"After four decades of rapid modernization, the social fabric has worn paper-thin"
/ a government of clowns /
The Nation has an excellent piece by Maria Margaronis, on the Greek riots. It's right on the money, excerpt:
The rioters' first targets were banks and corporate headquarters. One in five Greeks already live below the poverty line; as the recession hits, the simmering resentment has taken on an edge of panic. Young people in low-wage, dead-end jobs--the "700 euros generation"--fear losing even those. Thirtysomethings live with their parents; parents work in shifts to earn enough to support their families. After four decades of rapid modernization, the social fabric has worn paper-thin. Discontent is policed with zero tolerance. Methods honed on the refugees who crowd Greek shores and have to be kept from seeking asylum in Europe's wealthier north can also be applied to permanent residents.
Also from "Le Monde Diplomatique":
The riots that have ravaged Greece's big cities - especially Athens - the last three days testify to the disequilibria of a society that over several years only went from being part of the Balkans to part of Europe. The December 6 death of a fifteen-year-old, Andreas Grigoropoulos, from police fire was the spark thrown into a powder keg primed to explode. Faced with thousands of young people who are conducting a veritable urban guerilla action - burning shops and cars, stoning the forces of order - the government seems incapable of restoring the peace.
It is impotent because it is in decay, undermined for a long time by pork, corruption and cronyism. It had already demonstrated its incompetence during the wave of fires that enflamed the Peloponnesus and Attica during the summer of 2007. And that was a natural phenomenon to a certain extent. Costas Caramanlis's Conservative government, which was then getting ready for general elections, quickly announced the release of millions of Euros for the benefit of those who had incurred losses from the fires. Once the balloting was over, the victims never saw a cent.
It's not a question of political party. The (Socialist) PASOK, which controlled the government from 1980-1990, suffers from the same evils as the right. It was unable - or unwilling - to build a modern state of law. The big families - the Caramanlis, Mitsotakis, Papandreou - that have followed one another in power for decades, have, along with their loyalists, profited from a system of which the scraps and crumbs have nourished a large part of the population.
Things are settling down today. At least for now. Mostly students protesting in various forms and intensity, from sit-ins to rock throwing. Reports of wide participation of undercover policemen in the riots and the destruction. Unless the people going in and out of an Athens precinct, as reported (in Greek) here.
Teacher Dude is covering the developing events from Thessaloniki.