In­dig­nant move­ment is po­lit­i­cal

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY STAVROS LYGEROS

Be­fore the sign­ing of the mem­o­ran­dum, work­ers’ protests were a kind of in­for­mal ne­go­ti­a­tion with which­ever gov­ern­ment was in power that brought some kind of bal­ance to so­ci­ety. Ever since Greece came un­der in­ter­na­tional su­per­vi­sion and has been flirt­ing with bank­ruptcy, protest ral­lies have de­gen­er­ated into a battle of the rear guard. Pre­serv­ing rights won in the past has started to feel like an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity. Un­der the shadow of bank­ruptcy, dis­plea­sure and pes­simism have been grow­ing within house­holds as they try to sur­vive in a hos­tile new en­vi­ron­ment. They are scared for their salaries, pen­sions and sav­ings, and they had hoped that the painful poli­cies of the mem­o­ran­dum would help the coun­try over­come the cri­sis. The more this hope is dashed, how­ever, the more the fear starts go­ing away. The more un­em­ploy­ment shoots up and the de­struc­tion of small and medi­um­sized busi­nesses es­ca­lates, the more de­spair builds. And as de­spair builds, it be­gins to turn into rage. Af­ter all, this wave that is gain­ing mo­men­tum in so­ci­ety would never have been held at bay by the fact the prime min­is­ter likes to set dilem­mas that have only a yes or no an­swer, like “Mem­o­ran­dum or bank­ruptcy” or “New mea­sures or re­turn to the drachma.” The mass ral­lies by the “In­dig­nant” that were held on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day night in al­most ev­ery ma­jor Greek city rep­re­sent a new pa­ram­e­ter in po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments. This is a new phe­nom­e­non, which in form mim­ics the ini­tia­tive by Spain’s youth, but in essence is stoked by the im­pend­ing lo­cal eco­nomic crash. The move­ment is spon­ta­neous, ide­o­log­i­cally mul­ti­col­ored and po­lit­i­cally astray. Its de­mo­graph­ics and the sym­bols used to rep­re­sent it rep­re­sent a great de­par­ture from the usual stuff seen in protests. Here we don’t see a con­fig­u­ra­tion of many small, tight-knit groups – or blocs – and the “pro­fes­sional” pro­test­ers of the left; you see peo­ple who are novices at protests. In­stead of ban­ners and red flags, you see Greek flags and hear the na­tional an­them. More­over, there is no fire miss­ing from the chanted slo­gans, which sweep aside po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness in fa­vor of a morally ac­cusatory tone. In the con­ven­tional way of look­ing at things, the In­dig­nant move­ment ap­pears apo­lit­i­cal. In re­al­ity, though, it is pro­foundly and sur­pris­ingly po­lit­i­cal. It has emerged from the bow­els of so­ci­ety and ex­presses the ris­ing up of the silent ma­jor­ity, which is see­ing the ba­sic con­stants of its way of life be­ing threat­ened. The way the prime min­is­ter is be­ing grad­u­ally un­der­mined ef­fec­tively marks the be­gin­ning of the end for this gov­ern­ment.

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