Mass uprising of Greece’s youth

… bailouts for the banks, bullets for the people

Published on le MondeDiplo, by Valia Kaimaki, January 2009.

Why did Greek youth take to the streets? For the first time since the second world war young people have no hope of a better life than their parents. But there is also a failure of trust in politicians and all state institutions, particularly the police.

The veteran Greek politician Leonidas Kyrkos, now in his eighties, is an iconic figure of the Greek left. He told me what he’d like to say to the young people out on the streets: “Welcome to social struggle, my friends. Now you must take care of yourself and your struggle” …

… World turned upside down:

A second invention of the government and media is the claim that “angry citizens” have taken the law into their own hands to chase off rioters. On the contrary: they have often tried to chase off the riot police. Small shopkeepers shout at them to get lost; passers-by wade in to try and rescue students they’ve arrested. Having understood they cannot keep their children at home, parents and grandparents join them on the streets in order to look after them. A world turned upside down.

Will the movement continue to grow? “There’s plenty of fuel for it,” said Dimitris Tsiodras, a journalist and political analyst. “For the global economic crisis will soon begin to bite here and a great many young people will remain marginalised; and the education system isn’t exactly going to improve tomorrow morning, and there isn’t any sign of an end to political corruption.”

It is not only a question for Greece. The movement has managed to export itself – or simply converge with others elsewhere. For one good reason: there is a whole generation, the first since the second world war, which has no hope for a better life than their parents. And that is not an exclusively Greek phenomenon. (full text).

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