But why, you ask? Is it because those lazy fat-cats of the public sector are losing some of their privileges? Is it because those over-payed Greeks can't be bothered to work? Is it because people fail to understand the necessity of the IMF intervention and the benevolence of our dear EU/US-backed government? And, above all, why did these three innocent people die?
Well, let's start from the dead. Three young people that were chocked to death inside a burning bank building. They were murdered and nothing I can say or do will change this fact or bring any condolence to their friends and families. So, whose fault is this bit of murderous handiwork? I won't answer, I can't answer, but I will give you some of the facts I can more or less be sure of: a) someone or a small group of people wearing masks broke the glass window of the -admittedly hated- Marfin bank and either threw a petrol bomb or some other form of incendiary material inside, b) people were working inside on a day of a mass general strike against their will, c) those people had been forced to work despite their expressed will, d) said bank is on a street the march was bound to enter, e) said bank was locked and operating without security, fire exits or a fire extinguishing system, f) the workers inside were cut off from the outside world - even their Internet connections were cut off by their bosses, g) the workers inside had been pleading for hours to be allowed to leave, as they were justifiably afraid, h) as soon as the fire started both the police and the protesters tried to break the bank's doors to free everyone inside but failed, i) the fire squad turned up late, j) a mainstream TV station was eager to report that firemen were attacked by demonstrators only to be proven wrong by hundreds of videos and the other channels, k) the police or their collaborators have been know -and shown on TV- to dress up as rioters with covered faces in order to provoke violence, l) this murder was far to convenient for the government and the conservative political forces, and m) there are indeed tiny barbaric groups of rioters with a total disrespect of life.
Now, on to the demonstration. For starters it was huge, possibly even over 300,000 strong and was not solely comprised from civil servants. Far from it. The two major unions of workers were also participating, as were a variety of unions (covering everything from engineers and lawyers to shop owners and small businesses), students and a wide spectrum of political organizations, groups and parties. Secondly, it was angry, confrontational and generally peaceful, but was still drowned in chemicals and attacked by the riot police, who were generally pushed back, only to retaliate in the afternoon by invading homes, shops and political centers and being excessively brutal to ordinary people. How brutal? That brutal (via):
The demonstration, politically fragmented as it was, demanded a variety a things ranging from socialism to the end of police brutality, but ended up agreeing on some crucial key points: we don't really care much for the IMF and its imperialist and socially brutal (devastating actually) policies, and are pretty sure that the mainstream politicians of the two parties that have been governing Greece for the past 35 years are to blame. Them and their big business, publishing, TV-owning friends. We are also not going to wait to get passively and quietly raped. Not this time at least.
But why? Why are so many people so enraged? Why is this latest crisis so radically politicizing the Greek people? Simple really. Greece -well, the popular classes of Greece- has been enduring constant and progressively tightening austerity measures since the mid-80s. We had to accept cuts to salaries, pensions, education, health and the quality of public services, as well as increasing taxes (not for them big corporations or major capitalists of course), rising unemployment, shrinking of our (young) democratic rights and intensifying police brutality in order to achieve grand targets like entering the Eurozone, saving the country or hosting those bloody Olympic games. Now though, it seems that all these were lies. Nothing has been solved and all the sacrifices were in vain. They ask us for more. Much more. And the outcome can't be guaranteed, because -they say- we are all to blame.
Yes, despite the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, despite the fact that the average pension is way lower than the EU-average or that our salaries are quite frankly ridiculous, beside the fact that I personally worked for 30 hours a week in the university for less than 50 euros a month, we're told it's our fault. Years of scandals, billions of military spending on useless junk, thousands of public sector golden boys, untaxable rich and a quasi-colonial way of privatizing public property and, apparently, it still is our fault.
Well, finally, we understood. It isn't.