Oncoming crisis of legitimacy in Greece
A very important blog post from Athensby the BBC's Paul Mason (Economics editor, Newsnight):
The trouble started simply because, if you put a crowd of hundreds of thousands next to a parliament that has lost its economic sovereignty, and let that crowd be fringed by anarchists in black balaclavas, it simply will. ...
After about two hours of sporadic fighting at various entrances to the parliament [no kettling?], the police started to go into side-streets and do flanking movements, much as the anarchists and "indignatos" (Facebook-organised youth [Well, that's the narrative, but the narrative is wrong. Shocker!] who are not anarchists) were flanking them earlier in the day.
Fires were started - some little ones on street corners - a couple of big ones, bringing a shudder to the crowd who remember the death of three bank workers in a fire last year.
The wider crowd - of trade union members, old ladies, mothers, teachers, girls in midriff-revealing tops and blonde dread locks, old sailors with white stubble - just stands there, its eyes streaming, wiping its nose ["all walks of life" was critical in Egypt].
In the lulls there are mini confrontations between trade union groups and the black bloc. The former chant that they are provocateurs.
We've had the same division, or distinction, online here. Read the post for more detail; it's a constant.
There is a social crisis under way and I think it is different from the one our history books teach us to expect. It's not like the cracking of the state, or mass unrest, but simply that the Greek state - whose reach was never far into society - is beginning to lose its grip slightly on the actual functions a state should do.
It cannot decide its economic policy; it can't convince its own people of any good intent; the rule of law is imposed hard here - with the impounding of yachts bought through tax evasion - only to break down somewhere else, as people begin to pledge non-payment of bills for the privatised utilities.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It is not anarchy here, but - to use another Hellenic word - neither is there catharsis.
"[T]he old is dying and the new is struggling to be born." And now the nut grafs:
This is my third blog post in 24 hours [Oh, the humanity!] from here, and at the risk of repeating myself, I think the level of mismatch between perception and reality within the Eurozone is worrying. Because last year's protests were mainly leftist; and the strikes mainly token, a pattern of thinking has emerged that dismisses all Greek protest as essentially this.
But a new situation is emerging: Greek people I have spoken to are beginning to express things in terms of nation and sovereignty* - and this makes the Greek situation different, for now, to Ireland and Portugal.
While the centre right New Democracy would probably win any snap election, it is hard to find support for pro-austerity politics among ND's natural support base, the business class. Because austerity for them means getting hammered with a tax bill the like of which they have never dreamed, nor indeed paid.
And I will repeat the point about hostility to the media: it's not a problem for me and my colleagues to be hounded off demos as "representatives of big capital", "Zionists", "scum and police informers" etc. But to get this reaction from almost every demographic - from balaclava kids to pensioners - should be a warning sign to the policymaking elite. The "mainstream" - whether it's the media, politicians or business people - is beginning to seem illegitimate to large numbers of people.
As one old bloke put it to me, when I said: "Don't you want us to report what's happening to you?" - "No." [There are two sides to why the story isn't covered, then.]
He was quite calm and rational as he waved his hand in my face: "It's too late for that."
Does any of this seem familiar? If you're from the Madison, WI? Madrid? Cairo? Even Bangkok? Et cetera? It ought to seem familiar. It's the same.
NOTE * I think it's important to abandon the idea that our own elite, of either party, regards itself as having any duty of care for the American people. It's best to think of the sort of people who attend Davos as they are: A post-national and parasitical rentier class. Nothing our elite do is designed to "provide for the general welfare, " neither Obama nor his owners; any number of indicators show this, starting from permanently high DISemployment and ending with a post-Soviet-style drop in life expectancy. See, also, here.