU as a terrible eventuality and leaving NATO was never even remotely considered. Any reduction of the number of US military bases in Greece came solely as a result of the need of the Pentagon to cut its costs.

Whether leaving these international organizations would actually benefit Greece is beside the point here. The point is that these claims were proven false, but this did not stop PASOK from being reelected in 1985. In other words, Greeks swallowed the lie without thinking. And that was not the end of it. Lies form a chain, one link at a time, with each lie supporting the next one in line. And we bound ourselves tightly with this chain until any hope of escape seemed impossible.

This chain of lies led us to the execution of one of the greatest international cons of all time. Greece, with the “kind” help of Goldman-Sachs, managed to fool the entire European Union into accepting us into the Euro zone in 2001.

This gargantuan lie could have been turned to the benefit of Greece; it could have become a white lie.  If our governments truly strove to restructure our economy gradually and put European funds and subsidies to good use by promoting growth. If they truly had the better interests of our country in mind.

Any such illusions had been dispelled two years earlier, when the Greek Stock Exchange bubble burst violently, marking the end of the false prosperity of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The total lack of state control as to the actual assets of companies entering the market, combined with the shameless advertizing of the Greek Stock Exchange by government officials, including the Prime Minister himself, led to a catastrophic free fall.

Market analysts looking at the big picture would tell you that the financial disaster was not so serious, however this event initiated a great redistribution of wealth in Greece, which continues to this day. Those Greeks who didn’t lose their life savings in the Stock Exchange certainly know someone who did.

The chain of lies continued with the Olympic Games of 2004 in Athens. Besides the obvious fact that the modern Games have become an impressive show for the benefit of multinational corporations and TV consumption, the Greek government used them as an excuse to indulge in an orgy of overspending. It is painfully obvious today that the billions of Euros which went into the Olympic Games of 2004 (and into various bank accounts) were money we could not afford to spend.

Most of the public infrastructure which was marketed as the legacy of the Olympic Games for the Greek people (such as freeways and the Athens Metro) was planned years before our bid for the Olympics was accepted. The lucrative delays were cut short so that everything would be ready in the nick of time and at several times the normal cost.

The two major parties alternated in the government, but their promises were never kept. Perhaps the low-point in these 30 years of history was the infamous slogan “Lefta iparhoun” (there are enough money) of our former Prime Minister, George Papandreou, together with his firm declaration that we did not need the help of the IMF.

By blindly accepting their lies at face value for an entire generation, we have nurtured our politicians’ arrogance to the point that some have openly admitted the obvious: that their promises before the elections should not be taken seriously. And despite everything, we keep on voting for them, ensuring that the chain of lies which binds us will eventually strangle us and keep our children bound for ever.

The shadow play has become so obvious that not even the pretenses are kept anymore. Lies which would be forgotten in the span of a full 4-year government term are now exposed within months, weeks or even days!

The new leader of PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos declared on June 2011 that the electric utility bills could not possibly be used as a means of tax collection, because electricity is a “social good”. A mere three months later, it ceased being so.

The leader of the “opposition” (now that’s a lie if I’ve ever heard one!) a few weeks before forcing all the members of Parliament of his party to approve the new memorandum agreement, had accused it of being “catastrophic”. One of his party’s newest acquisitions from the extreme right party of LAOS, Adonis Georgiadis, just one day before the CDS were triggered claimed that this would not happen “if the PSI was successful”. Which it was. Or so they tell us.

The lies of our politicians have now a minimal “half-life”, like unstable nuclear isotopes which vanish within minutes and are forgotten. But the damage that they cause remains. And there is very little time left to undo it. Perhaps none at all.

A Greek woman during an interview to BBC a few months ago described the Greek debt crisis using a very simple, yet extremely lucid metaphor. She likened our politicians to an abusive husband, who cheated on his wife and abandoned her with a huge debt to her name.

I partly agree. Our “husband” has not abandoned us, but keeps on lying to us incessantly, he abuses us and forces us on his creditors to pay his debts. And he keeps us “in line” by persuading us that only he can keep the banks from taking our house and that we are also to blame for not keeping our home’s finances in order.

Indeed, we are to blame because we kept believing him for 30 years and didn’t kick him out of our home, as we should have done. We are even more to blame now, because even though we’ve finally realized the truth, we are still too afraid and ashamed to kick him out. Much like an abused woman.

How can we blame women like that for being weak and not taking control of their lives, while we as a nation react in pretty much the same manner?

Isn’t it time to put an end to the lies?

Intermission #7

Cover versions which are equal to or even better than the original version of a song are rare. Especially so for translated songs. Greek composer and singer Dionysis Savvopoulos translated and covered Bob Dylan’s “Wicked Messenger” in his album “Vromiko psomi” (Dirty bread) in 1972 under the title “Angelos Exangelos”.  In my opinion, his translation added a lot to the original and the arrangement is also remarkable. This is an attempt at re-translation of his lyrics:

A messenger, a crier, he came from afar,

leaning on a crutch so battered,

he did not know how to speak at all,

for his tongue it could not speak, but only flatter.

 _

The news that he brought us, they were all a lie,

yet sounded pleasing to our ears,

for his every falsehood sounded like a truth

and so freed our souls from all our fears.

 _

He made his bed behind the agora,

and spent his time jesting in the tavern,

he wandered jovially in barbeshops and baths,

and idly gazed at fish inside the cistern.

 _

The winter passed, and summer came

and then again came another winter,

until one night, what came over him,

he started yelling in a wild temper.

 _

The soles of my feet, I feel their burns,

in this wilderness where night alternates with night,

the news I brought may have pleased your ears,

but are a far cry from being right.

 _

We knew at once what he was saying,

and numbly bid him go away.

If ye have no good news to give

then don’t give any.


A good friend of mine told me the other day about his intention to immigrate. He is not the first of my friends to consider a future abroad and I fear that he won’t be the last. He is thinking about going to New Zealand.

There are more sheep than people there, you know,” he told me excitedly. “Same as here,” I answered.

Sheep are afraid of the wolf and thus follow the shepherd blindly, under the watchful gaze of the herding dog. It does not matter that they have never seen a wolf with their own eyes. It is in their nature to follow without thought. The shepherd knows best. They cannot stand up to the herding dog. So, they go from pen to pasture and back, all their lives, until they are either butchered or just die.

There are no wolves any more. Our civilization has rendered them extinct long ago. However, since fear is necessary to keep the sheep in line, the system resorted to creating “wolves” of its own.

This is not something new. On the contrary, it has been tested throughout history. The most striking example is the “balance of terror” kept up between the two superpowers of the second half of the previous century. The nuclear arms race permitted them to effectively rule the world. The Americans protected the West from “evil communists” and the Soviets protected their own Eastern bloc from “corrupt capitalists”.

It is basically what Orwell described in “1984”. There is always a threat and the media propagate this idea until it becomes the commonly acceptable truth. When the threat disappears, then a former ally can turn into an enemy in the blink of an eye. There must always be an enemy. There must always be fear.

So it was that the Soviets after the end of WWII turned immediately from allies to enemies of the West. The system worked well for four decades. However, after the Soviet Union disbanded, the West was left without an opposing force.

Therefore, a new enemy had to appear, one which could strike anytime, anywhere, even at the heart of the USA. The new enemy is terrorism: invisible, unpredictable and omnipresent. The fear of the unknown is greater that the fear of a known enemy. A terrorist could hide anywhere, they could be anyone, their motives are obscure and undecipherable. In other words, terrorism is the perfect tool for the propagation of fear.

Fear is the best weapon in the arsenal of governments wishing to impose measures, which in every other case would push citizens to the brink of unrest. Such as limiting their freedom, all for the sake of their security, and of course sending troops thousands of miles away, in order to liberate oil fields, opium plantations, gold and uranium deposits, and so on.

Fear is the best weapon at the disposal of a state attempting to restrict the basic freedoms and fundamental rights of its citizens, in the example of any totalitarian regime, without actually being branded as one.

Freedom is not having the potential of taking consumer loans to buy SUVs and expensive vacations. It is having the right to protest when the state enforces taxes on you, yet fails consistently to provide basic social benefits.

When Justice turns a blind eye to an unending series of scandals and crimes by politicians and their sponsors/partners, while it punishes its citizens mercilessly for even the slightest oversight.

When Ministers profess ignorance about the laws they have approved, while citizens must be aware of any trap on the laws governing employment, social security, real estate and any other aspect of their lives.

Laws which mutate constantly like viruses, insidiously and without warning, instead of developing in accord with the requirements of a healthy state, whose purpose it to serve its citizens. Of course, if we trust the words of the great Noam Chomsky, such a state does not exist.

Many Greeks are well aware by now that our state dreams of passive citizens who stand as sheep while they are milked dry and left to die once their usefulness wears out. “Sheepizens” who, unlike other Europeans, have no right to a referendum about matters which will determine their future. Sheepizens who depend on a non-elected government to determine the proper date for the next elections!

All of the above cannot in any way fit under the definition of Democracy.

Democracy is the form of government which holds the freedom and opinion of its citizens as its most sacred ideals. If a state doubts the ability of its own citizens to decide on their own future, then it is no longer democratic. Especially so when it suppresses and subverts the peaceful protest of the people.

And this is achieved by using  so-called “anarchists”, which for some reason seem unwilling to burn ministries, the properties of politicians or the Parliament itself. Instead they torch banks, loot department stores and wreck cars. Not even cinemas are spared from their “righteous cause”.

I truly cannot fathom what kind of anarchist fails so consistently to strike  targets owned by their natural enemy, the state. As I cannot fathom what kind of anarchist terrorist would place an incendiary device, without warning, in a train car with the sole purpose of causing human casualties.

This might not strike someone who is not living in Greece as something out of the ordinary, however it is unheard of in our country. All terrorist groups in recent memory placed anonymous calls to warn before a strike in a public place. There is no instance of fundamentalist or nationalist terrorist activity in Greece, which would explain attacks on innocent civilians. On the contrary, terrorist groups in our country belonged to the radical left or the anarchists, targeting political figures, businessmen, state buildings or media outlets.

Another tragic first was the arson of a bank during working hours, which marked the last time Athens knew widespread riots, two years ago.

That incident resulted in the death by suffocation of three employees, one of them a pregnant woman. The perpetrators were never found. Testimonies which claimed that the bank management allegedly threatened to fire any employee who departed early to avoid the riots were never investigated.

Even more tellingly, the findings by government officials and the police concerning the almost complete lack of any kind of safety precaution in the bank building itself never led to any legal action. In short, the tragic event and the protests which were cut short by it were buried together with the four victims.

It is all but certain that any investigations about this last terrorist attempt will also prove fruitless.

Given the facts, the only way to reach any reasonable conclusion is to determine who is harmed and who benefits from these actions. Who felt guilty when innocent lives were lost because of their attempt to protest? Who felt responsible when several buildings in Athens burned during what was the most massive demonstration in recent memory?

Who is terrorized now that the Athens Metro is threatened? It is the most widely used means of public transportation in the capital and also happens to be the best way to reach the city centre during protests in front of the Parliament.

Do you think that this bomb would scare our politicians who never set foot in the Metro after the inauguration ceremonies of new stations?

Or is it us who are terrorized, scared little people who should be grateful for our jobs granting us less and less money, as we pray for the bad wolves to go away?

Sheep do not protest, nor do they vote. They do not have, nor claim any rights. They do not think, they just survive. If this is the future we want, then all we have to do is follow the same “shepherds” which we know and trust.

We should let them shear us to clothe themselves, milk us to eat, we should hand our children to them so that they can refresh the herd when we will no longer be here.

I just hope that the butcher’s knife won’t hurt too much.

Intermission #6

Constantine P. Cavafy, one of the most important Greek poets of the previous century, devoted one of his most famous poems to the seemingly paradoxical relationship between a state and its enemies, real or imagined. The very meaning of the “civilized” society is put in question and the barbarians are even thought of as a possible solution.

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

      The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
      What’s the point of senators making laws now?
      Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?
Because the barbarians are coming today
      and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.
      He’s even got a scroll to give him,
      loaded with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
Because the barbarians are coming today
      and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
Because the barbarians are coming today
      and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home lost in thought?
Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
      And some of our men just in from the border say
      there are no barbarians any longer.
Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems
Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard
Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard